Friday, April 11, 2014

Ass & Abs -- Personal Training Update

I have met with a personal trainer twice now...and have lived to tell the tale!

First session was a few weeks ago and was a get-to-know-you type thing. We talked about my goals and he walked me through warm up cardio and stretching. Then he had me do a bunch of exercises that focused on quads and shoulders. I was sore for two days...maybe three. Not mild sore either. Super duper sore.

This morning I had my second session. I walked to the gym (3+ miles), did some stretching and a little more warming up on an elliptical. Apparently today was ass and abs day. My personal trainer called it something much more professional like "gluts and core" but, regardless, my ass and abs are now yelling at me. My trainer had me do 10,000 squats (approximately) and then had me end my workout on a rowing machine.

"Just like House of Cards!"

I don't think he's seen the show.

After another 3+ mile walk home, I'm sitting down and worried that I won't be able to stand up again. (Wish me luck.)

I may be a bit slow at the Cystic Fibrosis "Great Strides" Walk tomorrow. At least it is a walk and not a run.

Ow.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Recipe: Romanesco Cauliflower Mac


No idea what romanesco cauliflower is? Don't worry, you definitely aren't alone. (My spell check doesn't even recognize it.)

Some people call it romanesco broccoli.

Or fractal cauliflower. 

This is what it looks like: 

Pretty.

We had our first experience with this veggie fairly recently, when one arrived in our CSA box. We discovered that it is great straight up roasted with some olive oil and salt and pepper. I think it tastes more like broccoli than cauliflower but also much nuttier. It really has its own flavor altogether.  

You should try it! 

I was ready to try something new this past Monday so, using Martha Stewart's Broccoli Romanesco and Parmesan Puree recipe as inspiration, I decided to whip up a veggie and cheese mac for Meatless Monday. 

This could also be a fun St. Patrick's Day dish. You know, because it's green. 

Romanesco Cauliflower Mac
Serves:

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head romanesco cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces small macaroni
  • Fresh parsley, for serving

Directions:
  1. Cook macaroni to al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid before draining.
  2. While macaroni is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the romanesco cauliflower and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown.
  3. Add water, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the romanesco cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork. 
  4. Drain any remaining water from the skillet and transfer the romanesco cauliflower to a blender or food processor. Add milk and process until smooth. If needed, add a bit of the pasta cooking liquid to get the sauce to your desired consistency. 
  5. Combine the pasta and sauce. Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of parmesan and chopped parsley. 

Nutrition:
Based on my calculations, this is approximately 350 calories/serving.

Disclaimer: I don't believe in hiding vegetables to get children to eat more vegetables. Primarily because they don't learn that vegetables are awesome and that they actually LIKE vegetables. However, if you have a particularly picky eater on your hands, child or adult, this may be a good way to sneak in some extra good green stuff. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 Goals Update! Vacation, Running, Grad School??? OH MY!

I wanted to do a quick goals update, since it has been a while since I have posted. For the most part, I've been blogging much more frequently this year. I did take a little break when I went on vacation last week. We went to Disneyland for four days and it was absolutely wonderful. It rained on us nearly the entire time but I'm not complaining because we were having fun at Disneyland!

MONORAIL! This was the view from our hotel room. Love.
Milk & Cookies.
Mickey beignets at Cafe Orleans in Disneyland.
Out there having fun, in the warm cool California sun rain.

In addition to my various goals (see updates below) I found out on Friday that we received a grant award at work for the biggest (money-wise) proposal I have ever written. YAAAAAAY! This is particularly fantastic because it secures resources for critical prevention, intervention and youth development services. A selfish reason that I was keeping my fingers crossed for the grant award is because it means I will most likely not have to submit another proposal of that size until 2016.

Oh, and if that isn't enough excitement for a couple weeks, I hit 'submit' on a graduate school application this morning. It is for an innovative, accelerated program that will allow me to complete my master degree by December of next year, all while maintaining my current full-time job. For now, I wait....

Goal Updates 

Home: 
  • Complete January Cure.  
  • Blog January Cure and goal progress minimum 1x/week. 

