Friday, December 30, 2011

A Look Back -- 2011 Goals

I had every intention of doing a monthly "goals update" post all through 2011, but as you can tell, that didn't happen. So here we are, right on the cusp of 2012 and I am going to take a quick look back at my 2011 goals and how I fared.

Healthy Mind/Body Goals

    • Get out of the grocery store -- yep! I think I was pretty successful with this one. We did it by going to the farmer's market at least once a month (during the summer we were there almost every week) and we build raised beds for our veggie garden. The chicken coop we wanted to building didn't happen this summer, but it's on the list for next year!
    • Read more often -- this is a yes and no. Yes because I have a ton to read for yoga teacher training, no because I haven't been real successful in reading novels or just reading for pleasure (not that YTT reading isn't for pleasure)
    • Make more food items that I would normally buy -- check. See the make vs. buy comparison
Family First Goals
    • Visit home more often -- we were on Maui in January and I got to see my mom in California (and here in CLE) in July. So I'd call that a win.
    • Appreciate -- in the form of hand written cards to family: fail. 
    • Stay in touch -- I think I did a good job with this one. I even visited my extended family for the holidays!
Experience Life Goals
    • Meet new people -- thanks to this lovely blog, I did awesome at this one. 
    • Explore photography -- I saved up and bought myself a dSLR that I'm in love with. My next challenge is actually using it more often.
    • Travel, and stand on my head -- Maui, California, Chicago, Floyd, Jersey...I think I've done pretty good with this one! I didn't run a destination race though, saving that for next year.
Simply Goals
    • Create more than consume -- we've done a lot of making rather than buying this year...and not just with food: scarves, legwarmers, doggie treats, my wedding dress. More to come on the DIY front, for sure!
    • Don't buy clothing for one year -- fail on this. BUT for every piece of clothing that I did buy, I donated two. I thought that was a pretty brilliant way to keep my closet from overflowing with clutter.
    • Get rid of "stuff" -- this was actually not my best effort either. I did go through all of my clothes and get rid of three or four bags worth of clothing, but I still have a ridiculous amount of "stuff" accumulated in my basement. I'll save it for spring cleaning in 2012.
Be Vulnerable Goals
    • Speak up -- this is going to sound ridiculous, but I was so proud of myself for asking a question during our last YTT session. It's just not something I'm terribly comfortable with, speaking in front of a big group of people. Even though it was one simple question, I call that a big win. 
    • Make eye contact -- also something that can be very difficult for me, but I'm working on it every day. It's still a work in progress, but I'm practicing -- and that's half the battle!
So there you go, my 2011 goals recap. Not too shabby right? I'm not going to write any goals for 2012, because I feel like my year 26 bucket list pretty much covered the things I want to do this year. I do have a theme for the year though:
live with intention

If I can walk, talk, eat, breathe, live and love intention, then I'm totally on the right path for 2012. 

I wish you all the best in the New Year and I'll see you folks on the flip side.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Skin Care Stuff I Live By

If you know me, you know I'm all (er, mostly...) about eating healthy foods and staying active.  Something that I DON'T pay a ton of attention to -- but should pay more to -- is skin care.  Even when I lived on Maui, I was much more concerned with being deeply tanned than keeping my skin healthy.

Now, skin is becoming my most important organ. It is usually the first to let me know when somethings wrong. It knows when I'm stressed. It protects. It sweats.

Gosh, I love my skin. I definitely need to take better care of it.

There are a few things that I have been using that I absolutely swear by in terms of my skin.  Following the numbers in the picture at the top of the post (and please excuse the strange green hue of the photo, my green bathroom walls make taking iPhone photos difficult):

  1. Udderly Smooth Body Cream: originally developed for dairy cows - so this stuffs gotta be good! Seriously though, I love it because it's not greasy but it still feels like you jumped in a vat of olive oil when you use it....minus the oil. It's an awesome all around moisturizer.
  2. Cetaphil Facial Cleanser: It took me a long time to find a good face wash, because my skin tends to be very sensitive but also prone to acne and very oily. This face wash doesn't leave my skin too dry (which will cause your pores to produce excess oil and make your face even oily-er) but it does make my face feel squeaky clean!
  3. Trader Joe's Honey Mango Shave Cream: Alright, I'm obsessed with this stuff. I refuse to shave without it. It's almost like shaving with lotion, but it leaves you feeling clean and lovely. Plus it smells so delicious, sometimes I with they'd make some kind of food out of it. 
  4. Dry Brushing Brush: There are lots of great reasons why you should dry brush, but the most compelling argument for me was that it keeps your skin plump, moist and healthy. For me, that means less discomfort during the dry winter months where I'm constantly slathering on lotion.
  5. Cetaphil Face Lotion with SPF 15: I guess I'm pretty brand loyal. I can't help it, Cetaphil makes good sh*t. I have to be really careful with lotion for my face because I get so oily, but during the winter, my face gets uncomfortably dry after I wash it. This lotion is not greasy, and it keeps my face from getting dry, itchy and uncomfortable. Love in a bottle.
What are your go to products when it comes to skin?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Making the Dress, part 2

