Three Parties & We All Need A Nap!

Happy Tuesday!  I missed a Monday post because we didn’t even have time to catch our breath this past weekend.  It was fun filled and very active.

Friday evening we headed over to my parent’s house for Christmas dinner. We will be out of town, so this was the perfect evening for us to celebrate.  We had a lovely dinner and then Mary had a blast opening gifts.  It is so fun to see your child “get” the idea of Christmas for the first time.

A few months ago Mary made friends with a boy who is a drummer in a band and also the high school band.  He let her play his drums at the homecoming football game and she has talked about it every single day since then.

Her buddy showed up during our Christmas party and gifted her a drum set.  It was the highlight of her night and was all she talked about the entire weekend.

Saturday started out with a minor crisis in our house.  The belt flew off of the treadmill during Rock’s run and he found himself spending a few hours learning to be a treadmill mechanic.  It would be an understatement to say that my husband is a saint.  He worked like crazy to get it fixed so that I could get a run in before we hosted our own Christmas party.

Thanks to him I was able to run that day and the treadmill got me through 42 miles last week.

We cleaned and decorated and then I got to business on making a cheese platter for the table.  This year we did an appetizer and cocktail party and the centerpiece was my cheeseboard.  I bought these beautiful acacia platters at Target for $13 each and lined them with a variety of cheeses, meats, nuts, and fruit.  It made our dining room table the perfect gathering place.

Sunday morning we woke up and got ourselves together enough to go to church.  We coaxed Mary into going by promising her we would return quickly so that she could play the drums.  She went downstairs and wailed on the drums and even penned her own song.  Thanks to some lessons from Daniel Tiger she created a song where she simply shouts, “I’m so mad.  I’m so mad.  I’m so mad, mad, mad!”  Please trust me that she is not angry when she sings this but I think these are the only things she knows that should be shouted.

We were able to get her down for a nap with a promise that her friends would be coming over later for another party.  As soon as I walked in to wake her up she jumped up and said, “Oh!  I need my tights!”

We invited Mary’s friends and our friends over for a gingerbread decorating party.  We are so lucky that many of our good friends have awesome children that are so great to Mary.  Ages ranged from 1-11 and they all did a great job of making some pretty cool houses.  The older girls took it pretty seriously while the younger ones shoveled a lot of their projects into their mouths.

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Pre-party set up!

By the time we put the girls down to bed Sunday night and poured a glass of wine, Rock kicked his feet up and announced that we were officially done hosting for the holiday season.  While it was a little sad to see it come to an end, I am thrilled that there are so many more celebrations yet to come, and that we had some party successes over here!

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And this is how Mary decorates cookies. Can you figure out which ones she did?!

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How was your weekend?  

What would be your ultimate choice to have on a cheeseboard?

Oh Fudge! And Let’s Spread Some Kindness

Happy Friday.  You made it to the end of the work week and the madness of our holiday weekend is just beginning.  I’m excited and just a tad frazzled!

I wanted to do a quick and delicious dessert recipe for you.  But first I wanted to share a fun idea to make the holiday a little brighter for everyone.

We usually don’t eat fast food unless we are in a major bind on road trips.  However, after Lucy was born and Mary took her first ballet class, she was very hesitant to go into the class alone.  I promised her a “special dinner” afterward and it is now our Tuesday tradition on the way home.  Mary gets a Happy Meal and everyone is happy.

A few weeks ago we were in the drive through and I was in a major hurry to get home, though not for any particular reason.  I just wanted to get home and get things in order for the evening.  When I pulled up to pay for the food, the girl be behind the counter informed me that our bill had been paid for by the car ahead of me.  I was in total shock!  I had tears in my eyes at the thoughtful gesture.  I was in such shock as I pulled away that I told Mary what I should have done was pay for the car behind us.  We decided to do it the next time we stopped for her special dinner.

