Spectacular Spring Sun

This past week, I have seen the most beautiful and colorful sunrises and magnificent sunsets…

 

All from the comfort of my car.  It is that exciting time of year when I am driving to work as the sun is rising and driving home before it actually sets.  This is a nice contrast to the dark mornings and nights of winter. 

 

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The sky was so inspiring to watch the golden sun rise in the horizon that I had to get some pictures with my cell phone.  No worries…MOST pictures were taken at stoplights (hence all the wires and poles in the way). 

 

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That same night, the clouds were stunning on my way to yoga.  Again, I grabbed my cell phone.  Even with the wires, the pictures turned out incredible!

 

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It just kept getting better, so I had to take a few more pics.  You all know that I am obsessed with with sunsets!

 

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What incredible sights have you seen from your car?

Wordless Wednesday at the Wynn

Last Saturday, we had the most amazing champagne brunch at the Wynn in Las Vegas.  There were so many pictures that they didn’t fit into one post.  As promised, here are the rest of the pictures.

 

Warning: May cause your mouth to water and your stomach to grumble!

 

 

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Class Cancelled!

So…I am getting my workout groove back.  I even woke up at 5:15AM this morning in order to go to this awesome conditioning class at the yoga studio. I got there at 5:57 and the doors were locked.  The last few times that I went, I double checked the online schedule but go figure, I didn’t check this morning.  And now…the Tuesday morning class has been moved to Friday’s.  Total bummer standing in the parking lot in the dark with your yoga mat.  I wasn’t the only one…another guy drove by and was asking why there were so few cars here today.

 

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I headed back home as the sun was just starting to rise.  I was debating what I wanted to do with my morning.  I thought about going back to sleep, but since I was already awake, I made myself a hot tea and blogged a bit.  It was a beautiful morning, so I didn’t want to go to the gym, but I’ve been running the last two days so I didn’t want to run.  I debated back in forth while I enjoyed a still and quiet morning.  Then I figured out a compromise…

 

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Open the back door, so I got a nice breeze in the house and started doing some body weight strength exercises in the house and a few out back.

 

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Who wouldn’t want to do some triceps dips in the back yard with this view???

 

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I was a little intimidated to do start doing lunges out back in my not-so-active neighborhood, so I eventually moved myself back indoors.  I used a magazine cut out for some leg strengthening exercises (Fitness March 2012) and alternated them with my ‘favorite’ (I use that word lightly) abs and arm exercises (ie pushups, side planks, and bicycles) for a 30 minute workout.  It was not as challenging as the conditioning class, but much more fun than staring at the meatheads at the gym.

 

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Here are some of the best leg exercises.

Add them in to your next workout or combine them for a total leg workout.

 

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And then once you’ve worked up a sweat on this 80 degree spring day, cool off with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie!

 

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Into the Blender:

Spinach

1 cup almond milk

1 tbsp peanut butter

2 tbsp cacao powder

1/2 banana

Ice

 

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It is a delish green smoothie with a hint of chocolate and peanut butter.  I promise you can’t even taste the spinach!

 

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It was a refreshing post workout breakfast (my pre workout breakfast was oatmeal) and a great start to a morning with a REALLY early start!

 

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Chicken Curry

Ahh 3 day weekends…how I love you!

 

After another good night of sleep on Sunday, I made the most of my Monday off.  I met the trainer at THE HILL for a challenging hill workout combined with some strength training and core.  I am definitely feeling it today!  After a week off and a 6.5 mile run Saturday, my legs were shaking as I struggled up hill.  But after the hour long workout, I felt great!   Post exercise fuel…

 

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This chocolate milk was as good as I had hoped.  It is very creamy for a non-dairy milk and has a nice rich taste.  I ran a few errands (I like Costco so much better on Mondays than Sundays) and had some down time to plan my training schedule, do laundry, and finally catch up on Gray’s Anatomy!  I’m not sure if anyone else watches this show, but I’m still addicted.

