Coffee Season

Hello, hello! Summer FLEW by – and now we are entering fall, my hands-down favorite season. The cooler temperatures make me want a hot cup of coffee more than I normally do – and trust me, I want coffee just about any time of day, any time of year. Coffee is my comfort; it’s what I drink when I want to wake up, as well as when I want to relax. It’s what I share with family and friends while catching up about the up’s and down’s of life. It’s a part of who I am, and if you think that sounds silly, do a quick search of the internet for coffee memes. Looks like many other people agree with me! Continue reading

Resolutions

Happy New Year! I hope everyone ended 2014 healthy and happy. The past year has been totally crazy for us – namely because of a cute little boy who came into our lives last February. I said goodbye to 2014 with mixed emotions, but I’m saying HELLO to 2015 with renewed enthusiasm – and a resolution:

Get my life organized.

This includes a major declutter of our house, an overhaul of my work schedule and getting my personal life under control. Not that things are OUT OF CONTROL or anything, but I certainly need to be better about making the best use of my time. My mini-resolutions that go hand-in-hand with my main one is to make exercise a priority and be more consistent with writing (on here…and journaling!).

While we’re on the topic of resolutions, let’s talk about the one thing almost everyone wants to improve: our health. According to USA.gov, 6 of the top 13 resolutions involve improving some aspect of our well-being:

Lose weight
Quit smoking
Get fit
Eat healthy food
Manage stress
Drink less alcohol

But unfortunately – although maybe not surprisingly – those same resolutions are on Time’s Top 10 commonly broken resolutions.

Bottom line – getting healthy is not easy. It takes hard work, commitment, focus – and most of all, TIME. Last year my most popular blog post was on “gym snobs” and how frustrating (and common) the practice of shaming people at the gym is. For all of those who will be starting a an exercise program in the New Year, I’ll be right there with you. And I hope I can count on you – and all others at the gym – to cheer me on when I want to quit.

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Happy New Year!

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Pumpkin Smoothies

I adore smoothies. If I don’t have time to sit down and eat breakfast or lunch, a smoothie is a wonderful sub. They also make a great post workout snack! That is what I have been using them for lately. And isn’t this just the best weather to have a run? The cool air is literally invigorating. In the spirit of Fall, here are some great pumpkin inspired smoothies. Bonus – they all can be made vegan!

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Creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

With love,

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin.Spice.Latte. Those three words send us into a frenzy every fall. The pumpkin. The spice. The latte. Ahhhh.

(Side note from Whitney – before we get back to pumpkin spice latte heaven, I have a confession to make: I really don’t know what a latte is. I throw the word around and confess my love for the drink, but I haven’t a clue what I’m talking about. So, in order to write this post, I had to look up the definition. According to the dictionary, a latte is “a type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk.” Ok, easy enough.)

Now, back to the important stuff. Starbucks has made the pumpkin spice latte famous, and even though the beverage has become “the company’s most popular seasonal beverage of all time”, there has been a lot of scrutiny over its ingredient list lately. So if you want to skip buying your lattes (and all the fake junk in them) this year, we’ve gathered a few DIY versions for you to try. Even though two of the three recipes don’t truly fit the definition of a latte, that’s fine by us. As long as they taste like fall, any “latte” is welcome in our mugs.

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1. “Better Than Starbucks” Pumpkin Spice Latte. Best part about this recipe: you probably have all the ingredients at home already. So what are you waiting for?! Get latte-ing!

2. Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Latte. I’m not sure making a pumpkin spice latte can get any easier than this.

3. Katie’s Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte. This recipe comes courtesy of my dearest Katie. If you don’t have vanilla Shakeology, just use whatever vanilla protein powder you have.

– 1 cup almond milk

– 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology (or whatever vanilla protein powder is your favorite)

– 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

– 1 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients. Add 5 ice cubes and blend again.

For some vegan omega-3’s and extra protein, add some chia seeds before you blend. And I always like to add a half frozen banana to mine. This treat is yummy enough to enjoy any time of day – and healthy enough that it doesn’t count as dessert!

Anyone have a pumpkin spice latte recipe they’d like to share?

With love,

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Frozen Grapes

It’s Tuesday! And not just any Tuesday: it’s the Tuesday after my first full week back at work. I somehow survived being away from my angel for 5 straight days. One week down…

I’ve been taking things one day at a time, and so far it’s been working out pretty well. Now that I don’t get to spend everyday at home, I appreciate the time I do get to be home more than ever. And since summer is here (yay!), we have been taking advantage of our evenings and weekends by spending as much time as we can outside. We are having so much fun, and our sweet baby l-o-v-e-s being outside. It’s wonderful!

