Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Weekly Workout Highlight

Happy Hump day everyone!

Even though this winter is draaaaggin on, I hope you all are having a good week so far!

Today began with a hot cup of coffee and a mug of oatmeal. Ever since college, 75% of what I eat is always placed in a cup or mug. It works though since its the perfect size for things like oatmeal, soup, and yogurt.


This morning's trip to the gym started with a 20-min. tredmill run followed by an upper-body lifting session. I can't wait for warmer weather (and for all this snow to melt) so I can start running outside again! Come on Spring, step it up!

I tried a new upper-body workout that popped up in my email a couple days ago. I have the MapMyRun app on my phone and get their weekly workout summaries sent to my email. In this week's summary there was also a link for an Ultimate Pre-date Workout. It looked like a pretty well-rounded upper-body routine so I thought I'd give it a try today.

Here's what it looked like:

I decided to swap out the chin-up hold for some assisted dips and added a reverse fly as well to add some extra work for my back. I didn't complete Circuit D since I ran earlier, but I was pretty wiped out by the end of the third super-set. I'll definitely be using this routine again!


I haven't done a recipe review on here in a while so I've picked out a few that I'd like to try my hand at. i'd love to hear what you think though so here's what I'm thinking and leave your votes in the comments. I'll review the recipe this weekend!

Here are your choices:

No-bake 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Bars

If you couldn't tell, and don't know me… I have a peanut butter, almond butter, ALL nut butter obsession!

Looking forward to seeing what you all choose :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What's in Your Gym Bag?

Hey there friends! Hope you're all having a good Tuesday! From what I heard yesterday (and from my own experience) Monday was not an awesome day for people. Good thing that's over with.

Today started off with a Blueberry Cheesecake Protein Shake and a trip to the gym. I've been trying to have more smoothies/shakes for breakfast lately since its an easy way for me to sneak in fruits and veggies, but its quite a challenge with cold weather. However, today's smoothie was delicious so I didn't mind the cold start to the day too much.

Today's workout was a training run and a lifting session focusing on my legs. I'm training for my second half marathon, part of the Flying Pig series, and have a plan I've followed for just about all of my major races. Today the schedule planned for a 3.5 mile run and I decided to add the lifting portion since I haven't been getting many sessions in with weights lately. If you know me and my workout routines, you know I'm a cardio junkie.

I felt really good with the run before completing a 15 minute Nike Training Club routine. I need to use that app more often because I really like the way the routines are set-up. I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with planning their own workouts. This app takes out a lot of the stress.

So today's workout looked a little like this:

I changed out the drop squat jumps for squats with a medicine ball since my legs were still recovering from my run. Fair enough, right?

When I finished up I grabbed my stuff for the locker room and had to dig around in my gym bag for my keys. Which brings us to today's topic. What's in your gym bag? I saw this idea for a blog post on Sunday and it popped into my head while I was hunting for my keys this morning.

Here's what mine usually includes:

  • Gym/ running shoes- I have to wear boots just about everywhere I go up here because of the cold and snow. Boo.
  • Foam roller: It was a Christmas present and I LOVE it! I need to use it more to be honest. So I've started to take it with me hoping I'll use it more and more.
  • Gloves: warm heart, cooooold hands, haha.
  • Armband and earbuds 
  • Wallet

  • One side pouch has beauty products for a quick fix- Suave dry shampoo, lint brush, travel deodorant, lotion, hand sanitizer, and Simple facial wipes.
  • On the other side I keep workout routines from magazines, my lock, and a note my mom hid in my bag one day at the gym. It reminds me that just by going and taking time to exercise I'm succeeding, even when I'm having an off day.

So now it's your turn... what's in your bag??

Monday, February 24, 2014

Make it Monday: The Birthday Edition

Wow! It has been way too long since I've updated anything around here. Life got pretty hectic there for a while!

I am so happy to be back to blogging though! And I've very excited to share the latest edition of "Make it Monday" with you all!

This latest creation was partially inspired by Pinterest and partially by my sister who just celebrated her birthday this weekend! Woo hoo! My sister is a big fan of crafty things as well as a big fan of wine. She usually plans some pretty unique birthday celebrations as well. One year, she asked all of her friends to bring a wine that somehow reminded them of her (I wish I had this idea first!). Afterwards, she used the empty bottles as display pieces on top of her kitchen cabinets. This year, she planed an Olympic themed party complete with events and strongly encouraged costumes. I was so bummed I missed it!

I wanted to celebrate my sister in a way that she would really enjoy. I knew I wanted to do something wine related, so I went to Pinterest and started searching around. I decided I would make a chalkboard wine bottle vase.

