Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013!

What a year! It flew by so quickly because I seemed to always have a big event lurking on the horizon.

From the wedding,
To the honeymoon,
To the purchase of our first home!

It's been a monumental year for us and I'm grateful for everyone who has helped out along the way. Here's to 2014 being as equally enjoyable but a little calmer.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weekly Weigh-In & Recap: 12/16/2013

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

Health and Fitness-y Stuff
I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't a little surprised by this week's drop. I was absurdly hungry last week, so much so in fact that I definitely ate way over even my normal maintenance levels. There were also a couple days where I felt unpleasantly full, that it only seemed natural that my weight would be up this week. But it's not. Huh. Cool. I'll still be working to avoid those unpleasantly full days; I hate feeling like a balloon.

My shoulder seems to be on the up and up. I just have to be extra careful not to overexert myself (again). Elena's been taping my shoulder up before Reformer and Zumba, which again, may or may not be all placebo effect.

House Things
Let's see...what did we do last week...Oh yes, that's right. We endured our first snow storm! Eric had hired a plow guy to come for the driveway, which was extremely helpful. To Eric particularly, as we only have one shovel and 450 ft. driveway. That left only the bay in front of our garage doors and the path to the front door. It actually seemed easier than when we lived in the apartment, but what do I know? I just stood and watched out the window with warm coffee in hand. We also replaced our mailbox with a newer version of the same model. Apparently cold plus plastic causes the little door to snap off. It was only eleven bucks, so that might also have something to do with it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weekly Weigh-In & Recap: 12/9/2013

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

Health/Fitnessy Stuff
Well, yesterday's weigh-in was slightly discouraging albeit expected. Leading up to the race last week, my arm was definitely on the mend and feeling better. After the race, it felt like a one-month setback. It's totally stupid, right? I hurt myself taking my coat off while driving. It's definitely not a major strain and I don't need to bug my doctor because she's probably going to recommend some stupid and useless test like the last time I went to see her about an injury but it's just aggravating. Because, well, I need to use my damn arm on a daily basis. It was annoying enough last week that I was on a steady dosing of Advil until Thursday. It felt alright for Reformer on Sunday but it's weak. Where I was using one full spring for arms before it happened, I'm down to a quarter spring now. So, Elena, being the most awesome PT/Pilates Instructor/Zumba Instructor ever helped me out with a little KT tape.
Stylish, I know. At least my sports bra and hat match.
I think the tape is helping but whether that's the placebo effect, I couldn't say. I wanted to get this post up last night but by the time I got home, ate dinner, did the dishes and got my treadmill walk in it was almost 9pm. Sleep > blogging.

House Things
On Black Friday, I saw a super awesome deal for some blackout thermal curtains online (orig: $70, sale: $20!) so I bought some for the master bedroom and some for the family room, which are by far the draftiest rooms in the entire house. I installed one in the bedroom before Eric got so interested in what I was doing that he wanted to do it too. He then proceeded to install all the remaining curtain rods. Teehee. It's like I tricked him into doing all my work. :) I attempted to get the wrinkles out of the curtains while he was putting up the rods. Google research told me that if I didn't have a handheld steamer (which I don't, because I wear jeans and a tshirt to work most days) that if I tossed the curtains into the dryer on tumble dry low with a damp wash cloth, the wrinkles would come out. Eh, it sort of worked...I guess. There are still some wrinkly spots but they'll do because I'm tired of cold-nose syndrome in bed.

I finally picked a game...
I've been playing SW:TOR. I get to run around and stab things with a lightsaber!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Running Analysis Paralysis

As a long-term maintainer, what do you do when you lose interest and don't love your primary form of exercise anymore?

Well, if you're me, you agonize and you torment yourself that you don't want to do it anymore. You try to force yourself to do it, desperately hoping that you'll start loving it again.  Then you waffle about whether or not you should convert your Thanksgiving 5K registration to a walker but in a show of sibling solidarity convince your little brother to run the whole thing with you.

It was a particularly cold and miserably windy Thanksgiving morning for my first and longest outdoor run in months.  Nate and I made a pact to stay together the entire way, even to the finish line because neither of us had been running regularly for quite some time. We needed each other to make it without any walking breaks. We stuck together and chatted a bit for the first mile and a half. Since we were chatting, we were obviously not running at a racing pace but more of a leisurely jog. I'm glad for that because I'm pretty sure we would have needed to walk otherwise. We finished in 33:11, which while not our best time ever, is perfectly acceptable given our total lack of training.

I had hoped that after Thanksgiving I'd have some more insight into whether or not I really want to keep up with running but I'm still torn. After we completed the race, I felt that rush of accomplishment and joy that I'd pushed my body to do something like that. The next morning however, I felt like I'd gotten into a fight. My quads were extremely sore and all my nagging little hurts (shoulder, hip) were exacerbated. I'm not an idiot; I know that's because I pushed myself to do too much the previous day without sufficient training. But still, it's hard to accept the reality that I'm not as running-fit as I was before I got hurt.