I took a blogging hiatus for the last week or so, because I was traveling for the holidays. Christmas isn't quite over for me just yet, but for now I'm sitting on my couch enjoying the best Chanukah present ever: the 8-DVD Harry Potter box set.

Hell yeah.

Aside from watching Harry Potter, I managed to put more work into my wedding dress today, so here's the update.

Cutting = done sauce.

I started sewing, beginning with the bodice. I got through sewing the lining onto the silk and realized that I had two right boobs and no left ones.


SO I took all the stitching out to start one of the sides over again. It definitely could have been worse. I now have one right boob and one left and I will not be having any kind of wardrobe malfunction at my wedding.

Sewn bodice = done sauce.

Well, almost. It's still in two pieces, but that picture will give you an idea of what it will look like. It's actually coming along!!

Alright folks...Harry Potter is calling my name. Harry's about to find the sword of Gryffindor in a frozen lake.

Friday, December 16, 2011

How To Love Winter Running

Running outdoors in the winter is tough.

It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s probably wet. It takes 25 minutes to put all of your gear on. Sometimes, it can be dangerous… I’m making a great argument for going outside to run during the winter, right?

On the real side, winter running can be really intimidating but it can also be really wonderful and really fun. Sure, there are many times when I decide to stay inside and practice yoga instead of going for a run sometimes, but after spending the entire winter training for a marathon, there’s something I really appreciate and love about winter running.

So, I’m going to tell you how you can love running in the winter too!

Run during daylight hours. Trust me, I know how tough this one is – the hours when I’m not working (between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.) are swathed in complete darkness this time of year. If you can, get out for a short run at lunch. If you can’t run on your lunch break, make your days off running days – we’ll call them your days ON.

Invest in a pair of Yaktrax. They basically give you no excuse not to go out running when there is snow on the ground.

Feel awesome that you’re probably getting in a good strength workout as well as a cardio workout. Hurdling mounds of snow is a strength workout in itself revel in that. You can skip the gym if you’re running through snow!

Misery loves company. Ok, that is probably a little more negative than it is meant to be. What I mean to say is, run with a buddy. This is great for many reasons – not the least of which is company. It’s also a much safer thing to do than run outside in the winter by yourself.

If all else fails…then get inside and find yourself a treadmill. It won’t prepare you in the same way for a spring race like running outside will, but it will definitely keep you in shape. In the words of Govinda Kai “always choose action over inaction”. 

It's going to snow this weekend. Get on out there! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Best Post-Run Meal Ever

I haven't talked about running much lately. That's because I haven't run much lately. My life's been consumed with yoga, cookies and sewing my wedding dress (an update on that later!)

For those of you that miss my running posts, unfortunately, this post isn't about running. So, I'm sorry. Hopefully you won't mind much though, because if I know anything about runners, I know they love to eat....and this post is about food!

During training for the Cleveland Marathon, Brandon and I would make it a habit to go to the farmer's market on Saturday before or after our long runs and get a heap of Ohio City Pasta. Then, we'd take it home, cook it up, add some sauteed veggies and olive oil, throw it in a bowl and go to town.

We did that every. Single. Week.

Even though we're no longer doing 20-mile training runs, we still go to town on a bowl of Ohio City Pasta. Worth it!!

You can definitely play with the veggies that you add to the pasta with this dish. The best part is, it's quick and easy so you can quickly replenish those carbs after your run. This particular version is loaded with good stuff; kale, mushrooms, olive's a super macrobiotic meal that's' got everything you need if you're a runner. Carbs. Fat. Deliciousness.

Macrobiotic Post-Run Pasta
serves 4


  • 1 package pasta (or four bundles of Ohio City Pasta)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 cup blue oyster mushrooms
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
  • salt, pepper and a splash of shoyu (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp herb infused olive oil
  1. cook pasta according to package directions, drain.
  2. saute mushrooms and kale in a skillet over medium heat, right before you remove it from the heat add a pinch or two of salt and pepper and a splash of shoyu.
  3. mix the veggies with the pasta an olive oil, top with parmesan cheese if you want to and serve immediately.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Signing up for this was the best idea ever.

