Weekly Workouts–Highlights and Lowlights

Lately on the blog I think I’ve been focusing more on food (specifically food from our garden :)) and less on fitness.  In case you think I have fallen off the exercise wagon, here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Saturday: Kayaking- 2 hours
Sunday: Biking- 1 hour
Monday: Running- 30 minutes
Tuesday: Weights- 30 minutes (Jillian Michaels’ Ripped in 30)
Wednesday: Running/Walking- 20 minutes
Thursday: Free Weights- 30 minutes, Walking-30 minutes
Friday: Rest

The Lowlight:
<Warning: I am about to whine.>  My quad is still bothering me when I run as a result of that softball game a few weeks ago.  I have not attempted any sort of speed work or distance since then, but about 15 minutes into every (slow) run, that quad tightens up like crazy, and I have to stop to stretch (which doesn’t completely relieve it, but it helps for a few minutes.)  Then, as soon as I started running Wednesday, my knee began to hurt.  I kept it slow and allowed myself to walk, but ended up cutting it way short because of the pain.  I have no idea what that’s about!  I haven’t had knee problems in years, and I’m a very frustrated with it. :-/

The Highlight:
Kayaking was a blast last weekend!  As I’ve said before, I love getting a workout from outdoor, physical activities that aren’t specifically workouts–kayaking, hiking, playing tennis, etc.  I love taking a break from the usual workout routine on the weekends to make room for just playing.  Kayaking gives you a cardiovascular workout without using your legs (well, you use them some for stabilization, but your arms are doing most of the work),  which makes it great for people who are, say, having knee issues from running.

And, because fitness and food go hand-in-hand when it comes to wellness (and because I am in the weird habit of taking pictures of my dinners), here’s our super lazy dinner from last night:  Grilled burger patties (made with lean ground beef), steamed broccoli, and Alexia baked oven fries.

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Pretty tasty 🙂

What was your workout highlight or lowlight from the week?

Liebster Award

Thanks to Wendy over at The Scarred Runner for nominating me for this cool little blog award!  I am very flattered and excited to write this post. 🙂

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The Rules:

  1. This award is given to new or up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers.  Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to them in your post.
  2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 new bloggers (with fewer than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them in your post.
  4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

11 Random Facts About Me:

1.  I am very easily startled.  Not scared–just startled.  The majority of my coworkers have caused me to jump, gasp, and take a step backwards simply by walking through a doorway.  Recently, I was walking into the bathroom right before going to bed; the light was on in our bedroom and off in the bathroom, so there was just enough light to make out shapes.  For the briefest of seconds, a pile of towels on the floor looked like a wolf.  Obviously, I knew there was not a wolf in the bathroom, but my body reacted before my brain.  I gasped so loudly and turned to run.  Andrew looked scared at my reaction and asked what was wrong.  “I thought…there was a wolf in the bathroom.”  Yep.  Not going to live that one down…ever.

2.  I am very squeamish.  I once passed out while having my blood pressure taken because the cuff was so tight and I could just feel the blood pooling up in my shoulder and…
Similarly, a few months ago I cut my finger while slicing a bagel.  I didn’t need stitches, but it was a bad cut.  Andrew told me to hold it under the water and NOT look at it while he went in search of a band-aid.  I looked anyway.  Andrew had to carry me to the couch and later quoted me saying, “I’m bleeding out!”

3.  I really enjoy pranking people, and I always have.  Once in elementary school, I wrote down a fake message for my sister that her friend Sarah had called.  This was before 8-year-olds had cell phones, so she actually had to dial the number on our wall-mounted phone.  Instead of writing down her friend’s number, I wrote the number of one of my friends who was also named Sarah.  I correctly suspected that they’d have an entire conversation without realizing who they were actually talking to.  When Whitney finally figured it out, she chased me outside and around the house.

4.  I think I am hilarious.  One time in college I laughed so hard that I peed…I was laughing at a joke that I made.

5.  I have two nieces, and when each of them were born, I understood love in a whole new dimension.  But seriously, how cute are they?

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6.  I am at greatest risk of laughing uncontrollably at inappropriate times when my mom starts laughing.  A few years ago, my brother was participating in “No-Shave November,” or “Movember.”  When Thanksgiving rolled around, he looked a little scruffy, and we gave him a really hard time about having a Dirt ‘Stache.  At Thanksgiving dinner my very Southern, proper grandmother said, “Ross, I see you’re growing a mustache.”  I smirked, anticipating the criticism he was about to receive.  Instead of criticism, however, Grandma said, “I think it’s kind of… sexy,” raising her eyebrows on the last word.  My mom literally spit out a bite of mashed potatoes and laughed so hard she was crying.  I might have been able to control myself, but seeing my mom try to stifle her laughter while wiping tears off her face was too much.  We were quite a non-discreet mess.  It happened again recently, but the situation was so inappropriate that I fear we, along with my brother, are still in the proverbial doghouse with my sister, and therefore, I cannot tell the story.

