Friday Roundup: 10/31

Happy Halloween! How are you celebrating this holiday? I already had one costume party last weekend and have another tonight – plenty of chances to show off my costume! I need to take some great pictures while I’m all dressed up tonight and I’ll share those in the next few days.

I’m taking a slightly different approach with this week’s roundup. Since I’ve been traveling this week and haven’t had a chance to post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write up a recap of the past week, highlighting some of the fun things going on in my life!

Last weekend, I spent Saturday evening at a Halloween party hosted by my dear friend Stephanie and her husband Matt. Stephanie is the creative mind behind Sandpaper & Glue, and I don’t know anyone who loves Halloween as much as she does!

I had a minor costume malfunction halfway through the evening, but I figured all would be well – a DIY queen’s home is the perfect place to be when you need to fix something! Unfortunately, Steph and I had both been active participants in the champagne flip cup earlier that evening, and we went a little overboard with the spray glue…

Let this be a lesson to you all: Don't attempt to DIY after an hour of champagne flip cup.

Let this be a lesson to you all: Don’t attempt to DIY after an hour of champagne flip cup.

I spent Sunday at a baby shower for my friend Jenn. The party was lovely, and Jenn looked amazing! She’s going to be a great mama when Baby Zoey arrives in a few months, and I can’t wait to meet her. Jenn’s shower gave me an excuse to break out my hot rollers again – aka my new style obsession. I’ve always had super straight hair and usually wore it in a bob, so now as I’m growing it out I’m experimenting for the first time with other styles. I am 29 years old and I honestly never knew my hair could look like this. MAGIC.

It took me 29 years to discover that my hair could look like this. In my defense, my mom gave me some truly terrible haircuts over the first ten years of my life, but that's an issue for me to tackle with my therapist.

It took me 29 years to discover that my hair could look like this. In my defense, my mom gave me some truly terrible haircuts over the first ten years of my life, but that’s an issue for me to tackle with my therapist.

Unfortunately I couldn’t linger at the shower, as I had to make my Amtrak train to New York City that afternoon for a few days of training. I had to spend my days cooped up in an office building working through meetings, but that left my evenings free and clear! I went to college in NYC and love any opportunity to be back in my favorite home away from home, and this trip was no different.

flywheel collage

Monday night, I took my first Flywheel class at their Chelsea location. Flywheel Sports is a national chain that offers a unique spinning experience. Every bike is outfitted with a small monitor to help you measure your resistance (or “torq”), your RPMs, and your overall effort/output. You can also opt into the class’s “torq board,” which shows how your effort compares to others in the class. I am super competitive so I loved this feature, and I was pretty pumped to come in fourth place among females, especially after a very tiring workday! Best of all, the class was taught by a friend of mine, and he definitely helped to push me harder – he even called me out at one point! If you’re in the city, be sure to check out Matt R.’s classes – he’s a great guy and a great instructor! I don’t know how often I’ll be able to make it to the Flywheel Boston location (in the Prudential), but I definitely want to go back again at some point in the future, and it’s great to know that this is a chain I enjoy for when I’m traveling to cities with franchise locations.

I could fib and tell you that Flywheel was indicative of my overall wellness on this trip… but actually, it was an effort to offset some less-than-healthy choices. I left Monday’s class and proceeded to meet a friend at a bar, where we indulged in 20 cent wings and delicious fall beers while watching Monday Night Football. Balance is super important for overall wellness, and my mental health definitely benefitted from this night out.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. Most of my time was spent on work, and I didn’t get to fit in a run along the Hoboken waterfront as I had hoped. I stayed in the W Hoboken, and there were some beautiful running paths with views of the NYC skyline – I’ll definitely keep this in mind for my next visit and will make sure to pack my sneakers and GPS watch.

