I used to be a morning exerciser. I’d wake up before my alarm rang, head to bootcamp or the gym at our old condo. It would still be dark and quiet when I returned from my workout, and I’d be ready to take on the day.
And then I traded morning workouts to become an evening exerciser. I’d rush home and get changed, and Nick and I would head to CrossFit Southie together. Like my morning workouts, evening workouts became part of our routine.
And then I became a parent, and the only thing routine about our routine… is that everything changes from one day to the next. There have been countless days when I’ve thought, “I’ll get up early and workout before work,” only to find myself up most of the night, nursing Grace and singing made up words to made up songs until she fell back to sleep. There have been just as many days when I’ve thought, “I’ll workout when I get home.” But when six o’clock rolls around, what I really need is a nap.
These days, plans to workout don’t always pan out. In fact, it seems they rarely do. What does work, though, is fitting in a little fitness when I can, where I can. I may not be able to count on an hour at the gym each night, but I can count on a 15 minute walk during lunch, some yoga in Grace’s room while she plays with her Little Tikes piano (not exactly ambient music, but I love it), a little balance work in line at the grocery store, and five minutes of weights while dinner cooks.
Things I love: a little understated flair on my running tights and some pink laces.
I’ve been seeing a physical therapist for a few months for back and hip pain, and she has given me a series of exercises that, as she says, you can do pretty much anywhere and not look like a weirdo. I like not looking like a weirdo. And like a quick yoga flow in the nursery or some squats in the kitchen, they require only a little time and a little space.
I’m no longer a solid morning or evening exerciser. A workout is only going to happen if it’s easy and accessible. (And if I don’t find or make excuses, but hey.) In the interest of ease and accessibility, I’ve started laying out my workout gear again and even put together a little home gym in a bin.
The See Me Go top is great for layering (and it has thumb holes, yaaaaaasss!), as is the long sleeve tee. I’ve worn the tights for both workouts and for running errands (paired with a black tunic and ballet flats). CS by City Sports comes extended sizes (something I think all fitness companies should get on board with), and their apparel is flattering, functional and unfussy. In other words: exactly what I’m looking for.
Speaking of functional and unfussy, here’s my home gym in a bin. I pulled together the things I use most often, or that could motivate me to fit in a quick workout without much (or any) planning.
In the bin (which, for bonus points, is paisley and adorable):
Other home gym essentials that didn’t fit in the bin, but that hang out nearby:
Exercise ball (which doubles as the most amazing way to soothe or rock bounce our baby to sleep — seriously, all parents should have one)
While this little home gym in a bin is cute enough to leave out, it fits perfectly in our front hall closet (safely tucked away from curious babies and Frenchies) and can be pulled out whenever I have a few minutes to fit in a quick workout. Easy and accessible, functional and unfussy.
In my world, every Monday is Meatless Monday. Same goes for, like… Tuesdays and Wednesdays, too. In my home, however, the vegetarians no longer outnumber the carnivores. Grace had her first few bites of steak last week, so… this cheese vegetarian stands alone.
But that’s neither here nor there. After a few days of being on vacation (we had a lovely time, but please don’t be too jealous… it’s presently warmer and less rainy in Boston than it was in Fort Lauderdale last week), we’re settling back into our routines but I am continuing to eat like I’m on vacation. I had the best salad at a little beachside restaurant last week and couldn’t wait to make my own version when we got home. Salad first, unpack later.
You can use just about any base for this salad. I used red lentils, but you might consider pearled couscous, quinoa or farro (which was part of the original dish, and although its not gluten free, it contains less gluten than wheat and is easier to digest, at least for this body). As for the dressing, it’s probably worth noting that most green goddess recipes include anchovies or anchovy paste. This one does not. #savethefishes. Just kidding. Kind of.
Also. Let’s be serious. It’s just a salad. A delicious one, yes. But you probably don’t need to measure your ingredients.
Heirloom tomato, lentil and arugula salad with green goddess dressing
1 cup of red lentils, cooked (Quick and easy: Rinse and dry lentils, bring to boil in 2.5 cups of water, turn down for what heat and let simmer for approximately 15 minutes)
4 cups of baby arugula
2 cups of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of feta cheese
Allow lentils to cool slightly, and top with arugula and tomatoes.
Add a bit of feta cheese and drizzle with green goddess dressing.
Yes. This is the most obvious recipe of all time.
