Tag Archives: Healthy Living Summit

Today: Blog Tour – My Writing Process

My pal Molly recently invited me to join the My Writing Process blog tour.  It’s sort of like a blogger’s chain letter (speaking of, did anyone ever participate in a middle school chain letter that actually worked?), where we talk about… well, our writing process, but also shine a light on some of our favorite blogs.  I’ve never done something like this before, so when Molly shared her post, I found myself clicking through to read posts from others on the tour, fascinated by reading about what inspires other bloggers, how their styles and content varies, and what they most enjoy writing about.

Sometimes I pay Clark to edit for me. So, um, if you catch a typo… blame him.

I first started blogging in 2006-ish when I felt like I desperately needed a creative outlet.  I was still having flashbacks from my senior year drawing class and the time our professor served as a live model, so sketching didn’t seem like a safe option.  I barely knew how to knit (hence the collection of 1/4 scarves I tried to pass off as potholders).  I probably could have taken up cooking, but I lived with my parents and welp… I liked eating what they made.  Having always loved to write, a free blogspot address seemed like a natural fit for a recently graduated, rather poor, semi-bored non-profit employee such as myself.  Because blogging has always been somewhere in the neighborhood of third or fourth or eleventh on my list of priorities, I’ve posted when inspiration struck, and rarely a minute sooner.

Those are sparks of inspiration… or whatever.

Lately, however, I feel like I’ve been posting even when that inspiration has gone on strike, I’ve been posting more sponsored content than usual, and I’ve even been tempted to outright delete content I’ve shared.  Having the chance to reflect on and answer the questions posed and answered by Molly (and our chain letter predecessors, like Bianca and Meghan) has been tremendously helpful.  It’s sort of like when you go to leadership camp and on the ride home you’re all, “I love student council! This is going to be the best year evvvvaaarrrr!”  Oh.  You didn’t go to leadership camp because you were doing normal things?  Right.  Well.

I’m grateful to Molly for including me in this tour, and for the great content she shares week after week.  We first met at a Whole Foods event, but I had been reading her restaurant picks (you can find her full list of Dining Out reviews here – from Boston to LA, Las Vegas to Miami, and seemingly everywhere in between, this is the place to go if you’re looking for a solid restaurant recommendation), shopping tips, local event coverage and book reviews for quite some time before that.  She has impeccable taste (supporting evidence: her Instagram account) and after seeing her Oscar party photos, I decided I need her to plan every party and event in my life hence forward.

I rarely talk blog shop here, but I am hoping you might find this peek behind the curtain even a little interesting, and perhaps it will get you thinking about your creative process, as well.  Here goes.

My Writing Process


What am I working on?

For the first time (maybe ever?) I am craving some sort of established process or plan for On Tap for Today.  I have quite the list of posts I want to start (or finish… or translate from a late night iPhone note to something actually readable, and not written entirely in emoji), but find myself spread a bit thin lately.  My old “when inspiration strikes” method isn’t working quite as well now that I am trying to navigate being a wife, a mother, a career person, and a cool/sort of interesting/regular person.  When I do have free time, I am sure you can understand that I’d rather spend it with Nick and Grace and Clark and not my MacBook.  And yet, there’s a reason I keep paying my hosting fee each month.  I love this little corner of the Internet I’ve carved out for myself.

So I guess you could say I am working on time management and transitioning to something a bit more organized and a bit less spontaneous.  I’ve been kicking around a few ideas about fostering creativity, and have a few projects I’ve been working on around the condo (as the saying goes, Sleep Craft when the baby sleeps) that I am excited to share.  I’m also planning to share more wellness focused posts, as I feel like how I care for my body (and brain, and spirit) is especially important these days.  Did I mention I broke my toe this weekend?  I’ll probably tell you about that too. (Cliffhanger!)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

They’re not like other bananas. They’re marathon bananas.

Every “how to” I’ve ever read about blogging has said this: Find a niche and stick to it.  Normally I’m a rule follower, but I like the freedom to write about finding shells in Mexico one day, and seeing a fart on my dog’s x-ray the next.  I am as passionate about fitness and I am about spending the day in bed reading.  Two of my most popular (it feels sort of Mean Girls to use that word, but hey) posts are about marathon running and why you shouldn’t get your eyebrows waxed when you’re sad.  Breaking the niche rule works for me, and so I am not sure On Tap for Today fits into any one category or genre.  Lifestyle, maybe?  Healthy Living, sort of?

