Random Wordy Wednesday and a Recipe

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1. THE BLOG

So although I have blogged a bit less this year, I am still blogging.  Why does this matter?  It came time to renew my domain and despite the fact that blogging does not play as big of a role in my day to day life, I seem to like it enough to sign back up without thinking twice about it.  Speaking of blogging…I do need to update a few pages.  Perhaps that will be part of my 2016 goals.

 

2. RECIPES

Speaking of the year ahead…I took the easy way out last week with 2 Ingredient Chicken, but between the BOY and I and all our new kitchen toys, I think we will have more new and unique recipes on LWYD this year.  I am already loving this Cleansing Carrot Ginger Soup (topped with raisins…Mmm!).  This week, I also made turkey meatballs.  Believe it or not I didn’t use my crockpot (it was busy), so I used my other favorite kitchen tool.

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I should admit that there are people who were made to make meatballs and then there is me.  Have you ever seen meatballs so not round?!  Thankfully, they tasted amazing (even though I left out the bread crumbs).

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3. WORKOUTS

Tuesday morning, I was running circles around the track again watching the cold, miserable snow through the windows.  Thank goodness for Serial to keep me company!  I am all caught up and already downloaded a bunch of podcasts for our trip.

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4. WEATHER

Brrr!  Baby…it’s cold outside!

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5. TRAVEL

Thankfully, it’s getting REALLY close to honeymoon time…

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Sunshine, here we come!!!  I’ve ordered us TONS of sunscreen, water shoes, snorkels, and more in prep for the big trip which is less than a week away.

 

6. COOPER

He is just so darn cute!  Except when he lays on your face in the middle of the night : )

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What’s on your mind today?

Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

From Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound 97-98% lean ground turkey1
  • 1 pound 92-93% lean ground turkey1
  • 2/3 cup (40g) Panko (I omitted this)
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (22g) grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion sweet onion, sliced
  • two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

Directions

  1. Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, Panko, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Mix everything up just so the ingredients are combined – avoid overmixing. Roll into desired size balls – mine were slightly larger than a golfball. Place all rolled meatballs on a large baking sheet.
  2. Place onion slices in the bottom of the crockpot, topped with 1 can of crushed tomatoes.
  3. Coat a large skillet with remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Lightly brown the meatballs (only 6-8 meatballs at a time) for about 1 minute on each side. Do not skip this step – read above for why. Layer the meatballs into the crockpot as you’re browning each batch. Once all browned meatballs have been added to the crockpot, pour remaining can of tomatoes on top.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-6.5 hours. Serve with pasta, as meatball subs, plain, etc. No matter how I serve them, I always top with a little chopped fresh basil. Store leftovers covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Sally has a ton of notes, including how to make this without the crockpot like I did, so check them out!

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August is my Favorite Month!

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Hey!  Let’s talk weekend!  Because mine was fun and quick (yup…working again on Monday this week, but for a good reason!)

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Friday was the last kids yoga class of summer. I have another great group of kiddos and it was a BLAST! 

Friday night, the BOY and I took it easy because he was accompanying me to the gym early Saturday morning.  Yes, folks…you heard that correctly.  The BOY was interested in trying some boxing, so he got his first lesson while I worked every one of my muscles from head to toe with the trainer.

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I recouped with a protein smoothie while working out some wedding stuff.  And then, we had a quick stop at the mall before going to my parents for more wedding work.  And then swung by the BOY’s sister’s house for a BBQ.  We arrived back home to a gorgeous Saturday evening that just begged to be enjoyed with backyard dinner and wine.

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And some cuddles from kitten!

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Sunday morning, I planned to do an outdoor yoga class that just happens to be at the same park where we play tennis.  The game plan was to yoga and then meet the BOY for a game of tennis.  The yoga class got moved indoors, but I was still able to fit both in before our lunch plans with friends.  Sadly, I don’t have any pictures (except for this colorful one their adorable daughter drew me) because I left my phone at home.

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Sunday night was the usual laundry, dinner, paperwork, crash!

Just like that…my weekend was over!

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Just like July…you blink and then it’s over!

Okay…so now let’s talk goals because somehow it is August.  August?!

 

July Goals

Strength Train 2x Each Week– Believe it or not, I have actually enjoyed adding the extra day of strength.  My muscles look better, and I am getting stronger.  I can’t wait to keep it up through the fall!

Keep it Clean, Add in Green– I have been pretty good about cleaning up my diet.  My stomach is feeling better, which has been awesome and I bought a new bathing suit : )

Stay the Course with Wedding Planning (and Stay Calm!)– Invites are out and on we go!

Have the Best Bachelorette Weekend!- It was AMAZING!!!

