Stress Is My Middle Name (for now)

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Hello!

I’m here… and just barely.

Work is crazy stressful right now… like… crazy. We have our annual art show at the end of next week, which requires a massive amount of preparation and extra hours (unpaid of course). There’s also just a lot of other stuff going on, and I’m being pulled in about 1,000 different directions.

On top of that, the Bodypump 81 launch is tomorrow. I’m SUPER excited about it, but just really anxious because it will be my first time teaching the new launch (!!) and will just be able to breathe a big sigh of relief when it’s done. I’ve been practicing the choreography daily, and think I have it nailed… we’ll see.

This is pretty much how I have looked the majority of this week:

But, I’m trying to buck up and put on a happy face.

*Note the massive bags under my eyes…..

So here are three things that are making me smile:

1. This bar that I had to fuel me up before teaching Spin + Bodypump yesterday afternoon:

Good golly Miss Molly, this was GOOD! And the ingredients made me very happy, too!

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2. I’m going to see Colin Hay in concert tonight. He’s the singer from Men at Work, and one of my favorite artists of all time. His solo career is amazing and his voice is just one of a kind. If you’re not familiar with him, check him out, or add him to your Pandora stations (which will play music from artists like Matt Kearney, Jack Johnson and Coldplay).

Greg and I have gone to see him every April for the last five years. The photo above was from 2009, when we got to meet him afterwards!

We are bringing my mom and stepdad with us tonight (and it’s my stepdad’s 60th birthday today!!!), which will be awesome.

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3. In exactly two weeks, I will be standing in this very spot.

’nuff said.

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I’m going to try to tame the stress monster over the next few days and give myself a break. I took tomorrow off since I will be out late tonight and will need to practice Bodypump choreography all day tomorrow. I’m going to try to make this weekend last as long as it possibly can, and try to not even think about the stress and chaos that awaits me when I return to work on Monday….

See ya soon!

[My Heart Lies] Along The C&O Canal Towpath

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I spent last Saturday morning doing one of my absolute favorite activities: biking on the C&O and hiking in Harper’s Ferry, WV. Even though I grew up in Maryland, I never discovered the C&O towpath until I met Greg. He took me there for my first ride after buying my mountain bike back in 2007. The towpath itself is 184.5 miles long and begins in Washington, DC (the Billygoat trail is at Great Falls near the start of the canal- around mile 14) and ends in Cumberland, MD. I know a few people that have biked the whole thing- they usually do it over three days and stop to camp along the way (there are designated camp sites). When I go for bike rides, I typically start around mile 42, at the Monocacy Aqueduct and either do an out and back south (a little past White’s Ferry) or north (near Brunswick). When Greg and I do our “bike + hike,” we pick up the towpath in Brunswick (mile 55) and park our bikes right at mile 61 to go hike. It’s a nice workout- 12 miles riding total combined with about 90 minutes of hiking (depending on whether we were doing the extension or not- which adds about 30 extra minutes or so).

The towpath is mostly flat, dirt and really easy to ride on. You can also go pretty fast (well, fast for a mountain bike with fat tires- like 15 mph or so), provided that it’s not too crowded. People use the trail for all kinds of things- biking, running, walking… I’ve even seen horses on it before (which is kind of annoying because people don’t find it necessary to clean up their horse poop). Most people along the trail are friendly and know the proper trail etiquette, but some definitely do not. There have been many times that Greg and I have almost hit people because they don’t move over to allow us to pass (even though we give the proper warning of “on your left” along with my bell-ringing). Some people just really don’t know, or are oblivious.

I have a lot of great memories attached to the C&O. As I was thinking about this post, I looked through my Facebook photos, just to see what kinds of pictures I had taken over the years. I had quite a few (get ready)!

I used to bring my bike to work a lot and go for a ride afterwards. I took a lot of self-portraits while riding (super safe, right??)

I even did this 365 photo thing where I had to take a self portrait every day. It was a really cool project, and the very first photo was after a ride on the C&O:

Here’s another, at the Monocacy Aqueduct. There’s bathrooms at that mile marker, which is always useful to have.

And another- near mile marker65.

Greg and I take pictures of each other when we ride together…

I’m mocking teenagers here and doing the duckface/peace sign pose, because I’m cool.

When we get to Harper’s Ferry, we usually bypass the actual bike parking spot (which is usually crowded)

and lock up our bikes a little further down, near  small bridge across from the start of the hiking trail.

The trail itself is 5.3 miles total round trip. I’m not sure if that includes the Stone Fort trail extension, or if that’s just the Overlook trail. Most hiking websites will list the hike as “difficult” and taking “3 hours,” but it can be done in a much shorter amount of time- even if you’re not in the best of shape. Like I said, we usually do the whole thing- with the extension- in about 90 minutes. The trail peaks at the overlook, which is a big mass of rocks that overlooks the town of Harper’s Ferry (and way beyond!). It’s beautiful! And on most weekends, it can get really crowded (we always try to go really early).

