30.8.12

paleo and crossfit update

A few of you asked me for a Paleo and/or Crossfit update so I figured I could do it in one post. 

CrossFit: The morning I posted this, my back went out. I hurt it back in March and it would give me problems about once a month but it was bareable. However, this time, I decided not to go to CrossFit and finally called a chiropractor. He told me I couldn't exercise for a few weeks so I had to wait until the next "on-ramp" (beginners) class.  Well, I went to my trial class (with the seasoned crossfitters) about three weeks ago and I just finished up my beginners class yesterday. I love it! I feel like I have had some of the best workouts of my life. I am also one of those people who gets bored easily so I love that you will only repeat a workout of the day (WOD) every three months. 

Another thing that has really encouraged me is the atmosphere. When I first walked in, I was a little intimidated and thought "what am I doing here?" There were big weights and bars everywhere and very athletic looking people. (I was not an athlete in high school or college so, if you were, this may not be as intimidating for you.) Although there is a bit of competition in the air, everyone is very supportive and there to motivate you when you think you just can't go any further. I am sure every gym is different but I love all the people at mine. 

I am still keeping up with Pilates and I think they are a good fit together. I will do CrossFit on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays or Saturdays and then Pilates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Paleo: I feel great eating this way. I have so much more energy and I don't feel myself going into that afternoon slump. I have pretty much stopped going through the local drive-through coffee place a few times a week which is better calorie and cash-wise. And I have given up rice, pasta and grains. Pasta and bread really effects me the most. I had a calzone on Sunday for lunch and I could literally feel my lids drooping more and more with every bite I took. I am really trying to stay away from sugar as well. Every so often I eat some dark chocolate to curb cravings but a banana usually works. And really, I don't think I could get through CrossFit eating poorly. I can tell the difference in what I can do on days I eat well and days I chomp down a cheesesteak sub. 

But I am also realistic. I love pizza so, every so often, I am going to have a slice of pizza but I will make sure I have a salad or something to go with it so I don't eat half the pizza (and fall into a subsequent coma.) If I treat myself to sushi one night, then I make sure that the next day I am not gorging on mac and cheese. And every so often, when I crave it, I will have some quinoa with dinner. I also thought giving up cheese would be hard but I will have a bit here and there but not with every meal.

I really thought this would be difficult because I am not a huge meat eater but I try to base things I make off of meals I know I already like and make modifications as needed. You will definitely be seeing some recipes.

Have you made and new fitness or health changes lately?

{image via my pinterest}

29.8.12

better-for-you beauty products, part 6

This is part six of my search for natural and organic beauty products. You can find the other posts here, here, here, here, and here.
1. Dr. Hauschka Volume Mascara: Ugh, the awful search for organic or natural mascara. Well, it continues. I was in love with how soft this goes on and how hydrated my lashes felt but, at the end the day, I look like a raccoon with dark make-up under my eyes. Seriously, I am hot mess after work and the gym. It is almost like the mascara never dries. After trying product after product, I think I may need to look for okay-for-you mascara. {natural}
2. Alima Satin Matte Foundation: I like this. I don't love it. First off, the actual container is very small, making it hard to put the powder evenly on the brush. I also feel like I don't really get that flawless look that you are supposed to get with mineral foundation but, then again, I could be applying it wrong. {BOC free, naturally chemical free, gluten free}
3. Pangea Organics Italian Green Mandarin Facial Toner: I like the smell of this and it does feel refreshing. I am just not sure I am sold on what toners are actually supposed to do. I think it is great to put on when I need a little pick me up but I think that may be more from the citrus smell than from what it does for my face. Worth a try if you are into toners though. {organic, vegan, gluten free}
4. Inika Natural Perfection Mineral Concealer: I was really excited about this after reading the reviews online but then I was disappointed with it. It goes on so shear that I feel like it doesn't really do much for the dark circles under my eyes. I had to put two layers on and it seems like it disappears at the end of the day. {organic, vegan, cruelty-free}
5. Naturopathica Beech Tree & Ginseng Daily Moisturizer: Oh, Naturopathica! Thank you for making quality products. I love this moisturizer! I think I have found the moisturizer I am going to stick with. My only regret is that it doesn't have SPF. {gluten free, vegan, ecocert, cruelty-free}
6. Pangea Organics Japanese Matcha Tea Mask: I like this but I don't think it does anything wonderful for my skin. The smell really turns me off though. I am going to keep looking for another mask. {organic, began, gluten free}

Have you found any fabulous natural and organic products lately?