The posts I’m most proud of, and I suppose the ones that differentiate me even a tiny bit, are those where I’ve taken a risk and been more personal and vulnerable.  Writing about being afraid is more difficult than sharing a chili recipe, but it’s also more rewarding for me (trust me, though, the chili is worth making) and, I hope, maybe more helpful for others.

Why do I write what I do?

Writing is often how I do my best processing (I’d choose writing over talking about a challenge any day.).  So when I’m sharing something more substantial than, say, a Frenchie photo montage, my motivation is often selfish.  I always appreciate, though, when a post resonates with someone else.  It’s a privilege to be part of this community and be able to build connections with words.

Who needs school when you have a fence?

More often, though, I write because something strange or funny (both funny haha and funny um… okay) has happened and I think it warrants documenting (like the time there was a skunk trapped in a stairwell near my office, and someone took the time to print up a sign, but didn’t bother to call animal control).  Or because I just enjoyed the most amazing agua fresca on the deck and I feel it would be unjust to deny my mom humanity the recipe.  Or because I feel like I’m back in the running game (that was before the broken toe, obvi) and I want to hold myself accountable.

Above all, I try to be genuine and authentic in my writing.  I’m not an expert at much (I think I’m a semi-expert at my real job, but no one wants to hear about that stuff), and hope my vibe comes across as accessible, approachable, and thoughtful.  No one needs a lecture.  Except for people that need a lecture.  Also, why did I just talk about “my vibe?”  

How does my writing process work?

I was that kid who never bothered with outlines (they drove me mental).  In fact, I often wrote my outline after the fact, so as to not lose points on pre-writing exercises.  Were I presently 11 instead of 32, I don’t think I would fare well on the MCAS exams.  Or in middle school, in general.

In this case, the word “daily” is pronounced “erratic.” But thank you, Whole Foods!

When it comes to posts, I almost always write and publish them in one sitting.  Sometimes this takes 10 minutes, other times 60.  Despite lacking in the bowhunting photography skills department, images are an important component for me.  It’s often a photo that drives or inspires the narrative, but sometimes I dig through the 9.3 million unorganized photos in my DropBox for something that fits after writing.

I often read my posts aloud before clicking publish in an effort to catch typos and other embarrassing things… like references to leadership camp (I use this trick at work, too).

And that’s that.  Nothing exciting.

And now for the next round of the My Writing Process blog tour…

I do. It’s true.

I’m thrilled that the following three ladies have agreed to share their writing process with us next Monday.  I consider each to be the Diana Barry to my Anne Shirley (which is to say, we’re kindred spirits, duh).  Please be sure to keep an eye out for their posts, which will be live next Monday, May 19th.

Michelle of Hit the Bricks We technically first met at a blogging event in Boston, but I was a total boob (shocking) and super socially awkward.  Fortunately, Michelle is charitable, and didn’t write me off altogether.  When we had our first real friend date, I think both of our husbands put lo-jack in our handbags, worried about what happens when one meets an “internet friend” for tea.  In the years since, she’s become a true and trusted friend.  She likes Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart and office supplies as much as I do, so basically, our friendship was written in the stars (with a mint green fine point Sharpie).

Heather of Then Heather Said I’ve learned a great deal from Heather during the years I’ve been lucky enough to know her.  From practical information (the best apps, tips for staying organized, random Presidential facts) to even more important things (specifically, how to be a good friend), I’m so grateful our paths have crossed.  Aaaand I get excited every Tuesday, because I love her Twosday posts.

Kristi of Life Sprinkles  I first met Kristi at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit cocktail party in Philadelphia.  I’ve loved catching up with her at this annual event, but wish I got to see her in person more often (no offense to all the states in between Arizona and Massachusetts, but, like… you’re all kind of in the way).  I love her honest, inspiring, and joyful posts.  Oh, and if you haven’t already, sign up for her Sprinkle a Day in May series.  There are still plenty of May days left to be inspired by this lovely lady.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you working on?  Got any exciting projects on the horizon?

Today: The 2013 Healthy Living Summit, Twosday-style.

