Friday, February 28, 2014

friday feature v2 :: baked eggs + pale ale.

I don't normally have time to do a recipe and beer feature for the blog, but I really stepped up my game this week!

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I mentioned I'm trying to work hard at an eighty/twenty balance with Paleo and non-dairy eating.  I made this recipe a while back and had forgotten how easy it is!  My baked eggs are adapted from this recipe from Paleo Spirit.  My recipe feeds 2-3 people.

What you need//

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 4 farm fresh eggs (preferred as whites can still be runny after cooked)
  • Coconut oil
  • Fresh or dried parsley
  • Pepper
  • Optional: Dijon or horseradish mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Wipe portobellos clean with a damp paper towel.  Then scrape out the stem and any gills necessary.  You want a "bowl" to be able to hold the meat and egg.  I've found the deeper the bowl (and more rounded the edges), the better it is for holding the eggs.  I look for this when buying my mushrooms
  3. Melt a bit of coconut oil.  Spread this on the outer edges and bottom of your mushroom to assist with cooking and prevent sticking to the pan
  4. Optional: If you prefer, spread a bit of dijon mustard in the "bowl" of the mushroom.  I simply dipped my cooked mushroom in mustard, but I think it would be easier and possibly more delicious to cook it this way.  The dijon helps to cut the saltiness of the salmon.
  5. Layer a couple of pieces of salmon in the "bowl" of the mushroom
  6. Gently, crack an egg on top of the meat
  7. Season with pepper (no salt needed as the smoked salmon is salty enough) and parsley or other herb of choice
  8. Delicately, put the pan in the oven (you don't want eggs spilling over the mushrooms!) and cook for 20-30 minutes until eggs are to your liking.  I find in my oven 25 minutes leaves the yolks a bit runny still which I prefer.

It's that simple!  I like to make this dish when I'm having a solo dinner because it's so easy to prepare for one.

As for a beer pairing, I chose a simple pale ale.  I fell in love with Blue Mountain after visiting their brewery on a trip to Virginia.  The brewery is gorgeous!  I would definitely recommend checking it out if you're ever in the Charlottesville area.  Blue Mountain's Full Nelson Pale Ale is a well-balanced, not too hoppy beer.  I absolutely love a craft beer in a can (it's perfect for camping and travel!), and Blue Mountain was the first craft brewery in Virginia to introduce cans.

This beer is only 5.9% alcohol, so it's great for all-day drinking at the beach (and not too hoppy for that) or just to help you relax after a long day at work.  

What is your favorite solo meal to make?
Any favorite canned craft beers?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

currently | v3.

Reading // Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar.  I am absolutely in love with this book.  One of my mini goals for the month was to read a yoga-related book, and this one really fit the bill.  It's full of wisdom and is giving me a deeper understanding of the impact of yoga practice.  Iyengar has really sparked my need to want to know more about yoga and how it can change you.  I checked it out from the library, but I've already dog-earred so many pages I know I'm going to have to buy it!
Watching // The Killing.  Thanks to one of my besties, I'm obsessed with this show as well as Joel Kinnaman.  I keep telling D that it's a more fast-paced version of True Detective (although it came out before it) which I'm also into after four episodes.
Thinking //  About my leg.  Constantly.  Between the snow days and some "growing pains" (extreme tightness) in my bad leg, I haven't been running much within the past couple of weeks.  I experimented with some trigger point dry needling on Monday and am constantly trying to gauge whether my leg is ready to run again.
Eating/Drinking // Trying to refocus on an 80/20 balance.  With Valentines presents from school and girl scout cookie season, it's been tough for me to get back on track.  I'm working hard to cook and prep as much as possible.
Working //  Getting back into the routine.  Seven snow days within three weeks has completely thrown me for a loop.  I'm really slowly trying to work back up to my daily week day 5am wake-up calls!
Obsessing // Prepping for our Spain trip in May!  There's a few items I think I'll "need" before we head over, and I'm on the hunt to find them!  
Hating // This super slow week.  I thought all day Tuesday that it was Wednesday.  My kids at school have been a little hyped up.  And to be honest, I'm just antsy for the weekend in hopes that I'll be able to complete a long run (fingers crossed)!
Loving // Time slowly changing.  This time of the year I get to see the most gorgeous skies with the Raleigh skyline on my way home.  Pink, purple, and blue skies.  It makes me savor the red lights, instead of rushing through them, just to have extra time with the sky.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday musings.

