Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recaps: The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Those of you who are Italian probably know about the "Feast of the Seven Fishes".  Basically, it's a Christmas Eve tradition in which families eat seven different courses of delicious FISH!  Now, I'm not Italian, but my mom's best friend married into an amazing Italian family and we were adopted into their Feast of Amazingness.  Since everyone was obliging enough to let me take photos of EVERY dish, I'm going to share them with you!

Course 1- Fish Stew

Course 2- Tuna in Pasta

Course 3- I forget what this one is (cod maybe?), but was fantastic

Course 4- Fried smelt (weirdly YUM)

Course 5- Bluefish- this was SO GOOD (I won't give away the secret)

Course 6- Scallops in Risotto

Course 7- Baccala

After all that amazing (healthy) fish, we closed the evening with some killer TIRAMISU!

and finally, MY contribution to the evening, a bottle of my favorite, Veuve Cliquot!

 My Aunt Beth (family by friendship, not blood) broke out these hilarious glasses because one of the couples at dinner surprised us by showing up engaged!!  (This proves my theory that if you buy a bottle of great champagne, things will happen that are worth celebrating.)  Cheers to the happy couple!

Many many thanks to the 3 generations of gentlemen who brought all seven fishes to delicious fruition and to the whole family for including my Irish/German/Slovak/English/Extremely American family in this AWESOME tradition.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Favorites: Day 5- COCKTAIL (and a Secret Santa exchange)

Who likes eggnog?  That's like asking who likes ice cream, right?  But let's be real, 1 cup of eggnog has something like 400 calories in it, and with all of the wonderful things to be enjoyed over the holidays, I'd rather spend half of those calories on a cookie and drink something a little lighter.  To get festive, my favorite cocktail is hot mulled apple cider with whiskey.

To make, pour cider into a large pot, add whole allspice, whole cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves and heat, covered on LOW for as long as you'd like.  The cider packs a little bit of Vitamin C, the spices (esp cinnamon) deliver antioxidants, and even with the whiskey, one drink clocks in at about 200 calories. And those 200 calories you saved by skipping the eggnog?  How about a couple of dark chocolate covered pretzels?


Last night my amazing classmates (aka girls who run the world) and I held a Secret Santa exchange to celebrate the end of the semester and the holidays!  I've often found Secret Santas fail miserably, but I guess we all know each other so well (we do spend EVERYDAY in class together) that this was a smashing success.  There was cider and mulled wine (another fave), chocolate covered pretzels, pizza, and lots of festive decorations & heartfelt gifts.  And maybe there was some lip syncing to Adele...

Have you ever participated in a Secret Santa?  How did it go?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Because everyone loves a cat in costume

This is Frankenstein.  He lives in Brooklyn with me, but spends every Christmas at his country home with my parents.  To cover his room and board, he moonlights as holiday entertainment.

Holiday Favorites: Day 4- PRESENTS

Everybody loves presents; getting them, giving them.  Presents give joy to the gifter and the receiver, but THIS present brings joy even further.

Charity Gift Cards!

The "good card" is from Charity Navigator but there are a number of reputable sources that sell these.  I gave my mom one for her birthday and she thought it was the greatest thing ever.  If you already know someone likes a certain charity, you can also make a donation in their name.

I don't know about you, but I don't really need anything, so I love the idea that someone could me give a gift that helps someone in need.

What's the best gift you've ever given/received?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Favorites: Day 3- TRADITIONS

While some of our holiday traditions have changed over the years, this one has stood the test of time (mostly because its so low maintenance).  I LOVE driving around with the family looking at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve.  It doesn't matter if it's just on the way home from wherever we were, we're looking for them and there's something so amazingly peaceful about it.  A close to the madness that is holiday preparation and before the insanity that is Christmas Day.  (More on how Christmas Eve is my favorite holiday another time.) 

Check out some great Christmas lights in Dyker Heights!

photo & linked article from BrooklynBased.net

Where are the best Christmas lights in your neighborhood?

