Friday, December 6, 2013

Throw-Together Italian Quinoa

Well hello there! Its been awhile hasn't it?

Today is a snapshot of how life seems to have been lately: one kiddo under the weather, trying to keep the other kiddo quietly entertained, sneaking away to respond to work emails when I can to keep my clients at bay.

I was lost for a meal for me when lunchtime came (recent car-wretching by Moose having delayed the weekly grocery run), but the resulting pantry scavenger hunt was such a success (can you spy the little feet belonging to the Mouse who was stealing every third bite out of my bowl?) that I wanted to share.

Italian Quinoa
(Serves 4 as a meal; 6-8 as a side dish)

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed (I used the Tri-Color organic quinoa from Trader Joe's, but any will do)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (ideally organic and reduced sodium)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2oz light Italian dressing
  • 1 large can of black olives
  • Grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Combine quinoa and broth in a small saucepan, heat to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Once the quinoa is done (the liquid should be absorbed and little curly-q's popping out of the grains), remove from heat and stir in tomatoes and dressing thoroughly.  Then fold in olives.
  3. Serve topped with cheese.

This will go in my back pocket to adapt and use again in the future!

What's your favorite throw-together meal?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Therapeutic Value of Dispensing Advice

Take a minute (or five of them, plus four seconds) this afternoon and listen.

I remember this song coming out shortly after I graduated from High School.  (Somewhat inconsequential fact: the message was actually written in 1997 - the year I graduated from High School.)  It was written by a Chicago Tribune columnist who was wistfully pondering what sage snippets she would impart, if ever she were invited to be a graduation speaker.

It made me tear up then (I don't really know why), and having stumbled upon it again (thanks to Alexandra's excellent blog), it still does.  In fact, I think some of the wisdom is just as (or more) applicable for worn-out thirty-somethings than it was for me at barely-twenty ("You are not as fat as you imagine.").

But it makes my heart swell differently now.  Because I have lived fourteen or so more years of life and can commiserate with the lyrics ("Oh yes, definitely!).  Maybe we've even said something similar to a child, a cousin going off to college, a wayward sibling.

Why does it make us feel good to give advice? 

I don't think it's ego.  The opposite, in fact.  Giving advice makes us feel like, for all the things we've messed up, we've gotten enough right that we have something useful to share.

I've been so weary from sleep-deprivation and so irritated-raw from my toddler's backtalk, that when someone pays me the extreme complement of asking for my advice, I nearly sent them flowers as a thank you.

So today, I want to give you a pick-me-up: what's your best advice?  On life.  Nutrition.  Mothering.  Running a business.  Hit me!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Shareworthy: Welcome October!

This beautiful 9/11 tribute by the NYC Ballet premiered at sunrise on 9/12

The first two books in one of my favorite mystery series - the Charles Lenox books - are only $2.99 on Kindle for the whole month of October!! If you love historical fiction, "cozy mysteries", check out A Beautiful Blue Death and The September Society!

I've been trying to make my nail polish last longer.  For all the delightful things my mom taught me, how to give myself a manicure was not one of them.  This thorough post at 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic is great (and gets bonus points for tips on long-wearing, since that's my biggest problem).

"Hey! That Person is Making Different Parenting Decisions!  Call CPS!" is both hilarious and touching.  It echoes sentiments I think a lot of moms want to say every day, but is written as only a dad can.  Simply awesome!

I'd heard of Birchbox before, but not ipsy (the concept is the same: curated beauty samples delivered monthly like crack).  For only $10 a month, I'm seriously tempted to try it!

Like any self-respecting Bridget Jones fan, I've been looking forward to Mad About the Boy , the third in the series, coming out late this month.  However, this early review makes me wonder if I need to leave well enough alone with the happily-ever-after at the end of Edge of Reason.

This is how I want to be able to travel someday!

I'm kind of an MBTI junkie, which means that my inner geek thinks these stylized type heads are really cool!  (What is your type?  I'm an ENFJ.)

Disclosure: this post contains a few Amazon affiliate links.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fitness Friday: P90X for Women {PLUS Try a P90X-style Workout for FREE!}

Image by Beachbody
I had been doing exercise videos for a good six years before I stumbled onto P90X.  Mostly workouts from The Firm (which I've written about here) and Cathe Friedrich.  I felt pretty fit.  When 2008 rolled around, I found myself in a rut - it was the year that I came to terms with the fact that I could not safely carry a child (and should not even attempt pregnancy), and needless to say, my fitness level started to slip.  So when Daddy M (who, at the time, had some pounds to lose) floated the idea of doing P90X (and strongly hinted that an accountability buddy would be helpful), I said "why not".

After a full, three-month round of P90X, though, I was not in love.  Daddy M and I completed the "Classic" rotation and, while he had fantastic results, mine were just meh.  However, I returned to it in 2011 (after a sleepless year with Moose that saw me seriously pile on some pounds), and found a way to make it work for me.

Which is really why I want to share my experience here: because I get the impression that a lot of women have a meh response to P90X - particularly those who, like me, come to the program with a few pounds to lose - and I learned that it doesn't have to be that way.

