Good Riddance- Time of My Life

Today’s the last day of school. Normally I’d be pretty excited, yet somewhat melancholy…sad to see the kids go as we wave them goodbye as their busses drive away.

This year is different. I’m the one driving off. I’m leaving a place that has brought me great joy for many years. A place that helped me into the person I am today. A place with the best freaking staff a girl could ever dream of.

And I’m leaving it all to fulfill a dream. Teaching high school.

 

I’m pretty big into music. So sometimes it’s easier to describe how I feel by playing a song. So here is a song that’s been on my mind a lot this week:

 

I found this website the other day that explained how some songs meanings were misinterpreted, and Good Riddance is one of the top songs. It’s title alone should elude to what the song is about: Good Riddance. If you think about it in a condescending way, this song is telling you ‘hope you liked your time here jerk, cause now it’s over!’

However this is the number 1 prom song in America for teens to say goodbye to.

I can get behind both…but this song is helping me get through these last days. As if it is playing in the background as I do things for the last time at school.

But this song doesn’t express the gratitude I have for the amazing people who I worked with all these years.

I have one song, and one song only that I must dedicate to the people I have worked with the past 6 years. It will not be goodbye to most, but I wanted you all to know how much I appreciate you. And all the good times….because I never left work with out a smile on my face. So instead of ending on a sad note….I’m ending with a dance. Because that’s just how we all do things where I work!

 

 

 

Salt

At the farmer’s market this weekend there was this lady selling a bunch of exotic salts infused with various spices, fruit, etc. So, of course I spent $30 on a sampler pack. 

The other night the hubs and I did a tasting with some veggies and the savory group. 

WOW!

This is a fun new thing!!! I was pretty excited to try all the different flavors. And it got me thinking of easy summer grilling will be with these salts, as they act almost like a marinade. And the sweet ones would be cool with some fruit and dark chocolate.

In other words, I have my entire summer meals menu planned out already. And it will be super easy too!

 

Has anyone else out there heard of this new fan dangled thing???

If not, and you’re curious, here’s a link to the place I got my salts. 

Helen

I firmly believe everything is an ebb and flow…much like the waves in the ocean. Good things wash ashore and give the beach the sacrifices of the ocean. I often wonder when I see a shell how far it traveled to get to shore. Miles? Yards? Feets?

 

So when you think of an ebb and flow, you must honor the fact there is good and bad. Positive and Negative.

I think I have been ebbing for quite sone time. Feeling pretty good about myself. Somewhat invincible. 

Today was the flow. Helen.

I feel defeated. Shaken. Disappointed in my body.

 

 

But instead of focusing on the negative, I will focus on the positive.

Today reaffirmed my choice in gyms.

Thank you Jenna for running the end with me. Thank you for helping me find my breathe. And thank you for not talking, so I didn’t cry.

Thank you Dan for running with me too until the end.

Thank you Tim for meeting me at the landing of the stairs.

And thank you to the whole class that stayed with me and counted with me and cheered me on. 

 

Even though I came in dead last.

 

I found my breath. I finished. 

 

Always finish what you started…

 

 

 

I’ve Become THAT Girl

You know the one…

That girl that is really athletic. That girl that LOVES exercise. That girl that bounces around excited about going to the gym, when you can’t wait to get home and plop on the couch? The one that makes you feel super guilty about neglecting yourself because you ‘just don’t have time’ or ‘too tired today’ to hit the gym?

I have always, 100%, bonafide hated exercise. I’m not super agile or have fast reflexes. I’m a bit of a slow processor, so playing sports was never my thing. Plus, a scarred ego from elementary school ‘not making any teams’ haunts me to this day. 

So when I tell you I’ve become the girl I used to hate, I have to pinch myself to believe it. But I have become that girl. 

An athlete.

The window opened on my birthday. A friend gave me a birthday card that read, “Happy Birthday to a great friend and an amazing athlete.” 

ATHLETE??? Me? I never gave myself that title. And no one ever gave it to me…until now.

I have been actively involved in Crossfit since November. It started as a few free classes with friends, and has evolved into a personal journey. A journey that have finally given me the assurance that I can be athletic. A journey I never thought I’d get to take.

