Getting closer...

The flour from Italy arrived day closer to my Eat Pray
Love event:)

Pink and Fabulous

The shipment has arrived...bring on the celebration...9 days and
counting :).

Workout Plan

Here. we. go.

I am officially on Day 4 of my goal to work out (in some way) every day for 30 days. Walking the dogs does not count but I am still doing it.

I used the Body Fat Calculator and as of Sunday had 30% body weight. Ouch.

I did the Tracy Anderson Mat workout today for the first time. It was different. Unlike any other workout I have ever done. Very dance inspired which made it more fun. The reviews were right though...she makes these weird faces trying to be sexy. I can get over that though.

Monday: 2.5 mile run (my first one since the Derby Half Marathon/knee injury)
Tuesday: Jillian Level 1 30 day shred/3 mile walk with dogs
Wednesday: 2.75 mile run
Thursday: Tracy Anderson Mat workout (possible dog walk later this evening)

My Plan for Friday is ambitious--Jillian and Power Yoga class followed by a much needed massage and visit with my favorite chiropractor :)

Can't wait for the weekend...celebrating a birthday here:

and here: maybe the patio doesn't look exactly like that. Get over will be really close once that retaining walls are put in :)

Headed to work...anticipating lots of sore muscles tomorrow.

Kindle Update

Finished three more good grateful for my Kindle. I like it more every day.

First up:


As mentioned before, I have followed her blog for a few years and was very much anticipating this book. I held off on reading it because I was convinced there would be no new information since I was a such an avid reader of her blog. I was wrong.

There are so many great tips for getting happier in this book. Some of my favorites:

"All he asked was that I put on my running shoes and shut the door behind me. My father's deal got me to commit to a routine." She took her father's advice as a young adult and has included running in her exercise routine for most of her adult life.

Exercise is definitely a great argument for increased happiness with the added benefit of helping us think more clearly. Gretchen reminded me that "people should aim to take 10,000 steps per day--a number that also reportedly keeps most people from gaining weight."

Must get a pedometer.

And my personal favorite....Gretchen terms her tendency for "preparty jitters" as "hostess neurosis". I am extremely guilty of this. I love to entertain but can make the people closest to me miserable in my striving to put on the "perfect party". Many of my friends have taken to calling me "Martha". Not just for my quest for perfection but my reaction when that standard isn't met. Sigh.

Here are some other tidbits I took from the book:

1. Know what makes you happy. I have taken Gretchen's advice of keeping an "Interest Log" so that I become more aware of what "naturally catches my attention."

2. "The pleasure of doing a thing in the same way, at the same time, every day, and savoring it, is worth noting. If you do something once it's exciting, and if you do it every day it's exciting. But if you do it, say, twice or just almost every day, it's not good anymore." This theory brings my 30 Day Shred to mind :)

3. "people who give money to charity end up wealthier than those who don't give to charity." Researchers have found that charitable giving actually causes higher income due to the brain activity that changes with this activity and the likelihood of being offered leadership positions. Fascinating stuff.

On to the the next one:

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

This one was a delight only complimented by the extra satisfaction of reading it on a white sand beach in Mexico. Oh to be back there....

Anyhoo, I discovered this read on many of the blogs I follow. It combines a true love story of an American woman who falls in love with a Frenchman and includes actual recipes of all her cooking adventures along the way.

In addition to bookmarking molten chocolate cake, tabouleh, strawberry-rhubarb crumble and other recipes with ingredients I will be hard pressed to locate in my small town, I did take away some words of wisdom:

"There are many things that will tell you the true measure of a man--the way he kisses, the way he holds a fork, the way he talks to his mother on the phone. For me it was something else: we'll call it the infamous bird-pooing incident." You can see where this leads. But how true that you can tell the true character of a person by how they handle the most inconvenient of circumstances.

"Nobody decides her whole life in a single moment. But you can decide what you are unwilling to do without, and it was impossible for me to give up on this happiness." Love. that.

"The French have always known what I've long suspected; there is nothing sexier than watching a woman eat. Men love this. I'm positive that I owe many a second date in New York to a chocolate cannoli or a late-night coupe of rice pudding with whipped cream. It's simple: Women who pick at their food hate sex. Women who suck the meat off of lobster claws, order (and finish) dessert--these are the women who going to rip your clothes off and come back for seconds." This book was worth reading for this passage alone. I now feel so much more justified in my obsession with all things shellfish. Who knew it made me sexier? Ha!