Fitness/Health
 - Reach Goal Weight & Maintain:
  • Hot Chocolate 5K (January); Fight for Air Climb (March); Great Strides 5K (April); Stars & Stripes 5K (July); Fall 5 or 10K TBD.
  • Hikes 1x/month minimum
  • Schedule and track all fitness. 
  • Complete five personal training sessions. 
  • Group gym classes 2x/month minimum. 
The hiking goal has been one that I have really enjoyed accomplishing and we have easily exceeded it. My big hike this month will be with a childhood friend. We don't see each other all that often and she is a lover of the great outdoors and will be a wonderful hiking mentor.

I recently restarted my Couch-to-5K training -- mainly because I wanted to get back in the habit of running every other day and work up my running stamina. This past week I ran every other day. So far, so good!

Woot.

My first personal training session is scheduled for this Friday! I will report back on how that, and any future personal training sessions, goes.

Cooking/Health:
  • Track all food and pay attention to portion sizes. 
  • New recipes 8x/month. 
  • Meatless lunches/dinners 4x/week minimum. 
The new recipes goal has been especially easy...and fun! I use Paprika which makes finding, importing and organizing recipes super duper easy. I also use it for our weekly meal planning and grocery lists. Meatless meals have also been easy and fun. Keeping it up at much as possible! I will post some of our favorite new recipes soon. 

Fun: 
  • Read 12+ books. 
  • Dates with friends 2x/month minimum. (May be combined with fitness fun.)
  • Daily Challenge by me you health. (Overall well being.) 
I'm still working my way through the two books I started this year, A Confederacy of Dunces and Tattoos on the Heart. Both are very good but I honestly haven't been making reading a priority. I do want to work on that, even if it means just a little bit each evening. 

We have been having a lot of fun with friends so far this year -- next up is a dinner and game night at our house this Saturday. We'll be making a vegan paella. Mmm... 

Last, but not least... I've completed all of the Daily Challenge assignments since January 1...68 days and counting! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014 Goals Update! February Hike: Bay Bridge Trail

Perfect Poppy. Our state flower. No filter needed.
Seriously...this is straight up iPhone camera.

Every two weeks or so, my honey and I both have a Friday off together. I have coined these days our "FriDATEs" and I love them. Sometimes we use the day for crossing things off our to-do lists, such as car check-ups, hair appointments, errands... Sometimes we use the day for fun. Most times we use the day for a combination of the two.

This past Friday was one of those days and we decided to do the Bay Bridge Trail, after dropping my car off with our mechanic for an oil change. If you aren't already aware, this is the new span of the bridge that connects Oakland and San Francisco. It is also the one that had a piece of its upper deck collapse during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Old Bridge.

It was neat to walk right between the old bridge and the new bridge. It will also be neat when the old bridge is gone and the trail is extended to the island. Oh, and the third neat thing! We passed a few other walkers/bicyclists but for the most part we had the entire 8+ miles to ourselves.

Old Bridge. New Bridge. Husband.

One of my 2014 goals was to do a hike a month. We have hike #3 planned for this weekend...so I'm ahead on this one!

Nope. I won't stop.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Recipe: Balsamic & Bacon Brussels Sprouts

This one time when we were out to lunch with friends, they seemed a bit hesitant of our decision to order a brussels sprouts appetizer. The brussels sprouts arrived, looking and tasting incredible. All four of us chowed down, with our friends gladly accepting the last bites.

I don't blame them for taking so many years to realize that brussels sprouts are awesome. I mean, I didn't know I liked them until I was in my mid-20s. My parents don't like them so I never tried them until a very nice friend showed me the light.

Ready to be roasted.

Shredded with olive oil, lemon juice and avocado.

Shortly after our lunch, I received an e-mail from one of our friends with a brussels sprouts recipe he had just made at home and loved. I quickly added it to our list of recipes to try. After a couple batches, I think I've found the combination of ingredients that we like best. 


Feel free to adjust the amounts to your liking. For example, I won't judge you if you use an entire package of bacon. Promise.

