Friday Favorites

Aaaaaaaand it’s Friday again! After a busy week (and a somewhat busy weekend), I’m looking forward to chilling out tonight! Meanwhile, here are some of my recent favorites, following a similar format from my last Friday Favorites post.

Celebrating…Saint Patrick’s Day! We went out to dinner with my grandmother (the one who made me 1/4 Irish!) and chowed down to corned beef boiled dinner and shepherd’s pie. I even dressed up my fridge for the occasion. Contributing to the green: mixed greens, spinach, dill, beet greens, kale, pepper, fennel greens, dandelion greens, romaine, and celery. Nearly half of that food is for Wilbur to share with us.

St. Patricks Day fridge

Lots of green for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Watching…Vikings

This is the show that holds us over while waiting for Game of Thrones to come back on. It’s not always the best acting or the best plot, but it’s interesting to watch this culture we know so little about. One of my favorite parts of this culture is the strength of the women, whether it’s the female warriors (“shieldmaidens“) fighting beside the men, a female earl, or the ones left back at home to rule while the men are away plundering. I’m trying to convince WHH to do a couple’s costume for Halloween.

Vikings logo

Reading…A Dance with Dragons (aka Game of Thrones book 5). As you may remember, I’ve been slowly getting through this series since last year and I’m nearly done! I’m pushing to finish before season 5 premiers on April 12.

Listening…to A Dance with Dragons. Yes, I know. Pretty ridiculous. I knew I wouldn’t get through the entire book on time for the premier, so I got the free month on Audible and now listen on my drive to work, my lunchtime walk, and my drive home from work. I have to say that even though I don’t love the voices the narrator does (characters seem to be either English, Scottish, or Irish), I am that much more obsessed with the series because I’m able to be that so immersed in it every day, even consulting A Wiki of Ice and Fire whenever I need more information or a memory refresher of one of the previous books.

A Dance with Dragons Audible

Eating…three new recipes this week, all of which I failed to take pictures of! I made Baked Maple Chicken with Wild Rice and Pear Pilaf, Late Winter Harvest Quinoa Bowl, and Curried Chickpeas with Spinach. My favorite by far was the quinoa bowl. I had never tried nutritional yeast before and I’m definitely digging the cheesy flavor. I have a lot of the almond “cheese” left over that I will be sprinkling on top of salads and soups!

Late harvest quinoa bowl

Source

Running…this pyramid interval on the treadmill. I’ve learned that I need to be very careful with my treadmill running. In addition to changing my cadence, running on the treadmill also changes my stance and I do find that it bothers my IT band and previous glute injury site a bit, so I need to be careful and not do it too often. But after an insanely cold winter that still isn’t letting up, I needed to get in a run. This kept me from getting bored and though not overly challenging, it was enough to get on a good sweat.

Planning…our summer vacation! With the Euro way down, me about to be in nursing school the next two years, and some major purchases being probable in the next few years (next house, cars) we decided to seize the opportunity and travel to Europe again! After falling in love with Switzerland the last time around, I knew I wanted to hit up Austria in the future, so that’s on our list of possibilities, along with Germany, Prague, and Budapest. Price will determine where we end up since we’re not as decided this time around as to our destination(s). Any suggestions?

Salzburg

Source

Questions: Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not? Do you prefer to read books or listen to them? Made any new recipes recently or tried any new workouts? Are you making any summer vacation plans?

Plated Review

Spring is (almost) sprung! We have finally had three days of above 30 degree temps and it’s been glorious!

Spring is sprung

Today I wanted to share with you my experience with Plated, a meal subscription service. The subscription part is relatively new–when I ordered it about a month ago, you could buy individual meals. Now, you need to subscribe to weekly deliveries, which makes me a little bit less of a fan.

Plated logo

I decided to try it out because I wanted to expand our palates (as mentioned in my goals for this year) as well as learn new cooking methods. I saw a coupon for four free meals when you buy eight, so I decided to buy it as a birthday present to myself.

