Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Making a Difference: Companies and Their Products

     Recently, I googled some granola bars and came across, ThisBarSavesLives.  I read about the company and their product on their website.  The company provides a life saving, nutritious meal, for starving children in over 120 countries, through their partnership with Save the Children,for each Bar sold.

     As a mother, runner and teacher, I eat to fuel and sustain for long hours.  The food choices I make are about my health, but also about the world around me.  If my food choices can provide me with a hearty, nutritious snack and "Make a Difference", then for me- that's what matters!

I ordered the Wild Blueberry Pistachio because, of course, the wild blueberries are from Maine! 

     The bars, ThisBarSavesLives, Wild Blueberry Pistachio, are a naturally sweet, slightly chewy/crunchy blend of fruit and nuts.  The bars are glutenfree, NonGMO and ingredients are organically sourced in the United States. These bars will be great for breakfast or a much needed snack in the afternoon after teaching, but before a run! 

I loved purchasing this wristband too! Each wristband purchased, provides a meal to a child in need and contributes to the Water Project.  The Water Project brings water to countries in Africa. The bracelets are made out of clay! 

Please check out this company at,, This Bar Saves Lives

     My other favorite Bar, I found at the Charmcityrun Annapolis store a few months ago! Charmed Bars are a delicious, chewy, fruity, nut bar that is glutenfree, certified kosher and free of GMO's!! 

   What I love about this company! 
A company founded by two women!  The company is local to Maryland!  One of the women is a former elementary school kindergarten teacher!  Here on the CharmedBarwebsite there is a link to the "Autism Hope Alliance" organization.  As a teacher, it's important to support Charmed Bar because they are "Autism Approved"! 

Charmed Bar has three different, yummy varieties, but their newest- Apple Rageous Nutbutter- is my favorite! 

     I order online and shipping and delivery is quick and easy!  The combination of fruit, nuts and almond butter helped fuel my Maine Marathon run at mile 18! I ran with the Charmed Bar in my running shirt pocket!  When I'm not fueling, mid run with a Charmed Bar, I'm eating one at breakfast with my coffee! 

     Too find out more about Charmed Bar and order some yummy bars, visit their website!

Supporting Companies/ Brands that are Making a Difference! 
     I read labels and try my best to educate myself on the product, the company and people behind the product and how these companies can have a positive impact on the world.  I support companies and their products that strive to Make a Difference. 

     Do you have a favorite company/brand that is Making a Difference? 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Raising A Teenager: Healthy Snack and Lunch Choices

    My redhead is 13 years old now.  She wants to do well in school, fit in with the rest of her peers and make some decisions on her own.  I do my best, as a mom, to guide and encourage her through the trials and tribulations of her teen years. 

     When my redhead was little, I could really manage and control all her food choices.  Now, she's older and around her friends more often.  Whether my redhead is at her friends' houses or having them over to our house, balancing a healthy diet with teens can be challenging.  One thing I've noticed and been more attune to, is my daughter's need to have quick, go-to-snacks that she can quickly make or grab! Despite the snacks and other food choices she may be faced with outside of our house, when she is home- I want her to have healthy, wholesome choices.  

      My redhead has a very "delicate taste" for things, so I'm constantly trying to fit in lunch and snack choices that meet her taste, yet have my "healthy approval"!  It's tough, at times, because she doesn't want to be known as "that kid" with the organic snacks and environmentally friendly containers! 

Here's what I currently have in our fridge, freezer and pantry:

These taste just like Fritos, but are certified organic and NonGMO verified! {Sage Valley company}

 Organic Valley milk.  I've never bought any soda or juice for Sydney. The rule is milk or water with all meals and snacks at home.

Nutella and Sticks- not organic, but one of my Redhead's favorites.  

Silly Cow Hot Chocolate. Skippy- Natural peanut butter and Endangered Species milk chocolate. 

Quick, microwave snacks- love Amy's and Blake's Naturals/Organic products

Organic Macintosh apples

AppleGate Farm Organic cheese and lunch meat. 