 

I had a 3:00 appointment at the yoga studio to address my back and SI pain.  This was only my second appointment to work on my alignment along with some myofascial and massage work.  After walking around Vegas in heels, my back was pretty bad last week, but afterward yesterday’s appointment, it felt 100 times better.  The focus was on my asymmetrical feet and my QL which is wicked tight and spasming.  He uses mostly Eastern techniques and has also recommended acupuncture.  This is something that I have always been curious about and am considering.  Has anyone tried acupuncture? What did you think?

 

Mondays is my night to make dinner which I really enjoy.  Usually I have some sort of plan, but I was feeling pretty undecided.  I was thinking maybe curry.  I found this recipe for Coconut Chicken Curry on the blogs, but didn’t have enough time to throw everything into the crockpot. While I was waiting for my appointment, I started to look up recipes on my phone. I came across this speedy and simple recipe for Chicken Curry.

 

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Although I haven’t been eating a lot of meat (maybe 1xweek), the BOY and I ate a lo of seafood on the grill this weekend and I wasn’t sure if he could find the enthusiasm for fish or a veggie dish.  And since he has been incredibly supportive, I’m happy to compromise.  I found a no hormone added organic chicken at Costco, which although slightly more expensive, is a healthier for you and the planet.

 

When I got back from my appointment, the sun was still shining and I was psyched to sit out back enjoy the beautiful day and read my book.  I can’t believe I forgot to add reading outside to my Spring Fever post!

 

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Eventually it was time to get started on dinner.  I was happy that I had chosen a dinner that required minimum prep and came together quickly because I wanted to stay outside all night.

 

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The secret ingredient, which is really not so secret, is red curry paste.  I found this one at the local Jewel, which was on my way back from the studio.  It was reasonably priced, low in sodium and only had a few ingredients.

 

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Dinner was almost ready by the time the BOY walked in the door.  The last time I made curry (which was also the first time), he was really impressed, so I was hoping that this curry would turn out as good as the last time.

 

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To go along with the quick no-nonsense dinner theme, I heated up some rice in the microwave.

 

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The BOY poured himself a generous helping of curry before adding this fallen pieces of chicken to his plate.

 

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He paused for a minute to let me take pictures of his plate, although he still thinks I am crazy for doing this, before whisking his dinner off to the other room.

 

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I served my curry over a grilled sweet potato and green beans. 

 

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It may sound like an odd combination, but the sweet potato drenched in the curry sauce was unbelievably good.  I dipped every last bite into the sauce and almost saved the leftover sauce for another potato.  It got me seriously thinking about a sweet potato curry…which you may see on this blog REAL SOON.

 

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What I am learning about making curry is that it can be quick and easy (for nights you’d rather be hanging out outside) but tastes fantastic.  Plus, it’s always a big hit in this house!

Here is another healthy recipe for Clean Chicken Curry.

 

 

 

Chicken Curry

From Cooking Light Magazine

March 2010

Makes 4 servings (although with the BOY’s appetite it was perfect for two)

 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 1 large)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons red curry paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk

3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

Lime wedges (optional)

Preparation

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, turning once. Add bell pepper to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken mixture from pan. Combine juice, soy sauce, curry paste, and sugar in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add juice mixture and coconut milk to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 12 minutes or until slightly thick. Return chicken mixture to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Spring Fever

I’ve got a fever and the cure is NOT More Cowbell!

 

I don’t know if it was this week’s outdoor runs or the BOY’s new beer choice…

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But I have a serious case of SPRING FEVER!!!  The warm weather to come is all that I can think about, and it makes me happy to know that spring is just around the corner!  I can feel my funk fading away already!

