Monday, March 17, 2014

My Life in a List, Lately


Lately, life has looked like this: With a Cup of Tea!


What's been on everyone's list lately? 



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Saturday Morning Run and Fun in Annapolis

     Each year I look forward to an early March morning drive up to Annapolis.  Zooma Run women's race series partners with the Charm City Run store/team to host a "kick off" training run and "meet and greet"! This event is the start of the Zooma Run Annapolis 10k or half marathon training program for many runners!  Previously selected Zooma Run Annapolis ambassadors mix and mingle with runners of all levels of ability.  For many runners, including myself, it is a fun opportunity to meet up with fellow runners/bloggers.  Many of us follow each other through twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blogs. It is always so much to finally place names with faces in person! 

Picture from Charm City Run Annapolis Instagram 

     

    The Charm City Run store team and Zooma Run ambassadors greet runners at the store.  After a brief introduction of Zooma Run ambassadors, maps are handed out for a 3 to 5 mile run from the store.  My 12 year old daughter joined me again this year for this "kick off" training event.  My daughter is really coming into her own with running.  As a mother, it is a great opportunity to have my daughter running with me.  She and I always go with the 3 mile running crew! However, my lovely redhead said that next year she would run 5 miles!  The 3 mile course this year from the store and back was so easy to follow! There were lead/pace runners for both the 3 and 5 mile run. The weather was a sunny, mid to upper 30's and it was a relaxed, easy run. 

     This year at the event I was super excited to meet Natalie, who blogs over at "this mama can run".  Last year it was at this event that I finally met my other running friend, Lisa, in person.  Lisa blogs over at " Lisa Runs for Cupcakes".  Part of my love for running is the friends created through social media and numerous races and running related events.  I also got to chat with a fellow New Englander and teacher, Colleen who blogs at "live free and run.net" It was great chatting with Amber, a stay-at home mom and blogger.  Amber blogs at "fit foodie runs".  All three women happen to be 2014 Zooma Annapolis Ambassadors! 


Charm City Run Updated! 


     Of course this "kick off" training run and "meet and greet" was complete with delicious organic coffee, bagels, orange juice and champagne arranged on a large table inside the Charm City store.  Following the run, runners could eat, mingle and shop at the store!  Charm City offered a 15% discount on just about everything in the store!  I've recently made many trips to Charm City Run in Annapolis and was excited to see all the new Under Armour merchandise at the store! The team at Charm City Run is knowledgeable, gracious and ready to help all runners with all their needs.  

Zooma Run and Charm City put together a great "swag bag" full of goodies! I also purchased another pair of Balega "no show" socks! These are my new favorite cushioned socks!! 


     I simply love this event every year!  I can't wait to run Zooma Run Annapolis 13.1 for my 3rd time and meet up again with so many fabulous women!  This training event is just a glimpse of why Zooma Run race events are so awesome!! I've done Annapolis several times and Zooma Run Cape Cod last fall! 

Hope everyone had a great sunny, running weekend!! 





Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fabulous February and a Few Favorites


 
     The sun began to set a little later in the day, each day, this month. My week day runs became easier to fulfill after teaching. I've been trying to maintain a 4 to 5 mile run 4x a week and a long run on Saturday or Sunday. It's definitely more of challenge this time of year to balance motherhood duties, running and teaching. A little more daylight each day goes a long way. 


     Something about the sky at dusk.  Running with the sunsets under mellow yellow, slate blue skies.  At the end of a long day of teaching chatty, energetic 3rd graders; running is my favorite way to relax.  February weather, for the most part, was mild.  Evening runs felt amazing with a cool wind under clear skies.  These are my favorite weekday runs in February. 

     It's no secret that I have a penchant for trips to Annapolis.  I have a few favorite shops that I tend to frequent often. (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Anthropologie, Lucy, Lululemon, Charm City Run and Sur La Table)



     

       At Whole Foods, creamy, grass fed milk yogurt in unique flavors.  It's like dessert, only better and turmeric is anti-inflammatory. So yummy and rich in protein. The cardamom and coffee is also amazing! 


