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Living Life

LoveLifeKnowing that we would have a long weekend to play with, my husband and I decided to set aside 2 days for ourselves.  Last Friday and yesterday. 

Let’s call them date days. 

Days where we would throw out our schedule and do nothing but fun stuff – for no reason other than just because. 

On Friday, we hit the movies, grabbed a bite to eat, went for a drive and wandered about until we missed our little guys and it was time to go home.   

Yesterday, we opted for a scenic drive up to the Seacoast where we enjoyed a long walk, splashed around in the water, and checked out a new place for lunch. 

It was great. 

On our drive, my husband summed up what I was thinking well when he said, “Think back to 1996 when we met, would you have thought that it would have led to this place?  To such a good day together”.

The answer – probably not.  I would haven’t guessed what life had/has in store for us.  The mostly good.  And some of the bad.

But, the date days and his sentiment remind me to appreciate the moments.  The times we can spend together.  The blessings that we have.  The memories we can make. 

In the end, it’s about living life.  So, why not try to love it? 

We only have one, right.

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A Reminder

July2013For whatever reason, sometimes we can get thrown off track from pursuing our goals, enjoying our passions or simply from living our lives.

It can be the result of one of life’s many curve balls – where you can clearly mark the point in time it happens- or it can be more subtle and you find that over time you’ve slowly drifted away from what’s important.

Either way, it stinks when you realize you’re in that place.  And, that’s where I find myself now.

I’m not exactly sure what got me here but I can tell you it’s not where I’m staying.   

The good news is that I’m ahead of the game by having a ton to be thankful for – my husband & my boys who are my heart, family & friends to lean on, being able to provide for ourselves and so much more.

The rest is about setting my mind on a goal and putting in a little (or a lot of) elbow grease.  Whatever it takes.

Like the picture says, I (We) really do have the power to make every day a bright day.  The rest is a matter of choice.  And, I choose ..me.

Down to the Wire

I was so close to throwing in the blogging towel the other day and walking away from this site.

I haven’t written a thing for 2 months, my WordPress domain was set to expire on the 28th, and it takes time to think up content. It seemed easier to just ride out the rest of the year and to let the treadmill diaries disappear into the sunset.

And then, at the last second, I realized that the reason I feel it takes too much time to keep up the site is that I started over thinking it. What do readers want to see? What should I write about this week? Do I have pictures that go with the post? And so on..

I started this site as a record of my progress against my goals ..and then I decided to take on more than that. No offense – but I don’t care if anyone but me reads these posts. The purpose is to write things down, to let them serve as lessons, and to use them to steer progress down new (and hopefully good) life paths.

So, basically, it’s an electronic journal.  It’s as simple as that. And, if I keep to that, it won’t be hard. It’ll be quick and the posts can serve their intended purpose. If people want to read them, great. If not, that’s okay too.

So there, you have it. The treadmill diaries will move into 2013 and will serve to chronicle the happenings of my year.

Speaking of 2013, I’ve decided to make a few other commitments:

  • I’m back to using the bodybugg and will until I reach my goal of fitting into all the clothes in my closet.  It was off my arm for weeks because of a bad strap.  If I kept it off any longer, I doubt it would have come back and I need it.
  • I signed myself up for Weight Watchers – starting today.  I’ve tried to exercise and eat right on my own and have been on a major plateau for months.  It’s worked for me before so I’m guessing it can work for me again.  I want to get back to my 2010 pre-pregnancy size and I will.  I’m less concerned with the number I end up at.
  • I want to focus on living a good life and being a good person.  This means enjoying the family, the moments, making good memories, continuing to experience/learn new things and to do some good deeds (big and small).

And, of course, to be there for these guys:

AllMyGuys

Happy  New Year!

 

 

Reentry

Two weeks ago, I returned to work from maternity leave.  The first week, I worked from home.  The second week, I was at the office.

Going in, I expected it would be hard to leave my boys.  I anticipated that I would get a little (or very) emotional about it.  I was warned there would be an adjustment period. 