28.8.12

weekend: a stay cation

a morning manicure . . . camerones con arroz . . . saturday morning, pre-workout . . . tea and magazines while it poured outside . . . sewing some stuff for my office
~~~~
a little inspiration for the week:

love this

have you ever been to alaska?

a guide to writing better than you do
~~~~
Well, this weekend was a long one. I took off Friday, Monday, and I have this morning off as well so my weekend started on Thursday night. Since the Hubs had to work late Thursday, I ordered sushi and watched The Hunger Games. I am still not sure how I feel about the movie.

Friday, I had a manicure and pedicure, found a birthday gift for a friend, and went to lunch with the Hubs. After that, I came home and napped for a bit since I wasn't feeling well and then went to a chiropractor appointment. That night, the Hubs and I went to get Mexican and then I fell asleep early. 

Saturday, I started the morning off with a workout. Then I went to the grocery store and grabbed lunch with the Hubs. After that, I came home, cleaned up the house a bit, and spent the rest of the afternoon out of the rain snuggling with Peyton. That night, my friend, Ledesa, came over. We had Indian food, watched Drive (awesome!), and then we did a bit of sewing. 

Sunday, the Hubs and I slept in and I tried to spend a bit of time outside when it wasn't raining. After a late lunch, we decided to go see The Bourne Legacy. It was ok - a little slow starting. After the movie, I went for a run and then tried to stay awake for the finale of The Newsroom but failed. 

Yesterday, I spent some time outside, did a bit of laundry and a little bit of cooking. I went to my CrossFit beginners class and then, after dinner, the Hubs and I watched The Newsroom

This morning, I plan to go to Pilates and spend a bit more time with the pup. Then off to lunch and then work. 

How was your weekend?

23.8.12

a little staycation

I didn't really take a vacation this summer. I took two days off for the Hub's graduation but not a long vacation. Since I have a decent amount of leave that is more than I need for California, I am taking tomorrow, Monday, and half of Tuesday off and having myself a little staycation.

I have a manicure and pedicure scheduled for Friday but other than that I don't have any plans yet. I am hoping to start (and finish) a craft project that I bought the supplies for back in May. And I want to get the house in order for when I start traveling for work in less than three weeks (and I am pretty much only home on Saturdays.)

What would you do if you took a staycation? I need some ideas!

{image via here}

22.8.12

under the covers with niki: pathways to housing

{Today's post is a special one from our regular contributor, Niki, who usually is answering your sex questions. I figured since a lot of you live in the DC area, you would want to hear about and support this great cause. And even if you don't live in DC, this is an awesome opportunity to help a lot of people in our nation's capital. Here is Niki to explain how you can help!}

I know I have been delinquent about posting, but I promise I have a good reason. I work full time (and often over time) for Pathways to Housing DC, a local non-profit dedicated to ending homelessness and supporting recovery for individuals with serious mental illnesses. Since 2004, Pathways to Housing DC has provided permanent apartments and wraparound support services to more than 500 people in Washington, DC. 

I’m part of a team that provides community-based intensive mental health and other support services necessary to help these individuals stay in housing and be successful in their recoveries. Specifically, I use my specialty as a relationship and sex therapist to support individuals in developing healthy and appropriate relationships. 

I’m pleased to share that Groupon Grassroots, the philanthropic arm of Groupon, is featuring Pathways to Housing DC as its non-profit of the week (August 20th to 26th). Funds raised through this campaign will allow Pathways to Housing DC to provide furniture for first-time move-ins. We have already successfully reached our “tipping point,” but this is only the beginning. The deal is only on until Sunday, August 26th, so I hope you’ll consider taking part in this awesome effort by giving back and helping us end homelessness in DC.

{Please help Niki in making this a reality. Even if you can't afford to donate, help spread the word. We only have until Sunday to make it happen!}

21.8.12

cod with a tangy butter sauce

The Hubs is not a fan of fish so when he won't be home for dinner, I like to have a healthy fish meal. While I do enjoy salmon, I have also become very fond of white, milder fish that carry whatever flavor you give them. I love cod for its flaky, dense texture.