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Anna recently posted about this idea as well.  We all know how stressful it can be to take little ones out to dinner.  But her sweet kiddos were impressionably adorable to a gentleman and he returned the kindness.  Then they went ahead and returned the kindness to another stranger.  It’s contagious!

This week we were able to repay the favor at the drive-thru.  When we went to pay for Mary’s meal, I asked to take care of the bill for the car behind us.  The girl at the counter asked if we knew the other car and we told her no.  She said she loved when these things happen because it causes a 20 minute parade of every car taking care of each other.

It was a wonderful lesson for my children.  It was heartwarming for me.  I hope that the car behind us needed a little extra love or kindness and that it was as fun for them as it was for us.  Maybe it even was a helpful reminder for them of what the holiday season is about.  I encourage you to find a way to do a random act of kindness this holiday season.  Buy someone’s coffee.  Pick up a meal.  Or just give a stranger a friendly smile.  Kindness doesn’t have to be monetary.  Maybe you simply open a door for someone or carry a bag to a car for a person who looks like they could use a little help.  The holiday season can be a difficult time for some people.  Shine a little light where you can!

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Now let me share a quick and awesome recipe that you can share with friends and family.  It is bound to brighten their day too!  This S’mores fudge comes together in minutes.  It is creamy and has some fun little flavors going on.

S’mores Fudge: Prep and cooking time 10 minutes total

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Ingredients:

1 can condensed milk

1 bag milk chocolate chips

4 graham crackers

1 cup marshmallows

Directions:

Line a square baking dish with tinfoil and then spray.  Crumble the graham crackers and set aside.  In a microwave safe bowl, pour the chocolate chips and condensed milk in and microwave in 30 second intervals.  Stir in between and continue until mixture is thoroughly melted.  Dump in the graham crackers and marshmallows and mix well.  Pour into baking dish and cool in the fridge until set.

Note:  I double this recipe, otherwise there isn’t nearly enough to share!

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Running Products For Stockings

Keeping with my trend of reviewing running sunglasses, I thought I would share some of my favorite running products to stuff stockings .  Pick up a few of these for yourself or your favorite runner.  I believe these won’t disappoint.

Simple Hydration Bottles: ($19.99)

It’s no secret that I am a fan of this water bottle.  It sits perfectly  in the back of your shorts or sports bra.  No need to wear a hydration belt. There’s no bouncing around or chafing.  The name of this product says it all, simple!  You don’t have to worry about carrying hydration around.  It holds just enough fluid to get through almost any run.  Now the lids also come in a variety of colors and an improved lid.

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Yurbuds: (Starting at $14.99 on Amazon)

I have weird ears, because earbuds don’t stay in for me.  It is so frustrating and up until a few years ago, I had to wear old school over the noggin headphones.  Yep, I was that dork on the run!  I was at a North Face race and saw a Yurbuds booth and their promise that these won’t fall out.  I didn’t try them, but eventually decided to spring for a pair.  Do yourself a favor and get these if you have the same problem as me.  The sound quality is fantastic.  The fit is great and they will replace them if there are issues within the first year.

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Flipbelt: (Starting at $28.99)

I used to use a different type of belt, and while I loved it, we had some major chafing issues and had to break up.  Unlike other belts, this one stays in place and doesn’t bounce around, eliminating any potential rubbing.  It also has multiple pockets so you can carry your phone, fuel, ID, cash, and anything else you might need.  Even when I was pregnant, this remained comfortable on the run thanks to a nice amount of stretch.

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Body Glide: ($7.99 in stores)

Speaking of comfort, chafing is a given in the sport of running.  It happens and it hurts.  Nobody likes to hit the showers after their thighs have rubbed together for several miles.  Ouch!  Lather this on problem areas before your long run and spare yourself that painful singe after a run.

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Nuun Tablets: ($5.99 in stores)

I tore my calf at 20 weeks during my pregnancy in May.  A lack of electrolytes can lead to severe cramping and even muscle tears.  These delicious tablets are a wonderful way to recover after your run.  Hydrating never tasted so delicious and your muscles will thank you later.  I love the variety of flavors that are offered, including energy options, because sometimes long runs start at early o’clock.