   As you can see, I try to balance the organic choices with some other products that are still healthy enough for a teenager to grab and snack.  One very important tip I try to adhere to is reading the labels.  Know the ingredients and keep it simple. Try to eliminate artificial flavors and snacks with chemical dyes. I also do not cater to a lot of sugary snacks. 

How do you help your teen make healthy eating choices? 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Yield: 12 Standard Muffins

(Recipe Adapted from numerous trial/error standard muffin recipes)

2- Cups gluten-free flour mix ( I prefer Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend)

1/3 cup Raw/Organic Cane Sugar

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon Coarse Celtic Sea Salt ( It's the only salt I have in my pantry)

2 large Local Brown Eggs ( Local/Pasture Raised Eggs are Amazing)

3 Medium Overripe Bananas

1/2 Cup StonyField Organic French Vanilla Yogurt

1/2 to 1/3 Cup Trader Joe's Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax & Chia Seeds (Or use your preferred Almond Butter) 

Mixing and Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a  12- cup muffin pan with paper muffin cup/liners

2. Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl

3. In a Stand Mixer, add the peeled bananas, eggs, yogurt and peanut butter. Beat all ingredients together for 1 minute.  ( You can also use a hand mixer)

4. Incorporate dry ingredients into Stand Mixer bowl with wet ingredients

5. Using a medium scoop or 1/4 measurement cup, add mixture to the muffin cup lined muffin tray

6. Bake for about 25 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool.

Serve warm, or heat up the next day. I smeared some blackberry preserves on the muffins:) 


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Quilt of Motherhood

My redhead, almost nine years ago, on Old Orchard Beach, Maine

The Quilt of Motherhood:

 Comes in phases
- there is never a moment, when your never really Not needed
- struggling to find a balance between "letting her fly" and keeping her "wings clipped"
-finding opportunities to keep communications and connections strong
- constantly reassessing and evaluating your role as a mother, no matter the age of your child or children
- being open to and willing to see, that with each phase of motherhood comes opportunity for new memories and perspectives
-knowing that you can't stop or turn back time, instead learning to embrace the teen years and guide with love and wisdom
Raising a daughter to admire and respect you; not be jealous of or compete with you

-My relationship with my own mother has ebbed and flowed over the years, like patches of a quilt pieced together over the years, 
-every square and stitch-by-stitch a reminder of the relationship that was built over time, 
-with a careful eye, an unwavering love, and some moments when it might have felt like the stitches holding together those precious squares, just might have come undone

Now, my mother and I sit side-by-side under that quilt, sewn together, stitch-by-stitch, -our relationship over the years, laid out like the squares on a patchwork quilt, 
-each square representing a moment, memories. 
-The edges frayed, but stitches that came undone -now mended, 
-the quilt of memories now holding us close together again

I want to lay the foundation for my daughter
- help her to lay out her life, square by square, 
-keep the stitches of our relationship strong, so that she and I can sit, someday with our quilt draped lovingly over our shoulders. 

Share your reflections on motherhood. How do you "let go a little", without your heart aching, to let your children grow? 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Opportunities, Goals: Excited for What's Next

     So, two weeks ago, I ran my first marathon.  It seems so surreal, to now actually be able to call myself a "marathoner"! I've been reflecting on the training and miles logged during this "marathon training cycle".  This was a journey of not only physical strength, but mental as well.  All those miles, weeks and weeks of pavement under my feet, brought me a strength and sense of renewed ability in myself.  The ups and downs of long runs, speed workouts and core fitness, gave me purpose and confidence.  Finishing my fall racing season with accomplishing 26.2 miles has given me strength and determination to reach for new and exciting opportunities! 

      I'm taking time right now to relax and recharge.  Autumn is my favorite season and I'm taking the time to soak up and savor the vibrant colors and cool, crisp weather.  

