Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Open browser tabs | 3 AM edition

I was trying to get back to sleep after feeding Nick a few nights ago and should have done just that (sleep), but instead I scrolled through the approximately 900 open browser tabs on my iPhone.  

Obvious disclaimer: We all know screens and sleep don’t mix.

open browser tabs

Of these 900 (give or take) browser tabs, there were articles I had started to read (and thought maybe, eventually I’d finish), recipes I hoped to make, and Frenchies I would like to sneak into our home.  The usual.  Plus, like, the unusual.  

If it’s 3 AM and you’re reading this, maybe… put down your phone, sniff some lavender and try to do some sort of sleep visualization.  But if it’s the middle of the day and you’re wondering what on Earth I find interesting enough to keep floating around on my phone for days (or in some cases, months), you’re in luck.

OPEN BROWSER TABS | 3 AM EDITION

  • Find a friend (a.k.a. The tab I will keep open forever and always): Every few months, I spot a Frenchie that I am certain is related to Clark and I try to convince Nick that we need to reunite them.  In our home.  Forever.  I’m selfishly not hyperlinking this one because I want first dibs on our next puppy… and because I think there’s much to be said for adopting pets rather than buying from breeders.  
  • Adele on ’25’: Song by Song//The New York Times:  I thought it was interesting to get the back story to each song on her most recent album.  …Interesting enough that this tab has been open since last November.  
  • 6 Stretches for a Lean, Limber Body//Fitness Magazine: Love the emphasis on hips, hamstrings, glutes and ye olde pelvic floor.
  • Thug Life Shirts: I love a witty workout tee.
  • Farmer’s Choice Boxes from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, MA: We haven’t been home enough this summer to justify a full CSA share, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the weekly box offerings from one of our favorite local farms.  New lists are posted each Monday and you have until Wednesday evening to purchase the week’s box if you’re interested.  This week’s box is $23 and includes blueberries, carrots, tatsoi*, summer squash, red beets, lettuce, onions, mint and fava beans.
  • Seasoned Roasted Corn Salad Cups//Martha Stewart:  Looks like summer perfection.  Maybe sharing will motivate me to give this recipe a try.  Or maybe you can make it for me?
  • The Ultimate Manual Photography Cheat Sheet//PicMonkey: A great (and comprehensive) reference guide.  I love PicMonkey for simple photo editing and design, and their blog features helpful tips and tutorials like this one.
  • Edible Flowers//Gourmet Sweet Botanicals: For an upcoming project.  Or just a tasty, pretty snack.
  • 26 Phrases to Calm an Angry Child//The Huffington Post:  These are the things I read at 3 AM and wish I remembered to say at 3 PM.
  • Mary Ann Moss’ Oh My Gouache class: This is easily my favorite painting class I’ve taken in ages.  I revisit Mary Ann’s posts and videos whenever I get the chance.
  • My traveling postcards//Postcrossing: It’s been a few months since I joined Postcrossing and I’m really enjoying finding something other than Gold’s Gym advertisements in our mailbox.  I found a bunch of really cute vintage postcards on the Cape that I’m itching to send to Germany.  Or Thailand.  Or wherever.

*And… I just opened a new tab:  Google search results for “What the heck is tatsoi?”

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Picking out matching hoodies for the babes (I’ve developed a passion for matching baby/toddler fashion)
  • 18 charts for better, healthier snacking via BuzzFeed
  • Watching the Olympic trials (and getting so excited for the Games)

Alright, spill.  What tab(s) is always open on your phone?

July goals + a printable calendar

July’s printable calendar is inspired by the matching popsicle pajamas Grace + Nick wore last night.  As soon as the paint on this sucker dried, we hit the road, staying up past our collective bedtime and making decent time from the city to the Cape.  

Nothing beats an actual popsicle on a hot July afternoon, but popsicle pajamas are pretty great.  And these painted ones aren’t so bad either.  They’re mess-free and calorie-free… which is occasionally a good thing.  Like, say, if you’ve already eaten four real popsicles.  Or whatever.

