Nothing Like the Last Minute

About 10 days ago, one of the teachers at my school came to me and asked if she could pass off the planning for a mutual friend’s baby shower to me. She had some personal stuff going on and needed to take a leave of absence from work. Of course, I said yes. The next day, the reality of what I had committed to hit home. So, what does one do when a party, even a casual one, gets handed off with one week to go until said event? That’s right, call in the troops.

After sleeping on it, I called in the troops! Two other teachers from the grade level and two other teachers from our school’s support staff. Fortunately, this was just a casual after school event, so we were able to divvy up the work and responsibilities. One person took salty snacks, one person took drinks, and two people decided the bear the responsibility for the cake. I decided to take on decorations and paper products because I just love that stuff.

My friend has a space theme for her impending arrival’s nursery and really isn’t into “cutesy” stuff so I decided to avoid baby blue and see what I could do to include her space theme. I found a planets set on Cricut, designed my own rocket (thank you, cut, slice, and weld tools!), and created a banner with the baby’s name for the gift table. I went with dark blue and gray for the tables and paper products.

Finally, I set up a basket for wishes for the new baby. All in all, I think it looked great and everyone enjoyed it!

Advertisements

Wrap it Up

I was super excited to be selected for YouCopia’s campaign to review some new kitchen products. My kitchen cabinets and drawers are always a mess so it was exciting to get a chance to use something that could help me get organized.

IMG_8550

I chose the StoreMore WrapStand for all my rolls of wraps and boxes of baggies. When it arrived I immediately put it together and got it set up on my kitchen counter. Right now, that is where it is living because it is a little too tall in its conventional position for my upper kitchen cabinets.

I’m deciding now if I’m going to keep it on its side or use it in one of lower cabinets (which would require a little reorganization). But, for now, I’m really enjoying it. I even had enough slots to store by box of gallon bags on its side. It makes it super easy to grab one without having to wrestle with a box in the bottom drawer of my cabinets.

IMG_8553

Now, here is the best part. I didn’t just get to try one, I get to give away a YouCopia product so you can give it a try for yourself.

Enter below for your chance!

Win one Youcopia product of your choice #4

How do you tackle your disorganized kitchen? I would love to hear about what you do!

Training Update – 4 Weeks

Since today marks four weeks since I was officially cleared to resume running, it is time for another update.

I feel like things are going well so far. After 6 months off, I’ve lost a bit on my previously tortoise-like pace, but I know that will come back over time. In addition, my run/walk intervals have been going fairly well. Most of the time I don’t feel like I have to add in any extra walking, but some of the hills in my area definitely give me challenges at time. Finally, I’m starting to monitor my heart rate more closely. I was heart rate training before my pregnancy and I do want to resume that, but restoring base mileage to my legs is my big priority right now. Once I feel good about where I am with mileage, then I will look back at my heart rate data and go from there.

On Monday, I begin week 5 of this rebuilding journey. I’m planning to continue running by time and pushing my intervals in increments of one minute or less based on how I felt during the previous week. Here is my plan:

  • Monday – 35 minute run/walk
  • Wednesday – 45 minute run/walk
  • Friday – 30 minute continuous run
  • Saturday – 60 minute run/walk

I’m hoping to be able to keep up with this schedule now that my maternity leave is over. It means getting up and going out at 4:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays and just hoping the baby sleeps so that she isn’t crying to eat the majority of the time I’m gone. Fortunately, I’m on Fridays for the summer and can run a little later on Fridays and Saturdays.

I’m not really doing any strength work right now. I know I need to work it in, but again, I’m giving higher priority to getting back in the swing of things at work and spending time getting a few extra baby snuggles while I can. When my work schedule changes again in August, I will work on figuring that out.

So, overall I’m happy with how things are going! I know I have some areas for growth, but I’m prioritizing and moving forward with my goal of running a half in December!

Dorky Mom Moment

Just a quick pop-in to say today has felt like a success. I mean, it isn’t even 5 PM yet, so anything could happen, but today, I feel like we killed the eat, play, sleep cycle. We are still working on the whole self-soothing so I can put her down while she is sleepy and not sleeping, but I have a feeling we will get there eventually. 