To get started, I chose the dates I wanted my meals delivered. Every week they release a new week’s worth of recipes going out four weeks.

Plated delivery dates

Next, I checked out the offerings each week. Plated offers seven items each week and you filter them based on the protein. As you click on each item, you’ll get a better picture of the recipe as well as additional details.

Plated weekly menu details

The recipe will tell you what they send, what you need (usually very minimal), calories, and any potential allergens.

Plated meal details

Given that I wanted to try new ingredients and cooking methods, I ended up ordering:

  • Roasted Quail with Salsa Verde and Spanish Rice
  • Braised Cod with Swiss Chard, White Beans, and Almonds
  • Thai Peanut Chicken Curry with Sticky Rice
  • Seared Pollock with Blood Orange, Olives, and Grapefruit Salad

Altogether, it cost $54: $24 for 2 plates at $12 each and $30 for 2 plates at $12 each plus $6 shipping. This included the 4 free plates with free shipping on one order. Not a bargain by any means, but definitely less than four meals at a decent restaurant, not to mention the convenience of having everything ready to go and a couple of delicious meals planned for the week.

I couldn’t wait to get my first box! Unfortunately, it arrived a day late. That was a bit of a bummer since I was planning on making one of the meals that night, but when I asked the Plated crew where my box was, they gave me a $12 credit for the inconvenience.

Plated box

Upon opening, I was greeted with the recipe cards.

Plated box opening

Further down, underneath some spacey-looking insulated wrapping, were the ingredients. Beneath them were three huge (reusable!) ice packs. Note: each package only contained two recipes (seared pollock and curry rice) as I ordered two separate shipments of two recipes each.

Plated box contents

I wanted to try the seared pollock recipe first. I got out all of the items needed and read the entire recipe card.

Pollock ingredients

 

Pollock greens

(The pollock was busy defrosting)

Pollock recipe card

How delicious does this look? And all kinds of professional in our new, non-toxic pans!

Seared pollock

Et voila!

Plated Seared Pollock with Blood Orange, Olives, and Grapefruit Salad

The consensus in Whole Health Household? Delicious! I’m not normally a fan of grapefruit, but it really added some nice bitterness and acid to this dish. We kept the recipe card and look forward to making this again in the warmer months!

How did the rest of the dishes fare? Let’s start with the other meal in this order, the Thai Peanut Chicken Curry with Sticky Rice.

Plated Thai Peanut Chicken Curry with Sticky Rice

It’s not much to look at, but it was pretty good. It didn’t blow my hair back, but it was a good dinner. I ordered this to get me out my spicy comfort zone. I’m only one-quarter Irish, but you would think I was 100% with my intolerance to spice! I’ve been pushing myself the past year and have definitely gotten better, but I still begged WHH to not put in all of the gochujang (a spicy red chile paste) and I was glad I did.

In our next box, we had the two remaining meals. This box also came a day late, so I yet again emailed to ask where our delivery was. They let me know it would come the next day and I was credited $20. I was really excited to try the Roasted Quail with Salsa Verde and Spanish Rice, so I made that dish first.

Plated Roasted Quail with Salsa Verde and Spanish Rice

So I now know I’m not much of a fan of quail. There’s hardly any meat on them (I didn’t realize just how small they’d be) and not much flavor. The salsa verde was also rather tasteless. It needed more seasoning, so I ended up throwing some salsa in it. On the plus side I used the remaining two quails for a delicious stock that I then reduced by boiling to make a sauce to drizzle over a stuffed “airline supreme” cut (aka Statler chicken cut). Now that was yummy!

Airline supreme stuffed chicken

And finally, we have the Braised Cod with Swiss Chard, White Beans, and Almonds.Plated Braised Cod with Swiss Chard, White Beans, and Almonds

This was also quite yummy and the second recipe card that we ended up keeping. My only complaint would be that there weren’t many differences in texture aside from the crunch from the almonds. Everything else was about the same texture and I don’t know about you, but I like when my meal varies in texture. I might choose to roast the onions instead of saute.