JULY GOALS + A PRINTABLE CALENDAR

july goals printable calendar

Click here to download your free July calendar

And now for a few goals:

Wellness

  • A new Mama Beasts challenge kicks off on Sunday, which makes setting wellness goals extra easy — I find these challenges to be super motivating (a new session of classes just started, check out the website for more info) and love feeling extra inspired both during and outside of class.  
  • In addition to specific challenge activities (increased vegetable/fruit intake, mileage, core work, etc.), I will also be conscious about staying adequately hydrated.  I usually drink at least 100 oz. of water, but I’ve been slacking lately (and feeling ridiculously thirsty at night).  
  • Start (and, like, somewhat finish) sleep training.  We moved Nick in with Grace a month ago… and then he cut 5 teeth and stopped sleeping so I moved him back to the co-sleeper in our room.  I love having him in there.  But I haven’t slept for more than 4-5 hours straight since 2013.  And I think that’s probably not okay.

Home

  • I want to streamline everything.  I was reading about people who eat the same breakfast everyday in order to not waste their decision making braincells (or whatever) and started noticing how much time and energy I waste waffling (which, disappointingly, has nothing to do with waffles).  This is obviously not a fully developed idea, so I suppose my goal is: Figure out what “streamlining everything some things” would look like.  

Family

  • Check off a few summer bucket list items 
  • Plan for fall classes (a child development class for me and baby Nick, and register for Grace’s next gymnastics session)
  • Cook up 9,000 things to do/eat/wear during the Summer Olympics (I’m so obsessed)

Popsicle time.  Toodles!

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite Summer Olympics event?

 

All or nothing | Last week’s workouts

If you count soothing a teething infant and successfully potty training a toddler to be exercise… I hit it out of the park last week.  And if you don’t (because you’re a reasonable person), I barely hit it out of the living room.  Which is where I spent 90% of my time.  Sitting on a floor covered with beach towels (see: potty training).

If we’re counting actual workouts, this was sort of an all or nothing kind of week.  Better than a plain old nothing week.  I guess.  

all or nothing last week's workouts

ALL OR NOTHING | LAST WEEK’S WORKOUTS

MONDAY: Nothing.  

TUESDAY: TIU daily workout, and nap time yoga in our bathroom.  Because it’s quiet in there.  And bizarrely spacious.

Prepare yourself for a tangent.

I think I was, like, 2-3 months pregnant with Grace when we had our home inspection.  It was blazing hot and I had round-the-clock morning sickness.  We hadn’t told anyone we were expecting, so I think maybe our realtor and home inspector thought I was very emotional about the condo.  Or that I smelled something.  Or that I am a rude person.  Regardless, at one point I stopped paying attention to the air vents and window seals and circuit board things and was trying to figure out how un-okay it would be to lay down in the current homeowners’ bed… and then I thought about bed bugs… and then I almost threw up.  

When I finally got my act together, I found three grown-ups (my husband, the realtor, and the home inspector) just chilling in the master bathroom, moving freely and not, like, bumping into each other.  Or any of the fixtures.   And, having felt like I alone was the size of three grown-ups at the time, I took that as a sign that this was the right place for our family.  

And now I do yoga in there.  And occasionally take showers.

WEDNESDAY: Class with the Mama Beasts.  I hadn’t been to class in a week and definitely felt like I was sucking wind.  Is that an expression?  I think so.  We did a lot of hill running, and I found myself swearing a lot questioning whether or not I was ready for Sunday’s road race.  Regardless, it was a very good workout and one I was happy to be able to fit in, knowing I’d likely be held hostage for the next day or two by the “big girl undies” we picked up on the way home.

THURSDAY:  Nothing.  

I sort of condensed the two day potty training method into a day and a half, so Thursday was literally spent doing nothing but that (and taking care of the baby, obvi).  It was exhausting.  But kind of awesome.  Grace is so cool.

FRIDAY: Class with the Mama Beasts… this counts as more of a nothing than a something, mostly because I spent the better part of the hour opening and closing Grace’s travel potty seat, opening and closing various bottles of anti-bacterial gel, and talking about pee.  I tried to give it my all when I was actually participating, and I know it was good to get out of the house, but it was a bit of a wash.  Such is life at the moment.

SATURDAY: Nothing.  

I really look up to Colleen… even though I am taller. Apparently.

SUNDAY: Corrib Classic 5k in West Roxbury.  I loved being able to run this with so many other Mama Beasts members.  It was just last year that I was asking my sister-in-law Colleen about the group after seeing so many women running in matching shirts.  I joined the group a few weeks later and have been so grateful for the workouts and the supportive community.  I pushed Grace and Nick in the double stroller and did my best to keep up with Colleen (until that last hill… not happening).  I finished nearly 2 minutes faster than the Marine Corps Honor Run (my first post-baby/double stroller race), which seemed like a pretty awesome way to celebrate baby Nick being six months old.  It was definitely an “all” day.