To begin, if you're not familiar with the P90X workouts, you should know that it is predominantly intended as a strength and muscle building program.  The Classic rotation looks like this:
Day 1 - Upper body + abs
Day 2 - Cardio
Day 3 - Upper body + abs
Day 4 - Yoga (with an endurance toning focus)
Day 5 - Lower body + abs
Day 6 - Cardio
For as much as I thought I knew about exercise when I did my first round of the program, I didn't really get that, as a woman comfortably out of her teens, I would need more cardio to see real weight loss.  So in 2011, I did the "Lean" variation of the rotation:
Day 1 - Core Synergistics (a cardio/light weights & body resistance circuit)
Day 2 - Cardio
Day 3 - Upper body (heavier weights) + abs
Day 4 - Yoga
Day 5 - Lower body + abs
Day 6 - Cardio
Within the first few weeks, I was already seeing better results than the first time around, and decided to add some "doubles" - an extra cardio workout on the toning days.  I went jogging with Moose (in a jogging stroller) on Day 3 and Day 5, after my P90X workout.

My results were fantastic!  I wish I would have taken before and after pictures (I didn't take any before shots because I honestly wasn't expecting a lot . . .)!  If you're like me (female, have a few pounds to lose), I highly recommend this variation of P90X!

I do, however, have some lingering cons about the program:
  • It is incredibly time-consuming!  Now that I have two littles, and my law practice is growing, I know I can't reasonably expect to be able to undertake that commitment (60-120 minutes a day).  Were I to undertake another Lean rotation right now, in order to keep each day at 60 minutes or less, I would get my much-needed cardio in on Days 3 and 5 by only doing half of the weight workout (I've heard this called "halfsies" by other P90Xers) and then tacking on 20-30 minutes of cardio.  I would also substitute a shorter ab routine.
  • Beware of the risk of injury!  I ended up with biceps tendinitis in my right shoulder at the end of my successful 90-day cycle from all the (attempted and partial) pull-ups.  And my Morton's neuroma first reared its ugly head as I was finishing up.  As with everything, listen to your body and make adjustments if something starts not feeling right.
  • Ab Ripper X is not a balanced ab routine.  I hated ARX in the beginning.  It made my low back hurt every single time I did it, and I was nowhere near being able to complete all the repetitions.  I figured it was because I was so sorely lacking in core strength, but even by the end of three months, when I was matching Tony Horton rep-for-rep, I was still in pain.  I applaud the variety of lower abdominal moves in ARX, but I don't think it's balanced out with enough with upper-ab, mid-ab, and oblique work.  If I did another round, I would substitute another (or a variety of other) ab routine, both for time considerations (mentioned above) as well as in the interest of a well-rounded and less painful workout.
If you're curious about the kind of workout you can get with P90X, here is a {FREE} 30-minute workout from P90X creator Tony Horton.  It alternates cardio, body-weight toning and ab exercises, and feels a lot like Core Synergistics.

Have you tried P90X? What were your results?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shareworthy (Formerly Weekend Links)

I've decided to change the name of these posts.  Because I'm not good at doing a straight-up link list. Because some of what I have to share isn't an article to read (because some weeks go by without my reading all the way through a whole article or post!).  I noticed that some of my recent "links" were more of a quick shout-out about something I/my kids enjoyed that isn't quite enough for a post of its own, but still totally share-worthy.

{Grown-up fun and food for thought}

Since I was just talking about women, equality, and the importance choice in my Lean In review last week, I thought this article about removing gender labeling at Toys 'R' Us was interesting.  And a noble move. Ultimately, I think, only minimal progress can be made until the toy companies are also on board.  Also, as much as the all-girl toy store mentioned in the article sounds intriguing, I am always wary of a group that wants total equality AND special, exclusionary perks (I love having gone to a women's college and I firmly believe men should have the same opportunity to pursue a single-sex education if they do choose; sadly, only two all-male schools remain in the US today).

I love writing.  For myself.  To my kids.  To share in this space.  But sometimes the desire to write and a free-flowing subject don't quite line up. This list of 88 awesome topics (to blog about) ought to help (but don't you dare call me out if you see one here!).  (And I'm really enjoying getting to know the rest of Alexandra's blog, too!)

Need a (virtual) escape?  I do (well, I'd rather a real one but my upcoming girls' trip got cancelled!) and loved the few minutes I spent poring over the Hotel Belle's day trip to Sandringham!

{What I'm sharing with my kids this week}

I recently stumbled upon the Let's Explore blog (tagline: Adventures in Playful Family Living) and have been delighted so far from both an inspiration and simplicity standpoint!  I love this post on non-toys!  And this one on ways to play in September!

Moose is just now learning his letters, but is super keen on it (and holds a pencil beautifully)!  I ran across these tips on raising a boy who loves to write and immediately pinned for the not-too-distant future when Moose is really writing.

Mouse received the Family Tree album by Frances England, for her birthday, and both kids are in love! Moose begs for it from the moment he walks into Mouse's room, and they both dance around while we get ready.  Its fast become part of our morning routine, and something we all look forward to.  The video at the beginning of this post is a live performance of "Ice Cream" (track #3).

We love watching tennis at our house and, after his request to play, too, Moose had his first tennis lesson on Friday.  This resource for tennis for young children has been helpful in getting him ready (and equipped) to play!

What have you seen/read/used this week that was shareworthy?

Disclosure: this post contains one or more affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dream Job

Photo Credit - bookgrl
Whenever I watch "Inside the Actor's Studio", and James Lipton gets to the question "What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?", I don't even have to pause for thought! 


I want to be the gal who gets to play with crayons and think up names like "mango tango" or "inchworm"!  Moreover, I can think back to when I was a kid, and remember marveling over the crayon names (and wondering who occupied the whimsical office, probably situated somewhere adjacent to the Easter Bunny's, that got to make those all-important decisions). 

