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?

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?

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (Friday Favorite)

Have you heard of the book, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances“? If you’re a runner and you haven’t, you must go out right now, find it, and read it. And if you have read it, I bet you know a runner who would love this for Christmas, a birthday, or really any occasion.
The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances

I’m guessing you’ve read some running books or articles that are quite similar to some parts of his book, such as inspirational messages:

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances book page

So what makes this book different (and, IMHO, better)? Well, take a look at the page that follows the one above:

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances page

Few books, comics, or movies can make me genuinely laugh out loud, but this page got a huge guffaw from me. This is exactly how I feel this time of year. All I want to do is hibernate and borrow as these cold, dark days go on.

Some of my other LOL moments included the page below. I’m sure we all know someone like this:

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances over-accessorize

It’s not all fun and jokes (though a lot of it is). Some is also a bit more serious. I just love the unapologetic honesty with which he writes and draws, such as when he writes about getting off your butt and going out for a GD run:

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances happy juice

And he perfectly captures some big reasons I run. Seriously, is this guy in my head or something? This is me to a T!

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances demons

He has a bit more of the book on his website. But seriously, for just $11 on Amazon, go out and buy the book.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (okay, maybe you won’t cry, but you’ll definitely laugh), and you may have found the perfect gift for someone. Happy reading!

Questions: Have you “read” this book (do you consider comics reading?)? What are some of the weird or hard to explain reasons that you run?

This post contains an affiliate link.

 

 

Friday Favorite Links

Hi all! Instead of doing a Friday Favorite dedicated to a specific product, I thought I’d mix it up by sharing some great items I’ve come across lately. I love when other bloggers share their favorite random items, whether it be a thought-provoking blog post, a yummy new recipe they came across, or just a funny cartoon. Here’s to Friday!

1. This upcoming Monday is National Coffee Day! I think I’ll celebrate by having a coffee. Oh, wait, I already do that everyday regardless…Have you seen my new favorite way to have coffee on the weekend? Bulletproof coffee!

Bulletproof coffee in blender

See how frothy?!

2. Anne’s great blog post on intuitive eating, which I could definitely use a lot of improvement with.

3.  Since Tuesday was officially the start of autumn, I’ve got pumpkin on the brain. I’ve been adding pumpkin to my breakfasts in the form of yogurt parfaits, pancakes, and overnight oats (it might look like baby food, but it is oh-so-good!).

I want to incorporate pumpkin in more than just breakfast, so I have my eye on trying this pumpkin ricotta gnocchi (substituting GF flour) by Simply Recipes.

Pumpkin ricotta gnocchi

4. This list of 25 gorgeous fall hikes. There’s one near me (Mt. Osceola in NH). Is there one near you?

5. I’m adding this (everyone woman’s dream!) to my Christmas wish list: dress yoga pants! They come in bootcut, straight, and legging. And don’t worry, men. You can get in on this comfy dress clothes trend, too with these dress pant sweatpants.

Betabrand yoga dress pants

I’ll leave you with that thought of comfy clothes, because that’s what the weekend is all about.

Questions: Do you eat mindfully or are you usually doing something while you’re eating? Are you obsessing about pumpkin everything right now? Would you wear dress pant sweatpants? What are you loving lately?

Friday Favorite: Podcast Edition

Good morning and Happy Friday! It’s been a bit of a crazy week, both at work and home. A&P II started this week and is only a 10 week class (compared to the usual 16 weeks), so I’m thinking things are about to get a bit crazier. I’ve been contemplating the idea of moving to only two posts a week. While I’m sad to do this, I feel it’s what I need to do to maintain my classwork and my sanity. We’ll see how it works out in the coming weeks, but I hope you’ll still stop by!

Speaking of sanity, know what kept me sane during my crazy commute to Boston and now keeps me going during my runs? Podcasts! I’ve found that listening to podcasts, while entertaining and educational, also help me with pacing. When I listened to music during my runs, I would always match my pace to the beat of the song, which would inevitably mess me up. I know many people make playlists for running based on BPM, but I don’ t know that I have the creativity or music library for that.