I’ve hiked this trail in all kinds of weather, and we almost always take pictures at the top:

 

My friend Kelly and I have even hiked it in the bitter cold (it actually snowed during this hike).

And I think that this photo is from the first time Greg and I ever hiked the Stone Fort extension, which also has an amazing overlook.

The view from that lookout (during the fall):

Back to the present now. On Saturday, we were actually a little lazy and picked up the C&O around mile 58, mostly because I had killed my legs the night before teaching Spin + Bodypump and just wasn’t up for a 12 mile ride on top of our hike. 6 miles was much more appealing.

We rode up to mile 61 and locked up our bikes.

And set off on the trail. We did the Stone Fort extension, which (as I said on yesterday’s post preview) has a KILLER steep climb at the beginning!

This hill is crazy! But it feels really good when you get to the top.And you get that beautiful view!

Loveliness everywhere…

After the extension, we headed down to the overlook, which was (not surprisingly) quite crowded!

We attempted a self-portrait with my self-facing iPhone camera. I look really pretty unshowered and without make-up.

We quickly left the overlook and hiked our way back to the bikes (which is all downhill and a killer if you have knee issues, like Greg).

It’s always nice to get back to the bikes and head out for the final stretch! One more quick pose along the river…

What an awesome morning. :)

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One more real quick thing I need to share: breakfast this morning!

On weekdays, I prepare my breakfast the night before so that it’s ready for me to eat when I get to work. When I saw Laura post a roundup of oatmeal recipes on her blog yesterday, I knew that I had to try out the zucchini bread oats right away! I cooked them up and put them in a jar for the next morning.

And then reheated this morning:

(Can you tell that I’m LOVING Instagram??)

I put strawberries and a little bit of cinnamon-vanilla sunflower butter on top. I also used walnuts instead of pecans and added a little egg white and oat bran.

These tasted really really good- but the only thing I was missing was banana. For some reason, I just gotta have some banana in my oatmeal. Next time I’ll just add a little bit to get the flavor. But, even without the banana, they still tasted awesome. Thanks for the awesome recipe, Laura!!

Have a great Tuesday!

Do you have a favorite hiking/biking trail near you? Have you ever been along the C&O towpath?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend food and fun

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Ahhhh… this was one of those great weather weekends that you want to last forever! But, like all good things, it had to come to an end.

As all weekends do, it started on Friday after work. Freedom!!! I taught a my usual Spin + Bodypump classes, which we awesome as always! It’s really great to build up a nice following at the new gym, and I always love to hear how excited the members are to take classes and really push themselves. When I got home, Greg and I cooked up our usual Friday night of pizza. I had seen this post on Holly’s blog and knew that I HAD to make the 4 ingredient pizza crust ASAP. I was a little hesitant, but it turned out great! I halved the recipe and used a mix of oat and wheat flour, and still had quite a bit of dough left over (of which I made little pretzels with, dusted in truffle salt).

I put my toppings on my pizza (tons of veggies + a little cottage and mozzarella cheese) and Greg’s was smothered in cheese, with a fair amount of mushrooms, onion and green pepper underneath. We made three little pretzels, but had already eaten one by the time the photo was taken. :)

I really, really liked this crust. I used a Sam Adams Alpine Spring ale, and it created a really great flavor. This will probably be our go-to pizza crust recipe for a while, because it was SO quick and easy to throw together (and there’s no yeast, so you don’t have to wait for the dough to rise!) Have I mentioned that I love pizza? If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, that’s what it would be.

The rest of the night was followed by sitting on the couch catching up on DVR and barely being able to stay awake past 9:00. We live a crazy, wild life I tell you!

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We were out of the house bright and early on Saturday to hit the C&O towpath for some biking. We rode our bikes up to Harper’s Ferry, WV to do some hiking. I’ll elaborate more about this in a later post, because there’s just too many photos and too much to say. :) But here’s a photo of the steepest hill on the trail… it’s a killer!

After our morning of outdoor fun, Greg and I came home and enjoyed a nice lunch on the patio.

This salad was awesome- mixed greens, roasted red onion, strawberries, sunflower seeds and a little bit of grilled chicken that was leftover from the other night. And the bread? I can’t believe I still have some left. This was from one of the loaves brought to me from Colorado back in July- the cowtown stout (aka best bread in the WORLD). It still tasted just as good as it did on day one. I have ONE more piece left in the freezer. I think I’m going to eat it on the day that we leave for Colorado in a little over two weeks.

We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and running errands (aka Greg did yard work while I grocery shopped and hit FedEx to mail out my Foodie Pen Pal package). For dinner Saturday night, I took a little inspiration from Ashley. I’ve seen her black bean crema recipe a few times on various blogs and had yet to try it out. But, when she posted this recipe the other day, I knew I had to try it out. I put my own twist on it, and my photos are not nearly as pretty, but these tasted pretty darn good.

Greg put a bunch of rice in his, and I opted for a little rice (just to compare) and put some crushed up tortilla chips in mine. Ohhhh man, that was good. I love having a combination of textures!

