Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Journal 4.12.15



I don't have much to report this week. It's finally nice out! I had a lot of work-catch up from our mini Easter vacation last weekend, and I finished of the work week by seeing American in Paris on Broadway. I was surprised by how much I loved it! It's actually choreographed as a Ballet, which I adore. I recommend. Be warned, it's a little long (just under three hours, I suspect).

Exercising
Monday - rest day (Sick)
Tuesday - swim (10 min) and run (2m)
Wednesday - barre
Thursday - rest day (plans with friends)
Friday - run (5k)
Saturday - quick bike ride
Sunday - barre and run (2m)

I've been quasi-training for my upcoming indoor triathlon, but haven't but all the pieces together yet. I feel like I've finally snapped out of my exercising funk and I'm really enjoying it right now! I'm hoping I can squeeze in a spin class this week.

Wearing

I've given up flats indefinitely due to plantar fascitis in my right heel (sad face) and purchased two pairs of sneakers to wear out in the upcoming months.

After some deliberation, I decided to go with new white canvas sneaks for spring instead of leather Adidas-syle, because I can throw them in the washer. My chucks are pretty holey, so I got a nice new pair of Supergas.


I actually haven't worn them outside yet. I can't wait to pair them with skirts and sundresses.


For the last few muddy weeks of March, I've been living in black Nike Frees. They're very NYC, and though they don't exactly scream "Spring" I think I'll get a lot of wear out of them on cloudy days and on route to the barre studio. These also have way more support than the Supergas so I think I'll wear them to and from the office a la Working Girl.


Also can I get Melanie's tights here? Her whole look is so on point.



I don't know what happened but I ordered this top online yesterday. I don't typically stray from GapFit for workout tanks, but this was calling to me! I love the sheer panels and the blush color. 


Eating


Let me get super suburban with you for a quick sec. The new Cold Brew Iced Coffee at Starbucks is really good. I picked on up this morning and sipped it through barre class. It's a nice, albeit slightly more expensive, alternative to the shitty regular iced coffee at Starbz. 

Reading



So I'm actually re-reading Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander) right now, but on Monday I stayed home from work and zipped through the third of the Bridgerton series, An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn. It was my favorite so far and not as cliche as I expected (the description alludes to it being a spin on the Cinderella story, but it has some surprising elements). Nothing like period romance in the spring. 


But back to Outlander for a quick sec....




I'm LOVING the second half of season one. I've read all the books obvi, but the show is an entirely different experience. Jamie Fraser was............................................well cast. 

Sunday morning so much better with Starzplay. Sigh.

Have a great week!


Hope






Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Weekend in the Berkshires


After a long bumpy winter, my husband and I packed up our dog and a bag of TJ's groceries and headed to a farm in the Berkshires for the long Easter weekend.



It's official, we're moving to the country. We already live 12 miles from the city (one hour by train, 30 minutes by bus), but rural New England makes even the burbs seem like a rat race. By hour 12 of our vacation we were making a short list of small towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire where we can get a big cheap piece of land and basically retire at 30.


We've been together for 6 years and traveled quite a bit, but I think our little weekend in a barn was the best trip we've ever had.



We arrived Thursday night and pretty much just went to sleep. On Friday morning, I made us eggs, toast, potatoes, and coffee with supplies we brought along. After breakfast, we walked along the farm and played with the other dogs that reside there.


Lex was in heaven! The entire 20-30 acre farm was fenced so he was able to run and run and run.


Here's a quick snap I was able to take between laps. 

After that we drove around a bit and I hit the local Planet Fitness. I ran a quick 5k, That was all my cardio for the weekend!


I'm clearly on my way out since my hair is insane and I'm in rain boots. Also check out my new lulu hoodie! I bought it on my lunch break on Thursday and didn't change out of it all weekend.

We grabbed some frozen food at the grocery store in town and then fixed ourselves in front of the cozy pallet stove for the rest of the evening. 



By the way, I'm now obsessed with pellet stoves. It got down to the 20's and 30's by nightfall and this thing was CRAZY warm. I've already started to research getting a pallet insert for our fireplace!

I'm loving these over-the-knee socks I ordered from Athleta a few weeks ago. They are on super sale now. I saw them at Anthro over the holidays and passed them by at the time, so I had to add them to my cart when I saw them for $13. They were perfect to lounge around in over the wintry-seeming weekend. 


I had to let them dry on the radiator after an unfortunate rain water incident, but this just made them all the more cozy later!

On Saturday, we had coffee and eggs again and then took L in the car to check out Great Barrington. I didn't snap any photos there, but it's definitely a cute little town! We reveled in the country roads discussing our country lifestyle and then headed back to the cabin to relax and run around with Lex for a bit. 