Since I hadn’t worked out, I wanted to be mindful of my eating choices for the rest of the trip. I expected this to be nearly impossible on Wednesday as we were returning to Boston. The last time I took Amtrak, several years ago, there were pretty limited options in Penn Station – and yes, there are still a ton of fast food places. I’d be lying if a crunch wrap supreme didn’t dance through my head when I saw the Taco Bell sign! However, I was super excited to find a takeout place called Chickpea. I was able to get a hummus bowl with grilled chicken, an assortment of fresh chopped veggies, some feta and tzatziki. It was filling and delicious – I may need to recreate this meal idea at home! I love that healthy options are becoming easier to find when traveling.

photo 2

I also keep healthy snacks on hand when I’m away from home. These almonds saved my life before class on Monday night! I like to have access to nuts, healthy bars (like Larabar), and fruit, so that I’m not tempted by the hotel minibar or the candy for sale on the train. Whenever I fly, or head out for long road trips, I always make sure I have my bag of snacks handy! I also keep a water bottle handy so that I stay hydrated. When you’re on the road, it’s easy to neglect your hydration, which wreaks havoc on your skin and on how you feel. I find that bringing my own reusable bottle helps me to remember to keep drinking water throughout the day, instead of continually refilling the free coffee on hand during meetings.

What tips or tricks do you have to stay healthy while traveling?

Friday Roundup: 10/24

I have to say, these Friday Roundups might just be my favorite part of the week! All week long I mentally save things to put in this post. This has been a trying week (more family health drama!) but looking forward to writing this post has helped me to keep a positive mindset.

I’m going to be traveling through Wednesday of next week for work, so posts will be sparse for a few days. I will try to sneak something in while I’m gone, but I make no promises! Apologies in advance – I promise to be a better blogger in November. Now, on to the good stuff!

Kitchen Excitement: New Lasagna Pan & Cookbook

photo 1

I have to say, surprise presents are definitely the best presents. A box showed up on my door yesterday containing this gorgeous All Clad lasagna pan and Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian CookingConfession time: I adore Italian food. It’s my favorite food to eat, yes, but it’s also my favorite cuisine to cook as well! Americanized Italian food (think chicken parmesan, with fried chicken cutlets drenched in melted cheese) is definitely not even remotely healthy, but true Italian food can actually fit really neatly into a clean eating meal plan, as long as you seek out high quality ingredients and are careful to keep your macros balanced. Marcella Hazan is credited with introducing classic Italian methods and cuisine to America, and I’m really excited to dive into this cookbook. Nerd confession time: my favorite cookbooks aren’t filled with glossy photos perfected by food stylists. They’re books like this one, light on imagery but heavy on history. This cookbook is filled with explanations of where recipes originated and detailed information on various ingredients – it aims to teach so much more than just the recipes. I’m also pretty giddy about this pan. It’s branded as a lasagna pan, but it’s a perfect size for roasting vegetables and smaller cuts of meat – I’m thrilled to not have to break out my gigantic turkey roaster whenever I want to roast something. So thank you, Uncle Richard – one of my most loyal blog followers from day one – for this wonderful, thoughtful gift. I promise that a proper written thank you note is on its way, but I also just had to share my excitement here on the blog, and I can’t wait to share some recipes!

Fitness Steal: Les Mills Pump On Sale!

pump edited

Before I joined Studio Poise, I had a membership with Boston Sports Club. I wasn’t the best at sticking to a workout schedule, but the one class I attended regularly was Les Mills’ Body Pump. I absolutely loved the workout, and I have to say that while I love everything about my SP classes, I do miss Body Pump. So I was totally pumped (I couldn’t help it…) to see that the at-home DVD and barbell set was on sale for 40% off, and contemplated the set for all of 30 seconds before placing an order. The photo above shows everything that came in the basic set – the DVDs, a nutrition guide and a program guide, plus the barbell and weights (two 10 lb plates and two 5 lb plates; I also added two 2.5 lb plates to my order). I’m psyched to add this into my ever-changing rotation of at home routines!

New Music: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

1-2-3 honesty, I’ve typed and deleted and retyped a paragraph about this album more times than I can count. I’ve been a fan of Andrew McMahon’s music for a long, long time – from his first band, Something Corporate, through his time headlining Jack’s Mannequin, and now am so excited to see his work as a solo artist. I could gush on and on about his music and completely embarrass myself, but instead I’ll just say this: trust me when I say that you need to give this album a listen. If you want to download the MP3s, you can order the album through Amazon, but it’s also available to stream through Spotify. 

