Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Running Crack: The Killers "Mr. Brightside"

You know how sometimes you hear a song that just has the perfect amount of energy to get you fired up on a run? You almost don't want the song to stop. You are practically belting it out as your hoofin' it down the street, up the trail, around the track, whatever. When the song ends, you start it over because you just ran better while it was playing. I know you know what I'm talking about.

I have a lot of music on my iPod, but when I run my long trail runs on the weekend I don't bring it with me. I run with a friend - Scrappy Mama - and I enjoy her company and conversation. However, the days I am running on the treadmill at home or at the gym, I need a little added inspiration. I have a running playlist and it is not separated by genre. To me, music that gets me pumped is just that...a song that gets me fired up. The same goes for music that I listen to in the car in the morning. My commuter crack. One minute, I am blasting the radio singing Tom Petty's "American Girl" and the next it's "Lonely Boy" by The Black Keys. It's all good.

Today, it was this gem from a few years ago that kept me pushing on through. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Best Day Ever!

Howdy and Happy Tuesday my Hungripeeps!

I'm a technical recruiter and I just started off my day by having one of my candidates accept an da bing!

I've got something else going on too...but I can't exactly say what just yet because I don't want to jinx it. But it is safe to say I am having the BEST DAY EVER! And so I leave you with a little Sponge Bob! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whole Paycheck? Whole-heartedly!

Whole Foods@Cupertino
Photo of my local Whole Foods courtesy of: ayustety

You've heard it before. Whole Wallet. Whole Paycheck. The various nicknames for Whole Foods Market. I used to be on that bandwagon too until I really gave it a chance. There isn't one near my home so I would only go on occasion to the one near my work. The parking lot was always crowded and somehow I always seemed to spend too much money. The store is stocked with healthy organic produce which I love, as well as a lot of options for meatless and vegan meals, but didn't think I could afford to shop there for all of my groceries.
I guess you could say I'm a convert!
 Several months ago our office moved so that we are to Whole Foods. So, the appeal to me now is that I don't have to drive there or deal with their clusterf--- parking lot. I can just walk there! And the variety of things I can have for lunch is endless. Not to mention, I typically run out at lunch time to pick up groceries  here and there for home, and now I don't have to make a separate trip for groceries AND lunch. NICE.

Green goodness
The groceries there didn't get any cheaper, but I am looking at the big picture here. I am not using gas to get there, and I am not spending money on going out for lunch. At least not technically. What I have been doing is going there and buying the makings for my healthy organic lunches (typically salads) and assembling my meals at work. I realize this may not be easy/convenient for everyone to do, but it totally works for me. I have picked up lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocados, shelled sunflower seeds, packets of tuna or canned chicken and salad dressing and other items like yogurt and raw almonds from the bulk bins for snacks. And on days when I need some variety I have either picked out items from their salad bar, or from the various hot meal choices in their buffet area. Overall, I am still saving money at Whole Foods. Who woulda thunk it?

I'm always open to new ideas to make incorporating fresh and organic foods into my life easier. How do you do it? Go green and have a great day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Adventures in Sweets and Cross Training

Last week wasn't a great eating week for me. I still continued eat pretty healthy meals for the most part, but between meals I digressed quite a bit. Monday our neighbors came by with Girl Scout cookies and we were not going to turn them down. They are great neighbors, so we bought 4 boxes. Since I am at work more than I am at home, fortunately I haven't taken too big of a calorie hit because of this.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day, and our truly awesome office manager baked us the most adorable cupcakes. Of course I had to have one!

My husband took me out to dinner for Valentine's Day, the meal was a fixed menu, and came with this dessert which was lovely. It was a French restaurant, so I'm sure our meal was full of all the fatty, caloric goodness that makes French food good. Fortunately the portions were small.

 Then on Wednesday, I had another cupcake. Damn. For breakfast!

Thursday, our partner's daughter came in, and guess what? She was selling Girl Scout Cookies! I somehow managed to limit myself to 2 boxes and promptly opened one and put it in the office kitchen so other people (not me) would eat them. The other box is stashed away in one of my desk drawers.

So....about that cross-training. I have finally decided to sign back up at the CRC. I went this weekend and I realized how much I missed it! My boys went to Kids Club and had fun playing. I did 50 minutes of circuit training and ran over 2 miles on the treadmill. My body was not used to doing weights so I am a little sore still but I feel great. I figure I can workout there some Fridays when I work from home, and on the weekends when I am not running with Scrappy Mama. Also this week the kids are out of school, so instead of getting them ready and shuffling them out the door I can get up early and work out! OR, I can sleep in. We'll see.

