#ThanksandGiving

Yesterday was my third time volunteering for St. Jude this year and every experience has been so different and fun.  Yesterday, the volunteers were the support behind the St. Jude Dream a Little Dream fashion show and raffle.  The event hosted around 1500 guests and raised money and awareness for the children of St. Jude…perfect timing to kick off the Thanks and Giving Campaign.

 

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View from my first apartment in Memphis 2006

 

I remember when I learned about the campaign about 7 years ago as a St. Jude employee.  Since then, the support for the campaign has grown (who hasn’t seen the logo at your local Target or sporting store?) and today is the 10 year anniversary of its start.  The video’s on this website are priceless and well worth checking out this week!

 

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This time of year, and this week in particular, when many of us have off of work, are traveling, and planning for the holiday season ahead, there is plenty of time to reflect on the joys and gifts in our lives and give back to those in our community in need of financial, emotional, and physical support.  Starting off the week by donating my time and energy to this local event in support of a wonderful cause was the BEST way to kick off my Thanksgiving week.

 

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Last week on the job 2008

 

And remind me how lucky I am to have a strong partner, an adorable kitten, a healthy family, generous friends, a job that I love and challenges me, four walls and a roof, heat in the winter, strength to run 26.2 miles, amazing cousins, an active 101 year old grandfather, trips to Israel, a bookshelf full of books, opportunities for growth, clean water from my faucets, laughter and love!

 

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I will be taking all of this appreciation with me as my family hits the road (yup we’re driving) to New York tomorrow night.  I know Thanksgiving is all about the food, but for me, I’m more excited to spend this quality time with my family and our close friends on the east coast!  But before I go, I want to wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thank You and Keep on Giving!

 

 

What does #ThanksandGiving mean to you?

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Gym Rat

It’s been a long time since I’ve called myself a gym rat.  Even though I have a park district membership, I use it mostly for the indoor track in the winter and the pool in the summer and haven’t taken many classes there.  Yet this week, I was at the yoga studio twice and at the gym twice.  I’m starting to feel like a gym rat again!

 

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This morning, I was excited to get back to a spin class.  I had a wonderful breakfast of Justin’s Overnight Oats in a Jar!  So yummy!!!

 

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I was hungry when I woke up and devoured my breakfast quickly.  Then drove the 3 minutes over to the park district.  In order to get a bike in the 9am class, you need to get there early.  I arrived around 8:30am and got the second to last bike.  While I waited, I caught a 15 minute ab class.  It’s been fun getting back into the gym, and I hope that I am able to fit more classes and strength training into my new schedule.

 

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After the class, I went downstairs to the park district office to sign the BOY and I up for an indoor Beginner Tennis class.  Yes…after like 2 years of claiming that I was going to learn a new skill, I have finally taken the leap.  The BOY and I both have Monday evenings open, so I took this chance to sign us up for tennis lessons.  We are hoping to then find a second day each week to practice.

 

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Remember these days?

It’s been a long time since we’ve attempted a tennis match (I say attempt because I’m pretty awful!).  The beginner class starts in January and I’m making it my goal to move up to the advanced beginner class after this session.  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.  Tomorrow will be a gym free day since my Mom and I are volunteering all day at the St. Jude Fashion Show.

Five for Friday XIII {FunEmployment Edition}

1.  I have worked out 5 days in a row and it has been awesome!  Cheers to fun employment!

 

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Monday-Yoga

Tuesday-3 mile run

Wednesday-4.5 mile run

Thursday-Muscle Pump

Friday-Yoga

 

 

2.  I think we kind of lost meal planning mid week, but I blame that on fun employment too.

 

 

3.  I had coffee with a friend this week (mid day coffee…heck yeah fun employment) who asked me if our cat liked people.  I explained to her that Cooper and I fall asleep in each others arms at night, until the BOY comes to bed and Cooper is removed) and she smiled and admitted that she too spoons with her dogs.  I think I have entered the realm of true pet owner now.  I’m thinking a T shirt that says ‘I cuddle with my cat’ is the only appropriate next step!