I was pondering the grown-up variation of this job in the wee hours of this morning as I rocked Mouse (who has a tummy bug).  You see, one of my birthday gifts (thanks to a generous gift card from my mother-in-law) was the Naked 2 eye shadow palette.  
Photo Credit - Kristina
Someone, somewhere got to think of "snakebite" for a dark coppery color!  And "busted" for a dark metallic gray (the color of handcuffs, perhaps?)!  

That's the job I want to have!

What's your most crazy, far-fetched dream job?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend Links: Birthday Edition!

My birthday is tomorrow, which means the celebration has already begun (and continue with my favorite, a Pumpkin Spice Latte, first thing tomorrow).  I'm a complete and total, unapologetic Birthday Princess.  It's really not about the gifts.  Its about celebrating life and the gifts of family and friendship!  Here are some treats (mental, aesthetic, or otherwise), I've enjoyed this week.

For You

This post at Sorta Crunchy is not new, but newly forwarded to me by a friend - it made me feel immeasurably better about my own wholesome efforts, even when I fall (horribly) short.

I don't know if I should hate or thank Nadine Jolie for her post on CULT Cosmetics (monthly subscription nail art kits!).  I love that you can buy kits without subscribing, too!

I just have to share that my bestie sent me some of these pumpkin truffles for my birthday! If you have a store nearby, you can actually buy just one for a totally sensible, restrained treat! (And before you even ask, "sensible" and "restrained" absolutely belong in the same sentence with Godiva chocolates!)

Recommended by Moose and Mouse

Despite the fact that we have plenty of plastic and battery-powered toys in our house, I enjoyed this video from Bella Luna Toys on top Waldorf toys.  I'm thinking of making some play silks for Mouse (and Moose, too), although in the meantime I've given her a shoebox of some neck scarves I don't wear anymore and she LOVES them!

I'm hot to make an art box like this for Moose!  I'm only on the fence about what to include given his completely age-appropriate lack of impulse control.  I'm not entirely opposed to mess, but I do want him to be able to play independently without dire cleanup consequences later . . .

I loved these fresh (boy) book recommendations from Children's Books Daily!  I found a used copy of Hairy Maclary and sneaked it into Moose's book box (he seems more receptive to new things if he discovers them).  I can't wait for him to find it!

What about you? Any good reads or finds lately?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fitness Friday: National Yoga Month

Photo Credit

Last Year I blogged (gushed) about a wonderful in-person yoga class I took with one of my bestest of friends and extolled the virtues of live yoga classes.

Want to know how many live classes I've taken since then? One.  That's it.  So much for following one's own advice.

My reality right now, with Mouse now one, Moose nearly four, and my business on the rise, is that there simply aren't enough hours in my days. Which is why I love/need more than ever at-home resources to keep me fit and centered.

So in honor of National Yoga Month (yep, September every year!) I'm sharing some of my recent yoga faves and finds.  I hope both you and I can sneak in a few minutes of Om for ourselves this September!

(1) Athleta stores (in addition to having {free} live classes all month) have some {free} yoga videos online powered by yogaglo (an online subscription class resource).

(2) I discovered Yoga with Adriene last winter when I'd been awake a lot with a wheezy Mouse and fell in love with her fresh, down-to-earth style.  One of my favorites is this 20-minute morning routine:

(3) Tara Stiles has also become a favorite yogi in my rotation (can you tell that I'm easily intimidated by yoga? so many of my faves have become that way because they seem real and approachable to me).  She has her own YouTube channel as well as some great videos on the Livestrong Woman channel (which, sadly, doesn't seem to be producing any new material since Lance Armstrong's revelations earlier this year, but the previous material is still available and is fantastic).

Happy September!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review: Lean In (Or Run the Other Way?)

Image Credit
I attended a women’s college in the late 1990s.  Equality was somewhat taken for granted, and where it wasn't, female superiority was assumed and advocated. That brand of feminism never appealed to me.

Which is why when Lean In was first published, my first inclination was to run the other way.  I expected a redux of my undergraduate experience.

It wasn't until a group of fellow female attorneys with whom I breakfast monthly decided to read it together that I caved.  I worked hard to suspend my preconceived notions.  I told myself that I was reading it for Mouse as much as for me.  I really, really tried.  Honest.

Let me be clear: I absolutely, unequivocally believe that women deserve an equal chance to pursue an education and rise to the pinnacle of any career she chooses.

And that is where the crux of my problem with Lean In lies: it's not about choice.  As one of my breakfast colleagues put it:  "It's reverse pigeon-holing; instead of telling us we have to be barefoot in the kitchen like the Mad Men generation, she's telling us we have to want to occupy the C-suite."

As much as Sandberg tries to placate her readers in later chapters of the book, sharing her own experiences as a new mom, and declaring that there's nothing wrong with staying at home to raise the next generation, she gives herself away in the first chapter.  For her, corporate and political leadership is not a choice, it is a moral imperative.

Instead, I think women need:
  • To recognize rather than suppress the fact that we possess some uniquely feminine attributes; AND
  • To figure out how to use those attributes to our advantage rather than trying to fill a man's shoes.
  • To have access to women mentor figures early in life (as a teenager or college student) to help us learn to harness our strengths and discern how we want to apply those in our lives; AND
  • To surround ourselves with a "boardroom" of women with whom to commiserate, bounce ideas, vent, brainstorm, and otherwise mutually encourage.
Which is why, if I ever write a book on the subject, it'll be called "True Choice: A pep rally for all women, whether they lead from the boardroom, the living room, the classroom, the courtroom, the operating room, or some combination thereof".