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What are your favorite products that you would like to see in your stocking or recommend for others to share the love?

 

Holiday Fun and Delicious Recipes For The Season

Happy Monday!  What a fun week we just had and things are about to get crazy this coming week.

Michigan was freezing cold and all of my 49 miles of running were done on the treadmill.  When the thermometer plays tricks by saying it is a frigid 29 degrees out but actually feels like 9, there is no chance that I want to head outside.  Thank goodness for our treadmill.  It was nice and toasty in our basement!

I got into the gym to train clients a few times this past week.  And on Thursday we went on a family adventure to Traverse City.  My mom took us to Moomers, a local dairy, that is nationally known for their delicious ice cream.  Before they close for the season, they host gingerbread making for children (or adults).  For $30 you get a large pre-made gingerbread house, a muffin tin full of various candies, and plenty of messy frosting.  You can also make a sleigh or a gingerbread boy/girl for $15.

Mary and her cousin had a blast making houses.  This basically entailed us trying to hurry and get the candy on the house before the kids ate all of it.  Moomers does offer you extra candy if you need some.  Needless to say, we required seconds of a few things.

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The adventure wrapped up with pictures with their projects, which were later made into ornaments to take home.  Moomers also had boxes to carry the masterpieces home in.  It was really an awesome time and very well thought out.

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We then went downtown T.C. to try out a new to us venue.  The State Street Market Place opened in the last little while and houses several restaurants, a coffee bar, brewery, and a few shops.  Everything is open with communal tables to gather at.  We tried some delicious Lebanese food at Ziatun.  I am a sucker for beef Shwarma and spices.

Our weekend was filled with gymnastic classes, and a nice long run for me, followed by our first Christmas party of the year.  It was great to get together with family and enjoy delicious food and drinks.  There has been an influx of babies on my dad’s side of the family over the last year and it was a blast to see the cousins meeting each other for the first time.

We wrapped up Sunday with lots of baking, cooking, church and some great family time.  To start of the week I want to share some of the delicious recipes we have tried and loved this week.

These chewy white chocolate dipped ginger cookies are fantastic.  We are adding this to our cookie baking rotation.  I didn’t take a picture because mine look nothing like these beauties!  If you like a great ginger cookie, this one is chewy and the addition of white chocolate is perfect.

I found this recipe for shortbread while flipping through Better Homes and Gardens yesterday.  I tore out the recipe and immediately made these.  They are so easy and taste amazing!

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Recipe:  Simply combine 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 2/3 butter.  Use a pastry blender to combine.  Knead into a ball and then roll out on a floured surface.  Slice as you wish and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Sprinkle generously and then bake at 325ºF for 15-18 minutes until edges are golden.  Cool for a few minutes and transfer to a rack.

I am also a huge fan of Six Sister’s Stuff.  I made this delicious and super easy fudge.  I prefer make it without the marshmallows and nuts.  This comes together in minutes with just a few ingredients.

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Rock finished off Sunday evening in grand style.  He made these Six Sixter’s Stuff Fall Off The Bone Ribs in the slow cooker and then finished them off in the broiler.  They might have been the best ribs we have ever had!  I have yet to have a recipe go wrong from this website.  It is my favorite.

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Do you have a favorite holiday recipe you care to share?  I’m baking all week because we have 3 holiday parties next weekend and are hosting two of them!

Holiday Guide: Running Sunglasses Review

This is an unsolicited review of a few different running sunglasses I have worn over the years.  Rock and I were recently discussing the variety of glasses we have tried and which ones have become our surprise favorites.  I’m going to list these on the high to low price point along with some notes on my likes and dislikes.  Any of these are great picks for yourself or to gift to a runner.