     Loving these monogrammed mugs from Anthropology.  The intricate, lacy designs in the lettering are whimsical.  Coffee and hot cocoa taste even better in a pretty mug! One for me and one for my daughter:)


     Oh yeah, the coffee and cardamom yogurt along with a tasty mix of nuts, sweet cranberries, raisins and banana chips!  These jars are a new favorite of mine from Sur La Table.  So many possibilities and the best part is the chalk board label! Love. Jars. Chalk Board. 


     This gluten free bakery, Mariposa Baking company, in San Francisco, has the most delicious cinnamon rolls! I've ordered these and they come shipped, fresh in two days. Okay, it's not Annapolis, but these cinnamon rolls are a favorite of mine! 


     Allegro organic coffee from the Whole Foods cafe and market.  Rich, smooth, organic and fair trade coffee. I savor these weekend trips to Whole Foods for a tasty cup of coffee. 


     Lately, the return of colder weather has given me an opportunity/reason to piece in some more cold weather running gear.  In love with my Lululemon "run swiftly" top and Lucy "Core Fit" pants. I feel warm, sleek and fast.  Something about stylish running gear just makes me feel amazing! 


    Charm City Run is sporting some new signage.  I'm digging the "American Graffiti" style.  As February came to a screeching halt, I was able to venture up to Annapolis the first Saturday in March to enjoy the Charm City Run Annapolis event and unveiling of their new Under Armor apparel. 

     
My sweet "Golden Girl" Her smile is contagious! 

     February was filled with favorites and solid running.  I'm recharged and ready to march into spring with good training runs.  Looking ahead to race season.  

     How was February for everyone? Any favorites? Looking forward to March and spring weather? 







Saturday, January 18, 2014

January: The First Month of the New Year

     Life has been so good to me lately.  January is feeling amazing. The wintry weather and temps have made me happy and given me a burst of energy! 

     After returning to teaching in January, following Christmas break, I found my routines falling nicely into place.  Isn't it ironic that this feeling of renewal and opportunity comes in the first month of the new year.  January reminds that there is always another opportunity on the horizon, a month for recharging and reflecting on past accomplishments.  January is also the first month of the new year and moving forward.  

      "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."-Walt Disney

Here is a look at how January has unfolded through pictures.


A light dusting of snow coated the grass and sidewalks.  


     Running with my shadow.  Have you ever taken a moment to glimpse at your own shadow?  The silhouette of yourself revealing hidden strengths. 


     Back into the double digit runs this month!! Feeling happy with "hanging ten" on my long runs. Going to push for 12 miles leading into the middle of February and March.  It's an incredible feeling to be in this place with my running.  Three years ago, I was 36 years old and the idea of 6 miles (10k) seemed impossible.  In the last three years I've found my inner strength and made the "impossible, possible"


    Running snow covered roads.  Each snowy footstep leaving a trail towards my dreams and goals.  The road that lies ahead is filled with hope and opportunities.  Braving the cold, snowy runs will only make one stronger come spring.  

    January has brought a sense of renewal, that only the first month, of a new year, can bring.  
 
How has January unfolded for you? 









Sunday, January 12, 2014

Renewal and Opportunities

R“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” - Charles R. Swindoll

     Lately, I've been approaching each day, week and month as an opportunity for renewal and growth.  I've been focusing more on my overall health and diet.  Taking better care of myself from the inside out.  Thirty-eight years old, but quickly approaching thirty-nine in April.  The irony of it all is, that I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.  Who knew I would love myself so much more in my late thirties.  Opportunities and renewal, a chance to shine at an age where I'm getting to know myself better now than when I was younger.  