One of my mini-goals for February was to establish a consistent yoga routine.  I have been taking steps to create a consistent and workable routine for me.  In this process, I've fallen deeper in love with yoga. I am loving exploring all of the different options with the practice.  I believe one thing that always intimidated me about about yoga is my lack of strength and/or ability.  The crazy truth is that yoga principles are the exact opposite of that.  It's not about others seeing me struggle to hold a downward facing dog for five breaths; it's about me.  I'm continuing to explore the practice of yoga, so I won't pretend to be an expert on the subject.  This picture, posted to facebook by a local yoga studio, really resonated with me this week.

While I know this isn't necessarily pertinent to yoga, it's 100% applicable to life.  It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to share our story with others in our every day life.  I believe that some part of us is judgmental no matter how hard we may try to cast those thoughts aside.  Everyone has the opportunity to make snap judgements: your child's teacher (I'm guilty!), that person you accidentally cut off in a rush to beat the red light, the librarian you always see, your neighbor, that runner on the treadmill next to you, even friends.  Let's not even begin to discuss those who want to share their opinions of your health/your parenting/your cohabitation/your spending/your entire life. As I get older, I try more and more to remember that you never really know the intricacies of a person. 

And this is what I will strive for.  Judgements minimal and happiness & love optimal.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

old friend from far away v1 :: the things I've carried.

I'd love to preface this with the fact that this is Megan's brilliant idea.  She has provided writing prompts  for the next few weeks, and I'm in love with this idea.  I don't think I'll participate every week, but if the thought hits me, I'm going to go with it.  

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I have hinted around the idea that last year was a tumultuous time for me, but I've left out the details.  The details that are so personal.  Those aspects of the past year have forever changed who I am.  I haven't opened up about this time because there is quite a thin line when it comes to divulging personal information for the entire internet to see.  When I began blogging again, I wanted this space to be about passion, happiness, and truth.  Happiness and truth are about sharing and moving beyond.  I have carried my truths with me but shared with very few people.  I gnaw them over every day.  Today, I am ready. I want to share about the things I carry.  I want others to know they are not alone.  I know I am not alone.  I will balance my truths with minimal personal details, but the story holds the same impact.

2013 came on the heels of an emotionally difficult 2012.  My family life had always held its own difficulties, but the prior two years had been extremely trying.  With trepidation and hurt, I made the decision to stop talking to my mother in October 2012.  Although my family members have never worked much in the way of communication, this decision did not come easily, and it never felt good.  I recall the holidays came and went with just two impersonal texts to wish happy times.  I felt lucky that at least I was an adult and could manage my own emotional pains.  Others were hurt on much different and impacting levels.

2013 continued and preserved with more downs than ups, such as an injury that temporarily took running away from me.  We never spoke.  It was easy to do since I live two states away from my mother; however the gossip and rumors often don't end when it comes to family.  I tried to put her, and the rest of my family, out of my mind.  I wanted to close the door on problems I could never fix on my own.  I needed to move on from my own pain and hurt.  Maybe this was the wrong thing to do.  I'll never know, but I will take solace in knowing that my choice was right for me at the time.  It's just that right choices don't always make the pain cease.

I still remember that morning.  A summer day, D was out of town.  I woke up early to go to the gym.  For the oddest reason, I chose to take a shower before going to yoga so I could get to work on time following the class. Unlike so many people, I have never kept my cell phone by my bedside.  It charges through the night, usually on silent, away from my bed.   Irrelevant details that nonetheless are solidified in my mind.  After my shower and when I finally checked the phone, I saw the two uncharacteristic missed called from 3am.  I honestly don't remember what passed through my mind.  With wet hair, I frantically attempted to return the calls.  I was informed that my mother had died.  It was suicide.