Oakley Custom Running Sunglasses:  (Starts around $133 and up)  Several years ago I went ahead and splurged on a customized pair of Oakley sunglasses.  I can’t recall what caused me to take the plunge, but it was a really fun process to build my ideal sunglasses.

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Pros:  Oakley allows you to choose glasses based on your preferred activity.  First you choose the type of frames you like, then start changing the color of the frames, lenses, Oakley icon, and wrap around the frame.  You can go with standard lenses or make them polarized.

I initially didn’t want to spend the money for polarized lenses but when my first pair of standardized ones got scratched up, I called  Oakley and was offered the option to upgrade to polarized for $40.  Major bonus is that the lenses are replaceable!  Upgrading from standardized to polarized was only $20 more and it made a huge difference.

Cons:  Not all of the color options are great.  The particular frame that I really liked only came in standard colors (black, white, blue, red, etc.).  While I am not much of a girly girl, running has taught me to really embrace all colors.  My favorite running shoes are the brightest.  So I was a little bummed that I couldn’t go with fun shades of pink, purple, or even silver or gold.

Overall:  These shades are super durable and feel great to wear.  I absolutely love them and the sturdy case they come in.  If I can find where I tucked them when we moved, I might give them another go.

Tifosi Optics(Starts around $35)  The first pair of running glasses that I ever purchased were from Tifosi.  Most running stores carry this brand and there is a lot to like about these products.

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Pros:  Tifosi comes in at a moderate price point but offers a lot for what you pay.  There are different frame styles to suit your preferences.  I like to run without frames on the bottom of lenses.  Rock prefers his frame to go all the way around the lens.  Tifosi has you covered either way.

For around $45, my first pair came with three different lens types.  I had the standard dark lenses, an amber color for darker or foggy days, and clear.  Having the option to switch out your frames for different types of weather was really nice.

Cons:  Of all of my running shades, I felt these were the least durable.  The lenses scratched up easier than other pairs.  The nose pieces fell off, as did the ear wraps.  Both had to be replaced and are not done directly through the company.  You must order replacements through other dealers.

Overall:  Perhaps it is because these were my first running sunglasses, but I honestly really love these shades.  You get a great product at a pretty decent price point.

Knockaround Sunglasses:  (Starting at $10)  Last year I forgot to bring a pair of running sunglasses with me on our annual trip to Florida.  Running on the shiny sandy beach with the sun reflecting on the ocean is not a good combo for your eyes.  Rock came to my aid by loaning me his Knockarounds.  My apologies to him, but I never game them back! He discovered these by a friend on Facebook who posted his multiple orders and love for this product.

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Pros:  First of all, at this price point, you simply cannot go wrong.  The one thing that will make me toss a pair of sunglasses out is if they bounce around on your face or won’t stay up on the top of your head if you need to rest them there.  In fact, on our honeymoon in Aruba, I lost a super sweet pair of Ray-Bans, because during lunch they kept falling off and I set them on the table and forgot them.

These shades fit really well and although they aren’t meant to be for running, they are the lightest and most comfortable pair of sunglasses I have used.  They don’t fog up when I sweat and they withstand all types of weather.  For $20 you can have a great pair of sturdy polarized shades and for $25 you can fully customize them to your liking.

Cons:  The only thing that we have both noticed is that these lenses tend to scratch up a bit easier than other sunglasses.  However, for the price of this product, the quality far exceeds what you would expect.

Overall:  These are my new go-to running sunglasses.  They are so light and so easy to wear.  I am still wearing the pair I “borrowed from Rock last March.  I wear them to work, to run, and everything in between.  They look great on me and I now have them in several different colors and styles.

Goodr:  ($25)

Rumor has it that Fleet Feet in Chicago cannot keep these glasses in stock.  People are battling to get their hands on this product.  I have not tried them yet, but Rock ordered himself a pair this past summer when he kept seeing Facebook posts from runners.

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Pros:  For just a touch more than the Knockarounds you get another solid frame with polarized lenses.  Rock feels that these lenses tend to be a bit sturdier than the Knockarounds.

