Cool and Classy

Morning everyone! I went to another Farmer’s Market yesterday. This time, it was a market located at a Chicago train station. Overall, I was fairly underwhelmed by the market – or “French Farmer’s Market” as they were calling it. There were probably 20 stands at the most, plus no cheese stand. Still, it was fun to take the kids there for the first time. I had explained to Mr. C that we were going to a Farmer’s Market. When we arrived he said, “Mommy, this is a strange looking farm.” Yeah, and not a very good one at that!

I ended up buying 4 tomatoes for the salsa we made for our BBQ. It was $3 for 4 medium tomatoes – not bad. There just happened to be a Starbucks at the train station too…notice how big my smile is 😉

Although I was disappointed by the market, I was once again impressed by the freshness of the flowers. And, that they were giving away free ones! Ok, only to kids – but that means I snagged two flowers!

How funny is that sign!?

After the market, we got the house ready for our afternoon/evening guests, then hopped into the pool for the rest of the day. Dinner included pasta salad (healthy), homemade salsa with tortilla chips (healthy), corn on the cob (healthy), and Polish sausage (not so healthy). Well, 3 out of 4 isn’t bad! Oh yeah, and before dinner even started – we enjoyed some awesome appetizers – cheese and homemade sangria…

Classy and cool – and that’s all she wrote!

Leisurely Friday Breakfast

Very soon, my 4-day work week will be coming to an end. I have 6 more weeks, or until September 1, to enjoy having my Fridays off. It’s hard to complain too much about this. I’m actually surprised it lasted this long. But still, I will miss my consistent long weekends.

Ironically, this weekend I’m having an even longer weekend. I had off from work yesterday and Monday I’m taking a personal day. The kids will be home with me, but it will be hot, hot, hot! And ya’ll know what that means – POOL! Even my 5 year-old knows P-O-O-L! Seriously, it is sooo hot here, even as I’m writing this at 6:30 AM, that I had to go into the basement to cool off. And yes, we do have central air, but for some reason my husband turns it down (or is it up?) to make it warmer in the morning.

Anyway, after my awesome 5 1/2 mile run yesterday, I kept with my semi-tradition of having a leisurely breakfast on Fridays (oh, how I will miss those too). It just happened to a French Friday breakfast, where I enjoyed:

  • a mini croissant with Trader Joe’s raspberry jam with all-natural peanut butter for added protein
  • 1 cup of ice cold, juicy watermelon
  • 3/4 cup of blueberry yogurt with walnuts, again, for added protein

I’m never able to eat my entire breakfast when the kids are home. At least one, if not both of them, want to taste mommy’s breakfast. Even though they’ve already had their breakfast, somehow mommy’s looks and tastes so much better when she’s eating it.

Ok, as we say in these here parts – I have to get on my horse now. We’re heading to another local Farmer’s Market – the first one for the kids. Then we’re hosting a BBQ/pool day at our house. I have a feeling there will be drinking involved.

No, That's Not a Wild Animal On My Head

(Photo Source)

This morning I woke up extra early for my run to find it sprinkling outside. After about 30 minutes, it seemed to be clearing up so I laced up and headed outside. About 3 minutes into my run, it started to downpour. And in those 5 minutes (3 minutes out and 2 minutes back – since I was sprinting) I became a huge wet mess. I’m sure with my thick wavy hair, it must have looked like a complete mess!

I normally like running in the rain, but not in a downpour. It’s really hard to see with all of the rain in your face. So, I hopped on the treadmill for about a mile, then went back outside to test Mother Nature. Thankfully, it had completely stopped raining. I was completely soaked, but I managed to finish the last 4 miles of my 5 mile run. On my cool down, I walked by a woman from the neighborhood who walks every morning. She looked at my hair and just smiled – I’m assuming she understood my rain episode. No, that’s not a drowned animal on my head.

