Halloween: Past and Present

Halloween has never really been one of my favorite holidays. I love decorating and getting into the spirit of things- but I’ve never done anything wicked special for the actual day.

Figuring out a costume is stressful for me (too much pressure to do something super creative and awesome I guess?) and now that trick-or-treating isn’t the go to plan for the evening, figuring out fun plans isn’t always easy. Not to mention- I do NAHT handle scary things well. And by that I mean, I can’t handle scary things. I am a huge baby.

I made sure I topped my breakfast with halloween sprinkles this morning though- and dinner is leftover gingered pumpkin soup (pumpkin=october/halloween, right?)

I was an angry bird this year if you were curious! I went out over the past weekend pre-hurricane where this picture was taken:

During my hurrication I spent some time going through some old pictures. I love looking through old prints. You never know what you might find. I’m the nostalgic type so I’m a sucker for flipping through memories.

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An Unplanned Hurrication

Today was my fifth straight day of not going to work– madness! What a weird week. And Halloween is tomorrow? Even weirder. My brain is confused.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not complaining about all this time off whatsoever. It’s just been eerie and sad hearing about all the damage along the east coast. I have friends/family from here to Massachusetts and I’ve been worried about their homes and livelihoods. It doesn’t help that the storm is all most people are talking about.

Hurricane Sandy is spinning and turning in my head.

Our balcony looks so empty and sad all cleared off.

I tried to escape the sounds and images of the hurricane by going to the gym in the basement of my apartment building Alas, there was a guy already there with CNN on. Fail.

I just tried to focus on the workout I created:

  • 1/2 hour of cardio (your choice! I power walked on some intense inclines. I wanted to use the elliptical but it was already taken)
  • Three rounds of: 30 jumping jacks, 30 mountain climbers, 30 crab toe touches, and 30 bicycles
  • Three rounds of: 20 squats, 20 butt kickers, 20 pushups, and 20 lateral lunges.
  • Three rounds of: tricep extensions, reverse dumbbell chop, russian twists, and dumbbell side bend.
  • Stretch and cool down

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Hello Hurricane

Sandy, what are you so angry about?! This storm is definitely a crazy one. Today has been such a weird day- being stuck inside to watch the hurricane wreak havoc. Definitely a Monday different from the ordinary.

For the first half of today, it was really just raining and nothing too exciting was happening outside. It felt like a Sunday Part II or something. Bonus day!

Today after work I was going to try spinning for the first time. I was signed up for the class and everything. But when I saw that it was cancelled (and you know, there was a hurricane and work was not happening either) I had to deal with the fact that Sandy wanted me to do something else. As lame as it is most of the time, I am thankful for the gym in my apartment building on days like today.

I decided to do a workout that was published online by Health magazine called: “Get In and Out of the Gym in 60 Minutes.” It was written by Tina Haupert, author of the blog Carrots N Cake. I improvised due to a lack of equipment and just what I was feeling today.

Here was my Sandy Sweat-athon:

  • 10 min. jog on the treadmill
  • Then for each of the five minute segments below, I did as many rounds of those two exercises as possible. So I did the two exercise sets non-stop for 5 minutes.
  • 5 min. 10 jumping jacks + 10 burpees
  • 5 min. 10 lateral raises + 10 squats with free weights
  • 5 min. 10 push-ups + 20 sit-ups 
  • 5 min. 10 squats with free weights + 20 alternating lunges
  • 5 min. 60 second plank hold + 10 up/down planks
  • 5 min. walk on the treadmill/cool down
  • Stretch

There were a couple other people from the building also working out. We had the Food Network on the gym TV and bonded over Alex Guarnaschelli’s show “Alex’s Day Off.” You may recognize her as one of the judges on Chopped. But it was cool to hangout with some people in the building for a little while! You make new friends when you’re stuck indoors.

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Sunday Before Sandy

It’s the calm before the big storm- Hurricane Sandy is headed our way! I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about it at this point. I feel like I should have done more to prepare. My balcony is cleared off- there is plenty of food and water in my kitchen- I have candles- I guess I’m covered?

Today was pretty ominous feeling outside. It was been dark, overcast, and chilly. It was a day for…

>> Brunch nearby at Ulah Bistro <<

Will and I had never been before- cross off another new restaurant for the 2012 Bucket List!

Coffee coffee coffee.

I loved the feel of the place- it was very comfortable and cozy. Everyone who walked in the door had something football related on. My kind of destination (The Patriots totally won today by the way- YES).

Will ordered the challah french toast (I tried it- delicious).

My meal was a ham, peppers, and red onion omelette with home fries. Guys- if you go to this place for brunch, make sure you get the homefries. They could not have been more perfect. Potatoey and soft on the inside- crispy and well seasoned on the outside. I highly recommend Ulah Bistro. We’re looking forward to going back.

>> A much needed phone call home to catch up with my family- and of course talk about the impending storm <<

>> Reading (love Giada. I also read some more of Ellen’s book) <<

>> Preparing food for the week per usual <<

Spaghetti squash is on the menu for this week!

Made a tomato sauce and cooked up some sausages.

