Love

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Boston Fan


Boston is such a fun and cool city! All my preconceived notions and ideas about what Boston would be like changed once we spent a lovely Easter weekend up there. First of all, it's nothing like Philadelphia or New York size wise. In my mind, where growing up the "city" is referring to New York, every city automatically makes me think a million people. While that is definitely true of New York and even Philadelphia, although we are very spread out, Boston is a quaint city in comparison.

We started off our Easter Sunday with a run through Cambridge, where my brother lives. We ran through Haaaarvard, along the Charles River and just through the little neighborhoods. What an awesome vibe and culture! It also just happened to be the weekend of the Boston marathon, so runners and people supporting Boston were everywhere. It felt good to be a part of this community for the weekend.


We mostly hung out and ate delicious food in Cambridge for Easter. Drinks were had on a roof top deck, naps were taking, tons of cooking was going on. And the night wrapped up in a buzzed haze of Cards Against Humanity and chocolate cookies. It was such a great day!

Boys will be boys.
Roof top chilling.
The food was so delicious, I had to share some of the recipes we ate. I know everyone and their mother is on the kale wagon lately, but I can't seem to get over the sea-weed like texture enough to want to eat it all the time. That was until Amy made a delicious kale and crab meat salad with roasted pine nuts. The big secret though, in changing my kale opinion, was that she massaged the kale before serving, allowing it to become much more tender and have a salad taste rather than the stiff "I'm eating hard seaweed" vibe. So lesson learned: A massage makes something more tender. Got it.

This is similar to the recipe we used, except we substituted champagne vinegar for the balsamic and added crab meat.

Some of the other food we consumed that day:
Who doesn't love a well made cheese board??

Strawberry and Rosemary Scones, recipe from M love M.
Monday, marathon day, we spent walking and exploring downtown Boston. When I say walking and exploring, we literally walked about 7 miles (No surprise there if you're with my family!). We got to see so much of the city, the harbor, Chinatown, parks, 2 different bridges from Cambridge to Boston. We ended our walking extravaganza with drinks and a late lunch in a back patio in the beautiful weather.

A Boston side street.
Overall, it was a short but amazing trip. I cannot wait to get back to Boston to explore some more. There is so much to see and do (& eat!) and the city is so clean and inviting. I recommend a trip for anyone who has never been.

P.S. There will be MUCH more traveling posts ahead!

XOXO 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter in Bahston!

I'm so excited for this Easter weekend! Kyle and I are going to Boston to visit my brother and his fiance. Kyle has been to Boston once for a bachelor party (let's not talk about it), and I'm a first-timer! I always though Boston seemed like a fun city to visit, but when we didn't know anyone that lived there, we didn't really have any motivation to make the commute. I'm super excited to check out the city, check out their new place, and explore with my brother!

We decided to go up for Easter mostly because we were running out of weekends we could visit them. They really weren't going to be doing anything for Easter because of the traveling, so we decided, why not! It will just be the four of us, but we are still planning on cooking a big Easter fest (and by we, I mostly mean Kevin and Amy!). Since they are planning the food menu, I said I would be in charge of the dessert menu and have been searching for things that are both yummy and easy to travel with.

A cute and sophisticated Easter table, for a small crew like us!
Easter has always been a favorite holiday of mine. It's one of those holidays that carries traditions, but doesn't carry the high expectations or over the top things like Christmas. My family always would go to church in our Easter best, come home and open our baskets (it was torture as a kid to wait until after church!), and then find our hard boiled eggs we dyed hidden all over the house. There were many years where we never found them all and they revealed themselves weeks later because of the stank (whoops!). My favorite thing of all though was going to the boardwalk on Easter.

The boardwalk would officially open on Easter Sunday, and we would go and buy books of ride tickets for the rest of the summer because they were half off that day. We then would go on all the rides in our Easter clothes and play the stands to try to win big baskets. My Grandmother used the be the lucky one and win giant stuffed bunnies or more giant baskets almost every year! I used to love to play the candy stands and try to win boxes of blow pops. Overall, it was a great day because we all were able to be outside and have a blast together! Makes me a little sad now because of all the damage and destruction that the boardwalk has faced the last 2 years..I'm not sure it will ever be like it was for the kids getting to experience it now.