Vegetarian green goddess dressing
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup green onions
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 TSP fresh dill
1 TSP chives, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
Juice from half a lemon (more, if needed)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add garlic and herbs to your blender or food processor and blend until finely processed.
Add yogurt, sour cream and lemon juice (a little at a time) and blend.
We’ve snuck out of town for some warmer weather. And yes, I know you’re not supposed to tell people you’re away, but let’s be serious:
What happens on vacation ends up on Instagram and I can’t resist sharing a good sunset shot.
All the important and valuable things are coming with me (Because, hello… the important and valuable things aren’t things. They’re people). So, I guess I’m not really worried.
If you’re spending this Monday getting sucked into a Polar Vortex (Do we capitalize that? It nearly froze my eyelashes off last year, so I am guessing something that powerful and terrifying deserves capitalization.), the least I can do is give you a little mental vacation.
A few of my favorite vacation photos
Here are a few of my favorite vacation photos (and memories) I’ve collected over the years.
North Adams, MA
A couple years ago, we spent a long weekend at Porches, visited Mass MoCA (and an old burial ground, because I am a creep) and climbed little mountains with our little dog.
U.S. and British Virgin Islands
And now I want to go on our Honeymoon again. Like, real bad. We stayed on St. John, but took a few sailing and day trips to places like Virgin Gorda. We snorkeled in caves, spied on sea turtles and drank Old English ciders (because gluten allergies do not take vacations no matter how badly one craves a cold beer). I took 9,000 photos. And did lots of floating.
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
This is why Maine is called Vacationland.
Aaaaand… a bonus photo of Clark.
The dude knows how to do vacations.
Also On Tap for Today:
Working on some festive posts and giveaways (which I shall draft on the back of a cocktail napkin — attempting to unplug whilst on vacation!)
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 16 Water. All opinions are 100% mine.
I know you’ve heard it before, but… you should probably be drinking more water. And by you, I mean we. And by we, I mean Americans (but I’m guessing we’re not the only ones). According to WebMD (AKA the site that hypochondriacs like myself should be banned from visiting), Americans still consume more soft drinks than water.
When I was pregnant with Grace, our doctor repeatedly stressed the importance of doubling or tripling up on my water consumption. “If you call the office and say you’re not feeling well,” she said, “a nurse is going to tell you to drink a tall glass of water and then call us back.” Pregnant ladies are not the only ones who mistake dehydration for other things (hunger, some sort of mysterious universal mood altering force, etc.). A well-hydrated body performs better. A well-hydrated body feels better.
I’m usually pretty good at drinking up while I’m at home or at my desk, but I often fall short when I’m on the go. In my ongoing quest to get out of my own way when it comes to making healthy decisions, I’ve started stashing a bottle of water in my handbag, in my glove compartment, in Grace’s diaper bag, and frankly, anywhere else with pockets or secret hiding places. Having a bottle of water waiting in the car for my commute home means I’m less likely to sneak an afternoon coffee, less likely to become an out of control snack monster before dinner, and less likely (…usually) to arrive home cranky and out of sorts. Good commuting jams help, too.
While I tend to drink from a reusable water bottle during the day, sealed and disposable (by which I mean recyclable, obvi) bottles lend themselves to being stashed for later. I recently received several bottles of 16 Water to review, straight from Jeju, a volcanic island off the coast of the Korean peninsula. I was this close to Googling, like, all the words in that last sentence when the package from 16 Water arrived, but I was too busy scrolling through my Twitter feed. And then this appeared.
And that, folks, is the Law of Social Media Attraction. Ask and the Twitterverse shall answer. That pretty place makes for some excellent tasting water (and for those who think all water tastes like water… welp… agree to disagree).
16 Water is naturally purified and filtered through 16 layers of volcanic rock (hence the name) and is newly available in the US… and in my glove compartment. Interested in stocking up on your own stash? Get your 16 Water on Amazon now.
You know when you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked, overtired and overextended… but you’ve just got to slog through it, because you see a moment of reprieve on the horizon? That was me last week. I spent the first part of the week in Detroit and the second part of the week consumed by a work event.
Our home looked like a special kind of mess (two parts yet-to-be-unpacked luggage, one part baby bottles, six parts laundry, one part unopened mail, and an aging French bulldog hidden somewhere inside the sofa). My hair looked like a special kind of mess. My brain felt like a special kind of mess.
And while it would have likely been easiest to wait for my calendar to clear, I found myself on the morning of one of our biggest work events of the year needing to do something, anything, to calm the frenzy. All it took was five minutes to turn my day around.