All in all, we had a lot of fun trying new recipes, flavors, and cooking techniques. The meals themselves were definitely quality and I felt like I was dining in a nice restaurant. The only downside is that I felt incredibly wasteful recycling or throwing out all of the materials that held small quantities. The lack of delivery on the promised shipping days was frustrating, but I appreciate that they take customer service seriously and credited my account without me asking for any compensation. We’ll see if that improves as I have two new meals coming at the end of the month thanks to the $32 credit (I was fine with paying an additional $22 for shipping and the remaining dish prices). Next up we’re trying Pan-Roasted Za’atar Chicken with Spinach Feta Twice-Baked Potatoes and Ginger Trout en Papillote with Miso Butter, Sweet Potatoes, and Snap Peas!

Questions: Have you tried a meal service? Would you ever try one? Have you made any new and exciting dishes lately or anything that you thought would be delicious and ended up kind of meh?

Back to Basics

Hello again and happy Friday! I am so excited to finally get back to you since microbiology is now done! Let the celebrating begin!

Bancroft cocktail

I don’t know about you, but with the snow, cold, and shorter days, my body has not been acting like itself. I was just about recovered from my holiday metabolic whiplash, when the Super Bowl and my birthday came along, and I was happy to have an excuse to indulge again. Ever since then I feel like I’ve been on one bad roller-coaster of cravings and increased appetite. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the incredibly cold temps, but I’m sure a part also has to do with my higher than usual sugar intake.

Chilly with text

I’m so sick of it that I decided to go back to basics to reboot my system a bit. Nothing crazy, just more accountability. For me, that means logging food in MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal logo

The biggest problem I found after a few days of logging my food? Not eating enough at breakfast and at lunch. No wonder I’d be so hungry once I got home! How did that happen? I think I started playing the comparison game (never a good one to play!) as I looked at other peoples’ breakfasts and lunches on other blogs. The thing I failed to remember, though, is many people graze throughout the day. I don’t–I eat only four times a day (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner) because I only eat every three to four hours, so each meal needs to have a solid 300+ calories.

Breakfast smoothie calories

The other inkling I had that I my eating was a bit more off? I seem to have a little more jiggle in the middle even though I’m more or less the same weight. Perhaps it’s my body’s ancient response to the cold, thinking I need to hold on to body fat to make it through the winter. Perhaps having a bulk of my calories at the end of the day and being so hungry caused me to overeat. Again, it’s most likely a combination of things.

Paleo oatmeal

Paleo oatmeal to help fill me up!

The other part that’s helpful about using MyFitnessPal is being able to see where my macros are going. I thought that I was eating more protein than I actually was, so increasing my protein will also be a focus for me. Protein always does a fabulous job of filling me up, and add in a good dose of fiber and fat? I’m good to go for hours!

Pollock over arugula

Protein and fat-filled dinner with a good dose of fiber

Another tool up my sleeve? I signed up to rent five fitness tracker through Lumoid. I want to see how many calories a day I’m actually burning so I can get a better idea of how much I should be eating. Depending on the calculations out there for my height, weight, age, and activity level, I should be eating anywhere from 1500-2000 calories. That’s a big difference! The service is also a great way to try out fitness trackers if you’re considering buying one. I’m already not digging wearing a tracker visibly on my wrist, so I don’t think the Jawbone UP is for me.

Jawbone UP

As I’ve always said, it’s not about the weight. It’s about feeling good and I just feel off. Tired, a bit stiff and achy (thanks again partially to the cold I think), weirdo appetite, and a bit softer than I’d like to be. I’m not soft by any means, but you know when you just don’t feel right in your skin? Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to make better. And I know that with a few minor tweaks, I’ll be there.

I’m sure the fact that spring is around the corner will help as well. I always find that once the warmer weather hits, the sun is out more, and I’m able to be outside more, my appetite and energy levels naturally regulates itself. Just having the warm sun shine on my face feels so good!