It's been almost exactly two years since my first injury and I recall clearly the muddled mess of emotions I felt about it. I was sad because running was the only thing that gave me that mental clarity and emotional stability that I craved. I was scared because running was how I had lost and kept all the weight off for two years. I was angry because I felt like 26 was too young to be injured.


I've realized that running isn't the only thing to give me the mental clarity and emotional stability. It's not the only way to keep the weight off. And I was a ticking-injury-time bomb with my abnormally large range of motion and complete lack of control over it. I adore my Reformer classes and Zumba gives me the cardio I need. Neither of those things gives me the sense of accomplishment that finishing a run does though, and that is what I miss the most.

For right now though, running still isn't an option and the only thing I can do is to focus on shedding these little nagging pains. Perhaps in a month or two I'll have some more insight into the situation.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Weekly Weigh-In and Recap: 12/2/2013

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

I totally missed last week's post because Thanksgiving sneaked up on me this year. I think I blame work being abnormally busy this late in the year. Normally, I would have picked up all my groceries the weekend before, but I ended up grocery shopping on Tuesday morning instead. Everything felt last minute this year. I got home a little bit early on Wednesday and promptly began cleaning the kitchen; I then set Eric to chopping onions.  Nate arrived a couple hours after me with the turkey for brining. This was also about the time I realized that I spent all my time grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, but hadn't given any thought to the night before. Oops.

We ended up getting pizza from 2ovens and I spent the rest of the night prepping for Thanksgiving. Nate and I ran the 7th Annual Southborough Gobble Wobble on Thanksgiving morning, while my dad did the walker's course. I honestly think that's my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Well, that and pie, right Mom?

This has been one of those years that went by so fast that I'm constantly saying how I can't believe it's December already. It's certainly been a huge year, what with the marriage, honeymoon and house purchase. I spent some time looking back through my archives recently and it's so strange. I feel as if my life was slightly more interesting a few years ago, or perhaps I just did a better job describing it. Anyhow, moving along now.

YAY! It's Christmas time now! I've already decorated my tree and wrapped two or three presents.

I'm looking forward to making cookies and giving gifts. I think Christmas is my favorite holiday. :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekly Weigh-In and Recap: 11/18/2013

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

I knew creating that Stickk contract would be the kick in the butt I needed! It hasn't been a week yet, but I've logged every day except last Friday. Logging your food is kind of tough when you're out at a party. I managed to just nibble until I felt full and then I didn't eat much more after that. I was pretty proud of myself for not stuffing my face like I am wont to do in those situations.

I am not, however, proud of the fact that I managed to hurt my neck/shoulder taking my coat off in the car a couple weeks ago. I haven't been to lift weights in a couple of weeks because of it. It's been particularly bad the last week but I think it's finally getting better. I've been able to keep up with Reformer at least and now that I'm back to Zumba, it's easier to have a positive mindset about everything.

This past weekend was pretty boring. All I did was grocery shop at Wegmans during the most inopportune time of the day, make some butternut squash soup and watch this little spazz:

There are more pictures on my SmugMug if you're interested. You can click the little smiley face icon in the top right or you can just click on the picture itself.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weekly Weigh-In and Recap: 11/11/2013

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

I'm so behind on posting this this week. Work has been unusually crazy the last few days. I've been expending all my brain power there only to come home forget how to do simple tasks like turn on the right burner to heat my food. It's pretty pathetic, I gotta say.  Eric and I went out to see Thor on Saturday, which was awesome. They showed the trailer for Captain America 2 and I got super excited for next April. Captain America is way better than all the other Avengers! We also celebrated Eric's birthday last weekend with a simple but tasty meal and these little delights:

Lychee Butter Cake Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Buttercream
In other news, I've been thinking a lot lately about whether I really want to take running up again. It's been almost two years since I was running with any sort of regularity and my desire to run has waned. I think I'll have to dedicate an entire post to it because there's a lot going on in my head about it. The lack of regular running is partially why my weight has been ever so slowly creeping upwards. It's certainly not the whole reason but it's a conglomeration of disinterest and aggravation that has it creeping more lately. I wish that I could just trust my appetite, eat when I'm hungry and not snarfle everything in sight. But I can't. I'm pretty sure I will never be able to and it's still a tough pill to swallow this many years into maintenance. I know that I'm hung up on this fact right now and nothing I've been doing has shaken me out of that funky state.

So, I think that means that it's time to re-institute a Stickk contract with some drastic negative monetary consequences for failure. The concept of losing money for not doing something simple and easy has always forced me to make better decisions, especially food-based ones. The goal will be to log my food six out of seven days a week for the next 16 weeks and failure to do so each week will cost $50/week. The contract is here and anyone who wants to join as a supporter is appreciated and welcomed. I'm not setting any specific calorie goals right now, I'm just letting myself get back into the habit of being conscious of what I put into my body.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Weekly Weigh-in & Recap: 11/4/2013

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

I'm not doing a great job going in the right direction, am I? I'm at a loss for words about the whole situation. So, I'm just not going to talk about it. :)

I was lurking about Fitocracy a couple days ago (in between the app crashing on me every two minutes) and stumbled upon a group for bookworms. I joined immediately because I'm totally a bookworm. I've always had a voracious appetite for books; I don't just read them, I devour them. Then I realized I don't actually share that fact here currently, but I could! Stay tuned for future book reviews.

