Friday, March 30, 2012

Grilled Kale & Fun Facts Friday Randomness

Grilling
Let me just say that I have discovered a new favorite grilled vegetable - kale. Yep, grilled kale is amazing. Just de-stem, rough chop, toss with small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper and grill in a veggie grilling basket.

You will get some pieces that are nice and crisp like kale chips, and others that are soft and so full of flavor. Such a fantastic combination of textures and flavors.

So this brings me to last night's dinner - Grilled Kale and Veggie Pasta Salad. Jason actually did the grilling last night, which was a nice treat. He grilled the kale, squash, zucchini, red onion, red and green bell peppers.

In the meantime, I cooked some whole-wheat rotini. After the veggies were done, he chopped them up and everything was tossed into a large bowl along with some cherry tomatoes.

Jason made a simple Dijon balsamic dressing and poured that over the veggies and pasta, mixed well and served. This was a fantastic spring dish. There are so many options for veggies here too - but kale is a must.
What's the oddest thing you've grilled?

Fun Facts Friday - Totally Random
I really debated on what to do today. I had all these ideas at one point and kept forgetting them. I didn't think I could really come up with random facts that I haven't already mentioned. But somehow they just started coming to me. Enjoy ;-)
  • I love ketchup on any and all potatoes and grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Firmly believe salsa should always be offered as a salad dressing option.
  • I am convinced that everything can indeed be grilled.
  • Hate it when people try to whistle a tune - especially on an elevator.
  • When a ceiling fan starts to make any noise at all, it should be replaced.
  • I always worry that I have food stuck in my teeth and have no problem flashing my teeth to pretty much anyone to have them check for me.
  • Dropping F-bombs is good for the soul.
  • I believe I have a real addiction to peanut butter.
  • I kind of wish wine didn't taste SO good.

So what's something absolutely random for you? Hate whistlers? Curse like a sailor? Do tell.

Daily To-Enjoy List:

  • Sunshine
  • Rest day
  • Friday

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What's Your Proof? Plus Fitness Things

My #PROOF
I haven't really mentioned my affiliation with FitFluential recently. And I really should because it's an amazing group of highly motivated individuals. Recently, they introduced a fantastic new idea based on "Proof," on showing what you did to kick some workout booty, to live healthier, or to motivate others. They ask the question:  What's your #PROOF?

My proof is usually a puddle of sweat, shaky muscles, or an ear-to-ear grin after a wonderful run. It's not the calories burned displaying on my Garmin, though sometimes it's the mileage (I won't lie, that's pride). My proof is usually logged in my blog daily, but I often just take that for granted since it's just what I do (if that makes sense). But today, I wanted to draw more attention to it. Feel my proof and see my proof.

Today was another nice day, though warm for sure. When Jason and I set out for our 3-mile neighborhood run at 11:30, it was already 80 degrees. Thankfully there was enough of a breeze to help combat the heat, but not so strong to make you curse.

We started off at a pretty steady clip. I didn't really look down at my Garmin for the first mile. But I kept thinking, "This is way harder than it should be." I know I said, "Shit" outloud several times. It's the only word I could actually get out. I definitely wasn't saying much else and started feeling like I wanted to just throw in the towel and walk on back home feeling defeated. I looked down at my Garmin and realized why it felt so flipping hard, we were rocking out an 8:15 min/mile pace. I didn't say anything. I kind of couldn't.

When Jason heard my watch buzz at mile 2 he asked if it was really mile 2. Um, hell yes, it feels like mile 4 thankyouverymuch. His watch was a little off from mine and he was surprised at the time is why he asked. I thought he knew our speed. Nope, he thought we were going slower. Thank goodness he wasn't trying to speed up!

I was really thankful for the mini-stops at intersections (which those 20-30 second stops really add up). Usually I'm cursing cars for moving along too slowly, causing me to have to just stand around. Today, I took advantage. I could catch my breath for a moment before starting off again. We somehow managed to maintain our pace in the 8:15-8:30 pace. Of course, with intersection breaks, it made each lap look more like 8:45, which I'll take as well.

So here's my #PROOF of hard work for the day (even if you can't really tell how sweaty and red-faced I really was).

What's your Proof? 

Thursday Things
This brings me to some Fitness Things I've been loving and wanted to share. Without these "things" I'm not sure I'd be running.