And on to our last read of this triumvirate:

An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser

This was a fun read with lots of romance and discoveries of tiny Italian villages. After an ugly divorce, this woman heads to Italy to just "get away." She meets a professor who becomes a wonderful and mysterious companion. The descriptions of the small towns are really driving me to save for that Italy trip....

What's up next?

The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson
And this one:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

And the last one (hard decision):

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

I love the way Amazon gives you free samples of most books on the Kindle. After reading a few pages, I am able to decide whether I want to buy the book or not. And it is kind of like being a book store and reading a few passages before committing to buying the book. The Help came highly recommended by a friend but I know I wouldn't have bought if not for the free sample. Now I'm hooked.

Happy Reading!

Whew. That was a long post.

The Wagon Broke

Did you miss me?

I didn't just fall off the wagon this time, it ran over me.

Don't worry. I am just fine.

Note to self: DO NOT take on a new exercise program during the most intense two work weeks of the year.

Well, today I get back on the wagon.

I have taken measurements and EVERYTHING.

Whew. That was oooogly.

Not brave enough to post them yet so don't be askin'.

New book report coming right up :)

Falling off the Wagon

Well, I am officially on Day 9 of the Shred. As of tomorrow I will have completed one third of the program. I have a confession to make....I didn't do the video on Saturday due to an unexpected opportunity to go shopping but I did take the dog on a long walk and got back on the wagon Sunday. I don't intend to let it happen again :(

I am happy to say I am no longer sore but I still get very shaky during the workout and it definitely hasn't gotten any easier. The push-ups still make me scream and the last circuit requires side squats that elicit grunting sounds that can probably only be compared to giving birth. Sorry, that's just the ugly truth.

I weighed myself Sunday and have lost 1.2 pounds. It was registering a 3.0 pound loss on Friday but then happy hour came and so did the inability to resist the temptation of fried food and cocktails.

I indulged in a hefty breakfast sandwich on Saturday morning at the coffee shop and then in thai food for dinner last night. Roasted Duck Noodle Soup...yummmm.

Doing better today....a green monster for breakfast and the leftovers of the noodle soup for lunch. Plus a few pita chips with red pepper hummus thrown in there and a Forest Berry Honest Tea.

21 more days to go!

Still Shredding

Day 4 of the Shred went well but difficult to get up this morning knowing that's what was coming. The video mysteriously turned off during the final 3 minutes but I kept going. The side squats and push-ups are getting especially painful, making the cardio part more challenging. I am proud of myself for doing it in the morning because my work schedule has been going until about 7:30pm, making it so easy to make up excuses when I get home.

Today I have kept a good distance from the Oreos and ice cream but they keep creeping into my brain. I think I may suggest that the someone who bought them hides them and distributes them very sparingly.

I had a green monster shake for breakfast with 3/4 cup almond milk, 1/2 bag baby spinach, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, and a frozen banana. It made me feel super energized after the workout.

For lunch, I made a mediterranean wrap with one chicken breast (seasoned with Emeril's Essence), spring greens, spicy red pepper hummus, and some shredded cheddar cheese. It was very good and filling.

For dinner, I am sharing my favorite (and easiest) taco recipe. I have shared this with many friends and every one of them has called or emailed me raving about it. It was a definite hit on Bunco night. Long live Martha :)

I hope to get back to posting pics very soon...the boyfriend dropped my camera on hard tile while in Mexico and its not working now :(

Have a great day!

Shred Day 3

All is good but I feel like there is a huge painful knot on the back of each arm where my tiny triceps used to be. It hurts...

Anyway, I self-diagnosed my knee injury today. Chondromalacia. Seems I either have a misalignment or am just getting old. I'm going with Option A.

I ate very healthy today except for those lovely Blizzard Cookies n Cream Oreos the boyfriend brought me. Don't try them. Really don't. It's not worth it. He also brought me Ben and Jerry's new Milk and Cookies flavor. He is trying to sabotage me. Grrrrrr.....

Shred Day 2 I've stuck with it a whole two days.

My gluts hurt and my pecs hurt. I screamed during the second round of push-ups. My knee isn't too pleased with any of this but it's hanging in there.

Gonna look like this in no time :)

Stop laughing. And I mean it.

That sexy lady up there happens to be Tracy Anderson. I was watching her workouts designed for Madonna and Gwyneth on Youtube today and was intrigued. When the budget allows, this video will be next on my rotation:

I am totally committed to Jillian for now. But I will get bored eventually and need something new. I am trying to prove to myself that I can commit to 25 minutes every day before I sign up for a session with Madonna's trainer.

Ha! Good night.

Day One

Day One has officially been tallied.