So, it wasn’t a big surprise when all these things turned out to be true. 

Yes, it’s an adjustment.  Heck – it’s a big shift in the day-to-day routine.  And though I’m all for  change, I’m also a creature who loves her habits.

Fortunately, a little upfront planning and the support of several good people have helped me to quickly work through the process of reentry. 

  • Our childcare is great.  Knowing that Gavin & Quinn are well-cared for puts my mind at ease.  And it lets me head out the door in the mornings.
  • Family has been supportive.  From checking in, chipping in to help, or just being there to talk.
  • My coworkers have been wonderful.  Welcoming me back, sharing their congratulations/well-wishes, asking how I’m doing & talking through the changes with me.
  • Other parents have been a helpful resource.  Reassuring me that things work out, providing advice, and talking about how they enjoy a balance between family and work.
  • My obsession with lists & tasks pays off.  Planning & prepping meals for the week, scheduling chores/household activities outside of work hours, deferring non-essential items to later. 

Here’s the bottom line.  I love my family.  I love to work.  It’s important to me that these two things can coexist.

After working through the past 2 weeks, I believe it’s possible.  In fact, I’m comforted by the fact that other families do it ALL the time.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for other parents and all they do. 

And, though this post is about returning to work, there’s another lesson that’s reinforced here.  One that has held true no matter what the situation.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

It’s early.  I’ve just started down this path.  But, I know it’s doable.  Therefore, I will.

Taste of Fall (& Beer)

It’s been hot around our neck of the woods.  Real Hot. 

We’ve had many days in the 90’s and high 80’s with humidity on top of it.  Perfect conditions for the beach if you’re lucky enough to go.  If not, it’s just too hot to do much of anything else for my liking.  Perhaps, hide out in various air-conditioned joints. 

Maybe that’s why my mind has been drifting to thoughts of Fall.  And with thoughts of the cooler weather, there soon came thoughts of the flavors that go along with it.  Then, I found myself fantasizing about comfort foods – and a new recipe was born.  Beer Braised Chicken.

It’s simple really.  You throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot and let them do their thing until they’re so tender that they fall apart when touched by your fork.  And, did I mention the beer?

What’s funny is I’m not a drinker and I can’t stand the taste of alcohol on its own.  But when it’s in food, it adds a ton of flavor and depth to your other ingredients.  This is definitely a case where the beer makes the sauce for this dish.  It’s rich, it’s tangy, and it’s layered with sweet and sour tones.  D.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.

Plus, I’m always looking for new ways to make chicken.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • 8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs or legs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large piece of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 oz, bacon or cubed ham ( I used ham this time)
  • 1 bottle beer, dark
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste

Now for the cooking part:

  1. Heat a large pot or dutch oven with your olive oil to medium heat
  2. Add bacon or ham. Cook 1-2 mins until crispy.  Remove from heat.  Set aside.
  3. Place your chicken in the pot & sear each side 2-3 mins.  Remove from heat.  Set aside.
  4. Add in the onion, carrot and celery and saute several minutes until tender. 
  5. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for a minute or so.  This is the base for your sauce.
  6. Pour in your beer and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits into your gravy
  7. Nestle the chicken and ham/bacon back into the pot and add your chicken stock.
  8. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  9. Reduce heat to low-med. Cook 1 – 2 hrs until meat is fork tender & falls off the bone.

Now you’re ready to serve the chicken on top of a mound of rice or mashed potato.  Or, you can eat it as-is and dip some good italian bread in the gravy (that’s what I did).  Sooo good.

The layers of flavor in this dish are fabulous.  You taste the chicken, the veggies, the beer…and it comes together so easily.  And your house will smell absolutely wonderful while cooking this up.

So if you want an escape from summer and summer meals, try this fall recipe or hold on to it until the weather turns cool and you’re looking for a bit of comfort.

Enjoy!

Muscle Memory Does Exist!