When I made the crema, I used two cups of black beans and plain unsweetened almond milk (which is what we had on hand). I also completely forgot to add the oil, but it still tasted really yummy!

I am happy that I have a lot of the crema leftover and can utilize it for lunches this week. :)

After dinner we watched The Descendents, which I had picked up from Redbox. Greg and I both really enjoyed it! I mean, honestly- how can you not enjoy looking at George Clooney for 2 hours, right? But the plot and writing were great too.

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Sunday began with getting to the gym to practice the latest Bodypump release before teaching spin class at 8:30. The class was packed and super high energy, and I loved every minute of it!

After coming home and making a smoothie and showering, I got to work on prepping some food for our afternoon company. We were having Ashley and her fiancee Neal over for lunch! Let me just gush a little bit here- Ashley is my blog-turned-real-life friend, and I do believe that we were meant to meet and be friends. She is really amazing – it’s so cool how people come into your life.

Ashley and Neal arrived with beautiful tulips for us!

Before we ate lunch, we munched on some jicama and chili-cinnamon roasted cauliflower and faux thousand-island dressing dip (which is just plain 0% Greek yogurt, chili lime sauce, red wine vinegar, chipotle relish and ketchup).

And these two fought over who could sit over top of the air-conditioning vent.

Seriously, guys? :)

How can you not love them?

Soon enough, it was time to eat!

Greg made bulked-up burgers and I made a salad with roasted butternut squash, apples, goat cheese, red onion, jicama and mixed greens. I mixed up a butternut squash/apple vinaigrette in the Vitamix, which was awesome!

We also enjoyed some Sam Adams Whitewater IPA, which I highly recommend if you haven’t tried it! It has hints of spice and Apricot, and is really refreshing.

The weather was so awesome- it was warm, but there was enough cloud cover that we weren’t boiling to death. It was so nice to chit chat for hours with these two!

Ashley and Neal are getting married in July, and since we got married last July, it was really fun to talk wedding stuff.

I made Greg take a deliberately posed shot of Ashley and me.

Great minds think alike- and wear gray!

Pretty soon it was late in the afternoon (seriously, time FLEW by!) and we headed inside for a quick dessert before Ashley and Neal had to hit the road. They brought some berries, which were soooooo yummy. Seriously- these were the best strawberries I’ve had all season.

We also had some of these, which I spotted at the grocery store yesterday.

I’ll  be honest- these tasted good, but were definitely not better than a bowl of ice cream. But for 70 calories and 6 grams of protein, I’ll take it!

I tried to be productive after Ashley and Neal left, but didn’t get a whole lot done. Oh well- the rest of the stuff can wait. Just four more days until the next weekend comes!

What did you do this weekend?

iGot You, Babe

I have to first say WOW and THANK YOU for all of your awesome comments yesterday. Once again, it’s so nice to know that I am not alone and so many others struggle with similar issues. Your comments and thoughts really, really meant a lot to me… much more than you know! While I wouldn’t wish it (the issues I have with my body) on anyone, it’s just helpful to know that so many of you “get it.”
:)

SO….

After a crap-tastic day at work of dealing with teenage attitudes (I was seriously about to LOSE IT), I unwound with an hour of yoga with Bob (hey look- you can get a little preview of it here!). Ahhhh, yes. Yoga always helps. And the day just got better after that.

After leaving work, I was off to THE MAIN EVENT.

Hello, lover.

(It looks kind of beige- but it’s really white.)

Yesterday marked the date that I was eligible for my NEW EVERY TWO upgrade with Verizon! YES!!!! I have been wanting an iPhone ever since they came out. But, I refused to switch my service to AT&T and wanted to stick with trusty Verizon. I kept hearing rumors that Verizon would eventually get the iPhone, but it never happened. So, I bought a Droid 2 two summers ago. And then, of course, the iPhone came out a few months later.

So after being very patient, I finally got my iPhone. And I love it. I look forward to playing with it and telling Siri to do all sorts of dumb things for my entertainment.

I even got a snazzy cover for it:

I’m not too crazy about this cover, actually, but there weren’t a lot to choose from. I’m sure I can find a cooler one online. Or, as the salesguy said, I can get a bunch of them to match outfits and stuff. I just looked at him and said “Dude. I’m not high maintenance like that.”

The first photos I took were of the dogs, of course.

Lance does this thing where he paws at the door like he wants to be let in, and then he just sits there in front of the open door, staring. What a weirdo.

I took a few photos of them this morning while I was getting ready… I’m not super impressed with the quality using indoor lighting. But, it is better than the quality from my previous phone.

And I also took photos of my yummy dinner last night:

(Again, the quality isn’t very impressive- but it looks great on the tiny iPhone screen.)

Perfect tofu never disappoints! I mixed it up in a bowl with broccoli, carrots, freekeh and chopped peanuts, which were simmered in a sauce containing peanut flour, Bragg’s liquid aminos, siracha, sesame oil, honey and rice wine vinegar.