Many people who have learned I do Crossfit have expressed interest in the sport, but anxiety about being able to do it. I hear words like “It’s too intense!” “I’m not fit enough!” “You have to be really athletic to do Crossfit.”

These are all BIG myths. (I started with not having exercised in almost two years.) And my body has changed so much- I have had more people tell me how good I look in the last month, than ever in my life. And I owe it all to my box (Crossfit gym). :) I have fun. I’ve made friends. And never once have I felt less than what someone else can do-because everyone believes in each other. It’s a community. I feel good there. CF13S is home.

I find myself begging people to try it with me one day. 

So yes, I am THAT girl now. Who’s gonna join me?

 

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Farmers Markets

How many of you take advantage of these gems in the summer? Did you know that some have already started up again in NJ?

I love farmers markets. There is nothing better than buying food directly from its source. Summer and fall are ideal times to shop for produce, naturally, but there are some really great buys that show up during the off season. They shouldn’t be overlooked.

In Denville, NJ, their farmers market brings quite a few artisan food makers. There’s a guy who makes gluten free and organic trail mix. Another who makes all different types of hummus. There’s the empanada lady. There’s Boboli- they make artisans cheeses (free samples!) and breads made from heirloom wheats and grains. There’s the pickle people, a truck that stretches FRESH MOZZARELLA! right in front of you and then there’s the pork farmer and the Mini Mac farm that does all meats and dairy.

So it’s pretty awesome- if you’re into all that. And yes, these things can get pricey.

But how many of you live near a local market that they call a ‘farmers market?’

I do. And I always forget to go in there. It’s what I think is an asian produce and seafood market. And for as much as forget to go there as often as I’d like, every time I do get to go I get so inspired!!!

First off, their seafood counter is fresh every other day, everything’s wild caught and about half the price of the supermarket. So good! Their produce is off the chain! I bought a guava today. Why? Just because I’ve never had one before… This is the kind of produce market that houses many of the crazy ingredients in the Chopped baskets!!!!

So after a trip there this evening, we are having sesame crusted seared tuna with julienned  carrots and jicama, avocado with wasabi mayo. Made that up as I browsed… I guess that’s what cooking is all about. Seeing what’s good and taking advantage of it.

So moral of the story: keep it fresh. Keep it local. And support your local farmers market if one’s nearby.

Coming Back

Two weeks ago I went back into my healthy eating regime. IT was an easy transition. Something I didn’t have to think about really….except when the girl scout cookies came!

But I never thought it would be as hard as it’s been getting back to the gym.

I really like my gym. I missed it the month I was gone. It’s a truly supportive community. My friends are the owners. It’s exactly what I need to stay motivated- because it take A LOT for me to stay motivated about working out. But coming back has been hard…emotionally. I’m sad that my body took such a wrong turn in such a quick time. And it makes me feel a little bit like I was robbed.

I was very hard on myself about it. And busy days didn’t help either…

But Thursday I felt good again. I had a good workout, and my trainer sent me a link to this blog:

http://psychologywod.com/2013/03/06/paying-attention-to-how-you-talk-to-yourself/

Reading this really forced me to change my perspective on my situation. I can’t change it. I have to accept it and move on. And I should be proud of myself for going back in the first place, rather than beat myself up for not being in the place I was before. Shit- I cleaned 75 lbs. in my first lift since January! I should be proud of that! And the fact l did go back…I should really be proud of that!

Maybe someone is reading this is in a ‘back to the gym’ rut. Or maybe it’s not the gym, but a place in life you’d like to be. Please go back. Or just go if you need to and haven’t. It’s painful. It hurts. You will feel ashamed. But YOU WILL HAVE WENT BACK!

 

 

Comfort Food

FYI: This took a month to write…sorry for infrequent posting.

Often times we think of comfort food as a food we fondly remember eating as a child or a special dish we religiously make for a holiday. Grandpa’s ‘German’ potato salad at amBBQ…drool.

Sometimes it’s a dish a loved one makes you when you’re sick with a cold.

Or maybe a hot meal you share with your love on a snowy night.

But what role should food play when you’re going through something sad? I’m not going to lie, it’s been a really rough time for me lately. And one of the few things that has given me a ‘little’ bit of happiness in a very dark place has been food.