Here's how the project went down:

First I popped over to Plaza Arts to buy some chalkboard spray paint. I went with the Krylon brand and made sure it was black and not green! I also picked up a bottle of Cupcake's Cabernet Sauvignon (one of my sister's favorite types of wine).

Step 1: Peel the label off the bottle so the paint goes on smoothly.

 Step 2: Spray 2-3 coats of pain on clean bottle. Make sure you do this somewhere you don't mind getting spray paint or lay down EXTRA newspaper... I under-estimated the power of the nozzle and spent about an hour scrubbing and praying the paint off of my mom's porch.

Step 3: Grab some chalk and get crafty... or so I thought. I waited a day before I wrote on the surface of the bottle. It's been my experience that I get too excited when I'm making something and end up messing up a base coat because it wasn't completely dry. I did not want to have that problem this time so I made sure to wait well past the recommended hour or so listed on the bottle. 

Two things I learned while doing this: first, just because a can of spray paint says "chalkboard" on it does not automatically mean that you'll end up with a matte finish. Secondly, just because a can of spray paint says "chalkboard" on it does NOT mean chalk will work on it. What?!?

I was pretty bummed out when I went to write on the bottle. The chalk did not show up what so ever. And to make matters worse, some of the letters etched their way into the paint, scraping it up as I wrote. 

Luckily, my oldest and all-knowing art-genius sister, suggested some pastels she had on hand. They worked, but smudged very easily and still a little hard to see.

The quote is one I found on my sister's Pinterest board that read "Success is liking who you are, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." It's a Maya Angelou quote and I thought it was so perfect for my sister! It fits her confident personality, her background in Literature, and celebrates who she is and how she lives her life. 

While I wasn't thrilled with the ribbon selection for the bow (I think of these ideas way too last-minute to pull off a perfect execution), I was satisfied with the overall project. I like that my sister can enjoy her wine and then draw or write anything (as long as she uses pastels!) on the bottle and reuse it as a vase.

Cheers to the birthday girl!

Disclaimer: If you are inspired by this creation PLEASE consult more websites or crafting manuals before creating your own. I am a "big-picture" person and tend to miss very important minor details. I would hate to ruin something you are excited about because of an oversight on my part. 

P.S. If you do try your hand at this idea and have more success than I do, please leave any suggestions, tips, obvious details I overlooked in the comment section so I can give it another go! Thanks!

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Different Kind of Make It Monday

Good Morning everyone! I hope you all had a wonderfully relaxing weekend and are staying warm in this extra chilly weather. The colder it gets the more I want to stay in bed with a cup of coffee and a good book or movie.

Instead of staying in bed though, I woke up early to start a week of subbing for middle school art classes. While I'm not the most artistically inclined person, I'm really excited for this week. One of the projects I'll be helping the students with is a reverse glass painting. I found a photo on Pinterest that I want to hang so I decided to use it for the base of this project.

I've really enjoyed working with the students instead of just moderating them. It makes me focus on using all those silly things I learned in Grad school, which will really help when I start teaching full time. It also makes the day so much more enjoyable!

While I was working with one of my classes some of the girls helped me get caught up on their project. So far I have the first two steps of the project complete and am ready to transfer my design to glass.

The lettering was a little difficult at first. Because I'm painting on the backside of the glass, I had to make sure I reversed the letters so it would read correctly when I hang it.

I'll keep you guys posted with how it goes! I'm really excited to see the finished project and hang it, letting the light shine through! If you have any tips about painting on glass, send them my way (anything to help me look good, haha!)

What have you made lately or feel inspired to make? Pictures welcome and encouraged!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Make It Monday: Round 2

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you're all relaxing and enjoying the long weekend.

Today's creation was inspired by, of course, Pinterest. I have so many recipes on there that I want to try I had a bit of a hard time choosing. However, a friend of mine made the request of more "whisking" for the blog so I wanted to make sure that was part of today's post. Here we go!

I chose a Blueberry Almond Flour Muffin recipe that I had pinned about a month ago. I've been playing around with the Paleo Diet lately and I thought this would be a nice go-to recipe on hand. Plus, I already had the almond flour and needed a recipe to help finish it off. 

This recipe comes from the blog Uncreatively Conscientious. I was very happy to see that most of the ingredients are basic pantry staples. It also included a recipe for both blueberry or strawberry muffins, which I thought was helpful as well. Here's the recipe I used:

Blueberry Almond Flour Muffins: From Uncreatively Conscientious

2 C          almond flour
3              eggs
1 1/2 Tbs  brown sugar
1/2 tsp      baking soda
1 Tbs        apple cider vinegar
dash        salt
1 tsp       vanilla
1/4 C      overripe banana, mushed (about half a medium banana)
2 Tbs      applesauce (unsweetened)
1 C         blueberries (fresh or frozen)

I didn't have any applesauce on hand so I substituted greek yogurt instead. 