You already know my girl Jillian Michaels has one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. She makes me laugh, she’s informative, and has a very funny and thoughtful sidekick/producer named Janice Ungaro (who I quickly met at Jillian’s Maximize You Life Tour last year!).

Jillian Michaels Podcast

My new favorite podcast that makes me feel like I’m cheating on Jillian is Evan Brand’s Not Just Paleo. As the name of the podcast implies, he doesn’t preach about paleo, though it is something he’s passionate about. The thing I love about his podcast is he has a variety of knowledgeable guests that he has great questions for. Though I just started listening about a month ago and am not up to date on the most recent ones, my favorites so far have been podcast #71 with guest Dr. Ray McClanahan, a podiatrist who quickly made me re-think my approach to footwear and podcast # 72 with guest Dr. Tim Gerstmar, a naturopathic doctor.

Not Just Paleo podcast

Moving on to a more running-specific podcast is Kinetic Revolution’s Train Smarter. Though I’ve only listened to one podcast so far, I found it incredibly informative. Kinetic Revolution is a group of running coaches and physiotherapists that provide services for runners, triathletes, and endurance athletes. Needless to say, they know a lot about running. Plus, listening to British accents is always fun!

Kinetic Revolution Train Smarter Podcast

The last podcast is based on one of my favorite books, Freakonomics (I have not yet read SuperFreakonomics or their newest book that was just released this month, Think Like a Freak, but they’re on my list!). For anyone who hasn’t heard of Freakonomics, it’s a book by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner that  exposes the hidden side of just about everything, from how real estate agents really make money, to why crime may have dropped suddenly in the 90s. They also have a movie (it’s available free on Amazon Prime Instant!), though it’s basically just illustrating the book, so if you don’t want to read the book, it’s a good CliffsNotes version.

Anyway, back to the podcast. They have a variety of topics that they break down for you with research, such as “How to Make People Quit Smoking,” “Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?” and “Would a Big Bucket of Cash Really Change Your Life?” One of my absolute favorite episodes is The Economist’s Guide to Parenting. I won’t spoil it–you’ll just have to give it a listen! If you’re a research nerd like me, or just want to know the numbers behind the results, this is the podcast for you. Not to mention the Steven and Stephen are funny in a nerdy kind of way.

Freakonomics Radio Podcast

When I was commuting to Boston I used to listen to a lot of the different How Stuff Works podcasts. Stuff You Should Know with the hysterical Josh and Chuck was the main one I listened to, as well as Stuff Mom Never Told You and Stuff You Missed in History Class. I haven’t listened to them in a while since I already have a full library of podcasts, but will download a podcast here and there if there’s an episode I’m particularly interested in.

A lot of other bloggers I follow have written about their favorite podcasts. Funnily enough, Carrots ‘n’ Cake shared some of her favorite podcasts just earlier this week. I know a lot of people, WH bro included, who are fans of NPR’s This American Life, such as Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point. Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers is another NPR fan, liking Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.

Questions: Do you listen to podcasts? When you work out or when you commute? What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Friday Favorite: Return to Running

Can you believe we’re halfway through May? Where the heck did the past two weeks go?

May 16 2014

Maybe it was the craziness of the last two weeks of my class that made it go by so quickly (which I got an A in, by the way–good to know I’ve still got it!).

Final grade

 You know I’m rounding that up to 95%, right? 

So, I’m sure you probably saw today’s favorite coming from a mile away (or 3,446 miles for Karen). I’ve talked about my experience with the Return to Running program many times over the past six months.

Cool down walk

WHH creeping on me during a stage about midway through the plan.

For those of you who haven’t been following the whole time, it’s a program developed by PhysioAdvisor.com to help those of us who have sustained lengthened injuries to slowly and safely make our way back to running.