Holiday Fun: Halloween Adventures

I’ll be honest, Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, but I can’t help but get excited when I see how seriously some of my friends take the holiday. (Don’t believe me? Check out Sandpaper & Glue – I would never show up to her Halloween party without a costume!) I hemmed and hawed over what to dress up as this year, because I refuse to buy a costume. For one thing, store bought costumes tend to be insanely expensive for a flimsy bit of cheap polyester; but more importantly, they all seem to be made for women who are significantly smaller than I am. No thank you! I did, however, find a costume online that inspired me, and I decided to dress up as a minion. I already own a denim dress that is reminiscent of the minions’ overalls, and I’ll wear it over a yellow long-sleeved shirt and yellow tights. Add in some craft store projects for the accessories and I’m pretty psyched about my homemade costume! I will share pictures after my Halloween parties over the next week or so, but if you follow me on Instagram you might get a sneak peek. And yes, I absolutely will be wandering around those parties speaking only in Minion-ese.

What’s your favorite cuisine to prepare – any healthy twists on favorite classics?
What are you dressing up as for Halloween?
Let me know in the comments!

Race Recap: Firefighters’ Memorial 10K

Earlier this fall, one of my dear friends and fellow MYL Foundation volunteers asked me to join the fundraising team he was putting together for a race. I have never in my life turned down an opportunity to support a great cause, so I happily signed on for the College Bound Dorchester running team, and registered for the Firefighters’ Memorial 10K.

Boston Firefighters Memorial 10K College Bound Dorchester Fundraising Team

Firefighters have always held a special place in my heart. My younger brother, Michael, had Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy. The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) has a long history of supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and through this connection, the firefighters of Revere, MA, became part of my extended family. They were always there for us, whether it was giving Mike a ride on a fire engine or answering the call of duty in medical emergencies. When my brother passed away, my mom had one request: she wanted a bagpiper at the memorial service. The fire chief went above and beyond, and we ended up with a full color guard on top of the bagpipers at the service – something that’s unheard of for civilians, let alone a 14 year old boy. So, for me, this race was as much about paying tribute to the outstanding men and women of the Boston area fire department as it was about pushing my fitness limits and supporting a friend’s charity.

The start and finish line were at Florian Hall in Dorchester, MA. The first thing I saw when I arrived was a bag piper in full kilt regalia, which I took to be a good sign. The weather on Sunday morning was on the chilly side, which was a nice change from the unseasonably warm temps we’ve had in Boston lately. I was really worried about attempting this run in the heat, so I was relieved to see the forecast hovering in the 50s – that’s definitely my favorite kind of running weather. The CBD team captain had already picked up my bib and race swag for me earlier in the weekend, so the pre-race time was spent taking team photos, loosening up and catching up with friends.

Boston Firefighters Memorial 10K Starting Line Moment of Silence

Prior to the start, there was the standard playing of the national anthem, but there was also a moment of silence in memory of all of the firefighters who passed away this year. This was an especially poignant moment as the crowd paid tribute to firefighters Walsh and Kennedy, who passed away in a massive fire in the Back Bay region of Boston this past spring. The moment of silence was followed by a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” which is something that always brings on a wave of emotions for me. It might sound corny, but hearing this at the start of the race definitely made me feel like I had a guardian angel watching out for me – and boy, did I need it.

The starting line was at the top of a very small hill, so the first 50 yards or so were downhill before leveling out to an easy cruise. There were yet more pipers at the start to set the tone for the race with some upbeat Irish music, which I loved! The route took us out along Morrisey Boulevard to the entrance to UMass Boston, where we turned around (about 2.5 miles into the race) to head back toward Tenean Beach. I really appreciated being able to run past my teammates during this portion of the race – they were all more seasoned runners and each and every one of them shouted encouragement at me as we passed. I was also pleasantly surprised to see some other familiar faces in the crowd – this was a popular race among my friends and family, apparently! The encouragement was helpful, because the wind was at my face during the run out to UMass, and it definitely was working against me.

Fireboat with gas tank

How gorgeous is this picture? Great fall colors along the river and the iconic Boston gas tank behind the fireboat.

During the return trip back toward Tenean Beach, I enjoyed the view out over the water – and I enjoyed having the wind at my back! There was a fireboat stationed just offshore, with the water cannons going and the sirens blaring – I had to slow my pace down enough to capture a picture, because it really was a great view.

