The List Changer

How’s everyone holding up with the winter that won’t end? I have to say, I love winter more than the average person but… c’mon. This is nuts. Its spring and that means not having to check the weather apps for how to dress when I walk or run outside… starting the garden… and spring cleaning.

I made my spring cleaning list today. Before you get excited, I make lists for everything. I actually make up reasons to make lists. So a spring cleaning list isn’t revolutionary. What has changed is how I make my lists. Before becoming a mom, when I was stressed about something or just had that feeling of general out-of-control-ness, I would make a list and get to work on it and all would be right with the world.

Guess who couldn’t give two poopy diapers about my lists.

EvilPI had to adapt.

Now all my lists are broken up into sections of what I can do with Priscilla hanging out with me, what I can do with her napping, and what I need someone else to be with her for. I wish I was high tech and had some new fangled list apps to tell you about but they are either in my head or on good ol’ paper and notebooks. (Damn you, Target) She is now crawling (fast), pulling herself up to stand, and taking pretty consistent naps, which is a far cry from just a couple months ago when her sleeping was as unpredictable as the weather. Her increased stability and mobility are great because I can get things done between hiding the cat dishes from her and making sure she isn’t taking a digger somewhere. As an added bonus, she finds yoga poses, pushups and squats hilarious. That’s a win-win :)

Mommyhood has been quite the adjustment, but I’m finally figuring out how to balance it with being me… which means its all going to change soon, from what I’ve heard!

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Claddagh Pub 4 Miler and Hynes Tavern 5 Miler – Wild Rover Race Series

After my great Frozen Shamrock 3 miler, I had the other two races in the Wild Rover Series. First up was the Claddagh 4 miler. I was sick for just about the whole week before the race, so I only ran once on the treadmill to prepare. I did make sure to do a big treadmill hill because this course has a very big hill right at the end of the second mile… everyone was talking about it before the race. In the bathroom, at number pickup, on the walk to the start line… “remember the hill?” “so when you turn the corner and you see that hill” “I’m really nervous about the hill” thehillthehillthehillTHEHILL! I was discussing this hill with a runner friend and she encouraged me to look at it as a “booty buster” and you know what… it worked. When I turned the corner with that hill staring me in the face, I just dug in and put my head down and motored up. If I were thinking of it as the Hill of Death (like I have in past years) I probably would have walked the whole thing. The downhill on this one is a little rough and sucks the energy out of you. My time was the second fastest for this race although not as fast as I wanted… But I finished and got my medal and felt good.

photo(59)For the Hynes 5 miler this past weekend I decided to take it easy, not have a goal, and just treat it as a long/training run. Scratch that, I gave myself a goal of 55:00. I really didn’t feel ready for the distance and was nervous about pushing myself too much and straining my hip and IT band and I felt cautiously optimistic about that goal. I didn’t put my usual running music on that gets me amped up, I just put on music I enjoy listening to and cruised along. Once I took the pressure off, it was one of the most relaxed starts I’ve ever had.

photo(62)This course has some rolling hills and is pretty straight out and back and runs through a cemetery … which is actually pretty picturesque. It was sunny and cool but not windy, and the roads weren’t really wet. I remember thinking several times how delightful a run I was having. Even when my Garmin stopped with no reason, I just shrugged it off and got it started again and kept going. I’ve been really working on negative splits, so after the third mile I had some extra energy and was able to finish strong… Imagine my surprise when I found out that my time was 50:50. My fastest time for this race before was 52:43 so that’s a PR by almost two minutes!

And to top it all off… I got my third medal… The first time I’ve had all three.

photo(60)Lesson learned from this series… it really is a mental game. Putting my mind to getting ready for the first race, thinking of the hill differently in the second race, and taking the pressure off of myself for the third all really helped me have a great series. My head is now in a great frame of mind for race season!

Any mind tricks to share for racing or running?

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Frozen Shamrock 3 miler

Sunday was a big day! I ran my first race in about a year and a half. The Frozen Shamrock 3 miler, first in the Wild Rover Series. This is such a fun series! The finishers medals all fit together to form one big medal, there’s fun music and people really get into the Irish vibe. This race was sold out and I believe the other two are almost if not already sold out, too.

FrozenShamrock1This was the third time I’ve run this race, I believe. I’ve worked really hard over the past couple months to get into race shape. I did a moderated Couch to 5k and really worked on my negative splits. Combine that with lots of rolling, stretching and strengthening and I ran my fastest time yet for this race and my second fastest race pace ever!