We left again for dinner to get pizza at a local restaurant and stuffed ourselves, and then came back to read and pass time by the stove. 

Since my husband had his laptop and I had my tablet, it wasn't exactly an "unplugged" weekend, but I spent most of it reading. Here's what I've read since my last book update:

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

This book is awesome! It was a little slow-going for the first quarter, but not so much that I felt the need to give up. I was totally invested by the time I was halfway through. After I finished it, I immediately moved on to the sequel.

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

You don't necessarily need to read these two books in order, but I'm glad I read them together. This book is in the same style and format as The Winter Sea, but with a different setting, a hot psychic Scotsman, and beautifully-written descriptions of 18th century Russia.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah Maclean

This is a basic romance novel you could pick up at your local Kroger. I checked it out at the library to read for fun on the drive up to the Berks. The writing quality wasn't awful - honestly, it's about on par with Dan Brown, and I've read most of his books too, and the plot was fun. I'm actually kind of bummed because I didn't realize this was the last in a series and has one major plot giveaway. If I go back and read the other three, which I may, then I'm missing out on a big reveal. Alas.

Mariana bu Susanna Kearsley

I loved the ending of this Kearsley novel, but it was written in 1994 and felt pretty dated in some ways. One thing I like about her later novels is the slow, steady development of the love stories, and I didn't think that was really present here. Some parts were thrilling and emotional, but I felt like I was filling in the blanks a lot for myself. It was not my favorite of her books, but it did have the can't-put-it-down factor you want in a vacation read.



We had lunch at my Mother-in-law's house on Sunday before heading home to NJ. On the Easter menu was shish kabobs made on the grill, quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and mandarin oranges, stuffed mushrooms, and these avocado deviled eggs. I was in charge of piping the filling into the eggs so I made sure to snap a pic. 

Everything was delicious and I'm still feeling stuffed two days later. OK, that's not true, I'm stuffed because I just ate a chocolate croissant. Whatever. 

Anyway, if anyone knows of some nice farm land for sale in New England, let me know! In the mean time, I'll be pinning away to my new "Farm Life" board on Pinterest. 

Hope



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Avocado Rosemary Lime Bars



Hopefully you are intrigued by the the title of this post and not grossed out. It does seem odd to see these three ingredients together, especially in a dessert, but trust me, these are sweet and yummy!

I came across the recipe on allrecipes.com and was duly weirded out. I decided to give them a try because all nine reviews are positive. Granted, if you don't like avocado, rosemary, lime, or shortbread, then these aren't for you. I personally love them.


I made them for the baking competition that we had at worst last week. Sadly they didn't win, but I gave myself a mental blue ribbon for Most Creative.



The avocado provides the texture for the sweet lime base which pairs really nicely with the hint of rosemary.





I actually made rosemary shortbread cookies at Christmastime  (half with chocolate chips, half without) following this recipe and they received rave reviews. If you're not feeling the lime part, you could always start here. 



Hope

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Morning Journal 3.22.15

first day of spring - 2015

This was a short workweek for me, as I left the office early on Thursday to go get my wisdom teeth extracted. Yes, I successfully managed to dodge this fact-of-life until age 28. I had no excuse to avoid it since I now have bangin dental insurance and don't plan on moving (and thus switching dentists) every 2-3 years like I did during my early- and mid-20's.

It wasn't that bad for me because I only had to get the top two teeth removed. I didn't go under anesthesia or get nitrous. It was a very similar process to when I got four molars pulled out before getting my braces on in middle school.....until he started stitching me up, that is. That really freaked me out.

I got through it by breathing deeply and thinking about how much worse it must have been to get teeth removed in Colonial times. Even if Claire Fraser were performing the procedure, I don't want to mess with her homemade ether, so the only option would be staying awake and feeling everything.


I've been home for the past couple days with Lexi, napping and eating gentle foods. Friday was actually kind of nice, I forwent my prescription pain killers for advil and we watched the snow fall. 

On to the weekly recap!

Exercising

Monday - Cardio Barre
Tuesday - Rest Day
Wednesday - Ballet Body Fitness
Thursday - Peloton Cycle class
Friday -  Rest Day

Saint Paddys Day (this past Tuesday) in NYC is really rough. I couldn't stand the thought of muscling through the drunk crowds to get to the gym, so I took an unexpected rest day and went straight home after work.

On Wednesday, I tagged along to Ballet Body Fitness with a friend on ClassPass. As you know, I LOVE Barre class, and I thought it would be a similar thing with more "authentic" ballerina moves. 


Nope! This is an actual Barre class like real ballerinas take. No cardio, squats, or thigh-squeezing a ball. You're supposed to keep your body straight and tall - no bending the standing leg and all that. I have zero dance experience so it was hard to effectively perform the moves. That said, I had a blast trying it out - especially the jumps! I didn't look graceful but it was fun to pretend. I thought it was interesting and the teacher was lovely, but it was more of an educational experience that an exercise class.

an extra gif from Step Up because it's the best movie ever.