Fireboat

As we passed under Route 93, between miles 3 and 4, there was a fire engine parked with a crew in full gear cheering on the runners. I unfortunately did not catch a picture of them, but they definitely helped me to pick up my pace a bit and gave me a much needed boost to make it to mile 4.

And then, at mile 4, my total lack of training caught up with me. Last week, I met with a new dermatologist, and had another biopsy – because while sutures and scars suck, they suck a whole lot less than cancer. I really didn’t think the stitches would be a big deal. They were on my upper outer right thigh and weren’t bothering me at all after about 24 hours, and I figured I’d be fine. Evidently, I was wrong. Shortly after the 4th mile mark, the stitches started to really bother me. I tried to keep alternating between running and walking, but by the time I hit the 5th mile marker, I was resigned to walking the rest of the route. I definitely don’t think the stitches are the sole reason for this — I certainly could have trained more for the race — but they definitely didn’t help matters.

There were pipers and a drummer stationed at the 5 mile mark. I took my headphones out for a bit and listened to the pipes until they faded behind me, and it gave me the final boost I needed to make it to the end of the race. I’ll be honest; I was feeling not so great at this point. My leg hurt, I knew that my time was shot, and the course was pretty deserted. I really just wanted to get to the finish.

Luckily, I’ve got some pretty fantastic friends. Matt, the CBD team captain, was waiting for me at the 6 mile mark to help me finish strong, even though he was dealing with his own fatigue and injury issues after running his first marathon in Hartford last week. We came around a corner and I saw the rest of the team waiting by the finish to cheer me on, and suddenly I forgot about everything that had been bringing me down. I ran the last bit and crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face.

I would say we earned these beers - Sam Adams has never tasted so good!

I would say we earned these beers – Sam Adams has never tasted so good!

The finish line party might have been my favorite part of the race. Florian Hall provided free beers for the runners, which helped to keep that big smile on my face. I would say that between raising over $1500 for College Bound Dorchester and successfully finishing the race, we had earned these beers, no?

The Fenian Sons

There was also live music at the finish – The Fenian Sons provided great post-race entertainment. I may be a colossal Boston stereotype, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than some great Irish music! What else would you expect from a lass named Colleen? (That’s gaelic for “girl,” for those of you who didn’t grow up in an Irish family.)

I ended up finishing in 1:24. I had hoped to finish around 1:10, but I’m not beating myself up too much. This was my first 10K, and I had admittedly slacked on my training. The important thing is that I did manage to finish, and I proved to myself that I could do it. I definitely want to do this race again next year, but I will up my training plan and hopefully be at 100% on race day. The race itself was really well organized, and I loved the atmosphere. The course was fantastic; I honestly have no complaints, aside from my own less-than-stellar showing! I learned a valuable lesson in respecting my body’s limitations and knowing how far I can push myself — and also the importance of setting and sticking to an established training plan.

Do you have any lessons to share from your own challenging race experiences? Any training tips to help me tackle my next race? 

Shifting Attitudes

Today’s post stems from a lot of recent experiences – from conversations I’ve had with girlfriends, from how I’ve been feeling myself, and from some articles and blog posts I’ve seen kicking around the internet. It’s certainly not a new topic, and I’m not sure I’m going to cover any new ground here, but here goes nothing. I want to spend some time today reflecting on why we, as women, are so damn hard on ourselves.

Most days, I think I am my own harshest critic. I struggle to just let things go. On days when I can’t make it to the gym, I feel guilty for skipping a workout – even if I had a legitimate reason for being unable to make it to my scheduled classes. When my diet isn’t as healthy as I would like it to be, I condemn myself for making poor decisions.

I know I’m not alone here. I cringe every time I hear my friends criticize themselves. These are smart, talented, successful women. They are funny, compassionate, smart, and engaging people; I enjoy their company and I’m lucky to have them as friends. But despite all of their outstanding qualities, I still hear these women put themselves down. They’re not working out enough; they don’t like what they see in the mirror; they’re unhappy with themselves.