We did some more house maintenance this week and took down an annoying ugly ceiling fan that was far too low in the room on Sunday. It was a bit tougher than the dining room light and we didn't end up with a situation where we could actually just install the new light.

Other than that though, I spent most of the weekend playing Minecraft. I read the patch notes on Friday night last week and got excited because they added more flower types and stained glass. I'm sure this doesn't sound exciting to most people but I have a low threshold for excitment.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weekly Weigh-In & Weekend Recap: 10/28/13

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

Ergh...erp...ehhhh. Sorta kinda not the greatest of weeks last week. Oh well, there's nothing that I can do about it now. I'll just have to make sure this week is better. And that's exactly what I did and why this post is delayed a day. Between bringing home my work laptop last night so I could put in an extra hour of work, grocery shopping, preparing lunch for today and making oatmeal to have for breakfast, I think this week is going to be better than last. I had a little argument with myself last night about whether I should do the food planning for the week or just get in a run. I'm glad I did the food planning because it was definitely more important.

This past weekend, we went to my cousin's Halloween themed wedding. We stayed in the Omni New Haven which is the same hotel we got stuck in due to the stupid hurricane two years ago. Fortunately the weather was just cold and windy this weekend. No hurricanes, yay. Eric and I had a good time at the wedding trying to remember our ballroom skills, but we totally failed on about half of it. It was still fun though!

While I didn't wear a costume, I did pretend to be a candy corn vampire.

And she had the coolest cake-topper!

It's like the less adorable version of Warm Bodies.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekly Weight & Weekend Recap: 10/21/13

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

Despite the large jump in step count, things aren't moving in a downward trend. That's fair though because diet is 80% of it and I'm not even logging my food. I'm secretly harboring the wish (desire, whatever you want to call it) to be able to eat without logging my food and maintain. I guess I'm sort of doing that? Kind of? I know I'm struggling to get the momentum going in respect to diet; It's just hard to find the mental energy to care right now. I'd list out all the reasons why, but it already sounds like excuses in my head. The best I can do right now is stay steady, because I'm pretty sure this is cyclic and eventually the motivation will return.

We finally got around to hanging our dining room light fixture this weekend. Well, Eric did most of it. I just stood on a chair and held it from falling off the box we put it on. Oh, and I played with the breakers. It was our first lighting fixture installation and we were pretty scared it was going to light the house on fire as soon as we turned it on. That might have just been me. Not sure. It didn't though and I was pretty proud of Eric's handiwork. The dining room needs a paint job wicked bad too. It's an ugly orange color that doesn't exactly inspire me to want to have family gatherings in there. Plus the previous owners did a crummy job painting the trim, so if you rub it too hard with a sponge the paint slips right off. It drives me nuts, and I'd like to have it fixed before Thanksgiving because we're hosting but I'm doubtful.

Oh, and I also made some more cupcakes this weekend.
Snickerdoodle cupcakes!
The frosting tasted fine but looked terrible. I cleverly covered it up with a teeny little snickerdoodle cookie. They must have been a hit because I didn't come home with any. Eric also made something, but I'm saving that photo for Friday.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Yesterday didn't start out that badly. I snoozed my alarm more than I should have so I got to work a little later than I wanted. But, it's not like I was actually late for anything so it wasn't a big deal. I started out a pretty good mood because I got a new, shiny and powerful work laptop. It boots up in less than 20 minutes and doesn't sit there and spin the stupid little circle cursor every time I want to use an internet browser. All positive things. Better than that, it came with a real backpack instead of one of those stupid cross-body laptop bags that always leaves big long bruises on my shoulder. It wouldn't have really taken much to make me happy in comparison to my old laptop though.

In fact, everything went fine until lunch. I went down to the cafeteria to get a bowl for my stew and returned to the microwave to heat it up. As I took my steaming hot bowl out of the microwave, I realized I didn't have any utensils to eat it with but didn't want to go back to the cafeteria. One of my nice coworkers has a box of plastic cutlery in his cubicle, and he doesn't mind if I take one every so often. It happened to be on my way back to my own cubicle so I figured it would just be easier if I grabbed a plastic spoon from his. I walked into his cubicle and promptly tripped over my own feet, dumping my bowl of stew all over the floor behind his chair.

Isn't this crap only supposed to happen in bad teen movies?

Neither he nor his office-mate were in the cubicle so I'm grateful that I at least didn't dump it all over one of them. That would have just made me feel even worse than I already did. Frantically, I grabbed every visible napkin and the trashcan then plunked down on the floor to clean up my poor lunch. When I ran out of napkins, I got lucky and found a roll of paper towels hidden behind the the desk. When my coworker and his office-mate returned to their cubicle to find me sitting on the floor with paper towels and a trash can I can only imagine the first thought was, "What the heck happened here?" I apologized profusely as they laughed at my story, then escaped off to find a real lunch.