It seems only fitting that I give you the run down of this year’s HLS Twosday-style, inspired by Heather.  She and Julie were the masterminds, master-organizers, and master-people behind the 2013 Healthy Living Summit.  I am so grateful to have worked with them, and the rest of the planning team, in the months leading up to the Summit.  They are simply wonderful.

Let my “surprise face” [frame 3] serve as a PSA: Not all surprises are good.             Some are quite horrifying, apparently.

Speaking of wonderful, a quick two-by-two peek at a wonderful weekend spent in Minneapolis…

Two pieces of reading that helped me pass the time during airport layovers:

  1. Taking the Light Rail from the Airport to the Hotel, written by Danielle and shared on the HLS website – I practically memorized Danielle’s easy-to-follow directions (clearly, this woman is a teachers) during my layover at O’Hare.  When I landed in Minneapolis, finding my way to the Light Rail, and eventually to the hotel, was a breeze.
  2. I started re-reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (will share more on this later, but I think it’s a must-read for introverts and those who are confused by love us) on my first flight home, and put a big dent in the book while my plane was delayed from Newark to Boston.  Surprising fact: Reading a book about introverts does not make one immune to the creepers that want to talk to strangers at airports.

Rude, Clark. Rude.

Two apps I downloaded while at the 2013 Healthy Living Summit:

  1. Infinite Storm: because a quiet hotel room, devoid of snoring Frenchies and city noise is a recipe for insomnia.
  2. Blog Pad Pro: for writing on the go (an iPad mini + a wireless keyboard is so much chic-er than my 600 lb. , 600-year-old MacBook).

Two indulgences I enjoyed while at HLS:

  1. An original dark brownie, courtesy of Kristen and one of the Summit’s swag sponsors, Just Good Chocolate – this thing was the real deal, Evander Gluten-field, but I enjoyed it anyway.  Sometimes the reward outweighs the risk.
  2. An extra-long chair massage thanks to one of the students from the Minnesota School of Business Massage Therapy Program – I think I became so relaxed that my face fell asleep.

Two bits of wisdom I shared:

  1. Pregnant women (and anyone else susceptible to occasional bouts of uncontrolled, raw emotion) should not watch the PBS documentary Animal Odd Couples  (Clark and I watched it together several weeks ago.  I am still recovering.).  All other segments of the human population, however, should add AOC (I’ve talked about it so much lately, I now refer to it as simply AOC…) to their Netflix queues immediately.  If not sooner.
  2. Say “no” to opportunities that are not the perfect fit for you.  This will allow you to say “yes” when the right opportunities come along (and they will come along, as long as you’re patient and stay true to your brand and values).  [For more on the Blogger and the Brand panel, which I was honored to be a part of, check out Lindsay’s post on the 360 PR blog and the live blog and tweets from the session.]

That my suitcase closed after #HLS13 was nothing short of a Minnesota miracle.

Two swag items I am especially excited about:

  1. OrthoLite insoles: I am just about due for a new pair of Kinvara 4’s and will definitely be swapping in these insoles, which I have loved for ages.  They provide a bit of extra cushion and sort of make me feel like a famous person who only wears custom kicks.  Sort of.
  2. Erba Vita Leg Light Gel:  Along with other samples from this Italian herbal medicine brand, we received several packets of Leg Light, which this ol’ pregnant lady is loving.  I’m finding my legs are feeling a bit heavy at the end of the day, and this soothing gel provides some nice relief.  So does laying down and pretending I am too tired to fold laundry… Shhh.

Two Minneapolis spots I would like to visit again:

  1. Pardon the blasphemy, but can I just say… shopping at Target on the Nicollet Mall (adjacent to Target HQ) was a religious experience.  I walked over there bright and early on Friday (I was there when the doors opened at 7 AM, as I had been awake since 4 AM #timezonesareweird) to pick up a few last minute cocktail party supplies (every good party calls for index cards and Sharpies) and…. wow.  South Bay Target, this was not.
  2. The Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge: We crossed this bridge on Sunday morning’s 5k-ish fun run/walk as a group, and I loved the John Ashberry poem that appears across the upper lintel.

Two does not do the weekend justice, but it’s a good start.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are two bits of wisdom you’ve shared (or learned) lately?

Today: The coolest person in the world.

I woke Nick up at 3:45 this morning, minutes before my Uber taxi arrived to cart me to Logan.  As I dropped Clark in bed with my husband and kissed them both goodbye, Nick mumbled, “You’re the coolest person in the world.”  And just like that, he was sound asleep.  I may not really be the coolest person in the world, but maaaan, am I lucky.  