That’s me, muddy legs and all! I actually don’t look that muddy in the photo, but I had mud all over the front and back of my legs. I didn’t even realize I was that dirty until mud started dripping off of my legs on the floor. No rain in store until late Sunday night – yeah!

On another note, I realized about 1:30 PM that I had already consumed 1,200 calories for the day -OMG! I don’t count calories every day, but today I was making a mental calorie note and realized my huge intake. Between the Starbucks’ Frap, the potatoes and chocolate pastry from lunch – I nearly maxed out – ugh! I didn’t eat any thing else until I arrived home around 6:30. Ok, I may or may not have had a mini-Twix, but those are only like 45 calories 🙂

Everyone has a bad day when it comes to eating and calories. Today, was definitely a bad day. But really, how can any day be bad with a Starbucks in hand?

Eat, Drink, And Run

A woman at my office is a marathon runner and a triathlete. She often talks about the energy bars and gels she eats during her workouts and her races. This got me thinking about my eating habits while running.

I’m torn on this issue. As a personal trainer, it is part of my job to address the nutritional needs of clients and/or people I administer advice to. Yet, as a runner, I know what my body needs and doesn’t need. I have never been the type of runner who needs to eat before a run or even during a run. The thought of eating during a run actually makes me a little nauseous – anyone else? I think my no eating while running mindset is spurred by the idea that I’m not really a competitive runner anymore. Although I still run 5K’s and 10K’s, I still don’t feel the need to eat during the runs.

Putting my personal trainer hat back on – here’s my take on eating and running. Obviously, if you’re a competitive runner, eating for performance is key. But for new or noncompetitive runners, there are just a few basic eat and run principles to consider:

Principles of Eating and Running

Before Your Run:  If you’re a morning runner, who’s out the door before breakfast, you may want to grab a little nourishment before you’re workout. Don’t eat too much or you’ll risk cramping or even nausea. Have a 100-150 calorie snack that has some form of carbohydrates, such as a ½ cup of oatmeal, a small banana, or half a power bar. Drinking a few ounces of water prior to running is also a good idea. Resist gulping or else you may feel waterlogged even before you start your run. For afternoon or evening runners, avoid eating a heavy meal prior to running. Schedule your run in between lunch and dinner, or 1-2 hours after dinner. Remember, there are plenty of runners who CAN run on an empty stomach with no problem (yours truly included), but eating a little something beforehand is also fine.

During Your Run – The rule of thumb is – runners really do not need to eat during a run unless they run 60 minutes or more. Our bodies have stored glycogen (our energy source) that can help us through the sub-hour runs. If you plan a run that is 1+ hours, take an energy gel or a small box of raisins for refueling along the way. For long runs, staying hydrated is also key so remember to drink your water – at least a few sips every 15 minutes!

After Your Run – After a long/hard run, aim to eat within 30-45 minutes of ending your workout. This will help prevent your blood sugar levels from dipping too low. Aim for 200-400 calories that includes protein and carbs. My post-run snacks are often Greek yogurt, protein bar, peanut butter, Kashi cereal, etc., Also, drink plenty of water after your run and throughout the day to rehydrate!

Eat, drink, and run well.

Closing Down the Bar with Banoffee Pie

Bonjour everyone and Happy Bastille Day! If you’re not sure what Bastille Day is, it’s the French Independence Day. Celebrating Bastille Day in the US is easy – just do something French! At the very least, you could order a French café and listen to French music on Pandora 🙂

Last night after work, I met my sister-in-law and mother-in-law for dinner at a fabulous local winery – Cooper’s Hawk. Although located in the Midwest Cooper’s Hawk makes all of their wines and has designed their restaurant and tasting room to have the same look and feel of a traditional winery – dark colors, wood floors, and walls of wine…

They have sooo many wines to choose from but I went with my standard – a fruity chardonnay which was just lovely – very cool and crisp, which was perfect because I was sitting directly in the sun! For dinner, I had the penne in a lemon cream sauce with asparagus and chicken – plus I added a little spinach for more veggies…

‘Twas delicious! But with such a huge portion, there was no way I could finish it all! When dessert came around, I contemplated skipping it because I was fairly full. But I had checked out the menu ahead of time and noticed they had Banoffee pie on the menu – I’ve never had it and it sounded SO good! It is seriously the first time I have EVER seen it on a menu – anywhere! We decided on the pie and a peanut butter ice cream cookie. The pie, which is a mix of toffee and banana, was amazing! It really gives my current favorite pie – banana cream – a run for it’s money.