In an effort to get in better shape, while giving my injured knee a little bit of a break from running, I have signed up for this:

It's only about 20 minutes. But it's a sweaty, screaming, vomit-inducing 20 minutes. OK. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but it HURT. I'm sticking with it though.

I'll keep you in the loop regarding any (hopefully) weight loss or new muscles....

FINALLY. A complete book report :)

So...after a bit of a struggle, I completed those three reads from so far back.

The first two were great. That last one? Not my thing but I forced myself to finish it.

Here's the scoop:

My Life in France by Julia Child was just what I expected. It took me back to my appreciation of food and my love for all things Provencal. I loved that she is unapologetic for any stumbles in her cooking adventures. She says such "admissions only draw attention to one's shortcomings."

The best thing about this book is the love story that saturates it. Her husband's belief in her dream and encouragement is inspiring and makes them such a likeable pair. Their tradition of sending out Valentines is so adorable.

Her descriptions of her place in Provence take you there as she writes about the "deeply quiet, sparkling nights" and "the little owls talking back and forth."

Yeah Dave's Guide to Livin' in the Moment: Getting to Ecstasy Through Wine, Chocolate, and Your Ipod Playlist was a fun read that was also fun-ny. He encourages us to enjoy one delicious moment, one beautiful moment, and one funny moment every day and who couldn't use more of that kind of advice? I also thought this would be a great daily topic for journaling and have been trying to do just that :) Some of my favorite passages:

"A human who's able to simplfy their life moves faster and farther toward their purpose than one who's bogged down with emotional and financial baggage."

"I say it's worth every bit of social awkwardness to remain true to yourself, to put yourself in the light even if nobody can see you there."

And that last read. The City of Falling Angels. It actually didn't turn out to be fiction and actually says so in the very first sentence (oops). It is journalistic nonfiction. Though an interesting take to visit a city and piece together actual occurrences to create a plot with actual real-life characters, I couldn't get into it. The strong historical aspect combined with so many characters was rather puzzling and hard for me to follow. I thought I would enjoying learning more about Venice but not so in this context. Oh well. Did learn some interesting tidbits though. Did you know that the ambient nocturnal sound level in Venice is a very low 32 decibels? 45 decibels is typical for most other cities. Of course, this is due to no automobile traffic but contributes to making Venice so peaceful.

So there you have it. It has been a very busy few weeks for me. I ran a half marathon, attended the Kentucky Derby, and, most recently, returned from a good friend's wedding in Mexico. It has been an absolute blast but I am ready to lie low for awhile and get some reading and cooking done. My three next selections:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin:

I followed her blog for several years while she was writing this book so it has been on my list for awhile...time to nail this one down.

Next up: Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

This one has been on my radar for a few months. I mean...COME on. A love story with recipes? Need I say more?

And the third:

An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser

Okay, so I didn't go for a fiction pick this time. I am definitely gravitating toward travel memoirs that focus on good food in a European country. That's just me and like apologies needed :)

Happy Reading!

The Chocolate Strawberry Pie

So I have been secretly craving this pie forever...and the craving overtook me a few nights ago at about 10pm on a work night. Crazy, right? Here she is in all her glory...

Underneath all those sweet strawberries lies a thick layer of fudgy chocolate time I plan to use dark chocolate to make it just a bit more sophisticated :) I think this would be great for Mother's Day since chocolate and strawberries are two of her favorite things!

Found the recipe here...I'm still a bit confused because the recipe calls for 5 oz of chocolate or 1.5 cups. When I measured 5 oz of chocolate on my scale it only came out to about .5 cup so I went with something in between.

Bon Appetit :)

Still Reading

Well I have yet to finish my final book for this month, The City of Fallen Angels. To be honest, it has been a struggle for me to follow and finish and I am only halfway there. However, I have pledged that I will finish...but it may be awhile.

On another note, I am stupid excited about this:

Planning for my Eat Pray Love Release Party is already underway...invitations to follow...expect girlfriend fun complete with yoga, indian food, great pizza, and lots of laughs :)

Rock the Kindle: February

I have finally selected my book picks for this month:

First up is My Life in France by Julia Child. Like most everyone else, I was inspired by the movie Julie and Julia and this book incorporates learning more about some of my favorite things, food and France.

Next up is a book I discovered on another blog, Yeah Dave's Guide to Livin' the Moment: Getting to Ecstasy Through Wine, Chocolate, and Your Ipod Playlist by David Romanelli. How could you possibly go wrong with a title like that?