Have you read Lean In (or watched Sheryl Sandberg's TED Talk?  What are your thoughts?

Disclaimer: this post contains some Amazon affiliate links.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Links

Do click over to YouTube to watch! 

This batch of links has been brewing for awhile, so warning in advance if they're a bit random.

For You:

I positively lived on this green banana-apple-protein smoothie during the DietBet I completed (and won!) in June. 

I thought about making these Sungold Tomato Preserves with the gorgeous tomatoes we got from the CSA. But I accidentally ate most of the tomatoes as a snack one afternoon.  (Oops!) They were like candy!

This HIIT workout kicked my you-know-what! And I loved it!

I fell in love with Small Things because of the beautiful simplicity that came through in all of Ginny's posts. This recent installment reminds me of the reason I've stayed in love with this blog: Ginny's beautiful honesty.

If you only click over on one item in this post, please, read this article.  I'm not saying we all ought to aspire to be astronauts (stay tuned, my review of Lean In is coming up this week . . .) but I do agree that girls need solid role models in all categories!

Recommended by Moose and Mouse:

Mouse desperately wants to self-feed, but only has two teeth and is desperately uncoordinated!  My friend turned me on to these PouchPop toppers that I hoped would help prevent wild squirting!  I never really got the chance to find out, since she drew the line in the sand and refused to eat baby food going on two weeks ago.  Looks like a great idea, though!

Moose has always been a sensitive guy, and especially these days with his sister's increased mobility and toy-stealing, he's had a lot to get worked up about.  This post from Kate on Helping Kids Deal With Big Feelings came our way at just the right time!

Looking forward to making this tissue box guitar with and for Moose.  He LOVES music, and LOVES to play the air guitar, but all the ones in the stores are electronic with buttons instead of strings.

Wishing you a happy week ahead!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fitness Friday: DietBet Musings

Image Credit
While I've been off the blog wagon for a bit, I'm happy to say I've stayed firmly seated on the fitness wagon. Thanks are due, at least in some part, to my wild-hair decision to sign up for the Blogilates June DietBet.

What is a DietBet? Basically, it's dieting meets social media.  You sign up by contributing to the betting pot (in my case, it was a $25 buy-in), and the goal is to lose 4% of your body weight in 28 days.  If you achieve your goal, you're a winner.  Period.  Everyone who wins splits the pot even-Steven.

Since I was already on a lean-out kick, it seemed like good idea.  I won't lie, the lure of the $149,000 pot helped.

In some ways it did turn out to be a good idea.  Yes, I won.  So did a bunch of other people, which means my total payout was $44.69.  I did some great workouts.  I exercised some caloric discipline.

BUT . . .

I rediscovered why I didn't own a scale for the first eight years of my marriage.  My husband's only demand when we made our gift registry was that we could not get a scale.  And this was perfectly reasonable: he had seen me go from the (admittedly) chunky - over 170lb - happy, take-on-the-world girl he fell in love with, to an underweight, calorie-crunching, moody and insecure 117lb shadow of myself, all in the space of 18 months. (I'm 5'6" with a curvy build, if you were wondering.)

I was fortunate to recover on my own without professional help and hang on to the positives (in particular, a discovery of and love for fitness) while learning to measure my health by other standards.

All of this to say, I think DietBet has got a great thing going, and doing a DietBet could serve as a great way to kick off a longer-term weight loss campaign, or maybe light a fire to lose those last five pounds.

But because it is only scale-number based, it's something to be careful with.  My husband began noticing my scale-obsession at the end (and the week following - it was hard to break the weigh-every-day habit!).  My sister sent me a somewhat passive text that simply said:
I remember how it was when you were super obsessed about the scale . . .
(The unspoken P.S. to her comment was the reminder that she called me Skeletor during that same time.)

So for me, my DietBet experience will fall in the same category of some extreme roller coaster rides I've been on: glad to say I did it once, but never, ever will do it again!

P.S. If you're interested, here is Cassey's official Blogilates DietBet recap.

How do you measure your weight/health/fitness progress? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

A "Me" Moment

Nail color is Lady Muck by Butter London
The last three months have been an absolute blur!  My office move, which I honestly didn't think much of at the time, has marked the beginning of more success in two months than I experienced in four years of semi-independent practice.  And by success, I don't just mean business coming in the door, but the satisfaction and gratification I feel by using my education and experience to help families cope with aging and death.

It is wonderful.

And exhausting!

So, with the exception of a few rows of knitting here and there, and a few pages turned in front of bleary eyes late at night, my "me" time (such that it was in the first place) has dwindled to near nonexistence.  I'll admit (very sheepishly) that when I do find the odd minute to read a blog post or two, that I'm seeking diversion over deep thought.

The solution takes the form of stolen moments with my phone and YouTube.  And by "stolen" I mean "in the bathroom".  And by "YouTube" I mean, by and large, beauty tips.

You see, somewhere in the bustle of my days, it dawned on me that even though there's pretty much NO way the dress I was knitting for Mouse's first birthday will be done in time, and although there are more unfinished than finished books on my nightstand, I could eek out a couple extra minutes in the morning to make myself feel pretty.

All of which leads me to why I'm confessing this here: I can't be the only one who struggles for two or five "me" minutes a day!  And furthermore, I can't be the only one in need of a frivolous diversion.

So if you're inclined, hang with me.  I'm going to try to share some of my favorite finds (with my own experiences).

What do you do to pamper yourself when you need a quick pick-me-up?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Weekend Links: Mayday!