 

So August is one of those months that is so busy, you may not hear from me. I have a wedding shower, two vacations, the busiest work schedule I’ve ever seen amongst everything else, and let’ s not forget my birthday : )  Historically speaking, busy months lead to me stressing like crazy which often leads to illness.  So this months goals are geared towards keeping me from losing my mind and staying healthy!

August Goals

Sleep More (get back up to 8 hours)

Slow Down (and breathe)

Keep it Clean (especially on vacation)

Find Wedding Shoes

Balance Work/Life

 

What are your August goals?

5:30 is the New 6:00

Our Wednesday night conversation went something like this…

 

BOY: So nice that you got to sleep in this morning

ME: I didn’t sleep in this morning.

BOY: Where did you go?

ME: To workout with my trainer to make up for Monday’s session

BOY: Huh!? What time did you wake up?

ME: 5:30am

BOY: 5:30? That’s so early!

ME: Yea…5:30 is kinda the new 6

BOY: Laughing…that sucks!

 

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So I used to be a 6am girl.  That was the earliest I would ever wake up on a week day.  However, lately, things have changed.  I joined a gym with some awesome 6am classes and got committed to early morning strength sessions (including making up my missed Monday session).  Which makes…5:30 my new 6!  Ugghh!  Don’t get me wrong, I still hit snooze (and on Tuesday decided to sleep in all together after adjusting back to the time change), but overall my wake up time has been much earlier.

 

The benefits of this are endless.  Beautiful sunrises, stronger arms, and an energetic start to the day are just a few.  The negatives are also numerous…the biggest being 8pm fatigue.  I have a really active job so after my sweat session, I am on my feet, using my muscles, and moving around throughout the entire day. And…even though I have been waking up about an hour earlier, I’m not going to bed an hour an hour earlier.  I have been working on this, but 9:30 is about as early as I can get into bed and then I do like to read a bit before crashing.  The biggest negative (besides being tired and cranky) is that when I am exhausted at the end of the week, it is tougher for me to continue to wake up early and make good food decisions.  Common knowledge, I know as there is plenty of new research coming out that links fatigue, sleep time, and appetite hormones. 

 

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Which as always brings us back to BALANCE.  Last week, I did two 5:30am days in a row but only because I knew on the third day, I was flying down to Florida and could nap on the plane.  What I didn’t consider was that I had to be up at 4am to get on aforementioned plane : )  Luckily, I had plenty of rest time to catch up on sleep over the weekend and returned home recharged for at least one early wake up this week. 

 

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I’ve talked a wee bit about sleep on the blog, but in case you don’t know, I am a really good sleeper.  I read article after article about how the average person sleeps 6 hours a night and I am in shock.  I am an 8 hour a night girl (usually 10pm to 6am) and even a few nights of 7 hours can throw me off my game.  Which is why these early mornings have been a BIG deal around here!  But it seems that one to two 5:30 wake ups are doing my body some good and so I am working out the balance part.  BTW, the weekends are an entirely different beast with some involving more (or less) sleep than others but we can save that conversation for another day because let’s be honest, it’s rare that I am awake before 6am on Saturday morning.

 

Although I did set an alarm today in order to get to an 8 am yoga class.  Which was totally necessary in order to spend the rest of the day with my mom, her BFF, and my aunt (all in town for my future sister in law’s shower) eating and shopping, gossiping, and shopping some more.  The morning class was exhilarating and exhausting and the same could be said for my afternoon of shopping!

 

 

What time do you wake up?

How many hours of sleep do you get each night?

 

 

Although it doesn’t feel like May (40 degrees?  What the…?), it is time to check in with goals…

 

April Goals

Strength Train 2xweek

-I’ve been doing this inconsistently, but definitely more interested and motivated to lift weights with my trainer and on my own.

Do Yoga 1xweek (and do a workshop)

-This aerial yoga class was a BLAST!

Unplug and Unwind

-I’ve been blogging and commenting a bit less and reading a bit more.  I think that this has kept my stress levels down and really helped me fall asleep at night.  Or that could be exhaustion after waking up so early…either way, I am a huge fan of the unwind!

Drink More Water and Eat More Greens

-DONE!

Cook from your Cookbooks!

I failed at this one…keeping it going for next month.

But this month, I did share some tasty recipes for Grilled Romaine and Crockpot Green Chicken Curry

 

 

Source

 

May Goals

1. Cook from cookbooks one recipe a week

2. Go for a bike ride

3. Register for a fall race

4. Stay present and enjoy the little moments*

 

*The next two months are SO busy that it would be easy to put my head down and plow through.  But that’s missing out on all of the fun showers, graduations, celebrations, and races.

Five for Friday XVIII

1.  Thank you guys so much for your awesome comments on my This is the REAL Me…post.  Did anyone do a Keeping It Real post of their own?  Link it out in the comments!  I probably should have started that post by thanking you guys for being such amazing friends and readers that I feel comfortable sharing myself, faults and all, with you each week.

