Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bitten by the FLU Bug

What a hell of a week I have had, my friends! I had been feeling run down, but before Christmas I had a lot of last minute shopping to do for the kids as well as preparing my home for hosting Christmas Eve. AND I still had to work. I ignored my scratchy throat and raspy voice and tried to drink more fluids.

By the time Christmas Eve came, I was an emotional, exhausted mess but I pulled it off and everyone had a great time. My kids had the BEST Christmas ever, they had so much fun with their cousins and loved their presents. At the end of the night I wanted to curl up and pass out. I did.

The flu came and hit me hard and I regret the days that have passed that I was unable to run, especially since I was off of work. But I guess sometimes all we can do is listen to our bodies. This forced rest was probably exactly what I needed, since I usually hardly ever have time to even sit down. I watched a couple movies and took care of ME. What is left is a horrible cough and still some congestion, and I am hoping for a quick recovery so that I can get back to my fitness plan. I hope you all have been enjoying the holidays.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Benefits of a CSA

What is a CSA you ask? CSA stands for "community supported agriculture". Through a CSA, you can buy produce directly from the farmer by buying a share in the farm, or what is similar to a subscription. In return you can receive a weekly or bi-weekly box of fresh produce.

The last week of my local Farmer's Market was Saturday. The thought of buying fruits or veggies that aren't local, or organic, or that haven't been ripened naturally from my neighborhood supermarket doesn't appeal to me. Sure I have Whole Wallet, I mean, Whole Foods within walking distance to my office but shopping there doesn't help support local growers or my pocketbook for that matter. I am thinking a CSA is the way to go.

There are so many other benefits to participating in a CSA besides knowing where your food is grown, and who is growing it. Depending on the CSA and the "plan" you go with, you may not get to pick exactly what you are getting in your box. This may get you to try new things. You may also get to visit the farm and see how the produce is actually grown. Some farms offer other products besides vegetables. You may find eggs, bread and meat available through some CSA's as well.

I am in the process of researching which one would work best for my family, and reading reviews. Part of what is important to me is if it is picked up or delivered, where the most convenient pick up spots are and convenient pick up times. One of my friends has referred me to Timptations. Their offerings are 90-95% organic. It is only $18/week for a small box of produce (6 items: 2 fruits, 2 hearty vegetables, 1 leafy green, 1 "exotic") I do enjoy the experience of going to the Farmer's Market weekly with my family, and may head back when the season starts up again in May...unless I am so happy with my CSA that I don't want to quit! I will let you know how it goes!

Have you ever heard of a CSA? Have you ever tried one? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Crunch is ON!

So remind me again why I decided not to take any time off this week? Ok, breathe. It's going to be ok.

In the fitness department I've been doing pretty good. Did Ripped in 30 all week before work, did a treadmill run on Friday before we went to a party and Saturday did a trail run that killed me but it was so worth it!
I am sore in places I apparently need to be sore from this trail!
We went out to a nice dinner on Saturday night, at Odeum, which is in my opinion the best restaurant in our town. I almost didn't take a rest day yesterday, but we had no plans as a family and literally just hung out ALL DAY. Relaxing breakfast, pajamas til noon and just enjoyed being home.  I feel like I'm never there due to work/commuting, etc., so to actually just be home and take in our decorations and have the fire going made me feel like I was on vacation at a lodge.  I did some cooking for the kids dinners for the week since I am often arriving home when they are eating and hoped to do some baking but didn't get that far. However, I baked Christmas cookies with Monkey tonight and he was very, very stoked.

I should be getting a lot of mileage out of this Disney trip.
So I'm hosting Christmas Eve this year and feel pretty ready in that department. However, we have not yet taken our boys to see Santa. Bad Mom. My parents are taking the kids Thursday night to spend the night at their house, so that I have all day Friday to prep for Christmas Eve. I have yet to wrap one gift! When I pick them up Friday I am going to take them through Fantasy of Lights at Vasona Park, which is a cool drive-through exhibit of lights set to music you listen to on the radio. This will be ideal since a) they can be in pj's and don't have to get out of the car and b) my hubs will be working so I won't have to worry about wrangling my two wild ones on my own.
Could the line for Santa rival the line for Pirates of the Caribbean?
The bad part of me waiting until now to worry about seeing Santa is that I'm sure there is a massive line since its so close to Christmas. I don't know why we just didn't take them when we were at Disneyland, because Santa was there. Surely I procrastinated because I had plenty of time then! But hey, they met Mickey Mouse. That's gotta count for something. I don't talk to my kids very much about Santa, not purposely but because I just don't think about it. I know one day they are going to find out the truth, but I should let them enjoy the wonder and excitement of Christmas as much as possible until then. Note to self: talk a lot about Santa this week.