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Favorites: Day 2- MOVIES

I'm cheating a little today.  I have two.  One is a classic, the other is a more recent fave.

A Christmas Story

Love Actually

What are your favorite holiday films?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Favorites: Day 1- SONG

I'm almost done with finals...but I'm not there yet, so I'm going to share some of my holiday faves this week.

Here's my favorite holiday song:


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finals + Holidays = Sporadic Workouts

While I LOVE the holiday season, I haven't spent much time enjoying it this year.  Unfortunately my finals go up until December 21st, and since the event I'm coordinating at work happens right after the new year, I'm completely slammed at the office.  So right now, my average day looks like this:

7:30- wake up
8:30- leave for work
9/9:30- get to work
5-6pm-travel to class
9/9:30- get home from class
12- Fall alseep on top of my extremely novice architectural model of a theater

Somewhere in all this madness I have to eat, shop for Christmas gifts, and plan my holiday travel.  Needless to say, I am not getting much exercise.  (As in I am FAILING the 30 for 60 Challenge.)  Instead, I'm being careful about what goes into my body, since I know I won't have the opportunity to sweat it out.

Lucky for me, FAGE Greek yogurt was on sale this weekend, so I've got lots of delicious protein to start my days.  I've been eating a lot of these at my desk:

A whole lot of fruit on the run,

And I've allowed myself a couple little pieces of dark chocolate everyday to curb any sweets cravings.

Yum.  Normally I'd get sluggish from only working out once or twice a week, but I'm going on week two of a reduced schedule and I'm still feeling pretty good.  Here's hoping I can keep it up until the semester is over and I can get back to this:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Busy Girl's Guide: The Nut Butter Apple Wrap

Whew!  The past month has been insane for me, and it shows no signs of slowing down until....wait for it....December 22nd.  If you're like me, you have to squeeze all of your Christmas shopping in somewhere between eating and your daily commute, so here's a good eat on the go breakfast/lunch/dinner for that quick hop into Macy's during your nonexistent lunch break.

The Nut Butter Apple Wrap

You will need:

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla
1 Apple, sliced
Nut butter

Spread the nut butter on a whole wheat tortilla, layer apple slices in rows, and wrap like a burrito.  wrap a paper towel around it to protect your food from your fingers and GO!

How do you fit Christmas shopping into your schedule?  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Something to think about when you do your holiday shopping

So, while I come from a family of very political people (both sides of the fence...on both sides of the family), I don't consider myself to be a highly political person.  My personal views tend to fall somewhere in the middle, with a liberal or conservative stance on specific issues.  However, I don't think human rights is a political issue.  It is a human issue, and as a human with lots of rights, I feel I should support the rights of other humans.  With that in mind, I'd like to bring these two articles to your attention during the holiday season. 

One of the most powerful roles we play in society is that of consumer.  We often don't realize how much power we have as purchasers in a global economy.  So please, this holiday, purchase Fair Trade items whenever you can, buy recycled items and antique jewelry, and maybe tell your local jeweler that you'd like to know where the precious goods are coming from.  If we all decide to be mindful consumers, we really can change the world.

From NBC's Rock Center
Fair Trade activists fight for responsibly mined gold

via The Huffington Post
The sad truth about the fight against blood diamonds

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Wild Weekend...of Homework

It's the holiday finals season over here, and I had one wild weekend preparing for it.  I stayed in Friday night just to decompress from the insane week I've had, and to get a head start on my weekend itinerary: work on three final project, study for one final exam and write one final exam for my undergrads. 

Saturday I was lucky enough to get breakfast with one of my favorite people.  I neglected to take pictures, but I had whole wheat french toast with Canadian bacon.  It was delicious, and fueled me through several hours of research, but I hit my focus wall and knew it was time for a distraction.

Cooking!  This is completely unglamorous, but I make food in bulk over the weekend so I don't have to during my busy weekdays.  Cube up some chicken breast, griddle with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and you've got a lean protein to add to any meal all week long!

