March Madness

My kids’ hockey seasons are wrapping up in the next couple of weeks, I’m happy to report, and my son’s soccer winds up this weekend. Looking forward to less driving and more time at home. If I’m totally honest, though, my husband has been shouldering the bulk of the running around for the kids’ activities, so I’m sure he’s going to be ecstatic come March 24th.

Workouts have not been happening for a couple of weeks. I have been totally exhausted (work has been really busy) and have tended to choose more sleep over workouts. On the other hand, my eating has been pretty good, and last week I started using the Lose It app (loseit.com) and totally love it. I had previously resisted my dietitian’s attempts to get me to food track electronically because I’ve always found anything online to be a pain in the ass (PITA), but this app allows you to scan food labels into your phone and then tracks the nutritional data, to enter your own recipes easily, and is, according to my dietitian, fairly accurate in calorie counts vs. other apps out there. I was already food journaling, but using this tool helped me I was eating plain ol’ too much, even though the food I was eating was generally good for me.

Still making my way through The Book of New Family Traditions (Revised and Updated): How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day and have started Sundae Mondays for the kids. Basically, I’m putting together breakfast sundaes for them every Monday morning so that they have something to look forward to that day. Mondays suck for pretty much everyone, and I’ve definitely noticed that it boosts their moods at the beginning of the week to start out with something fun.

Off to do some yoga before bed. Today was a long, tough day at work and my back needs to decompress.

What are your favourite apps?

 

Reverb 12: Day 11

Kat at Tenaciously Yours has posted information about “a prompt-a-day series for the month of December that is meant to give us all the chance to reflect on 2012 and the opportunity to write down our hopes and dreams for the coming year.” Her post and the details are here.

Small Pleasures: What small pleasures did you discover this year?

There are small pleasures that I have enjoyed for half a lifetime, or maybe even longer: a long, hot bath; reading in the tub; cozying up in the corner of a couch with a novel; sitting by the fire; lying on the grass in the sun; milk chocolate; drinking hot chocolate after coming in from the cold; the feel of sand between my toes; a cold Diet Pepsi; driving down the highway while singing to a favourite song.

I have enjoyed each of those things in 2012, and added the following to my repertoire:

What’s your simple pleasure?

Reverb 12: Day 7 (a day late)

Kat at Tenaciously Yours has posted information about “a prompt-a-day series for the month of December that is meant to give us all the chance to reflect on 2012 and the opportunity to write down our hopes and dreams for the coming year.” Her post and the details are here.

Feast: Hopefully you’ve had more than one spectacular meal in 2012, but what is the first that comes to mind?  Were you surrounded by family at the dining room table?  Sitting on a bench by the lake?  Bring us there.

I was having a hard time coming up with a memorable meal from the past year, which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy some good food – I’m just not really a foodie.

Recently, we’ve started having friends over for Sunday dinner every other week. To me, it feels old-fashioned-in-a-good-way and is helping my husband and me start to develop relationships that we’ve been too busy to grow while I was in school. As such, the first meal that popped into my mind was one that I made about a month ago. I used this Jaime Oliver recipe for roast chicken, this recipe for gravy, and then had some pretty traditional sides: mashed potatoes, carrots, and cranberry spinach salad with feta. For dessert, I roasted a pumpkin and made this cake. The meal was fantastic, and that’s saying quite a bit, because I tend to be fairly critical of the food that I cook.

When I thought a little more about, though, I thought back to what was not exactly a meal, but an eating experience, the Kitchen Sink Sundae at the Beaches and Cream at Disney World. (Google it if you want to know more).

Kitchen Sink Sundae

The amount of food that we consumed was RIDICULOUS, but it was so much fun trying to eat it all, and was definitely memorable. We will do it again when we go back to Disney. Family tradition in the making?

Do you have a favourite Disney experience or a go-to meal you make when guests come over?

Meal Planning Monday

Monday

Lunch: ham and cheese wraps, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots

Snack: fresh pineapple, vanilla yogurt

Supper: Italian sausage, potatoes, baby carrots, all done on the grill (yay for barbecuing baskets!)

Tuesday

Lunch: spaghetti and meat sauce, cucumbers, carrots

Snack: microwave popcorn, chocolate milk

Supper: Maple Salmon (recipe from Allrecipes.com), Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli (a Barefoot Contessa recipe), whole wheat rotini

Wednesday

Lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches, spinach salad with berries and feta

Snack: strawberry-banana smoothies

Supper: honey garlic chicken thighs on the grill, Zucchini and Carrot “Fries” (recipe from Voracious Vander), quinoa

Thursday

Lunch: hot dogs, cucumbers, steamed broccoli

Snack: apple slices, cherry yogurt

Supper: grilled pizza (recipe from Sunset, probably one margherita and one with leftover honey garlic chicken), spinach salad

Note: we tried the pizza crust from the Sunset recipe last week and it was SO GOOD.  Put half in the freezer for this week.  However, in the future, I will divide the full recipe into thirds and freeze two portions, as each third portion of the recipe will make two decent-sized pizzas.