I mean, who doesn't love getting 3 dozen cookies in the mail?!? I got pizzelles, Moroccan Briouats and raw orange date cookies!
orange date cookies from Nadia at Cooking My Way To Healthy

pizzelles from Brenna at Ingredients of a 20 Something

Moroccan Briouats from MarocMama

Basically  we were matched up with 3 people and you send each of them a dozen cookies. So each person gets a dozen cookies from three different people. A.k.a. best. idea. ever.

EVER. The three people I sent cookies to were:
  1. Melanie from Delectable Baked Goods
  2. Caitlyn from Chopsticks and Measuring Cups
  3. Bethany from Bake or Buy
and what did I make? Butterbeer Cookies. They were a total experiment, but they came out gloriously. Inspired by my Butterbeer Cupcakes. Enjoy!

Butterbeer Cookies 
Inspired by The Curvy Carrot (
makes just over 30 cookies

Cookie Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup earth balance vegan butter
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring ***You can find this in the spice aisle in your grocery store next to the other extracts.
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup cream soda, room temperature
¼ cup butterscotch ganache +more for drizzling
½ 11-ounce bag butterscotch chips

Butterscotch Ganache Ingredients:
⅓ 11-ounce bag of butterscotch chips
⅓ cup heavy whipping cream

For the butterscotch ganache:
1. In a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, mix the butterscotch chips and heavy cream, stirring until smooth.  Let cool.

For the cookies:  
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare a cookie sheet with the liners of your choosing.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on medium to cream the butter until light, about 2 minutes.
5. Add the granulated and dark brown sugars to the butter and continue to mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
6. Add in the egg mixing well after each addition.
7. Add the vanilla and butter flavorings until combined.
8. Add the buttermilk and cream soda, and continue mixing with a wooden spoon.
9. Add the wet ingredients to the flour and mix until it forms a fairly stiff dough.
10. Fold the butterscotch ganache and butterscotch chips into the dough.
11. Use a tablespoon to spoon balls of dough onto your prepared cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes. Try not to over bake them! Remove from oven and let cool completely
12. Drizzle the rest of the butterscotch ganache over the cookies and enjoy!

Want to be a part of the cookie swap next year? Sign up here to stay up to date and receive notifications...because it's never too early to get ready for holiday cookies!

Friday, December 9, 2011

5 Reasons to Take a Yoga Class

Not that you guys really need any more good reasons to practice yoga.

If you're having trouble finding the motivation to start practicing, though, here are some additional reasons why you should get off your butt and do it.

1. Comfy clothes
Let’s be real, we are basically wearing pajamas to every class.

2. Bare feet
Any activity where bare feet is mandatory is good in my book.

3. Nap time
Savasana is part (the most important part) of every class. We’re talking naptime a la kindergarten here. Remember when you didn’t want to nap when you were younger? Now, you want to nap every chance you can get? Yeah - savasana.

4. It’s for every BODY
I can literally practice yoga with any one. My grandma, my four-year old sister, my fiance.

5. It’s exercise, spirituality and therapy all in one
If church isn’t your style and neither is a shrink - all you really have to do is visit your nearest yoga studio. Where else can you get all that for under $20?!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Guest Post: Why You Should Juice

Hey guys! I have a great guest post for you today from Maria, who writes for First in Education. She wants to give you the skinny on juicing...and not the kind of juicing that many major league baseball players have gone to trial for. Fruit juicing! Take it away Maria!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Why you should DIY with juice

There’s no doubting that American food culture has by and large has become too reliant on highly processed foods. The majority of eaters in this country would take a cookie-flavored Pop Tart over a slice of toast with jam any day, and that’s cause for concern.

It seems like there’s a new story in the news related to the terrors of processed and prepacked foods every day. The recent controversy over the possible contamination of many widely sold fruit juices only underscores the fact that the mass production of foods is getting out of hand. It’s hard to imagine a grocery as simple as apple juice can pose a potentially dangerous health risk (besides the high sugar content). In addition to high inorganic arsenic levels, new reports reveal that certain juices had unusually high lead levels. Yuck.

I’d like to take this opportunity to advocate for people to try making their own juices in an initiative to avoid processed fruit beverages. I also think juicing helps people to adopt a healthier diet while still getting the fruit (and veggie) drinks they love. What’s more, you’ll know exactly what goes into every drink you make, so there’s no chance of exposure to harmful materials.