When the Hubs had an away lacrosse game a few Mondays ago, I took dinner alone as an opportunity to visit a new local fish market after work. It has a clever name, 1 Fish 2 Fish, reminding me of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books. When I walked in, I immediately knew I was going to get something. Everything looked good but, more than that, the market didn't smell fishy. I chose a beautiful piece of cod and I knew whatever I did with it would be simple but delicious.

I love serving fish with grilled asparagus. I like being able to use the spears to wipe up any extra sauce. Although cod is one of my favorites, you can use this sauce with any mild fish.
COD WITH A TANGY BUTTER SAUCE
serves 2

2 pieces of cod, enough for two people
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Heat oil in pan. Salt and pepper cod. Add fillets and cook until cooked through. Remove from pan and place on plate.

Melt butter in pan. Add lemon juice to deglaze pan, scraping up any bits. Add Worcestershire sauce. Pour sauce over cod. 

Enjoy!

19.8.12

weekend: one of the last of summer

crab feast on friday . . . dolla dolla bills, y'all . . . definitely not paleo
~~~~
Friday, the Hubs and I went to Green Hill for an end of summer crab feast. I was exhausted from getting up early for an event for work that morning and, apparently, I fell asleep in my dress when we got home. 

Saturday, I headed to Ocean City to meet my mom for lunch and some beach time. It was a little chilly and with the wind, we decided on the pool. We didn't stay long, though, since it was chilly there too. When I got back, I attempted some CrossFit WOD at home and then the Hubs and I cooked dinner. After that, we went to see The Campaign. 

Today, I did a little bit of laundry and then we went to lunch with the SIL who was passing through town from OC. After that, I relaxed and tried to get ahead on some blog stuff since I will be starting travel season soon for work. The Hubs and I were going to have a healthy dinner but we abandoned it for pizza. Sunday nights were usually pizza but since we have been trying to eat well lately, we hadn't done it in awhile. 

How was your weekend?

15.8.12

going to cali!

I have never been to California (or the west coast for that matter) so I am am super excited. The Hubs has a business trip in Napa in late-October so I am going to tag along and then we are going to spend about a day in San Francisco before we come back home. 

So I was wondering: could you help an East Coast girl out? I need your advice on what we should do while we are there. Here are the details that I know as of right now:
* We are leaving on a Friday which will be a travel day. 
* My MIL and I will have three whole days in Napa, Saturday through Monday. (The Hubs and the FIL will have two because of their meeting.)
* We are staying at the Villagio in Younteville (because that is where the meeting is) but we are not sure where we are staying in San Francisco yet (but we will probably be using our Hilton points.)
* Tuesday morning, the Hubs will be in a meeting and then the two of us will head to San Francisco. We are not sure if we are going to take a red-eye flight out Wednesday night and get back early or leave Thursday morning. Either way we will have at least a full day in the city. 

While in Napa, I definitely want to do a wine tour and tasting. I also want to see downtown Napa and go to Oxbow Public Market. Ideally, I would love to go to Thomas Keller's resto, French Laundry, but we will most likely go with one of his more budget-friendly places like Bouchon or Ad Hoc. I also want to eat at Michael Chiarello's Bottega. I think it would also be fun to do olive oil tasting. I also want to have time to just relax a little bit - it will be towards the end of travel season for me at work and I will be exhausted. 

In San Francisco, we only have a day. I want to visit Tartine Bakery, ride a cable car, check out Chinatown (and maybe eat dim sum), see Lombard Street, go down to Fisherman's Wharf, and walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Not sure if that is possible in 24 hours though.

Again, all of these are just ideas. I will have to be pretty flexible during the meeting since a lot of time there are group activities. 

So I need your help because I really know nothing about the West Coast. Where should we eat? What should we see? How is the transportation in Napa and San Francisco? What clothes should I bring for late October?

Thanks so much for your help!

{image from here}

14.8.12

almost bolognese sauce

I know it is a little early in the season for this yummy comfort food but ever since I saw the recipe for paleo spaghetti and sauce on Sarah's blog, I have been craving it. I kept telling myself that I would wait until the temperature drops a bit in September to make it but then, when it was a little bit cooler this weekend, I just had to make it. Plus, I can freeze about half of it and be prepared for when travel season starts for work. I will have it when I am just too tired to cook or for the Hubs to have when I am away.

I can't actually call this a true Bolognese because it doesn't have milk in it. The first reason I omitted it was because I am trying to keep with Paleo and cutting down on dairy and, really, this recipe doesn't need it. I honestly thought about adding coconut milk to cut down on the acidity but I thought, eh, we can do without. And the second reason I held on the milk was because, well, we didn't have any.

You could do without wine in this as well but really you are going to lose the deep flavor. It would still be a yummy meat sauce - I would just up the garlic and add some Italian seasoning. It will have a good flavor but different than this. (And I have made it the other way, as well.)

I also had this over spaghetti squash instead of pasta to keep with Paleo but you can have it either way. I am actually half Italian so giving up pasta is hard but this sauce is so yummy I hardly notice. If you do use pasta, I highly recommend you flavor it the way my family does. (Yes, they flavor the pasta before the sauce.) First, make sure you salt and add olive oil to the boiling water. You don't need much. Once you strain the pasta, add a bit of olive oil, garlic salt, and oregano. When I was little, I would eat it just like this as a kid. If you are using spaghetti squash, cut it in half, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet upside down. Put in a pre-heated 400° F oven for 40 minutes. Take it out to cool for a bit and then use a fork to pull apart the squash - it will look like spaghetti!

ALMOST BOLOGNESE SAUCE
serves 6

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 c. finely chopped pancetta
2/3 c. minced carrots
1/2 c. minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground beef
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 c. dry red wine
1 28 oz. can of plum tomatoes, chopped (and liquid)

In a large pan, melt butter into olive oil. Add pancetta and cook for about 8 minutes or until fat is rendered. Add carrots, onion, and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the beef, salt and pepper and cook until beef is no longer pink. Add wine and simmer until evaporated.

Add tomatoes with their juices and simmer slowly, for about 2 hours. You want to reduce as slowly as possible. Add water, a bit at a time, if the sauce becomes dry. Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash.

Now lick the plate clean!

12.8.12

weekend: crossfit and relaxing

cheese and charcuterie at public house . . . the pup that kept me company all weekend . . . sunday afternoon reading outside . . . crab ravioli at fratellis
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a little inspiration for the coming week:

for those with larger chests, you will appreciate this

date nights when you have kids

where the olympic athletes slept

a $10 baby shower

loving all these "hello world" videos

a beautiful new-to-me tumblr
~~~~
The Hubs left on Thursday night for a bachelor party so the pup and I were home by ourselves all weekend. Friday night, I had an impromptu date night with my coworker, Jen, for happy hour and dinner at Public House.