Friday

Lunch: cheese and grilled chicken quesadillas, celery, baby carrots

Snack: mini bagels with cream cheese and fruit (green grapes, pineapple, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries – note the Olympic colours in honour of the opening ceremonies Friday).  Idea from tipjunkie.com.

Supper: leftovers

I really tried to keep my meals simple this week, and I’ve been doing a lot on the grill.  That’s what summer’s all about, right?

A Week in Review: Regular Workouts, Summer Activities, and Chocolate Cake

  • I have actually started working out regularly again: lifting weights, walking, and doing yoga.  My physio did some acupuncture on Tuesday so I didn’t do my planned workout as he advised (weights), and then I had the mega migraine last night so I didn’t get my workout yesterday either (he advised something light, like walking).  So, I walked tonight.  Overall, I have lifted weights twice, practiced yoga three times, and walked twice in the last week.  It’s a start.
  • I’ve got my kids for the next several weeks, before I start work/take over my future dental practice.  Last week was rainy, so there was more TV than I wanted, plus some indoors crafts and games.
  • Over the weekend, though, it started to heat up around here, so we’ve been outside a lot more.  The kids stayed overnight with friends of ours on Friday night (another of my husband’s cousins and her husband) so that my husband and I could have some alone time (which basically boiled down to dinner out and a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad Season 1).
  • Saturday, my husband and I tackled our mudroom.  Wish I had taken before and after pictures, because you couldn’t really see the floor for all the shoes, backpacks, and random gear strewn about, and now we’ve got shoes on shelves, summer gear in a bin, and even empty shelves for expansion.  I may get around to posting a picture of the end result…
  • Sunday I did some grocery shopping and we went over to visit friends and their pool.  It was a beautiful day and I didn’t have to make lunch, so what more is there to say, right?  We then had another set of friends and their son (the friends who watched our kids Friday night) over for a barbecue and to watch the Rider game.
  • Monday I babysat my nieces and the kids spent a lot of time in the sprinkler.  We also did some tie-dying and the kids loved it.
  • Yesterday, I had my kids – no nieces – and we did some science projects, which you can find here and here, and again they ran through the sprinkler a lot.  I also baked and iced a cake for my husband’s birthday, which was yesterday.  It was totally delicious – probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made – and you can find the recipes I used here (Devil’s Food Cake) and here (Chocolate Buttercream Frosting).  Later, the kids and I  did some hopscotch on the front driveway, visited with our neighbours, and then went inside where I was hit by the migraine just before my husband came over and took over.
  • Today, I had my nieces again.  We ran errand in the morning and then there was more sprinkler and swing time before I tried out some face-painting using these tutorials here and here as inspiration.  I didn’t want to post pictures of my nieces, but here are my kids:

  • As for the exciting travel news I mentioned earlier, my husband and I are heading to London to watch his cousin compete in the Olympics!  We’re pretty pumped and have booked our hotel, flights, and some event tickets.  Neither of us has been to London (unless you count Heathrow), so feel free to send must-see and -do recommendations my way!

What were your favourite summer activities as a kid?  I loved jumping on our trampoline, running through the sprinkler, going swimming at the lake, and playing hide-and-seek with all the kids in the community.

Migraines and a Meal Plan

Last night a kinda bad tension headache snaked north and morphed into a migraine that laid me out.  I think it’s the worst migraine I’ve ever had.  It was not preceded by an aura, which is my “normal” and which usually allows me to avoid the worst of the headache pain because I can hit it with mega Advil and hide in the dark.  Once the Advil kicked in and I iced my head for awhile, I did feel better and went to sleep, since it was bedtime anyway, but wow, did I feel terrible while the headache had me in its grip.

Unfortunately, that means I will be nursing a migraine hangover today in hope that I won’t trigger another one.  This is the first migraine I’ve had in quite awhile, and I can pinpoint the triggers that brought it on:

  • Yesterday was HOT.  It got up to 32 degrees C here (yes, that’s hot for where I live), with enough humidity that it felt more like 40 degrees (that’s 88 degrees F and 104 degrees F).  Now, I rather enjoy the heat, but it can definitely be a migraine trigger.
  • I sat out in the sun reading for a lot of the afternoon.  Bright light and reflected sunlight can be triggers.
  • It was so hot that I had a very light supper consisting mostly of vegetables.  Skipping meals is considered a trigger, and I know from my history that if I don’t eat enough, I can get a migraine.
  • My cycle.  Eh, what can you do?