Anyways, back to the Easter food! I found two recipes I'm going to make for the weekend. One isn't really a dessert but sounds too awesome to pass up. I'm going to try to make these Lavender and Strawberry Scones. I found them on a blog I follow and they just sound very spring-y and special for Easter. For a true dessert, I'm going to make these Chocolate Cookies. I'll use some white chocolate chips like the recipe calls for, but I'm going to also make mine with peanut butter Easter M&Ms. M&M cookies are a staple in my house for any holiday and who doesn't love a chocolate and PB combo. We most likely will be making these cookies into ice cream sandwiches! (Drooling.)

And just because these holiday pictures always crack me up, here is the scariest Easter bunny I've ever seen.
Would you really hand your baby off to something like this??
Have a hoppy weekend and Easter!! XOXO

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Overnight Oatmeal

Oatmeal and I go way back. Like for most of us, I'm sure oatmeal has been a house staple for years. I have a friend who literally eats old-fashion oats oatmeal every single day for breakfast. (She probably has the best cholesterol levels ever!) While it is not an every single day affair for me, it is something I come back to again and again.

Most of the time I get on my oatmeal wagon in the winter, because I love waking up and having a hot and hearty breakfast on chilly mornings. I usually go on weekly kicks of needing to have oatmeal every day, and then switch it up. I also used to have the Quaker instant oatmeal packets, but over the past year have completely switched over to Quaker old-fashioned oats. While the packets are great, they definitely are sweeter than I have been liking, and I love being able to dress up my oatmeal exactly how I like it. This past winter, this Banana Bread Oatmeal was a favorite in our house. And it made enough to usually last a few mornings. Not bad for something that takes all of 5 minutes to make!

With the warmness of spring in the air, I haven't been reaching for oatmeal. My husband, however, recently started making this Overnight, No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal which he has been having for breakfast to change up his morning shake routine. It's pretty amazing, super healthy, and something that if you prepare the night before helps give extra time to your hectic mornings.

Image from theyummylife.com

He says that his favorite has been a "bit of a hybrid, I do the apple cinnamon but substitute half a banana for the apple sauce. The blueberry maple one is very good too!". Who would have thought that mush in a jar would be so tasty!

Try it out, make your mornings easier! Let me know if you come up with a delicious new combo!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Music to my Soul

Day 10 of my yoga challenge! I'm feeling both energized and tired at the same time - if that's possible! Really I feel like my mind and spirit are energized, but my body is a little tired from all the yoga and running. So here is some music that has been inspiring me to keep flowing!

Love is My Religion -- Ziggy Marley

Ones and Zeros -- Jack Johnson

All My Days -- Alexi Murdoch

And a fun boost!, Happy -- Pharrell Williams

Hope these help inspire you to keep going! I think that you learn a lot about yourself when you see how you can will your mind to do something and how strong you are when you are tired! (Without obviously hurting yourself).




Namaste! XOXO

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Bunch of Runners


So my family is pretty awesome. We are loud, honest, fun, up for anything kind of people. Sometimes I think we can scare people away, but most of the time I think we are embraced for being what you see is what you get kind of people. I really like that about us. Something else I like about my family is how we all, some way or another, became a running family. On many holidays when we are all home, you can find a group of us out for a run at some point. Kind of funny, but mostly awesome. Most of my family (minus those who live far away) came into Philly this weekend and we all did a race together (and did pretty sweet I might add!).

My Dad used to run growing up. If you see pictures of him when he was younger, he was a tall, skinny guy who looked like he was a runner. Through his 20s and 30s life started to get busy and he stopped for a while, but now he is back into being almost a daily runner. One great thing about both my parents is that they always came to cheer me on at these races! Since my dad started picking up running regularly, he started to get the itch and began joining me in races and signing up for local races on his own. He's even built himself up to two half marathons, but right now prefers to stick to things a little less than 13.  He definitely gave us our genes for wanted to run with our hair blowing in the wind!
After his 2nd half marathon ever!
My brother and I both ran track/x-country in middle and high school and did long distance races. I had a love/hate relationship with running, and mostly was interested in soccer. He had the same thing and played other sports as well, and didn't really start loving running again until after college. For me, after playing college soccer, I found running as a way to exercise, stay in shape, and somewhat keep my competitive drive going. I started doing 5K races and built my way up to a few half marathons a year. My brother started to join me and we even decided to run a full marathon together! I will never forget those long training runs together where I would just get angry at him for making me do it haha. He now is into minimalist running and has run several marathons and a 50K trail run. Read Born to Run and you will stop thinking he is a crazy man!
After our very hot marathon in San Diego.
My sister was a three sport athlete in high school as well, and always has been running throughout the past few years. She has months where she gets super hooked and others where she hates it. But lately she has been getting on the liking it train again, and whenever she does that she's good at it! She ran her longest race today and kicked butt.
15K no problem!
My mom and Kyle are a different story. They were the last two spectators at the races we would go to. My mom is an avid gym going and in kick ass shape, but because of a bad back assumed she couldn't run. Well she also got the runner's "itch" about 2 years ago and has been building up her mileage ever since! She has worked her way up to a 10k and has done multiple 5k's. It makes her so happy to be able to do something she thought she never could, and now she's hooked!