And last up includes my fiction pick that has been on my list forever and one that I hope finally inspires my ass enough to get me on a plane to Italy. The City of Fallen Angels by John Berendt.

Happy Reading!!

January Book Report

I am a bit remiss in getting my book reports finished but am proud to say I have been keeping up with reading three books per month and am almost finished with those selected for February.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert was very enlightening on the subject of marriage. It awakened me to how it's definition has evolved to meet people's needs and lifestyles. It did not measure up to my love for Eat Pray Love but that was to be expected. Still a very enjoyable read overall...

My favorite excerpts:

"Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life's expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work."

"Whether you have children or not, then, the prescription seems clear: Save your money, floss your teeth, wear your seatbelt, and keep fit-and you'll be a perfectly happy old bird someday, I guarantee you."

And a glimpse of how the definition of marriage has changed:

"For the first thousand or so years of Christian history, the church regarded monogamous marriage as marginally less wicked than flat-out whoring--but only very marginally."

Fascinating stuff. They is lots of useful tidbits in this book. She talks about the "cheater gene", and expands on her own resistance to marriage. And I even discovered a passage that would make fabulous wedding vows ;)

For the second book, Freakonomics, I was educated on connections between things I never dreamed were connected such as abortion and crime rates, good business models and drug rings, and the significance of birthnames.

My favorite part included the classification of names given by socioeconomic status. Did you know that in households with the most highly educated parents, the most popular names are Lucienne, Glynnis, Adair, Miera, and Clementine?

And on to the third book, my fiction pick, and probably my favorite for the month, Still Alice by Lisa Genova. It spotlights a Harvard professor's struggle with the diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. What makes this book different is that the story is told from the professor's perspective rather than the caregiver. Before I read it, I always said that if I ever had to live in a nursing home, I would rather have Alzheimer's than be completely cognizant with something like diabetes or emphysema. My work in health care just made me think that it would be better to have less awareness of what was going on around me. But I was DEAD WRONG. No illness is necessarily "better" than another. They all SUCK. This book showed me that Alzheimer's is like Swiss cheese, the holes are inconsistent with varying depths leaving you scared and not ever knowing what to expect. A truly eye-opening read.

The Snowball Martini

Well, the white stuff is now 30" high and risin'....

So I figured when life gives you snow, make a Snowball Martini.

I searched for recipes using fresh snow for cocktails and came up empty handed.

Here's my concoction....

The Snowball Martini

1.5 cups firmly packed snow (or about five hacky sack sized snowballs)
1/4 cup milk (I used skim to keep the calories low)
1 shot vodka (add a little more if you like it strong)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix for just a second in the blender...pour in a martini glass..add a dash of cinnamon and a couple of snowballs with a melon baller.

Very tasty indeed :)

Rock the Kindle

For those of you who don't know me personally, I received a Kindle for Christmas and am, to put it mildly, hopelessly addicted. I have so many books I want to read and am struggling with which to download first. One of my 2010 intentions (I am not a fan of resolutions) is to read 3 books per month, one nonfiction, one fiction, and one that is primarily educational/informational (i.e. books that are job-related, news-related, finance-related, you get the idea). This month I conquered these so far:

1. Nonfiction: Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

2. Educational/Informational: Freakonomics

3. Fiction (downloading to my Kindle as we speak): Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I can't wait to get started on that last one and am starting to appreciate the Kindle...only $6.39 for that last read!

Happy Reading! Anyone care to share some favorites for next month?

Bay Window Crisis I found a solution. It seems that it is not an easy task to dress a bay window. But I feel mine looks a bit naked so I have finally completed my search with a Bay Window Curtain Rod I found on was more than I hoped to pay but works perfectly in the window. I searched at both Home Depot and Lowes and asked staff for their guidance but they had never heard of a rod specifically designed for a bay window and suggested plantation shutters or three separate rods.

I purchased the three separate rods and came to the conclusion that the effort to get them hung at the exact same heighth combined with the price of the corner connectors ($15) would be about equal to the price of the Bay Window Rod.

Here is the finished product. I already had the curtains (made painstakingly by Mom) so wanted to make sure I used them in the new place.

Here is the curtain rod I purchased:

Here are some additional photos for inspiration:

I will post pictures of my own window in just a few :)

Happy Sunday!

About Me

This blog is a place for me to explore the things I love in my own little corner of cyberspace. Those things mostly being food, wine, yoga, travel, style, and my own little home improvement plan. I am a small town gal with big city cravings, a therapist by day, foodie-wino-yogi by night, and a lover of all things French, red, and tasty. Grab a hot cup of coffee and come sit by my fire....