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I also highlighted my hair last night. I pretty much always do this myself (and have been since high school) unless my friend Krista does it for me (who also does a really good job). I have to admit- I always like the way it turns out when I use a box and apply it myself- and it’s way cheaper that way.

Forgive the static and flyaways. It was hard to take a picture of this quickly this morning, and I have absolutely no “product” in my hair.

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And just for a few more happy thoughts, here are some blogs that I have been lovin’ on for a while and probably haven’t mentioned before:

My Marble Rye

Diana broke my heart when she took a hiatus from blogging shortly after I discovered her, but she’s BACK. And hilarious and right on as ever. And she has no filter, which I LOVE.

No Sugar Sweet Life

Kelly is my new soul sister. I am really looking forward to meeting her at Blend in a few weeks! Her recipes always look amazing and beautiful. And her little girl is pretty darn adorable, too.

Back to her Roots

I’ve been reading Cassie’s blog for a while now, but I just need to point out how wonderfully awesome she is, in case you don’t already know.

Corrie Anne

This is another blog that I’ve been reading for a while, and I LOVE this girl. She is just so adorable and has such a great outlook on life. And her relationship with her husband is so cute, that it just borders on making you want to puke (but in a good way!).

Three out of four of these bloggers live in Colorado, and in fact- a ton of the bloggers that I follow are from Colorado. Maybe that’s because Colorado is awesome and where I really need to be living!

Have a FANTASTIC FRIDAY!

Do you have an iPhone? What are some blogs you’ve been loving lately?

Adjusting… and Feeling Fat

I’ve got to share this photo first. I took it of the boys the other day while they were napping in the kitchen.

There’s nothing like using your brother’s butt for a pillow!

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Not too long ago, I was presented with the opportunity to teach four additional group exercise classes (two Spinning and two Bodypump) in addition to the two Spinning classes that I’ve been teaching for the last three years. Since I absolutely love teaching group exercise- I jumped at the chance! And bonus- I’m already working out those days- so why not get paid for it?

While I am absolutely loving teaching all of these classes, it is taking me a little bit of time to adjust to. This is my group exercise teaching and personal workout schedule currently:

Sunday: 8:30 am Spinning class(I almost always practice the latest Bodypump release beforehand)

Monday: No classes (I usually work out on my own this day or go running outside or take a dog for a walk)

Tuesday: 5:30 am Spinning class

Wednesday: 4:30 pm Spinning/5:30 pm Bodypump

Thursday: No classes (I do yoga)

Friday: 4:15 Cycle Express (30 minutes)/5:00 Bodypump

Saturday: No classes (Work out on my own and/or hike)

Last night’s classes were awesome by the way. I didn’t have a lot of people attend the 4:30 Spinning class, but the Bodypump class afterwards was packed and full of energy! I just can’t wait until we launch the New Release! I generally have a bar (something between 150-200 calories) to fuel me through the two hours of workouts. I also bring a Blender bottle with me to make a protein shake for the ride home. I finally tried out the new Vega One powder (in Vanilla Chai, of course):

I’m not usually a fan of mixing protein powder with just water, but this was really, really good! It was so creamy and not watered down- and I mixed it with 12 oz of water! I just wish these weren’t so pricey!

Right now, Wednesday is the only day that seems really crazy. I leave my house for work at 6:30 am, get home a little after 3:00, try to quickly make breakfast and lunch for the next day and change/get my gym bag ready, and then am out the door by 4:00 to go teach. I get home around 7:00, and luckily, Greg has taken on dinner duty for Wednesday nights. This is what I came home to last night:

Greg said “We have like five bottles of Rose! I figured that I should open one.” I don’t really drink during the week, but had a few sips. And it was good!

I also saw this going on in the backyard.

I witnessed Jackson jump in the flowering tree and break off a branch and then run around with it to tease Lance. Greg made him give it up (also, dogs can get really sick from eating flowers!)

Dinner was grilled chicken breast, broccoli and a roasted Japanese sweet potato.

Simple and delicious.

Anyway.

Wednesdays involve a lot of running around and I’m totally exhausted by the end of the day. Even though I teach back to back classes on Friday, it doesn’t seem nearly as hectic, because I don’t have to do anything to get ready for the next day. And Saturday is my only morning that I get to sleep until I feel like it and don’t have to set an alarm. BUT- I’m not complaining, because I truly LOVE having the opportunity to teach others to get healthy and stronger and to love exercise. Like I said, it’s just taking some time to adjust.

We have less than two months left in the school year, and things will lighten up a TON in the summer. I’d actually take on another Bodypump class on Mondays if the opportunity presents itself!

A lot of things have been going on in my life recently that have really made me re-evaluate what it important to me and what I think I want to do career-wise. It’s all kind of scary, but also exciting. I’ll be able to share more details a little later on, when things are figured out and official.

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On to another topic… where I complain about my body.