Questions: Do you have problems with your appetite in the winter? Do you usually stay on track? Do you use any tools to keep yourself on track?

Life in Pictures Link Up #1

Happy Friday! I was asked by Linda at Fit Fed and Happy to participate in her Life in Picture Link Up. I was happy to join in because I can definitely be wordy at times and this particular day’s pictures say it all!
 .

What is “Life In Pictures”?

Take as many pictures as you want throughout the week or day to recount the things you did avoiding as much text as possible. Your job is to guess what happened! For more info, click here. 
Fit Fed and Happy
Tuesday, 1/27:
Blizzard morning
Blizzard Juno
Blizzard Juno
Blizzard Juno
Squash and black bean chili
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Bookplate signature
Chocolate peanut butter dessert
Snow at door
Blizzard snow drifts at windows
Blizzard snow covering stairs
Blizzard Juno at night
Questions: Do you like telling stories differently? Were you in the blizzard’s path? Are you hoping a particular team wins the Superbowl? (Go Pats!)

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Let’s mix it up and do some fun Friday Favorites, shall we? Here are some of my recent favorites:

Watching…Top Chef

I’m definitely getting more inspiration in the kitchen by watching this show. Only one more episode left! I like them all so I’ll be pretty happy with whoever wins. Plus, the fact that it takes place in Boston this season is icing on the cake!

Top Chef Boston

Source

Listening…to sports radio, trying to figure out what the heck is going on with #deflategate. I can’t believe my beloved Patriots, especially Tom, would cheat. I wonder if you tested all balls at every single NFL game if they end up getting deflated by the second half.

98.5 The Sports Hub

Source

Eating…this delicious roasted carrot soup. The recipe is from the January/February 2015 issue of Women’s Health Magazine in which they talk about soups as the juices for cold weather. Couldn’t agree more! We haven’t broken out our juicer since late fall and all I’ve been craving is some nice, warm soup! Don’t have time to make your own? Check out a family friend, The Splendid Spoon, where you can buy delicious soup online.

Roasted carrot soup

Drinking…Emergen-C and Echinacea tea. :-( Was a bit sick midweek, so I’ve been having it 1-2x a day since my symptoms came on. I swear they made me better within a day!

Echinacea tea Emergen-C

Wearing…my bunny slippers under my desk at work. My feet get so, so cold all the time, especially in the winter. I recently learned that it’s something WH bro and I share, so there’s got to be some genetic component to it.

Bunny slippers

Reducing…my chemical exposure. We asked for stainless steel cookware for Christmas to replace our nicked-up non-stick cookware that creeped me out every time I used it. There’s a bit of a learning curve (e.g., don’t soak in water, don’t use abrasive cleaners, don’t add butter/oil until after the pan has heated up-which is the opposite of non-stick, etc.), but I am happy with how evenly it cooks our food. Plus, it should last us a lifetime! Talk about a win for reducing consumer consumption and being healthier!

Stainless steel cookware

Re-purposing a salad from Portland Pie

Questions: What are some of your favorites lately? Do you watch Top Chef? Made any good soups lately? Have perpetually cold (or hot) feet? Are you concerned with reducing your chemical exposure?

Last Week’s Workouts

Hi all! How many of you have today off? Not so for me, but WHH does. #jealous

I wanted to mix things up a bit and share my workouts from last week and the plan for this week. If you seem to like this format, perhaps it will become a weekly post. Here’s what last week looked like (compared to what was planned):

workout log

I was so happy I was able to get in a couple of walks during lunch last week. I’ve been trying to balance schoolwork during lunch with wanting to get in some movement. I’ve also been trying to balance fashion with function when it gets really cold. Just kidding. When it gets wicked cold I don’t care how ridiculous I look during my lunch walk.

winter layers

Under the coat: tights, pants, dress, cardigan, fleece

Given how warm yesterday was (forties!), I’m hoping that trend continues this week so I can get in a few more walks. Here’s the tentative plan for this week:

workout log

I had one of my best treadmill runs yesterday! I’ve had to move most of my runs indoors given the cold weather and icy roads. Within one run, my old glute issues started coming back. I knew Chi Running would have a good answer on how to adjust your form for treadmill running. Per their suggestion, I was sure to keep the incline at 1.5% or higher and keep my speed only a little above what I normally do outside.