Let's just hope I can keep my food in its bowl today. Cafeteria lunch two days in a row would be kind of lame and I don't think another dose of stew would do the carpet in my coworker's cubicle a bit of good.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekly Weigh-In & Weekend Recap: 10/14/13

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

I had a so-so food week but quite an industrious weekend.

We attacked the what will eventually be my garden on Saturday. Nate came down with a weedwacker, two rakes, some sort of three-pronged soil-stabbing tool and a something else to stab the gigantic weeds. It took several hours of hard work, but we finally got it down to a point where I'll be able to turn it into something next spring. In its current state, it's just too big though. There would be no way that I would have the time to maintain it and work. My goal for next spring is to build a couple of raised beds inside the space that we cleared, something of a more reasonable size.

On Sunday afternoon, I spent time with my favorite dog buddy!

He creates a path of toy-destruction.

In an effort to tire him out, I did my C25K Week 3, Workout 3 in our driveway with him. On our fourth run down the driveway, he started snapping at something behind me. At first I thought he was being a little jerk and trying to nip my heels, but it turns out he was trying to grab his leash in his mouth. He succeeded at that and then ran ahead of me a little bit with the leash in his mouth and looked at me with the, "C'mon human! You're not going fast enough!" look on his face.  He's quite the little character.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekly Weigh-in & Weekend Recap: 10/7/13

DateWeightB.F. %Steps

At least my body fat percentage seems to have gone down? I sincerely doubt that it actually decreased by that large a drop, but I feel like I need another couple of weeks to establish an actual trend. Ooh! Maybe I'll plot a graph and post it!

Well, besides the weigh-in, I don't have much to report about the weekend. I spent most of it indoors with these books:

In these pajamas:
That's totally how I planned for the weekend to go, as I've hardly had a moment to myself in the last month. After I finished my second book, I decided I'd try to find myself a new video game to play but I just ended up playing Plants vs. Zombies because I couldn't find anything to my liking.

I'm taking suggestions, so if you've got any, leave 'em down below.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Photo Friday: Rain Forest

Almost six months later, I have days where I wish we were still on our honeymoon.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Weigh-In & Weekend Recap

WeightB.F. %

Ugh. It's Monday already? I feel like I hardly had a weekend at all, but regardless, I'm doing things a little differently today and starting it off with a weigh-in. Since July 24th 2009, I've weighed in every Friday without fail, through ups and downs. Lately though, having the weigh-in on Friday has given way to a yeah! it's the weekend, I can eat whatever I want and make up for it during the week next week! mentality.

Which is not a really great mentality to have, hence the Monday morning weigh-in. I won't snarfle food like a little starving piggy if I know that I have to step on a scale two days later. Work weeks are hardly ever a problem for me if I take the time to meal plan on the weekends. Speaking of meal planning, I did a good bit of that this past weekend. I made chili to bring for lunch and I made some more rye bread for sandwiches. My rye bread was a little deformed though:

Eric thought my ugly bread was particularly amusing,
so he decided to caption it with a napkin. *shakes head*

I've also decided to make a swap with my scheduled training runs and use the C25K app from ZenLabs. I've been having such a hard time sticking to the plan because everything has been feeling so hard (yeah, I know I was sick but still) that I realized I need to scale back. If I start completing things that feel easy, I can build up to the point where four miles feels easy again. I've reassembled my treadmill to help out with this, in case I get home and it's dark already.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Queen Whinerface

I feel like the queen of the state of whiners this week. My tummy hurt when I woke up on Wednesday and later that morning, in a frantic dash to the bathroom at work, I smashed the door into my knee in just the right place. I thought I was either going to vomit or pass out. In the six years I've worked here, I've never smashed the door into my knee. Now I have a huge black and blue on my knee and it still hurts a little bit. Add in the fact that my clothes continue to feel uncomfortable, I can't seem to find my rhythm and I think it's pretty self-explanatory why I feel like the queen of whiners.

I've been toying around with the idea of keeping a picture log of all the food that I eat in a day as an extra level of culpability. I normally think the idea is silly but I might try it for a week next week, just to see if making it public helps keep me out of the stupid candy jars at work. Candy's okay sometimes but when it becomes an every day occurrence and when you are hardly doing any exercise anyhow, it's a problem. I guess I'll give it a whirl, it can't hurt.

In order to do that though, I'll have to make a grocery trip to Wegmans. I simultaneously love and hate Wegmans. The parking lot and navigating the store drive my blood pressure through the roof. People seem to forget all common courtesy and situational awareness the moment they walk through the door with the cart. Parking in the middle of the aisles, that's cool right? Stopping to have a conversation with someone and blocking the entire path through an aisle, that's cool too right? It also seems like the moment you politely say, "Excuse me," to get past the clusterfluff in front of you, you get the evil eye because you're the jerk that wants to actually shop. Grr, that store, I swear.