If you're curious about it, your first class is only $20--or if you're on ClassPass, I hear it's pretty easy to get a spot. I would recommend it for a rest day or if you have another activity planned, since it's pretty low-impact. 


Some news I've been waiting to share is that on April 26th I will be competing in an indoor triathlon! It's like a baby triathlon - 10 minutes of swimming laps in a pool, 30 minutes on a spin bike, and 20 min on a treadmill. 

I ordered a new bathing suit to start my swim training and I can't wait! I've never swum for exercise so this will be interesting, especially when it's immediately followed by 50 minutes of biking and running. Sheesh. 

I'm waiting to start the swim training until my mouth has fewer gaping wounds, but today I tried out 15 minutes of spin following by 20 minutes of running and it was pretty tough. I also went on a real bike ride with my husband tonight for about 40 minutes. Gotta keep my muscles strong!


Wearing




I haven't gotten any fun new clothes in a couple weeks, but I did pick up a new nail polish. This is "Mind Your Mittens" by Essie.

Random, but is anyone else based in/around NYC obsessed with Jack's World? There's one next to Penn and also near my office on 46th St. I go once a week on my lunch break to get soy milk, tea, .33 cent cans of Fresca, and yogurt for work. This week they had some Essie polishes! It was only $3.99. 

I also got a huge bag of Bob's Red Mill coconut flakes for $4.99!

Eating

Pre-Wisdom Teeth extraction, I calorie splurged and got my favorite sandwich at Pret A Manger: Posh Cheddar and Chutney (no picture, sorry. I ate it on the train). It's got 720 calories-so I don't get it very often. The crusty baguette was a perfect goodbye to chewing and it kept me full for many hours after my surgery when I didn't want to open my mouth even for water. 


On Friday and Saturday morning, I had scrambled eggs and half of a very ripe 'cado for breakfast. 


For lunch on Friday, I had leftover curry that was pretty easy to chew - stir-fried cabbage, carrots, and frozen peas cooked with curry powder, grated ginger, and garlic and topped with salt-and-pepper tofu (I just browned the tofu in a separate pan and liberally seasoned it with S&P). 


I chose not to photograph the entire pint of Chocolate Haagen Dasz I had for dinner on Thursday, but if you follow my insta then you've seen the delicious Red Mango treat I grabbed after the gym on Saturday. This is a swirl of the dark chocolate sorbetto and popcorn (!) flavors topped with mini gummi bears and blueberries. I may treat myself again today depending on how many miles I log. 


My husband got me the little applesauce six-packs which I've been eating like crazy because it feels good to have something cold in my mouth. I've discovered my favorite way to eat them is to mix in a tablespoon of PB2 and a little cocoa and cinnamon. Apples and PB is a no-fail combo!

Reading:

I'm still working on The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.. I'm really enjoying it. Next up is a pick for Feminist Book Club - The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.


I think I'll run outside today since the snow is mostly melted and the sun is out. Have a great weekend everyone!


Hope

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Favorite Tights from Athleta


So here I am, two servings of potato chips in, to talk about my favorite exercise pants. I have varied interests, ok?

Here's what you need to know about Athleta:

  • Size down. If possible, go to a store and try them on. When I was a size 14, I wore a medium. Now I'm a size 8 and I wear a small. Hope that helps.
  • Athleta has more sizes and styles and is slightly less expensive than Lululemon. They even have discounts occasionally. They have free workout classes in store on Saturday mornings in some locations. I am happy to support Athleta where I tend avoid lulu (I just don't appreciate their image, and, ok, those weird button scarves are waaay too suburban).
  • It's a Gap brand, so you can throw some active wear in with your Banana Republic order. One-stop internet shopping is my jam.
  • If you're looking for staples like running tights or sports bras, save up and get two of your favorite pair. If you see a sweater or cute little jacket you like, it's extremely likely it will end up on the clearance rack, so wait it out a bit. 

My favorites are the Chat tight and the Be Free running tights. I'm even modeling them for you which I hope you find somewhat helpful, as I do not have a fitness model body (like when on Anthropologie the real customers post photos of the item you're looking at - I love that). 


Be Free Series

This was supposed to be a test picture but it turned out the best, sorry I'm holding tape.



For my purposes these are exclusively for running. I never wear them to spin or yoga or anything because I like to keep them clean to run in since they're my favorite. Here's why:

*POCKETS! There is a side pocket that can hold your phone or ipod (you don't have to wear a BS arm band) and a back zippy pocket for your Gatorade dollar.