I also used a metronome for the first half of the run and when I felt comfortable with my stride (and bored of hearing, “beep beep beep beep”), I moved over to a 180 BPM playlist on Spotify. And you know what? No pain! I was so happy that I didn’t have to give up on treadmill running completely this winter.

Questions: How were your workouts last week? Have any fun ones planned for this week? If you’re predominantly an outdoor runner, do you have a hard time transitioning to the treadmill?

5 Easy Ways to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2015! We’re officially two weeks into the new year and you know what that means? The gyms start to look back to normal. Yes, only two weeks in and many will give up on their New Year’s resolutions. You may have seen my tweet last week about the stats for only one week in…

So if you’re struggling with your resolutions for the new year, here are some easy ways to help you stay on track:

  1. Make it easier to say no.

Trying to give up cigarettes, eat fewer sweets, or drink less? Get yourself out of situations where you’re likely to cave, at least for the short-term.

Ice cream is my kryptonite so I exercise the majority of my willpower at the grocery store by rarely buying it. That way it isn’t calling to me from the freezer after dinner. What if WHH wants ice cream? We get a flavor I don’t like. When we do get ice cream, I like to get the higher quality kind and those usually come in smaller containers which mean it doesn’t last as long! Or try going for a healthier substitute and having a small dish of plain yogurt with peanut butter mixed in or puréed frozen bananas.

I’ve also been known to “ruin” ice cream so I won’t be tempted to eat it. What about the guilt of wasting food? I’m not wasting it because it goes down the pipes one way or another: either your body processes it or it doesn’t, but it all ends up in the same place. I feel much worse about throwing rotten fruits or veggies I didn’t get to into our compost.

Pouring water over ice cream

Homemade ice cream, ruined on purpose

  1. Be specific.

You vow to “get healthier.” What does that mean to you? Losing weight, eating better, reducing your stress? Pick a very specific goal, such as, “I will work out at least 3 times a week,” instead. It’s easier to stick to something more specific.

  1. Don’t make too many resolutions

This was a problem I had with my goals for last year. Though I ended up being able to stick to most of them, I found doing my monthly posts overwhelming. That’s because making too many changes at once is overwhelming, which means we’re more likely to give up on all of them.  I made a lot fewer resolutions this year.

New Years Resolutions lis

Try focusing on making one goal this year or, if you really want to make more changes, limit it to one goal in each area of your life (such as home, work, health). You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to achieve your goal when you’re able to focus on just one. Not only that, but being able to achieve one goal will lead to other good changes in your life. If you accomplish your first goal, you may end up accomplishing more than you anticipated!

  1. Find a way to measure your progress

If you’re trying to lose weight, track your weight, your measurements, or your clothing size. If you’re trying to sleep more, track how much you sleep every night and what kept you for sleeping as much as you wanted. Seeing a visual of your progress is highly motivating and can help you make changes as you come across setbacks. There are lots of tools out there to help you measure your progress, from a good ‘ole paper and pen to inexpensive apps to more expensive gadgets.

  1. Plan

We all know the saying, “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” This couldn’t be more true than with achieving goals. How will you incorporate your resolution into your life? How will you keep it going when the going gets tough? If your goal is to drink more water, for example, maybe you plan to bring a water bottle to work, keep a water bottle in your car, have a special cup for you at home, and add one to your gym bag. That way, you have no excuse not to drink water!