I woke up with a sore throat Monday morning and was feeling a little too drained to get out of bed and work out. Then, this morning, my iPhone died and did not wake me up early so I missed my work out AGAIN. I will definitely fit something in later today, which shouldn't be too hard since I'm working from home today. Even if its just getting out with the kids. Have a great Tuesday y'all! Peace out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eat. Sleep. Move. Enjoy.

Eat. Sleep. Move. Enjoy. This could be the name of my blog. My life revolves around trying to find balance. How do I do it during the holidays? It does get a little tougher. There are more demands on my time - socially, and just stuff to do. Such as...decorating, shopping, wrapping and PREPARING - probably my least favorite thing to do. I really am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl! I have recently been chosen as a Fitfluential Ambassador, a group of people who love fitness and share their healthy and positive message with others.  As part of my affiliation with this group, I will share with you how I manage to keep harmony in my life this time of year.

Dessert table. Cannot resist.

Can't resist this either!

I know when the holidays hit, there are more fun things around to eat. Pretty things. Hearthy things. Tasty morsels that don't come around every day. I want to indulge...and I do. Deprivation always backfires. I just try to indulge in moderation. Yes, I will have dessert at the party. No, I will not try to make half my plate vegetables. I won't really try to curb my portions, but I won't over load my plate and I will listen to my body when it tells me I'm full. When I'm not at the party, when I am having a typical day of going to the office and heading home, I will try to balance it out. I will make more "green smoothies" in the mornings before work or even have one for dinner. I will try not to partake in sweets in my spare time when I'm just hanging out at home. Well, that is unless Auntie Cindy's famous cookie platter has made it to our house, which she makes and delivers every year without fail.

I need one of these. And ear plugs.
I'm not going to lie, sleeping is one of my favorite things to do. As the mother of 2 littles, the amount of times I get to "sleep in" per week is -0-. My youngest, who is 3 never seems to sleep past 7. Well, on a positive note, if he's wired that way he won't have issues with getting up early like I have my entire life! With the exception of nights we have plans, I hit the sheets pretty early. I strive for 8 hours of sleep, but will settle for 7 if I have to. I'm no good to anyone when I'm tired. I'm cranky, I eat like crap, and I'm generally unproductive. Which somehow always ends up happening to me if I stay up/out too late, have too many cocktails, and feel like hell the next day. Just forget it, the day is shot. I have somehow failed to learn that lesson over my last 40 or so years, and I hope to be better about that this year.


My morning workout buddy.
During the holidays, even though I'm busier, I try to make a conscious effort not to blow off work outs. I also try to mix it up a bit, to "surprise" my muscles and keep them guessing. So far this month I've been diligent about setting my alarm for 5 a.m. to work out. Ok, so I snooze until 5:30 a.m., but at least I get up to do it. This is the time I am least likely to flake because of other commitments, getting home late or my children foiling my plans. I started doing more cross training this month, trying to focus more on strength by doing Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 before work. This is also due to the fact that I am going to be in my sister's wedding in August and want to balance out any setbacks the holiday eating and drinking might throw my way.  I have also added a dimension to my running by doing some hill work on my weekend run. Sweet.

Our tree.
This is a crazy time of year. Deadlines, rushing, not enough hours in the day. But we have to remember to stop and enjoy ourselves. This year we put our Christmas tree right in our family room where we can appreciate it every night, rather than the living room in front of the window for the enjoyment of everyone else.  I have blown off cleaning a few times so that I could spend time with my kids, and actually do something with them rather than just be in the same room with them while we all do our own thing. I light candles in the house even when there are no guests, and play Christmas music which surprisingly mellows the kids out. They don't even ask for the TV. Chip and I find time to socialize with friends, and enjoy each other's company for what is typically the final time for the year. I try not to put too much pressure on myself when hosting Christmas Eve, because I know my family is all there to help and what makes it a great night is that we are together. I have even stopped worrying about my upstairs being in perfect order after years going by where none of my guests ever even went up there! The highlight for me is watching my children's faces light up when opening their gifts, and nothing else really seems to matter except for the fact we have each other. --Today is a gift, that is why we call it the present. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

No-Fail Dessert and Drink Pairings for the Holidays

Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There's no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On!