My first ever, Oiselle running top, stripey long sleeve scoop neck in indigo, found at www.oiselle.com


     Loved squeezing in some weekday runs.  The sun is starting to set a little bit later now.  It helps because I don't get home from teaching until around 4:40pm.  I don't own a treadmill, so it's a mad dash out the door! Beat the sun! Four to five mile runs work for me during the school week! 


    Thursday run felt amazing!! I loved running at sunset.  I ran with my flashlight in my hand.  The weather was warm and deer were roaming the woods.  It was a great week of running and teaching! 


   Saturday I was determined to run ten miles.  I hadn't run any miles in the double digits since around Thanksgiving.  I needed this run to get my head and heart back into longer runs.  I am slowly building back up to training for my first half marathon of the spring running season! April 13th, 2014 is the More Fitness Half Marathon with two loops around Central Park in NYC! I'm excited!! Hilly runs will be neccessary in the next few months! 


     A sunny Sunday afternoon was the perfect backdrop for a 4.33 mile recovery run.  So many opportunities for running this week made me very happy.  I feel like I'm finding my way back to a solid routine of running and teaching.  Making time for me amidst all the daily challenges of being a mother, runner and teacher. 

 
- Lemon water is a daily thirst quencher
- Trader Joe's albacore tuna in olive oil with roasted artichoke hearts and edamame for lunc
- Reading and planning
- Daily Green smoothies in my Vitamix

     I've become a 98% percent homemade, from scratch, natural and organic eater.  Saying no to processed food has renewed my energy and helped with my problematic complexion.  My late thirties have brought some fluctuating hormones and facial breakouts.  I seem to control these fluctuations by maintaining a "clean" diet of veggies, fruit, brown rice and very limited organic dairy. 


     Meal prep this Sunday was mostly soaking my various dried beans that I buy in bulk from Whole Foods.  I love cooking my beans and then placing in freezer bags. Easy to throw into dinners, lunches and preparing homemade hummus. 


     Seeing the opportunities in each day, week and month.  Renewing my committment in myself and family.  This is where my focus is right now.  Running has opened so many windows and doors.  I've seen a growth and calm acceptance for who I am now.  Every year is an opportunity for renewal.   It feels good. 

Are you opening the door to new opportunities?  How do you see yourself today compared to five or even ten years ago?  







Thursday, January 9, 2014

Running and a Teachable Moment

     

     I always seem to find myself using running as a metaphor for motivating learners in my classroom.  One student always seems to be comparing his/ her abilities to others in the classroom.  Due to privacy issues I won't divulge whether this student is a boy or girl. 

     Today, I found myself talking to this student about why I run.  During class assignments this one student in particular is sometimes consumed with the pace of everyone else. My student becomes frustrated and then wants to give up on the assignment.   Running is like learning; everyone works at their own pace.  As I crouched down low beside the student's desk, I whispered about "running your own race".   

     I talked about how one has to focus on their own pace and goals.  It's not about where everyone else is at that moment, instead, it's about you and your goals.  I encourage my students to create goals for themselves, just as I recently created goals for myself.  The only person you have to prove anything to is yourself.  Only you have the ability to set your own pace in the classroom or on the road.  While my student continued to struggle with not being done as fast as everyone else, I continued to talk.  " If I worried about everyone else being faster than me, then I'd never run."  I told my student that I focus on running and racing for myself.  It's about being comfortable with my pace and knowing that I can achieve my goals because they are mine to achieve.  I told my student that it's important to recognize your own strengths and talents.  Running is about finding your strength and pushing your limits because they belong to you.  

     Set the pace for yourself and believe that you can accomplish anything.  Don't worry about the pace everyone else is running, just run for yourself.  My student finished the assignment. 

How does running affect other areas of your life? 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Once a Month Grocery Shopping: Planning, Organization and Prepping

     
     Almost eight years ago, I began to take a closer look at the contents of my kitchen.  I became more aware of packaging and labels on everything I was purchasing for my fridge and pantry.  Reading labels allowed me to really think about each ingredient and hidden junk that is in so much food.  I became more critically aware of lists of ingredients that went on for two paragraphs.  Reading labels also led me to researching and understanding the companies behind the labels and brands.  These realizations started me down the path that I'm still continuing today.  I shop carefully, once a month, at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  I also piece in other items from my locally owned health food market.  