A simple tool I use to plan my workouts (and also as a kind of measurement of my progress) is a spreadsheet! You may remember me talking about this in my post on keeping an exercise log. I still use this approach nearly a year later because it works so well for me. I’m a spreadsheet dork, but you could use it for a variety of goals! The possibilities are endless (and free if you use Google docs!).

Workout spreadsheet

 (Conditional formatting for anything over 30 minutes-more on that in another post!)

Questions: Are you struggling with your New Year’s resolutions or goals? What have you done to stay or bring yourself back on track? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

2015 New Year’s Goals

Hi there! I know it may seem a bit late to be posting my goals only now, but I wanted to review last year’s and have time to really think about what I wanted to accomplish this year following the craziness of the holidays. As you know, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. From the name to the concept, I have mixed feelings. You can read more about my thoughts on the subject in last year’s New Year’s Goals post.

2015 goals list

I actually have very few brand-spanking new goals this year. Most of my goals are continuations from last year. I think I did good work on them last year, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement and growth. The sky really is the limit sometimes.

I also scaled back on the number. I had a few too many last year, which I felt left me unable to truly focus on each of them, and given goal #1 below, you’ll see why I scaled back a bit.

Personal Goals

NEW:

  • Be present

This is my “theme” of the year, if you will. Last year I started the year’s theme on my birthday and carried it through the year. While I will continue to live out that theme as well, I want to shift my focus a bit.

As you may have noticed in my last few New Year’s update posts, I griped a lot about how time seemed to be going by too quickly. At the beginning of December, knowing the rush that the next few weeks would be, I vowed take at least one moment each day, even if only for less than a minute, to be present. I plan to continue to focus on this in the new year until it becomes a habit.

Here & Now sign

c/o blog.whileyouwereaway.org/

  • Volunteer

I went to orientation for our local animal shelter back in early December as I wanted to volunteer to work in the barn. They required a certain amount of hours per week I am unable to commit to while I’m still taking class, so I hope to get back to that once I’m done with class.

OLD:

  • Continue to try new foods and incorporate them into our weekly meals

bourbon mixed drinksDoes having a bourbon mixed drink for the first time count?

  • Travel
    • NYC this spring?
    • Big trip this summer: We’re starting to brainstorm and my first choice is Ireland! Husband is thinking National Parks in the west.  Any other suggestions for affordable (<$3000) trips from the East coast?
  • Continue to read more, especially once my class is over late winter

Game of Thrones books

These dense books took up most of 2014 (+ the fourth one)

Professional Goals

NEW:

  • Start nursing school in the fall! I am so excited to finally be on my way!

OLD:

  • Continue to work on the blog, learn more about blogging, and network with other bloggers
  • As time allows, get personal training and/or nutritionist certification. Maybe I’m crazy for still having this up here…

Health and Wellness Goals

NEW:

  • Be able to do an unassisted pull-up

An unassisted pull-up is one of those exercises that, to me, exemplifies great upper body strength. I want to go after that.

Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar

We have one of these door frame pull-up gadgets at home, so I can get on that one easily enough, adding in the assisted machine at the gym. Anyone have any tips for attacking this one?

Questions: Did you make any New Year’s resolutions or goals? If so, would like to share them? Do you have mixed feelings about resolutions?

2014 New Year’s Goals Check-In

Happy New Year all! Can you believe we’re already more than a week into the new year? Last year went by so quickly!

2015 winterscape

I know many of you followed along with my monthly goal updates for 2014, which abruptly ended in June thanks to my crazy summer schedule. I didn’t want to just let it slide, though, so here’s one last check-in. And as for this year’s goals? Stay tuned for those in my next post!

One big, overarching theme? I didn’t take into account how much time I would need to devote to class and thus not be able to devote to everything else. This means I didn’t get as much done as hoped, but am happy with how much I did get done given my limited time.

Anatomy & Physiology book

Personal Goals

  • Try a new trend/clothing item I wouldn’t normally: A?