During the holidays I looooove to partake in all the goodies of the season. In December we usually attend a few parties where appetizers, cocktails and desserts are plentiful. This past weekend, we had our annual get together with my girlfriends and their spouses. Let's just say, I wasn't dieting or curbing anything for this meal! The morning of the party I went on a brutal vertical trail run, and frankly my legs are still sore. We had 2 huge pots of crab, shrimp and scallop cioppino, loaves of fresh bread, with appetizers beforehand and dessert afterward and cocktails/wine throughout. We rotate houses every year, and since it was at my girlfriends house (only 5 minutes away, whew!) my task was to bring dessert. Since I know it can be hard to please everyone, I decided to bring 2 desserts!
How does Mile High Chocolate Cake sound? For chocolate lovers, it did not disappoint! It consisted of Devil's food cake, caramel filling, chocolate mouse and cream cheese chocolate. Absolutely divine. The icing on the outside was a smooth and rich chocolate buttercream. One of my friends had brought a few bottles of her awesome dessert wine, which was a late harvest zinfandel from Paso Robles. On any other night, the dessert wine would have been a sufficient treat but it was a special occasion. It was amazing with the chocolate cake. One of my friend's husband may disagree, as he was on the hunt for a big glass of milk after taking a bite of the cake!

  The second dessert was a fantastically fluffy and creamy tiramisu. I rarely ever have it, but if I do, I always hope it tastes like this. Imagine sponge cake soaked with a rum coffee syrup....I know, it sounds amazing already, right? Then fill it with layers of both coffee and vanilla mascarpone cream, and cover with creamy white chocolate mousse and sweet cocoa powder dusting the top...and you have...heaven. Honestly the best drink to be paired with this type of dessert after dinner is coffee, with a little Kahlua in it for good measure. However, if wine is your poison, a Port or even a Muscat or Sauterne, which are sweet whites will pair with it quite nicely.

What desserts will you be serving for the holidays this year? Or any that you traditionally look forward to? 

Remember to check out Duncan Hines' website to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Burn Fat Friday! How I Plan to Alter My Work Outs To Get Fit For My Sister's Wedding

"My Sister Is Getting Married Fitness Plan"

First - the pity party. In the last couple months, I have been dealt some rough fitness blows. My Running Buddy had to stop running due to foot problems...which has been devastating. First, I totally miss the quality time and the awesome conversations we would have that would make the miles fly by. My body is definitely showing signs of reduced activity. We were regularly doing 4-5 miles at least twice a week and sometimes up to 3 or 4 times a week. That regular activity made me feel great, and motivated to do other things like yoga or Jillian Michaels DVD's on my off days. Going out and running in the dark and the cold before work alone doesn't sound as doable any more, or safe for that matter. I've tried the treadmill but get bored after 2 or 3 miles. I drag my family out on the trail so that they can ride bikes/walk or whatever while I run on the weekend, but its just not the same since our pace is different.

Since Monkey started kindergarten and needs to be at school at 7:45, this has totally cut into my morning work out time. I have never been a morning person in my entire life, but somehow I managed, with the help of my Running Buddy, to start getting up and running at 6 or 6:30. Now with school, this time is not early enough to work out and start getting him ready. The thought of waking up even earlier than that sounds positively dreadful.
I feel like Buddha!

Time to suck it up: I looked in the mirror the other day and I don't like what I see. It's totally fixable, I'm not completely negative. I just know I need to make some changes. What works for me is a consistent routine. Now that I am working out almost completely on my own, its up to me to set that routine and stick to it.

The inspiration: An old co-worker of mine happened to send me a message a few weeks ago to ask when we are going running. Yeah! I was ecstatic. She is a scrappy, under 5'0, kick-ass mother of four boys who does boot camp a few times a week before she has to get her kids up and ready for school. In the dark. And the cold. The very things that I complained were preventing me from working out. When our kids were on Thanksgiving break for a week, she and I met 3 times to run in the morning before I went to work. Mind you, she came to meet me after she had been at boot camp. Seriously, what was I complaining about again?

The plan: So, scrappy mama and I have decided to run a 5 mile loop on Saturdays. Now that our kids are back in school, she isn't able to do boot camp and run with me afterwards due to time. This will be something I can look forward to and will kick my butt into gear. We are going tomorrow, I can't wait!

I am also going to walk for 20 minutes at 1pm Monday through Thursdays when I am at work. I did this today, and managed to do over 1.25 miles. I just need to explore and find a good route. It was fun, and nice to get fresh air and out of the office for a time period longer than it takes me to walk to Panera or Whole Foods to get my lunch.

Which brings me to my next item - less Panera Bread. Great stuff, don't get me wrong. But I think I become less "fascinated" with food when I stick to the same boring things all the time. This mentality has worked for me in the past. When I go to a place with a menu, there are too many choices and too much potential to make bad choices on a whim. I know there will be plenty of days I won't have time to make myself something in the morning and will end up there, or getting a massive burrito or sandwich at Whole Foods.