After cooking up the week's supplies, I still wasn't ready to head back to the books so I hit the gym.  Day 3 of 30 for 60 consisted of 30 minutes of speed drills on the treadmill, followed by 20 minutes of strength training and 10 minutes of stretching. 

Dinner was leftover Chinese with some extra veggies thrown in, with a side of homework.

After a looong day of gettin stuff DONE, I was in no shape to go out, but in serious need of a break.  I learned something very important at my corner bodega, Stella Artois now comes in a can!

I had one of these suckers and was tucked in bed by midnight.  I told you guys, WILD.  I would tell you about how thrilling Sunday was, but you probably couldn't handle all the awesome.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Friday

Holy Moley you guys.  This week kicked my butt.  Anyhow, now it's the weekend I can spend the whole weekend hanging out doing homework.  I've decided to stay in the Borough of Brooklyn all weekend and to walk everywhere I go.  (I'll let you know how I do!)

Friday is the only weekday that I don't have grad classes after work, so I often skip my morning workout with the intention of working out in the evening.  Want to know how often that actually happens?  Yeaa...

I was in no mood to work out so I played Wii Dance instead!  Hello 30 minutes of daily exercise (day two of 30 for 60)!

Afterwards, since I am the model of healthy habits, I indulged myself. 

Hello mini canoli, chocolate mousse tart and Guinness.

How was your Friday night?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day One of the 30 for 60 challenge

Brrr, its (finally) cold outside.  It's also December 1st which means the holiday season is upon us.  The tree in Rockefeller Center has been lit, the windows of Macy's are all aglow, and this New Yorker has big plans to pull her fake Christmas tree out of storage tonight.  Since the holidays are always hectic, I wanted to put a plan in place to help me stay healthy through the New Year.  Since I follow about a zillion fitblogs, I knew I could steal somebody else's plan to help me stay healthy through the New Year.

Hats off to RunCupcake from Because I Can, who started the 30 for 60 Challenge to help out exercisers like me.  The challenge, work out everyday for 30 minutes from December 1-February 1.  Since I'm not training for anything, I think a variety of shorter workouts every day will be a great way to fit fitness into my holiday.

Here's my first 30 for 60 workout:

27 mins- 3 mile run
30 seconds- Mountain Climbers
30 seconds- Marine plank
30 seconds- Side plank right
30 seconds- Side plank left
30 seconds- V sit
30 sit ups

It was a simple mix, but a great way to start the day.  I wore my new sport gloves (thanks Mom), since it was only a few degrees above freezing at 7am.  They have finger pads that allow you to work a touch screen..clearly this is so exciting I couldn't keep my eyes open.
What are you doing to keep up your healthy habits this holiday season?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NYC Blogger Playdate

Every month, Keelie over at Sweat=Success organizes a killer NYC blogger playdate so those of us who read and write blogs can get together in real life and enjoy some fitness and food.  I went in September and was thrilled to meet some of the ladies behind blogs I already love, and to learn about some great new people and blogs to follow.

This month the playdate will be on December 10th and we're headed to Burlesque Bikini Bootcamp (I know, it's totally outside of my comfort zone too, but it'll be FUN!)

Check out Sweat = Success for the details and to RSVP!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Where are my post marathon blues?

I'd read so many articles about the post-marathon blues, I half expected to get them, but a week out from my big race, I'm feeling GOLDEN.  While I'm no expert, I think these factors have contributed to my post-race glow.

1) It was my first marathon and everyone I've seen this week has congratulated me.  Let's be real folks, the praise for this race is a big part of what makes it worth the AGONIZING PAIN of running 26.2 miles.  I'm more proud that I survived the damn thing than anything else, plus I kept an average 10 min per mile pace which ain't too shabby for a first marathon.  Additionally, a bunch of my running friends have told me how inspired they are to try a marathon or half, so now I can look forward to training with friends for future races! 