FrozenShamrock2It felt so good to be racing again. I had a tough time taking it slow getting back into running, but with all my hip and IT band issues, I was determined not to hurt myself again. I highly recommend Couch to 5K if you’re coming off of a long break from running.I think I have a good foundation to really get into it and start training for some longer distances.

And now race season is upon us! Which means spring is right around the corner!

(Maybe?)

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Checking in

Remember when this blog was about running? A loooooong time ago.

Well this mama has been back at it for a few weeks! I joined a gym near us and have been going when time permits. Now, I did not run throughout my pregnancy nor in the first 6 months after I had Priscilla so my concern (as always) has been how to run and not hurt myself. Enter the Couch to 5K program. I am really starting over and want to do it right. I can go on spur of the moment runs, but I have no time for physical therapy if I hurt myself again.

I just registered for a race series coming up and I’m super excited about it. Part of my 2014 goals are to make more time to do the things I enjoy and running (more like racing…) is one of those. And another goal is organizing myself better so training plans are the perfect marriage of those two.

Just from the short amount of time I’ve been back at it, I’m realizing how good it is for me. I come home excited to plan our meals for the week if its a Sunday run. And I always come back with a clearer head and calmer soul. It makes me a better person, wife and mommy.

Hopefully I can find time to pop in for updates and bring this blog back to what it was originally intended for!

-Michelle

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Free up your oven on Thanksgiving

We seem to be jumping the gun on celebrating Christmas… myself included. Its hard not to, and I think its because Thanksgiving is so late this year. I actually like to wait on Christmas and give Thanksgiving its time in the sun. ALSO, we host Thanksgiving, so I really need my efforts there until next Thursday night. Then its on.

I’ve been doing Thanksgiving dinner for 5 years now and I love it. I have my little schedule set up for the week before and have streamlined everything so I get as much done ahead of time. Also, my husband has devised a way to leave me the oven for all the sides… he smokes the turkey on the grill. Along with helping me out, this gives us a really delicious turkey and it makes amazing soup and stock afterwards with a smokey flavor.

Here’s how we do it. We get a fresh farm raised turkey… local is better, but this would work with any turkey. The day before, he makes a brine with sea salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, chicken stock, fresh thyme and sage, and water. We heat it to make sure the salt dissolves, then cool it.

Then we get a bucket or cooler ready. (We use an ash bucket, actually.) Line the bucket with a contractor bag and put a couple of bags of ice in the bottom. Then put a brining bag. Mix brine with a gallon of water and some ice cubes and put the brine in the bag, add the turkey and fill with water to cover. Tie the brining bag up and put ice in to cover the top and sides, cover the container and let it sit for 24 hours.

There’s a turkey in there!

The next day, take the bird out and dump all your icy briney water. Pat the turkey down and let it come to room temp. While that’s happening, build your fire.

We have a Weber 22 1/2″ kettle grill and we love it. Start with your charcoal briquettes and some light smoking wood… pecan or apple work great. Use a chimney starter to light the charcoal.

The whole idea here is indirect heat – the charcoal is never under the bird. See those half moon containers in the picture above? When the charcoal is hot, put it in those, or you can dump it on the sides. Just don’t put it in the middle. Then take a few pieces of wood and put them on the briquettes for your smoke… again, not under the bird.

Under the bird you do want to put something for moisture and to catch your drippings for gravy. We use one of those foil 1/2 roasting trays and put a quart of chicken stock, carrots, onions, and one can or bottle of fall beer. Then put the grilling grate on top and close the grill to heat it up – you are building your oven.

Go back inside to deal with that turkey. You now have a dry, room temperature bird that you need to season. Every year we do it differently and its really up to you what you use. We do some kind of rub (herbs, garlic, onion powder…) and butter. Then it gets stuffed with fresh herbs and lemons. Tie it up and put it on the grill grate, over the drip pan.

Now the trick is keeping an eye on the temperature of the turkey and your grill. We have this Maverick wireless long range thermometer and its awesome. It lets us monitor boh temperatures. But, you can also use a meat thermometer and oven thermometer. You want to keep the grill temp as constant as possible… not below 200-225. If you want to cook the turkey low and slow, 225 is good. If you want a higher heat, 350 is good for that.

After 2-3 hours begin checking the turkey’s temperature in the biggest part of the breast – you want it to be 165. Each bird cooks differently depending on its size, how cold it is outside, etc. At around 300 degrees, a 12-16 pound turkey would cook in around 4 hours and a 16-20 pound turkey would cook in around 5 hours but these are big ballpark numbers!