*Unstinkable technology: I wear them for 2-3 runs (6-10 miles) before washing them. I mean, if you bury your face in them after a run it won't be a great situation, but they won't stink up your gym bag. 

*The back-of-the-knee area is a mesh panel that breathes really nicely.

*Fit: they don't feel too tight or like you have to hike them up. They're like comfy sweatpants that happen to have compression. 

*Rise: They come up to my belly button and have a wide waistband.

I'm ordering another color right now! Dobby Be Free Knicker, $64.00

Chaturanga Series

Chaturanga tight

(regular) Chaturanga Tight

These are very cute and THICK. I originally bought these when I couldn't stomach another walk to barre class in frigid temperatures in my thin Old Navy crops. They're not designed for cold weather, but because it's such a luxe thick fabric they do keep the chill out. I haven't worn them in the summer yet but I feel they would do well in a lightly ACed studio. I don't wear them for activities where I'm very overheated, like spin.



Without getting specific - they are FLATTERING. On the weekends I wear them with longer sweaters and shirts. 

I posted a picture tucked in and out so you can get a general sense of the rise of these tights. These are the regular rise, which hit normally on my hips. They do slide down a bit if I'm moving a lot causing some muffin top (espesh with these thin tanks), but it doesn't personally bother me that much. 


High Rise Chat Tight 



I got these online to see if they solve the sometimes-muffin top problem of the regular Chat tight, and they do. They were out of my size in the regular inseam, so I got the tall. I have a 32" inseam, so these just pool a little bit, but they keep my ankles warm!  They are my perfect pair of yoga tights and look cute with ankle boots after class.

Here you can see they bunch at the ankles just a touch. 



Lexi and I thank you for stopping by!

-Hope

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Morning Journal 3.14.15



This photo is entitled "I'm enjoying the camera on my new phone"


I'm typing from my dining room table. The driving rain is extinguishing the last vestiges of the snow on the ground and our vegetable garden is germinating by a sunny window.

My only wish on this quiet day is that I could figure out how to use my damn french press. This morning was my first attempt making coffee in an FP, as we currently have a Keurig, and before that I just went out every morning for a cup. I realize it's going to take some trial and error before I find the correct coffee:water:steep time ratio, but if you have any tips I'd welcome them. I'm drinking hot creamer water right now.


Exercising
I RAN OUTSIDE. I RAN OUTSIDE. Monday was sunny and beautiful, so I hauled ass to Central Park right after work. I meant to do the small loop starting at Columbus Circle but missed the turn, which I didn't realize until I was  halfway past the Met. I feel like I could have run forever. Yay, Spring!

Monday - 4.12 miles outside
Tuesday - 20 minute run, treadmill
Wednesday - Barre
Thursday - rest day
Friday -  10 minute run, 7 minute stair climber, strength training (easy day)



Forgot to selfie but here's my instagram of Central Park on Monday.

Wearing

I'm trying to leave my gray sweaters behind. I fell in love with this dress on the ASOS website on a particularly chilly day last week and I'm thrilled with it in person, too.  I got compliments all day when I wore it to work. People go crazy for a floral print ya'll. 




I can hear you thinking it.

Anyway, here's the link/better pictures if you're interested and a size 2 (the only remaining size).




Eating

This was my favorite dinner this week (I'm excluding the five-course gourmet dinner I had at a work event since I don't like to go into detail about work stuff). Did  ya'll know about this Vegan Tikka Masala from TJ's?! I hadn't been by in a month or two so I just now tried it for the first time. I feel better after eating it than the paneer option.

I served it with some sliced grape tomatoes, spinach, and TJ's frozen Na'an bread on the side. 



Also worth mentioning - City Kitchen in Times Square! It's similar to Plaza Food Hall in its offerings but has the virtue of being four blocks from my office. I picked up Dough donuts for some coworkers and ate 1.5 of them myself (they're huge).

If you're in the area, check out City Kitchen! It's great for a quick option before seeing a show or if you don't feel like walking to Ninth Ave. 


Reading:

I actually started two books this week and gave up on them. First was Us by David Nicholls. I loved One Day and liked Starter for Ten. I think Us is probably up to par with Starter for Ten but I wasn't feeling reading a book about a middle-aged guy.

I also started Dark Witch by Nora Roberts. I'm going to come back to this one when I'm in a 'witch novel' mood, because for all intents and purposes, it sounds right up my alley.



In the end I settled on The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.. I'm about 100 pages in and liking it. One thing that annoys me about her writing is that she doesn't describe her main characters in a lot of detail. I'm having trouble picturing the heroine of the story - like, what color is her hair?

The story is good, though, and I'm looking forward to getting further into it.


Thanks for reading! It's time to get started on the weekend. I'm going to bust out some miles, bake a loaf cake, and practice  my coffee making skills.

Hope