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Today: Spicy sweet potato lentil burgers {a guest post from Alex Eats Green}

I was thrilled with Alex reached out with what follows.  We met at last year’s Healthy Living Summit and I’ve been smitten with her blog (and her lovely self) ever since.  Please enjoy her stunning photographs and delicious recipe, and be sure to head over to Alex Eats Green for more of the same. xoxo Gossip Girl Elizabeth

Spicy sweet potato lentil burgers

Hi guys! My name is Alex, and I’m over at Alex Eats Green, where I blog about being a vegetarian. Recipes, daily eating and restaurant reviews are all included in the fun, but it’s also a lot of photos of my good looking friends. Elizabeth was crazy kind enough to pass over the reins to me so that I could share this delicious burger recipe with you.


Even before I went green, I was never the biggest fan of the burger. Growing up, I was definitely always a hot dog girl; all the bacon, blue cheese, and caramelized onions couldn’t change that. But now that I’m a vegetarian, burgers are a whole new ball game. The possibilities for combinations truly are endless: beet, bean, quinoa oh my and more.

IMG_6202 copy


Each month, myself and a few friends get together to share our most recent life happenings. I was in charge of dinner for the most recent one (…you know where I’m going with this one), and I knew that the perfect companion to our conversations/giggling would be these burgers.





I like them for a few reasons: they’re easy to dress up – you can get creative with the toppings, and make them as fancy or low key as you wish. I also like knowing exactly what is going into my burger, which can’t really be said for most veggie burgers that you pull out of your frozen foods aisle. And finally, they’re sweet potato burgers! You would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t enjoy what is essentially sweet potatoes on bread. Am I right, or am I right?



You’re sure to impress at any BBQ, monthly dinner, bookclub, or just yourself with this recipe. Enjoy!

Spicy Sweet Potato Lentil Burgers


  • 1 cup dry green or red lentils (I used green split pea)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1-2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper and mixed Italian herbs (each)*
  • 4-5 small organic sweet potatoes, baked, peeled, mashed
  • 1-2 cups fresh or frozen spinach or kale
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. olive oil or parchment paper

Mashed Avocado Topper

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 – 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • S&P
  • Optional: Add micro greens, sliced red onion, yogurt, or cheese!

*a note about the spices – I basically put every spice I had in my cabinet into this mixture. Feel free to take some liberties on the varieties/amount of spice, but the spices listed above is a good place to start.


  1. Combine lentils in large soup pot. Add enough water to cover about 3 inches above lentils. Boil until lentils are very tender, about 45 mins – 1 hour. Drain water from lentils. Transfer lentils to a large bowl and cool.
  2. Add the seasonings to the lentils. Stir with lentils until well blended. Cover lentils and set aside.
  3. Slice sweet potatoes in half, and bake at 375 degrees. Cool, peel, and coarsely mash. Add mashed potatoto lentil mixture and mix well.
  4. Chop kale or spinach then add to mixture. If using frozen spinach, squeeze out as much water as possible. Add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs to mixture (more if you still feel that the consistency is too sticky)
  5. Using a spoon or both hands, form mixture into balls and then flatten. Press breadcrumbs lightly onto patties. Cover and refrigerate 30-60 minutes. Don’t skip this step!
  6. After chilling, freeze any burgers that you want to save for later. 
  7. To cook burgers, heat in non-stick pan with small amount of olive oil for about 5 minutes or baked in oven on parchment paper until hot and crispy at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Flip over at the half-way point.

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For more food fun, and general ramblings about life as a vegetarian, come follow along at Alex Eats Green. Thanks for having me, Elizabeth!

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite meal to make for friends?

Today: Photo booths, popcorn, and people. {#HLS12 Part I}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I went to bed at 8:30 last night, if that’s any indication of how much fun I had this weekend at the 2012 Healthy Living Summit.  (To be fair, I would go to bed at 8:30 every night if that was an option.)  From sponsorship to logistics, swag stuffing to registration, and meals to sessions, Meghann, Julie and Heather put in some serious work to ensure that everything went smoothly.  It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with them and the planning committee.  Hands down (or hands up, if you prefer), the best part of the Healthy Living Summit was the opportunity to connect and interact with like-minded people, friends old and new, local and faraway bloggers, and fantastic brands.  Oh, and the three hours we spent in the photo booth.  That was good, too.