I’ve also been really struggling with my weight loss lately. I’ve been maintaining, which is better than nothing, but my motivation to lose body fat kind of went away about a month ago when I fell off the wagon. That doesn’t mean the desire to lose weight has gone away at all though- I just honestly haven’t been strong enough to do what I know works (which is mindful eating and steering away from unplanned snacks). It’s the little things that keep getting me- like not being able to keep my spoon of the nut butter jar, or grabbing a few crackers from the pantry- a bite of this, a bit of that- all of it adds up and is the reason that I’m not seeing the results that I want. I am NOT the type of person that can eat whatever I want (or even just splurge a little) and just burn it off in the gym. There’s days are over.

Here’s the thing: I feel really uncomfortable in my clothes- and in my skin. There’s this layer of fat around my middle that just needs to get lost. I find myself wondering if students in my group exercise classes are thinking “wow, she’s a good instructor, but she’s kind of fat…” This should be enough motivation for me to get my butt in gear, right?

I had made a goal to lose a few pounds before Blend. Nothing unrealistic- even 5 lbs. would have been great. I want to get into that next “decade” of weight (which I’m like a half a pound away from). But that hasn’t happened. Again, I have that nagging fear in my head that when people meet me they’ll think “huh, she’s fatter than I thought.” It’s a little intimidating, because I look at these other bloggers who have rock hard abs and awesome bodies that work out just as much as I do and seem to be able to eat everything and anything they want- and my body just does not respond in that way. In reality, I know that all of these women are amazing and don’t care if I have a six-pack or potbelly… I just can’t help but feel self-conscious.

If you’ve ever been a fat girl (which I was my whole life- well, until my late 20s anyway), can you ever get past that fat girl mentality?

I was really, really good about eating mindfully the last two days and went to bed both nights not feeling full at all- which is a change. I woke up the last two mornings feeling really good about my choices the day before and like “I’ve got this!” It’s SUCH a good feeling to wake up to, and I just need to find a way to harness that great feeling and motivation and keep it going. And not to mention, I just feel “lighter” when I wake up. I know you might be thinking “Two days? Big deal!” But, to be honest, every single day is a struggle for me. It’s not a struggle to eat healthy foods (because that’s pretty much the only thing I eat)- it’s a struggle to listen to my body and eat for the right reasons. I don’t know why, but it’s just been so tough for me to do that lately.

I miss that confidence that I had a few years ago- when I felt like I could wear anything- and do anything! It’s silly that about 15 lbs. are what is standing in the way of me feeling like that again. But really, I need to clarify that. It’s NOT about the number on the scale. I just happen to know that the 10-15 lbs that I’ve gained over the last two years has really changed how confident and comfortable I am in my skin.

I know that following Jackie’s plan really works for me. Like I said, I just need to harness that good feeling and motivation and keep it GOING!

I just needed to get that out and be honest, because I haven’t been feeling too hot lately. On top happier things tomorrow. :)

Does your work schedule ever get crazy? How do you deal trying to fit everything in? Do you struggle with self-confidence issues?

The Spiritual Connection

Bear Lake Vision

I’m going to talk about something in this post that I don’t think I’ve addressed before on this blog: Spirituality.

I started thinking about this when I was reading all of the Easter posts. Easter is a holiday that I don’t celebrate, and haven’t since I was a kid. I was thinking that it would be fun to do the whole “bunny” part and swap baskets with Greg- which is kind of like a stocking on Christmas, right? And after all – I celebrate the “Santa” part of Christmas…

I’ll start by saying that I am pretty comfortable and happy in my beliefs, and think that they have suited me quite well for the last 30+ years of my life. I am definitely open to others’ opinions (and would in fact, love to hear them), but I’m probably not going to change what I believe in.

Let’s start with my history regarding spirituality and religion. I was never Christened/Baptized as a child. Neither was my older brother (the only sibling of mine that shares both parents blood). Though I know many, many people that do not practice religion, I’ve met very few that were not Christened when they were a baby or a young child. I know that this is due largely to the fact that a lot of people, despite their own beliefts, just think that it’s something that you’re supposed to do as a parent. I’ve also heard quite a few of my friends say that they Christened their child to make the grandparents happy. And then there are several other people that do it because it’s what they believe, and they want to raise their child with the same beliefs. Whatever your reason for doing (or not doing) this act is completely your own and should not be judged.

I’m not exactly sure why my parents decided not to Christen my brother or me. I don’t hold it against them, and respect their decision. I’ve heard my mother say that at the time, they both agreed that my brother and I should make the choice for ourselves as to what our religious beliefs would be when we were old enough to understand. They both also grew up in semi-strict religious households and I think were being a little bit rebellious.

I went to Sunday School at a Methodist church when I was a kid, during my pre-school and early elementary years. My mom would sometimes attend a church service while my brother and I were in Sunday school, but my dad never went. We would go to a service as a family on Christmas and Easter, and that was really it. Though I was exposed to church, and don’t hold any negative connections to it, I never really “got it.” Sunday school was social time- a place where I could play with my friends. And as a kid, I’ll admit that I hated having to wake up early on a Sunday.