Before our annual kick off to summer 5 miler!
Kyle was always an amazing athlete. He was an awesome baseball player, but also was good at basketball, football, basically you name it. He used to think running was zero fun and needed some type of sport to keep him entertained. Well this past summer he started to lose weight for our wedding and tried running as a way to help. He ended up also getting "bit" by the running bug, and has ran 3 races since! He is recovering from an injury but wants to eventually work his way up to a 10K. I'm so proud of him and glad he finally came to the other side!

Post 5-miler.
It's so fun that all of us are participators in the races now. We get to cheer each other on and hear about the struggles and triumphs from the races after. It's such a fun way to get us all together because we get to feel good, eat good brunches and just feel happy about our accomplishments! The family that runs together, stays together!

Xoxo

Challenge Update


So I'm on day 6 of my yoga challenge and so far the week has been great. I'm finding that most days my body is actually craving yoga and I'm looking forward to it. I think day 4 was the hardest for me so far. I was pretty sore from 3 days of hour long yoga sessions in a row and had a busy day of running around with work and errands. After pushing through that day though things have been good.


What I'm learning is easy:
1. Eating healthy to keep my body feeling fit and light for all the yoga.
2. Gong to yoga classes at my studios.
3. Keeping the yoga mentality going off the mat.

What I've found is challenging:
1. Getting through a long yoga class at home.
2. Keeping up with my running at the same time.
3. Pushing through downward dog soreness.


I'm really embracing challenging my poses this week and have done a few things I've never done before. I used to be able to get into Crow but could not hold the position for very long. That is definitely improving, I can pretty much hold Crow as long as I want now!  Two of my goals during the challenge are trying to take wheel more and start to venture into the land of headstands. I have a hard time going into wheel and I think part of that is difficulty with back extension but I think part of it is just holding back from fear. Fear of what I'm not sure.

I'm also realizing the journey of my challenge is more important than focusing on the end. I mean isn't that what yoga is about?  Being in the present, here and now. "You're either now here or you're no where."

I hope if you're doing this challenge with me you're figuring out things about yourself; what things are easy for you and what is challenging. Wherever you're starting from,  I hope you continue the journey!


Side note: Yogi tea is a great way to stay in a mindful existence.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

21 Day Yoga Challenge

Today kicks off April, and for me, this officially means spring because it's almost guaranteed warmer spring weather. There's no turning back now!


With spring comes new beginnings and a chance for new growth, discoveries and feel good things. While I have been doing a lot more running and racing this spring, I also have been feeling that I want to do more yoga. Yoga Download has been advertising a 21-day yoga challenge, and I've decided I'm going to do it.

21 days of yoga. 3 weeks of practicing every single day. Right now, I would say I probably do 1 yoga class a week, and then practice 1-2 times on my own, after a run or just on it's own. I love how it makes me feel every time I do it. If I feel good practicing roughly 2-3 times a week, how would I feel if I did it 7 days a week? My thoughts are that it will feel really great, grounding and empowering. But I'll have to see after the challenge!
Yoga humor.
I've talked about it in the past, but Yoga Download is a great set of yoga podcasts you can download on your Itunes. Most of the classes are 25-30 minutes long, and have the option of a video if you are a visual yogi. The best part about them is that it's FREE and they have so many classes there is something for everyone -- morning yoga, yoga for runners, core yoga, yoga before bed, etc. They are doing a 21 day challenge where they are offering all of the classes they have available for $10. This is also a steal because paying the $10 allows you access to the longer 60 minute yoga classes. They also are suggesting a cleanse as you go through this, but I've decided I'm going to try to eat healthy on my own.