I finally replaced my FitBit Zip with a newer and pinker version, since I'm trying to get back into the flow and lose the sevenish pounds I put on during the whole house hunting/summer injury process.

My old one died a couple months ago and I couldn't revive it, no matter how hard I tried. I don't really need it for the calorie count it's displaying but knowing how many steps I get in a day is a helpful metric especially with a desk job. If anyone wants to be wants to be my Fitbit friend, here's the link. I'll add a little icon over on the right too.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turkey Trot Training Plan

I ran my first turkey trot race in 2006 at 178lbs. My dad drove me out and waited in the car, reading the newspaper while I ran. It was a hard race. I was cold and slow, but it didn't really matter. The sense of accomplishment I got from doing something that was the antithesis of the overly indulgent holiday was awesome. Then after I lost all the weight and started running again, it only made sense I'd run a turkey trot that year. I did and I've run one every year since I made my goal weight. Due to the whole injury, I haven't run a race since last year's turkey trot and I was starting to worry that I wouldn't be able to run one this year.

I didn't really need to be worried though, because through the help of my PT and my own persistence, I'm ready to run again. And hey, look at that, it conveniently works out that my first race back will be my favorite race of the year! My training plan this year may look slightly pathetic and light on the mileage but I've been hurt two years in a row now. It's time to use some caution in building back to my version of prime racing form.

The plan (in convenient table form!) looks like this:

M T W R F Sa Su
Week 1 (9/16) 2.2 km Lifting Off Zumba Lifting 2.2 km 2.4 km & Reformer
Week 2 (9/23) Lifting Reformer 2.4 km Zumba Lifting 2.6km 2.6km
Week 3 (9/30) 2.8km Lifting 2.8km Zumba Lifting Off 3.0 km & Reformer
Week 4 (10/7) 3.0 km Lifting 3.4 km Zumba Lifting Off 3.4 km & Reformer
Week 5 (10/14) 3.8 km Lifting 3.8 km Zumba Lifting Off 4.2 km & Reformer
Week 6 (10/21) 4.2 km Lifting 4.6 km Zumba Lifting Off 4.6 km & Reformer
Week 7 (10/28) 5.0 km Lifting 5.0 km Zumba Lifting 5.8 km Off
Week 8 (11/4) 5.8 km Lifting 6.6 km Zumba Lifting Off 6.6 km & Reformer
Week 9 (11/11) 6.8 km Lifting 6.8 km Zumba Lifting Off 7.0 km & Reformer
Week 10 (11/18) 7.0 km Lifting 7.0 km w/hill repeats Zumba Lifting Off 7.0 km tempo & Reformer
Week 11 (11/25) 7.0 km easy Lifting Off Gobble Wobble 5K Easy day 7.0 km w/hill repeats Reformer?

I'm not setting a time goal this year, as just running the race will be enough of an accomplishment. I've already run once so far this week and it still felt awkward. I can tell my breathing patterns are getting better though because it's becoming easier to breathe into my belly while I run. I've dropped down to one Zumba class a week to better accommodate my two weekly lifting sessions because I think they're more important to developing a well-balanced level of fitness.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chocolate Granola

Quite some time ago, Kashi discontinued my most favoritest granola ever.  Apparently it didn't have enough fans, which makes me question the entire populace as a whole. How can chocolate granola not be popular? It is chocolate! Well, maybe it was the little flakes of dried coconut that had a particular propensity to stab me in the gums, but regardless I was pretty sad.

Fortunately, this was about the same time that the dark chocolate and oats bars by Nature Valley started appearing in stores. And for a long time, smashing them up to bits inside of the packaging was sufficient. Late last year though, I started to yearn for real chocolate granola again. I suppose got tired of delicately opening the smashed up package of oat bars and their disturbing inability to absorb any of my yogurt.

So, I set out to engineer myself a perfect blend of my two favorite chocolate-oat mixtures. My recipe went through many iterations and several phases where it was terrible. But finally! Finally I have perfected it and am ready to share it. Please note that I am providing this recipe with traditional cup and teaspoon measurements in addition to the gram measurements. I bake using weight as it's more accurate so the gram measurements are my preferred methodology.

Chocolate Granola (PDF)
Recipe by Sarah Pickett

2 cups (160g) rolled oats
1 cup (16g) brown rice puffs
1/3 cup (34g) oat flour
½ teaspoon (2g) salt
½ teaspoon (2g) baking soda
1/3 cup (60g) mini chocolate chips
¼ cup (56g) vegetable oil
3 tablespoons (63g) blackstrap molasses
3 tablespoons (63g) honey
1/3 cup (38g) packed brown sugar