I have managed to continue to eat healthy much through the holidays and into the winter. But in a sad time, sometimes you just need ‘a glass of coca cola.’ Or some mac and cheese. Or some chocolate.

So yes, I’ve taken ‘comfort’ in some foods that aren’t the best for me. And yes, the scale has reflected that. But it was needed. And appreciated. And calming. And distracting. But this week I’m ‘back in the saddle again.’ And surprisingly it has been pretty easy, and ‘comforting,’ to eat the healthy way again.

Regardless, we all deal with pain differently. However, it isn’t safe to continue that pattern. I’m glad my brain has been rewired to acknowledge the difference.

Bigger and better places… :)

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Re-Invent

I have been doing a lot of cooking again now that the holidays are packed up for a year(well the tree is still up, but only because it literally has been to cold to walk it to the trash!). And last week, I was able to stretch one WHOLE ROASTER CHICKEN in to 4 separate meals. I’m pretty proud of that! Here’s how I did it:

1. I made this Moroccan roasted chicken from a Williams Sonoma Cookbook. All you do is make a paste with some olive oil and spices, and run it on the bird and bake it. We roasted the chicken with cauliflower, red onion and sweet potato. Seems like an old vegetable combo, but it works!!! Trust me!

2. We has so much left over chicken, and we also freeze that extra container of rice they give you with Chinese food, so I thawed on out, cut up the extra chicken, and made THE BEST chicken fried rice ever. I’ll post the recipe next blog.

3. Think again before throwing out that carcass- there’s chicken stock to be made! And this stock has the subtle flavor of the Moroccan spices in it, so there is a ton of depth. I used some of the broth for a butternut squash stuffing the recipe called for.

4. There was lots of stock left over. I could have frozen it for a later date, but the weather was sooooo cold, chicken soup was a must. I had baked some chicken breasts, and sautéed some veggies and in an hour- soup!

In the end, all of these dished took, at most, 30 minutes to prepare for. And many of the ingredients were basic staples in the home- garlic, onion, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, spices, etc. I won’t say this happens every week, and that a little thinking ahead didn’t happen, but this can work with all sorts of things- pasta, sauces, casseroles…endless possibilities! Here’s my advice- start with a dish you REALLY want…and then go from there. Satisfying the urge to eat what you really want first, so that everything else is like a bonus.

I have realized from my eating changes that when you force yourself to like something, you’ll never like it. So if it’s chicken park you want, make that sauce! But bread the chicken in almond flour, or even ground oats. USe spaghetti squash instead of pasta. The reason you like that dish so much anyway is the sauce- it’s the strongest flavor of the dish. So cut 500 calories out of the rest of it- I swear you won’t taste the difference!

“On an Island”

I was catching up on Top Chef last night, and all the contestants were killing the time by asking each other if they were on an island, “what three foods would you bring?’ It then led to a Bravo poll and the top choices were bread and cheese.  Bread and cheese???? I guess I could see that, but I was surprised no one chose anything sugary. Surprised in a good way.

What would you bring with you?

I always say it would be shrimp, eggs and avocado. Although if I’m on an island, I guess I could fish my own shrimp…

Moving Forward- Open Doors in 2014!

So I’m sorry I never finished my cookie countdown- I simply ran out of time. And I actually had posted double recipes in some posts, so I wouldn’t have made it to 15 days anyway…

I like to call today “Limbo Day.” It’s a day where everyone looks back at the past, while at the same time make promises for the future. I personally think this is a dangerous thing to do.

I know that’s a bold statement, but hear me out.

When we make goals based on past experiences, we lock ourselves in to only changing what we already know about ourselves. We keep the doors closed to ‘the unknown’ and we turn our backs on all the possibilities that are out there for us.

One year later, I launched a photography business with my husband, lost 30 lbs, became a VP of my local, am now a cross fit enthusiast,  and a unit leader for my group of teachers…and I didn’t plan for ANY of it. I never made any resolutions last year, I just kept the doors open for change. And change I got!

I can only dream of all things that await me in 2014! As long as I keep the door open, good things will come.

So if there’s something you want for 2014- make one resolution:

Open the door for change. It may not be exactly what you were expecting, but it may be something better!!!

PS- New Year’s is totally hyped up anyway to sell gym memberships and diet programs. Don’t fall for it…