After my parents’ divorce when I was in fifth grade, we never attended church again. My dad quickly got into a relationship with a woman that he married a few years later, and started going to church again. And this time he got really involved. They also have raised their two children “in the church.” I have mixed feelings about this. My dad never talks to me about his connection with religion and God, and I’m not sure if he goes because he wants to or because it’s something that’s important to my stepmom. It does kind of rub me the wrong way that he’s so involved with it now, and refused to go with us when I was a kid.

I went to a couple different churches with friends during my middle and high school years, just to see what was out there. Nothing felt right.

In college, I met a lot of Jewish friends and began to explore that religion a bit too. Still, it wasn’t for me. After years of trying to find where I “fit,” I decided that I didn’t need to define or categorize myself into one specific title or church.

Over the last several years, I’ve read a lot about Buddhist beliefs and practices, and for the first time- I feel like I have a connection with a specific religion/lifestyle. Still, I don’t want to categorize myself, because I am not Buddhist. I also relate to a lot of Quaker beliefs, and take ideas and morals from several different religious organizations.

Religion wasn’t really an issue when Greg and I got married last summer. We knew that we didn’t want to get married at a church, because neither of us had a connection to one. The vows that Greg and I spoke were actually traditional Buddhist wedding vows. We chose them because we related to them a lot and spoke of being kind to each other and the earth. Our wedding was at a vineyard, and one of our closest friends (Rob) became ordained so that he could officiate. Our ceremony was beautiful, and the words that Rob spoke, and the words that Greg and I spoke to each other, were very meaningful and powerful to us.

If I had to put a name on what I believe, I’d say that I’m spiritual and feel a deep connection to nature. I believe in a higher power- some sort of God, and I feel it often. I feel the most connection when I’m outside in the woods, or somewhere beautiful like a on top of a mountain or in the middle or a lake in Colorado and can just soak it all in. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel that there is some much higher power that has put this all together, and that I should stop and think about what is really important to me: family, health, being happy.

I don’t think that you have to go to church every Sunday or study the bible or pray before dinner to  be religious. I believe that it’s a very personal thing and that is why I rarely share my beliefs  on this topic with other people (of course I just shared it with all of you!).

Foods ‘N Things

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This post is very random. I took photos of a lot of different things over the last few days that don’t really go together in any way, so here ya go.

I made breakfast cookies on Sunday.

I actually thought about this recipe when I was lying in bed Sunday morning, just before waking it. It actually forced me to get out of bed, because I wanted to get crackin’.

Peanut Butter + Banana Breakfast cookies (makes 2 large cookies)

1/2 c oats (I used Country Choice Organic, multigrain)

1/4 c peanut flour

1 T vanilla protein powder (I used MRM Rich Vanilla Whey)

1 T chopped peanuts

1/2 T chia seeds

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 packet Xylitol plus (or other sweetener)

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 medium banana, mashed

1/4 c liquid egg whites

1 tsp coconut oil

Pre-heat oven to 350˚. Mix the dry ingredients (including the chopped peanuts) in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana, egg whites and coconut oil. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir well. Divide batter into two equal piles and place on a cookie sheet. Flatten out batter with the back of a large spoon. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

Each cookie has approximately 225 calories, 4 g fat, 26 g carbs, 4 g fiber and 16 g protein! One cookie certainly isn’t enough to fill me as a meal, but it was good for some pre-hiking fuel on Sunday morning. I would probably pair it with some Greek yogurt and fruit if I was to eat one for breakfast.

Another sweet treat that I’ve been loving lately is my low-carb cinnamon cocoa flax muffins. I’ve tried to deny it and get over it, but I just need something sweet after dinner. Rather than load up on sugar and carbs, I came up with this little microwave muffin to tame my sweet tooth. This recipe was inspired by HEAB’s flourless muffin.

I serve it with a little bit of Greek yogurt with unsweetened cocoa powder and a few drops of liquid stevia, and a chopped up strawberry.

Cinnamon Cocoa-Flax Microwave Muffin

1 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 T coconut flour

1 T ground flax seed

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 T liquid egg whites

2 T almond milk

1 T pumpkin puree (could use applesauce instead)

1 packet Xylitol Plus (or sweetener of choice)

dash of salt

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl or ramekin and mix well. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until well incorporated. Microwave for 3 minutes. (Muffin will slide right out of the bowl!)

This muffin has 95 calories, 6.5 g fat (from flax mostly!), 12 g carbs, 8 g fiber and a whopping 10 g protein!

**

When I was at the mega Whole Foods in Rockville on Saturday, I spent quite a bit of time wandering through the massive bulk foods section. They have everything there- legumes, nuts, grains, granola, dried fruits, mushrooms, and about 20 kinds of sea salt! I got some truffle salt – but only about 1 ounce, because it was $80/lb! Another thing that I spotted was these little guys, who have quickly become my new favorite thing:

Pigeon peas! Honestly, I’ve never really seen a recipe with pigeon peas or heard people talk about them much- I’ve only ever really seen them on Top Chef. :) I cooked some up to go with dinner on Saturday night, and liked them so much that I had them again on Sunday! I just kind of cooked them and hoped for the best. And these things suck  up water like crazy! For 1/4 cup of water, I probably added about 2 or 3 cups of water total when they were boiling (I don’t know exactly how much, because I kept having to add more water). Check out how much they bulk up in size!