HLS Cocktail Party

Being just a few miles from this year’s Summit site, I was thrilled to help pull things together for our Friday night cocktail party.  After visiting a few sites and honing my negotiation skills a bit, we landed at the hotel’s Riverside Pavilion, a tented space that would also be home to our Reebok CrossFit and Drink Chia! workouts, as well as a few meals over the course of the weekend.  Having access to a small outdoor patio for  fresh air proved to be a great bonus.  We worked with the catering staff at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge to create a light, local, fun and fresh menu while the team rallied to put together a fantastic playlist.  If it was you who added all that Beyonce, thank you.  You’ve got me feeling so crazy right now.

Our sponsor for the evening, Rebootizer, provided their own jams, as well as sweet sunnies (which reminded me of the neon ones we got from Officer Friendly and the D.A.R.E. program back in middle school) and plenty of Rebootizer samples.  Stephanie and Sue were so wonderful to work with over the course of the weekend.  As I looked on from my drink ticket distribution perch next to Reebootizer’s booth, I couldn’t help but smile.   I know it’s not easy to wander into a room full of people, regardless of how well we know each other on the internet (that sounds very stranger danger), so it pleased me endlessly to see people being welcomed into the party.  I loved hearing the laughter and conversation flow right up to the ten o’clock hour.  I felt this warmth and friendliness carry right on through to Sunday’s brunch; it made me so proud of our little community.  And it made my face hurt.  From smiling.  And winking.

Ed from Wicked Fun Photo Booth set up shop just inside the tent to capture all the fun.  The props were a big hit, as were the lightning fast prints.  I’d highly recommend this company to locals.  Good prices, great service, no nonsense.  Except for the fun kind of nonsense.

We essentially set up shop inside the booth.  My apologies to everyone who had to wait their turn while we vogued.  And pretended to eat the chicken perched atop Theodora‘s head.

Meet the roommates

By the time my partner in crime, Bridget, and I made it up to our room, I couldn’t decide which I wanted to do more: eat or crawl into bed.

Sometimes the best choice is both.  

Pardon the blurriness. My hunger must have gotten in the way.

We wheeled the tray right between our beds, where we chowed down on our salads and fries.  We’re nothing if not practical.

Bridget had to dash early the next day, so I was thankful to have the chance to stay up and chat with her Friday night.  She’s been my tried and true roommate, from HLS 2011 to Reach the Beach, and I am so lucky to have her as such a great friend.  Speaking of friends and roommates, Michelle joined me on the 14th floor Saturday night.  Somehow, I have no photographic evidence of our roommate-ness, so I… um… drew a little something.

Oh, and then there was Rich.  My other roommate.

Who sleeps with a barbell locked out overhead?  The fittest man on earth, that’s who.  A little jealous?  Don’t be.  His muscles took up the whole bed, leaving me to sleep on the floor.   Just kidding.  I arm wrestled him for the bed and won.  Naturally.  Before I tell any more lies, I’ll wrap up here.  More to come.  Just as soon as I catch up on sleep life.

Also On Tap for Today:


Are you a wall flower or the life of the party?  

Today: Freedom Trail mix muffins.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I was strolling down Main Street in Charlestown when inspiration for the HLS Breakfast Showdown struck.  With the Freedom Trail at my feet, and a kitchen stocked with Wild Harvest goodies, I knew what I wanted to whip up.

Wild Harvest, Gold Sponsor of the 2012 Healthy Living Summit, sent this year’s participants ten of their favorite products, with the challenge to create a fun and healthy breakfast using three or more Wild Harvest ingredients.

Freedom Trail Mix Muffins

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups trail mix (I used WILD HARVEST organic animal crackers, WILD HARVEST organic raisins, dried Cape Cod cranberries, peanuts, and miniature dark chocolate chips)

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 WILD HARVEST organic eggs
  • 1 cup WILD HARVEST organic apple sauce


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your muffin tins.  This recipe yields twelve regular sized muffins and 24 miniature muffins.
  2. Setting your trail mix aside, combine other dry ingredients and slowly incorporate wet ingredients.  Mix well.
  3. Add in trail mix and stir.  And try not to eat the batter.
  4. Fill each tin 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Why buy a pre-made trail mix when you can get creative and use what’s already in the pantry?  Dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate are sure bets.  I used Wild Harvest’s animal crackers as the base, and felt a bit badly breaking the head off an elephant and the butt off a bison.  Oh and yes, vegetarians do eat animal crackers.  Using apple sauce instead of butter or oil is a great way to keep your baked goods moist and light.  From a little idea on Main Street, these humble muffins hit the spot.