These shoes were made for running

Not that I’m any sort of expert on muscles or the inner workings of the body (other than my own), but I’ve often heard and read that if you do something enough over time that your body commits it to memory, that it remembers what to do, and that basically the activity becomes second nature.

I’m happy to report that it’s true – at least for me and running. 

Prior to getting pregnant in October, I was actively outdoors and running anywhere between 25-40 miles a week.  This usually consisted of 6 days of runs that averaged about 5 miles – give or take a mile here or there based on how I was feeling, the weather, etc.  And, the most important part is that I loved it. 

The routine was consistent enough to be considered just that – a routine, a set of habits, or repetition.  It was what was needed to test the theory of muscle memory with my body. 

Once getting pregnant, I wasn’t able to continue exercising.  Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to be able to keep going, it just wasn’t in the cards for me.  So, I had to resign myself to do whatever it took to get the boys here safely and to put running and other activities on the back burner until after delivery.

Now, I found myself here – a month out from delivering Gavin and Quinn via c-section – wanting to get back into fitness and to my love of running.  Going in, I know that I can’t expect to achieve the same results as before without some work and some time.

But, I was pleasantly surprised by how much my body remembered even with such a long break since I last hit the streets for a run.  Though, it wishes it can forget what running is like with these extra pounds on my frame. 🙂  But, I’m working on that. 

My first 3 attempts at getting back out there include a 1.74, 2.05 and a 2.53 mile run. 

My breath and stamina aren’t gone. My legs feel pretty solid.  It’s a good starting point to get back to where I was last year and I don’t think it should take too much time.  Yes!

The moral of this story is that my body is stronger than I thought and that it’s been waiting in the wings to pick up where we left off.  It’s burned our past activity to memory and it’s ready to help me remember what I’m capable of doing.  Thank goodness for that. 

I’ll keep you posted on how I do.

Braciola, Roulade, Stuffed Meat….Whatever

There are many names for a piece of meat that gets stuffed with goodies and then is rolled up and tied off before cooking.  But, let’s not get stuck on a name, right?

Whether you call it a Braciola like we do in our Italian household or whatever, the bottom line is that it’s a different way of cooking up your protein and it makes for a nice change of pace. 

Normally, this type of dish is cooked indoors – either in a sauce, in a saucepan or in the oven.  But since it’s summer, I throw everything that I absolutely can on the grill.  Sometimes (in fact most) times it works and sometimes it fails.  Luckily for me, this time it worked and worked well.

For my meat, I decided to go with a lean 1+ pound flank steak since I had several in the freezer.  Next time, I’ll probably choose a more tender cut even though the dish came out great as-is. 

The stuffing includes:

  • 2 slices polish cooked ham
  • 3 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, sliced
  • garlic salt to taste

The assembly is super simple.  All you do is either pound your protein until it’s about 1/4 inch thick or you butterfly a thicker piece in half.  Then, evenly layer your filling in the middle, roll it up, and tie it together with baker’s twine.  Like this:

While doing that, preheat your grill to about 400-450 degrees.  Place the Braciola / Stuffed Meat / or [enter your preferred name here] on the grill and season to taste with garlic salt or salt and pepper. 

Cook it to your preferred meat temperature – mine is medium (and in this case it took about 25-30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes). 

You then remove it from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.  Finally, you slice and serve it. 

When you bite into it, you can expect to taste the salt of the ham, to enjoy the gooey, melted cheese, to get a nice hint of parsley and garlic in each morsel.  I love steak but this grilled option is just as yummy. 

I decided to accompany the dish with a fresh cucumber salad, tzatziki sauce and pierogies toasted to perfection on the grill.  It was a nice ending to a hot summer night. 

In addition to having a new recipe to try, you can feel good about this protein having pretty much the same nutritional value as a steak itself because the small amount of ingredients go along way to add flavor without adding too many calories (approx 100 for the entire flank steak). 

Hope you enjoy.   BTW…what do you prefer to call a stuffed protein like this?

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