 

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4. I am making my way through the longest to do list EVER.  Slowly but surely, I’m getting things done (like cleaning up our third bedroom and updating my address book), yet the list keeps going on and on!  Is it wrong to be excited to have time to actually do this during fun employment?!  We’ll see what else I can get done before we leave for New York.

 

 

5. It’s been ages since the BOY and I sat down for a homemade Friday night dinner.  So I was excited to try out a new recipe for Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken tonight.  I didn’t pan fry the panko or pound down the chicken so dinner came together quickly and it was delicious!  I’m hoping with my new work schedule that there will be many more homemade Friday night dinners in 2014!

 

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What would you do during your fun employment week?

What did you make for dinner tonight?

The Start of Cold Weather Running

Cold weather running weather is here (insert sigh of sadness here).

Between the weather and the time change, it’s been tougher for me to get out and run in the mornings.  It’s not all bad, but since I run alone, I won’t go until the sun is up.  And yesterday, my phone guestimated the temperature at 22 degrees.  I initially decided that it was too cold to be out and got dressed to run indoors along the track.  When I saw that my car was iced over and knew by the time it thawed, I wouldn’t have time to make it to the gym, I walked straight back into the house to add some layers (and sunglasses).  The sun helped warm me up quickly as I strode along the leaf filled path for 3 miles. 

 

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This morning, I didn’t have a plan for my workout, so when I saw the sun shining and the warm 30 something degree temps, I bundled back up for another run.

 

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I ran about 4.5 miles with no pace in mind, just happy to be out and running in the sunshine.  As I was trotted along this morning, I started thinking about cold weather running.  Two things came to mind…

 

Number 1

My new job comes with it a new schedule.  I am not sure that I will have time to run outdoors in the mornings (this usually happens in the winter), so it will be time to transition indoors, which means intervals.  I did well with this last winter and I think it’s one reason I achieved a few PR’s this year.  I’m hoping to find some new interval training workouts to try this winter.  Any ideas to share???

 

Number 2

Winter running gear!  Which got me thinking about this post by Abby.  Abby sees way more cold days than I do, so she has some great tips for Winter Running and Winter Running Gear.  It’s not winter yet, but I know snowy runs are just around the corner.  I have a decent amount of workout gear, but definitely need to invest in some new gloves.  Any ideas to share???

 

In other workout news (aka more thoughts from running), I decided that I am not a huge fan of my new trainer and am looking for another.  In the mean time, I’m going to try out some strength classes at the park district and continue to do hot yoga.  Tonight was the first night in (well, I don’t know how long) that the BOY and I were both home before 6pm and decided to head out for dinner.  We went to the local pub which happens to have awesome salads.  The pre planned turkey burgers will have to wait…

 

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On one last note, last night, I had the most adorable assistant blogger.

 

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Who fell asleep on the job!

I had a busy day today and am also planning to fall asleep on the job.

Good Night!

Hello Monday…

How I have missed you!

Are you confused?  Don’t be!

 

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For about 4 1/2 years, I worked four 10 hour days with Mondays off.  I had plenty of Sunday Fundays and then used Mondays to exercise, regroup, and relax.  It was fantastic!  In June, my entire schedule changed and I started working on Mondays.  It went ok, but my Sundays became much busier and I never got used to waking up early Monday mornings.  With my new job, I decided to go back to my original schedule.  Welcome back Sunday and Monday Fundays!

 

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After the past two weeks and a crazy busy weekend, I was more than happy to have this Monday off.  Saturday, we had a family wedding!  It has been awhile since the 6 of us have been to a wedding together and we wasted no time getting down on the dance floor and frequenting the photo booth complete with costumes (hence the top photo).

 

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We all crashed at my parents house that night and they provided the perfect after party of snacks and water : )  Sunday morning, everyone was moving a little more slowly except for my mom who herded us out of bed and into the kitchen for brunch.  The game plan was a Birthday celebration for the BOY and my brother (both November birthdays), the Bears game, and chili.  Early on, there was some discussion about bad weather, but it wasn’t until we turned on the TV around 11:30 that we realized tornados had swept through central Illinois and huge storms were coming our way.  There were lots of warnings given and when the suggestion of bike helmets came up on the news, I sprung into action. 

