August Goals

Happy Monday! I have to be honest… I really can’t believe it’s already August. This summer is flying by and I feel like I haven’t really taken advantage of all of my favorite parts of this season just yet! The good news is, I have some great vacations coming up this month.

Excited for excellent music jams with bae

Excited for excellent music jams with bae

On Thursday, I fly out to San Francisco for a few days. I’m going to Outside Lands and I’m super pumped to see some of the musicians appearing at the festival. I’ve seen a couple of the acts before, but for the most part I’ll be seeing these acts live for the first time, and I’m really excited about it. The other perk to this trip? The friend I’m visiting is totally supportive of my efforts to live a more balanced lifestyle, so we’re scheduling workouts throughout the vacation. This includes a Madonna-themed SoulCycle ride the night I arrive, complete with neon accessories. I’ve never met a theme I didn’t like, so I’m pumped for this!

I embrace any opportunity to wear fabulous hats.

I embrace any opportunity to wear fabulous hats.

Later in August, I’m heading to upstate New York with my parents to spend a long weekend at Saratoga Racetrack. This is one of the oldest race tracks in America and it’s one of my favorite vacation destinations! Saratoga Springs during racing season is a ton of fun. I grew up watching horse racing with my dad and I’ve only grown to appreciate it more as I got older. There’s so much history around the sport and I love getting caught up in the spectacle of it all – there’s really nothing like the energy of a live horse race. Best of all, it’s easy to keep gambling expenses low – I usually only bet a few dollars per race, but it’s enough to make me feel invested in the outcome. In addition to spending the days at the track, we have reservations at some amazing restaurants, so this will definitely be a vacation with lots of splurges. The good news: Saratoga is a very walkable city! We can walk from our hotel to most of our dinner destinations, and also from the hotel to the track. Additionally, the downtown area also has some lovely parks for running, so I should be able to fit in race training while I’m away.

Finally, I’m working on nailing down some plans for Labor Day weekend, hopefully involving a lake and a boat and some awesome friends. It’s nice to have something fun to cap off the summer, so I’m hoping things work out.

Given all of these plans, it’s important to set out my August goals in writing – so here we go!

august goals

  • Build my mileage back up. I definitely had a setback in my running due to my injury, so this month is all about getting those miles back under my belt!
  • Stick to a cross- and strength-training regimen. Regular pilates, yoga, and Studio Poise classes will help to keep me healthy and will make my running training go better, so I’m refocusing on this. Additionally, I need to get back into the habit of lunchtime gym visits at work to do some strength training to help prevent further injuries.
  • Eat clean as much as possible. I’m a realist and I know that I will want to splurge when I’m on vacation, so this month I need to focus on saving my “cheat days” for my trips. That means being smart about grocery shopping and meal planning. If I’m focused and disciplined throughout the month, I won’t have to worry as much when I’m on vacation – it’s all about balance.

What are your goals for August? Any fun plans to maximize the last few weeks of summer?

 

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Friday Favorites 12/12

Did anyone else notice the subject line of J. Crew’s promo email yesterday morning? “News Flash: You have 2 weeks to get gifts.” Great, thanks very much for that reminder, kind folks at J. Crew. I definitely wasn’t already stressed out about how quickly time is flying by or anything like that. Nope, no panic to be seen here.

I confess, I’m having a hard time really embracing the holiday vibe this year. I’m hoping that all changes this weekend, though. I’ve got plans to bake Christmas cookies tomorrow with some family, and on Sunday my mom and I are taking my grandmother to Wayside Inn to celebrate her 91st birthday. We spent a lot of holidays there when I was growing up, but it’s been well over ten years since I’ve been out there, so I’m looking forward to it.

To help me get into the spirit, I’m making today’s Friday Favorites holiday-themed and sharing all of my favorite ways to get into the Christmas spirit. Once again, I’m joining with Heather @ Housewife Glamour, Katie @ Running4Cupcakes, and Clare @Fitting It All In for today’s link up. Make sure to check out these awesome hosts and show some love to the other bloggers joining in this link up!

Favorite Christmas Song

It’s not Christmas until I hear this song for the first time… and then proceed to play it every day, sometimes multiple times a day, until the tree comes down and I concede that the season has past. Few things bring a smile to my face like this version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

Favorite Christmas Cookie

Pizzelles were the very first cookie I ever learned how to make. My grandmother had the iron pictured in this recipe, and we would make stacks and stacks of these cookies every Christmas. I don’t have the faintest idea why my grandmother, who came from 100% Irish stock, owned a pizzelle iron, or why she started making these cookies, but she passed the tradition along to me. When I was in high school, our heavy iron cookie press broke, and we bought one of the nonstick versions, but the cookies were never the same. The nonstick cookie iron couldn’t get the cookies thin and crunchy enough for my taste, so I stopped making them. Earlier this year, though, a mysterious package arrived without warning at our doorstep; my uncle had found a replacement for our original, amazing pizzelle iron. I scoured the internet to find the original recipe we followed and I cannot wait to make these this weekend!