However…. there is something about this warmer weather that makes me VERY aware of the baby weight I’m still holding onto. It’s probably the tank tops, shorts and bathing suits I’m going to have to put on at some point…oy. Losing weight is hard, and it definitely starts with nutrition. For me, snacking is definitely my Achilles heel when it comes to eating, so I have been looking for satisfying and healthy snacks to include in my day. I saw a recipe for frozen grapes that I wanted to try, and the next day I got a coupon for free grapes at Earthfare. Serendipity! Don’t you love it when that happens? 🙂

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These are so refreshing and healthy – plus, they are SO easy to make! All you need is some grapes, some yogurt (hardly any at all) and your “toppings”. Put the toppings in separate bowls, set aside. Stick a toothpick in a grape, dip it a little further than halfway down into the yogurt and twirl around a little. You just want to make sure the grape is coated well with the yogurt. Dip the grape into one of the toppings, and place on a freezer safe dish. Repeat until you’ve made the desired amount of grapes. Stick in the freezer for at least an hour and a half. It’s that easy! And at only 52 calories for 10 grapes, you can’t go wrong!

I used vanilla yogurt and chia seeds and coconut as my toppings. Mix it up and try different yogurt flavors and toppings! You can really make them with whatever you have. Enjoy – and stay cool!

 

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Road Warrior Safety

I’ve recently discovered Freakonomics, and it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen in love. I have really enjoyed all of the books, and I listen to the podcasts while walking with J. The authors definitely make me look at the world in a different way.

One of the podcasts I listened to lately was about motor vehicle accidents involving the death of pedestrians. Data from 2012 show that there about 4,500 pedestrian deaths in the US annually. That’s a huge number, and far too big.

When I heard that, my mind quickly went to my friends and family who love to run, walk and bike this time of year. After long Northeast Ohio winters, we can’t wait to put on our sneakers and hit the pavement. But it’s the reality that we share the road with vehicles – lots of them. I’ve had some closer-than-I’d-like experiences with cars while biking, running and walking, so I wanted to share safety tips for all users of our roadways – whether you’re in a car or not.

Safety Tips for Runners and Walkers

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– I hate this one, but it is recommended that you do not wear headphones, especially if you’re going to be running or walking on the road.

– Remember to run/walk against traffic, so you can see what is coming. Never run down the middle of the road.

– Carry your ID and a cell phone. I love these Road ID bracelets. You never know what could happen, and in case of an emergency, having your ID information could be life-saving.

– Stop at stop signs to ensure traffic yields to you. Never assume cars will stop for you, even if you are in a cross walk.

– If you’re running at night or early in the morning, be sure to wear bright, reflective clothing. Avoid head-to-toe dark clothing.

– Running with a friend or group is great and can be very motivating, but be courteous – and safe: don’t run more than two abreast.

Safety Tips for Bikers

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Keep in mind: Bicyclist on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as car drivers. They are also subject to the same state laws and local ordinances.

– Ride with traffic, not against it.

– Obey all stop signs, yield signs and traffic lights.

– Use hand signals for turns. This alerts drivers of your directional intention and helps keep you safe – and it’s the law.

– Don’t weave in and out of parked cars, even if they are in the way. Motorists may not see you when you try to move back into the flow of traffic.

– When riding at night or early in the morning, be sure your bike has good lights. Front light, wheel and pedal reflectors are a good idea – and often required by law. A rear red light wouldn’t hurt either. Again, as with running and walking, wear light-colored and/or reflective clothing.

– Always ride in a single-file line.

– And of course, always wear a helmet!

 

 

Be safe out there, friends!

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International Firefighters Day + Cinco de Mayo!

Did anyone know that May 4 is International Firefighters Day? Unfortunately, me neither. I saw this today and was instantly bummed that I missed out on this holiday. After all, our house is home to one hunky firefighter, and I wished we would have celebrated yesterday. Since we didn’t – and he works today – we’ll just have to have a little party tomorrow. Any fun firefighter themed food ideas? To Pinterest I go…

One holiday I cannot possibly forget is Cinco de Mayo! I have loved this holiday for years, and what’s not to love? Mexican food – good! Margaritas – good! Hanging out with friends who enjoy both of these things as much as I do – good!

It's Cinco o'clock somewhere!
It’s Cinco o’clock somewhere!

However, Cinco de Mayo 2014 is a bit different for me this year…

First, I’ll be riding solo this evening with my sweet baby. He’s been a bit cranky today, so I don’t know if he’ll be in the real party spirit tonight. I can’t complain, though: he was a good sport and allowed me to take a picture of him in a fake mustache earlier. Coolest.baby.ever.

Secondly, I started a month-long challenge last week with some awesome folks led by my best gal pal Katie. The challenge is to be at our best with both physical fitness and healthy eating. Got the fitness part checked off for the day (WHEN DOES T-25 GET EASIER, PEOPLE?!), and I’ve fueled my body with the right foods…so far. The kind of Mexican food I enjoy doesn’t exactly fit into a healthy eating lifestyle (hellooooooo, chips and cheese dip!), so I’m going to go another route: chicken burrito bowl with quinoa. Here was my inspiration:

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Grilled chicken, onions and sweet bell peppers on top of quinoa. Topped with hot sauce and avocado and it’s healthy south-of-the-border dining at its finest! Except that we are out of avocado. Of course. Of all days…

Anyway, happy day-after-International Firefighters Day and happy Cinco de Mayo!

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