I have a couple weeks until I do the Montara Trail Run and want to be as strong as I can. There is no doubt I will finish it, and no doubt I will have a great time. I am really looking forward to it! This past weekend I took my family out to Harvey Bear Ranch Park so they can see where I have been training. The kids had a blast,  and it was good to get my sore legs out and moving. I think Chip was somewhat shocked and impressed that I run out there. It was a great family activity and a wonderful, long weekend!

How have you been doing in the food department? Keeping it clean and lean? Hope your Presidents Week is going well!  Stay fit and fabulous, friends!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why I Love Valentine's Day

Image from Valentine Clipart
I have seen a lot of bah-humbug in regards to Valentine's Day recently. Some of it is in jest, but others are truly and sincerely anti-. I agree, "Hallmark" holidays can be really annoying, where suddenly simple nice gestures must be grandiose and over commercialized. Do I need a dozen roses from my husband to symbolize his love for me? No. Are they nice, well yes. And if you do get roses every Valentine's Day, more power to you. I did get roses a lot during the early years of marriage. I'm not saying that over time romantic gestures become any less special, or that I deserve less but I guess as a couple we have become more practical. I don't really want Chip to spend the money on roses. But, I do know that if I really wanted them or expected them he would totally get them for me.

This morning, it was all about the kids. I got them each a Star Wars action figure/battle game (under $10) and a little box of candy (under $5). They didn't get a card from us, well because in all honesty they don't give a hoot about cards. I was going to make them heart shaped pancakes but we spent so much time ooh-ing and aah-ing over their their little presents that they were behind in getting ready for school so we nixed that and I let them have a piece of chocolate with their breakfast. There are so many things that Monkey asks for now, because he sees stuff on TV - that evil box in our living room that is constantly marketing things to him, heh heh. We are always telling him that maybe he can get it when he achieves x,y, and z so that gives him something to work toward and not just automatically buy him what he wants. He was SO enthused this morning at the thought of just getting a surprise gift, for no reason other than we love him. He kept saying, "Thank you!" over and over. Too cute. Buddha of course is still in his own little world and loved his Yoda, but honestly was more interested in his piece of chocolate and his morning milk.

Chip and I exchanged cards, and we have plans to go to a nice dinner tonight. I don't have any problem with celebrating "us", I am always looking for excuses to celebrate just about anything...I've always been that way. I don't want to get gauged on an over-priced, crowded restaurant with crappy service on Valentine's Day. There have been many times we have stayed home and made lobster and steaks at home and had champagne for a fraction of restaurant cost (and yeah, we had to cook and clean up after too, but that's besides the point). But our lovely little town has a new French restaurant we are excited to try. And nothing here is ever crowded or over-priced. I feel really fortunate, because I'm not in any mood these days to travel to the "city" when I have to commute in for work every day.

So I get that people think Valentine's Day is lame, but to each his own. I will take advantage of any opportunity to celebrate love with my three dudes. I've even got my Pinterest board ready to go with ideas for next year. Hope you all have a lovely day, whether you are celebrating or not.

With hugs and love!

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Do you enjoy the traditional heart-shaped candy box and roses or are you a little more casual with your gifts?

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Skinny on The Skinnygirl Workout

I just love Bethenny Frankel. What is it about her? She is flat-out funny and speaks her mind. She has always seemed so real and accessible to me. Even though she has an amazing figure and a fabulous life, you really don't want to hate her. You really would like to be friends with her.

In the past, I had received a copy of Body By Bethenny from Acacia, and wrote my honest review here. I really like Body By Bethenny, and it grew on me even more as time went on. This time around, I received my Skinnygirl Workout in my Christmas stocking from my husband. Before you start feeling all bitchy in my defense, I did ask for it...the stocking stuffer was in no way a hint from him to exercise more. It has been in my exercise DVD mix for the last couple months and I think I'm ready to talk about it.

I didn't love it right off the bat. I love Bethenny for her humor and wit, and was hoping to see more of that in this DVD. The ease of the banter between Bethenny and Kristin McGee was what made Body By Bethenny fun. In this case, the new yoga instructor, Mike McArdie is all business. I would actually call their interactions almost awkward sometimes. Bethenny's quips sometimes don't even phase him...where I am chuckling, this guy doesn't crack a smile. The way this DVD comes across is like these two just met and are working out together for the first time. The one time Mike says "Give me more chest" and Bethenny's like, "Excuse me?"...that made me laugh out loud and it went over his head. Of course she did get some funnies in, with the "boob-to-knee-asana" pose she coined in the last DVD, and references to "shar pei neck". I did find it endearing when she spoke directly to the camera and told us viewers that this DVD is "much harder this time around."