7.  When I was little and couldn’t fall asleep at night, I’d sneak down to the living room where my dad was watching television (the rest of the family was asleep.)  I’d sit in his lap, and we’d eat popcorn and watch old Westerns, and he never told me to go to bed.  Those are some of my favorite childhood memories.

8.  My grandmother–not the sexy mustache one, but my dad’s mom–is probably cooler than your grandmother, and has more awesome one-liners than anyone I know.  Prior to suffering from Alzheimer’s, she was a feisty little Italian woman with a huge heart and strong opinions.  She was our babysitter growing up, and when I was in middle school, she drove me to the drug store one afternoon to buy supplies for a school project.  While standing in line at the checkout counter, she scanned the magazine rack and started angrily reading some of the taglines aloud:  “50 ways to please your man?? 100 ways to please your man??  If you did all those things, you wouldn’t have time to do anything else!!”  😀

9. I skipped school once during high school.  It was during our standardized testing week in the spring of my senior year, and I had a two-hour study hall that day.  My partner in crime, Whitney, had a two-hour physics class in which they were watching a movie.  (In other words, we weren’t missing much.)  We met in the parking lot after checking into and then excusing ourselves from class, and drove to Starbucks.  Immediately after ordering our Frappucinos, Whitney side stepped toward me, leaned in, and said, “Don’t turn around, but the librarian just walked in.”  Keeping our backs to her, we both went into the single stall bathroom, locked the door, and spent about five minutes freaking out.  What are the chances?? Why did we skip school?? We’re going to get in so much trouble!!  Finally, we peeked out the door, saw that she was gone, and claimed our drinks.  We were young and wild and free.

10. I am, as Andrew likes to say, an “emotional sponge.”  An easy crier.  I’m not sensitive in the sense that my feelings are easily hurt, but when I see/hear/read/imagine that other people are sad, it’s like I absorb the emotion.  Around Christmas this year Andrew and I were watching Home Alone.  <Spoiler alert> At the end of the movie when Kevin’s mom walks in the house and sees him standing in front of the Christmas tree, I started crying.  Andrew was incredulous.

“Why are you crying??”
“Because he’s okay!”
“…He’s been okay!  We’ve seen that he’s okay the whole time!  And you’ve seen this movie before!”
“But his mom didn’t KNOW that he was okay, and now she knows!”

True story.

11.  I love telling stories.  Thanks for reading a few of mine. 🙂

Questions from The Scarred Runner:
1. What do you do to unwind for the day?  When I get home I grab a snack, lounge on the couch, and watch a few episodes of whatever sit-com is on at the moment.
2. What is your favorite dessert?  Ice creamNo contest.
3. Cats or dogs?  Undecided.  If a cat is raised right, as ours were, they are awesome pets.  Ours totally broke the cat stereotype, but I don’t necessarily like other people’s cats.  Theoretically, I like dogs, but there are few things I find more gross than getting licked by a dog.  I am allergic to both.
4. What color is your car?  Grey
5. What inspired you to start blogging?  I enjoy writing, and I love reading other people’s blogs!
6. Beach or Countryside?  Beach.
7. Drive or Fly?  Drive.
8. Do you always have the latest tech gadgets before anyone else?  Definitely not.  I went from flip phone to iphone just a few months ago.
9. Least favorite celebrity?  Lady Gaga.  I don’ t know what it is about her, but her music makes me want to gag-a.
10. How do you feel about magic tricks?  I hate them.  Magicians are so smug, and I don’t like feeling tricked.  Seriously, don’t ever show me a magic trick.  I have very strong feelings about the matter.
11.  Have you ever modeled professionally?  Why yes, I had a brief stint with Rosetta Stone in college.  Look for me as you’re learning a new language.  (I just made up that question because I wanted to share that fact :-D)

My Nominees for the Liebster Award:

Races, Reps, and Ramblings
Lucy On The Lookout
Gluten-Free 2013
Reluctantly Skinny
Run With Perseverence

*You can answer any of the questions above or make up your own 🙂 *

Thanks for reading, if you’ve hung in this long. 😀

Eating Well on a Budget

Last week over coffee, my friend Amy and I discussed the difficulty of eating well (and healthily) on a budget.  I confessed that Andrew and I really don’t have a budget for food;  with his allergies, there are some items (gluten and dairy free) that we have to buy, regardless of the price.  Plus, we consider the money we spend on organic produce an investment–we are hoping for lower healthcare costs down the road as a result of taking good care of ourselves now!  After all, it was Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine himself, who said, “Let food be thy medicine.”  That, however, is a post for another day.  Today I want to talk about eating well on a budget.