Charcoal will last 1-1 1/2 hours, so you’ll want to refill that. Just drop 6 or so briquettes on the pile and it will ignite.

Its good to have the turkey done early. When its done, use a new roasting pan and take it off the grill into that. If you are 1-2 hours away, cover the turkey with foil and towels to keep it hot and juicy. It stays hot covered for a long time! You can cover it 20 minutes to a half hour before dinner.

And don’t be alarmed if your turkey looks very dark from the outside… that’s the effect of the smoking. It is delicious and has a different flavor than an oven turkey for sure!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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My Nutrition Upgrade starts soon!

I gave myself a reprieve on the diet and exercise front after having the baby, but I feel like the time is right to get back into it. I’ve done a couple of walk/runs and am looking to take some kind of fitness class and/or yoga and I’m so excited.

When I say “diet” I don’t mean going on a diet, I just mean cleaning up my diet. What great timing that the folks at Ultimate Bootcamp are rolling out My Nutrition Upgrade on Monday! I took an Ultimate Bootcamp class at HLS12 and I loved it and I know people who love the program in general. I’m excited to see what they do on the nutrition front.

My Nutrition Upgrade is a four week online nutrition coaching program. Its designed to be easy to follow and customize for your eating style (vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, etc).

One of the things that I like about this is that you can chose between three different “tracks” depending on your health and fitness goals.

  • Go Getter: Happy at your current weight but want to take performance and fitness to the next level.
  • Feeling Fit: Want to transform your body composition.
  • Shape Shifter: Looking for a big lifestyle transformation and big changes.

When you sign up you get a packet of info, including simple, customized meal plans based on the track you choose. On Mondays and Thursdays you get a video sent to you with more guidance and with an upgrade… a challenge to make better food and nutrition choices. There is also 24/7 access to Kerrie Hawkins, award-winning dietician and nutritionist, through the online forum.

Another thing I’m excited about is that each four-week program focuses on a different area of life.  October’s program is focused on getting the junk out of your pantry and removing hidden sugars from the diet. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I did accumulate a lot of sweets during my pregnancy and I’m looking forward to getting rid of them.

This program is for athletes, non-athletes, anyone anywhere that wants to make a change. I am looking to increase my energy for my day to day living and to get back on track with my exercise, mainly running.

Want to try it with me? The program is normally $149, but if you use 13MNUHTB when you sign up, there is a $50 discount, making it $99. This code is good until Monday 10/14 when the program starts. Click here to sign up!

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I didn’t know…

I’ve had three months with this little face. Three awesome months.

I am constantly learning from this mommy experience. Learning about her, learning about me. While there are things I knew going into this… like that I would fall in love with Erm all over again and I would do anything for her as soon as I met her… there are lots of things I didn’t know and I know this is just the beginning.

I didn’t know that as soon as she was born, her face would be familiar to me, like I had been looking at it for years.

I didn’t know I could adapt to so little sleep.

I didn’t know that the first time I put her down and walked away from her with the monitor… I would miss her.

I didn’t know that 15 minutes in the car with my husband would feel like a date.

I didn’t know how much I could get done in 35 minutes.

I didn’t know that while I still care what I look like in public, I don’t really care how I’m acting when it comes to keeping her from crying.

I didn’t know that I would cheer for her like she just won an Olympic gold medal the first time she deliberately grabbed a toy.

I didn’t know that when moms go “shhhhhh” to their babies, they’re not trying to tell them or people around them to be quiet. That noise is actually soothing to them.

I didn’t know how much I would enjoy sitting down and eating a meal.

I didn’t know she would grow so fast!

I didn’t know that I could make up songs about anything.

I didn’t know how strong that mother’s instinct is. Like, come out of nowhere, take my breath away strong.

I didn’t know Joey would react so not-bad to her.

I didn’t know how quickly I’d be comfortable handling her. I tried to trick the nurse into giving her an extra bath before we left the hospital. It didn’t work.

I didn’t know how much my mother loved me until I had a daughter of my own.

I didn’t know how good it would feel to listen to whatever I want, as loud as I want, in the car when I’m alone.

I didn’t know she would make me laugh so much.

I didn’t know how excited I’d be to wake up in the morning… It seems like every day something new is happening with her!

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My favorite products during pregnancy

Its been a month (!) since I’ve been pregnant, I can’t believe it. It feels like forever ago that I looked like this:

As you can imagine, that bump changed my day to day life. Here’s some things that made life a little more comfortable.