Cons:  At this point he hasn’t found any cons.  They aren’t of the same quality as higher-end brands, but they are plenty solid for both running and daily activities.

Overall:  These are now Rock’s go-to shades for running and any other time.  I might just have to “borrow” his pair for a bit and see for myself.

In the end, you can’t go wrong with any of these products.  I love that you can now find a quality product at all price points.  I still love my Tifosi and Oakley shades, but for now, I think I am going to stick with my Knockarounds and see how they do during a full marathon training session.

What brand do you prefer most?

 

 

Getting Our Merry On

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Ours was filled with holiday festivities and it looks like that won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Friday night we went to the local Christmas parade.  We did this last year and it doesn’t disappoint.  They make a fun warming fire and offer free cookies and hot chocolate for everyone.  The entire town meets up to watch a fun lighted parade to kick off the holiday season.

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Saturday morning started nice and early with a breakfast with Santa.  The local middle school hosted a full day of holiday activities.  We arrived in the lobby of the school to a massive craft show and warm pancakes, sausage, and Shetler’s milk offered in three flavors.  The breakfast was donation based and absolutely delicious.

Shetler’s is a local dairy down the road from our house.  You might have seen pictures of us visiting their corn maze and playing in their petting zoo.  Their milk is delicious (I don’t even like milk) and comes in glass bottles.  The milk is also served in the local schools, which is something I find really awesome.

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Even better, we dined with some of the Shetler family and their kids.  They are a really fun group and they are runners too!

After breakfast we went into the room where I used to take wood shop in 6th grade.  They had turned the room into a holiday playroom for children.  There were bounce houses, craft projects, and raffle items for kids.  Mary tried the bounce house out for the first time, and of course was in love.

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Next, we met up with Santa for the first time.  Mary talked about him for days before this meeting.  But as one would expect, she wasn’t thrilled when we tried to take a picture.  I can’t blame her, I find adults in costumes to be a bit creepy too!

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That’s a keeper!

Mary is really liking Christmas because her name is in it, “Merry” Christmas!  This is also why she likes things like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” because she gets to sing merrily, merrily, merrily.  She thinks that is her name too.

After a late nap, we went over to the high school for a concert that benefited the local animal shelter.  Earlier this fall, Mary friended a boy who is a senior in high school.  He has been so kind to her and even let her play his drums at the homecoming game.  Ever since she played the drums she often talks about it and how nice he was.  As a mom, it melts my heart to see someone in high school treat my daughter so well.  Two year olds are a crazy bunch and it is pretty cool to see a boy so kind to my wild kid.  Talk about an awesome friendship!  It was a pretty loud and rocking concert, but Mary had a blast dancing and we love that she can enjoy all types of music.

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Everyone slept well in our house that night and we woke up ready to go to our nephew’s first birthday party on Sunday.  It was a fun bunch of running children, so I didn’t end up taking a single picture.  She was thrilled to bring gifts for her buddy and was super excited to come home with some party favors too.

This week promises to be another great one with more festivities and work for me.  I am absolutely loving seeing my girls embrace the holiday season.

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There were also lots of runs this past week as we enjoyed the nice weather before the temperatures drop in the next few days.  Forty two miles for me, but mostly on the treadmill.

A huge congrats to everyone who raced this weekend.  Way to go for everyone who finished CIM!

Turkey Trots and Travels

Happy Monday!  What an awesome week we had around here.  I think it is going to take another week for us to recover from all of the fun and adventures.

Last Monday we hopped in the car and headed to Chicago.  As you may recall, I did my first outdoor run since August and got in a pretty stellar 10 miler.  My body was definitely feeling it the day after, but it was totally worth all of the aches and pains.

On Thanksgiving morning we headed over to Winnetka where we tried out a new Turkey Trot.  In the past, we have done the North Shore Turkey Trot.  But the prices of that race are rather hefty and the amenities are pretty lame.  On top of that, I never received my age group award from last year and RAM Racing pretty much told me to stop contacting them about it.  Lame!