Let’s hope this trend continues!

Training Update – 2 weeks

I was officially cleared to resume “normal activities” almost two weeks ago. First and foremost, I double-checked with my doctor to be sure that meant running, too! Since she said, “Absolutely!” I’ve literally been off and running.

That being said, I’m coming back very slowly. I actually had to quit running back in December after a bout with a nasty cold. After that, I couldn’t keep my heart rate down even doing my run/walk intervals, and I knew that wasn’t good for my pregnancy. So, I kept up with walking about 3-4 days each week throughout the rest of my pregnancy. After that long away from running, I decided I shouldn’t just jump back in and risk injury, so I set some entry points for myself.

runner silhouette

I decided to start with some very short running intervals and increase the time I spend running in those intervals a little bit each week. I’m “running” four days each week and running based on time, not distance. Everyday, I include walking to warm-up and cool down as part of the workout. I am gradually decreasing the amount of time I spend walking for warm-up and cool down as I increase the length of my intervals. Here is what my weeks look like:

  • Monday – 35 minute workout – 5 short intervals, 1 longer
  • Wednesday – 45 minute workout – 8 short intervals, 1 longer
  • Friday – 30 minute workout – continuous running between warm-up and cool down
  • Saturday or Sunday – 60 minute workout – 2 sets of 5 short intervals, 1 longer

During my first few days back, I stuck with a 1:1 run/walk ratio for my workouts. I knew I could increase a little bit after those first few days so I increased my running intervals to 1:30 for short, and 2:30 for longer.

This week, I’m doing 3:00 for my short intervals and 4:00 for my longer intervals. I will continue to increase this by 1:00 each week as long as I continue to feel healthy and strong. Coming back like this is an exercise in patience, but I know I’m doing what is right for my body.

I’m also starting to do some core work. I found a great YouTube video for those recovering from abdominal surgery. I do it on the days I run and give myself a full rest day in between those workouts for now. Eventually, I’ll be adding some more toning and more  difficult core work at least one day each week, but I don’t want to run into any issues with diastasis recti while I’m getting my strength back.

So, that is where I am right now. Like I said, it is an exercise in patience, but I know I’m doing what is right for my body as I work my way back. In two more weeks, I’m going to assess where I am and determine whether or not I am ready to register for a race or not. My hope is that I’ll be able to do a slow 5K in mid-to-late August and I kind of have my eyes on the Growler Gallop.

We’ll see!

Just Messing Around

This week, we decided to put one of our favorite year round dishes on the menu, Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Sauce. However, considering that it is summer, we decided to deviate from the tried and true recipe and cook both the chicken and brussels sprouts on the grill. I thought we shouldn’t stop there, so I decided to play around with the mustard sauce as well. I browsed around a bit and then I remembered a time when we made a mustard and shallot sauce to put over poached eggs that was divine. Since we are trying to eat a little healthier I decided not to go with that recipe, which contains a cup of heavy cream, but I was inspired. And that was all I needed!

I thought about the shallots a bit and knew that using them raw or even cooking them on the stove top wasn’t the way I wanted to go for this sauce. As such, I decided that roasting the shallots might be the best preparation this time. I also did some looking around at some different mustard sauce recipes and was most intrigued by recipes that mixed varieties of mustard. We always have both dijon and whole grain on hand, so I decided I would use equal parts of each. Finally, I thought about what would complement the mustard and shallot and settled on white wine, lemon juice, and butter as my final ingredients.

Here is what I ended up using, but note that my quantities are estimates because, after all, I was making this up as I went along.

  • 2 large (really large) shallots
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter
  • salt & pepper

I began by roasting the shallots in a 375° oven for about 30 minutes. Trim the ends of the shallots and stand them on end. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. After 15 minutes or so, I turned the shallots so they stood on the other end. I used my small cast iron skillet so I would have the goodness left in the pan to add more depth to my sauce.

I let the shallots cool until they could be handled, then I chopped them roughly.