They have a nutty flavor… and almost a fennel-like aftertaste. I love the texture and pretty much everything else about them! They’re also high in protein and fiber. :)

On Sunday, I boiled some pigeon peas and added in some roasted maitake mushrooms and red onion with some Bragg’s. Oh, man. Yum.

Also for dinner that night- another go-to favorite in our house: Whole Foods in-house made chicken sausage.

The Tandoori Mango Chicken Sausage was a new-to-me flavor and I was excited to try it out! I’ve gotten the garlic-basil-tomato kind before, and it’s really good. Greg grilled up one of each kind so that we could have a little bit of both. They’re not so pretty when they’re raw…

That’s much better.

I sliced mine up on top of a mixed greens salad, along with a little bit of chopped up sweet potato.

Mmmm… the mango sausage was definitely a winner! I’ll be getting that one again, and making more of a traditional Indian dish next time.

**

Three things that were great about yesterday (which was my last day of spring break):

- Appreciating the tulips in my front yard. I wish they would stay around all year!

- Greg ran out to the store to get a few things and came back with a lovely bouquet of flowers. Just because. Totally made my day! :)

- Taking Lance for a walk in the middle of the day. And taking a picture of him on top of the ‘big hill,’ like we always do.

This week (and every week until summer, really!) is going to be very busy, and my free time to walk the dogs will be very limited. I definitely make sure to enjoy each and every moment when I can!

Are there random things that you’re lovin’ and want to share?

 

 

April morning walk

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There are so many things that I love about having a day (or a week) off of work, but one of them is definitely being able to take one of my dogs out for a long walk in the morning. At 8:00, Jackson and I set out for a 5 mile walk around the neighborhood.

I snapped off a bunch of photos with my Droid’s camera (which sucks) because everything is colorful and pretty!

The trees are all so beautiful!

Flowers are everywhere!

There’s even a few daffodils still hanging on

Jackson at the top of the big hill (where I always have to get a photo of him posing)

We have these growing on the side of our house:

And our tulips in the front of the house have finally bloomed!

One other great thing about being off from work? Getting to make breakfast at home- in the Vitamix. :)

I’m off to spend the day with my friend April. We’re meeting up at the college that we graduated from (for undergrad)- I haven’t been in years and it will be so fun to see how the campus has changed (and remind me of how old I am…)

Have a great day!

What do you like to do on your day off?

This Is Where I Might Lose Some Of You…

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Just like the title of this post says, this is where I might lose some of you. If you don’t care about baseball or going to baseball games, you might want to just skip this one. :)

You may or may not know that I am a little bit of a Red Sox fan. Well, honestly, I’m a die-hard member of Red Sox nation! It’s something that you’re born into or (in my case) married into. I’ll give you a little history here to catch you up to speed. Pro sports were never something that I cared much about. In college, I became a Ravens fan due to the fact that I lived in Baltimore and got into them the year that they won the Superbowl. I’ve been a fan ever since, and have gone to many games and love to support my team during football season. However, my love for baseball and the Red Sox is far more intense than it is for football and the Ravens.

I went to baseball games often when I was growing up. My dad liked to take me to Memorial Stadium and later to Camden Yards to see the Orioles play. This was back in the Cal Ripken era, when the O’s had a pretty exciting team. I was never really into the game though- I just liked going for the atmosphere and the food. I’d usually get really bored by the 5th inning or so and want to go home. In college, some of my friends and were lemonade girls at Camden Yards, which was really fun, but we never paid attention to the game (unless Brady Anderson was at bat- then we paid attention). Fast forward to 2007 when I met Greg. Shortly after we started dating, we took a trip to Boston with a big group of friends. During that trip, Greg took me to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. It was pretty much love at first sight- I was totally in love with this team! I got to know all of the players and we saw games when they would come to Baltimore and also fly up to Boston for a few each year. I have to admit- it was pretty easy to turn into a Sox fan in 2007, because they won the World Series (and yes, we watched every single game).

The Red Sox may not have been playing quite as well for the last year or two, but my love and loyalty for them is just something kind of special that Greg and I share. Many of my friends thinks it’s nuts or that baseball is totally boring, but I love it. I get so excited when the season starts up each spring, which is what is going on right now!

We found out a couple of months ago that the Red Sox would be playing their last spring training game against the Nationals in DC. Of course, Greg and I jumped on those tickets right away! We also got 2 tickets for my friend Megan, who was born into Red Sox nation, and her nephew Hunter. I know that the game didn’t “count” for anything, but it was still cool to see them play in DC, regardless. (They are in different leagues and don’t play against each other in the regular season, except for an interleague game every few years.)

