It has been a minute since my last post. I have been busy taking classes toward a Web & Graphic Design Certificate. I am graduating this December and so excited to create.
One of my last final projects was an eight page cookbook. I chose cocktails and appetizers because they are my favorites! My professor gave me some really positive feedback and told me the cookbook was portfolio ready.
With gyms and yoga studios closed during this pandemic, one of the best things to do is going for a walk or hike. On the days I don’t run,I really look forward to hiking.
Before the pandemic, I used to walk with friends several times a month. However, with social distancing, that isn’t possible. I usually walk alone or with my teenagers. Walking has allowed me to gain precious conversation time with them. It is amazing what we can talk about without phones, earbuds or other devices. It has brought us closer.
Sometimes you run into a few friends like turtles, frogs and deer. Sometimes we run into a few snakes. They are usually non-venomous and are as scared of us as we are of them!
The trees provide a lot of shade in the North Carolina heat and humidity. It is at least 15 degrees cooler in the shade!
Wildflowers are abundant and everywhere.
Babbling brooks are so peaceful. Standing by moving water is like meditation.
Sometimes you run into things that make you wonder…”What is this red thing”?
Rainy day walks with umbrellas are fun too.
Going early in the day means fewer people and less crowding. I really look forward to my walks. I hope you can get outdoors safely and take a hike. Long walks are truly underrated. It’s good for mental health and good for fitness. Stay safe!
Sometimes, even us disciplined and regular runners fall off our diehard pedestals. I am that girl that will say, “…let’s just run up the hill and then go back…” However, for the better part of 2019, I was trying to overcome a few running injuries. Knee pain, hamstring pain and achilles pain kept me from my regular runs. The decreased activity contributed to my 5 lb weight gain. I had a Thyroid Lobectomy in my 20’s and still take a small dose of Synthroid 0.1 mg. So keeping my weight in check has been a life long pain in the behind.
But as I gets older, so does my metabolism. I was struggling with losing just a few pounds. In the past, it would have taken me only a few weeks to lose this weight. Also, my motivation was shot from the pain I felt from running and biking. My activity level was very low along with my mood and energy.
In February, I was gifted an Apple Watch. This watch helped me lose the weight. I never needed motivation to run or bike in the past but my various injuries really ruined my regular exercise routine. The watch has the “Move”, “Exercise” and “Stand” features that show Activity level. It was eye opening to see how little I was moving on the days I didn’t run or bike. I have my “Move” goal set to 510 calories. Working in front of a computer all day, driving to and from carpool and doing housework contributes very little to this goal!
Just seeing that my “Move” goal was not being met on those days motivated me to move! It was like my conscience reminding me that I had work to do. Walking on off days helped me reach my Move goal and lose the weight. I really like the watch’s cellular features. I won’t go into all the features that are cool about the watch. But being able to stream music through wireless headphones and leaving my iPhone at home on my trail runs is great when it is 90+ degrees outside. I feel guilty when my “Move” goal is not met. The Apple Watch is keeping me in check.
Happy Earth Day! NASA just declared 2018 the fourth hottest year on record. The top ten can be found here: Hottest Years on Record
The earth warming even by 2 degrees means more frequent extreme weather, drought conditions that jeopardize drinking water, more diseases, more pollution, more wildlife extinction, and the list goes on…
It is all worrisome, scary and overwhelming! You have to start somewhere right? I started thinking of ways to make my carbon footprint smaller and came up with the following list. Keep in mind, this is just the start of my green journey. I have a big list below and it will probably change and get larger. Now, I can’t achieve everything on this list all at once. But for right now, I am going to start off doing some easy ones.
My List So Far:
Take a shorter shower.
Don’t keep the refrigerator door or the oven open for too long.
Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
Use a reusable produce/shopping bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce/shopping bag and be sure to wash them often!
Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.
Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop.
Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam.
Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.
Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.
Turn off lights and electrical appliances when they are not in use is another one of the simple ways to conserve energy at home. This may seem obvious but most people tend to neglect this.
My List is in no way a comprehensive list! It is a work-in-progess for sure. I am sure that I have missed many areas. So, if you have some good ideas that you would like to share, please do so in the comment section!
