Lemon Ginger Echinaca Juice = Comfort in a Cup

erWhenever I’m in Trader Joe’s, I pretty much end up buying anything they give out as a free sample. Genius marketing really, giving out samples of delicious, healthy foods and beverages that sell at affordable prices. Why didn’t I think of this?!

Normally when food shopping, I try to be good and stick to “the list” (at least when I remember to make “the list”. Or when I actually remember to bring the dang list to the store with me). This list rule works just fine at most places. It’s not very often I walk into one of the large local grocery stores around here and get blown away by some amazing products they are offering. I’m usually blown away if the meat doesn’t expire well before the sell by date….

Trader Joe’s is a different story. I go in each time excited about what new experience I will have and what new discoveries I will make. Today, Ross and I discovered Trader Joe’s Lemon Ginger Echinacea juice. I’m not even a juice person (I’d rather eat a piece of fruit, feel fuller and consume less sugar and artificial flavoring), but there is something special about this beverage! Similar to apple cider, I’m told it’s good hot or cold (I’ve only had it hot, and probably only will!) It tastes more like a tea than a juice (and since ginger tea is a main ingredient, this makes sense). The spicy ginger, zesty lemon and soothing honey are the perfect winter warming combo. Since apparently everyone and their mother currently has the flu right now, I think we can appreciate the health benefits of echinacea.

Echinacea aside, if you’re looking for a fitness drink, this isn’t it. It’s more of a cozy treat to help get you through the long winter months and the even longer colds that we often suffer during these months. If you’re already getting a little tired of the hot cocoa and herbal teas you’ve been drinking all season, I definitely recommend giving this a try! If you’re feeling extra ambitious you could even add whiskey and concoct your own Hot Toddy recipe using this.

LGE Juice

He put a ring on it, now what? Thoughts on working out with your engagment ring on

Fact: I didn’t go to the gym for a whole 2 weeks after Ross and I got engaged. Some of that was due to the champagne consumption and celebrations that ensued post-engagment, but some of it was just dealing with the logistics of what I would do with my engagement ring while I worked out.

I have no problem running with my ring on, but I really don’t like the idea of it getting scraped up or damaged on dirty barbells. I also really don’t like to take it off. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, and when I do I’ve been known to lose plenty of it by taking it off in bathrooms/locker rooms. Luckily everything I’ve lost was either cheap or given to me by ex-boyfriends (or most likely, all of the above ;)), so it was never completely devastating.

Losing this ring or having it stolen would be devastating- and the idea of leaving it in a bag or locker somewhere just doesn’t sit well with me. So, I’ve been wearing my engagement ring during my workouts, but not on my hand. I’ve been wearing it as a necklace. This allows me to still have the ring in my possession during workouts, and let’s face it, since I’m pretty vain constantly watching my form in the mirror to make sure it’s correct, I can even see the ring the whole time. This has been working pretty well for me so I thought I would share, just in case anyone else newly engaged is having similar issues and avoiding the gym like I did at first! This is assuming you actually want to work out of course, if you don’t, not wanting to work out with your ring on is a great excuse, FYI!

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Bicep

Do you wear your rings during workouts? Do you have any other tips or tricks to share about working out with your engagement ring/wedding band on?

Wicked Frosty Four – A New New Year’s Tradition!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great time ringing in 2013. I think Ross and I started a new tradition- running a New Year’s Day Road race! We woke up early this morning and drove to Salem to run the annual Wicked Frosty Four. We’ve done road races celebrating a lot of different holidays (Turkey trots, Jingle Bell Runs, Leprechaun leaps, etc.) so why not New Years? I couldn’t think of a much better way to start off a year than running outside in the freezing cold sunshine with about 800 other crazy  fun runners.

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The course was beautiful; it was very flat and it took us through cute sides streets in Salem and along the coast (although it was hard to fully appreciate the beauty of the winter beaches as the wind whipped sand in our eyes). Ross has been a bit under the weather lately, so we weren’t trying to PR, but our friend Caleb did (ie he left us in the dust!). Granted, it was his first race so anything would have been a PR, but I think we’ve converted a new runner!

Burger

Diet

Post race, we headed back to Tavern in the Square for a burger and beer breakfast. I’ll work on that healthy eating New Year’s resolution thing later 😉

New Year’s Day races probably aren’t for everyone, but I absolutely loved it. I also loved how knowing I had a race in the morning actually helped keep me refrain from overindulging on NYE. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a lot of fun. Similar to last year, we got all dressed up and stayed in  playing games with great company. Unlike last year though, we didn’t stay in all night! At about 10 to midnight we decided to bundle up  and walk (or ice skate, given the condition of the roads) to the Bunker Hill Monument and watch the fireworks over Boston Harbor! We certainly didn’t need to worry about our champagne staying chilled 🙂

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My 2013 goals are to work on organization (work/life/home) and try to enjoy a little more down time. 2012 was a really busy year, which was great, but sometimes being too busy makes it to easy to lose sight of what’s really important. Some days seem to go by slow (hello Monday, I’m looking at you), but the years go by so fast.