Favorite Christmas Movie

This is a tough one – White Christmas came in a close second. But I have loved A Christmas Carol ever since I first read it as a child, and the Muppet version is second to none in my book when it comes to holiday movie entertainment. I knew I had found friends for life when my Mudderella teammates and dear friends confessed to sharing my deep, undying love for Gonzo as Charles Dickens, and last week we gathered together to kick off the season with wine, brie, and a laughter-filled showing of this holiday classic.

Favorite Homemade Christmas Treat

I can’t remember how I first stumbled across this recipe for bourbon spiced pecans, but they’ve become my go-to homemade holiday treat. I have been known to buy out the entire stock of pecans at my local Whole Foods in order to make these nuts, and I give them out to friends, coworkers, and as hostess gifts when attending holiday parties. I like to add more spices than what’s called for in the recipe – I particularly like ginger and nutmeg as well as cinnamon – and the easiest method is to make a huge batch of the spiced sugar at the outset, rather than measuring everything out for each batch. Pour a tasty bourbon cocktail to sip while you’re cooking and you’re good to go!

What are some of your favorite things at this time of year? How are you getting in the spirit? 

 

Friday Favorites: 11/21

I am officially starting to have holiday season panic. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is a week away – and I’m also starting to freak out that I haven’t done any preparation for Christmas! I’ve been seeing some great gift guide features out there on ye olde interwebs and it’s definitely got me thinking about my own gift-giving plans. I’ve heard some awesome ideas from friends and I have a few tricks up my sleeve, so I will hopefully have some holiday-themed Friday Favorites coming up in the near future. No such theme today, though – just my usual rambling about things that I’m loving this week.

I’m joining with Heather @ Housewife Glamour, Katie @ Running4Cupcakes, and Clare @ Fitting It All In for today’s link up. Make sure to check out these awesome hosts and show some love to the other bloggers joining in this link up!

Favorite Ingredient: Trader Joe’s Goat Cheese Medallions

I looooove goat cheese. Love it. It’s one of my favorite cheeses to use in omelets, and spreading it on raw bell pepper slices is a terrific afternoon snack. The problem is that when presented with a whole log of fresh chevre, I have a serious problem with only consuming an appropriate portion size. Food addiction is a real problem, folks. Enter Trader Joe’s Goat Cheese Medallions. I don’t know where these have been all my life, but I stumbled on them when shopping last week and they changed my life. Each medallion is a perfect one ounce serving, which at 70 calories, 6g fat and 5g protein is a reasonable serving to use in an omelet, crumbled on a salad, or spread on your favorite veggies. I also appreciate that they’re vacuum sealed, which ensures a longer shelf life — not that these will have much of a chance to linger in my fridge given how much I love them!

Favorite Winter Essential: Packable Down Coat

Thanks, google images, for rustling this up for me. This is what I have to offer all of you because attempting to take a full body selfie in my cubicle wearing my jacket just wasn’t working out for me today.

This fall, I stumbled across a long, hooded Michael Kors packable down coat at Marshall’s for only $99. The coat could be compressed into a small pouch for packing, which was my primary motivation for buying it, but it has recently become a staple in my winter coat wardrobe. I can’t believe how lightweight this coat is! It doesn’t add any bulk, but it does an amazing job of blocking the wind – and with the polar vortex descending once again, I will take whatever I can get to battle the winter. There are similar versions on sale right now at Lord and Taylor — this longer version is similar to the one I have, but I also think this shorter version is stylish and versatile. Highly recommend!

Favorite Gif: Clay Matthews!

There’s a lot to love in the new Pitch Perfect 2 trailer that launched yesterday, but my brain totally stalled out when I saw this clip. Now, let’s get one thing straight. I’m a Patriots fan through and through and always will be… but I have a soft spot in my heart for Clay Matthews. Back in 2010, Clay Matthews partnered with Cadillac and CureDuchenne.org to run a PSA during that year’s football season about the importance of funding research to find a cure for the disease. My brother Michael passed away from Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy in 2002, so this is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart… and it doesn’t hurt that Clay’s pretty easy on the eyes. I’m pumped to see the movie for many reasons, but I seriously cannot wait for this scene.