Another hectic week behind us!  Phew!  Here's hoping you get some breathing room and time for yourself this weekend.  If you do, here are some goodies I've managed to squeeze in over the past week.

For you:
My (totally unglamorous) photo this week is of my homemade turnip chips - big, surprising YUM! And easy!  Mine were made based on Heidi Swanson's recipe from Super Natural Every Day , which is pretty similar to this one, except with paprika sprinkled on after baking.  I was also pretty pleased at how well my cheap-o Kohl's mandoline performed!

I read these 26 Reasons Kids Are Pretty Much Just Tiny Drunk Adults one evening after Moose and I had a "disagreement".  The laughing helped me get over myself and be the mommy.

Not only am I scrambling to tone a bit and drop a little before the big black tie dinner next Saturday, I'm also floundering on what to wear.  I haven't been to a formal event (other than a wedding) since college (longer ago than I care to admit).  I needed some "special" make-up and didn't have time to get to the store sans kids so I took the plunge this week and tried out the Talk to an Artist feature at the Bobbi Brown website.  I was really pleased at the conversation and the color recommendations (including application tips).  I guess the true test will be how I look next Saturday . . .

For the kids:
I've been drooling over Alphabet Glue for probably a year now.  It's a gorgeous e-magazine of activities for book-loving families.  I'm just waiting for Moose to get a little bit older and stiller.  However, with the 25% off sale now through May 15, I just might go ahead and cave . . .

I think I mentioned last week that Mouse was starting to try some table food (thanks to some gentle suggestions from a baby-led-weaning-minded friend).  This is new ground to me, as I had to practically bribe Moose to make the switch from baby food to table food when he was about a year old.  These tips from Kim Corrigan-Oliver the Wean Green blog came along at the perfect time!

I loved this resource-rich post on yoga and kids from Modern Parents Messy Kids!  Moose is stuck in a yoga rut: we do his favorite bug yoga almost daily, but I really think, at 3.5 years, he's ready for (and could benefit from) more.  I'm really looking forward to trying some of the Cosmic Kids sequences with him this week.

Did you find any diamonds in the rough-of-life this week?  Do share!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fitness Friday: Senior Edition

pitching horseshoes
Photo Credit
Other than my recent mention that I've been busy moving offices, I don't talk much (at all) about my day job in this space. But when I'm wearing my lawyer hat, I specialize in legal issues for seniors.  Which means that my web, magazine, and book reading on a given day really runs life's gamut - from the baby and kid tips and activities I stash away to use at home with my kids, to helpful advice for my elderly clients (and, more particularly, their families) to make life easier.

One of the senior living communities I work with on occasion published a great list of senior fitness tips last year that I've been passing on to some of my clients, and it inspired me to devote a Fitness Friday to those folks in our lives who are, perhaps, less mobile or more limited in the ways they can move, but still want and deserve to maintain their health.  So before you close your browser window, pause and think of someone you know who can no longer jog down the street or throw around dumbbells like they used to.  Now read on - maybe you'll find something you can pass along and give the gift of health to a senior in your life.

1. Water, water everywhere! Without exception, the gerontologists and physical therapists I meet with in the course of helping my clients agree: water exercise is one of the best, safest ways to retain a basic fitness level and stave off some age-related illnesses.  It is no-impact, and joint-friendly.  Many fitness facilities, YMCAs, and even community senior centers now offer organized water exercise classes.  And while I can't deliver a pool to your inbox, these activity descriptions are a good place to start if you can find a pool for your senior loved one.

2. Chair cardio - sit down and sweat! Although a lot of the fitness emphasis for the aging population is geared toward prevention of osteoporosis in women through strength training, cardiovascular health remains vitally important to both genders as they age.

BONUS for you: chair cardio is a great option for people of all ages as well when recovering from an injury or surgery.

3. Yoga - because you're never too old to get your OM on!  Yoga is great for its multiple benefits: some resistance training can be involved, along with stretching, relaxation, and even raising the heart rate.  Most of the seniors I work with are wheelchair bound, so even gentle traditional yoga on a mat won't work for them. This chair yoga is like a lot of the yoga I'm seeing taught in senior communities and at adult day care centers.

I'd love to hear how you help the seniors in your life stay active! Please share with me in the comments below!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend Links - In Transition

Fork in the Road
Image credit: Antony
Note: if you read this post prior to June 3, 2013, you may have noticed a different image above.  I cam across the prior image of a cool Warrior III on a friend's Facebook page and used it here.  I have since learned that it was not credited correctly there, and after several attempts to credit it correctly here, decided the safer road was to return to using either my own images or ones I know are ok to use in this setting.  Apologies to any who were offended.

I'll admit that I haven't had much time for leisure in the past few weeks.  I am getting ready to move my law practice over the weekend to become truly independent after four years of semi-independence (yay!) and, needless to say, putting those plans in motion, plus the usual keeping up with the kids, has taken the vast majority of my energy!

But here are a few goodies I have managed to enjoy!

For You:
- If you happen to be in/near the ATL and need a bite to eat, check out this local Spring Dining Guide (one of the contributors is a friend of mine and I've yet to disagree with anything she said was try-worthy!).

- I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a fan of the Duchess of Cambridge a.k.a Kate Middleton.  These shoes at Target are a great CopyKate of the wedges she wore during the London Olympics.  I'm debating between the tan and black.

- Discovered a new-to-me YouTube trainer, Amanda Russell and have been enjoying her very effecient circuit-style workouts!

- This quick, easy, and non-toxic microwave clean really WORKED on a mess Daddy M made warming some soup without a cover!