Cut and prepped lots of veggies to have lots of easy access healthy food for the week!

Will made sure to lower the temp of the fridge just in case we do lose power from the storm.

>> Leftover lasagna from last night’s dinner for a late lunch <<

Yes- last night I made a no-noodle lasagna! I used a lasagna recipe from the blog, Dashing Dish. I improvised on her recipe a bit based on what I had in my kitchen.

Here are the ingredients I used:

  • For the noodles:
  • 1 eggplant (cut lengthwise into 1/8 inch strips)
  • For the meat sauce:
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef (I usually don’t buy ground beef but the store’s ground turkey selection was lacking this week)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup fresh cauliflower
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the cheese layer:
  • 8 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese

First step was to preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

I salted my eggplant to remove bitterness and excess water.

Then per the recipe, I baked the eggplant slices for 5 min. on each side. Then these were set aside for later lasagna assembling and the oven temp was lowered to 375 degrees.

Next step was to brown the ground beef and then mix in all the other meat sauce ingredients.

The cheese mixture was stirred together next- you mix the parmesan and the ricotta (save the mozzarella for the top of the lasagna!)

Finally it was time to put the layers together! I sprayed my baking dish and started with a layer of the meat sauce. Next layer was the eggplant slices- next layer was the cheese mixture. Layering continued till the top of the pan was reached.

Then I topped it with mozzarella cheese!

I covered this with foil and baked for 1 hour at 375 degrees. When this was done, it was put back in the oven sans foil and broiled for ten more minutes.

My Italian soul was so pleased. I love lasagna. And it was great to have so much leftover (for an easy late lunch today!)

>> Cookies made by Will’s Dad <<

It may not look special- but Will’s Dad sent him these cookies he makes and they’re SO GOOD. I remember them distinctly from last year. I’m pumped he sent him them this year (especially because I live with Will now he herazz).

>> Wearing slippers and being cozy <<

My sister got these for me for Christmas last year and there are some days where I don’t know what I’d do without them. Nothing keeps my feet warmer!

>> Gingered Pumpkin Soup and Grilled Cheese <<

The soup came from an easy recipe from the blog Eat Yourself Skinny.

All you gotta do is melt 1 tbsp. of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then stir in 2 cans of pumpkin, 28 oz. of low-sodium chicken broth, 1/2 cup of skim milk, 1/4 cup real maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp. ground ginger.

Bring this combo to a boil- season with salt and pepper- serve!

It’s only 85 calories for a cup of this warm deliciousness. Will and I ate ours with grilled cheeses. Mmmmm.

>> Food Network’s Halloween Wars <<

Again I admit– Will and I are Food Network junkies. Obsessed. It’s kind of our favorite way to end our Sunday night cuddled on the couch.

All there is to do now is wait and see what Sandy brings. I’ll be at home keeping my eye on her shenanigans tomorrow (work is already closed- wahoo!) 

I’ll keep you all updated on this crazy freak storm- stay safe everybody xoxo

My First 5k

This is the face of someone who just finished her first ever 5k race.

I am so unbelievably happy and proud of myself. I’ve used this expression so many times lately, but if you were to tell me a year ago that THIS is what I’d be doing Halloweekened 2012- I would have laughed.

BAH I DID IT. When I finished I was so happy I could have cried. May have teared up just a little bit (I’m an emotional person).

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My Night with the Russians

I don’t always go to fancy events in DC… but when I do, they’re related to Russia and held at the Library of Congress.

But seriously- I’m not really in the DC socialite crowd and I’m sort of a homebody anyway so it’s rare I do something glamorous in the city.

Last night was the exception.

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Plank Challenge

This will be a short post but I wanted to share a new fitness challenge I’m working on 🙂

At yoga last night I was reminded how important the core of your body is. It’s essential for solid and fluid movements (and an all around fit body). Read this article if you’re not convinced. Or do some google searching/internet perusing.

I know I work my core hard at yoga and even at bootcamp or when I hold planks on my own- but I tend not to push myself at increasing my plank endurance. I go for a minute, rest, go for another minute- never really increasing my time. I’ve gotten comfortable- and I should know once your body starts to get used to an exercise, results/progress tend to dwindle or stop showing.

Inspired by Tina of Carrots N Cake and the blog Purely Twins who do a lot of plank work and plank exercise routine videos (check it out!), I’ve decided to up my planking game!

Last night I begun this challenge and held my plank for 1 min. 30 sec. 

My goal is to double my time and be able to hold a 3 min. plank by November 16th.

Here’s what I’ll be doing to round out this challenge as per guidelines of Carrots N Cake (because it’s fun to do a challenge when you know other people are doing it too!)

  • Monday: Time trial
  • Wednesday: Plank/core workout
  • Friday: Time trial – try to beat Monday’s plank time!

Every Monday and Friday I will do a time trial and see how I’m progressing with my planks. Every Wednesday Tina posts a less than ten minute plank workout so I will be doing that in addition to my usual Wednesday yoga class. Here is her workout from yesterday.

Doing this challenge will only take a 1/2 hour of your life a week… c’mon- you know you want to join me 😉

Let’s get stronger! xoxo