I saw a quote on someone’s shirt at the race today that said “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” Like everything in life, to complete something and reach a goal, you simply need to begin. It’s all downhill from there. To kick start my process I’m doing a little vision board project and I’ve subscribed to Real Simple magazine.

Did you make any resolutions or set any goals this year? If so, what are your first steps to achieving them?

Happy New Year!
NewYear

Monday – 1. Me – 0.

You win Monday. You win. I really had good intentions of having a good day. I sang along to Christmas tunes during my morning commute in the rain, had my workout planned out and packed a healthy lunch.
Then Monday kicked my ass. A lot of last minute urgent stuff came up at work, I didn’t get to the gym I didn’t even eat my grilled chicken and quinoa but instead mindlessly snacked on yogurt and chocolate during the day. I guess I needed the sugar high overdose to get me through the day?
Somehow I did make it though. I sang along to more Christmas music on the rainy commute home, ran a few miles outside with Mango and heated up the chili I made yesterday to enjoy during Monday night football tonight.

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So today sucked in a lot of ways, but it’s not all bad. Days like this make it easy to want to just complain, be miserable and keep the bad mood going further into the week, but you see that is exactly what Monday wants. Don’t give in to that!

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Feeling Festive

ABC Family’s 24 Days of Christmas has invaded our home and our lives. Once you start with the cheesy holiday movies it’s impossible to stop. I feel like I’ve been in the house watching movies and baking holiday cookies for eternity and there is still a few more weeks to go! We did however manage to break away from the holiday movie watching and decorating a bit this weekend:

Friday night Ross and I drove up to Gloucester after work to attend a fundraising event for a friend who is currently battling a rare form of cancer. It was really amazing to see the whole community come together for such a great cause. I have not lived on Cape Ann for about 10 years now, but this weekend I felt very proud to call it “home”.

The weather Saturday just made me want to crawl under a blanket and stay there until July. Snow in December? Bring it on. Cold wet rain? Blah! We had breakfast out with my sister, bro-in-law and niece.

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After a Bloody Mary (pictured above) Ross was able to convince me to venture out in the cold wet woods to cut branches from pine trees to make garland. While pine trees seem to be everywhere when you aren’t looking for them, they are pretty scarce when you are. We had to hike all the way to the North Pole,  it took awhile but we collected enough pine just before the frost bite set is.

Pine tree branches + green wire = really pretty looking (and smelling!) garland.

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Back in Boston this morning we had an incredible treat… An authentic Costa Rican breakfast with some other gringos who have lived/taught there. I have been pretty homesick for CR lately and it’s amazing how much some gallo pinto, mucho cafe and shared memories can help.

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Can’t forget the Chikys!

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I’m ending this weekend full and happy. Let the holiday movie marathon commence!

Weekend Update

Hey Sunday! You came fast. I hope everyone has been enjoying the weekend- it’s be sun filled and mild here in Boston. The boys and I spent another weekend at home, we are usually all over the place on weekends, but lately I’ve just been too tired by the end of the work week to get up and out. How bad is that? I blame the commute and the change of seasons. Mostly the commute. (the bad weather and daylight savings have not been helping my already long daily drive). Do you have a long commute?  This is how I’m dealing with it:

Yeah. So anyway…

Friday I got home around 7pm after sitting in traffic, nearly in tears and tried to convince Ross we should rush to catch the 8pm yoga class we had planned to attend. Ross, knowing me better than I know myself, realized that the best thing for me to do would be to immediately get into sweatpants, have a glass of white wine at watch 90s movies and pass out at 11pm.

Good call Ross! I woke up early Saturday morning feeling much better! We took Mango for a walk, went to a 9:30 am hot yoga class at Prana, stopped at Starbucks (I got a feta spinach wrap and grande coffee with 1 peppermint shot and skim milk. This drink is almost as good as the Peppermint Mocha latte, for less calories and $$$) then did some grocery shopping for the week at Trader Joes.

Saturday night we went to dinner and a movie. How original are we? Dinner was at Stoddards. I’ve been there for drinks before but never for food. I was surprised that almost all the dinner tables were taken at 5pm! Ross absolutely loved his burger and french fries, and I was pretty happy with my vegetarian pot pie with root vegetables (and half of Ross’ french fries). As I recall, the cocktails here are amazing, but since we had a movie to catch (and stay awake for) we both choose an IPA from their extensive beer list. After dinner, we saw Argo. Great movie! Not my favorite of all time, but very interesting and suspenseful. We spent the rest of the night discussing our conspiracy theories about the CIA, as well as conspiracy theories about the sodium content in movie theater popcorn  🙂 It’s been awhile since we had a date night, I think they are important  for our relationship and something that we should be better about doing weekly or at least bi-weekly.