Balsamic & Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Serves: 4* 

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped into large pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 400ยบ. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the brussels sprouts, red onion and bacon and toss to coat. 
  3. Dump everything onto a large, lined baking sheet. 
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the brussels sprouts have softened and bacon is nice and crispy. 
*Or less, depending on how much you like Brussels Sprouts. My honey and I can easily finish off a batch, just the two of us.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

San Francisco Adventure Part Two!

If you have been following my blog for a while, you may recall that this past September I went on a really long walk around San Francisco. 14 miles. You may want to start by checking out my recap of the experience here.

Up to date? Great! Now read on to hear about our next 15 miles...

My honey and I got up nice and early to meet our friends at our starting location.

Waiting for a BART train.
Cable car!

We opted to take the cable car, where we sat by a charming Australian couple who I would guess are in their 60s. I was chatting with the wife and she asked where we were visiting from. I told her that we live near the city. She lowered her voice and whispered, "why are you on a cable car?!?" My first thought was, "why not?" but I explained that, although more expensive ($6/each) than taking the bus ($2/each), it was the most direct and quickest route to where we were meeting our friends.

We hopped off at the end near Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf and walked maybe half a mile to the Marina.



We met up with our friends at the Safeway and quickly got on our way. After all, we had 15 miles to go! Oh, and one of the first stops was for caffeine and donuts. We weren't messing around.

Here is a link to our (approximate) route for the day -- Google Maps.

Before caffeine and donuts we visited the Wave Organ. Although we weren't there at an optimal listening time, it was still really neat.

Aquatic Acoustics.
Listening.

After a bit of listening, we ventured back to pick up donuts, granola and yogurt and caffeine at Dynamo Donut + Coffee. I zeroed in on the maple donut with bacon on it (obviously) but limited myself to a bite (or two) and stuck mostly to the granola and yogurt. And an espresso. My honey didn't mind eating the remainder of the donut.

Let's take a look at the donut.

Nom Nom Nom.

YUM.

Then we got back on our way!

I thought this sign was awfully specific:

South of the sign is fine.

From there, we made our way to one of my favorite San Francisco landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw it from many different angles that day, but one of the best views was from Fort Point. Fort Point is a National Historic site and protected the San Francisco harbor from attack during the Civil War. Yay, history! None of the planned activities at the fort fit with our schedule (we had just missed the cannon demonstration. damn.) so we did a little self-guided tour, mostly to climb to the top for the fantastic photo opportunities.

San Francisco, open your Golden Gate.

So yes, that view above was my favorite. But this view, once we had walked the trail that takes you under the bridge and further along the coast, wasn't too shabby either.



It is moments like these when I feel so grateful to live in such a beautiful place. The weather was also INCREDIBLE. Like, short-sleeves-and-still-a-little-warm-in-January weather. We are spoiled.

The weather was great until we hit Land's End, that is.

We found Lands End!

We stood at the edge, looking at the water, and literally watched the fog roll in and take over.

Fog moves fast, FYI.

Up next was a much needed lunch stop at the Seal Rock Inn.


Lunch.

With out bellies filled, we got right back on the road. Actually, the Great Highway. This was the last 1.5-2 hours of our journey and it was cold and foggy. Once we reached the Zoo, we found our way to a bus stop to take us to BART and our (thankfully seated) trip back home.


We found winter on the Great Highway.

I asked our friends if we could walk from the Zoo to Bayview/Hunters Point. We're not sure if it is physically possible, at least along the outer edge of the city, but if it is, you know we'll find a way. We also decided about halfway through our 15 miles that we should work on making our way through the middle of the city next. Always planning...

Thanks to our adventure (and some intentionally stepping later), I got my first 35,000 step badge on FitBit! Woot.

35,000 steps!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January Cure Updates -- Happy February!

Happy February! It is raining here today. Although that has put a damper on our plans to go for a hike, it is desperately needed and welcomed.

I suppose when I decided to do this project again, I underestimated how full my calendar already was last month. There were many days where I made others things a priority...like a 15-mile hike through San Francisco. (Blog post coming soon!).

Below is a list of the January Cure Assignments as well as my updated project list (with all of the completed items crossed off) . I know that I will have the opportunity to cross a lot more off during the remainder of 2014!