So this year we opted for a 5k down the road from us.  I typically despise 5k’s because I am incapable of not getting too competitive and end up sprinting until I make myself sick.  However, this year was different because Mary joined us for her first race.  I pushed her for 3.1 miles and we averaged just under 9:00mins/mile.  I can’t complain about that as it was my first time pushing the stroller since July and the race started out on a crowded rail trail.  Strollers had to start at the back behind a large group of walkers.

The Winnetka Turkey Trot will likely be a repeat for us.  They offered indoor restrooms and a decent aid station at the halfway point.  The race was timed but there were no medals (no problem).  My main complaint would be that when we registered and paid, we were told that we would receive a shirt.  Later, we received an e-mail that basically said, “Hey! Good news, we are giving away hats instead.  But we know you guys also like shirts so you can buy those too.”  Honestly, I would prefer a fleece hat to run in over the cotton shirts they offered.  But don’t advertise one way, and then switch it up after we paid.

We also registered Mary for the kids race and I am happy to report that she had an absolute blast.  Kids did get a cotton shirt with their race registration and she was psyched to have a “racing shirt.”  Shortly after we finished our race, the kids lined up and did a 20 yard dash.  I thought I would have to hold her hand but she proudly took off on her own and crossed the finish line to receive her plastic medal.  She was super proud.  She also insisted on filling up my Simple Hydration Bottle with orange juice, because all runners need fuel for a race.

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After Mary picked up her medal, we loaded her back into the stroller and ran the 3 miles back to where we were staying.  It was a perfect way to start the day.

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We had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Mary had a blast running around with her cousins and some dogs.  Lucy had fun being passed amongst aunts.  We ate some delicious food, but also did a decent job of not over doing it. 

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The Friday after Thanksgiving was 60 degrees in Chicago.  Talk about perfect running weather!  Despite the fact that my quads were singing from the mileage over the past few days, I did head out for a sweaty 8 mile run.  It feels so good to be running outside again and at a rather decent pace.

We spent the rest of the day playing in the park with cousins and cheering on Rock’s high school hockey team at a tournament.  The team won 10-2 and Mary loved watching the games, especially because cousins were involved.

Now we are back home and I am happily getting into Christmas decorating mode.  I honestly just bide my time until Thanksgiving passes and then break out all of the fun holiday stuff.

I’m so excited that the holiday season is finally here.  I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving and look forward to sharing some fun holiday season tips soon.  Did you get a Turkey Trot in or a Black Friday shopping marathon?

Does anyone else get psyched when you get warm weather in late November?

Body Reboost Salad

I don’t know about you but I had a wonderful holiday week.  Actually, it is going to continue a bit this weekend with a little New Year’s celebration.

Admittedly, I overindulged.  I knew what I was doing and I was okay with it at the time.  Generally speaking, I eat very well.  I enjoy eating healthy but also enjoy a little sweetness in my daily routine.  However, I ate a lot and I ate a lot of some not so healthy foods last week.  It was fun.  But now I feel a bit puffy and sluggish.

Nothing feels better after a little overindulging, than to get back on the healthy bandwagon.  One thing that is great for your body and belly is beans.  Beans are a powerhouse of nutritional goodness.

When we walked in the door from a week away, we had very few things in the refrigerator or cupboard.  However, anytime I got to the grocery store and they have a sale on canned goods, I stock up.  Mary loves chili and I love that she is a fan of beans.

I quickly went to town making this “salad.”  I knew she would gobble it up. I also knew that it would fill the rest of us up and leave our bellies feeling a little better.  One thing that happens when I eat a bit differently than normal is that I get horrible heart burn.  Giving your belly a little “reboost” can help to reset your body.

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This recipe is super simple and likely already in your kitchen.  Here are a few benefits of this fun “salad.”