PhysioAdvisor.com logo

After I was discharged from physical therapy last November I had no idea how to start on my path back to running. When I had last tried getting back to running last August after recovering from my other injury, I developed the plantar fasciitis that landed me back in physical therapy through November. Needless to say I was a bit apprehensive on how to move forward. I needed a systematic approach, but what? That was when I stumbled upon this great program after spending a lot of frustrating time searching online for a solid plan.

Return to running plan

I followed it to a T. I had a few setbacks, figured out what the problems were, and then moved forward. I’m amazed I didn’t have more setbacks given my year of injuries in 2013. In fact, the last few stages flew  by with very few needing repeats. Though it took me six months, I finally made it to stage 19 on Wednesday!

Return to running all stages

It was really rewarding to see this on my RunKeeper when I finished:

RunKeeper fastest run

I may have been a bit too enthusiastic, though, because my knees became quite sore about halfway through. I think the problem was going a bit too fast for my first full run back:

RunKeeper splits

Unintentional negative splits! 

Thankfully, they didn’t hurt once I was done and they still haven’t hurt more than usual. Going to need to keep up foam rolling the ITBs and running on the grass.

Running on grass path

I would highly recommend this program to anyone trying to negotiate their way back to running following an injury. I couldn’t be happier with the results and am excited to move on to a more interesting training schedule (Tempo runs! HIIT! Hills!) and start racing again! I don’t plan on increasing my mileage by more than 10% a week, nor increasing the speed or intensity too quickly. It’s been helpful to reach out to Nora, who beat me to finishing the program, to see how she’s progressed in her runs.

For those who are coming back from an injury, but want to come back to a sport, PhysioAdvisor also has a plan for that as well. Additionally, they have tons of other resources for dealing with injury, from stretches for your particular injury, to taping technique. Some of the content is locked for members only, but for a nominal fee you can gain a lot of additional helpful information. I haven’t bought a membership yet, but I may to see if there is some extra helpful information for my elbow.

Well, in the words of my Welsh co-worker, there you have it and there you are. Hope you have a great weekend!

Questions: Have you had to come back from injury after an extended period of time? Are there any programs out there that you love, whether it’s a marathon training plan or a HIIT workout? Any fun weekend plans?

Friday Favorite: Yogi Tea

Happy Friday! This week flew by surprisingly fast. Although I should probably wait on that sentiment given that I’m training people on parts of our new electronic medical record all day today.

I’ll keep it short and sweet today given I had a really long April recap earlier this week. Today’s favorite is something I’ve been using for the past few years: Yogi Tea! One of my favorite flavors that I have been unable to find duplicated in any other tea is their Egyptian Licorice.

Egyptian Licorice Yogi Tea

I’m actually not a huge tea drinker (I love my bold, black coffee!), but I  have found myself drinking it more and more, especially in the colder months. I tend toward herbal teas as opposed to caffeinated/decaf teas. The Egyptian licorice flavor is silky smooth on the throat and nice and warming. I often find myself having it on afternoons at work to warm me up.

One of my other go-to’s is the Yogi ginger tea.

Ginger Yogi Tea

As you can see on the front, ginger aids digestion. Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory. I find myself reaching for it when I’m feeling especially sore from a workout or if something’s not sitting well in my stomach. It’s spicy-sweet and definitely wakes me up a bit thanks to the spice. I’m not one for spice (thanks to my 1/4 Irish genes?), but the spice of ginger is different. It’s warming, but doesn’t linger in your mouth the way that chili-type spice does.

I love that Yogi Tea explains the benefits of their ingredients on the box.

Ginger Yogi Tea ingredients

They also include a yoga pose and the best way to brew the tea.

Yogi Tea yoga pose

And one of my favorite parts? The lovely sayings on the tea tags. I couldn’t find a picture of my own, but you can go to their website and get a piece of wisdom any time you want!

One of my other favorites is the Yogi Bedtime tea.