January Cure Project. DONE. Got these photos printed for less than $20.

Apartment Therapy's January Cure 2014 Assignments: 
  • Jan 2: Make a Project List 
  • Jan 3-5: Flowers, Floors, Green Cleaners
  • Jan 6: Get a Fresh Perspective
  • Jan 7: Set Up Outbox
  • Jan 8: Select One Project from List
  • Jan 9: Choose a Piece of Art to Frame
  • Jan 10-12: Flowers, Kitchen Organization/Cleaning, Make Yourself a Meal
  • Jan 13: Get Your Get-Together Together
  • Jan 14: Create a Landing Strip
  • Jan 15: Try a Media Fast
  • Jan 16: Work on Your Goal Project
  • Jan 17-19: Flowers, Bedroom Organization/Cleaning
  • Jan 20: Get Papers & Files in Order
  • Jan 21: Exercise a Little Cord Control
  • Jan 22: Bathroom & Medicine Cabinets Cleanout
  • Jan 23: Declutter Books/Media
  • Jan 24-26: Flowers, Living Room, Lighting Refresh, Empty Outbox
  • Jan 27: Catch Up Day
  • Jan 28: Hang Artwork

Art hung in our entryway. DONE.
  • Jan 29: Spruce Up & Surface Clean
  • Jan 30: Show for Get Together
  • Jan 31-Feb 2: Relax & Celebrate!

Our January Cure Get Together was a small dinner party at our house last night. We had three friends over, stuffed our faces with homemade Indian food and played a few rounds Cards Against Humanity. As for the Indian food, we made:
  • Chickpea and Okra Coconut Curry (Vegan) -- I used this recipe as the base but subbed light coconut milk for the yogurt and added a bag of frozen okra slices.  
  • Grilled Chicken Tikka -- We just made the chicken, not the tomato chutney, from this recipe. I chopped the chicken into bite-size pieces and marinated it in the yogurt mixture for a couple hours before my honey grilled it up. We served a mango chutney from Trader Joe's on the side. 
  • Saag Paneer (Spinach with Indian Cheese; Vegetarian) -- I have made this recipe a couple times before. It is yummy and, although she provides instructions on making your own paneer and garam masala, I always pick those up at our local Indian market.
  • Brown Rice and Naan -- I sliced big pieces of naan from our local Indian market in half and my honey warmed them up on the grill with the chicken.

Project List: 

Completed in 2013
Not Completed
Completed in 2014

Entry
Outbox
Clean out/reorganize hall closet
Paint front door
New door mat
Deep clean floors
Clean out/reorganize hall closet
Outbox

Living Room/Dining Room
Print Cuba photos for large frames in dining room
Order, frame and hang art print
Print, frame and hang photos in living room
New coffee table (glass top)
Fireplace insert
Entry table/cabinet/hooks/something?
Screen door
Deep clean floors (these are the same ones as the entry)
Deep clean living room
Put away holiday decorations
Reorganize china/booze cabinets
Hang mirror

Kitchen

Organize pantry cabinets -- containers for dry ingredients
Deep clean floors (see above)
Deep clean kitchen
Hang NOLA signs above stove
Hang paper towel holder
Purchase/hang light(s) above sink -- Hang second light.
Hang photo canvases

Family Room
Screen door
Clean out/re-organize DVDs/Blu-rays
Paint shelves -- Get second shelves for other side of couch or new side tables?

Office
Clean out/reorganize closet
Hang diplomas
Hang guitars
Fix closet doors
Declutter and reorganize books/shelves
Declutter and reorganize paperwork

Guest Room

Guest bed and side table
Move elliptical
Small TV -- hang in front of elliptical
New light fixture
Hang Bosnia photos
Clean out/reorganize closet
Hang mirror

Bedroom

Hang Croatia photo
Jewelry organization
New light fixture
Wedding photo - printed and framed
Deep clean bedroom
Reorganize dresser
Print, frame, and hang photo(s)
Clothes and shoe repairs

Bathroom

Paint
Deep clean bathroom
Declutter and reorganize under sink cabinet
Purchase/hang new towel rack(s)
Purchase/hang wall cabinet -- shelf/counter?