While Andrew and I do not have an official budget for food, we also don’t go crazy at the grocery store.  Here are some ways we keep down the cost of what we consume:

  • Buy in bulk, when possible.  We always have large containers of brown rice and quinoa that we refill with bags purchased at a wholesale club.  We also buy large bottles of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and other items that will last a while.
  • Look for sales.  If our cereals of choice are on a good sale, we might buy five boxes (It is not uncommon for us to have ten boxes of cereal in our pantry at any given time. :))  Be flexible–if you were planning to have chicken breasts for dinner, but discover at the store that the pork tenderloins are on sale, it’s okay to change plans!  Or…
  • Buy meat when it’s on sale and freeze it.
  • Look for in-season produce.  It’s cheaper and tastes better.
  • Buy frozen produce.  It’s generally cheaper, has more nutrients than canned (and often fresh) produce, and works well in most recipes.  We always have a large bag of organic broccoli in the freezer that we can steam for a quick, healthy side dish.
  • Shop around.  We know, in general, which stores have which foods for the least money.  There are some items we always buy at Trader Joe’s, some we always buy at Kroger, and, surprisingly, a few items that are always cheapest at Martin’s.
  • Limit the number of packaged “treats” that you buy.  Generally, this is the stuff that ups the grocery bill, not the bananas that cost $0.20 each.
  • Grow your own food.  Sure, there were some upfront costs to starting our garden, but there’s a lot of produce that I don’t have to buy this summer!

Dinner last night was definitely a budget-friendly meal:

DSCN8484All grilled: marinated chicken, corn on the cob, zucchini and yellow squash.

Cost:  We purchased a 3.5 lb organic “griller pack” that included 4 chicken legs and 2 split chicken breasts on sale for $8.75.  We bought 4 ears of corn for a total of $1.33.  The squash came from our garden, but Kroger currently has them on sale for $0.69/pound.  Let’s say we bought 3 pounds for $2.07.  Assuming you have salt, pepper, butter (for the corn,) olive oil and vinegar (to marinate the chicken) on hand, the total cost of this dinner is $12.15.  The cost per serving obviously depends on the people who are eating–this would probably make 7 meals for me and 3 for Andrew ;-)–together, we will likely get 5 servings out of this, bringing the cost to $2.43 per serving.  If you factor in the cost of the items you had on hand (which I am not going to do,) I bet it’s still well under $3 per serving.

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That’s a lot of food for $12.15!

Eating well doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank.  Look for sales, buy produce that’s in season–or better yet, grow your own–and you can eat very delicious, healthy meals on a budget.

Do you have any tips for saving money at the grocery store?

Bike Rides and Bee Hives

Sunday morning, Andrew embarked on day two of kayaking.  Assuming he would be gone for a while, I decided to go for a solo bike ride after church and rode to a nearby park to enjoy the trails.  We’ve biked the trails at this park before, but for some reason I was struggling yesterday!  The ride to the park was fine, and the wider paths were no problem.  One particular stretch of trail was so narrow and uphill, though, that my Garmin kept switching to the “auto-pause” mode, meaning I was riding so slowly it thought I’d stopped.  Hah!

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One of the wider trails in the park 🙂

Try to picture this:  I’m pedaling very slowly, uphill, navigating between trees and over roots, and up ahead there is a large stick on the path.  Let’s say it’s a small log.  It was about 3-4 inches in diameter–no big deal if I’d been going downhill or at a decent speed–but uphill at a snail’s pace?  That thing was going to bring my bike to a complete stop.  I decided the only thing to do was pop my front tire over the log.  As I did so successfully, I congratulated myself aloud with an enthusiastic, “YES!”…at which point I noticed a woman walking and looking right at me, not ten feet away, on the paved path that winds through the park.  She definitely heard me, and I can only imagine what she must have thought.