Believe it or not, towards the second half of the year, my approach to my wardrobe took a completely new approach. I started minimizing big time, donating items I didn’t love, keeping things that I did love but that were too big (for potential maternity clothes some day), and selling other items on ThreadUp. Some of this minimizing was inspired by Caroline at Un-Fancy, Jennifer of The Daily Connoisseur/Madame Chic, and Anuschka of Into Mind. I was trying to be someone I really wasn’t by going for the trends, and in developing more of a minimalist wardrobe, I feel I’m being more true to myself. I love being able to know exactly what I have to wear for certain occasions and having some great go-to pieces. I still have a few gaps to fill, but I’ll get there slowly. I’m all about quality, not quantity.

Into Mind Minimalist Wardrobe

c/o Into Mind

  • Take more pictures: B

I’ve been decent about taking pictures, and made more of an effort over the holidays. I’ve found that if I tag team it with the husband, we get some great pics. I would love to make a 2014 “yearbook” of sorts in the coming months, inspired by Young House’s Love annual albums (who else misses them?!). Something of slightly better quality than our (mostly free) Shutterfly album. We finally picked a wedding picture to be framed, too! Woohoo! Only took an entire year!

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: B

While we didn’t make a new item every week, we certainly expanded our horizons food-wise. I credit a lot of this to watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and continuing our open-mindedness following our trip to Europe. I’ve even developed a higher tolerance to spicy foods, which the husband is very happy about!

Korean side dishes

Side dishes from a recent trip to a Korean restaurant

  • Travel: B+

We had a quick weekend away in Maine for a family wedding, made it out to Colorado to visit my brother, and went away to western Massachusetts for our five-year anniversary. Add in some random weekends at my parents’ lake house and another at their new ski condo, and I’d say that’s pretty successful given my schoolwork schedule.

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: A-

I definitely went through phases of making a conscious effort with this. Instead of eating weekend meals in front of a screen (whether the TV, my phone, or my computer), I make myself sit down and read a magazine or a book. Though I enjoy less screen time, I also look forward to sitting down to eat dinner and watching an episode of one of our new favorite shows, Chopped, with WHH. It may sound silly, but we have learned a lot from this show, becoming more adventurous in the kitchen and looking forward to trying even more new foods. The way the chefs have to make do with the ingredients has definitely inspired me to try different concoctions at home.

Chopped tv show logo

I do so much reading with my current class (microbiology) and now that I’m onto the last published Game of Thrones book, A Dance with Dragons, that I look forward to watching a bit of the show and discussing with WHH what we’d do in their situation. But overall, TV consumption is down!

A Dance with Dragons, A Feast for Crows

Four down, one to go! 

Haha. I think this one was a bit ambitious given everything that was going on. The newly renamed TRY / In 2015 board got very little love last year aside from our homemade kitchen shelves, refinishing our new kitchen island, and adding some mixer attachment hooks on the inside.

Refinished kitchen island

There are definitely some items on my radar to do for this year, such as organizing my gift wrap that currently resides in the basement (I’ve always loved wrapping gifts!), creating vacation boxes to hold those random papers from our trips, and getting new items on the blank walls in our bedroom and living room in addition to the photo book already mentioned. I think these will be manageable given my class is over in March.

  • Simplify house further: A

I have to give myself a pat on the back–I seriously rocked this one this year, especially towards the second half of the year. In addition to minimizing my wardrobe, I took a good, hard look at some stuff and had no problem getting rid of it. I’ve gotten better with separating the emotional attachment of items. My mom’s been giving me a bunch of stuff lately as she’s been cleaning out their house, such as my old ski jacket (below) that still kind of fit me.

One quick trick for getting through the emotional part? Take a picture to remember it! A picture takes up a lot less room, physically and mentally.

Old coat

(This was actually cool back in the early ’90s…I think…)

I have loved the effects of minimizing our house and hope to continue this trend into the new year.

  • Meet with financial advisor: A

We got this done in the fall and were actually so relieved that we’re on track with retirement! What a weight off of our shoulders! We’re going to meet with him a few more times to figure out how to best plan for future expenses (travel, next house, next cars, etc.) to put us in the best place financially. The better off we are, the more choices we have!