I recently started drawing Custom Pet Portraits. I had forgotten how much people and families love their pets. Their pets are like family members. Dogs and cats provide companionship, comfort and a lot of fun. Growing up, our family had two dogs and my sisters and my husband had cats in college. Unfortunately, the two dogs and one of the cats met an untimely demise. Trigger, our golden retriever simply went missing one day. Hermie, our miniature schnauzer suffered an accidental death. Piggy the cat never woke up. Sooza and LiLi developed cancer and had to be put down. My husband’s cat Saby just left the house and never came back. I was traumatized by these events. I haven’t gotten over the pain of losing them. Even though I love animals, I haven’t been able to get another dog.
My kids are always asking for a dog and I keep telling them “maybe when you are older…” However, they do play with their friends’ pets all the time. It is sort of like having fun without the responsibility.
Doors are intriguing and mysterious. Doors lead to curiosity… What’s behind that beautiful door? Is the house or building as amazing as the door itself? Are the people who live here as wonderful as the door? Doors are like book covers. You can’t judge a book by its cover. And you can’t judge a building by its doors.
On a recent trip to India, I was amazed at all the doors I saw. They ranged from very ornate to very simple. The first door featured below is from a courtyard at the Amber Palace in Jaipur. The color and intricate design makes this my favorite door.
Here are some of the other fantastic doors:
While I was marveling at the art and craftsmanship of all the doors we saw…my kids’ favorite door was the one to the Dessert Refrigerator!
Back in the day, my family used to watch TV shows together. Especially the prime time shows…Three’s Company, Wonder Woman, The Jeffersons, Love Boat, Seinfeld, Friends. All five of us, parents and three girls would gather around the sofa and laugh and laugh. Even my super serious and super cranky Dad! Saturday mornings were sacred for us kids. We watched shows like the Justice League, Buck Rogers, Scooby Doo…on Saturday mornings eating our Cocoa Puffs.
Nowadays, my kids watch YouTube, DVR TV shows and binge watch Netflix. It is such a different world. They are in constant virtual contact with their friends via group texts, FaceTime and social media. Everything they watch is ready and available and they don’t need to wait. I used to program our VCR for my favorite shows and MTV video premieres. I get it. But there are so many shows out there, that it is impossible to keep up with all of them. Some of my friends are addicted to Bravo, some to HBO and others to Netflix.
Luckily for us, my kids both recently discovered Stranger Things and The Office. So now, all four of us have a show that we can watch together (we fast forward the inappropriate teenager parts for my 10 yr old with Stranger Things). There is common ground and content that can work for the whole family. It takes a little bit of research and a lot of patience.
My thirteen year old son and my ten year old daughter get along well. They have different likes and interests and don’t fight a lot. Their biggest squabbles are what movies to watch on family movie nights and who ate the last ice cream bar. While I think this is great, I can’t help but think of my own childhood that was sort of like “Hunger Games” in comparison.
Looking back at my childhood, I have many fond memories. Having two younger sisters was a lot of fun. If I got into a fight with one sister, there was another one to take her place. As the oldest sibling, I ruled the roost and made the laws. I am two years senior to my middle sister P and almost 6 years older than J, the youngest. For years, I was physically larger and taller than both of them. Growing up with two younger sisters and two crazy parents can really sharpen a girl’s sense of humor and survival skills. We fought about all kinds of things…not just movies or ice cream. I don’t know when we started to joke about each other mercilessly or play pranks on each other…but it hasn’t stopped.
As a teenager, my room was covered with 80’s celebrities…JFK Jr., Duran Duran, the Soloflex guy. I subscribed to Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and watched Elsa Klench on Style. I was just sooo cool. One day I came to my room to find that there were mustaches on several of my posters. That was call for extreme action. I marched to J’s room and beat up Mingy, her favorite pillow.
For some strange reason, we were obsessed with lip balm in the 80’s. Blistex in those round canisters was all the rage. Keeping interlopers from my Blistex was practically a full time job. I used my Blistex in a uniform and clockwise fashion, it was always clean and of course perfect. My sister J’s Blistex had an upside cone design. My sister P’s container always had fuzz, random bits of mystery flakes and looked like it was stabbed with a toothpick. If I didn’t hide my Blistex, I would find that one of them had dug a nail into the middle of the canister!
Secret video taping was also a constant danger in my house. My sister J would place a cam corder on top of the fridge just to tape us with morning face and bed heads. And forget about sleeping happily on tour buses while on vacation. She made sure to take multiple shots of me dozing with my mouth open and my head in an angle that gave me two chins.