     During this "down time" from running, I'm embracing other areas of fitness.  Pilates, barre and basic core strengthening exercises to help me recover and strengthen my muscles. I've had some issues with tendonitis in my right calf, down through my ankle and arch of my foot.  As much as I want to jump back into running, I'm being cautious and my return to road running will build back up gradually. For now I'm cross training on the spinning stationary bike and elliptical. 

I placed an order for this Acu-ball kit from ACU-SYSTEM on Amazon.  I'm continuing to stretch and massage my lower legs and feet daily. 

     I'm so excited to be an Ambassador the Zooma Annapolis 10k and half marathon race on Saturday, May 30th.  The Zooma Women's race series is one of my favorite races!  I've been lucky enough to run Zooma Annapolis several times and Zooma Cape Cod last fall.  The Zooma Women's Race series is the ultimate race-cation! I look forward to the beautiful race locations, fabulous network of women and a pampered race experience!  Race recap for Zooma Annapolis can be found here, and my Zooma Cape Cod race recap here,
     Another huge opportunity presented itself earlier this week!  Thanks to my running friend, Colleen at "LiveFreeAndRun", who posted information about the Road Runners Club of America coaching certification in Vienna, Va on her FB page! I've been wanting to get my coaching certification in running so I can learn more about the sport and open the door to coaching opportunities! I'm now a member of the Road Runner's Club of America and registered for my two-day coaching certification course! 

     So, I'm excited about the new adventures ahead for me!  I am completing my goals, one mile at a time! With each new season, comes new opportunities! What's new and exciting for everyone else? 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Maine Marathon: Full Race Recap

     I'm finally ready to settle in to my cozy corner of my house on a rainy day here in southern Maryland.  Finally able to reflect on all the details of running my very first marathon.  Barely a week ago, I ran 26.2 miles.  Incredible to think that it was 10 months ago when I decided to hit the register button on the Maine marathon website.  18 weeks of training with Hal Higdon's novice 1 marathon training plan.  Training that included three weekday runs and long runs on Saturday.  There were hiccups along the way with marathon training that included slight adjustments in speed and mileage due to some lingering heel/achilles tendonitis issues.  In the end, I set out to accomplish my goal. My goal was to go "home" and run 26.2 miles through the towns in coastal southern Maine that held my childhood memories and still pull at my heart. 

     No words will ever adequately describe my emotions in regards to running the Maine marathon as my 1st marathon.  So many random thoughts in my heart throughout the training and in the days leading up to running 26.2 miles.  One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted my parents to see me cross the finish line, in the state in which they had raised me.  

    Ten days out from the October 5, 2014 Maine marathon, I stressed and worried about the weather.  I really didn't want to run 26.2 miles in the rain.  For ten days I watched the forecast fluctuate from rain, to clouds and sun, back to rain and finally sun!  On the drive up to Maine Saturday morning, it was rainy and cool.  My parents had made the trip up to Maine with me.  My parents no longer live in Maine.  I drove up to their house in New Jersey Friday night and then Saturday morning we drove up to Maine.  We arrived in Maine Saturday around 12:00pm and drove straight over to Sullivan gymnasium on the University of Southern Maine's campus for race bib and packet pick up. 

Even on a dreary Saturday, the vibrant fall colors were bursting with brilliance! Love that I have these pictures with my mother and father. 

     Packet pick up was fast and easy.  The Maine marathon has excellent race organizers and volunteers!  My parents and I enjoyed walking around the Expo browsing products and sampling items from various vendors.  I loved being able to experience the marathon weekend with my parents.  There is something so nostalgic about "going home" with your parents, even at the age of 39!! 

Highlights and Thoughts on the Maine marathon weekend in words and pictures:

The Maine marathon "Goodie Bag" is packed full of so many awesome samples of products! Included in the goodie was the infamous can of B&M Baked Beans!! 


I was so excited to see EnergyBits had a table at the Expo!  I bought some Recovery Bits samples and chatted for a moment with the two representatives!  

Some samples I purchased from the EnergyBits table! I still haven't tried the Generation UCAN. I'm waiting until I'm back to running again with more mileage and intensity. 