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Once the oven is up to temperature, spread the oats in a rimmed baking sheet and toast for minutes, or just until fragrant (slightly nutty).
  3. While the oats are toasting, combine the first 6 ingredients making sure that the chocolate chips are on top.
  4. Pour the freshly toasted oats on top of the chocolate chips and let the mixture set for 2-3 minutes to allow the chocolate melt.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
    Pour the mixture directly into a rimmed non-stick pan or a pan covered with parchment paper and squish the mixture evenly into the pan.
  6. Place the mixture into the oven for 10 minutes.
    • For chewy granola: Cook 2 minutes longer and then cool completely.
    • For crunchy granola: After ten minutes, stir the mixture around with a spatula and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir the mixture again and cook for 2 minutes more. Allow to cool on a rack.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Earrings

I started to type up a whole post with the rundown of the last few days but I got bored halfway through writing it. That probably means you'll get bored reading through it, so I'm just going to hit the highlights with my favorite, the bulleted list:
  • Thursday: Soggy (despite the overpriced garbage bag poncho..) ugly Patriots night game that (surprisingly) resulted in a win
  • Friday: Got home at 2am from ugly soggy Patriots game only to get up five hours later and watch the movers move stuff, the rest of the day was spent unpacking and reassembling. I'm glad I had enough brain power to reassemble the bed first.
  • Saturday: Slept poorly in new house, listening to creaks and squeaks, not used to it yet! Not really sure what I did this day except buy groceries and generally be tired-hungry-grumpy. Eric can attest to this.
  • Sunday: Did stuff? I think? My brain was so tired from the previous three days that I don't think it was working right.
With all that, going to work yesterday was (almost) a relief with its normalcy. Since we've moved now and there's no more major life events on the horizon for this year, I think I can finally settle back into a routine. I've already made myself a little training plan with the goal of running my favorite Thanksgiving 5K race. I'll probably get around to sharing it within the next week but it's so simple I don't know if it's worth it. Maybe, we'll see. I've already completed day one by heading out for a 2.2 km run. It seems short but I'm building up slowly so I can master my form and not get injured again.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, check out my new earrings!
Pumpkin Pie Earrings
via Acdmc on Etsy
I may have purchased them with the express purpose of wearing them while I host Thanksgiving this year. And possibly because they are super cute. Actually, it's mostly because they're super cute. I'll probably wear them to work before Thanksgiving too. It'll fit right in with my Donut Panic shirt.

Monday, September 16, 2013

(Re)released into the wild

Several weeks ago I had my final PT appointment of this go-round. I've definitely made significant progress since I started a few months ago, but at the same time it feels as if I was given a brand new user's guide to how to run my own body. Everything I do feels awkward right now, especially running. I will have to continue to do my homework and remain cognizant of my posture, but I can handle that. I know I was asked to share the exercises I've been doing quite some time ago, but I'm reticent to share all of them. Frankly, I don't want anyone finding them, self-diagnosing themselves with the same problem I have and then following my exercises blindly. My routine is designed for me and my problems, not you and yours!

That being said, I will happily share two of the most important (and easy) ones that everyone could do without harming themselves. The absolute most important do-not-skip "exercise" that my PT has had me doing the entire time is breathing. Yup, breathing.

Belly Breathing a.k.a Diaphragmatic Breathing
Want to know whether you're a chest-breather or a belly-breather? It's pretty easy to test. Lie down on the floor with your knees comfortably bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently rest your hand on your tummy and just take a deep breath without giving it any thought. If the hand on your tummy doesn't move, then you're a chest-breather just like me.

Since I'm a habitual chest-breather, I struggled with the mental aspect of redirecting my breath
into my belly. It felt awkward and unnatural at first. I yawned a lot while doing it (still do) and never felt like I could get good deep breath in. Part of that problem was attributed to my inability to exhale correctly (yup, totally failed on all accounts of breathing here). I asked my PT about it and he directed me to take one quick full deep breath into my belly and then slowly (like a leaky tire) exhale until I felt a tiny "crunch" sensation in my abdominal muscles. That also felt uncomfortable and counter intuitive. However, I've persisted and worked on this every single day since my first appointment. I'm finally seeing the fruits of my labor as I catch myself unconsciously breathing into my belly, but there are also points throughout the day where I catch myself shallowly breathing into my chest.

Kneeling Rock Back
I love this exercise. I don't know why exactly; I can't explain it. It's extremely simple but so effective, useful and it's great between squat sets. The best way to explain this is with a video (courtesy Reg Bourcier via YouTube):

I've been doing the first and most simple variant of this exercise with a half-full water bottle on my lower back. The water bottle acts as a level, providing feedback regarding the stability of my pelvis throughout the range of motion. I've never done the second variant that is shown but now that I've seen it, I'm probably going to try it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cotton brain

For the last week or so, the weather had been steadily heading into comfortable autumnal territory. Then today, in true New England fashion, the high is 93 and the humidity levels leave me feeling uncomfortably soggy. I knew it was going to be a rough day when I tried to get out of bed and had to sit back down because it made me dizzy. On top of that, I feel like I have cotton in my brain. I may have blogged about it in passing but if I haven't, I suffer from migraines at infrequent intervals. One of my triggers is drastic changes in barometric pressure and today would certainly qualify. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the sinus pressure I have right now doesn't develop into a full-blown migraine with aura as that would pretty much ruin my day.