With the warm weather to come, I am VERY excited for…

 

Baseball Games

 

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Bike Rides

 

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Farmer’s Markets

 

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Green Smoothies

 

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Girl Scout Cookie recipes

 

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Race Training

 

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

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BBQ’s

 

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Eating Outdoors

 

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My Grandpa’s Milestone Birthday

 

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Gpa and Cake

 

Bike the Drive

 

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No More Snowy Fridays

 

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What is your favorite part of spring???

Grocery Store Finds

It is no secret that I absolutely LOVE the grocery store.  Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are two of my favorite places to spend some money!!!  Here are a few of my latest finds…

 

 

This cereal is from Whole Foods.  You can use it as a warm cereal, in a smoothie or even as a base for oatmeal cookies.

 

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La Granja is a Trader Joe’s favorite. 

 

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I discovered the Zebra bottle last summer, and the tempanillo is smooth and fantastic.  For around $5 each, these red wines taste way above their price!

 

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Whole Foods Go Raw Cookies…lemon and ginger are my favorite!

 

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Dark chocolate is a must have in this house.  Trader Joe’s has some fantastic vegan options.

 

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These mushrooms are the best I’ve ever had.  They are great on the grill or in the oven.

 

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This Black Bean Soup from Trader Joe’s is one of the best canned soups out there.

 

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This Barbara’s cereal (known for their puffins) tastes like the childhood favorite Life.

 

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I like it mixed with other cereals (ie puffed millet) with fruit and almond milk.

 

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Another Trader Joe’s wine to make the list is this meritage that just arrived in stores this spring.

 

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Which I discovered while I was stocking up on my new summer favorite, TJ’s Blanc de Blanc.  You HAVE to try this refreshing sparkling wine.

 

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Picky Bars can be ordered online.  I read about them in a magazine which recommended these natural bars for post-exercise recovery.

 

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I am a huge fan of this unsweetened ice tea.  It is perfect for breakfast or a sunny day outside.

 

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This Almond Smooth came highly recommended (I am yet to try it), but I decided to go with the chocolate flavor.  I can’t wait to have my first glass!

 

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I’m sure you have seen this LWYD favorite all over my blog.  I always keep a box in the freezer for when I need a quick and healthy breakfast.  I add in a banana, chia seeds, and almond milk for my typical pre-race meal.

 

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You may have seen these in your grocery store freezer, but they are about $1 cheaper at Trader Joe’s.  They are jam packed with veggies, not fillers.  My favorite way to eat them is broiled or grilled, but the microwave will work too if you are short on time.

 

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Since we’re talking about the freezer, I always keep one of these available for a quick and tasty appetizer.  I promise you will love it and so will your guests!

 

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And what is there to eat with this cheesy dip???  Either of these will do!

 

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This new find is decadent!  Spread it all over these Soda Bread Scones.

 

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A flattened banana…random right???  My mom and I picked these up in the check out line.  I haven’t opened it yet. 

Mom…how does it taste?

 

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I eat this 8 veggie salad over greens, with feta, or as a stirfry.  Even the BOY likes it!!!

 

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And last, but certainly not least, the BOY’s ultimate favorite.  They never last the weekend!

 

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This is only a fraction of our favorites, but should be a good start.  If you are looking for more inspiration, pick up one of these books that I randomly found at Barnes & Noble today.

 

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Happy shopping!!!

What is your favorite shopping find?

Has anyone tried the Trader Joe’s cookbooks?

I’m in a Funk

These past few weeks, I have been in a total funk.  Although my weekend in Las Vegas was a nice break from ‘funky’ town, after a long week at work, I am back in my funk. 