Today is going to involve me focusing on eating a healthy diet, staying cool, avoiding sunlight, and staying hydrated.  I’m watching my kids and my nieces today, so I’m trying to come up with activities that will keep them out of my hair and keep them (relatively) quiet.

I was going to post my meal plan last night, but that didn’t happen so here’s my plan now, somewhat belated:

Wednesday

Lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetable soup

Snack: banana blueberry smoothies and pretzels

Supper: honey garlic chicken skewers (which will involve me throwing cut up chicken breasts in a 50/50 mix of honey and soy sauce with a couple of cloves of minced garlic), leftover basmati rice, grilled mushrooms

Thursday

Lunch: soy butter and jam sandwiches, baby carrots and cucumbers

Snack: snack mix made with popcorn, cheerios, and dried cranberries; yogurt or milk

Supper: grilled beef tenderloin steaks on spinach with blueberries, chives, feta, cucumbers, and pomegranate vinaigrette

Friday

Lunch: leftovers

Snack: fresh cherries, apple slices, baby carrots, and After-School Dip

Supper: Grilled Chicken Thighs, quinoa, grilled baby carrots (I have a barbecue basket)

I’ll be back, hopefully later today, with an update on my workouts and some exciting travel news!

 

Meal Planning Monday

Time to get back to meal planning!  Strange how even though you’d think it would be easier to prepare meals in the summer months, what with a more flexible schedule, more produce, and the ability to grill without freezing my butt off, but I actually sometimes find it more difficult to plan ahead because our schedule is so much less rigid.  I also don’t really have a good collection of grilling recipes, so that’s something I’m going to have to work on.

I have added a few new cookbooks to my library recently and have bought a few magazines with recipes I want to try, so I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to make this week.  You’ll also note that, since my kids are home with me, I’m planning lunches for the week, except for Wednesday and Thursday, when I’m planning a roadtrip with the kids to Calgary to watch my husband’s cousin qualify for the Canadian olympic team.  Without further ado, here’s this week’s lineup:

Monday lunch: Not Your Average Grilled Cheese (Parents Magazine July 2012), steamed broccoli and carrots

Monday supper: Farmhouse Chicken and Corn Chowder (pg 10 America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution), whole wheat baguette, spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and sunflower seeds

Tuesday lunch: Salmon with Hoisin Glaze (myrecipes.com), Garlicky-Spicy Snow Peas, quinoa, spinach salad with feta crumbles, sliced apples and celery

Tuesday supper: on the road

Wednesday: on the road/Calgary

Thursday: Calgary/on the road

Friday lunch: Shredded Barbecued Chicken (pg 154 America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution), corn on the cob, mixed green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, and Greek dressing

Any favourite grilling or salad recipes you can share?

7 of 28: A Week of Workouts

My workout today was, in a word, weak.  We ended up staying at my parents’ house longer than I had thought, so the time I anticipated I would have later in the day disappeared on me.  After rushing home from my parents’, getting our son to hockey, grocery shopping, prepping supper for tomorrow night (a slow cooker cabbage roll casserole – recipe I got from my mom) and part of supper for later this week (ground beef with taco seasoning for Walking Tacos), I helped my daughter fall asleep (she was scared about “vampires” and had quite of bit of trouble settling down) and then got into my workout gear.  My workout lasted 10 minutes and was a very easy stationary bike ride.

I’m now just about to head to bed but wanted to celebrate the fact that I have worked out 7 days in a row!  By making my workouts mandatory, I’ve made it easier mentally to fit activity into my day.  Granted, some of my workouts have been very easy, but some movement is definitely better than none, and getting back into the habit of working out and doing SOMETHING is better than insisting that every workout is a hard one.

This week, I also want to focus on my eating habits.  So, I am committing to 21 days of healthier eating.  For the next 7 days, I will focus on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats.  I will limit my red meat intake to 2 days, make sure I get seafood at least once this week, and make at least one meal vegetarian.  I am also swearing off treats for the next week, because my sugar consumption has gotten out of control, what with Thanksgiving and all.

Expect daily updates with how I’m doing with my workouts and eating.

It’s Ba-ack: Another IT Band Flare-Up

I tweaked my left IT band on Sunday during my long run, around the 8.5k mark.  I feel like it’s a repeat of last summer.  It’s almost more frustrating this year, though, because I started training earlier, with less volume, thinking that by easing back into running I would head off injury.  Not so much.

My IT band had been feeling quite a bit better lately, though, since I switched physios, but I recently started running more often based on the training plan a friend of mine (with the appropriate qualifications) put together.  Clearly my body wasn’t liking it, so it’s back to less running for now.