I will continue to fit in a 3 mile run every other Friday between dropping Monkey off at school and volunteering in his class.

I will start walking with my ex-running buddy on the alternate Fridays.
I want to try this!
I will set my alarm for 5:30 so that I can fit in a Jillian DVD before I have to wake Monkey for school Monday through Thursday. Either Ripped in 30, or Yoga Meltdown. I also like Body by Bethenny and need to check out her newest DVD as well.

I will put all of these items into my calendar and set up alerts so that I am less likely to flake.

Today I am linking up with some great bloggers for the Fitness Friday Blog Hop. Come by and check us out!

Fitness Friday Blog Hop

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Adventures in Purple Cauliflower

Isn't this beautiful? I saw this purple cauliflower at the Farmer's Market and had to buy it. I couldn't resist the deep, gorgeous color. According to the Livestrong website, cauliflower has all the nutritional benefits of regular cauliflower but is also packed with antioxidants. Who knew this pretty flowery vegetable is a healthy source of vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium and folate to add to your diet? I usually only eat white cauliflower in crudite platters at parties, dipped in some variation of ranch dressing. I wanted to really taste this vegetable, not dressing, since it was my first time. I prepared it very simply, and must say, really enjoyed it. It's so nice to have variety at the dinner table!

Super easy: Cut cauliflower into florets. Drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper. Roast about 20 minutes at 425*. Great to let this cook (even in a countertop-style oven) while you are working on the rest of your dinner.


Have you ever eaten or even seen purple cauliflower before? This was my first time, I had to try it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Family Time Is The Best Time...Especially at Disneyland!

Me with the kids and my parents
This year we decided to go to Disneyland after Thanksgiving. We heard the crowds are really light at this time of year, and after our crazy experience last year, we really wanted to do it right. Last year we went the day after Christmas for 2 days...and both days the park hit maximum capacity and they had to stop letting people in! Our kids still had fun and they didn't know the difference but Chip and I had to put on a show and smile through gritted teeth. This year, however, they had the BEST time. We went Wednesday through Friday, and the first two days we never waited more than 15 minutes for a ride (if that). Friday was a little busier, but by then we had been on everything we wanted to go on many times so we used that day to skip some of the more popular attractions and go on some things I had never been on ever!
I love this sign!

We still got 6 rides in on this before it broke down
Monkey loves Pirates of the Carribean, and we rode our hearts out our first day. Good thing too, since it was closed on and off the rest of our trip due to some technical difficulties. Boo! Buddha definitely got more out of this trip being three than last year. By now he has seen many of the Disney and Pixar movies, and of course watches the Disney Jr. shows on TV. They got to meet so many characters, and I could not believe how unafraid Buddha was. He seriously believes they are real and was trying to carry on conversations with them! Monkey used to be afraid of them when he was younger but was really into meeting them this year too.

Christmas Mickey...

Buddha at Mickey's House!
Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates at California Adventure
The weather was sunny and it was warm during the day. We spent a lot of time in Fantasy Land, but of course hit the entire park and I got to share Monkey's first time on Space Mountain with him. Of course, just seeing the whole park decorated for the holidays was awesome! Especially the Haunted Mansion. There was also an amazing fireworks show. Call me crazy, but we are total Disneyheads and could do this every year.

Never ridden the pirate raft to the island before!

The castle at night. Aaah.
Monkey and I going for a cruise on Autopia
Well, and we probably will go back next year. We found out they are opening a Cars Land at California Adventure this coming summer. My boys are Cars and Cars 2 fanatics. And we enjoy this stuff just as much as they do.
The future site of Cars Land. Can. Not. Wait.

Tree at Disney by day...

By night.
We enjoyed a great meal at Wine Country Trattoria. Let's face it, corndogs and other amusement park fare gets old, so its nice to have this lovely place on site at California Adventure. Of course, there are also some really great places nearby at Downtown Disney. There are no limits when it comes to food and shopping!

We always stay at a nearby hotel that has suites. I can't tell you how much nicer it is to have the extra room so the boys can sleep on a pull-out bed in the main room and Chip and I can sleep in the other. Our room had a refrigerator and microwave and a wet bar. The sink came in really handy for Buddha's sippy cups and the refrigerator for drinks for all of us. Our Hilton Suite hotel also had a shuttle to and from the park every day that ran every half hour. The best part? The free breakfast buffet for 2. We loaded up every morning before we hit the park, and took some snacks like apples, bananas, etc. to go so that we had snacks for later. There are pros and cons to staying on and off property, and at my kids ages this works best for us for now. We look forward to our next trip!

I was not compensated by Disneyland or The Hilton for this post. All opinions and views shared are my own.