Well, this is a workout DVD, not a soap opera. All other things aside this is a great workout. I must say that Mike is a solid instructor, leading the workout but also doing the poses himself. He always mentions modifications that can be done to make it easier or harder depending on your skill level, and speaks of the benefits of the particular poses and what part of your body to engage with each pose. He also takes time to encourage Bethenny and mention if her poses or movement need to be tweaked for proper form. That is what I love about Bethenny. She keeps it real. You can just imagine so many other celebrities would never want themselves filmed in a workout DVD where each pose and movement wasn't exactly perfect.

I do love that the workout is broken up into segments. Three Workouts For Your Busy Life, to be exact. One 20-minute workout, two 15-minute workouts, and then a 12-minute stretching portion. The latter is especially great because most yoga DVD's include stretching at the end of the main workout, so I feel you actually get more workout time. There have been mornings that I have been short on time and may do the first two segments and I still feel like I worked my entire body. I love incorporating yoga into my routine, as I feel it is the perfect compliment to my running. There have been days that I have been sore after doing The Skinnygirl Workout. A good sore.

Are you a fan of Bethenny? Have you ever tried any of her Skinnygirl products or workout DVD's? I think you should. Especially the Skinnygirl Margarita...after your Skinnygirl Workout.  Have a fit and fabulous weekend, friends!

Linking up over at Bees With Honey today! Stop by and check out some new blogs!
Let's BEE Friends

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pumpkin Pie for One. Ok, Two.

The other night Monkey said he wanted pumpkin pie. I think I would say this is the first time I noticed he was having a "craving". Of course there have been other times he's asked for things...say, gum (he asks a lot and doesn't like the answer I usually give) or pasta for dinner. But I noticed this was the third time in the past few days he had asked for pumpkin pie. The first time I sort of blew it off as a fluke, the second time I told him we'd buy some soon (maybe lying a just a little) and the third time, I decided why not? Sounds pretty good.

But of course I didn't want to make a whole pie. It was 7pm and Chip was working and Buddha had already gone to bed. I was inspired by this recipe by girl meets life. but tweaked it to my convenience, since after all it was 7pm. Have I mentioned how much I loooove my iPad? It comes in so handy especially when I am using recipes off the web to make something in the kitchen.

You will need:
4 graham crackers
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
whipped cream if you so desire
2 ramekins - sprayed lightly with Pam on the sides

Preheat the oven to 425*. I used my Cuisinart countertop oven, because it heats up really fast and while its small, it is just big enough for this little pie project.
Monkey is such a good helper in the kitchen
Take your graham crackers - 2 at a time - and put them in a plastic baggie and roll over them with a rolling pin. Or if you are lazy like I am you can break them apart with your fingers and smash them in the ramekin with a spoon. In any case, put two crushed graham crackers at the bottom of each ramekin and cover the bottom.

Combine all the ingredients for the the filling in a small bowl. This is the point where I actually discovered there would be enough for me to make two of these! What a pleasant surprise! Divide among your two ramekins.

Heat in oven at 425* for 10 minutes then reduce oven to 375* for another 8 minutes. Not sure about the timing if you use a regular kitchen oven, so keep an eye on it so it does not burn on the top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Squirt with a dab of whipped cream. I just happened to have this in my refrigerator, otherwise,  I would have gone without. This will satisfy your craving for a while. If not, this is so easy to make, just make it again.

Once I put the whipped cream on, I was not able to move quickly enough to get a photo. This boy wanted his pumpkin pie, and I mean now. Trust me, it looked adorable in the little red star ramekin, and tasted great too.

Incredibly stoked boy

Friday, February 3, 2012

Foie Gross

Foie gras
I consider myself to be an educated person generally. I am a pretty adventurous eater and I love food. Well I do not know how I made it this far in my life without knowing how foie gras is made. I know it as duck or goose liver which may not appeal to a lot of people. I'm very middle of the road when it comes to things generally, with a heavy lean to the liberal side. I do know about the horrible conditions that cattle and chicken are kept in by the companies that mass-produce meat. I am also informed about mass produced meat and the stress it puts on the environment. But I also think that while my family has cut back significantly on meat the last couple years for these reasons, that meat in moderation is ok if from the right sources. I'm not a card carrying PETA member but I care about the humane treatment of animals. Last night I watched a brief blurb on the ABC 7 news about a statewide ban on foie gras and was completely grossed out.

I had no idea that foie gras is the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened by force-feeding. This is a cultural food originating in France, the words foie gras  translating into "fat liver." I took French in high school, apparently I was out the day they taught this! There is a foie gras farm here in California that is under fire in the news clip that I have included below. Three times a day a pound of corn is forced down the ducks' throat through a metal tube. Horrifying. And, this particular farm had many sick and dead birds, birds with livers so swollen they couldn't move and were getting eaten alive by rats.

How could you possibly ever want to eat this again after knowing how this is made? I'm not trying to change the cultural history of the French, but I do agree, in this day and age, a foie gras farm has no place in California.