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I ended up riding about 9 miles in just over an hour, which means I had a few pretty fast miles going to and from the park to balance those really slow miles in the park. 🙂

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When Andrew returned from kayaking later that afternoon, he decided to mow the grass while he was still gross from the river. (If you aren’t familiar with the James, it is a very dirty river.  I stopped Andrew just in time a few times this weekend from sitting on the couch in his dry, but river-funky bathing suit.)  I had cleaned up from my bike ride and was upstairs getting ready.  About five minutes after Andrew started mowing the grass, I heard the lawnmower stop.  Then I heard the front door knob turn.  I knew it was locked, so I went downstairs to let Andrew in.  By the time I got there, he was walking in through the garage.   I asked if everything was okay, and Andrew, with as much calmness and little emotion as if he were telling me the weather forecast said:

“I think I ran over a beehive with the lawnmower.”

“Oh no!  Did you get stung??”

“Yeah.”

With that he bent down and lifted the bottom of his pant leg, and two yellow jackets flew out!  I would have been freaking out.  Andrew’s attitude was like, Eh, yeah, there are some bees in my pants.  Whatever.  

Thankfully he was only stung once.  (He did clarify later that the bees were trapped around the ankle of his pants and not just flying around his legs.  I feel a little better about that.)  I walked outside with him to investigate, and we saw bees swarming around a few holes in the ground.  The grass in the part of the yard remains uncut for now.  :-/

Bee sting aside, we had a great weekend!

What did you do this weekend?
Have you ever run over a beehive with a lawnmower?

Kayaking on the James

On Saturday afternoon, Andrew and I pulled out the kayaks for the first time this season.  The weather was warm, but mostly cloudy, the river level was high, and we knew we were in for a good afternoon.  But before removing the kayaks from the garage, we had one of those arguments about nothing.  When we bought the house, Andrew built a pulley system on the ceiling of the garage to store the kayaks (perk #107 of marrying an engineer.)  We currently use our garage to store lots of things that are not cars, so in order to get the kayaks down without dropping them on anything, we needed to turn them as we lowered.

Andrew: “Okay. I need you do hold the center of the kayak and rotate it as I lower.”

(The kayak is still at head level for me, and I have to lean over a work bench to reach the center.  Andrew lowers one side so I have some more slack to work with.  A watering can is knocked off a shelf after a failed attempt to turn the dang boat.  Andrew gives me an exasperated look.)

Catherine: “I’m trying!  I don’t know what you want me to do!” 

Andrew: “Turn the kayak so it’s facing that way!”

(Something else is knocked off a shelf by the hanging kayak.)

Catherine:  “I can’t do that from the middle!  I need to pull it over from the front!”

Andrew: “Then do that!”

We lowered the kayak to the ground, and the argument–more of a discussion with raised voices–blew over as quickly as it started. 🙂  Do you ever have arguments like that?  Ones in which you are frustrated with a situation but take out your frustration on another person?  I am definitely guilty of it… and I have a feeling I’m not the only one.  Still, I probably need to work on that.

We loaded the kayaks on top of the car, and headed to the riv-ah.  We started at Huguenot Flatwater;  Andrew dropped off me and the boats, drove downstream to Pony Pasture, dropped off his car, and biked back to where I was.

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There’s not a lot of river between the two spots, so we paddled upstream for a bit before going down.  The river was really high, and the “beach” where we usually stop and eat lunch when kayaking was mostly under water.

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We explored the land, paddled around for a while, then eventually headed downstream.  Other than feeling a few drops of rain from the upcoming storm, the weather was great–warm, but not hot, overcast, but not completely grey.  There is a dam along that stretch of the James, with plenty of warning signs instructing boaters where to get out of the water and walk.

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Just after the dam…getting back in the water!

The best part of the trip was the end.  Pony Pasture has lots of rocks and rapids, so it was more exciting than a gentle downstream paddle.  Andrew, the more seasoned kayaker, led the way, and I followed at a distance through the rapids.  When I encountered the first rapid, my boat went entirely under water–still upright, but fully submerged.  Once we made it through, I told Andrew, “I am soaked!”  He laughed and said that he was as well.  When we took the boats out of the water, however, he compared the two and said, “Whoa… you took on a LOT more water than I did!”  I will have to work on my rapid-navigation skills. 😉

We ended a great day with dinner on the back porch–beet greens & kale, polenta, and chicken sausages with a rosemary-mustard sauce that Andrew created:

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Andrew is back out in the kayak today with a group of coworkers!  They are attempting a longer, more rapid-filled stretch of the river.  I am going on a bike ride for as long as the rain will hold off (the sky looks threatening at the moment…)

Happy Sunday!