Minute one: Spend just 60 seconds moving from room to room, picking up anything that is out of place and has a defined place to land. We’re not talking about clutter (that’s another topic for another day). We’re talking about the things that are easy to put away. For me, this includes Grace’s toys and books, Clark’s toys, a stack of clean laundry, mail that can be recycled and a few pairs of shoes. Put those items where they belong.
Minutes two and three: Make your bed. Not only does a made bed instantly make your home look and feel more tidy and serene, it sets you on a better path for the day. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe a Navy SEAL Commander?
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
You can read more of Navy SEAL Commander William McRaven’s 2014 UT Commencement speech here: Business Insider.
Minute four: Write a note (or two, or three) of gratitude on a Post-It. Leave it where a loved one will find it, or hide it for yourself to find in the future. Did you know that practicing gratitude can increase your happiness by 25%? These dudes did the research. A few words about what your most grateful for, or what you appreciate about your loved ones– especially when you’re experiencing stress– helps bring the good into focus. Knowing that Nick would be coming home to find these notes of appreciation and acknowledgement made me smile throughout the day.
Minute five: Spend an entire minute just breathing. Fight the urge to run out the door and onto your next commitment.
It’s incredible what you can fit into five minutes, and how good intentioned acts can turn your entire day around. You can fit these quick practices in throughout the day, before you head out the door, or whenever you feel stress, anxiety or crankiness rising (around these parts, we call that the Elizabeast).
What else can you do to turn your day around? Here are a few more ideas:(Some are quick, some take a bit more time, some are free, some cost whatever the guy behind you in line felt like spending…)
Pay a stranger a compliment (I mean, this works well with people you know, too)
Buy coffee for the person in line behind (This is one of my favorite things of all time… although I will admit, part of me does panic a tiny bit when I think, What if the police officer behind me is picking up lattes and donut holes for the entire precinct? And then I think, Won’t it be fun when I suddenly become impossibly rich and things like this won’t matter?)
Make an iPhone photo album of your favorite photos. Scroll through them over and over until you feel less beastly.
Speaking of iPhones: Make an actual phone call. No texting.
Also On Tap for Today:
November 13 is World Kindness Day!Boston friends: Stop by South Station between 7-9 AM to celebrate with KIND, grab a flower from their flower wall and pass it on to someone else – a friend, loved one, teacher, coworker or even stranger. Throughout the day, KIND will also surprise people in the community who embody kindness, including firefighters and other local heroes.
It’s Friday. Which means it’s almost the weekend. Except that I am working all day tomorrow, but… let’s pretend I’m not.
My Weekend Essentials
What I love to do on the weekend
The minute Grace reached six months, we became those bad 21st century parents who over-schedule their children signed her up for a baby/parent swim class at the YMCA. While the class is more singing The Wheels On The Bus and splashing than actual swimming, I knew it would be important for us to get Grace comfortable in the water (and even in some small way, start working on water safety) as early as possible. We live across the street from the ocean, my parents have a pool, and I am, like, at least 16% mermaid. So… It’s important. Also: It’s really fun!
Along the lines of over-scheduling, Grace and I take a child development class every Sunday (the session runs 12 weeks, I think) at the same place where we did our First Connections/moms’ group. The first few weeks were a little slow, but I’m learning so much and Grace seems to enjoy each session. There are five or six other families in attendance, and our facilitator leads us in all kinds of songs (there is a lot of singing going down on the weekends) and activities designed specifically for 6-9 month old babies and their cognitive and language development, as well as fine and gross motor skills. Each week, I leave with something new to research or practice (baby signing, new foods to try with Grace, edible finger paint). It feels good to be able to keep adding to my parenting tool kit. And I fully acknowledge I am a tool box for having just said “parenting tool kit.” (But seriously, if you’re in the Boston area and want to learn more about the program, let me know.)
Go to Mass. Confession (how very Catholic): I don’t go as often as I would like, but when I do… it’s just the best. We have such a warm, welcoming community at our parish.
Be even a tiny bit social. I feel that it’s important to strike a balance between being a lazy blob on the sofa (that would be a fun business card) and being on the go all weekend. But with our weekdays spent either in the office or soaking up as much family time as possible, it’s nice to pop out and see friends on the weekend.