Yogi Bedtime Tea

Like the Egyptian licorice flavor, this has a nice, mellow, smooth and soothing flavor. It definitely helps me unwind at the end of the day and get my mind and body ready for sleep.

Of course, one of the best parts I haven’t yet mentioned is that most of their teas are organic. No need to worry about nasty chemicals on the herbs you’re drinking! They also go on sale frequently at my local grocery store and at Whole Foods. I always snag a couple of boxes when they can be had for less money!

In terms of a running update, I did stage 17 yesterday. I hadn’t run since last Friday because my funky knee felt a little wonky. I was out of work early because of the long day today. I had eaten lunch at 11:30 and grabbed a date with some peanut butter on my way out for my run around 2:30. I don’t know if it was the lack of food or the fact that my run started off with some pretty steep hills, but my legs felt like cement blocks despite a rest day the day before. I guess I now know that I definitely need something in me about an hour or so before a run.

My plantar fasciitis foot was feeling a bit tight last night, but I made sure to do my regular ice massage as well as slapping an ice pack on my foot while reading in bed. Still a bit tight today, but no pain. I need to get back to more regular use of the Foot Rubz and tennis ball to loosen up that fascia.

Foot Rubz ball

For this weekend, I’m looking forward to our annual Mother’s Day brunch that WHH and I host for our moms and grandmothers. I’m not sure of the menu this year, but I often make maple glazed bacon, baked French toast, veggie frittata, a large fruit salad, and mimosas. Mmmm…

Martha Stewart Maple Glazed Bacon

Questions: Do you drink tea? Caffeinated, decaf, and/or herbal? What are some of your favorite blends? Any weekend plans?

 

Friday Favorite: Light Alarm Clocks

Happy Friday! We made it! Boy, what a week! In honor of that, I’m going to keep it short and sweet today.

I was lying in bed wondering what wonderful item I could tell you about today. I happened to glance over at my nightstand and the proverbial lightbulb went off in my head when I saw one of my favorite purchases from over three years ago: our light alarm clock.

Bookshelf

Ours is the Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, but there are a bunch of models out there for you to choose from. I originally saw the concept in a Gaiam catalog years ago and knew when I saw it that I’d want one. (As a side note: Am I the only one who wants one of everything on their website? I think  I need to work for them!) They tend to be a bit on the pricey side for an alarm clock, but to me they’re worth every penny. I ended up using Christmas money to buy it so I didn’t feel quite so guilty.

I bought it because I couldn’t stand waking up to the radio or alarm every day. I would wake up with a jolt as soon as it went off. My heart would race and I would instantly feel stress hormones coursing through my body. Not a great way to start the day. This is so much nicer, gentler, and more natural.

How exactly does it work? It wakes you up by gradually increasing the light over a certain interval of time (I believe it’s about 20-30 minutes). The idea is that it’s closer to the way sunlight would wake you up if you didn’t have to get up in the dark like we do. In case the light doesn’t wake you up, there’s a back-up alarm. You can choose from the radio, a beeping, or, my preference, chirping birds. The sound increases gradually at the time you set for the alarm to go off and gets louder over 30 seconds or so.

I actually have my light set at level 1 (the lowest) and that easily wakes me up in a dark bedroom. On the weekends, I’ll put it up to about 3 as our bedroom tends to be a little lighter thanks to being able to wake up later. For picture purposes, though, here’s what the range might look like. From this:

Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, low

Over the course of 10-15 minutes, it might become this:

Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, high

Most of the time I wake up before the alarm goes off. And even when the birds start to chirp, it’s a pleasant sound. It’s so realistic that now when I happen to hear birds outside chirping, I go to check that my alarm isn’t going off. 😉

I can’t recommend this enough. As I said, we’ve had it over three years and I’m so happy with it. Plus, it doubles as a bedside light and a radio (which I always forget it has). After daily use, we haven’t even had to replace the light bulb yet.