 

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For me, a funk is defined as:

-Feeling really tired all of the time

-Not into working out

-Being too busy to do the fun things that I love

-Feeling too tired to do the fun things that I love

-Eating more chocolate than kale

-My SI back pain has returned

-Being grumpy

-Lacking motivation

 

I think that this list perfectly describes my mood this week.  I haven’t worked out since my run in Las Vegas, and I have been working crazy long hours at work.  When I get home, there is little to no time for socializing, blogging, reading, baking, or sleeping.  And I have been so exhausted (even with 7-8 hours of sleep) that I have not been running before work.  The result of this is that I feel sluggish and fatigued, I’m slightly irritable (the BOY can confirm this), and my pants are feeling tighter than usual.  I woke up this morning and decided that I’m ready to bust out of my rut and start feeling like myself again. Work is going to continue to be busy until the end of the month (I have another 12 straight days of work/class coming up) and I’d like to figure out a better balance starting NOW.

 

I don’t typically dive too deep into the emotional effects of trying to keep myself balanced because let’s be honest, no body wants to read a downer post. Plus, workouts, recipes, and pictures are much more fun. But, I think ‘funks’ are a normal part of life and I’m hoping for some suggestions on how to get back to my active and energized self.  I take responsibility for the not-so-healthy decisions I have been making, like an extra glass or two of wine here and a day on the couch inside of the gym there.  The thought that I have not been eating much meat and dairy which could affect my energy levels has crossed my mind (I am eating eggs and seafood).  But before I dive into meatloaf and ice cream, I thought I could these funk busters a try.

 

Yoga

Yoga has a way of challenging me emotionally and physically.  I leave class with an honest understanding of what is really bothering me and a sense of strength having just tackled difficult poses in a hot room for 75 minutes.  My mom and I have a yoga date set for this Wednesday night.

 

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Down Time

The BOY and I spent some quality time last night preparing dinner on his new grill and watching an intense Indiana basketball game (they won and meet Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen).  A quiet Saturday night is a calming way to start the week, especially when I get to bed early.  I slept for 10 hours last night!!!

 

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Writing

Surprisingly, writing about my funk has been quite therapeutic and looking through our fun Vegas pictures as I added them to the blog has definitely made me smile.

 

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Working Out

I have a session with the TRAINER scheduled for Monday morning!  And Chicago is finally thawing out as bike season approaches.  When I run outdoors, I don’t take a head set.  I truly enjoy the quiet time alone with my thoughts.  A lot of new ideas and decisions are made during my runs.

 

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Organizing

When I saw this quote in a magazine, I knew it described me exactly.  Blame my Virgo side or OCD tendencies, but getting my bags unpacked, my house cleaned up, working through my To Do list, throwing laundry in the machine, and straightening up the house always has a way of calming me and getting me mentally ready for the week ahead.

 

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Kitchen Time

A new recipe is always a fun distraction for me.  A fun holiday bread or anything with a cake mix is a great way to spend the afternoon in the kitchen.  Coming soon…I can not wait to make THESE BROWNIES!

 

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Planning

With a half marathon, a 10 miler, and a triathlon rapidly approaching, it is time to get serious about my schedule.  I always do well with everything written down on my calendar. Just like with To Do lists, I like to cross off my workouts after I have completed them.

 

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Reading

I am nose deep in another Phillipa Gregory book that I would love to finish.  I also have a magazine subscription addiction so there is a lot of Hollywood trash and recipes to read through, plus my fun new cookbooks.

 

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Quality Time with Friends and Family

I have a lunch date with a close friend today.  I know catching up on this beautiful day will put me in a good mood and reminds me how lucky I am to be surrounded by such amazing people.

 

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So there it is, my recipe for a balanced life.  This list, combined with the fast approaching spring is exactly what I need to head into this next season feeling like the best version of myself.

 

A healthy start to the day: I got  myself outside for a steady, not too fast, but not too easy, 6.5 mile run along the path.  There were tons of walkers, runners, and bikers out sharing this sunny morning.  I came home feeling the good kind of tired, the I just ran 60 minutes in the heat kind of fatigue.  I am refueling with a green smoothie and off to take a shower and begin my day.  I am looking forward to a happier and healthier week!

 

 

Do you ever find yourself in a funk?

What do you do to bust out of a rut?

I need your help…share your suggestions in the comments!!!