What’s been the highlight of your weekend so far?

Squash, Tennis, and Homemade GF Cookies

Something tells me I will need to find an abundance of new squash recipes soon…and that something is that our zucchini and yellow squash are growing faster than the weeds surrounding them!  Yesterday we harvested (and ate) three, and we have three more that are ready to be picked today.

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Aren’t they beautiful? 😀  It is unbelievable how fast zucchini grow.  This particular one increased its size by almost 1/3 literally overnight.  We checked on it yesterday morning and thought, “Whoa!  Where did that come from?!”

For dinner, we kept the squash prep simple–sliced, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried thyme, and roasted in the oven.

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…Plus baked pork chops and brown rice noodles with garlic and basil.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t love squash, but this was actually very tasty!  Again, I am fairly certain food tastes better when it’s homegrown.  It’s not too late to buy a few vegetable plants! 😀  You can grow them in pots, and you wont regret it.

After dinner we went to a local public school to play tennis.  My quad is still giving me trouble from our softball game ten days ago–fifteen or twenty minutes into my runs, it starts feeling really tight and achy.  I was happy to do a non-running cardio workout!

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My husband has skills.

We played for just over an hour, and as we were driving home, Andrew reminded me of my promise to bake him something.  Wednesday afternoon I’d baked a few desserts for a meeting at church, and when Andrew got home the house smelled like cookies, but there was nothing he could eat, so I promised to bake him something gluten-free and delicious on Thursday.

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There’s a decent selection of gluten-free all-purpose flours and baking mixes these days, but the best stuff we have come across is Arrowhead Mills GF all-purpose flour.  The first few times I baked with it, I double checked the box to make sure the flour was GF after tasting how good the final product was.  More than once I did that!  We have even served GF baked goods made from this brand to our friends without them being able to tell they were GF.  That’s the true test. 🙂  Anyway, these chocolate chip cookies, made using Arrowhead Mills GF all-purpose flour, did not disappoint.  I’d need to do a side-by-side taste test, but I think I prefer these to regular chocolate chip cookies.  We may have eaten seven between the two of us (it’s okay… we eat our veggies too :-D)

Now, I’m off to pick some more squash before they grow too large to eat!

What’s your favorite squash recipe?  Do you have a gluten-free flour that you really love?

Jillian Michaels and Fresh Green Beans

I am officially bringing Jillian Michaels back into my life (her fitness DVDs, that is.)  Leading up to our wedding over a year ago I completed her 30-Day Shred workouts and really enjoyed them.  Well, perhaps “enjoyed” isn’t the right word;  I felt whatever it is you feel when you are successfully motivated by someone yelling, “Get up! Get up! Get up!  I have 400-pound people who can do this… so can YOU!” through the TV screen. 😉  Around the same time I purchased Jillian’s Ripped in 30 DVD.  I used it a few times, then fell off the wagon.  Yesterday I pulled it off the shelf, put it in the DVD player, and allowed my butt to be kicked.

I’d forgotten how much I love her workouts, and how much harder I push myself when, well, someone else is pushing me!  I am definitely feeling the good kind of sore today–like I worked hard.  Jillian is back in my regular workout rotation, and I am pretty excited about it. 😀

Transitioning from fitness to food, last night we cooked some green beans from our garden for dinner!


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We picked exactly thirty green beans.  Thirty beautiful, fresh, delicious beans.

Along with the green beans, which we lightly sauteed, we made mahi mahi, brown rice, and side salads.  We used this recipe for the mahi mahi, but we baked, rather than seared, the fish, and used a dairy-free buttery spread rather than butter for the sauce.  We also used fresh basil from the garden!

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It’s interesting how careful we’ve been to not waste food that we have grown.  Typically when preparing green beans, I snap off more of the bean than necessary for the sake of doing it quickly.  Last night I was so careful to only break off what was necessary.  It takes hard work to grow every centimeter of those beans!  I really think home-grown food tastes better too.  We have one zucchini and a few yellow squash that are about ready to pick, and I am so excited to eat them, even though they aren’t my favorite veggies.

After dinner we went to Ray’s for ice cream and DF frozen ice with our good friend Amy (she has an awesome blog you can check out here!)  She teaches in Florida and is town visiting for the week now that school is out for the summer.  It was so good to catch up, and made for a nice end to a great Tuesday. 🙂

Have you harvested/eaten any of your summer veggies yet?  Have you done any Jillian Michaels workout DVDs?