So, since my brain feels like it's stuffed with cotton today, this post is going to be all over the place. You're just going to have to deal with it.

This past Saturday, Mom, Charlie and I had a marathon move-in cleaning session of the house. I'd thought about hiring cleaners but with such a short time frame, I wasn't able to get anyone. On the upside, it did save us some money and I got to see the dog. I'll take any excuse to see the puppy! Even though Charlie didn't do much except chew up paper towels and then curl up in a portable chair looking mopey. I think he's hit his adolescent phase and isn't all that interested in boring, cleaning humans. His presence kept morale up despite his attitude though.

Cleaning is boring. Sleeping is better.
The major appliances (refrigerator, washer and dryer) were also delivered last Saturday. Then yesterday the new dishwasher (because the old one was brown on the inside...gross) was installed. Between the appliances and the cleaning, the house is finally starting to feel like ours. I can't wait for the movers to come and move us on Friday since it'll take my life out of the temporary holding pattern it's been in for the last two weeks. Ooh, and I'll be able to stock the new fridge with food! I've also been hoping to get some pictures of the interior of the house to share, but I (foolishly) packed away my zoom lens and so it'll have to wait.

Or I'll take phone-cam pictures.

I haven't decided yet.

I'll leave you with a cute little video of Charlie and the paper towels.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Strawberry Runners

I haven't really talked much about my deck garden this year. Mostly that's just because it's not really a garden when it's a single planter pot. I hadn't intended for it to only hold three different types of plants, but there was a minor disaster in April (it was a busy month) with my seedlings. The only seedlings I started myself that were hardy enough to survive the lack of water were my johnny jump-ups and my petunias. They both thrived for their seasons and I was quite pleased with my ability to keep them alive.

Johnny Jump-Ups (tricolor violas)

Debonair Dusty Rose Petunias

The other plants in my pot were my pineberry plants. I purchased two of them from Burpee on a whim because I thought they looked neat. Pineberries are a strawberry cultivar that have been bred to have white flesh and red seeds; they also taste like pineapple crossed with a strawberry, hence the name. I wasn't sure that they'd do well in my pot, but I wanted to try anyhow. To my own amazement, they've thrived despite the excessively wet summer we've had. They've done so well that they're now sending out runners.

Runners everywhere! There were berries in the left middle of this photograph,
but I ate them before I took the picture.
Strawberry plants are vining plants so they propagate themselves by sending out vines with tiny little plant nubs on them. When the nub grows enough leaves, it'll also start to grow its own roots.

Itty bitty little roots
Since my plant is in a planter and all my vines shoot out into nowhere, the tiny baby plant growing on the vine has no where to root and grow. Fortunately, once the roots have formed, you can snip off the whole vine, trim down both sides of the new plant and stick it in a pot to grow.

I'm pretty excited about this! It means that next year I'll be able to have a real garden and maybe, just maybe, I'll get more than 10 edible pineberries.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Diamond Candle Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway! The winner of the candle is Howell Lee, who will be receiving an email from me with instructions shortly. :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

We bought a house!

I've been keeping quiet on this topic because I didn't want to jinx it. Buying a home was something that I wanted so much that I felt if I got too excited about it, the universe would squash me like a bug. It did that in a couple cases without me even bringing it up here on the blog. And I especially didn't want to bring it up after our mortgage broker completely screwed up our loan application and sent it to an address that doesn't even exist. That mishap on top of all the other little things that the broker got wrong had me in a nervous huff for most of the mortgage securing process.
Image courtesy the Zillow listing that just won't go away.
I'm still shaking my head in disbelief recalling it; seriously, how hard is it to get our current address correct? It really shouldn't be that hard, given the preapproval loan application was right. Thankfully, our loan analyst turned out to be competent and helped us get everything corrected and accurate. We got our mortgage commitment letters right on time and made our deadline to secure financing a whole day early. Our approval to close from the underwriters came shortly there after and we closed without any major issues on August 30th.

Now that we've closed, I feel like it's safe to discuss the entire process of finding a home. At the end of May, we signed a contract with my friend and realtor, Margie, who was able to get us set up with a customized MLS search. We dragged Margie all over the place and to many different houses. In fact, I will illustrate the amount of houses that we saw with a photograph since we kept every listing sheet we got.
So many houses!
At first, we didn't have a really good idea of what we were looking for in a home. After a couple weeks of seeing houses, we had developed a picture of what we wanted: 4br/2.5ba, 2 car garage, central air/heat and a reasonably open floor plan. We came across a house in the middle of June that we liked so much we decided we wanted to put in offer in on it. Unfortunately, this house also had no permits for some pretty important features. When the seller's agent told us they had a second offer on the house, we decided the house wasn't worth it and withdrew to continue our search.

We stumbled across our home one day on either ZipRealty or Zillow. It was just outside of our price range but I suspected it's listing price was more than the house was actually worth. We both knew we had to see it because, on paper, it checked all of our boxes. It was love at first sight for me; perhaps Eric too, but he'd have to tell you. We put in an offer the day after we saw the property only to find out that a second offer had come in at the same time and was better than ours. We provided our best and final offer, but they ended up going with the other offer anyhow.