I’m off to re-do stage 16 this afternoon. My foot’s been bothering me a little bit and my calf has been tight. I think it’s because I’ve been sitting a bit more during the day this week thanks to training. It won’t be an easy run on account of glute and hamstring soreness from Wednesday’s workout (I ended up doing Jillian Michael’s No More Trouble Zones chest/abs/glutes/biceps/core/lower body sets instead of Killer Abs as I had tentatively planned). Running with sore glutes and hammies always makes you appreciate how those muscles come into play when you run.

I’ll leave you with perhaps one of my favorite things I’ve seen this week: green grass on our lawn!

Green grass

Questions: What do you use to wake up every day? Do you have a favorite item you’d like to share? Anything fun planned for the weekend?

 

 

Friday Favorite: Composting

I cannot believe it’s already the last Friday of the month! Where did this month go?! Did the month go by quickly for you as well?

April 2014 calendar free printable

The good thing? As the month goes on, we’re seeing more and more signs of life here in Massachusetts. The forsythias are finally blooming (always one of the first signs of spring here in New England)!

Forsythia bloom

The crab apple in our backyard is starting to bud. This tree was one of the most wonderful surprises when we bought our house. When we moved in, it had just started flowering and though it only lasts about a week, it is quite a sight to see. It should bloom in about a week or so (always around WHH’s birthday) and I’ll be sure to share pictures.

Crab apple budding

While we’re on the subject of the great outdoors, and since it’s Earth Month, I have to tell you about one of the most-used items in our household: our simplehuman Compost Pail that we received for Christmas nearly four years ago. This thing has gotten daily use since that time and it still looks (nearly) brand new (the hack job the previous owners did on the backsplash is a whole ‘nother story…):

SimpleHuman compost pail

In keeping with a whole health mentality, it was important to us to start composting once we bought our house. Aside from the personal reasons (enriching our own soil), composting can have a larger part in helping to decrease the amount of methane generated via landfills and therefore cut down on climate warming gases. Climate change can have huge effects on our health, from air quality to allergens to a host of animal-, food-, and water-borne diseases. This issue is not going away unless we make conscious efforts to change our ways. And given that the severity of this past winter is probably linked to climate change, I’ll do whatever I can to make it better!

Felt pads on bottom of compost pail

We added felt pads to the bottom of our pail

Shall we take a peak inside? I promise you, it’s not scary. In fact, this picture is a good example of what not to do: don’t forget to take the tags off of your fruit! Those were a couple of apples that had gone bad (for once we had too many!) and we roughly chopped them up before tossing them in. The food will break down more easily if you chop it into smaller pieces instead of keeping it whole or in large pieces, such as a watermelon rind.

SimpleHuman compost pail open

As you can see, the cap has lip in it in which you can put charcoal filters to help with any aromas that might escape. We’ve never bought any replacements, however, and have never had a problem with smell. We end up emptying it about once a week and I can’t tell you how much it has reduced our weekly garbage!

So where does it go when we empty it? To our makeshift compost bin:

Trash barrel compost bin

We had an extra bucket and decided to use it for this purpose. We poked holes in the top to allow for some slight respiration, if you will.

Trash barrel compost bin cover with holes

Shall we take a peak inside this one? It’s a bit scarier, but believe it or not, does not smell at all. I take that back–it does smell, but not like you think it would. It smells earthy. Like really damp dirt.

Trash barrel compost bin inside food

And here it is once WHH turned it and added some yard waste to it to mix it a bit better:

Trash barrel compost bin top off yard waste

We try to mix it up with a good old-fashioned pitch fork and then layer in some yard waste every month or so, just to keep an even balance of nitrogen and carbon (more on that later). We can go months without emptying it. When the sun hits the barrel, even in the winter, it gets quite warm inside, and ends up “cooking” the mixture down.

So what happens when it does get full? It goes off to our larger compost pile beside our vegetable garden, where it joins more of our grass clippings, some leaves, various other yard waste, and Wilbur’s used hay.