2) I'm super busy.  When I decided to run a marathon over the summer I had  a LOT more time than I've had the past few months.  My fall schedule went from packed to INSANE when I put "train for a marathon" into the mix with full time grad student, full time job, teaching an undergrad class and searching for a permanent full time position.  I haven't felt the same empty space that many runners experience when training ends.  I've felt relief.  Enormous amounts of relief, a return to my social life, and can you say 8-9 hours of sleep every night?

3) The holidays.  Thanksgiving was hectic, but it's still great to see friends and family, and the start of the Holiday season is a great distraction from well, anything.  I swapped multi hour runs for christmas music and baking.  Not a bad trade eh?

4) Other forms of fitness.  The last month of my marathon training I was DESPERATE to mix some new fitness routines into my running but I 1) didn't have time to meet my necessary mileage and do other workouts and 2) wanted to avoid injury.  Now that I don't have to hit 35-40 miles a week I can roll a spin class, strength training, yoga and dance back into my life.  Yay!! 

Do you get post-race blues, post race highs or both?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend or Anything But Turkey

After Thanksgiving, I was ready for anything but Turkey.  Lucky for me, this weekend was full of scrumptious food far from holiday fare.  I got back to Brooklyn from the Homeland on Friday night and promptly set a date at Joya, a Thai restaurant in Cobble Hill.  There are only two words to describe this spot: delicious and affordable.  We split an appetizer, and each had an entree and with tip the whole thing was $30 including tax and tip. Yay!

I got one of the specials: skirt steak over spicy noodles with vegetables.  Sorry about the crappy picture, but it was truly great (even reheated 6 hours and several beers later... Note to self: drinking multiple bud lights is not a good idea ever, but especially after you've had on average 1 a week for four months because you're training for a marathon). 

Saturday night I met up with my gorgeous friend Maggie and some of her sister's friends for dinner at Dos Caminos in the Meatpacking District.  This was classier and more grown up than my typical Saturday night, but very, very fun.  Since I was hanging with some real grown ups, I felt it might be taboo to photograph my food, so you will just have to imagine how good my ASADA TACOS looked and tasted.

This afternoon I needed a quick and cheap lunch, so I stopped by Lopez Bakery for a spicy pollo panini.  One of the best thing about this place is that every sandwich/panini comes with your choice of salad: fruit, Isreali, coleslaw or corn and bean.  How awesome is that?

However, my favorite meal of my post-turkey weekend came from my very own kitchen.  It wasn't fancy, it wasn't exotic, it didn't take any skill to make, and it was even a little boring.  Salmon with habanero sauce, brown rice with butter, and frozen broccoli.

But you know what? It wasn't turkey!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Survived my First Marathon!!

I haven't blogged in a few weeks, and frankly it's because I was too overwhelmed to articulate all the things I've been doing.  With this morning's race over, one of the biggest challenges is behind me and I feel ready to share again!

So the Marathon.  The First Ever Bucks County Marathon to be specific, consisted of 26.2 miles of trail along the Delaware Canal Tow Path in (where else) Bucks County, PA (this happens to be my homeland).  We kicked off a little after 9am in Yardley and plodded north to New Hope.  Let me just say, this is one of the most beautiful places in the country and I highly recommend a stint in a Bed and Breakfast to rejuvenate your soul. 
I'm in the weirdly short person in the blue hat and purple shirt.  I swear I'm not that small irl.

Miles 1-12 were easy peasy.  I carried along with a pace between 9 and 9:30 min miles and soaked up some lovely views. 

Miles 12-14 got a little bit warm and sunny, but weren't bad, and then 14-16 was golden again...then I started getting tired...and sore...and really, really over running. 
My dad was Captain Camera today... also, told you it was beautiful.

I carried on pretty well until about mile 19.  I stopped, stretched a little and then carried on.  The last 7 miles were a mix of running, walking, and shuffling.  After mile 25, I decided to just power through whatever pain came my way. 

I wasn't thrilled, but I finished strong and crossed the finish line under my goal of 4h30m with a final time of 4h25m38s and promptly found a patch of grass on which to plant my sore bum.