- A delightfully fun, refreshingly honest adventure in cooking!

For the Kiddos:
- Moose has begun the "tell me a story" phase, and I'm loving it!  My sister discovered and ordered these Story Cubes for him - I can't wait for them to arrive!

- Fifty amazing tree house ideas!?  Yes, please!

- This Truffle Parmesan Mac & Cheese was supposed to be my quickie lunch the other day but ended up being Mouse's first table food.  I strongly suspect I've ruined her and the regular boxed stuff is out of the question now!

Happy Weekend to you!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fitness Friday: My Favorite Myth

Barbell Pushup Smoke

In the quest to drop a few pounds before an (eek!) black tie event in a couple weeks I've been revisiting one of my favorite fitness "myths" in my own training: if I am doing weight training and cardiovascular training in the same day, I do the weight training first.

But does it work?

The Google search for "cardio or weights first lose weight" yields over 3 million hits!

The cardio-first camp claims that burning sugar first is the better approach if you are trying to get lean.  On the weights-first side, the argument runs that your body won't burn fat during weight-training (because your heart rate doesn't get high enough) so that if you burn through the sugar first with your resistance training, the only fuel left during cardio will be your (presumably) unwanted fat.

I experimented with this in my pre-lawyer, pre-kid days (i.e., when I had more time to work out than I knew what to do with).  I found that, for me, it seems effective when I'm trying to lose weight to do my scheduled weight training first, even where the cardio is a relatively short add-on.

I'm absolutely not an expert on the subject, but here are some of my thoughts on why (other than the what-fuel-are-you-burning discussions in the above articles, which I will leave in the capable hands of trainers and doctors):
  1. Doing resistance training first helps me warm up - both physically and mentally - so that I'm primed and ready when it comes time to kick it up with some cardio.  (This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm a morning exerciser.)
  2. Doing cardio first exhausts me and I don't feel like I perform my weight training with the mindfulness and precision it deserves.  I am not a heavy-lifting gal, but if I were, I think there would be a safety issue here in addition to the effectiveness issue.
The bottom line: I truly can't tell you what the answer is, but for me, weights first helps me lean out.

One thing I think we can all agree on: Just doing it is better than loafing on your couch!

So I want to do an experiment!  Below is a great, 12-ish minute cardio segment from the Blogilates YouTube page.  If you have the time and inclination, and if you're trying to lean out, tack it on before or after your resistance training (be that weights or Pilates) over the next few weeks and let me know if it works for you

Image Credit

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

{Wednesday} Links: CSA Special

Photo of Tucker Farms Lettuce at the Marietta Square Farmers' Market
{Oops, I meant this Weekend Links post to go up on Sunday morning, but I must not have used the scheduler correctly! So enjoy a little Wednesday Links this week!}

Last year, we joined a CSA for the first time and did as best we could to embrace the challenge of more spontaneous seasonal meal planning.  I intended to do a CSA wrap-up post of favorite recipes we discovered at the end of the season, but that ended up falling about the same time as Mouse's arrival, and I never got around to it. 

In a way, I think this turns out better, since I am able to share some of my favorite CSA recipes as we gear up for another great season.

We had a lot of radishes last year.  A lot!  As in, every week.  Unlike my dad, I don't care much (or at all) for raw radishes, but as it turned out, these quick pickled ones are great (on a salad, a sandwich, etc.)!

We also had a lot of leeks and while I ultimately started using them in lieu of onions in other recipes, these recipes for braised leeks with lentils and quiche stood out.  The hands-down best were these braised leeks and apples!  We put them over a grilled flank steak and it was out of this world!

I love zucchini simply steamed or cut thick, brushed with olive oil and grilled, so there were really no challenges using these lovelies.  In addition, we had made lots of zucchini muffins (most of which never made it to the freezer)I also enjoyed these zucchini "noodles" in Thai peanut sauce (although mine were mushy since I used a box grater; this year I'm armed and ready with a mandoline).  This cheesy zucchini rice was also a huge hit (we substituted brown rice).

Summer Squash
Our family loved this summer squash mushroom casserole in addition to wonderful steamed squash and raw squash rounds dipped in ranch as an afternoon snack.

It was great to get outside the lettuce "box" with some different varieties.  Over the summer, I found this great article on preserving lettuce that virtually eliminated waste from spoilage.

Early in the season, we had an abundance of joi choi and I discovered this great choi slaw recipe (because one can only have so much stir fry).

We love tomatoes like we love zucchini, so other than sheer volume, we did not have any problems coming up with ways to enjoy the tomatoes (from heirloom cherry ones, to lovely beefsteak ones).  My one attempt at tomato sauce was somewhat uninspired, so I'll need to work on that again this year.  But my very always definitely favorite tomatoes are Heidi's oven roasted tomatoes (you can use cherry/grape or chopped larger tomatoes - any variety). 

What recipes are you looking forward to making with your CSA basket this spring?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fitness Friday: Extreme Family Workout!

Last week, with the sun shining (at last) and the pollen count at 8,000+ (no joke), I had some rare one-on-one time with Moose.  In our pre-Mouse (and pre foot injury) days, we used to love running together (him in stroller, me doing all the hard work) three times a week, so I offered him a run.

No, he informed me, he did not want to go in the jogging stroller.  "I'm fast.  I want to run with you."

So we did.  We started at a nearby park and ran into a large adjacent subdivision (no big streets to cross on that route).  We did about a half-mile before he wanted to turn back and he got to play at the park afterward.  Win-win.