[Image source]

This little breakfast treats are perfect for a morning meal on the go, or for enjoying while sightseeing or strolling.  If you’re visiting Boston this summer, the Freedom Trail is not to be missed.  The 2.5 mile route covers sixteen historical sites and tells the story of the American Revolution.  Pack a snack.  Nerds like us shouldn’t have to choose between monuments and monumentally good muffins.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your weekend?

Today: Napping and comfort food.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Days like today were made for napping.

Clark and his two besties have the right idea.

Unfortunately, days like today are also made for 12 and a half hours spent at the office and in meetings, where napping is generally frowned upon.   Fortunately, eating good comfort food is nearly always acceptable.  I’ll likely spend much of today day-dreaming about warm, flaky, gooey food.

Get out of here, pumpkin.

This weekend we celebrated my lovely mother’s birthday a few days early with a nice family dinner at home.  My brother and sister-in-law brought oysters and grilled steaks with an herb gremolata straight from my dad’s garden (…the herbs, that is.  I think the oysters came from the ocean, and the steaks from, like, a cow).  My sister made an incredible corn and tomato salad, the perfect way to wind down the summer.

I hear they're delicious. I'll stick to the lemons, though.

My younger brother and I were responsible for appetizers and desserts.  He was especially helpful when I had no where to toss an aggressively burning match, after lighting a few candles on the cheesecake sampler.  A sensible person would have simply blown it out, instead of panicking and possibly blacking out.  It’s only a match, lady.

I can't take pictures like this in the city.

Our little appetizer was much less dramatic.  I broke out my Fillo Factory organic pastry shells (swag from The Healthy Living Summit) and with just the teeniest bit of creativity, came up with the perfect comfort food: warm, bite-sized, creamy, with a bit of kick.

The shells come pre-baked, so it was as easy as choosing a filling, and popping them in the oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes to heat through.  I topped a dollop of raspberry habanero sauce with a tiny wedge of brie and a sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper.  The only thing better than delicious comfort food, is easy and delicious comfort food.  Especially when you get to share it with the people you love the most.

A very happy birthday (plus 2 days) to my mom!

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Breaking out my submarine yellow Wellies 🙂
  • Looking forward to scoping out some fall foliage this weekend
  • Time to start making plans for marathon weekend!

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Today: The streets of Philadelphia.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]After a glass of wine and a cup of ginger ale (I am a wild and crazy girl) at the Healthy Living Summit cocktail party, Bridget and I headed back to our hotel room, laid out running clothes and set the alarm on my iPhone for 5:40. Approximately 4 minutes later (or so it felt), I nearly spiked the aforementioned phone, volleyball-style, off the nightstand. Since my roommate was wearing neither a helmet nor hockey pads, I made a responsible choice and just turned the dang thing off. We planned to meet Ali for 6-ish miles, and had our hearts set on tackling the infamous “Rocky steps” at the art museum.

As we dragged ourselves into the lobby, I was happy to see a big ol’ group of runners ready to hit the streets of Philadelphia. We headed towards the river with the group, and split off after a mile and a half or so, fixing to get our Rocky on. There are no words to describe the three of us charging up the steps. Only music. Sweet, sweet music.

Sadly, I didn’t have “Eye of the Tiger” at the ready on Saturday, but when Bridget and I went back from a 3.5 miler on Sunday morning, you better believe we were blasting it loudly and proudly. Running the Rocky steps, while jamming to Sly’s theme song? We were definitely having a Philly moment. Those poor people walking their dogs witnessed quite the spectacle.

Other highlights on the streets of Philadelphia included a quick trip to the Rittenhouse Square farmers market, swooning over city hall (it’s sort of like Boston’s… except that it isn’t heinous), sipping sangria on the sidewalk, and enjoying a whole lot of cheese and bubbles at Tria.

Clearly, I loved the City of Brotherly Love.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite workout or running jam?