For the 21 days I'm not sticking to any plan in particular, I am just going to practice yoga every single day. Today I kicked off the challenge by going to my studio for a hot vinyasa class. I'm going to alternate between my yoga studio, yoga download podcasts, and my apartment complex classes, but at least do 30 minutes of yoga every day.

I'm excited to take on this challenge and see if I notice a difference between how I feel before and after. Hopefully this will help kick start and lighter and fitter spring both mentally and physically!


Namaste. XOXO

Pizza Pie!

Where I grew up in Jersey, you can call a pizzeria and order a "pie" if you wanted a pizza. One large pie with half peppers and onions would get you exactly what you wanted. A lot of people think it's weird to call it pie and just call it what it is, pizza! However you call it, pizza is usually a favorite of everyone. I like to ask people the question, if you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?? My answer on most days is pizza.

Being from New Jersey, I know what a really good pizza is. I didn't realize that everyone didn't come from a town with 25 great pizza places until I went to college. And that got even worse when I was studying abroad in Australia! I craved pizza for the entire 6 months I was there. Where we live now has some OK pizza places, but we have learned to make our own pizzas a few years ago and have never looked back.

My brother's fiance gave us this really easy dough recipe that we use sometimes. It takes about 5-10 minutes total to make. The only issue with it is that the dough has to rise at least 2-4 hours to be really good. This is sometimes a problem when you decide after work that you want pizza. Here is the recipe:

Amy's Pizza Dough:

  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 1 1/2c warm water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • about 3 1/2 c bread flour
  • about 1/2 tsp salt
Directions:
  1. Proof the year with warm warm for about 5 minutes, until yeast looks frothy. Slowly add the flour, sugar, salt and olive oil with a spoon.
  2. Add some flour to a work surface and hands and knead the dough for at least 5 minutes, adding more flour it it is loose.
  3. Let rise at least 2 hours in a lightly greased bowl covered with a damp paper towel. (This recipe makes enough dough for 2 pizzas!).
  4. When it is risen, divide the dough into 2 balls. Roll it out trying to stretch it with your hands rather than rolling pin to prevent air bubbles and tearing.
  5. Top with whatever you like and bake as instructed below!

When we don't want to make the dough, we get a pre-made dough from Whole Foods 365 brand. It comes with 2 pizza crusts in the package and we usually get the whole wheat. What we love about this is that it cooks on our pizza stone nice and thin and crispy. I think that this thin crust is a healthier option than normal crust, a little less carbs but still tastes great!
Whole Foods whole wheat pre-made pizza crust
Our go to recipe at this time is a Butternut Squash & Pesto Pizza. We either make our own pesto or use store bought, saute onions with butternut squash, and add walnuts, feta and sometimes shredded mozzarella cheese. It's different that a traditional pie with red sauce but it's AMAZING.

Ingredients:
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • ~1lb butternut squash pieced, cubed (We buy frozen butternuts quash cubes from Stahlbush, seen above)
  • 1/2 cup of pesto, jarred or homemade made
  • handful of walnuts, chopped
  • crumbed feta
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees for about 1 hour. This works best if you have a pizza stone, as it allows the stone to heat up properly and cook your pizza the best!
  2. Heat 1Tbsp of olive oil on a pan with minced garlic. Add chopped onions and saute until the onions soften and are clear. 
  3. Add the butternut squash pieces (I usually defrost them for about 1 hour before, but not necessary) and cook for about 5 minutes longer.
  4. Spread the pesto over the pizza crust. Add the onion and squash mixture and spread evenly. Top with the chopped walnuts and crumbled feta. Feel free to add any other cheese you like!
  5. Carefully put it on the hot stone and cook for ~10 minutes.
We also have added roasted asparagus or sauteed mushrooms if we feel like it. Add whatever you like! That's the best thing about pizza, the endless options!


Friday night pizza and a movie has been a staple of ours for a while now. We love to try all different options of pizza & toppings and it makes for a delicious and fun date night at home. I just shared with you our current favorite, but we have made all different funky kinds which I'll share more in a future post. But for now you can use Martha Stewart Pizza ideas as inspiration.

That's Amore! XOXO