And as if it weren’t enough to battle the voices in our own heads, we also get it from everywhere else. If we do achieve our health and fitness goals, suddenly we’re under attack for becoming obsessed with the gym. I’ve heard friends – healthy, strong, inspiring friends – relay their frustration at being told they’ve gone too far. Don’t be overweight – but don’t lose too much weight, or you’ll hear just as many complaints about your appearance. If you don’t work out, you’re lazy – but if you commit to making the gym a priority in your life, suddenly you’re a bad friend who spends too much time working out.

I’m posting today because I’m sick of it. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been on track this month – and that’s okay. My weight’s gone up a few pounds, I’ve had to miss a lot of classes, and I haven’t prioritized food prep. It would be really easy to look at these past few weeks and see all the things I could have done differently, and to criticize myself for that. Instead, I’m choosing to concentrate on the positives. I didn’t grocery shop or meal prep this weekend because I decided to take some time to spend with friends, and the quality time I spent with them meant more for my health than any of the nutritious meals I would have prepared in my slow cooker. I had to cancel my gym classes this week because I had to have a mole removed to test for melanoma, but I’m not going to be upset about that. I’m prioritizing my long term health, and letting the biopsy site heal cleanly is more important than squeezing in a barre class.

I shouldn’t need to make excuses. I should be able to be at peace with myself, whatever version of myself I’m presenting on any given day. I want to feel as confident on my best days as I do on my worst. I want to silence the voice in my head that spreads doubt, and guilt, and leads me to question my every move. Basically, I want to get to the point that this is my inner monologue, 24/7:

So, I’m challenging myself to create a new habit. Every morning, I’ll set a positive intention for the day – something I’m doing that day for myself, for the pleasure of doing it, not for any other reason. And every night, before going to bed, I’ll reflect on at least one positive thing that happened that day. So as not to overcrowd the blog, I’ll be posting these intentions on my tumblr page. I’ll include a digest of my week’s reflections as part of my Friday roundup.

Do you ever feel like you’re too hard on yourself? Care to join me on this journey? Let me know how you’ll be logging your intentions and reflections – if you’re doing so electronically, share the link in the comments! 

Friday Roundup 10/10

The Real World is doing everything in its power to make me the Worst Blogger Ever. At the very least, I’m winning the Worst Blogger for October 2014 award. I promise there’s a lot going on behind the scenes – I’m working on some things with Pinterest, I’ve got a few recipes to share, and a few other posts are in early draft form. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to be a productive human in all the many areas of my life, and this past week, my real job that actually pays my salary had to be my top priority.

However, Friday Roundups are one of the easiest and most fun posts for me to write, so I have no excuse not to get this up here for you guys! Here are some of the things that I’m loving these days.

New Gadget: Garmin Forerunner 10

I recently treated myself to a Garmin Forerunner 10, a GPS-enabled watch to use when running. I had always relied on apps to track my runs, but I run with my phone zipped in a pocket, and I found myself really wanting to know my stats on distance and pace at a glance. I’m waiting until after my first race (next weekend’s 10K) to share an official review, but so far, so good! I am loving having my basic stats on my wrist, and tonight I plan to test the watch’s run/walk timing feature.

New Music: New Found Glory’s Resurrection

Will you guys still love me after I admit that my taste in music hasn’t really evolved since my high school days? New Found Glory is one of those nostalgic bands that I still really enjoy even now, more than 10 years after I first started listening to them. They released a new album earlier this week, and I am totally loving it. I can’t wait to hear some of the new material next week when NFG plays the House of Blues here in Boston! You can give the album a listen on Spotify, and if you love it as much as I do, then I highly recommend purchasing the MP3 album from Amazon. I pay $10/month so that I can stream Spotify from my phone and iPad, but when an artist I care about releases a new album, I always try to buy the album, even if it’s available for streaming. Streaming music services are great for consumers but not so much for artists, so if you want to support the musicians you enjoy, and you can afford to do so, I definitely recommend continuing to purchase music. (And now I’ll get off my soapbox, thanks for putting up with that little tangent!)

Something Silly…

This was shared on the “I F#@king Love Science” Facebook page earlier this week. I’m not sure if you guys have figured this out yet or not, but I’m kind of a super-nerd. This cracked me up – I actually sat at my desk laughing out loud for a minute after I first saw it, and I just had to pass it along.