Tape - KT Tape
Source
I have been using KT Tape for taping my plantar fasciitis for a little over a month now (have it in bright sassy pink). This stuff is really amazing and can be used to tape just about any area where you are having pain from IT Band to Rotator Cuff.

Here's a great video for taping Plantar Fasciitis.

Shoes - Brook's Ghost 4
Source
While I'm not able to log too many miles in them right now, I seriously love these shoes. Note, I'm a neutral runner so these aren't for everyone of course.


Roller - TriggerPoint Therapy Kit
Source
We've had our kit for over a year now and it's seriously worth every penny. I use this pretty much every day now to roll from the waist down for my Piriformis, IT Band, calves, and feet. Next on my wish list is the Grid Roller.

What are some fitness "things" you can't live without or that have helped you overcome injuries. Or things that make a workout better, like your favorite lifting gloves or the perfect pair of shorts that don't induce chaffing.

Since this is already a long post, I'll save dinner for tomorrow. Hint: more grilling.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sunshine
  • Running 
  • Painting my nails
  • Grilling

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weights on Wok Wednesday

Weight Day
I won't lie and say I was just super excited about hitting the gym today. But I did it, and I felt better after. Sometimes you gotta just get moving and tell your brain to be quiet for a bit. It was sunny out, and the thought of being in a steamy gym was not exactly appealing.

Gyms on the 29th floor, with all windows are a good idea in theory. Heat rises and the windows seem to just draw in the radiant heat. At least when it's that warm outside, you have a breeze.

Anyway, I got my rear in gear and started with 20 minutes on the elliptical before moving on to back and shoulders. I went with 3 sets of 8 reps done as supersets unless noted. For some exercises I am trying to increase my weights so I have been doing as many reps as possible with the heavier weight then dropping down for the remainder of the reps. It seems to be helping me push past some plateaus.

SS#1
Assisted wide grip chinups
Cuban press

SS#2
Pullovers
Lateral raise

SS#3
Double-arm rows
Front raise

SS#4
Low back extensions - 10 reps
Incline rear flye

I did some ab work as well.

Grilling for Wok Wednesday ?
Tonight is one of those strange concoction dinners. I had originally thought of going with my recent Wok Wednesday theme. I had bok choy to use up, so that helped me make the decision. But, then we have this nice weather...grilling weather.

Jason suggest grilling the bok choy. I wasn't opposed, but didn't have any other ideas of what to put together to make it a meal. I had tossed around the crazy idea of a grilled "stir fry" just using everything that I would have used in a regular stir fry. But I thought that was probably a little out there.

But maybe not. Either that or Jason is just as nuts as I am. He started off suggesting a Chinese BBQ. Ok, whatever that means. Then he said something about a deconstructed stir fry. Ok. Totally on the same wave length apparently. Obviously we were meant for each other ;-)

I made a marinade/sauce by whisking together: soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, plum sauce, Sriracha sauce, and orange juice.

I dry-seared the tofu then let that marinate for a bit. I pulled it out of the sauce and tossed all my stir fry ingredients in the sauce (bok choy, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms). I put my veggies on a grilling tray/basket.

I started my grill and went back in to let it heat up. When I took out my veggies and opened the grill...no heat. Big fail - propane tank pooped out.

Oh well, maybe next time. So, in the end, it was a regular Wok Wednesday only with a huge mess created beforehand.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sunshine
  • Grilling (well, not quite, but I tried)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3-Mile Run & More Veggie Grilling

3-Mile Run
I won't brag too much about our weather as I know that some of you are actually experiencing real spring, as in it's gotten cold, or rainy, or cold and rainy again. But it was another beautiful day here. Though, I will admit that 80+ degrees in March does feel a bit wrong. I keep waiting for some freak snow storm now.

But, in the meantime, I'll take full advantage of the weather. I won't even complain that it was sweltering for a run at lunch today. I won't have any problem adjusting to running in summer heat at this rate. I'm pretty much already doing it.

We set out around 11:30 for a quick 3-miler. The first thing we were hit with was a wonderful headwind for the first 3/4 mile, which also happens to be a nice long, steady, sneaky incline. Let's just say I wasn't a Chatty Cathy today.

For the most part (other than standing at street corners waiting on cars that took forever to move along) we kept around an 8:30-8:40 pace. There was a time when this was pretty easy. Today, I worked hard for it. I my lungs were on fire, and I felt like I was doing more of a sub-8 not just a sub-9.