Overall, we spent 3 1/2 hours eating and chatting. Some would even say we closed down the restaurant, which is probably easier to do on a Tuesday night. What a perfect way to spend a summer evening. Can’t wait for the next girls night out!

Photo Breakfast

Fresh off of my 5.5 mile morning run, I decided to have a little fun and take a few pics of myself before work. I’m not really in to taking pictures of myself because I don’t think I’m very photogenic. Then again, we are our own worst critics. All of the photos were taken on my back deck overlooking our many gardens. The photos were also taken sans shampoo, as I don’t like to shampoo my hair everyday. My hair is dry enough and shampooing it everyday just makes it worse!

I am trying very hard not to wear black in the summer, but it just seems like when I do wear black or dark blue/brown, that’s when I take the best photos. I wonder if there’s such a thing as “summer black”, like summer white?

Before breakfast, I took a walk around the veggie garden to see if any critters had stolen more of the goods – no sign of activity, all of the peppers are there, safe and sound. And so I made a lovely bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch (1/2 cup) and plopped about 1 cup worth of strawberries and raspberries right on top. Perfect for a warm summer morning!

I just love how the red berries just pop out of the picture!

And yes, here is me in my natural habitat – eating. Damn – I wish I would have put our fancy chair cushions out, it would have look so much nicer – blah!

Notice how the light just happens to shine right on my cleavage. My husband obviously took this photo and apparently he had an agenda.

I’m off to work – have a great day everyone!

Vacation Dreaming…

I am back at work after 10 days of vacation. And, what am I doing? I am sitting at my desk thinking about when I’ll be able to take my next vacation!

On the first day of my vacation, I mentioned that there were several things I wanted to do, including:

  1. Spending time in our pool with a frozen drink – I did spend a LOT of time by the pool which was extremely refreshing. And, I did have one or two frozen drinks, but who’s really counting?
  2. Shop at my own leisurely pace – I did shop at my own pace, which is just heavenly when I’m used to carting around 2 impatient kids
  3. Trying a new restaurant sans kids – Scott and I did meet for lunch one day, although it was at Wildfire, a restaurant we’ve been to several times.
  4. Attending my first Hot Yoga class – Didn’t make it to hot yoga, but I did attend a fantastic hatha yoga class on Saturday!
  5. Going to Great America with the kids – We did do this and it was so much fun! Makes me want to go back to Disney, hence the vacation dreaming….
  6. Eating tart frozen yogurt – I’m bummed I didn’t get to do this. It’s on my list for this weekend though!
  7. See Letters to Juliet before it leaves the theatre – I didn’t get to the movies at all. Letters to Juliet has been out for a while so it was very hard to find an accommodating show time that was near my house. Ugh – guess I’ll wait for the video!

Now, I am really looking forward to the Healthy Living Summit – it’s just a few weeks away!

OK, back to work for me…

Vegetable Garden Conundrum

Today is the last day of my vacation – ugh! I have been away from work for 10 days (including weekends) and it felt sooo nice to be away from work! To celebrate my last day of vacation, I went for an awesome 6-mile run and then hopped in the pool with the kids!

