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?

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New Year’s Goals Check-In: April

Happy May! How did the month of April look for you? Anything you’re looking forward to in the next month? Here’s a breakdown of my goals for the New Year and how I did in April:

Personal Goals

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

After putting away the winter clothes and taking out the spring/summer clothes, I’m good for now, though I will probably need some summer clothes since I was running low last year. I also remembered a bag of clothes I had put aside from the tailor when I lost too much weight. I tried the clothes on and three of the five items now fit well enough that I don’t need them taken in. Still tempted to try Stitch Fix.

  • Take more pictures: B

I’m still taking a lot of pictures and keeping them organized moving forward. We received our Shutterfly book and it’s such a nice little memento to look through. I still want to go back through our vacation pictures more thoroughly to organize/make notes on them and get more printed for an old-fashioned photo album. And wedding pics? Yeah…

Shutterfly vacation book

A funny series of picture from the top of the incredibly sunny Jungfraujoch.

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: A-

This past month we’ve been flying by the seat of our pants a bit. It’s been crazy with work, studying, working out, and family/friends, so we’ve been less creative than usual and definitely have not done much meal planning. I’m going to curve this grade a bit, though, because class comes first and we’re still eating plenty clean and healthy.

One new recipe I did make? Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie from Cook Smarts. Yummy, yum, yum!

Deconstructed shepherd's pie

One thing I have been really good at: “use it up” recipes. That is, using up all of the leftovers in my fridge for a random meal. Last night I had some eggplant, pepper, shallot, Brussels sprouts leaves, stewed tomatoes,and tempeh that needed to be used. Et voila, a take on ratatouille:

Left over meal

  • Travel: A

Tickets to Colorado are booked! Now we need fill in the blanks of where to stay (hopefully with my brother in the Boulder area for a few days) and what to do (hiking, horseback riding, etc.). I would love any suggestions if you’ve been there before!

A trip to the Netherlands to visit friends is still possible later this year, though not probable.

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: B+

When aren’t I reading?! I feel like all I do is read! This month’s school assignments have included incredibly long chapters, as well as double chapters this past week. I’m a regular book’s worth (~300 pages) through A Storm of Swords (which is even longer!)!

TV has been average, with some of our favorite shows all back on at the same time (A Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Vikings, and Call the Midwife). We try to portion it out so we watch on weekends nights only. Do you watch any of these shows? We only know two other people who watch Vikings and can’t believe it’s not more popular given how popular GOT is. Lagertha is one of my favorite characters because she is so bad a$$. I could go on and on about how good this show is (not as good as GOT, though), but since this is my reading instead of watching TV goal, I’ll save myself the shame.

History Channel Vikings

Speaking of shame…I have a “french fry” (no good for me, but tastes so good!) show: Total Divas. I am absolutely fascinated by this world of tough, athletic women that throw themselves around. I may even follow the Bella Twins on Instagram and Twitter. I try to watch only when I’m foam rolling or icing, because I really don’t have time for this.

Total Divas

This month has consisted of nothing but the necessary, so a no-go on the Pinterest board. I’m scaling it because classwork is to blame (so she says after talking about TV shows!) and I’m not going to give myself a hard time for not getting to it when that’s what I’m spending most of my time on.

  • Simplify house further: B+

Yet another bag of items off to be donated as well as a Thred Up bag to be sent! Still no-go on the dreaded closet, but see legitimate excuse above.

Thred Up logo

  • Meet with financial advisor: C+

Still haven’t done this. I’m thinking I may move it to the end of the summer when I will be done with classes for a few weeks and can properly concentrate. Scaled accordingly.

  • Write reviews, such as for products and travel:C+

Ugh. I am seriously tanking this month. April obviously kicked my butt. Will re-assess the TV situation for sure.

Professional:

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

It’s my last week of A&P I (still holding a 95% average!) and A&P II starts in three weeks, so I get one week off in between.

Dissection for Anatomy & Physiology I

  • Start nursing school: TBD

Still on the wait-list for Fall 2014. My focus is on finishing A&P I, getting through A&P II, and then I’ll go from there.

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B+

I had my first guest post this month and was definitely better with posting at more consistent times and prepping more posts ahead of time, so I feel really good about that given how busy the month was.

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

Still not a focus right now, though it is on my mind a lot . A possibility for the fall…

Health and Wellness:

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

No quite as good as last month. My focus has been mainly on trying to maintain a routine during some busy weeks, and to keep moving forward in my Return to Running program. I have ventured out on some trails, though, and have made a big effort to find new routes at every chance.

April train run

Friday’s run was stage 16! My right knee felt a little funny during part of the run, so I’ve been icing and taking it easy the past few days. It’s my weird knee that acts up from time to time. I think I overdid it during one of Jillian’s workouts that had a lot of plyo training. I just need to not do that anymore. My knees never like me after I do. Trying not to think too much about it.

Hill running

Lots of hills on Friday’s run. Kept saying to myself, “You can do this!”  instead of “When will this hill end?!”

I’m done with the 12 days of prednisone for my tennis elbow and while it felt fabulous the first few days, pain and stiffness shortly returned. After being in training all week last week and not doing much computer mousing, it definitely felt looser and I was able to do some wall and knee push-ups for the first time since December. I think that may be the key: keeping it loose long enough so I can strengthen it. I asked for another ergonomic evaluation at work, hoping that might help the situation. I go back to my orthopedist tomorrow and will probably refuse the second cortisone injection I’m sure they’re going to offer me. Second opinion is next.

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

We’ve continued to make an effort to buy more natural meats, whether they’re vegetarian-fed (the cheapest of the natural meats), grass-fed, and/or organic. I’ve also been checking out the 365 Everyday Value brand at Whole Foods a lot more and the prices are not only reasonable, they’re often less than Market Basket’s equivalent. Love it!

365 Everday Value logo

To recap my monthly grades so far:

January: C
February: B-
March: B+
And April…B+! Whew…I seriously thought it was going to go down. I’ll take a steady B+ for now given how crazy this month was.

Last month I mentioned that I wanted to focus on more on slowing down. That didn’t exactly happen and as this new month started I was thinking how every day was going by so quickly and I felt like I was doing what I could to just get through it, making sure to eat healthy, work out, get my school work done, and maybe have time to read for pleasure and/or watch TV, let alone get to house stuff.

We did have some fun, having friends over one weekend night, attending some family events, and then celebrating my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday in style at Nebo in Boston (delicious food, great service, and gluten-free menu!). But it’s still a lot. WHH has a lot going on, too, but I’m hoping as his school year comes to a close in the next two months and the lazy days of summer are upon us, we’ll find time to stop and smell the roses. For now, I’ll have to just enjoy the little moments, such as this beautiful scene I caught on my way to work this morning.

May sunrise

Questions: How are you doing with any goals you set for the year? Did April go by as quickly and crazily for you or were you able to stop and enjoy it?