This week I’m aiming for more consistency.  And less rambling about home inspections and potting training.  Who’s with me?

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you stick to your fitness routine when life gets weird?

June goals + a printable calendar

June already?! Oh buoy… (Sorry.  No restraint.)  

And apparently I cannot paint numbers in a straight line.  Let’s just pretend I painted this aboard a wobbly sailboat.  Or something.  

JUNE GOALS + A PRINTABLE CALENDAR

printable June calendar On Tap for Today

Materials used: Canson watercolor paper, Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors (24 color set), Kissho Gansai Lumi watercolors (NEONS!).

Download your printable calendar for June here

Family

  • Complete a second 5k with the babes
  • Plan a few family day trips (including one for Father’s Day!)
  • Rejoin swimming lessons
  • Move Baby Nick into Grace’s room (hold me…)

Wellness

  • Track all meals and workouts (in an effort to be more mindful)
  • 4+ workouts a week
  • Log all runs/walks with Charity Miles
  • Make use of my workout/yoga Pinterest boards + magazines to mix up my home workouts

Home

  • De-clutter beauty products (because let’s be serious… all I really need is moisturizer, SPF, mascara + chapstick)
  • Come up with a more efficient packing system for workouts, class, day trips, etc. (my diaper bag is out of control at the end of the day)
  • Pack up winter clothes (toooooodles!)

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your June?

Summer Bucket List | 2016

Memorial Day has come and gone.  Time to put on your white pants, your white shoes, your white hats…. and make a summer bucket list.

summer bucket list

We have time booked down the Cape (I’d be happy if the only item on my summer bucket list was “be at the Cape as much as possible, if not more”) and a weekend in Maine for a wedding, but the rest of our summer is free for all sorts of adventures.  Or naps.  

SUMMER BUCKET LIST | 2016

  • Yoga outside.  A few classes I have in mind: Pop Up Asana in the Seaport and M Street Park, Castle Island Beach Yoga with Radiant Yoga, Fit By the Field yoga at Patriot Place (free), Yoga on The Green at The Street in Chestnut Hill (free), Island Yoga on Spectacle Island (free with ferry ticket, requires pre-registration) and hopefully a few beach classes in Harwichport with MoveWith again this summer.
  • Mini golf.  We pass by the golf course at Franklin Park a few times a week and Grace is fascinated.  She keeps asking if Uncle Christopher will take her (and a dog… presumably Clark?) golfing.  I sort of think mini golf might be more our speed.  Holiday Hill in Dennisport is an old favorite, but there’s also McGolf closer to the city, in Dedham.
  • Take a boat somewhere.  Another special request from Grace. 
  • Swimming lessons for both babes.  We took a little hiatus when Nick was born, but he’s now old enough for class and Grace has missed taking lessons, so we’ve got them signed up for back-to-back classes.  We spend so much time near the water (we live across the street from the ocean + my parents have a pool), that focusing on water safety is sort of a non-negotiable.  Plus, lessons are fun.  And baby bathing suits are ridiculous.  
  • Visit a lighthouse.  
  • Read 5+ beach books.  I feel like I used to read 1,003 books each summer.  And if I counted how many times I’ve read Elmo Goes to the Potty, I’d probably be close already.  And it’s been less than 24 hours since Memorial Day.  But I’m talking about real, actual, normal, grown-up books.  Please let me know if you have recommendations!
  • Watch fireworks.
  • Visit Martha’s Vineyard and/or Nantucket.  Both are easy trips from the Cape… and require boat travel, thus checking off two bucket list items.  I love being efficient (mostly because it’s a very rare occurrence these days).  
  • Make a non-dangerous (if that’s possible) slip-n-slide.  Maybe get helmets.  And mouth guards.

You know me.  Safety first… (summer) fun second.  

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Don’t quit before the miracle | Midweek motivation

Because your Monday motivational pep talk (…to yourself) may have worn off, here’s a bit of mid-week motivation.

Don’t quit before the miracle.

don't quit before the miracle

Don’t quit before the miracle.  Keep working.  Keep praying.  Keep reaching.  Keep remembering to pack snacks.  And six changes of clothes.  Just in case.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your current mantra?  