  • Write reviews, such as for products and travel: B-

I have been good about this moving forward, but still think about the great places we went and haven’t done yet. I’ll hope to get to this once class is done.

Walkabout Florence Riomaggiore

One of the highlights of our trip: this tour of Cinque Terre (this is at the last stop in Riomaggiore)

Professional:

  • Take co-requisite courses for nursing school: A+

A&P I & II are all done and I’m about halfway through my last class, microbiology!

  • Start nursing school: TBD

I’m officially in to start this fall! Woohoo!!!

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the blog has been put on the back-burner due to classwork. Since I wasn’t doing much with it the second half of the year, I’m not going to worry too much about this one. I seriously don’t know how I managed to write three times a week last winter and spring without losing my mind!

blog banner

This could use some jazzing up

  • As time allows, get personal training and/or nutritionist certification: TBD

I obviously didn’t have the time to do this last year. Classwork was my first priority

Health and Wellness:

  • Try a new physical endeavor as my body continues to heal from all of the injuries last year: B+

I didn’t get as far as I hoped given my never-ending tennis elbow saga (which, knock on wood, is still going well!) combined with the nagging plantar fasciitis (again, knock on wood, going well!). However, I did branch out from my regular Jillian Michaels love affair to include barre3 and more yoga than I had previously. I even felt confident enough in my elbow to get back to some kettlebell workouts last month! More on this subject in another post.

Stadium running

First time working out at a local stadium this year

  • Work on reducing exposure to pesticides, hormones, chemicals, and other toxins: A

Though we already had a low-chemical lifestyle, I wanted to do more. I tried hard this past year to find affordable, yet effective replacements for our everyday items. The majority of my beauty routine, which is minimal anyway, is now “green” or chemical free (I use EWG’s “Skin Deep” database to double-check all beauty/hair/body items). We concentrated on buying more of our regular items organic, meat being the biggest, and most expensive change. We also frequented more farmers’ markets.

Finally, the end! A recap of January through May:
January: C
February: B-
March: B+
April: B+
May: B+

And the final for this review: B+

Yay! I will take that! I bit off a bit more than I could chew given everything going on and trying to maintain my sanity at the same time, so I am very happy with that!

Questions: Did you make any resolutions or goals last year? How did you do with them? Did you hold yourself accountable at the end of the year?

Quick Tip: Freeze Extra Bananas

Happy New Year’s Eve! Can you believe another year has come and gone? Seems like just yesterday that I was coming up with my New Year’s goals (updates in a later post!) and starting Anatomy and Physiology 1. Then again, this seems like a long time ago.

Anatomy and Physiology skeleton

I wanted to share a quick little tip that I have used thoroughly this past year: freezing bananas. Now, I know this isn’t a novel idea in the least (who doesn’t have these in the freezer door?), but I wanted to show you a slightly different way of doing it.

Frozen bananas

 

First, you’ll want to unpeel each banana. This will make defrosting them should you need them for banana-something or as sweetener substitute so much easier. Second, break them roughly in half and place in a container. Then, put on the top or seal the container and place in the freezer.

Bananas in container

The next time you want to add some banana to your smoothie or overnight oats, they’re ready to go. Just take them out of the freezer, chop up some small bits, and add them to your desired item.

Frozen banana

Bananas in smoothie

If you do plan on using them for a banana-bread type recipe (as I did for these muffins), I would suggest defrosting them on the counter or in the microwave whole as you’ll most likely need to mash them. Another idea is to simply blend the frozen banana with a little bit of milk for a faux soft serve!

I know this isn’t an Earth-shattering tip at all, but I’m telling you, it has made my smoothies, oats, and other baking more flavorful and easier to make.

Questions: Are you a banana-freezer? Any other freezing tips? Speaking of freezing (as it will be here tonight), any New Year’s Eve plans?