After lunch, I enjoyed a little Conundrum wine with Scott and his parents on our deck. The white wine is a mix between Pinto Grigio and Chardonnay (I think!) – very nice on a summer afternoon. And how appropro, considering it says right on the bottle that the wine is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon by the pool…

I really needed the wine to help me with what was in store later in the day. Before dinner, I headed back into our vegetable garden to set up a new fencing system. We’ve already had two of our baby green peppers “stolen” by bandit critters. No one takes my vegetables with out a fight! I set up a wrap-around flower bed fence and then added screening wire to keep out the pests. Hope this works – otherwise the guy at Home Depot said to try deer and rabbit repellant – that just doesn’t sound good.

One thing is for sure – whatever is eating our green bell peppers is staying away from our jalapeno peppers – if it’s too hot for you, stay out of my garden! At least they did not eat my first cucumber…

Yeah for fresh veggies picked straight from the garden! See you all tomorrow 🙂

The Bible of Berries

For the past week, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with all of the wild mulberries and blackberries I’ve picked near my house. Yesterday morning, after an awesome yoga session, I added a heaping cup of blackberries and mulberries to a bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch (about 16 g of fiber total!), plus a handful of blueberries and strawberries. So yum! My kids were even asking for bites of my berry cereal bowl!

Even after my cereal, I easily have a full cup of mulberries left. Ironically, about 2 weeks ago, I received a complimentary copy of The Berry Bible in the mail. Apparently, this book has been out for a few years but this is the 2010 version. The Berry Bible is just that – a bible for all things berry! It has the lowdown on all of the popular berries, like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. But it also covers the more obscure berries like huckleberries, lingonberries, and mulberries!

And the book tells you just about everything you need to know about berries, like when and how to pick them, how to wash and freeze them, recipes for making them into jam, pies, jellies, smoothies, etc. I only wish the book would have included pictures of the berries. I had to use the internet to find out what many of these berries look like. Overall, this book is definitely a keeper, especially if you eat berries as much as I do.

So what did I decide to do with my mulberries? I don’t really have enough to make jam – you need a few cups to do that. So, aside from eating them on my cereal (as pictured above), oatmeal, and on ice cream, the book says that I can freeze them – and that’s what I plan to do with whatever is left today!

Wavepools, Sunburns, and Migraines, Oh My!

(Photo source)

Yesterday, I spent most of the day at Six Flags Great America in its water park. Since I’m technically on vacation, I tried to make this excursion into a relaxing day away from home.

When you really think about it, there’s practically no way to relax at a water park when you have a 2 and 5 year old in tow. I spent most of my time chasing after my little one, walking up and own countless flights of stairs to the slides, and fighting back the waves. For five hours, I was nearly completely drenched from a combination of the wave pool/slides and the intermittent sun showers. Thank goodness it was so HOT, otherwise I would have been freezing!! Yet, somehow seeing the kids laughing and playing, and hearing them shout over and over “look at me mommy” made it all worth it.

After a very long day, I went to bed with a migraine then woke up with a nasty sunburn. Yes, I did apply 30 sunblock, but I omitted to apply enough on my back – not a good move. I also felt slightly hungover (sans alcohol) and as if I had run a 1/2 marathon. I was so sore I actually took tylenol and had to cut my run down to 4 miles – that was all I could do! Plus, it was at least 80 degrees when I went out for my run. And, as my former running coach (who happened to coach the national women’s running team in the 70s) used to say, heat is a sprinter’s best friend and a distance runner’s worst enemy. He wasn’t joking either!

Sunburn + Morning heat + Sore muscles = Lousy run.

Even after getting ready for the day and taking the kids to daycare, I still felt “off” and even a little sick. I was hoping a little retail therapy at the Gap and Banana Republic would help, but I could only walk around for about an hour before I had to head back home – now that’s telling you something! I ended up getting a quick burst of energy later in the afternoon so I was off for a 40 minute walk. And along the way, I picked more mulberries! I really have to find an easy recipe for raspberry/mulberry jam – any suggestions?? I have about 1 1/2 cups and I don’t want them to go to waste!

For all of you who are counting – only 3 more vacation days left! I better get movin’ if I want do maximize my time off!