We tried again over the weekend, with the addition of Mouse in the jogging stroller.  Other than some logistical kinks as Moose learned to share the sidewalk, we had a great time.  However, our second outing as a threesome did not go as smoothly, and leads to my innovative idea for a new fitness challenge (or, me making lemonade out of what was, to be honest, a very frustrating outing).
Friends, are you ready for the next fitness challenge? Tired of paying for CrossFit and boot camp classes, or registration fees for extreme races?

Introducing the Moose & Mouse Survival Run!
Don't be fooled by the short, 1.2-mile course! This run includes the following:
  • HIIT/interval training of at least 1/2 mile (Moose doesn't know what pacing means; also you will be running full-out and come to a screeching halt so he can wave at garbage trucks, school buses, etc.)
  • Agility training (Moose cannot run in a straight line)
  • Resistance training (not only will you be pushing 18-pound Mouse in a 25 pound jogging stroller at the start, but after you cross the half-mile mark, Moose will throw a fit because you won't let him go in the creek and will sit down on the sidewalk and refuse to move; in order to complete the course, you will need to carry Mouse the rest of the way and wrangle 38-pound Moose into the stroller and simultaneously push him and carry her for the remaining 1/2 mile; on yeah, the last 1/2 mile is all uphill)
Best of all, it is FREE! Comment below to reserve your time! 
How does working out with others (friends, kids, spouse) challenge you?  Is it worth it?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Links - January 20

Links and things of late that I love . . . because they tickle the corners of my mouth  . . . or stretch my grey matter . . . or touch my heart . . . or make me want to take that last swig of coffee, get up from the computer, and do something special with my day.

For you:
I never tire of being reminded that reason I may catch the brunt of Moose's spiritedness is that he loves and trusts me best.  Thank you, Kate!

Mmm, I totally want to make this clementine smoothie!

This post of 20 Ways Toddlers Are Like Drunk People made my week!

For the kiddos:
Continuation of the discovery bottles series I mentioned last week: K-O; P-T.

DIY color-matching peg people.  (And, back to the "for you" category, if you haven't read Small Things, treat yourself and do so now!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Best Books: 2012

Waterfield's Booksellers

Last year, I was invited to contribute to the Law School Transplant's Literary Year in Review. Erin challenged her readers and friends to pick their top five reads from last year (they didn't have to be newly-published, simply read by the contributor during 2011).

I've just send my 2012 submissions to Erin, except that I only have three good ones to share (because, in case you missed it, 2012 was not a great year for me finishing things).   

1) Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall - I don't usually "do" Civil War fiction, so when this came up on the book club list, I was nonplussed.  But the characters and themes of this book transcend the temporal setting - a wife committed to the asylum for disobeying her husband, a soldier suffering from PTSD, a young boy looking for love and affection anywhere he can get it - and drew me in.

2) The September Society by Charles Finch - The second book in the Charles Lenox series (which I discovered while vacationing last year), in which one finds the Victorian Era amateur sleuth trolling the streets of Oxford in search of the truth behind a student's death.  Really, I've loved the whole series so far (the first is A Beautiful Blue Death ; the third is The Fleet Street Murders , which particularly kept me on the edge of my seat!).

3) The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford - This book, written by Queen Elizabeth II's childhood nanny is a near and dear favorite of mine.  I re-read it in honor of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and the glimpses into HM's upbringing (at the same time revealing and respectful) never fail to endear me to her further.  Sadly, the author was ostricized from the Royal Family for what was seen as a violation of their trust and invasion of their privacy.  I would venture to guess that HM views its publication much more kindly in light of all the more negative intrusions the family have sustained during her reign.  Also sadly, the book is out of print, but you can find some serialized snippits courtesy of the Daily Mail here, here, and here.

Check out the 2012 Literary Challenge round-up for more great reading ideas!

What were your favorite reads of 2012?

Photo Credit

(Disclosure: this post contains some Amazon affiliate links) 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weekend Links

Links and things of late that I love . . . because they tickle the corners of my mouth  . . . or stretch my grey matter . . . or touch my heart . . . or make me want to take that last swig of coffee, get up from the computer, and do something special with my day.

For you:
This article on finding time resonates deeply with my resolutions for the New Year.  I can find the time. For writing.  For what is important.

If you have an inner princess (I do), you'll love this new blog: A Tiara a Day!

Need a good laugh? These differences between first- and second-time mommy-hood are hilarious (if a bit rough around the edges).

The British Library is now on Pinterest!

I thought I knew all there was to know about Downton Abbey - I was wrong!  Also, a Downton funny - Season 3, Episode 1, retold as if it had taken place on Facebook.

For the kids:

Discovery bottles!  Moose loved the the baby ones I did for him, Mouse loves Moose's old ones I recently pulled out, and Moose is having fun rediscovering his old ones.  One of my favorite educational bloggers has a jillion discovery bottle ideas (appropriate for babies through preschoolers): (a-e) (f-j) (sadly, Deborah had to take a hiatus before completing the series, but there's more than enough here for weeks of fun!).

Totally darling {FREE}kiddo thank you printables (since, yes, I'm still that behind from Christmas).

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Yarn Along: B is for . . .

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! 
~Ginny at Small Things

I am taking a break from my (very late) holiday clean-up to join in the sharing at Small Things!

Within a few weeks of each other last year, Kim shared a knitted ball she completed for a friend's baby, and Wendy wrote about about sewing a tactile ball for her little one.  Taking inspiration from both, I have been working on this beach ball pattern using different natural fibers (wool and cotton) from my stash to make a colorful, textural experience ball for Mouse.  I'm at the assembly point now, and am thinking I'll add in some jingle bells when I stuff it for an extra surprise.  Thank you so much Kim & Wendy!