     Being able to grocery shop once a month requires a little planning, organization and time for prepping ingredients.  The work I put in once a month is worth it!  I'm a mother to one twelve year old daughter( my redhead), a runner, 3rd grade teacher, and wife.  Setting aside one weekend a month to shop saves me from shopping too often and relying on fast food.  I love having fresh, healthy and natural choices ready at a moment's notice. 


    It's important to shop with well made reusable and insulated bags.  I drive an hour and a half to Annapolis to do most of my shopping.  The bags are packed with bagged ice or freezer packs from Whole Foods.  It's much easier to shop for perishables in the winter months.  During the summer months I buy nothing frozen.  I carefully pack everything and put the A/C on high!! 


Each month I restock my fridge with staples:
- lemons
- pink lady apples
- StonyField Farm or Organic Valley Whole Milk
- Califia Farms Almond milk
- Local eggs or Organic Valley Eggs
-blocks of organic cheddar
- Organic White Bread
- Bagels

Produce is key to healthy meals and snacks:
** I love the packaged produce from Trader Joe's.  I buy natural and organic produce and when possible I buy locally.  The packaged produce is usually pre washed and chopped.  It does help with my busy "mom/wife duties" and teaching schedule.**

I also love Earthbound packaged produce.  
 
Currently Stocked Fresh Produce: 
- baby spinach
-Kale ( Trader Joe's Organic)
-Fennel bulbs
- Whole fresh carrots
-Fresh cut cremini mushrooms
- Fresh head of cauliflower
- tons of shallots
- large amounts of garlic bulbs
***On the counter -4 bunches of bananas***
- organic celery hearts
- seedless cucumbers

Frozen Produce: Multiple Packages
- Broccoli florets
- corn
-edamame 
- sliced artichokes (Trader Joe's)!!
-frozen fruit- blueberries ( picked over the summer in Maine), pineapple chunks, cherries

Also, in the freezer:
- Bell and Evans Organic Bonless Skinless Chicken Thighs (numerous packages)
- Boston Butt Pork Shoulder
- Nitrate and preservative free Bacon
- ground Turkey
-Bell and Evans Whole Chickens

Pantry Staples:
- Jars of Organic Tomato Basil and Puttanesca Sauce
- dried chick peas
-dried black beans
- various dried organic pasta
-Trader Joe's albacore tuna in olive oil
- green and black pitted olives
- packages of almonds and peanuts
- jars of Trader Joe's Artichoke pesto and Salsa
- Bottles of Cold Pressed Olive oil and Grape Seed oil
- Organic Brown rice


     This post highlights the items in my "well stocked" kitchen.  With these items on hand I'm always able to create healthy breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners.  




I spend time on Sundays preparing and packaging food for the week. I usually roast most of my fresh veggies with sea salt and olive oil on a baking sheet.  This allows me to have them ready for any dish! I buy my beans in bulk, then soak and cook them to place in containers or freezer bags. 

 I am fortunate to have a Vitamix Pro 750.  I makes tons of homemade hummus, nut butters and blended juices/smoothies. 



Important Tips:
- shop for all dry and non perishable items first
- Add in produce and refrigerated items
- finally, meat and frozen items
-Be sure to pack all "like" food together- it helps things to stay cold/frozen on the way home.
-Packing this way also makes it easier getting groceries inside the house and unpacked. 




Last month I created a monthly menu.  It helped me to plan meals and it was great for letting my daughter and husband know "what's for dinner?"!! 



So. . . How does everyone else shop for groceries? Do you enjoy grocery shopping?  Any tips or advice to share?  What does meal planning and preparation look like at your house?