 

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We had some serious rain and hail but we were lucky that the bulk of the storms were farther south.  We watched the start of the Bears game and then there was a LONG delay.  There were plenty of stories from last night’s wedding to share and Hanukkah shopping on Amazon to do.  Not to mention meal planning on Pinterest.  We had some friends come out from the city, and my we made a double batch of Buffalo Turkey Chili, which everyone loved.  Just a note, that my mom put the ingredients in the crockpot which worked well.

 

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We left my parents around 2:30pm to head home to Cooper.  This was his first night by himself and he just looked so sad when we left (see photo).  I wasn’t sure how he would handle the storms.  He was beyond excited to see us, but definitely jumpy with the strong winds.  We spent Sunday afternoon cheering the Bears on to victory (Woo Hoo!) and playing with kitten.

 

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I slept beautifully last night and was excited to head back to another yoga class this morning.  After yoga, I went to Costco and the grocery store, both of which had significantly less people than they typically do on Sundays.  Man, I’ve missed Monday shopping.  When I came home, I threw chili for lunch this week into the crockpot.

 

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I adjusted the original spices a bit leaving out the cocoa and adding more savory flavors.  I also baked up a loaf of clean banana bread with the latest brown bananas hanging out on the counter.

 

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I’m finishing off the day at dinner with my girl friends.  Does it get any better than that?

Welcome back Mondays!

 

 

 

Meal Planning 11/18/13

Monday: Dinner Date with the Girls

 

Tuesday: TBD

 

Wednesday: Turkey Burgers

 

Thursday: Leftovers

 

Friday: Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken

 

Lunch: Crockpot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili

 

 

 

Crockpot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili

Slightly adjusted from Kitchen Treaty

 

Ingredients

2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained

2 cups vegetable broth

2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 cup dry red lentils

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 chopped yellow onion

1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced (deseeded and deveined if you’re looking for less heat)

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Directions

Add all ingredients to a large slow cooker. Stir well.

Cook on high for 4 – 5 hours or on low for 8 – 10 hours, until lentils are tender and chili is thick and hearty.

Serve with assorted toppings.

After the Storm

I want to take a moment to share how thankful I am for the safety of my friends in central Illinois.  For all of the people in the Midwest affected by today’s tornado, my thoughts are with you!  Having lived in Peoria, Illinois for 4 years in college, I am very familiar with the area and my heart goes out to everyone recovering from the storm.  I have been looking for ways to support those in need and came across this facebook page

 

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We got thunderstorms in our area and the BOY and I were lucky enough to hunker down with my family.  Stories of the weekend to come!

Baking and Breaking Bread

I think I was in denial about my big job change.  I kept saying that I would deal with it in November and then November was here and now my last day has passed and I have a few weeks of fun before diving into my next job.  They say that this new generation will have around 11 jobs in their lifetime.  Ok, I don’t know if anyone really says that, but I did read it on a website.

 

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I’m 7 1/2 years out of grad school and I’ve had 2 jobs, and now just starting my 3rd.  It seems to me that in healthcare, we tend to stay put.  There is so much more than salary that plays a role in job decisions and for those of us in the underpaid pediatric realm, this is even more true.  We do what we do because we really do Love What We Do!

 

 

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Over the past 5 years, I have baked countless breads that I’ve shared with my coworkers or served at classes at my job.  The most of them are probably banana : )

 

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I thought it would be fun to bake up a few loaves of bread for my last day and was excited to find a banana bread recipe that I haven’t tried yet.

 

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The addition of warm apples to sweet banana bread is a MUST!

 

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I know that there are plenty more breads in my future with new coworkers, new friends, and new adventures.  And…I will always remember the past bites with sweet memories!

 

 

Apple Banana Bread

From The Keenan Cookbook

 

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large bananas (mashed)

1 large apple (peeled, cored, chopped)

 

Directions

Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugars.

Blend in eggs, oil, applesauce, milk, and vanilla.

Stir in banana and apple.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until toothpick test comes out clean.

Freezes well.