1. Sperrys

I was lucky that it wasn’t until 34 weeks or so that my feet started to swell, but when they did, they turned into big Hobbit feet. Me and my coworkers would just stare and laugh at the end of every day (and sometimes at the beginning of the day!). Certain shoes made things better or worse and my Sperry’s were the best combination of support without making my feet or ankles swell too much. I’m lucky they were acceptable at work… but at 34+ weeks pregnant, who is going to argue with whatever shoes you’re wearing?

2. Lush Fair Trade Foot Lotion

Those swollen feet were my most annoying symptom. I never thought I’d want to see my skinny Skeletor feet so badly. All that swelling hurt by the end of the day. This foot lotion is my favorite for many reasons: it has peppermint but doesn’t make your feet feel like they’re on fire, it has Arnica which is a natural anti-inflammatory and has some pain killing qualities, and a little goes a long way.

3. Pregnancy Wedge

I used the Snoogle in the beginning of my pregnancy, but once that belly got big, it started pulling on my back when I would sleep on my side at night. I went for a prenatal massage and the therapist slid one of these under me and I was able to be comfortable lying down again. I ran out and bought this… you could also put it between your knees for your hips (another common sleep ruiner). $14 at Babies R Us.

4. Loved by Heidi Klum leggings

I was surprised to see these advertised on the website as regular clothes leggings, because when I saw them in the store I immediately thought exercise leggings. Regardless, I’m glad I got them. They hit under the belly, which I preferred in my third trimester. And look how slimming that bright stripe down the side is! I had a tough time finding workout gear for pregnant people and these pants were perfect. I wore them to yoga, prenatal fitness, physical therapy, and running errands. And right now they’re ONLY $9.99! Go get yourself a pair of each.

5. Glazed donuts

Not really a product, I just ate a lot of glazed donuts in my last two months… in my Heidi Klum leggings. As noted by everyone close to me.

I used a lot of things in my 40 weeks but these were my favorite things that made me more comfortable.  Have you used anything lately that’s made your life easier?

(I was not compensated in any way for this post, I bought these things with my own money and I wanted to share them with other uncomfortable pregnant women.)

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Onions and lettuce and beets, oh my

One of the things I couldn’t wait for when we moved was to start a garden. And by I, I mean Erm and his dad, because they have farmer blood running through their veins. My father-in-law grew up on a farm in Italy that the family still lives on and he has a huge garden at his house that Erm grew up on. While I could nurse a dead fish back to life, I am really not good with plants. But I’m hoping to turn that around this summer.

There she is… my garden.

In the garden, according to my super stylish (not) sticks, we have: Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, carrots, spaghetti squash, peas, beets, strawberries, celery, zucchini, spinach and gladiolas. (as a buffer to the strawberries…I think)

For the record, I am most excited for the carrots.

Some of these were started from seed and some were started from plants, like the lettuce and beets and about half of the others. We are going to have a LOT of lettuce.

Now since I couldn’t partake in the building of the garden or the planting, I now am the master weeder. And because I wanted a crop of my own, I bought a packet of microgreen seeds and planted those, so I feel like I’m contributing to our harvest. Because microgreens are definitely comparable to beets and carrots and eggplant.

And there’s my our garden! I’m a total novice at the gardening thing, so I will probably share things on here that I learn about gardening that people actually know. But if you are plant-challenged like me, I’m looking forward to learning together.

In all seriousness, I’m really excited to be growing our own vegetables. Any time I can have total control over what I’m eating is great by me. I’m thinking of starting a petition for Erm to let me get some chickens for eggs for the same reason.

Oh, and I get my inspiration from Mavis at One Hundred Dollars a Month. She grows thousands of pounds of food every year and aims to feed her family on $100 a month, its fascinating.

Are you growing anything this summer?

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Pregnant women plan, and their babies laugh

Well. My last day of work was supposed to be the 17th, and my due date was the 23rd. So, I had these plans to be home for a week (or more!) eating bon bons on the couch and writing posts about my favorite pregnancy products (that’s coming) and our experience with hypnobirthing (also coming… someday) and putting together baby things and what not.

But someone had other plans!

Priscilla was born to us in the weeist of hours on Thursday the 16th. We are crazy about her, obviously. She is named after my Nana who passed last February and I miss every single day.

She is happy and healthy and everything we’ve wanted.

 And I’m happy to be back to blogging. Not every day, but definitely more than once a month, and probably more than once a week! Because as happy as I am, I’ve already made up too many songs about peepee di-pees (translation: wet diapers) and I need to do something somewhat intelligent. It won’t be all baby stuff because I like balance but I’m warning you… there will be baby stuff.

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