I follow RunJanji on twitter! The proceeds from the sale of their running apparel gives clean water to countries around the world! Loved that they were at the Maine marathon Expo! I purchased this long sleeve giraffe print! 

That night at the Marriott Residence Inn in Scarborough, Maine, I wore my Maine shorts to bed!  I knew my race day outfit would be a color combo of gray Lucy Active Wear shorts which have an awesome back pocket that fits my driver's license and iPhone 5s.  My light blue long sleeve Lululemon shirt has a zippered pocket for my Charmed Bar for "real food" refueling!  

Race day morning in Portland, Maine! The foggy, early Sunday morning drizzle, gave way to partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid 50's. A bit warm for an October morning in Maine! The start of the Maine marathon was on Baxter Boulevard overlooking Back Cove! 

The Maine marathon course!! 

My splits for 26.2 miles!  I was holding strong and steady until mile 17.  Around mile 17, my calves and hips started to ache.  At mile 22 I stopped at the medical tent to get my painful blister on the side of my foot bandaged.  Then, my ITBand tightened at mile 25 and I could barely bend my right knee! I was determined to cross the finish line after having come so far with training and only having a mile or so left at this point in the race!! 

     I had every intention of taking more pictures as I ran the course, but I didn't want to distract myself or waste time fumbling with reaching for my phone in my back pocket.  I did stop at mile 21 to take a picture and give my parents a text update! The Maine marathon course was dotted with beautiful fall foliage and peaks of Casco Bay. 

Mile 21 picture! Somewhere in Falmouth, Maine! I was still feeling okay here and excited to be running back into Portland and the finish line! 

Gorgeous view of Mackworth Island in Casco Bay from Martin's Point bridge, running back to Portland around mile 22-23! 

Another runner on the course graciously stopped to take my picture!  I wanted a few pics on the course to capture this milestone in my running career!  

Another running friend sent me this picture on my cell phone after the race!  So grateful that this moment of approaching the finish line was captured! 

Sheer pride and a huge sense of accomplishment for myself.  Could not have asked for a more beautiful day! The Maine marathon medal was everything "Maine" and more than I could have imagined! A moose standing in front of green pine trees on one side and the outline of Maine engraved on the back of the medal! 

My GPS watch was a little longer than the course. My final, official course time was 4:41:17! 

Hours after running the marathon, showering and relaxing at the hotel for a bit, my parents and I drove back into Portland. I wanted one more glimpse of the Portland waterfront from Commercial street in the Old Port!  

     Final thoughts! The Maine marathon was well organized with water and Gatorade stops! The outpouring of support from residents in the towns of Portland, Falmouth and Yarmouth were above and beyond amazing! Live bands performing along the course, residents cheering and providing organge slices, grapes and encouragement filled the course!!  I saw my journey to 26.2 realized! I finished it out to the end.  I ran my race.  I left a piece of my heart and soul on this course.  This was the right choice of marathon for me to mark as my first!  From Maryland, to New Jersey and Maine, 11 hours by car.  Running 26.2 miles through the towns I grew up around in Maine- Timeless.  No other course would have mattered as much to me.  Even if I never run another marathon, the Maine marathon has left an indelible mark forever. Update:  I would like to run the Maine marathon again. . . Someday. 

How memorable was your first marathon?  How important was the location of your first marathon? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maine Marathon: First Glimpse

     The Journey.  It started 18 weeks ago. One goal in mind. Run 26.2 miles through the towns of Maine that echoed with the memories of my childhood. My very first marathon.  I went "home".  I ran. I finished. The finish line was so sweet.  

     It was a mild fall day. Sunday October 5, 2014. The fall foliage near peak. 

Still savoring this moment.  It was truly a "finish" filled with tears of accomplishment. This was the marathon that summed up all I love about running, Maine and where I am in my life now.   Miles and miles of memories, reflection and inner strengths revealed. 

So much more to share on my very first marathon, but for now . . . This is where I pause