Invest in a juicer
So if you want to get on the juicing train, you’ll need to purchase a reliable juicer. Many people looking to juice stop at this point because of the outrageous prices of juicers at most kitchenware stores. A quality juicer could potentially set you back $400 at one of these stores. Luckily online discount retailers like Amazon and Overstock offer juicers that range from $75-$500. When you’re shopping, don’t immediately go for the cheapest model. Take the time to read through consumer reviews and do your research before you make your purchase. The last thing you want is an overpriced juicer incapable of doing the one thing it’s made for.

You may still balk at purchasing a juicer, but consider this: most juicers last over two years, meaning that $100 or so will be stretched over quite a few juices before you consider junking it. The long-term savings you’ll incur from avoided store-bought juices (especially if you buy expensive “in-house” made juices at organic stores) will far outweigh the initial cost of a juicer. And when you factor in the combined amount you’ll spend on fruits and vegetables for your juices, it will still be less than if you had purchased pre-made juice at a store.

Get creative with your juices
Once you have a juicer set up in your kitchen, feel free to experiment as much as you want to find the juice that most satisfies your cravings. Most people start small with apples, oranges, lemons, and mangoes. There’s no limit to the variations you can try on juices; you’d be surprised to find what fruits and vegetables complement each other. And you’ll never be found wanting, since all fruit and veggie combinations will be packed with vitamins and minerals. For instance, beta-keratin-packed carrots go splendidly with apple or orange juice, while cucumber can offer a refreshing taste to any fruit. I personally enjoy a juice composed of apples, lemons and peeled ginger.

You’ll notice the difference between store-bought juices and your homemade juices immediately. There’s a remarkable freshness in homemade juices that you simply can’t get anywhere else. Yours won’t be packed full of additives and sweeteners, so you’ll avoid the tweaking sugar rush and subsequent crash that accompanies most brand name juices. And since juicers will process the entire fruit—skin and all—you can rest assured that you’re getting much more nutrition with every batch you drink.
If you need a little inspiration, you’ll find no shortage of juicing recipe books that offer pages upon pages of innovative (and always healthy) juices, both sweet and savory. But even if you stick to standard juices that you could find in any grocery store, you can rest assured that what you’ll be much better off with what you make at home.

Author Bio:
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

OBA Holiday Cookie Swap

I'm participating in two cooking swaps this year! I don't know about you but I'm not sure if there's anything better than lots of cookies. You might call me a cookie monster. 

Last night was the annual OBA Holiday Cookie Swap. I made a vegan version of some cookies that I made in the summer (as you can see - all the pictures are from the summertime). They're like little gingery pieces of love.
(this pictures was lovingly stolen from Alicia - it's like HALF of last night's cookie spread)

Seriously, skip the gingerbread men this year. Go for these guys.

Ginger Cookies
adapted from super natural every day
makes about 48 cookies

  • ½ cup turbinado sugar
  • about 6 oz. vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
  • ½ cup earth balance vegan butter
  • ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  • ½ cup sucanat
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1 cup dates, chopped coarsely

  1. Put the turbinado sugar in a small bowl and set aside
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger and salt
  3. Heat the vegan butter in a sauce pan and add the molasses, sucanat and ginger when the butter has just melted. Add the flax egg and stir until all the sugar has melted
  4. Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the flour and mix until just combined
  5. Fold in the dates and the vegan chocolate chips
  6. Chill in the fridge for about half an hour until the dough firms a bit
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) and prepare two cookie sheets
  8. Scoop one tablespoon of dough, tear that tablespoon in half then roll each piece into a nice ball
  9. Roll each ball in the turbinado sugar until it’s completely coated
  10. Place cookies a few inches apart on your prepped cookie sheet
  11. Bake for 7-10 minutes (err on the side of undercooked) until they are puffed up and begin to crack.

Friday, December 2, 2011

How to Decaf Caffeinated Tea

I drink decaf. 

For those of you that don't already know that, it might come as a shock. Caffeine's just not my style. I do love tea though. I love coffee too, but a warm cup of tea with honey is just the most comforting thing I can think of. Snuggled up around the holidays with a cup of tea and a book in front of a fireplace?

Too bad we don't have a fireplace.

I ran into a problem at work yesterday with my tea, though. No decaf! There was a whole stash of awesome looking regular teas, but nothing without caffeine!

Now, I don't remember where I heard how to take most of the caffeine out of your tea, but I remember it being a brilliant idea. You have to keep in mind though, it doesn't make the tea 100% caffeine free, so if you are very sensitive to caffeine, just stick to herbal or fruit infused teas.


  • put your teabag or loose tea in a cup (or bowl - that's what I used)
  • pour hot water over the teabag/leaves so it is just covered

  • let sit for a minute
  • remove the teabag or strain the leaves
  • make a normal cup of tea using the same teabag/leaves and enjoy a less caffeinated warm beverage

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