In the whirlwind of any unexpected death, many difficult decisions are made, and there are so many things that must be done.  The feelings must be dealt with even temporarily.  With this type of death, my experience was that the emotions are muddled, confused.  Family members are often left with no answers.  In the time when my mother's home had to be cleaned out, I desperately hoped for a letter, journal entry, card, anything, to express her feelings.  Her feelings of love, regret, hope, happiness, sadness, anger, etc.  There was nothing; I was left more more unanswered questions.  I will never have the answers I so desperately seek.  No one in my family will ever have closure.  Never a goodbye, an I love you.  I will never know if we would have began talking again.  Would we have put past in the past?  Could we have moved on?  My mother will never be a grandmother.  She will never meet any potential children I may have.  I will never have that to share with her.  These are just a select few of the thoughts go through my head daily.  Would haves and could haves.

My personal comfort comes from knowing that mental illness is the real demon here.  The demon that could not be resisted.  The illness, while unspecified, forced my mother to push everyone away; it made her give up and feel hopeless.  Could anyone have helped?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It is difficult to help those suffering with mental illnesses if they don't first accept or understand that there is a problem.  As someone who has been personally affected by suicide, I can attest that it is never the best choice in any situation.  There are others who care, even if you think they do not.  Suicide will forever impact those who love you.

This is my truth.  I have lost my mother to mental illness, to suicide. I will never have closure, never get to say goodbye, and always think about that last conversation we had almost nine months before her death.  I try hard to cling to happy, positive memories, but in reality my memory is weak and tends to be reminded of the frustrating, hurtful memories from the previous two years. I think about the whys, what ifs, hows, and would haves almost daily.  These are the questions, thoughts, and memories I carry.  They gnaw at me, but they have shaped me.  They have made me a different person, and sometimes that person is not necessarily better.  The things I carry have changed my relationships and my outlook on life, on family.  These truths will never go away, but I do hope that I can use this to be a good, better version of myself.  If nothing else, I have shared them.  I am not alone.  We are not alone.  We never will be.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.  This is a deeply personal confession.  If you suspect you suffer from a mental illness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health or call their hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI.  If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Friday, February 14, 2014

friday feature v2 :: a drink for your valentine.

As today is Valentine's Day, it only seems appropriate to feature a drink that you could gift your beer-loving significant other.

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If you're not quite feeling wine today, check out Bell's Smitten.  This brew is a golden rye ale, which is comparable to an American pale ale. It's a bit of a hoppy beer but the rye malts help to balance it out.  I like to think of it as a beginner's IPA.  Still working your way up from pilsners?  Try this brew next!  The color is a beautiful amber with just the right amount of hop bitterness to make me want to keep coming back to it.

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The label of this beer is great.  I really love the hand drawn labels that Bell's has for all of their beers.  One thing I should note is that this beer is unfiltered.  When a beer is filtered, it removes most of the sediment from the liquid.  Since Smitten (and all Bell's beers) is not filtered, you'll see some "stuff" floating around in the beer.  Don't be scared!  The positive result of being unfiltered is a more flavorful beer since the filtering process often strips the brew down a bit.

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Smitten is only 6% alcohol, so you should be able to take down a few of these beer without sending yourself over the edge.  Want to know about the greatest thing?  Bell's did this:

Smitten valentines?!  Sold!  What a wonderful and cute idea.  Since it's too late to get a "beerentine," stop and pick up a six-pack of Smitten to enjoy with your significant other.  It's a great alternative to wine and the perfect appetizer to a V-day dinner.

Do you have a favorite Bell's Beer?
What is your drink of choice for this romantic holiday?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

post-injury half marathon prep.

I was injured for almost a year.  You could probably say over a year if you included the time it took me to really become comfortable with running again.  I missed two half marathons and other shorter distance races. It has been an extremely depressing, long, and difficult process to overcome.  Back in October, I worked up enough courage and felt good enough to sign up for a turkey trot (which I've wanted to race in since we moved here almost four years ago), and then I was sidelined with another injury and couldn't race.  As a runner, I think it's pretty safe to say that being injured is the worst feeling ever.  After the failed turkey trot, I headed to a specialist and was referred to a new physical therapist.  The PT has given me more confidence and worked wonders on my leg.  After some pain-free runs, I felt ready to tackle the half marathon again.

I couldn't find a local or destination race that worked with my schedule, so I went for the inaugural Rock 'N' Roll Raleigh half marathon on April 13.  I think the atmosphere of the race will be great, and I'm really looking forward to running an entire 13 miles through the city that I now call home.