Saturday morning, I went to my free trial CrossFit class. Remember when I had talked about doing it? Well the night before I posted that, I hurt my back so I started going to the chiropractor and he didn't give me the okay to start until now. Although I can barely walk today, I am excited to start my beginner's class tomorrow. It was seriously the best workout of my life. 

After that, I went to lunch with my SIL and her boyfriend and we walked around the mall for a bit. Saturday night, I went to dinner with the in-laws, the Hubs' grandfather, my SIL and her boyfriend. 

Today, I did a bit of grocery shopping, watched a little Olympics, and did some cooking prep for the week. The Hubs got home this afternoon and was pretty tired. Tonight for dinner, we went to Fratelli's with his sister and boyfriend since they are staying in town until tomorrow evening. 

How was your weekend?

9.8.12

a break and a travel outfit

I am taking a little break today but, in case you missed it, I shared some tips about what to wear while traveling over at I Dabble on Tuesday. (Yes, this is a little bit late.) Stop over there to read my postvisit Cara's awesome blog, and give us a little love. Happy Thursday!

8.8.12

the art of shaving

At first, I thought this post would be kind of random for my blog. But then I remembered one of my earlier posts about waxing. And really, I can post about whatever is on my mind right?

So, after being at my job for over a year, my coworkers have started to notice that I am very regimented in my office attire. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are for wearing skirts or dresses. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for wearing pants. The first reason for this is that I have more skirts and dresses than I have pants. The second reason is because I hate shaving every day. 

I am one of those people with fast growing hair so, if I want to show off the gambs, I need to shave that day. And I like to give my legs a break so they don't dry out or get razor burn. And I just hate doing it every day.

Luckily, this also seems to work out with my exercise routine. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for Pilates so I can get away with wearing leggings or spandex.

In the winter, I can go even longer because I am usually wearing my skirts and dresses with tights. This doesn't go on forever, though, because I don't want the people at the gym to judge me. And if you know me, you know that I don't get embarrassed easily - unless I am being judged on my hygiene and then I am mortified. 