 

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2.  The Polar Vortex tried to kill my car.  True Story!  On Wednesday, I tried to go to the bank during my lunch hour.  I made it out of my parking lot and my car stopped at the light.  When the light turned green, my car did not proceed into the intersection as planned completely pissing off the truck driver behind me who handled the situation by honking and yelling.  Like don’t you think I would get moving if I could?!  Every time I hit the gas, the car revved but wouldn’t move.  I was able to move my car forward enough so the angry truck could get around (who do you think is having a worse day, man, me or you?).  Thankfully, my car kicked in and I got through the intersection and back to my parking lot.

 

 

3.  To assist me in my time of need, my wonderful mother came out Wednesday night to trade cars so that my car could go to the shop near my parents house and I could take hers to work and the bank.  I had enough salmon and veggies to share (what we were able to keep away from Cooper anyways).  We  chatted, had a glass of wine, and played with baby C.  I think my mom spoils him : )

 

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4.  The last Friday of the month, my new gym has a free guest day.  The BOY and I decided to take full advantage of this by reserving a tennis court.  We could only get an 8pm time, so after work we grabbed a sandwich (from our favorite local place), picked up some indoor tennis balls (and a new racket for the BOY) at Sports Authority, and then went to the gym.

 

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We were able to get the ball machine, which was really fun!  It allowed me to practice my swing and by the end, I think it looked a little better.  I loved having an active Friday date night and it felt fantastic to pound away at tennis balls after a busy work week.  Can you say stress relief?!

 

 

5.  All of this is leading up to why despite my best attentions, I didn’t get any recipes posted this week.  I have some good ones (spoiler alert…two new banana bread recipes), so will work on getting those out this weekend.  There’s a rumor that a huge snow storm is coming our way, which will give me plenty of blogging time.

 

 

And to end with some GOOD NEWS…my car was easily (and inexpensively) able to be fixed.  The Malibu lives on!

Crockpot Stir Fry

The best part of early AM workouts…

 

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Definitely the sunrise.

Okay, maybe it’s the awesome workout that starts your day off right, but this is a close second.

 

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It sure beats the bad part of waking up at 5:30am, which is crashing before my work day ends!

On to dinner…stir fry as always been one of my go to meals, for as along as I can remember cooking meals.  A bag of frozen veggies and some shrimp from Trader Joe’s were the original version of this ever evolving meal.  Just when you think things couldn’t get easier than that, I discovered this recipe for Crockpot Cashew Chicken.

 

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We are always big fans of Chinese in this house, so I figured it would be an easy recipe to make for Monday’s dinner after a freezing day and tennis lessons!

 

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This recipe tastes just like stir fry…but made in your crockpot.  GENIUS!!!

 

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Just an FYI!  The Leftovers are a great post workout recovery meal! Yuummm!

 

 

Crockpot Cashew Chicken

Adapted from Sally Cooks

Ingredients

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

1-2 cups frozen broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces

1 package of frozen stir fry veggies (I used mushrooms, peapods and onions)

1/2 cup cashews, unsalted

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

 

Directions

Layer chicken, cashews and vegetables in the crockpot, sprayed with cooking spray.

Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour over the chicken in crockpot and stir well.

Cook for 2-4 hours on high or 4-8 hours on low.

2 Easy and Crowd Pleasing Snacks

I mentioned on Friday that I was up late waiting for my spiced nuts to be finished.  Man, they were worth the wait!  I used a crockpot liner to make easy clean up and these sweet pecans and cashews came together with very little effort.  I think I’ve been eating these nuts for every meal since I made them, and they were a huge hit at the party.  I recommend them for your next get together (make them the same day and your house will smell wonderful) or they make the perfect eatable hostess or holiday gift.

 

Bad news is that someone I never got a picture of these nuts and now they are all gone!

 

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However, I did remember to take a few pre party pictures of this next recipe.  Everyone loves a snack mix, and this Hot Chocolate Mix is really creative and fun!

 

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This recipe makes a HUGE amount of deliciousness, so I had to bust out my biggest soup pot to mix everything together!

 

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I will point out that I tend to like a little more chocolate coating on my cereal snacks, so I would highly recommend using MORE chocolate to fully coat every single chex and golden graham.

 

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Both of these recipes are worth liking/saving/pinning as they will make perfect Superbowl Snacks!

 

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And the best way to burn them off…

Try this interval workout that I did yesterday around the indoor track.  To get the best results, have your push be faster than your easy long run pace and your recovery be faster than your warm up pace.

3-5 minute warm up

5 minute push/5 minute recovery

4 minute push/4 minute recovery

3 minute push/3 minute recovery

2 minute push/2 minute recovery

1 minute push/ 1 minute recovery

3-5 minute cool down

 

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Plus the best part of getting up extra early for a sweat session…

 

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The stunning pictures at sunrise!