Think about our meals and snacks for the week (sometimes I even make a plan and go food shopping). I often bring Grace with me to the market on Sunday mornings while Nick is at CrossFit. A few weeks ago, we were cruising down an aisle when I heard a crash behind us. And then I noticed that my daughter had somehow clotheslined a Wheat Thins display. Can’t blame her. Salty snacking is in her genes.
A new fitness tracker. I don’t even want to think about how many fitbits I ruined by accidentally sending them through the washer and dryer. I wore a fitbit flex and then a Polar Loop for a while, but I felt like I was forever charging both devices. And neither were exactly fashion forward. I’d often stash them in my bag (mind you, I never wore both at the same time… I hope that’s obvious) during work events or meetings. When I read Caroline’s review of the Misfit Shine, I was like, Finally! The Misfit Shine runs on a watch battery and looks like… a watch. Bonus: The related app is great.
What I love to watch on the weekend
I am obsessed with The Amazing Race and have this deluded idea that I would win the show (obviously) if I were ever a contestant. Nick refuses to be my partner, which is probably saying something (I don’t know exactly what… but it’s something). It’s one of only three shows I’ve watched in real time (the others being Jeopardy! and 60 Minutes) in recent memory (Hulu+ for life). I find myself assessing the likelihood I’d succeed at each task or challenge, and weighing the pros and cons of my abilities (and lack thereof).
Potential Amazing Race Contestant Strengths and Weaknesses
Weaknesses: My own husband does not want to be my partner; Claustrophobic; Tendency towards motion sickness; Picky eater; Wears contacts; Allergic to wool (I feel like this could be especially problematic in Nordic countries)
Strengths: Knows lots of words in lots of languages; Pretty great sense of direction; I remember everything; Strong fight and flight responses
A few years back, when eating small meals throughout the day came into vogue, I was like… Duh. Been doing that for ages. (I think that was the only time in my life I’ve been ahead of the curve and/or a tiny bit hipsterish.) For better or for worse, I’d much rather graze than eat an entire meal of food. Except at dinner time. It’s nice (and, I think, important) to make time to sit down as a little family.
Meal planning and prep, for me, is really more snack planning and prep. I whipped up a few especially good snacks this week, including the dill, lemon and garlic kale chips below. One look at our fridge will tell you that kale is in season in New England. And that I can’t resist a farm stand deal.
Dill, lemon and garlic kale chips
1 bunch of kale, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 heaping teaspoons fresh dill
zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 375.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
Wash your kale and blot it dry with a paper towel. Remove stems and cut or tear leaves into small pieces.
In a large bowl, combine kale, olive oil, garlic, dill and lemon zest.
I hate when people say massage the kale, but um… massage the kale, and make sure it is evenly coated in oil and that your other ingredients are well distributed.
Artfully (just kidding…) arrange kale on your baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes (or until crispy, but not… burnt). Let your kale chips cool before eating.
I love the combination of lemon and fresh herbs (and who can say no to garlic?), and while I will always have a thing for actual chips, these kale chips are a great way to green up my afternoon snacking.
While the kale chips were baking, I chopped up some vegetables for salads and baby food purees and scrolled through the new fall edition of the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan for some snack prep inspiration. I purchased the plan a few years ago, and love when new updates are released to members. There are so many vegan recipes that I am looking forward to making from the fall edition. I started with their spicy roasted chickpeas, frozen yogurt blueberries and Heart Beet juice (pictured above). Each recipe only took a few minutes to prepare, as I (miraculously) had all the ingredients on hand.
One shortcut (I’m all about the shortcuts, ’bout the shortcuts, no longcuts) I’m willing to pay a bit extra for these days are packaged, cooked organic beets. Same goes for butternut squash (for safety reasons alone, it’s worth the price — you do not want to be see me wrestle a squash while wielding a sharp knife) and other tough produce that Grace seems to love. I’m finding that so many of the snacks and meals I’m planning for the week can be seasoned and then pureed or mashed for her to enjoy, too.
Speaking of that lovely baby, we have had a rough couple of weeks sleep-wise. I suppose we needed to make progress in order to regress (some good ol’ parent spin zone talk for you), but we’ve been firmly in the grips of a sleep regression lately. As much as I want to reach for the Diet Coke (like, a hundred of them) in times like these, I know that more caffeine is probably not the answer.
I’m making good on my October goals by getting out of my own way, and ensuring I have better choices on hand: lots of iced green tea (I brew a pitcher and divide it up once it has cooled), fresh juice, and plenty of water to pair with all those meals snacks.