Next, I heated the cast iron skillet on a burner at medium to medium-high heat. When it was good and hot again, I added the wine and deglazed the pan. Then, I added the shallots to the liquid and brought that all to a boil.

Once the shallot and wine had boiled for a couple of minutes, I added the mustards and stirred until they were well incorporated. Then, I let the mixture heat until it began to thicken just slightly.

Just before I was ready to serve the sauce, I turned the heat off and added the lemon juice and butter. Then, I added just a touch more salt and pepper to suit my taste.

image

All in all, I was really happy with the way the flavors worked in this experiment. It accompanied both the chicken and the brussels sprouts well. The only thing  I wasn’t particularly happy with was the final consistency. It definitely came out more like a topping than a sauce.

I’m definitely going to be trying this again with the ingredients in the same proportions. However, the next time, I think I will combine about half of the shallot with about half of the wine and use my immersion blender to puree it all and add the puree to the sauce with the rest of the wine after I have deglazed my pan. Then, I will more finely chop the rest of the shallot to add back into everything. That should definitely leave me with more of a liquid consistency.

What have you been trying out in your kitchen lately?

Weekly Preview – June 12

It seems like now is a good time to link up with one of my favorite blogs, which I’ve been following for several years, Mommy Run Fast, to talk about what I’m doing for fitness and diet since my cesarean in the form of my plans for the week ahead.

During my pregnancy, I tried to keep up with my running and I was successful for a while. Then, right around Christmas I ended up with a horrible cold. After that, I just couldn’t manage to keep my heart rate down, so I ended up switching over to walking. I resumed walking about 5 days after my surgery at about a 30 minute pace with a quarter mile. Now, I’m walking up to 3 miles between a 15 and 16 minute pace. I’m happy with that progress i less than 5 weeks time, but that still means I haven’t run for 6 months. UGH!

On Thursday of this week, I have my 6 week postpartum visit with my doctor and I’m hoping that means I’ll be cleared to start running again. I won’t technically be at 6 weeks until next Monday, so I’m not planning to start mixing running in until that day, but this week I will continue my brisk walks to prepare my body for running when I get the all clear. I am still taking a rest day very frequently because a cesarean is major surgery and I want to make sure I am treating my body kindly to allow it to properly heal. I’m also leaving out strength training because I am not cleared for core work yet and I get enough upper body work carrying around the baby and pushing the stroller.

Here is how my week will look:

Monday: 35 minute walk

Tuesday: REST

Wednesday: 45 minute walk

Thursday: REST

Friday: 30 minute walk

Saturday: 1 hour walk

Sunday: REST

I’ve also been taking a bit of a break from meal-planning while I’ve been recovering. I have an amazing husband who has been meal-planning, grocery shopping, and doing most of the cooking since the beginning of my third trimester. I’m working on starting to make that more of a collaborative process again now that I’m feeling more recovered and have another month at home before the end of my maternity leave.

We can also plan some slightly higher maintenance mid-week meals right now, because I can typically get a some prep done during the day. If something happens and I have less time, we just switch the planned meal to something a little easier. What has made our meal planning much easier is buying a small dry erase board for the refrigerator. I picked up this days of the week dry erase board by Quartet days of the week dry erase board by Quartet from Amazon for less than $10. It is heavy duty and is magnetized so the dry erase marker sticks directly to it rather than having to stick it on the refrigerator next to it. We tend to stay much more organized with our meals when we use it. We also add when we have special things going on so it helps us to keep track of when we don’t need to plan meals or we need to make some other type of special arrangement. I only wish that the week on the board ran from Sunday to Saturday instead of Monday to Sunday as that is how we plan our meals.

image

For this week we are planning to have a real mix of things:

Sunday: Summer Vegetable Risotto

Monday: Big Salad with Tuna Medallions ($6.99/lb at Harris Teeter this week)

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken & Brussels Sprouts with a Shallot Mustard Sauce

Wednesday: Pork Tacos

Thursday: Skillet Gnocchi with Spinach and White Beans

Friday: Cookout with friends

Saturday: Eat out or get takeout