I did it.  I ran my first marathon.  I am a marathoner.  It hasn't all sunk in quite yet, and thanks to a tip from my parents, I took a couple advil right after and I am feeling FRESH right now.  I imagine the crippling soreness tomorrow might help me process the event :).

Thanks a million to my parents, who managed to make it to EVERY spectator spot along the course with signs, cowbells and words of encouragement, to all my friends who've reminded me that this is something to be proud of, to all the AMAZING bloggers whose tips, tricks and recipes I have shamelessly stolen and utilized, and to all you runners out there who inspire me each and every day.  We rock, and we really can accomplish anything. 

Now I'm going to sit on the couch with my purring heating pad :)

What are you proud of this week?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Holy Overwhelmed

The past few weeks have been crazy.  To be fair, much of my obligations have been self imposed and for fun (blowling with friends, going to see shows, marathon training runs), but since there isn't much wiggle room in my schedule, thing's have gotten a little...errr tight.  Given my need to mental free time, coupled with the demands of school and work and sleep, I have NOT been getting up before work to run.  I know.  It's pretty bad.  My weekly mileage looks more like that of someone training for a 5K than a marathon.  Ooops.

Not to fear: Groupon has come to my rescue!  New York Sports Club offered a one month "passport" membership for $24 and I jumped on it.  There's a NYSC in the building where I work, which means I can squeeze in a few miles and a shower during lunch or between work and class whenever I can spare the hour.  Awesome, back on track!  (I'll give a full report on how it works out.)

Since I havevn't been running enough, I've been dealing with my emotional and mental overwhelm-ed-ness in other, not so productive, but equally fabulous ways:

Retail therapy!  Who doesn't feel great when they have on some cute new underthings and new makeup? 

Malbec!  I got halfway through that glass, put it in the fridge to finish tomorrow and went to bed.  Nothing like a little resveratrol for your health, right?

Expensive greek yogurt!  Umm, just yum, so much yum.  Plus, all I need to do is throw it in my lunchbag and breakfast is made.  Quick, delicious and full of much needed protein to start my day off right.

HUGH JACKMAN! This Friday, LIVE on Broadway, with these wonderful ladies (my grad school classmates, Melayna drew this on the board before our design class last night, mad skills, no?). 

What do you do when you just need to cut loose?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sooo, it's one month to my marathon and I just knocked out my 20 miler.  It took me 3 hours and 10 minutes which I'm pretty proud of and the run itself was surprisingly pleasant.  I will be fighting for the additional 6.2 when the race comes around.

1) I now know that I will be able finish the marathon (I will be walking through water stations, but still).

2) I also know I will be in pain when it's over because right now my butt legs and toes (sooo many blisters) are sore as all get out.

In spite of the fact that I'm sore and tired I'm enjoying my afternoon:

Chinese food, a beer and college football: I am officially in sloth mode. 

What do you do post run?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Busy Girl's Guide to Lunch: Baked Potatoes

In the interest of being useful, I'm going to share my tips for quick and easy packed lunches/dinners for all you over scheduled folks.  Up first: Baked Potatoes.

Potatoes get a bad rap since they are king carbs, but they're also pretty good for you (especially if you eat the skin, mmm fiber!), and serve as a great vessel for other healthy foods.  Honestly though, the reason I really love a baked potato is that it takes NO EFFORT to make.  Wash, fork, let sit in the oven for an hour. Done.  I can bake potatoes while I do my homework, my laundry, the dishes, while playing Dance Dance Revolution on the Wii; the possibilities are endless (as is my to-do list). 

Once the potato is cooked you just load it up with something good and it's ready to go.  This week I piled on some black beans and salsa, packed them to go, and instantly had multiple meals for the week. 