Today: Takeaways from the Healthy Living Summit.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Thanks to the giant purple bag of swag and this weekend’s fantastic presenters, I walked (or flew) away from the Healthy Living Summit with plenty of food for… um… eating, and even more food for thought.  I’d love to pass along a few takeaways, and invite you to share your own thoughts in the comment section.

But first, Clark needs to give his stamp of approval.

Good?  Great.

The first session I attended on Saturday was called Budgeting for a Healthy Lifestyle, and was presented by Lauren of Say What You Need to Say.  Lauren’s background in financial literacy, as well has her poised and confident speaking style made for a really great presentation.  While much of the information she conveyed was “common sense,” it is often exactly that kind of information that could use reinforcing.  A few points that I thought were especially helpful:

  • Pay yourself first.  Saving should be a (if not, the) priority.
  • When tracking spending, use the method that works best for you– and that you can sustain.
  • Lauren shared a Bureau of Labor Statistics graph from March 2009, illustrating the rising cost of healthy, whole foods.  Her suggestions for making healthy living more affordable: pre-plan meals, shop with a list, use coupons, buy in-season and limit eating out.
  • Determine what is important to you in terms of buying organic, or higher priced items.  For example, you might follow the dirty dozen rule, but buy conventional produce for those items not on the list.  Lauren said that she buys organic, if she plans to eat the peel.  Makes sense to me.

[Photo source]

  • Stock up on in-season items and freeze what you don’t consume.
  • Check the unit price, the price per ounce, and look beyond products on eye-level shelves (this is easy, if you’re a shorty like me).
  • Be aware of how you store food to ensure they last (ex. keep eggs in their cartons, place milk at the back of the fridge, and separate fruits and vegetables).
  • Shop around for gym memberships.

After Lauren’s presentation, Ali, Bridget and I took a quick break to get some fresh air and a peek at the Rittenhouse Square Farmers Market.  Like most hotel conference areas, the AC was on full blast at the Marriott, so it was nice to soak up some warmth and vitamin D (responsibly, obvi).  We returned just in time for the Rising Above Negativity session, presented by Brittany of Eating Bird Food,  Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers, Courtney of Sweet Tooth Sweet Life and Heather of Then Heather Said.  Though there is rarely much negativity On Tap (besides my own occasional grouching), it was interesting to hear the perspective of each presenter.

Heather had an especially great piece of advice with regard to leaving comments on others blogs.  I think her guidance rings true in any scenario, and really resonated with me.  Before you say something, she said, ask yourself these questions:

Is it kind?  Is it true?  Is it necessary?

–Heather, Then Heather Said

After a great lunch featuring vegetarian sandwiches on Great Harvest breads, mesclun salad and a quinoa chickpea salad that I have been dreaming about ever since, it was time for our Quaker Oats keynote featuring Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, CSSD, author of The Flexitarian Diet.  Dawn’s presentation on R.A.W. Blogging (Realistic & Achievable Wellness) was a conference highlight for me.  Though I have been a life-long vegetarian, I know that eating a meat-free diet is not practical (or attractive) for everyone.  I have a feeling her book might help me with cook more creative meals that both Nick and I will, can and want to eat.  I really like her “pro-plants, not anti-meat” approach, as well as her fresh, relate-able style.  A few interesting facts from the keynote:

  • In 2003, “flexitarian” was recognized as the most useful word in the English language (and here I thought that word would be no… maybe it had to be a new word?)
  • A flexitarian is different from a carnivore, because he or she intentionally minimizes their meat intake, and wakes up with the intention to be “more vegetarian”
  • Becoming a flexitarian is as simple as re-portioning your plate (increase the percentage of plant-based food), reinventing old favorites, and refreshing your recipe repertoire.  Clearly this woman knows her way around an alliteration.
  • Bean math!  If you’re making a recipe swap, 1 ounce of meat = 1/4 cup of beans.
  • Pairing an un-liked flavor with a liked flavor will increase the likelihood that you will develop an acceptance and enjoyment of the un-liked flavor; this is called Flavor-Flavor Learning (and should be endorsed by Flava Flav).
  • Similarly, bitter vegetables can be made more enjoyable by cooking, adding sweetness, or adding fat; this is called the De-Bitter Technique, or the “coffee principal.”  Dawn cited examples such as roasting vegetables, mixing greens with sweet potatoes (sweet, starch), and using sweet and sour sauce with stir fry vegetables (to add fat).
  • Vegetables can also be brightened (without adding salt) by using acids such as vinegar, citrus or yogurt.  Dawn’s example pairings included hummus and lemon juice and lentil soup topped with Greek yogurt.