At this point, I was demoralized. House hunting is exhausting and I was about ready to call it quits and take a break for a month. Little did I know that all I had to do was wait three days. The other offer fell through and the list agent wanted to know if we were still interested, which of course we were. Everything went relatively smoothly from there, and now we are homeowners!

I'm excited to move in and I'm excited-overwhelmed to fix the disaster that is currently the garden.

Weeds everywhere..

Monday, August 26, 2013

If it's not broken, don't fix it

I have a habit of over-analyzing  and over-planning. It's not really bad or good, so I hesitate to generically label it with either adjective. However, in some situations, it certainly hasn't served me well. Ever since I returned from the honeymoon in April, I've been pretty lax with my eating habits. I attribute this mostly to the fact that I spent a great deal of time in mild to moderate pain from the crummy injury. It hurt to get in and out of the car, it hurt to climb the stairs and it hurt to sit too long.

So I'd let myself get away with thinking, "Oh, I feel so miserable, I bet this huge portion of a sugary treat will surely make me feel better about things." But, you know, it never did. After one particularly awful evening after Zumba class, where my lower back seized up to the point I had to crawl up the stairs hunched over, I knew I had to cut back on my activity level. This was about the same time I started physical therapy, so I knew that I had to learn to move better before I could move more. I decided to quit Zumba until I felt better.

Combine that fact with my lax attitude and it's no wonder I'm feeling a little squished into my clothes these days. Throw a little denial into the equation and my tendency to over-analyze the situation spiraled out of control. For the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking that it's bad for me to log my food and that I should try to get away from it. There's quite a lot of differing opinions on the matter of logging what you eat and it's easy to let other people's opinions sway you if you're not completely invested in an idea anymore.

After two weeks of trying to hold myself accountable without logging my food and an altercation with an entire container of this I realized that I was being stupid. Logging my food has always given me, a visual learner, the feedback that I require to keep myself accountable. I've never had any adverse effects because I log my food and it has always worked well for me. It wasn't the broken part; my mindset was.

I'd been away from logging for so long that at first I just wanted to plan it to death and try to make every goal immediately. That didn't work well, so now I'm just back to logging what I eat for one week. From that point, I can make tiny changes to help me get back to where I want to be, i.e. not feeling like a sausage stuffed into her casing every time I get dressed.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo Friday: Cute Face

For more Charlie and other photos, you can always check out my SmugMug page using the button on the right-hand side of my blog or just navigate to it with this link.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Diamond Candles

A couple of weeks ago, a representative of Diamond Candles contacted me to ask if I'd like to review their candles. Having never heard of the company before, I thought it prudent to do some research before agreeing. I read through the about page on the website, watched the video of how the company came to be (you can check it out here) and poked around their Facebook page to get a better idea of what it was all about.

After I'd done all my research, I knew that I'd be happy to review one of their candles. I love candles and buy them frequently, so I thought the idea of getting a prize out of something I was going to do anyhow was pretty clever. It reminded me of being a kid again and waiting anxiously until I could have the prize at the bottom of the cereal or crackerjack box.. It was difficult to select a scent because there were so many good ones to choose from! I ended up settling on the cupcake candle because cupcakes will always have a place in my heart.

As soon as I received my candle, I popped it open and gave it a sniff. It was pleasantly vanilla cupcake scented and so I promptly got to the business of burning it. I wasn't known to be the most patient child when it came to getting my prizes, so as soon I could see the little gold pouch, I snagged it out with a pair of tweezers.

Now it's your turn to check out Diamond Candles! The giveaway will run for two weeks and you can enter down below. I'll let the winner know as soon as the contest is over.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad kind of day

Today was one of those days, and in a mood, I looked up the book on Wikipedia. As I was reading through the paragraph detailing the list of things that went wrong for Alexander during his horrible day, it reminded me of something important. When I was losing all my weight, I spent great deal of time working on the negative thought patterns going on inside my head. They were causing me to make not-so-great decisions and that had to change. One of the most important ones for me was the way I reacted to what I perceived to be negative occurrences that were out of my locus of control.
The most important words in that last sentence were reacted, perceived and control.

Oftentimes I find myself becoming distressed when something I don't have direct control over doesn't go exactly as expected. Simple human interaction is an excellent example of this; you never have control over what a person says about you. Depending upon the situation, a gut reaction might be correct. However, I've found that most of the time it's wiser to spend the mental energy on what you do have control over: your reaction. If that means you have to step away and go for a walk or do something that removes you from that situation, then that's exactly what you should do.

And for me, that doesn't only apply to interacting with the general populace. It's a life philosophy that works in all aspects, from my eating habits to my marriage. Which can only mean that most of today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad kind of day because I let it be one. The things that were bothering me weren't serious or life altering.

It didn't have to be, and it doesn't need to continue to be.

With that, I'll make the choice to smile, forget about it and go eat the Sarah special at Chipotle.