This morning I made multi-grain pancakes with fruit for breakfast, and as a result have been super hungry all day. I love pancakes, and while the idea of a pancake breakfast makes me happy, it never fills me up for long. Perhaps it’s the lack of protein? Next time I’m going to try something like this this recipe from Men’s Health.

But for today, back to the carbs! I went for a post-pancake  2 mile run (I had scheduled a 6 mile run this weekend, but it just didn’t happen.)  A little later, our friend Scott came over for football, pizza and beer. I partook in the pizza and beer, but chose to do some blogging/ researching DIY Christmas gift ideas on Pinterest in lieu of actually paying attention to the game today. Priorities.

What are you up to for the remainder of your weekend!?

What I’m grateful for (it might surprise you)

I was walking down Newbury Street in Boston the other day and got a kick out of this sign:

“Go away, this is my month!”

In all actuality, I doubt the turkey would really mind skipping over the Thanksgiving holiday. However, if this is a suicidal turkey, instead of yelling at Santa, I think he needs to have a little one-on-one with Mother Nature. There’s nothing like a pre-winter snowstorm to get you in the holiday spirit prematurely.I just love the holiday season, and don’t mind spreading it out and making it last a little longer, but like everything it’s good in moderation. For instance, I currently have the Christmas station on Pandora included in my shuffle playlist. I’ve decided I’ll wait until Dec. 1 to go all out Christmas Carols. All the time.

Ross and I spotted this sign this past weekend, while enjoying a beautiful fall day downtown Boston:

And one lucky birthday girl (meeee!) was treated to some new LuLuLemon pants! Ross had originally picked out a workout coat for me, and bought it in my usual size yet somehow it was too small. I blame LuLu sizing and not the Peppermint Mocha Lattes (can’t resist those red cups!) Their clothes are so good though, I would still by them even if I was a size 60.

So I exchanged the too small coat for perfect fittings pants, and they will be put to good use since I’m back into the workouts full force!

I unfortunately had to take nearly 3 months off of doing yoga and running, two of the things I love most! Not due to a workout related injury, but to a freckle of all things!

About a year ago, I noticed a dark, almost black shiny small freckle/mole on the back of my right hamstring. It wasn’t big, or ugly (in fact some people I showed called it a beauty mark), it didn’t itch or bleed, it was flat and perfectly symmetrical. Even WebMD (which usually makes me sure I’m dying with runny nose symptoms alone) didn’t seem to think this particular mole was bad. Regardless, it bothered me for some reason
and I decided to go see a dermatologist- and I’m SO glad I did.

Visit #1- The derm looked at it and agreed the color was suspicious (darker than my other freckles). Since it was so small it made more sense to remove the whole thing rather than taking a piece for biopsy, so I reluctantly scheduled the appointment for the excision.

Visit #2- It only took about 20 minutes for the excision to be completed. They numbed my leg and luckily I got to lie on my stomach and play with the iPad my very generous co-worker allowed me to borrow during the procedure. 2 stitches, and 3 weeks recovery 😦 I guess this is not always the case, but my suture was in a bad spot right on my hamstring, and moving it too much in either direction hurt a lot. My derm told me he was going on vacation for two weeks and he’d call me after with the results.

Visit #3- Saw the Derm’s assistant to get the stitches out, it only took a few minutes and felt so nice not to have those damn things itching my leg for a change! I could finally not wear a band aid (the sticky part of the band aid was causing a terrible rash around my scar). I was only about 1 week away from *finally* getting to run/yoga again!

About 2 1/2 weeks after my 2nd visit I got the call with the results. The good news? I did not have cancer! The bad news? I had pre-cancer. Say what? Pre-Melanoma. I’d never even heard of pre-cancer (melanoma-in-situ), and didn’t quite know what to think until I heard the doctor telling me we would have to do another surgery to remove more. About 5X more. I basically broke down at this. I had just (barely) made it through 3 weeks of not working out and recovering, and to hear I needed another, bigger, surgery, asap, was not exactly comforting.

Visit #4- The big surgery. This time in lieu of the iPad, I had my amazing, fantastic fiance sitting with me the entire time keeping me company and asking important questions. It took a lot longer, and it wasn’t very comfortable, but having Ross there made it bearable.

The recovery sucked. I felt like I was slowly losing my fitness (and mind) a little more everyday. I was bored,anxious and angry.

I was also stupid. It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in challenging times like this, but now that I’m through it, cancer and pre-cancer free (with a cool scar to show for it), I can see clearly that it was my attitude, and not my situation, that was the real issue. Being able to exercise again has taken away the boredom and anxiety, and time has taken away the anger. I am now just feeling GRATEFUL!