After so much time spent injured, I'm extra anal about doing everything possible I can to not be injured again.  This is what the first couple months of my training looks like:

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I don't like to be a stickler with my training because life happens and shit.  Sometimes it's better to see D who has been traveling for a week than get in cross training.  That said, I thrive by following some sort of schedule.  I loosely base my week on this schedule, but amend things as needed.  I switch things around a good bit too.  For instance, if I know my long run will be Sunday instead of Saturday then I will run 3 miles Friday and go to a yoga class on Thursday.

I've come to terms with the fact that the previously injured leg is always going to bother me more than my "healthy" leg will.  After some dull aches and twinges from my bad leg, I'm also incorporating PT exercises consistently into my training on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I have pretty strict guidelines that I follow in hopes of resisting future injury.  In case you missed it, I contributed to The Eighty Twenty and discussed my five tips for being balanced with running and avoiding injury.  In addition to those five things, I'm also maintaining physical therapy sessions every three weeks (since that's all I can afford).  I'm still scared to death of re-injury and missing another half marathon.  I'm going to continue to maintain balance and stay positive.

Are you training for any races?
Have you been injured?  How did you recover?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Move Nourish Believe :: The Challenge

I mentioned that one of my mini-goals for February was to complete the Move Nourish Believe Challenge.  Fit Approach (creators of Sweat Pink) and Lorna Jane collaborated to start this challenge around these three principles.  Personally, I love this idea.  If you utilize these three pillars in your life, you can be healthy and happy!  Head over to Fit Approach to learn more about the challenge for yourself.

This is the calendar and "rules" for the challenge.  I'm not necessarily posting pictures every day, but I'm attempting to use this to break out of my comfort zone and try new things.

Week 1//MOVE

Over the past two years, I've learned not only the important of moving but that it truly makes me feel strong and beautiful.

On Monday, I tweeted this picture for my favorite way to get sweaty.  I fell in love with running when I moved to North Carolina, and I've never looked back.  It's amazing to look back and see how moving has changed me.  It's changed not just my body but my entire outlook on life.  My favorite day is started with a run or some type of activity (no matter how hard it might be to actually get out of bed).  Moving makes me a better and happier person, and I'm never looking back.

I didn't try a new workout from the website, but I did take Saturday to try out a new yoga studio that I've been itching to see.  And bonus, the class was asking for donations to donate to a local charity (last I checked they raised over $6500!) and I won a raffle for some free training sessions!

While I wasn't smiling the entire time, I completed five minutes of planks!  It made me feel stronger than ever.  I broke up the minutes between an ab work session and almost forgot the last minute after going out to dinner with a friend.  I did it though.  It was hard, and I pretty much hated it.  It's the challenges like this that push me to my limits and remind me why I love to move.

My buddy up time was delayed until Sunday when my running friend and I completed six miles.  It's nice to have a friend to do long runs with throughout half marathon training.  I'm so grateful to have friends who love running as much as I do.  Even though some of my moving friends are far away, I can still text pictures of ice baths/my misery and know that I'm understood.

While I forgot to post for fave Friday, my favorite alternate exercise these days is yoga.  I've fallen in love with it and I can't wait to spend more time working towards my mini-goal of creating a consistent yoga routine.

Why do you move?  
What is your favorite way to move?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On beauty and loving our bodies.

I don't typically watch any videos that come across my twitter or Facebook feeds, but I was intrigued when Huffington Post mentioned something about women's unexpected moments of feeling beautiful.  Even on my lunch break at work and at eight minutes long, I had to watch the video.