Shaving in the winter can also be caused by the husband effect. This is basically when the Hubs brushes up against my leg and says things like, "Wow, you are really going for a world record there." Or, "Your hair is getting pretty long." Or, the more blunt, "When are you going to shave?"

And I am all like, "Bitch, please!" 

And then I go and shave the next day because we all know the Hubs wouldn't risk making comments like that unless it was a very serious situation. 

Do you have weird habits like this? 

Also, while doing some "research," I found out that American women started shaving around 1915 as dresses became sleeveless and hemlines rose.

{clothing from here}

7.8.12

caramelized onion vinaigrette

The Hubs and I were getting sick of chicken so we decided to change it up and get some beef. I thought a steak salad would be perfect. Usually, I would have added blue cheese to this salad but, since I am trying to keep up with Paleo, I thought I would trade a strong cheese for a strong dressing.

This dressing does take a little time because you need to caramelize the onions but besides a few stirs while the onions are cooking, this dressing is pretty low maintenance.
CARAMELIZED ONION VINAIGRETTE

1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
1/2 Tbsp. Dijion mustard
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. olive oil, plus a tablespoon

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan. Cook onions on low until brown and caramelized for about 30 minutes. Put aside and let cool a bit. In a food processor, combine onions with the rest of the other ingredients. Blend together. 

5.8.12

weekend: gracie's wedding

wearing my new blue bird necklace on friday . . . our calamari and shrimp appetizer friday night . . . after the ceremony on saturday . . . the cute favor bags . . . with the hubs . . . with jen and gracie
~~~~
Friday night, the Hubs and I went to Green Hill for dinner. Saturday, we dropped the pup of at the Hubs' parents and got ready for Gracie and Luke's wedding. We headed out to Cambridge for the ceremony and then celebrated with them at the reception afterwards. Today, I cleaned up the house and had a Skype date with friend Jenny who lives in Paris. 

How was your weekend?

2.8.12

a eulogy for my boots

I remember when I first saw you across the store. Your beautiful brown color shone in the BR light. Although I was jetlagged and suffering from reverse culture shock, I knew you were the one. You were the boots I had been searching for over the past few months.

We went many places together, you and I. You were my go-to friend. I knew I could always rely on you when in a bind; when not quite knowing where to turn. You became someone who shielded me from the cold in the fall, the winter and early spring. You were always there to weather the elements with me. And, unfortunately, this would be your downfall.

And, oh man, we were together about three to four times a week. I would have worn you every day but I didn't want people to think I was crazy. Well, maybe I was a little crazy - crazy in love.

I will think of you from time to time. And these new boots are not your replacement - nothing could replace you. You will be the boots by which all others are compared. You will be truly missed.
The Hubs and I have been back from McLean since Friday night but I couldn't seem to put my new boots away because that would mean making space in my closet. And that would mean getting rid of my old boots. (You can read about what happened to them here.)

Listen, I am not attached to all of my shoes like this. I had two pairs of pumps that were in bad shape so as soon as I got two new black pairs to replace them, I chucked them. No problem!

But these are different. I realized I wanted a pair of riding style boots as soon as it got a little chilly while I was living in France. I had a pair of slouchy, suede boots that I loved (and that traveled with me all through Europe) but they seem much less sophisticated that all the boots the French girls were wearing. And those beautiful riding boots were everywhere. And so I searched for a pair that fit my college-student budget. I came across a few but they weren't the best quality so I decided, when I came home, I would look for a pair during the after-Christmas sales.

I went to the mall with my grandmother and as soon as I spotted these in Banana Republic, I knew I had to have them. Even better was the fact that they were $300 boots now selling for $60.

It is weird because it isn't like I bought them in France or that I traveled around Europe in them. They just give me a sense of nostalgia - of that time when I was so sad to leave France, the time when I was speaking French to sales associates (and family) that thought I was crazy. Wearing them gave me that French girl feel I had been searching for while living abroad. Who knows? Maybe they gave me that je ne sais quoi.

Anyways, the above boots are the "replacement" boots I got at the Nordstrom anniversary sale. I really love them. They are a bit distressed but still nice enough for work. And, just because, below are another pair that I picked up while I was there. I had been searching for a pair of suede taupe short boots since the spring so I am glad I came across these. I love that the toe is extra distressed lending them a vintage look. I wish I could wear them now but it is way too hot and humid here.
Are there items you get attached to like this?