November is a month to give thanks (if you don’t believe me, just ask the angry, suicidal turkey above). Right now I couldn’t be more thankful for the events that occurred the past few months. Because of them I am healthy, and what is more important than your health?

I’m not going to lecture here on how you should wear sunscreen (please do!) or NOT go in tanning beds (seriously, don’t), but I will stress that if you have anything on your body that doesn’t seem right to you, get it checked out! Yes, it’s inconvenient to make the appointment and take time away from your busy life but it’s worth it. Melanoma is steadily on the rise, and the statistics aren’t good if you catch it late.

I’ve seen lots of people writing 1 thing a day for the month of November that they are grateful for. I’m little behind with this, but going to jump on the grateful bandwagon here:

This month I’m grateful 1. that I caught this early. 2. That I trust my instincts 3. for the sweaty 3 mile treadmill speed workout I did today and 4.my new yoga pants 5.My fiance who bought me said yoga pants 6. Our puppy Mango 7. peppermint mocha lattes and 8. our gas fireplace in our new apartment that’s keeping us cozy and warm in this pre-winter storm:

What are you giving thanks for this month?

An Engaging Post…Promise!

Happy fall folks! Seeing as my last post is titled, Red Hot Summer I have obviously have some catch-up blogging to do. Turns out life does go on when blogging stops, in fact this has been one of the busiest (and best!) couple of months yet. Many things have changed for us both personally and professionally. While I’ve been MIA, we moved from the North End to Charlestown, I changed jobs (same company, new role) we attended a few amazing weddings of very special friends and family, dealt with some hard medical issues, celebrated birthdays (Ross on October 16th, me on November 3rd). It’s been crazy busy (I could definitely use a little more sleep), but definitely fun and there is a lot to share, but I’ll skip right to to the exciting part…

 

Ross and I are engaged! On September 29th, he proposed at Doe Orchards in Harvard, MA. I was SO surprised. It’s not easy to completely surprise someone that you live with and have been dating for about 5 years. Especially not when that someone is me (I’m not exactly big on surprises, and am usually far to curious/annoying to let people actually pull them off) but he did it! It was a random overcast fall Saturday, and he somehow pulled some inception-like mind game and even got me to suggest the apple picking in the first place. Since the weather wasn’t perfect, we almost had the whole place to ourselves which worked out perfectly because there weren’t a million families and kids around when he got down on one knee and pulled out the most beautiful diamond ring I’ve ever seen!!!

I couldn’t be more excited to be marrying my best friend, and I look forward to sharing the wedding planning experience on here!

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Red Hot Summer

The summer always goes so fast, despite the fact that the days are longer (or at least it seems that way when the sun comes up before 6am and stays out until after 8pm)! It’s not over yet, but the days are already starting to get a *little bit shorter (*Don’t shoot the messenger!) and the crazy hot dog days of summer are already starting to feel a little less crazy. Here are some things I’ve been up to this summer thus far:

-Finding a new apartment! Yes, you read that right, we are moving again! While we’ve been loving the North End and are so grateful to have found an apartment to live in in the middle of winter when nothing else was open, the living situation has been less than ideal. September 1st will find us in a new apartment in Charlestown, complete with an outdoor area for Mango! I’m sad to be leaving the North End, but not so sad about the 15 pounds I’ll drop instantly by avoiding the endless Italian restaurants and 24 hour bakeries daily 🙂 Ciao!

-Transitioning to a new job! Same company, new gig. I moved from Sales to the Marketing team, and yes, social media will be part of my duties. Which reminds me, I better start blogging more than once a month…Very excited about this new role!

-Beaching it. Although I am working in an office 40/hours+ a week, on weekends you can find me on Cape Ann, Cape Cod or somewhere in Connecticut. If there is salt water and sandy beaches, I’m there. The weather has been great almost every weekend, and there are so many great beaches so close to home:

*Blue nail polish = Essie Bikini so teeny. ❤

The boys 🙂

Some people like making love at midnight on the dunes of the Cape, Mango likes pooping there in the morning. To each his own:

Ross surprised me with a visit to Eden in Dennis and bought me a beautiful Cape Cod Screwball bracelet. Sometimes he’s okay (and by okay, I mean best boyfriend ever!)

When we’re not off to some far away, exotic beaches (1 hour plus) we take advantage or our city dwellings:

Boston Island boat rides and beaches:

Can’t forget the pre-wedding festivities for good friends:

And, family time of course. My niece is possibly the happiest two-year old ever. The secret to happiness? Fried Macaroni balls apparently:

I’m ready to enjoy several more fantastic summer weeks, however, you will never, ever, hear me complain about the early return of pumpkin beer this year. If fall tastes so good, could it really be so bad?