Raining + training | Last week’s workouts

The sun has finally returned, so I decided to be a pleasant, semi-normal person again.  I figured I’d do the things pleasant, semi-normal people do.  For example, share.  Let’s start with last week’s workouts (and who knows, maybe I’ll work up to sharing something you actually want.  Or need.  Or like. #nopromises).

raining and training last weeks workouts

Raining + training | Last week’s workouts

Monday: Class with the Mama Beasts – I’ve had to give myself some serious Monday morning pep talks the past few weeks.  The gloomy weather hasn’t helped.  I’m glad we made it to all three classes this week, though… mostly because the alternative was being cooped up in the house.  Where there is chocolate.  And no other adults between 8 AM – 6 PM.

Tuesday: Tone it Up workout + 2.5 mile loop around the Sugar Bowl and Castle Island

Wednesday: Class

Thursday: 3 mile walk in varying degrees of rain (sprinkling… drizzling… full on raining… and down pouring) to the post office (where we got to chat with a nun from the neighborhood, so that was a bonus) and the library (which was closed… and I am a dingbat for not checking the schedule ahead of time) and to the store for Zantac (the glamour of my GI-challenged life never ceases to amaze).  And some much needed yoga.

Friday: Class (it seemed like an especially tough one), lots of stretching and foam rolling.

Saturday: Marine Corps Honor Run 5k and a 1.5 mile walk – I feel like kind of a boob saying this, but I’m pretty proud of how it went.  Running with the double stroller is no joke.  But Grace and baby Nick provide a good distraction.  And there’s room for snacks in the handlebar pouch thing, so… there are definite advantages.  I checked with our pediatrician first (obvi), but with its flat course and my current turtle pace, this race provided the perfect opportunity to run with both babes.  I’ve run the Marine Corps Honor Run before and it’s always a pretty moving event.  It’s an honor to be able to run it, for sure.

Sunday: Rest day

Despite all the rain, this felt like my strongest week of workouts in ages.  

I’m slowly emerging from that postpartum fog (mostly I’ve come to accept that I will live like some sort of medieval peasant, getting 4 hours of sleep at night and subsisting solely on Grace’s table scraps until a miraculous 10 free minutes appear and I manage to consume the equivalent of breakfast, lunch, lunch 2, lunch 3 and dinner all at one).  

And I’m so appreciative of this body I have.  That matters as much (likely more) than any workout I finish.

On that cheeseball note,  let’s go (responsibly) enjoy some sunshine.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you feeling proud of this week?

Today: Running + Purple Rain.

You know you’ve been listening to more Prince than usual when your two-year-old starts singing “Purple Rain” to her Fisher Price farm animals.  It’s making me alternately very happy and a bit depressed.

Materials used: Golden fluid acrylics (Dioxazine Purple), Handmade Modern acrylic paint (lavender, violet), Winsor + Newton professional watercolor (ivory black)

I think I’ve always loved Prince’s music.  And while “Purple Rain” is sort of an obvious song to single out, it’s been an important part of nearly every race I’ve started (and finished).  Long, short and everything in between.

Being a bit of a sponge person, I used to get way too wrapped up in the starting line energy (and all the weird vibes that come from other people being nervous, excited, and/or trying out new Gu.  Or stretches.  Or Spandex).  In the corral before my first marathon, a woman told me she was going to run despite not training (like, at all) and I think I pulled every worry muscle in my body just listening to her.  

I’d start each race all wrapped up in everything going on around me, inevitably running too fast, and nearly expiring by mile two.

prince and running

I knew early on that I needed a strategy.  (For the record: I don’t mean that in a competitive or high performing way… I mostly mean that in a “figure out how to keep running without dying” kind of way.) I must’ve had my iPod set to shuffle during a run (or maybe I intentionally picked “Purple Rain,” but I don’t think so), but as soon as I heard “I didn’t mean to cause you any sorrow,” I knew Prince would join me for the rest of my races.

“Purple Rain” is just slow enough to keep my heart rate low and pace on target.   And when all 8 minutes and 24 seconds have passed, I’m approaching my first mile and first third of a 5k.  And if I could do math, I’d tell you how much of a 10k or marathon would be left.  But I can’t (do math, that is).  Like so much of Prince’s music, the song is somehow uplifting, confusing, bittersweet, sad, and weird all at once.  In other words, it’s the perfect soundtrack to all the things that might pop into my head on any given run.  

Oh, and don’t get me started on the music itself.  If I wasn’t positive I’d be an even worse musician than I am a runner, “Purple Rain” would have convinced me to take up guitar lessons.

While I’m saddened that so many talented people have left the Earth lately, I’m grateful we can still take them along on our runs, our races, our walks, our adventures, our drives and our day-to-days.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your go-to running (or painting, or planting, or walking, or waiting) jam?