Yum.  Total time expenditure on 2 lunches for the week: 3 minutes. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fun + Friends + Work + School = Not enough miles

Sooo, I've been a little...under...my scheduled weekly mileage the past two weeks, but I'm not disappointed in myself.  I started running a few years ago to keep in shape in the absence of a gym membership, but I grew to love it.  I decided to run a half marathon because I thought it would be fun.  I decided to run a marathon because I wanted to accomplish something epic.  I run for me.  Running is something that's completely natural and freeing and makes me feel both relaxed and exhilarated.  This is why I'll never get down on myself for cutting a run short, missing my goal miles for the week, or even deviating from a marathon training schedule.  The fact of the matter is that I run because I love it, but there are many things I love in life: beer, theatre, sleep, learning, and more importantly friends and family.  Lucky for me, there have been lots of friends around lately, new and old, that have taken up some of my running time.  (Don't worry, running knows I have a life and it loves me anyway.  We have a very healthy relationship.)

As I mentioned earlier this week, I took a trip to the homeland and got to spend time with my wonderful parents and a couple of elementary school buds.  When I returned, one of my favorite ladies from college was visiting NYC from London.  We did happy hour, did lunch, went dancing with fabulous ladies, took shots of tequila (only one), and ate lots and lots of fro yo (it was really hot last weekend).

The lovely Adi

This week I got to spend a number of delightful dinners with my classmates (yea grad school!), including one that began at a Thai restaurant (Yum Yum....not sure which version), traveled to a bar for pumpkin beer ($5 special what whaaaaat) and ended with one of the most amazing pieces of theater I've seen since I moved to New York.  Seriously, go see Sons of the Prophet at Roundabout.  I say no more.

Green curry...yes I'm obsessed 

Shock Top Pumpkin Ale.  mmmmm.

Best Classmates Ever.  

These are just some highlights of the glorious disregard for deadlines I've been reveling in lately.  Yes, I have a marathon to run in a little over a month.  Yes, I need to find a full time job soon.  Yes, I'm in charge of making a huge event happen in early December.  Yes, I have a flurry of school deadlines looming over the next few weeks.  No, I haven't accomplished as much as I should have on any of these things, but I haven't been wasting any time.  I've been taking good care of myself and my personal well being.  I've been treating my relationships with the wonderful people in my life with all the care and time they deserve, and I've been enjoying every minute of my life.  And you know what?  I'm not behind on any of my big projects either.  I still went on my long run on Saturday (which went great), I've gotten all my work done for this week's deadlines, and that event is going to be awesome. 

Work hard.  Play hard.  Love life.

Do you prioritize fun?  How do you feel about missing a workout?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My First 5K

This weekend was a whirlwind of awesome (with just a hint of sadness over Philadelphia sports)!  After work on Friday I hopped on a bus to my hometown, Pennsylvania (legal official name, obviously).

After an awesome dinner of delicious Italian food from a local spot I went to bed, like a baller at 10pm.  I had to run 10 training miles before my first EVER 5K the next morning (I know, I totally skipped this really basic distance). 

On Saturday I got a slow start and only squeezed in 7 but whatever, I'm still nursing a cold with limited mileage (justification of lazy much?).  I headed over to the race (which was a memorial for my friend Lauren's father who passed away last year and was a hugely wonderful member of the community) with about 15 minutes to go and got to catch up with a few friends from my childhood.  We decided to line up together and intended to run the race together, until Lauren looked at me and said, "I'm thinking 7:30s, that's doable right?" 

My face did this (I do NOT run that fast...EVER).  When I got my words back I said, girl leave me in the dust I ain't runnin that fast.  Lauren shot off like a bullet (girl is FAST), and I plodded along like my jolly self is prone to do with another one of my lovely friends.  The whole first half was downhill, so I let gravity pull me a little bit, but I knew I'd have to go back up that hill so I tried not to push too hard.  As I neared the finish line I realized I was still under 25 minutes and sprinted the last 50 or so yards to try and finish under.  I finished in 25:05 womp womp.  Next time.

Anyway, as it was a small hometown race I was the 4th place female finisher (and 14th overall out of about 150)! Woot!  I even got a prize (on a technicality since Lauren finished third and was not prize eligible).  I can't wait until I'm done with this marathon and can bring some serious speed training back into my life. 

What are your thoughts on the 5K? Love it? Hate it? 

Which do you prefer: distance or speed?