Nats Park is pretty new, and a really nice stadium in general. Although the team is pretty lousy, they have a nice fan base, which is always nice to see. However, as it is with any Red Sox game I’ve ever been to around the country, there seemed to be more Sox fans than there were for the home team. The Nationals have a mascot named “Screech” – a bald eagle. They also have four additional mascots: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. These guys are the BEST. I immediately spotted Jefferson when we got into the park (how could you miss that big head?) and posed for a photo.

I was wearing my Dustin Pedroia jersey yesterday, which is one of about 100 Red Sox jerseys, shirts and sweatshirts that I own (which borders on being ridiculous).

I also like to accessorize for games with earrings

my “Believe in the Nation” wristband

and my favorite, my bling bling necklace.

I bet you’re impressed by how awesome I am, huh?

The weather was absolutely perfect- sunny and warm, but not too hot. Sitting in the sun baking during a game can be pretty miserable, and I’ve done that for many summer games.

We went and got some food before the game started. Nationals Park has pretty decent options as far as ballparks go, and some local restaurants are represented. I decided on a black-bean veggie burger that was actually pretty decent, and was supposedly made “in-house.”

The bun completely fell apart (which was stale and tasteless anyway), but the guy gave me extra lettuce and tomato, so I can’t complain.

Greg got a bratwurst, fully loaded with peppers, onions and sauerkraut

The thing that made us happiest of all? Sam Adams Summer Ale on tap!

The game was actually really great- the Red Sox were way ahead in the beginning, and then the Nats came back to tie it up. It’s always more fun when it’s close!

There’s my favorite player, Kevin Youkilis. When he comes up to bat everyone yells “Yoooooooouuuuuk.” Many people that haven’t seen the Sox play live mistake this chant as booing.

My absolute favorite part of any Nationals home game is hands down, the Racing Presidents.

It’s totally predictable and cheesy but I LOVE IT.

George was the winner today- and you can see that Teddy got distracted by a juggler. :)

I always, always root for Abe. :)

The Red Sox ended up winning by one point, and it was a really exciting ending to the game. We had a great time, and it was wonderful to hang out with my friend Megan.
Baseball is BACK IN SEASON, my friends.

Are you a sports nut? Who’s your favorite team? Do you like going to games even if you’re not “into” sports?

Airport stuff

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The flight from Logan airport in Boston to BWI (Baltimore) is surprisingly short. I almost always forget just how short it is- right around an hour! We got to the airport around 8:15 yesterday to catch a 9:30 flight. But, we were up before 6 am in order to get to the airport on time. I’m not a big fan of airplane travel, but unfortunately, it’s usually the quickest option. It’s not flying that I don’t like, I’m actually fine with that. It’s all of the hassle to get to the airport early, get through security, rush to be early, only to find out that your flight is delayed. Greg and I actually have horrible luck with this- we’ve even had to sleep at the airport before, which was probably the most miserable night of my life. But, that’s another story for another time.

We got to the airport really fast yesterday and breezed through security. There was literally no one in line at our gate! Awesome!

Since we were in Boston, I had to play the part and get a typical Boston-ite breakfast.

Come on, people- you should know me well enough by now. Do you really think that I would have a doughnut for breakfast? Not in a million years. This was Greg’s.

Greg’s a big fan of Dunkin’ Donuts… I guess that’s the New Englander in him. Truth be told, doughnuts do absolutely nothing for me. I would pretty much choose anything else for breakfast- healthy or not. I think doughnuts are a waste, because they’re usually gone in about 4 bites and full of nothing that makes me feel good. If I was ever to eat one, it would probably be for dessert.

My breakfast was much more satisfying!

I asked for a cup of hot water at Cosi and mixed in one of my oatmeal-to-go bags that I made before we left our house on Saturday. I added in a banana and some Barney butter, and it was perfect! The Cosi at the airport actually had an oatmeal bar, which was very cool, but the oatmeal itself looked a little gross. Nothing better than getting to eat my breakfast while catching up on blogs! Thanks airport WiFi!

I actually didn’t get too far into my blog reading, because of this distraction:

Greg and I are totally lame awesome. We play against each other right when we’re sitting side by side. Here’s my hair gel drawing for him:

And his “Horton.” I thought this was pretty cute!

We eventually boarded the plane, and I reached for the goods:

YES!

Even better, our flight was only about half full, so we had a whole row to ourselves.

Right after I took this photo, the captain announced that something had to be checked on the engine, and it would be another 10-15 minutes before we took off. That turned into about 45, but Greg and I weren’t complaining because we had WiFi and iPads to keep us entertained. Ahh, technology…

We made it home safe and sound, and were THRILLED to see our pups. We always miss them so much. :)

Just wondering- do you find that you eat more when you travel? Not like, do you eat more on vacation because you’re at restaurants, but like, on the plane, in the car, etc.? I find that I am always hungry when traveling. I don’t know if it’s boredom or having your food be the only thing you can control or what, but I snack like crazy! I was actually good about it yesterday, because the oatmeal was filling and the flight was short, but in general I’m just waiting for the next meal!