Compost pile outside

WHH will turn the larger pile and then bury the newer mixture near the bottom of the pile to keep it all “cooking” evenly. That’s really all there is to it. We do it the cheap and easy way, but you can get fancier and have a tumbler compost bin or cage in your compost pile.

So what do you do with all of this black gold? If you don’t have time for or interest in gardening, you can use it as fill around your yard or topsoil around your trees and plants. If you are more of the gardener type, you can use it as a near-organic source of nutrients for the soil. We try to keep it as natural as possible and don’t use any fertilizer, but we do buy manure to add a little somethin’ somethin’ for our veggie garden. I love being able to go outside and pick what I want for dinner!

Garden foods

We were still picking from our garden into late fall last year.

Peppers eggplant tomato from garden

Plus, you never know, you might get a rogue acorn squash that decided to grow out of your compost pile, which we were pleasantly surprised with last year:

Acorn squash from compost pile

That giant acorn squash plant on the right outside of the garden grew from our compost pile!

Here’s a quick list of what we do put in our compost bin and pile:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Leaves, grass, and hay
  • Charcoal from the fireplace (once it’s been out for a few weeks)
  • Occasionally, rabbit manure
  • Newspaper

And here’s what we do not put in:

  • Anything animal-derived (no bones, flesh, dairy, etc.)
  • Anything cooked (unless it was fruit or veggie cooked without any added oils)
  • Anything containing oil
  • Typical carbohydrates (breads, pasta, etc.)

You want to have about a 3:1 mix of “browns” (carbon-rich materials such as wood chips, straw, branches, and leaves) to “greens” (nitrogen-rich materials such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps). We honestly don’t pay attention to this much and ours comes out okay. I’m sure if we made more of an effort it would be even better. So you’ll get out of it what you put in, but even minimal effort is worth it!

That’s just the quick and dirty way, but if you’re interested in learning more, here are a couple of useful links to help get your started:

EarthEasy Compost Guide

EPA’s Composting at Home

In running news, I’m heading out to do stage 15 this afternoon along the river. I can’t believe I’ve finally gotten this far! It’s been such a long time coming. I still don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but for the first time in over a year I’m seriously thinking about training for races. Sure, there’s still that crazy marathon idea I have in the back of my mind, but I need to start with a 5k or two and then a 10k!

Return to running stage 15

Questions: Do you have a garden? Do you compost? If you compost, do you have any secret tips? If you don’t compost, would you think about trying it? Any races you’re eyeing lately?

 *In an effort to maintain transparency, please note that Amazon links are affiliate links.

Friday Favorite: RAW Protein + Recipe!

Happy Friday of a looooong weekend. At least it is for me. I’m taking Patriots’ Day, aka Marathon Monday, off this year to watch the marathon (from home) and enjoy some time off as there aren’t any hospital holidays between Presidents’ Day in mid-February and Memorial Day at the end of May.

Metro Boston map

Just realized this week what’s on the cover of the (outdated) atlas in my car!

For those who don’t know, Patriots’ day is a Massachusetts state holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 (the first battles of the American Revolutionary War). If you’re from Massachusetts, you’ve probably gotten up very early at least once in your childhood to go to watch the re-enactments on the Lexington Green and the surrounding area.

Minute_Man_Statue_Lexington_Massachusetts

Speaking of the weekend, you know I’ve been trying to mix up my weekend breakfasts from my usual weekday yogurt parfaits. Making an appearance nearly every weekend is today’s Friday Favorite: Garden of Life’s RAW Protein.

Garden of Life Raw Protein Vanilla

I’ve used it in pancakes,

Gluten Free Protein Pancakes

Pumpkin protein oatmeal

Large handful of old fashioned oats
1/2 scoop protein powder
2 eggs
~1/8th cup pumpkin
Almond coconut milk as needed for consistency
Handful of almonds (~1/8 c)
Dash of maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger

Mix everything in a pot on the stovetop until eggs cooked and voila:

Gluten free pumpkin protein oatmeal

If you want it more quickly and not to do extra dishes, you could pop it in the microwave for about 1.5 min, but it will come out looking like this:

Pumpkin protein oatmeal in microwave

It’s not quite as pretty and the texture is different, but no problem. Just break with your spooon and up and top it off!