I have pages and pages of notes from this presentation (including her starter grocery list and “10 ways to flex today”), but this post is already reaching Faulkner status.  In the afternoon, I attended two more sessions: Blogger Safety with Monica of Run Eat Repeat and Monetizing Your Blog (Without Selling Out) with social media guru Katy Widrick.

  • I just saw that Monica posted slides from her presentation, and that she is planning a webinar on the same topic.  Both would definitely be worth checking out, if you are interested.
  • If you’re looking to up your social media game, Katy is most definitely your lady.  I highly recommend spending hours on her site.

While I definitely learned a lot during each session, the best parts of the Summit happened out of the conference rooms.  I really enjoyed picking up the pace during my morning runs, exploring new turf, and laughing really, really hard.  Looking for a giggle yourself?  Here’s a gem from the blooper reel:

I’m quite proud of myself for taking advantage of the opportunities that I found exciting, while still making sure (to borrow a slide from the Rising Above Negativity presenters, and a quote from our beloved DJ Pauly D), I did me.  Pickles, Prosecco, Rocky steps and all.  Many thanks to Meghann, this weekend’s speakers, and everyone who made the Healthy Living Summit such a successful weekend.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?  Did you do you?

Today: Brotherly love for everyone.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]When our plane touched down in the land of the delta blues cheesesteaks and brotherly love, there were three things on my to do list:

  1. Find a ladies’ room
  2. Touch the Liberty Bell
  3. Run to the top of the steps, Rocky-style, at the Philadelphia Art Museum
One was easy, two was not allowed, and three was so fun that I did it twice.  But I’ll save that for later.

Well, thaaat's cute.

By sheer coincidence my Healthy Living Summit roommate and partner in crime, Bridget, was not only the same flight as me , she was seated just across the aisle.  After a 45 minute flight from Logan, we met Janetha at the baggage claim and tooted on over to our hotel.  Driving through the city, I pointed at every single old building and beautiful mural, exclaiming “Well, that’s cute!” as we passed.  I could immediately tell, this is my kind of city.

Save the clock tower.

After ditching our luggage, Bridget and I set out on a Philly Nerd Extravaganza.  Our first stop was the Reading Terminal Market, where we browsed through rows and rows of stalls that housed anything from lobsters and cookbooks to cupcakes and fresh produce.  There was so much to see, smell and devour.  Fellow Bostonians, we need to help make this public market thing happen.  After wandering for a bit, we settled on an early lunch at By George.
And then we set off in the direction of the Liberty Bell.  Ding!  Thanks to Bridget’s expert navigation, we reached Independence National Park and hopped in line.  We wandered through the exhibit hall, posed with Georgie, and touched a fake bell (the real deal is strictly you can look, but you can’t touch).
And then bam!  There it was, in all its cracked glory.

Let freedom ring.

We flocked across the street with our fellow American history nerds to Old City Hall, Independence Hall and Philosophical Hall.  Philosophical Hall was home to Of Elephants & Roses, a rather interesting exhibit of art and artifacts, including a mastodon tooth and an illustrated book on elephant… um… mating.  Later, we saw (with our own eyes) real, unsigned originals of the Constitution and the tomb of the unknown soldier.  It was all very National Treasure.
I was quite impressed with all the ground we covered before heading back to the hotel– stopping first for Belgian beers at Monk’s Cafe and secondly for Pennsylvania Dutch pickles.  Standard.  While we were busy getting gussied up for the evening, the Reading Terminal Market was getting its own makeover as the site of the Healthy Living Summit cocktail party.
I had a great time catching up with Ali, Tina, Anne, Halley and Stephanie and meeting Ashley, Kristi, Heather and so many others.  After such a full day, it seemed like I blinked (literally, see photo below) and it was time for bed.
Nice one, Elizabeth.

I might be blinking in this one, too. Thank goodness for the Eurkel glasses.

I brotherly loved every minute of my first day in Philly.
Also On Tap for Today:
If you could live during any period of history, which would it be?