I’ve been icing, taking Advil, foam rolling, and continuing with my hip strengthening exercises.  Instead of running tonight, I hit the local Y and rode a stationary bike and I’m seeing my physio later this week.

As you can imagine, I’m not feeling good about my race at all.  As I mentioned in my last post, I feel unprepared, what with the delays in my training due to my IT band injury and my training inconsistency this summer.  Topping it off now is this injury flare-up.  Gah!

Moving on to the rest of my life, I’m almost done work for the summer.  3 days left and then I get to move back home!  I am SO looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.  There’s nothing like the feel of crawling under the covers of your own bad and cozying in for the night.  Can’t wait.

On an unrelated note, our babysitter, who had 4 days left of part-time work for us, quit today.  It was quite the mad scramble this morning, but the kids made it where they needed to, but it definitely was a bad start to the day for sure.

On the other hand, I had the opportunity to have lunch with my husband due to one of my patient’s cancelling.  I had an amazing Garden Tuna Niscoise [their spelling] Salad, which has the following description:

It was light and delicious.  The tuna was perfect.

Well, I’m off to ice, foam-roll, and do some hip exercises, then to bed.  Hope you had a great day!

 

Running, Baking, and Frivolity: My Sunday in Review

I cranked out 11k today.  But, instead of “cranked out,” really it was “ran really slowly and occasionally walked.”  Nothing wrong with that, though.  Apparently, with the long run, you want to get in the miles without trashing your legs so that you can recover and have other good quality workouts during the week.

Unsure of how my IT band and knee were going to respond (I had to cut my last 6k short), I ran on the path near our house.  Out and back, out and back, out plus a little extra and back.  Sure, the scenery was a little repetitive, but I wanted to stick close to home, just in case my knee wasn’t going to make it.  And since I basically can’t make it through a long run without having to hit the bathroom, there’s that to factor in, too.

Around the 3k mark, it felt like my knee was going to give me some problems, so I took a walk break.  I continued to run after a 2 min break, but at a slightly faster pace, which my IT band seemed happier with. I have a feeling that’s a sign of some sort of inefficiency in my gait at a slower pace, but since I’m no running expert, I’m not sure how to interpret that.  I don’t have the lungs to carry on at a faster pace the whole time, so I went with walk breaks at 3k, 6k, and 8k to give my legs and lungs a bit of a rest.

I wouldn’t say I had knee pain, exactly, but definitely knee ache.  I’m seeing my physiotherapist tomorrow, so I guess I’ll wait and see what he says about it.

On a happy note, my GI tract was fairly settled throughout the whole run, which is, like, practically magical for me.  I tried out Clif Shot Bloks, ’cause that’s what they’ll have at the half marathon I’ll be running, and while I really like the flavour and texture, I am apparently completely incapable of running, breathing, and chewing at the same time.  I find Gu easier to take in on the run.  About 1k after I had the Bloks, I had some, er, intestinal urgency, but, miracle of miracles, I made it home without too much distress.  I think that’s the first time I made it past 8k without having to stop to use the facilities.

After the run, though, my stomach was rather unhappy, and then I added to it when I scarfed down some leftover BBQ Chicken Quesadillas.  Note to self: smoothie instead next time.

Later in the afternoon, I got down to some baking, with a little help from my kids.  I decided to go with Ding-a-ling Cake, which I mentioned here, but I think I might try out making some cake balls next weekend.

My daughter talked me into adding some sprinkles, so here’s what our cake ended up looking like:

So moist, but very, VERY sugary.  You definitely need a glass of milk with a slice of this!

In case your sweet tooth is feeling extra demanding this week, here’s the recipe:

Ding-a-ling Cake

For the batter:

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (I like kosher)
  • 1 c margarine (or butter)
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
For the icing:
  • 1/2 c margarine (or butter)
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 c icing sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Combine margarine, cocoa, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Pour over the flour mixture and stir until it looks like a paste.  Add the 1/2 c of milk, 1 tsp of vanilla, and baking soda and stir.  Batter will be thin.  Pour into a greased jelly roll pan and bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 c of margarine, 1/3 c milk, and 4 tbsp of cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Remove from heat, add vanilla, and thicken with 3 c of icing sugar (I would recommend whisking the icing sugar in as you add it slowly to avoid lumps).
Ice the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Sprinkle with nuts if desired.
Last, but not least, I unleashed my inner 14 year old tonight and transformed my chipped manicure from this:
To this:

Normally I don’t get to wear nail polish at all during the school year, so I may have gotten a little carried away with the outrageousness of the colour and sparkly-ness…

I’ve got a fantastic week ahead of me!  Last-minute preparations before I start work in a week (eek!), kids’ soccer, 3 runs, 2 bike rides, 2 strength sessions, some physical therapy, and more cooking.

Any big plans this week?  What’s your favourite nail polish colour?