[via Huffington Post Women]
I promise this video is worth your eight minutes.  I was struck by the poem at the end; it brought me to tears.  According to the video, "85% of girls 8-10 believe they are overweight. 45% have already started dieting."  At first glance, these numbers are saddening and shocking, but then when I really think about it they aren't.   Females are socialized to be competitive with one another: the richest, skinniest, most popular, etc.  As times and the media have changed, I believe this is a problem that is only growing (blogs, social media, and reality tv amongst others are partially to blame).  The lack of conversation, real and deep talk, about body image contributes to our skewed views of ourselves.  This article has always stuck with me; even the words we don't say make an impact.   
I grew up in a family where communication was (and still is) basically nonexistent.  Body image and loving myself was never discussed.  My mother was always yo-yoing between weights and diets.  No one in my family is active.  As I've learned being an adult, eating healthy is difficult on a small income.  When it comes to positive body image, these components can be insignificant.  Seeing beauty and loving your own body is all about perspective.
"I was on this pursuit of changing myself," says Corry in the video.  For as long as I can remember, I've been on this same journey.  It has only been within the past two years or so that I have come to appreciate this body I have.  We can't change the images we see on social media or in magazines, but we can appreciate, love, and own that we are who we are.  We can teach our sons and daughters that people are beautiful in so many ways.
"Speak truth into our own lives."
My truth comes from acknowledging who I am and what I love about me.  These are my truths:
  • I am beautiful.
  • I feel best about me when I'm sweating {and healthy}.
  • I have an hourglass shape to be proud of.
  • My legs are strong and carry me for many miles.
  • I'm graced with a chest that makes shirts look good on me.
  • I am an introvert and observer.
  • I'm happy with my bad eyes because I get to wear glasses which I love.
  • My hips give me curves and might help me birth a child someday.
  • My eyes are green or hazel or just mysterious.
  • I love what my body is capable of.
  • I feel most beautiful when my body accomplishes something I never thought it could.

What are your truths?  What journey have you been on when it comes to body image?  When do you feel most beautiful?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

snow day snippets.

Snow days in the south practically shut everything down.  In an insane turn of events, I got four days off of school.  Sadly D was out of town and I spent a lot of my time drinking bloody marys and cooking.  My favorite thing about having the days off (aside from not having to work) was daylight!  I leave so early in the mornings that it's dark, and this time of year it's still dark when I get home.  I took full advantage of the daylight and snow by working on my commitment to learn my camera better.  I tried to exclusively work in manual mode and practice my skills.  By the time we visit Spain in May, I hope to be able to feel confident in using manual most of the time.  I'm pretty happy with the snow day snippets I captured (full disclosure: I edited these with my free trial of Lightroom).

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I get it.  Snow days down here mean two inches of snow, but as a year-round teacher I'll take four days off with no make up days.

Monday, February 3, 2014

2014 :: Commitment progress + new mini goals.

I know I was a little late in presenting my commitments for 2014, but I have been mindful of my goals.  I want to spend this year focused on being a better version of me.  That means holding myself accountable and regularly sharing my progress.  February is already here!  Is it just me or does time truly go by quicker as we get older?  My mini-goals focus on small steps to being successful towards my overall 2014 commitments.  Overall, I was successful in January!

I scheduled an eye exam, but eating pizza was a different beast.  I swear pizza was never this much of a kryptonite until I went mostly Paleo.  There is something about that combination of bread and cheese that just attracts me.  I'll try again next time on that one.

All completed!  I actually signed up for a hometown half marathon and created a new running training plan.  I'll go into more depth about those later this month.  I also restarted my GymPact and have been following through with physical activity four days a week.

Done, done, and done!  I've been following my budget this month and carefully tracking input and output.  I'm trying to pay hefty amounts on debt bills in order to be successful at my goal to "stop spending, start saving."  The photography course I completed was through Photography Concentrate, and it was honestly the best course!  I learned more from that online class than through any face-to-face course I've attended.  I've been practicing using manual mode often since then.

I've done ok with meal planning.  Sometimes getting to the grocery is hard if D and I have a packed weekend.  I'm still working on this one though.  My one act of kindness was contributing to a friend's race for charity.  She is running the same race series I am but in a different city and the money is for a charity that works toward preventing teenage suicide.  Suicide, and mental illness, is a cause that is especially close to my heart.  Not to mention, this is the first half for the runner.  Running a half is an emotional process, and running it for a personal cause is nothing short of amazing.  I immediately knew this was how I wanted to give back this month.  If you're interested in donating, visit the site here.

As for February, here's my focus.

via Skinny Jeans & a Chai Latte blog

All of it is pretty self-explanatory, but if you'd like to know more about the Move, Nourish, Believe Challenge, check it out!

Also, I'm contributing today over on my new favorite online magazine, The Eighty Twenty!  I'm sharing about balance and running (which is fitting since I'll be talking next week about my half marathon plans and sharing my training plan).  Head over and check out this awesome resource!

How are you staying focused on your 2014 resolutions?


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