Winter Treat: Stratton Season Pass

This is definitely my favorite thing about this week. As you might recall from earlier posts, I only started skiing a few years ago, and I am super excited for another season on the slopes. Earlier this week I got a promotional email from Stratton Mountain advertising their season pass rates, and I made the mistake of actually clicking through to check out the prices. Turns out there’s a pass – the Strattitude pass – that’s only available for skiers between the ages of 18-29. It’s only $299, and it’s good every day the mountain’s open – no blackout dates! A comparable pass jumps to $949 when you turn 30, so I took this as a sign from the universe that I need to spend the last winter of my 20s skiing at my favorite east coast mountain as much as possible.

Weekend Festivities: Cadillac Ranch

What’s Cadillac Ranch, you ask? Why, IT IS THE PLACE WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE. Caddy Ranch calls itself “New England’s Premiere Country Line Dancing Destination,” and my friends, they aren’t overselling it. It’s a country-themed bar in Connecticut that features line dancing and a mechanical bull, and it is easily one of my favorite places in the entire world. I try to go with my friends a few times a year, and we’re heading out there this weekend for some drinking and dancing. The photo above was taken on my birthday two years ago; they have sadly since gotten rid of Big Buck Hunter, but luckily I’ve gotten better at the line dances, so I can keep up with the regulars.

What are your plans for the weekend? Any fun finds from this week that you’d like to share?
Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Dinner: Turkey Cacciatore

As I alluded to in Friday’s post, it’s been a rough week for my family. We had a health scare that left us rattled, and it disrupted our normal routine. There’s been a lot of take out and convenience meals while we dealt with everything, and today, I wanted nothing more than to cook a delicious Sunday dinner and to sit down to a healthy meal with my family.

That said, I didn’t have a ton of extra energy kicking around – whatever I made needed to be relatively quick to pull together. I decided on my old standby, Turkey Cacciatore.

You have probably seen cacciatore on your favorite Italian restaurant’s menu — it’s more commonly made with chicken. For my version, I use turkey, because the turkey tips available from my local butcher are the perfect serving size for this meal. Turkey also has fewer calories per serving than chicken, and it has more protein per gram than chicken (and than pork and beef, too, if you’re interested).

Turkey Cacciatore
Six servings

2 lbs turkey breast (I like turkey tips, which are precut in 3-4 oz portions)
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, cut into strips
4 green bell peppers, cut into strips
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
28 oz can diced tomatoes
32 oz chicken stock (or turkey stock, if you can find it – my grocery store only stocks it around Thanksgiving)
Olive oil

Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil. Turn the heat to high so that the oil gets nice and hot.

Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper. Cut the turkey into 3 oz portions. Lightly coat the turkey in this mixture. Once the oil is hot, brown the turkey for about one minute per side in the pan, then remove it to a plate. Don’t crowd the pan, as this will prevent even browning. You don’t want to cook the turkey all the way through, just get a nice browning on the outside.

Once all the turkey is browned, set it aside. Lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic and onions, and cook for 30-60 seconds. Add the peppers and allow to cook for about two minutes. Add the tomatoes, both diced and crushed, and stir well.

Add the turkey back into the pan, and then add the chicken stock. Carefully stir all ingredients, and ensure that all the turkey pieces are fully submerged so that they cook the rest of the way through.

Bring the cacciatore to a boil, then cover and turn the heat to low. Allow the cacciatore to simmer for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of your turkey pieces. Check after 45 minutes to see if the turkey is cooked through.

This can be served over pasta, with polenta or mashed potatoes, with a side of roasted potatoes, or with crusty bread and a green salad. We went with mashed potatoes tonight – I kept my serving on the small side, but hey, everyone needs a comfort food indulgence now and then am I right?

I wish I had photos to share, but it honestly didn’t occur to me that this recipe should be shared until the meal was half eaten! To be honest, this is a pretty rustic meal and likely wouldn’t photograph too well. The sauce of peppers, onions, and tomatoes isn’t anything special to look at, but it’s warm and comforting – exactly what my family needed after this crazy week.

What are some of your favorite comfort foods? Have you ever tried replacing chicken with turkey in your favorite recipes?