Favorite Playlist: Acoustic Lounge

My love for Spotify is well documented. Their Throwback Thursday playlist has given me a reason to look forward to Thursdays, and I maintain that the $10 I spend on my premium membership is the best $10 I spend every month. I recently stumbled across their Acoustic Lounge playlist, and it’s become my go-to workplace playlist. It’s a mix of acoustic versions of songs by their original artists and acoustic covers of songs. One cover – Diana Krall’s version of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” – actually inspired a post that I hope to share within the next week or two, so be on the lookout for that.

What are you loving this week? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to check out the linkup! 

Disclaimer: I don’t receive compensation for mentioning any of the above — though if someone would like to deliver Clay Matthews to my doorstep, I certainly wouldn’t complain!

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!

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!

Beat the Monday Blues

Mondays are THE WORST. Most of the time, I need every little boost that I can get to help me start my week on the right foot.

Today was one of those days when everything should have been working in my favor. I was excited to kick off my Focused & Fit for Fall T25 challenge, and I am looking forward to seeing some great friends this weekend for a wedding. I’m feeling good about my own T25 efforts and I’m looking forward to a great yoga class at Studio Poise tonight. All good things, right?

But on the flip side, I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping this weekend, so I had to scramble to pull together a healthy “clean eats” lunch to bring with me to work. I got in my car and noticed that the maintenance light was on, and I definitely don’t have time to deal with that this week. I got to the office and the first email I read made my stress levels spike and I’m still fuming over it.

I’m working on focusing on the positives and trying to ignore the annoyances, but Monday really isn’t making it easy!

This brings me to my latest #MusicMonday. I pay $10/month for Spotify premium access, so that I can use the service on my phone, in the car, at work… you name it, I’m using it. It’s the best $10 I spend every month. Lately I’ve been trying to branch out more to find new music, and I’ve  fallen in love with some of Spotify’s curated playlists. Today, I noticed this “Mood Booster” playlist and decided to give it a try. I listened to this playlist on my commute to the office, and it’s still playing through my headphones now. And you know what? I think it’s working! The playlist is delivering on it’s name, and sure enough, my mood does feel lifted.

Do you have any tips or tricks for overcoming a gloomy Monday? Do you have any songs that you find especially uplifting? Share your favorites in the comments!

Steady 130 Mixes

It’s time for another #MusicMonday! I started running about a year ago, using the Couch to 5K app. I’ve since run a few 5Ks, I’m currently training for my first obstacle run, and I have a long term goal of running my first half marathon in 2015. All of this might make it sound like I really love running… and that would be an incorrect assumption. I run because it’s a convenient way to get cardio in when I’m traveling, and because it is something I can do with friends and family members who aren’t able to join me at the studio for classes.

One thing I’ve learned over the past year: your playlist can make or break my running experience. When the music isn’t setting the right tone, my pace suffers, I can’t distract myself from any aches and pains I might be feeling, and the run feels like it’s taking twice as long. When the music is spot on, though, all of that disappears and it’s just me and the road and the music — and that’s pretty awesome.

Enter today’s Music Monday feature: Steady 130 Mixes.

There’s a lot of research out there about the ideal BPM, or beats per minute, for music to accompany your workout. In summary: you want to aim for anywhere between 120-150 BPM. The New York Times covered this back in 2008, and Women’s Running recently published an interview with the same scientist profiled in the NYTimes feature, again emphasizing the connection between music and running.  If you’re interested in learning more about heart rates and the corresponding exertions, I recommend this handy chart from Running for Fitness. Generally speaking, though, 130 BPM translates to a 12 minute mile, so a playlist at that tempo is great for new runners or to use for longer, slower training runs.

Steady 130 offers free downloadable custom mixes, all of which average 130 BPM. They really cover the entire spectrum, so no matter what your taste in music, you can probably find something that will appeal to you. The mixes range from 30 minutes to over an hour, so you can also find a mix that will suit your training needs. Best of all, there’s no interruption — it’s a continuous mix that keeps you going for the duration of your run, without waiting for your iTunes to decide on its next shuffled track.

I’m featuring my current favorite, a new 80s throwback remix that features the soundtracks from some of the great movies of my youth, for this week’s #MusicMonday, but I strongly encourage you to check out the whole site and take advantage of their archives. There’s truly something for anyone, and I promise it will rev up your workout!

What music really gets you moving during a workout? Do you prefer to make your own playlists, or do you appreciate the ease of a curated remix? Let me know in the comments!