 

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What is your favorite easy snack to make?

 

 

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Pecans

From The Recipe Critic

 

Ingredients

1¼ C. Sugar

1¼ C. Brown Sugar

2 Tbsp. Cinnamon

⅛ tsp. Salt

1 Egg White

2 tsp. vanilla

3 Cups Pecans (and I used some cashews)

¼ C. Water

 

Directions

Mix together in a large bowl  the sugars, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl with a whisk, mix together the egg white and vanilla until it is frothy. Add the pecans and coat thoroughly. This will help the mixture stick to the pecans during the cooking process.

Prepare your slow cooker by spraying it with cooking spray or use a liner.  Add the cinnamon mixture and the pecans and turn it to low. Stir until the nuts are well coated.

Cook for about 3-4 hours.  Stirring every 30 minutes. In the very last hour, add ¼ cup water and stir well. This will ensure a crunchy coating and help the mixture to harden.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the pecans onto the sheet to cool. The pecans should be pretty sticky so be sure to separate them the best that you can and let them cool!

 

NOTE: I think there is more than enough cinnamon sugar mixture for 4 cups of nuts.

 

 

Hot Chocolate Snack Mix

From Butter with a Side of Bread

Ingredients

8 cups Rice Chex cereal

16 ounce bag miniature marshmallows

2 cups mini graham crackers (I just used Golden Grahams cereal, but you could probably break up graham crackers into small pieces instead)

5 Tbsp instant hot chocolate mix, divided

1 tsp hot water

1/2 cup butter

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup baking cocoa

 

Directions

Combine Rice Chex, marshmallows and graham crackers/cereal in a large bowl and mix together. 

In a different microwave-safe bowl, stir 1 Tbsp of the hot chocolate mix with the water until the mix is dissolved.  Stir in the chocolate chips, butter and cinnamon.  Microwave for 1 minute and stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds until mixture is melted and smooth.  Pour the mixture over the cereal and stir until well coated. 

In a different bowl, combine the powdered sugar, the remaining 4 Tbsp of hot cocoa mix and the baking cocoa.  Once this has been well mixed, pour it over the chocolate-coated cereal and stir until the cereal is well coated.

Store in an airtight container.  If making ahead, store in the freezer.

 

NOTE: I would increase the chips to 3-4 cups…trust me on this one!

Track Tuesday

For the whatever number Tuesday in a row, I was at the indoor track before work for a speed workout.  Hooray for me!  The easy thing about Tuesdays is that I get to go into work a little later, so there is more than enough time for a run.  I even woke up early this morning while the BOY snored away enjoying his first official day of spring break.

 

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I was less than thrilled to see a layer of snow covering my car.  I mean come on…last year around this time I wasn’t I hanging out in the backyard in short sleeves and sunglasses???

 

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Last week, I shared a few of my favorite speed workouts with you.  This morning I tried a new workout that I read about last night in Competitor Magazine.  It consists of longer intervals so is really challenging and guaranteed to make you sweat!

 

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I started this morning’s workout with a 5 minute warm up before beginning my Descending Tempos**.  The purpose of this workout is to develop a runner’s anaerobic threshold, which allows you to run more efficiently at a faster pace.  Exactly what I need for the PR’s I hope to achieve this year!

 

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My hard running was fast but not a sprint and my recovery was faster than my warm up pace.  I used my body as a guide since I don’t have a way of knowing my pace, and I was definitely bumping up against my threshold.  After my last 30 second sprint, I needed a minute of walking and water to catch my breath before running for 5 more minutes at my jogging pace.

 

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By the time I left the gym, the sun was attempting to peak out from behind the clouds.  Hooray for speed work, and Hooray for sunshine.  Although the sun didn’t stay out long, it was a welcome site!

 

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Post run, I made a sunny smoothie of kale, carrot, and orange for the commute to work.  For lunch, I had the fantastic Portobello and Eggplant Chili that I made yesterday.  Although I don’t have a picture to share, I will tell you that this chili is thick, hearty, and spicy!  You won’t miss the meat, I promise!

 

Here is the workout as written with my notes about today’s run below**

 

 

Descending Tempos

7 minutes hard running

3.5 minutes jogging recovery

6 minutes hard running

3 minutes jogging recovery

5 minutes hard running

2.5 minutes jogging recovery

4 minutes hard running

2 minutes jogging recovery

3 minutes hard running

1.5 minutes jogging recovery

2 minutes hard running

1 minute jogging recovery

1 minute hard running

30 seconds jogging recovery

 

**Per the magazines recommendation, I started at 5 minutes instead of 7 this morning. I jogged a 5 minute warm up, followed by descending tempos beginning at 5 minutes, and then added in another 30 seconds of hard running and 5 minutes of jogging for a total of a 35 minutes.

 

Happy Running!