Black beans: are packed full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6 and folate.  They are low in cholesterol and heart healthy.

Garbanzo beans:  are high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and iron.  They are low in fat and calories and again are really great for your heart healthy lifestyle.

Kidney beans: are high in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, maganese, Vitamin B1, and folate.

Corn: is also high in fiber, and a wonderful antioxidant.  Antioxidants help repair damage from cancer causing agents in our bodies.  Chemicals in this vegetable also help improve vision.

Red onions: continue on our healthy eating plan by packing in calcium, folate, thiamine, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamins C, K  and B6.

Our bodies rely on a variety of these minerals and vitamins.  Getting an abundance helps to ensure that we keep our bodies functioning and healthy.

So how do we make this super simple salad?  

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, drained

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1 can red kidney beans, drained

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions:

Drain all of the canned vegetables and rinse in a colander.  Chop the red onion and add all ingredients to a bowl.  Toss with EVOO.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add a little balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar to give a little kick.

I love adding this on top of my green salads.  It also tastes delicious with a little salsa and a dash of cheese.  This is a great one to make a big batch and add to other dishes throughout the week.

The Present Of Being In The Present

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and enjoyed a Merry Christmas and beginning of Hanukkah.

Earlier last week I had a special moment with Mary.  We were playing in a new little tent that she was given and enjoying snacks in our “fort.”  She was giggling and just being so sweet.  It stopped me in my tracks.  I have had moments lately where I wish things were going a certain way or there were a few things I wish I had.  But being in the moment, right there with my daughter, made me realize that it is important to enjoy those times.  We need to spend less time wishing for what we don’t have and instead, spend some time thoroughly enjoying the blessings we already do have.  She is constantly growing and changing.  If I don’t take the time to enjoy each moment, it will pass before I have a chance to appreciate it.

I made a mental note to do this during our holiday weekend…..

On Thursday we headed down to Chicago.  I had a humorous moment when we stopped at a gas station an hour and a half south of where we live.  We always stop at a particular place to grab Jimmy John’s sandwiches and “car snacks.”  If you know anything about me, I eat a rather healthy diet.  But when we load up in the car, we let loose.  I couldn’t decide on what snacks to get so I grabbed four medium sized bags of chips and two diet sodas.  As I was waiting to check out, I ran into a guy I know from high school who also goes to the gym I work at.  He knows that I am a certified Health Coach.  Busted!  He smiled at me and said, “No worries.  You don’t need to justify.”

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I didn’t even take a picture.  I’m just reposting from my last “road trip.”

On Friday we met with the family to make gingerbread houses. This is an annual tradition spearheaded by my mother-in-law.  She goes to great lengths to make this an extra special event for all of her grandchildren, family, and friends.  Mary “helped” me make a house. Basically she tried her hand at M&M’s, licorice, Sno-Caps, and many other delicious treats.

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Later that evening our family rented a small ice rink for another annual tradition, a skating party!  I was sort of dreading this and almost didn’t bring my skates.  I figured that with a 16 month old, we would just be chasing her around the lobby the entire time and no one would get to enjoy skating.  However, when we arrived I decided to take a peek at the rental skates and noticed there were some nice, relatively tiny ones.

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Mary loves to try on people’s shoes and wear them around the house.  I honestly would never recommend taking a child under the age of two (and as a professional skating coach I would actually say wait until they are 3 or 4) but I figured it might be fun to see if Mary would even just let us put them on her.  When she didn’t protest, I took her out to do some spins with me.  However, we were shocked when after a few minutes of help, she was actually skating on her own!

And then a few minutes later…….

Christmas Eve and Christmas day were filled with lots of family, festivities, and a lot of food.  Mary got her own Christmas pajamas to wear to bed on Christmas Eve and was soaking everything in all day.  I feel like this was truly her first Christmas, because she could understand it a bit more this year.  I can’t even imagine how much fun it will be in the seasons to come.