My sisters also had a collection of fake bugs. I remember pulling back my comforter and finding a line of fake ants on my pillow. I also let out a blood curdling scream when I found a large plastic spider in my dresser drawer.
Before you feel too sorry for me, I was not so innocent growing up. I loved imitating my sisters, making up terrible nicknames and shaming them just for fun. Luckily, as adults, the pranks have died down. However, my sister J sent me a picture that my son had texted her. It was a picture of me asleep on the sofa with mouth wide open and my head at an angle that allowed my chin to double!
I have acquired the unwitting title of “Margarita Maker”. I did not seek this title, but everyone talks tequila with me as though I’m George Clooney and Randy Gerber. As a lifelong calorie-phobe, I have always been on the lookout for low-calorie drinks. Alcohol was never a requirement in my diet. Although in college, we drank a lot of beer at fraternities and boy this put me off beer for life. And, a group of us would go bar hopping as seniors and drink long island ice teas. Now one of those was all I needed because we ran and didn’t bother with dinner! We usually got pizza around midnight. Sigh, youth.
I moved onto vodka and pineapple juice in my early twenties. I was introduced to this drink by a coworker. After finding out that my new and cool drink was over 350 calories a serving, I lost interest…
Gimlets, either gin or vodka were my go to drink in my late twenties. My husband’s uncle, who drove a Porsche 911 made one for me and I loved them. It is what all the cool grown ups were drinking in the late 90’s. My early thirties were all about marathon training. I did not drink any alcohol then because those long training runs were brutal.
What bought me back to drinking was playdates with fellow moms. I remember a lot of wine playdates. I am not a wine person and therefore decided to drink something else. Somewhere in my kitchen was a large stainless steel cocktail mixer with a dozen drink recipes on. Just twirl to the drink of choice and the ingredients appeared on the side! Before this margarita immersion, the only margaritas I had were from that fancy restaurant chain “Chi Chi’s”! The super sweet, goopy, made with fake margarita mix concoctions that came in gigantic glasses.
I made the margarita recipe from my cocktail mixer. It was too sweet for me and had too many calories. I did experiment with some other versions, but I did not care for them. There are many, many margarita recipes out there. But I came across a simple recipe that is the best margarita I have ever had. It is refreshing, delicious and not too sweet. Just for the record, one of these is all I need.
The rule is…there are no rules! For decades, I had three rules that I ran by.
Once you start running, don’t stop until you finish your said miles.
If you can talk when you are running, you are not going fast enough.
No music, that’s cheating. I am a purist…thank you very much.
So, those rules worked in my twenties and thirties. Nowadays, I have a phone and GPS watch strapped to my left arm, water bottle or pepper spray in my right hand. And I will mention the metal plate and six screws in my right leg. (Fell down the stairs during my second pregnancy at 37 weeks, tri-malleolar fracture…that story is another post).
My younger self would have never believed it. But to be fair to myself, I am running longer and faster than I ever did. Aside from training for marathons back then, I usually ran twelve miles a week in my twenties and fifteen miles a week in my thirties. That is all it took to stay in shape back then. Aah, youth. I run over 25 miles a week now…Dear metabolism…thanks for nothing!
I have come to accept aging and all the rules I have to break to manage. I think breaking those rules and getting rid of my running vanity has made me faster and able to run longer. Apple music has made my hot and humid Raleigh runs so much more bearable. Stopping to drink water is just a necessity in our humid state. And talking while running is okay too because slow days are necessary to prevent overuse injuries.
A lot of my runner friends have asked me what I listen to when I run. I have no shame in liking these songs. Whatever works right?!
I have so many favorites, but here are some tunes with a fast beat that take me up those hills:
Fantasy, Aldo Nova
Original Sin, INXS
Evenflow, Pearl Jam
Magnificent Seven, Clash
Legs, ZZ Top
Dr. Feelgood, Motley Cru
Kickstart My Heart, Motely Cru
Iron Lion Zion, Bob Marley
How Do U Want It, 2Pac
Renegades of Funk, Rage Against The Machine
No Church in the Wild, Kanye and Jay Z
Bullet the Blue Sky, U2
Happy running to you all! I will have my Chickpea Fry recipe in my next post!