It was so hard for me to wait for them to cool down. The kitchen smelled amazing and I was forcing myself to keep busy until they were just warm enough. The texture was perfect! They hadn't dried out while baking, which is something that I noticed happens when using almond meal/flour. The only change I might make to this recipe is to add some lemon zest. They just needed a little something more and I think that would really bring out the flavor of the blueberries. Although, I may just want to add lemon because that's what I grew up with. My mom makes incredible lemon blueberry muffins! They don't last long, because they're just too good not to inhale.

I couldn't wait to enjoy one with a mug of coffee! I kept the "berry" theme going and brewed a pot of La Crema Coffee Co.'s Blackberry coffee. It's absolutely delicious and just enough sweetness for me. Definitely was the best choice I made to start my day :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Weekly Workout Highlight

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Now that the polar vortex has passed, I hope you all have thawed out and are looking forward to the upcoming weekend!

As I mentioned in my last post, I want to start highlighting different workouts each week. For my first workout review, I guess we can call it, I'm focusing on a new DVD I actually received for Christmas.

I come from a pretty large family. My Dad is one of eight so needless to say we have a lot of people to celebrate the holidays with. Every Christmas we have a gift exchange that I always look forward to! It's very similar to a Secret Santa. Each person writes down three things they would like for Christmas that are under $25. This year my cousin picked my name and I was absolutely THRILLED to receive the great gifts she put together for me. One of the gifts I was given was the Jillian Michaels' Shed and Shred DVD. I am a HUGE Jillian Michaels fan so I was pretty pumped to try one of her workouts.

SoI was finally able to try the DVD this morning and here's what I think :

If I know anything about Jillian Michales it's that she doesn't mess around! This workout completely follows suit! I was well prepared to sweat it out this morning, but I didn't know just how quickly I'd feel the burn, haha. There are so many great things about this workout: you choose how long you workout for, a half hour or an hour long routine. She includes a warm-up and cool-down (something I definitely need to work on including when I hit the gym). My favorite thing about the DVD though is that there is never a dull moment. She includes everything from cardio intervals to kickboxing to yoga to weight training. I wasn't able to complete the full hour and a half workout, but I was definitely sweating like crazy by the end of my 45 minute session.

I can't wait to try the DVD again, after I recover from today's shred session! If you have any workout routine suggestions please leave a comment. I'm always trying to switch things up!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Make It Monday- First Edition

Good morning everyone!  Hope you're all staying warm and safe this chilly morning.

As part of my New Year resolution, I'd like to start adding some regularly themed posts to this blog. Each Monday will focus a recipe or craft that I've found and attempted. The goal here is to start taking advantage of the many wonderful things I find and want to recreate. I'm also hoping to feature a weekly workout on Wednesday. I've been trying out so many different workouts and would like to share my thoughts on them for my own review and to help out anyone who's looking for a new routine. Lately I've heard a lot of people asking about how to stay motivated while working out. I tend to stay more interested in keeping up with my fitness routine by switching it up (however, with this weather, even that approach is losing its appeal)! I'm most excited about my plans for my Friday posts. I would like to start featuring a friend who has made fitness a new priority in their life every Friday. If you would like to nominate some one please feel free to leave a comment!

So for today I'd like to focus on a new smoothie recipe I tried yesterday.

I found this recipe for a Pear Berry Weight-Loss Smoothie on FitSugar a while ago and have been wanting to try it out. I varied the recipe just a tad though since I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand.

This is what I tossed into my blender:

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla Silk Soy Milk
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 med. pear, chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup Chobani vanilla non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground flaxseed

I was very surprised with how much this recipe made. I probably could have split it into two servings, but I was trying to follow the FitSugar recipe as closely as I could. I think my favorite part about this smoothie was the tangy taste of the raspberries. They helped reduce the sweetness of the milk, yogurt, and pear, which gave it a great flavor. I think if I would have had a kiwi on hand that would have been a great addition as well.

I definitely want to try this recipe again, but I may make a few minor changes. I wasn't thrilled with using a whole pear in the smoothie (it took up a lot of room in my blender) so I think I may just use half of one next time. I'm still not sure about using an avocado in my smoothies either. I really like to use milk to make a smoothie creamy since I have a hard time getting enough calcium and I don't know if I'd like the texture of the smoothie with the avocado in it.

If you try the recipe or use your own adaptation of it please let me know what you think!

The rest of this chilly day will be spent trying out a Jillian Michaels' DVD I received for Christmas before braving the cold to head to work and run errands.

Stay warm and cozy today!