Today: Peanut butter, cranberry + dark chocolate granola bars.

I recently found myself scrolling through the entirety of the Internet (it’s an uppercase word… until June 1…) for a good granola bar recipe and scanning the contents of our pantry, hoping the stars ingredients would align.  

gluten free peanut butter cranberry dark chocolate granola bars

It was 10:30 on Sunday night, and I had no business being awake, let alone attempting to make granola bars… but sometimes we get peer pressured into these things (i.e. I did it for the Mama Beasts Spring Challenge points…).  And in this case, the pressure paid off.

I should know better than to mess with baking recipes (unlike cooking, there’s some actual science and measuring involved) and you know I’d never be so bold as to question my queen Martha… but um… I messed with a Martha recipe (this one for peanut-butter granola bars — you’ll see I made a few changes, but used her recipe as a guide).  Mostly because I needed to work with what I had.  And because Martha seemed to have forgotten to include chocolate chips.  She’s got a lot going on.  

I’ve made these granola bars twice now (proof that they don’t take a lot of effort or time or thought, all things I seem to be perpetually lacking).  

I’m always looking for filling, mostly-healthy snacks and these turned out to be both.  And they don’t taste like an old shoe (always a plus).  That’s a terrible way of telling you they’re delicious.  They’re delicious.  

peanut butter cranberry dark chocolate granola bars

Homemade peanut butter, cranberry + dark chocolate granola bars

gluten free, makes approximately 12 bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 1/4 cup palm sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • Pinch of sea salt (I use Maldon flakes)

Directions

  1. Prep work:   Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment or freezer paper, leaving a bit of overhang. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix oats, cranberries, almonds and dark chocolate.
  3. In a small sauce pan over low heat, mix nut butter, oil, and palm sugar until sugar dissolves.  Remove pan from heat and mix in egg white.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and pour into prepared pan, pressing mixture evenly with a spatula.
  5. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, allow to cool in pan (approximately 10 minutes).
  7. Remove baked granola (technically, they’re not bars… yet) from the pan, using the parchment or freezer paper and freeze overnight on a cookie sheet.
  8. Cut bars to desired size, store refrigerated.

Recipe notes:  You could include just about any nuts and dried fruit.  I don’t recommend skipping the chocolate.  (Because, really, why?)  You could throw caution to the wind and cut them after cooling, but I found freezing the bars really helped keep them from crumbling.  Martha’s recipe calls for light brown sugar, which you could use if you don’t have palm sugar on hand.  Similarly, you could substitute (1:1) coconut oil for vegetable oil.  The Maldon is definitely optional, but I have such a thing for salty/sweet.  I used 70% cocoa chocolate chips and Bob’s Red Mill gluten free rolled oats, but again, use what you have.

That’s basically my life’s motto at the moment… use what you have.  Or, like, order it from Amazon Prime.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Very interesting read: The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It via lifehacker
  • Attempting to read an actual book (one that is not about “positive parenting” or “thriving toddlers” or “making your dog promise to live forever”) …I’m currently on page 13 and consider that a huge victory
  • Catching up on some postcrossing 

Today: April goals (and a printable calendar).

I didn’t feel like painting April showers, so I skipped right to the May flowers.  Hope you don’t mind.

April goals (and a printable calendar)

april calendar printable

Materials used: Winsor + Newton professional watercolors and gouache; round brushes (4 and 8), liner brush (0); super-inexpensive mixed media paper (from the kids’ craft aisle at Target)

click here to download your free, hand painted April calendar

April goals

Family

  • Set plans for Nick’s baptism
  • Pick a new Audubon sanctuary to visit this month
  • Make a “warmer weather” bucket list (because I never did this in March… semi-related, it’s going to snow next week…)
  • Day trip to the Cape

Wellness

  • Continue to workout at least twice in the real world and twice at home (per week) and increase weekly mileage
  • Increase low plank hold to 45 seconds, high plank to 2 minutes (gettin’ there!)
  • Continue to keep food diary (this is something I got back into a few weeks ago — it’s been really helpful… and eye-opening)

Home

  • Donate newborn and baby clothes (seeing as both my children are toddler-sized, including the four-month-old)
  • Consign or sell our single running stroller
  • Get the deck ready for spring/summer
  • Continue to meal plan on Sundays (it’s really helping to cut down food waste)

Bring on the April showers.  So we can cut to the May flowers.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your April?