Friday Roundup: I’m BAAAACK!

It has been an inexcusably long time since I last posted, and I sincerely apologize. I took a hiatus from blogging while I was on vacation last week, and while I had the best of intentions to get back to things earlier this week, real life had other plans. I’ve been dealing with some health-related matters with my family, and while things are back on track now, it’s definitely been a difficult few days.

I will be back to regular posting next week, and I wanted to make sure to get a quick Friday Roundup post up before the weekend. Here are some of the things I’ve stumbled across this week that I’m excited to share with you guys!

Weekend Recipe Adventure

Two-Ingredient Apple Almond Butter, courtesy of Wine & Dine to the Finish Line

I began following Cassy earlier this year and definitely recommend checking out her blog – I love the variety of content on her site! Earlier this week she posted a super simple recipe for apple almond butter. The apple butter comes together in the crock pot, and you then blend it with homemade almond butter. YUM. I am probably going to expand on the two ingredient list for my version, as I love the flavor of traditional fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, but I appreciate that Cassy’s recipe relies on apples for their natural sweetness and avoids adding extra sugar or artificial flavorings. I borrowed the image above from her blog – click it to follow through to her original post, which includes the recipe.

Gotta-Have-It Fashion Purchase: New Puffer Vests

My office apparently has not gotten the memo that fall has officially arrived in New England. I’ve officially reintroduced boyfriend sweatpants, tights & boots, and puffy vests back into my closet. That last item is a necessity for surviving my cubicle, so my current challenge is finding vests that are functional enough to keep me warm without turning me into the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Luckily, vests are all over the place this fall! I’ve pulled together a few of my favorites, below – click on any of the individual thumbnails for information on purchasing. I can’t wait to get my hands on a few of these – the camo and the poka dot ones are even on sale right now!

Fall 2014 Vests

Grocery Store Find: Unsweetened Starbucks Iced Coffee

Starbucks Unsweetened Iced Coffee

I know, I know… I said I had given up iced coffee. And that’s still sort of true. The Dunkin Donuts drive through was a standard stop on my morning commute, but I’ve since kicked that habit. However, work has been pretty intense lately, and I found myself really missing an iced coffee to sip during stressful meetings. Enter this beverage, my new grocery store best friend. For $4.99, you get 48 ounces of Starbucks brewed iced coffee. I find that this lasts me a full week at work, so it’s still a significant savings over my daily Dunks habit. It’s also unsweetened, so having it over ice with a splash of skim milk (or almond or coconut milk, whatever floats your boat) isn’t much of an indulgence, calorie-wise. I will also say that I love having this on hand to blend with my morning Shakeology – much easier than having to remember to brew coffee the night before!

New Fitness Routine to Try: P90


P90 90-Day Body Transformation for Everyone

There’s a new P90 routine available through Beachbody. I have heard a lot about the P90 series of fitness routines; they promise a total body transformation in 90 days. I’ve seen some other bloggers with incredible results, but I have also heard that some of the routines can be pretty intense, so I wasn’t sure there was a routine that would be the right fit for me, as I still find myself pretty heavily modifying on my T25 workouts.

Enter P90. Tony Horton took his existing P90 model, with its proven results, and modified it so that it could be used by people who are looking to increase their fitness level while avoiding anything too extreme. I’ll let the Beachbody product description help me out with describing the specifics:

P90 works because of a game-changing technique called Sectional Progression. Tony eases you into a variety of cardio, strength, and stability moves that work the back, shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, and legs—and every move helps strengthen and flatten the abs. These routines don’t get harder until you’re ready for the next challenge. Then, just when you’ve mastered those moves, he ups the ante a little more.

The all-new P90 workouts are arranged in 3 Progressive Phases designed to gradually ease your body past its old limits. So after 30 days of P90, you’re leaner and more solid; after 60 days, you’re seeing muscles you’ve never noticed before; and by Day 90 you can finally have that lean, strong body you could once only dream about.

P90 is currently on sale as part of a challenge pack for only $160, which includes the full P90 DVD set (regularly $79.90) and a month of Shakeology (regularly $130). I’m super excited to place my order and give this program a try – let me know if you want to try it alongside me!