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I was also fortunate to get outside for a warm-ish (30 degree) run.  It felt so nice to run on pavement again.  Yesterday marked the first day of my Boston Marathon training.  I have to say that it felt fantastic to take a break in the middle of the day to get a sweat in after plowing through a beautiful Christmas brunch.

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Crazy hair.  Great run!

I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people out running all day on Christmas.  Way to go runners!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays!

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How did you spend your holiday weekend?  What is your best recommendation for staying in the present when things get hectic?

Simple Ways To Enjoy The Holidays

It’s no lie that I love the holiday season.  If you were around a few weeks ago, you know that I had to exhibit some serious restraint in the holiday section of Ikea.  I love baking, gifting, and making things to share with others.

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I see the holiday season as a wonderful time to put up some lights, decorate the house, and a perfect excuse to bake treats for friends and family.  I love making things for others, as you noticed in my DIY coaster project.  Mary has also been making gifts for friends and family because I think it is never too early to share the giving part of the holiday spirit.

However, I do acknowledge that for many the holiday season can be quite difficult.  With the recent passing of a few of our beloved family members, I know that many people experience loss and sadness.  People feel alone.

Times are difficult for many.  Finding the resources to provide for family and share gifts can be a difficult and stressful time.

Others struggle with balance and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  This can weigh heavily on our minds.  As we experience office and family parties and are often gifted delicious treats, it can be overwhelming.

Below are a few ideas for finding balance during the holiday season:

Sometimes the best things are the littlest things:  I love that first section of Target.  Last year I found the most adorable mini cake platters for $3.  I made fudge and other goodies for family members.  One year I utilized my mediocre knitting talent to make small gifts.

This year I collected walnuts from our giant tree.  I have been slowly baking treats and freezing them. I also made coasters for my clients.  Mary decorated baked ornaments to gift to family.

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I found some really great gift ideas from fellow bloggers and even found a few used items on Amazon!  The gift itself is really thoughtful and the recipient will never even notice that it is used.  They will just be surprised by the idea.

Sharing and volunteering can be so helpful when we are at our lowest:  The greatest gift you can ever give to others and to yourself is sharing the holiday season with someone who needs assistance.  This doesn’t mean you need to shell out money.  I recently read a friend’s Facebook post seeking volunteers to help with feeding the homeless for a holiday dinner.  She mentioned that they have a wonderful homeless community and that being a server would be one of the most rewarding opportunities you might have.  Being able to share your gifts or talents with those who need help can be a very special experience.  If you are feeling alone or down this holiday season, this can be a great way to bring some warmth into your heart.

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Rock is getting into the holiday spirit as a snowman artist!

 

Food should never make you feel bad about yourself:  I had the most wonderful discussion with a client the other night.  At one point during our discussion we both had an “Aha moment.”  The holiday season is an epic time for eating.  There are parties and goodies in the office.  Friends are gifting treats.

We are going to find ourselves eating too much.  We are likely going to eat more decadent things at a meal or two than we normally would.  But here is the deal: You should never feel guilty or bad about yourself because of what you eat.  Food is a wonderful part of our lives.  It is a part of our culture, our families, our socialization, and who we are.

Just as we find a balance with everything else during the holiday season, it is important to find that balance with eating and exercise.  Step into your week prepared.  If you know that there will be an office party after work, try to get a walk or a workout in during lunch.

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It’s okay.  This is how I tend to eat pizza.  #scaryscenario

If you find yourself at a buffet, stick to a one plate rule.

If you are meeting a group at a restaurant, check out their menu ahead of time and stick to a plan when you walk in.

Life is meant to be enjoyed.  Find little ways to indulge and enjoy yourself.  Look for ways to stay active during the day.  Don’t ever beat yourself up over what you do or choose to eat.  The holidays are meant to be enjoyed.

Everything in life is about moderation from our holiday shopping to our holiday eating.

How do you try to find balance?  What do you enjoy most about the holiday season?