Pumpkin protein oatmeal with walnuts

And, of course, I use the protein powder in its more traditional use as a smoothie.

Mean green smoothie

How did I come across this protein powder? I was at Whole Foods at the end of last summer looking for a protein powder to help me gain some weight healthfully. Whole Foods has single serving packets of some of the brands they carry so you can try the different products without committing to buying an entire container. Boy am I glad they do this, because I tried an egg based one thinking I would like it and I found it to be awful.

I was looking for something a bit different from the usual whey, since I already have a fair amount of dairy-based foods in my diet. And I steer clear of soy because of my under-active thyroid (soy is a goitrogen). I loved the idea of the RAW protein because it’s a plant-based supplement and we could all use more plant-based foods in our lives!

Garden of Life Raw Protein Vanilla ingredients

It’s also, of course, gluten-free (not all of them are) in addition to being organic, raw, vegan, and dairy- and soy-free. Just as importantly, there are no fillers, artificial flavors or synthetic ingredients.

Let’s take a look at what it does contain:

Garden of Life Raw Protein Vanilla nutrition

Some highlights:

  • 90 calories, <1g sugar, and 17 grams of protein (33% Daily Value)
  • RAW organic sprouted protein and live probiotics and enzymes
  • Enzymes, fat-soluble vitamins and nutrient Code Factors™ such as Beta-glucans, SOD, glutathione and CoQ10

It can be a bit grainy in texture, but that’s the only complaint from WHH, who has switched from his regular Trader Joe’s soy and whey proteins to “mine” because he likes it so much. The powder mixes well with everything (as evidenced by everything I’ve put it in!) and doesn’t have that distinctive dairy-esque taste that whey proteins can have. I’ve only used the vanilla flavor, but it comes in original (flavorless?), chocolate, and vanilla chai as well. I’m going to see if Whole Foods carries the vanilla chai in single packets. I’d love to give it a “chai.” 😉

Since I’m no longer chai-ing to gain weight (sorry—had to throw it in one last time!), I now incorporate it into my weekend breakfasts, as mentioned above, or will make a mini smoothie after a particularly hard run or workout, using about a half scoop and a small cup. You know I generally stick to eating only every 3-4 hours, but there are definitely times when I need to refuel after a workout. Don’t want my hard work to be for nothing! I also find that if I have a quick refuel then I’m less likely to head for seconds at dinner. Win-win.

Mini refueling smoothie

Mini smoothie

We’re also playing around with adding it to cookies, cupcakes, and bars for a healthier dessert alternative. I’ll be sure to post a successful recipe!

As for the rest of stuff, I’m looking forward to checking out a local trail after work to re-do stage 13 of Return to Running. I pulled my right calf on Monday’s run and my plantar fasciitis (on the left) had a slight flare after. I’m fine with re-doing the stage for those reasons and because I’m still working on bringing my endurance back. Those last few intervals of running left me more winded and my legs more fatigued than I’m used to!

Oh, and wish me luck over the weekend! I started the oral steroids early this morning and I think I’ve already felt some effects: I decided a couple of hours ago that my office needed to be cleaned (an RN I worked with joked that the good thing about the steroids is that I’d probably find myself with a clean house by the end of the weekend). A co-worker who’s also dealt with tennis elbow issue lent me his sideways mouse yesterday and my forearms muscles are already feeling better. Fingers crossed this combo works!

Evoluent Vertical Mouse

This is also now nice and clean 😉

Questions: Do you have Monday off? Are you going to watch the Boston Marathon? Do you incorporate protein powders into your diet? What type/brand do you use?

P.S. As much as I love Whole Foods, I do find their prices a bit steep for nearly everything. I buy my protein powder on Amazon!