My January book club book, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa just arrived in yesterday's mail.  I only had time to scratch the surface last night, but the premise is intriguing (like "Beautiful Mind" meets "50 First Dates"). 

What are you knitting and reading?  

Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013: The Year of Discipline



Sounds ominous, doesn't it? Not really.

As I make my late start to the New Year, and think about my goals, the feeling that 2012 was somehow incomplete keeps creeping into my gut.  All the books started but not finished (and not because of the 100-page rule); crafts or activities for Moose that never moved past the planning stages; languishing knitting projects.

The reason is no big secret or surprise to me: there is too much I want to do.

But I am not quire ready to throw in the towel.

Rather, this year I am focusing on discipline.  Not in a negative or draconian way, but as a means to fit in more of what I truly want to do (and, yes, some things I need to do - or do better). 

There are two ways I see this taking shape:

1) Be mindful of wasted time. For example, when I've put Mouse to bed (and sometimes Moose, depending on his request that evening), there are a lot of nights that all I want to do when I come downstairs is slump on the couch.  Check Facebook.  Surf Twitter.  Up to now, I've thought of the choice in terms of "wash dishes and prepare bottles OR relax?".  The thing is, assuming it's not Daddy M's turn that night, those dishes aren't going to wash themselves.  So the choice is really "get the dishes out of the way now and then have time to get some real, quality time in at a meaningful activity (reading, knitting, blogging, conversing with Daddy M or a friend via phone) OR piddle around now and do dishes later?".

I really think I can recapture some wasted time (and get done what I need to) if I can be disciplined about the choices I make with my time.

2) Prioritize.  One of the big reasons I am not great at seeing things through (and leave too many things unfinished) is that I try to do too many things.  I get so excited to dive in to a newly-discovered book that I end up with a dozen partially-read books on my nightstand (this is not an exaggeration).  I start the prep work for three activities for Moose and the result is that not one comes to fruition.

But, by being more disciplined about priorities in the activities/books/commitments I pursue, I expect I will find more enjoyment and satisfaction than by attempting twice as many and consistently falling behind.

With these principles in mind, here are some of my more specific resolutions for 2013:
  • Reading - Complete at least one book per month (and share a review here);
  • In the kitchen - try out at least one new recipe each month (and share at least one worthy recipe per month here);
  • With Moose & Mouse - prepare one planned activitiy/adventure/invitation to explore per week (and share in a monthly round-up);
  • Converse and Connect - share more of what I am reading about (online and in paper) both with those inhabiting my physical life and my more virtual life here;
  • Get back on the fitness wagon - now that the Morton's Neuroma that percipitated my holiday surgery is gone, get back to sweating.  Specifically, I want to complete one Blogilates calendar, one month of TurboFire, and the Insanity program before the Peach drops again;
  • Declutter at home and find a workable cleaning routine - this will make it easier to take time for the things I want to do by avoiding the mulling, guilt and indecision that accompany taking time ostensibly for myself when there are unfinished chores.
Ambitious, I know.  But attainable, I think, with a little positive discipline: the carrot is not to avoid bad things, but to change the way I think to make time for the things I want to do!

Do you have a theme or word for your resolutions this year?  Share below in the comments and we can encourage each other!

Photo Credit

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fitness Friday (Special Sunday Edition): 100 Pound Loser {Review}

As someone who went from a size 16+ in 1999 to a size 4 by 2001, and have finally found a happy place as a 8-10, I'm always intrigued by others' weight loss stories.  Which is why I was so delighted to have the opportunity to review Jessica Heights's new book 100 Pound Loser.

Really? The world needs another weight loss book?


First, let me tell you what Jessica's ebook (available here ) is not: it is not a diet plan or an exercise regimen.

Instead, this is the book you should read first.

Jessica covers the basics of calorie watching and exercising, but not like a perfect, hard-bodied health and fitness guru.  Reading Jessica's book is like sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee.  She's real, at times vulnerable, and as a result, highly motivating!

My favorite parts of 100 Pound Loser are the chapters on stumbling blocks (they happen to the best of us) and the extra challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a mom of little ones.  These are the energy shots of reality missing from so many nutrition and fitness guides.

If you're finding Fitness Friday because you're working out the details of a New Year's Resolution to lose weight, head on over to the book's dedicated page and check it out.  It's a super speedy read and personal pep rally!

What are your fitness goals for 2013?

(Disclaimer: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year's Re-Boot

So its been awhile, eh? (A month from today since my last post, but who's counting?)

The questionable health news I alluded to in late November turned into a full-blown scare involving the specter of open-heart surgery.  That resolved in the most miraculous way possible (I am just fine) just in time for a (planned) foot surgery the day after Christmas which was billed as "one-inch incision; 15 minute procedure; you'll walk out of here."  One guess what the reality has been.

I try not to use this space for whining, which is why I've been away.

So here I sit on January 5th, wanting a big ole' do-over of the last six weeks.  I'm so behind on Christmas clean-up and daily life (you try grocery shopping and doing laundry when you can't walk!).

But all the sitting with my foot up has given me ample time to formulate some ideas for the New Year: things I want to work on personally, professionally, with my husband, my kids, this space.

Tomorrow I'll begin by sharing some health goals and a review of Jessica Heights's new book 100 Pound Loser in a special Sunday edition of Fitness Friday, so stay tuned!