But, overall, I felt better than the first few times I tried running after being sidelined. So I know my endurance is coming back. I know that the heat, wind, and allergins also had a role to play in today's tougher run. I will accept that.

Not every run has to be great. Right now I'm thankful that I can run period. Today my heel felt better than it's felt in months. Knock on wood that it's actually on the upswing finally. My piriformis, however, is deciding to be the bigger issue. I guess the injuries have been competing. The heel pain was winning, but now my butt pain is taking over.

Because my piriformis muscle is so inflamed, it is causing my sciatic nerve to be pinched. So I have pain radiating in 2 directions in and around my glute, low back, and upper-most hamstring. Stretching and rolling do help, but they aren't loosening up the area quite like I need.

I have some hip strengthening exercises that the PT has asked me to do daily. She also showed me a couple of deep tissue massage techniques that I am having Jason do now. Hurts like hell, but tends to feel better after.

At this point, however, I am thinking of laying off some of the hamstring/glute exercises I have been doing to try to help the inflammation go away. Then I guess sort of starting from scratch building up strength in those areas.

From all that I've read and heard, most issues with piriformis come from a hamstring and/or glute defeciency. I know that I have always had weaker hams, so I purposely started piling on ham exercises. But I think in doing so, on an already angry muscle, I have just been doing more harm. And it looks like spin is totally out as it seems to aggravate both my piriformis and heel more than running.

Right now I feel like one big old injured mess. But I know that everything is somehow connected and eventually I'll get it all sorted out. I know lots of bloggers (runners and lifters) dealing with injuries right now. How are you getting through a current injury, or how have you dealt with them in the past?


More Grilling
Since it was another nice evening, I decided to grill out again. I had picked up some asparagus on sale the other day, so that needed to be used up pretty quickly.
 
I decided to grill up some sweet potatoes as well. And for the protein, I went with Quorn cutlets that I grilled in foil packets. I just added in a splash of white wine and some chopped green olives. I know that sounds bizarre, but I had wanted to use capers and was out. I figured the green olives were the closest substitute. I made a simple Lemon Dijon Mustard Sauce to go on top of the Quorn cutlets.

For the sauce, I simply minced red onion and garlic and sauteed until soft then added in some white wine, balsamic vinegar, whole grain mustard, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme and parsley. I let that simmer and thicken while the food was on the grill.
 

I did sprinkle a dash of a lemon pepper spice blend on the asparagus along with a splash of lemon juice just before serving.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Run with hubby
  • Sunshine
  • Grilling

Monday, March 26, 2012

Boring Cardio But Fun Veggie Grilling

Moving It
I had sort of hoped to get in a run at lunch with Jason today. But I definitely needed to rest both my heel and piriformis. So, I hit the gym instead. Since spin is out, the cardio was pretty boring - hello elliptical.

I did the elliptical for about 40 minutes then did 3 rounds of a tabata session using kettlebells and body weight. It probably didn't actually help my piriformis one bit, but I couldn't stand the elliptical for a minute longer. It was a super simple workout as I hadn't exactly written it down. I just chose 4 exercises for a circuit that was repeated twice  before a break so each circuit (with break) is 5 minutes.

You do each exercise for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second rest before moving to the next exercise. After all 8, you rest 1 minute.

Kettlebell swings
Kettlebell figure 8's
Alternating front lunge holding kettlebell in both hands chest level
Squat thrust with pushups

Kettlebell swings
Kettlebell figure 8's
Alternating front lunge holding kettlebell in both hands chest level
Squat thrust with pushups

Tabata and HIIT workouts always seem a little daunting until you get started. Then they seem to fly by quickly. Definitely more exciting that steady-state on the elliptical.

Stretching and Grilling
When I got home from work I actually did a short yoga for runners workout from OnDemand. It's more about stretching really, not a full yoga workout. But it definitely felt good to stretch out even more than I normally would.

After the yoga session, I then went on to my regular stretching and rolling routine, which took about 30 minutes. It was definitely needed, and worth the extra time. I wish I could squeeze in 2 long stretching sessions a day. Or maybe figure out how to embrace yoga.

I do, however, try to stretch periodically throughout the day. I can easily stretch calves, quads, even hamstrings at my desk. But apparently I need a lot more. Not just quick stretching here and there, but really long, slow, stretching sessions.

Anyway, today was just too nice again to not grill out. Plus, I don't really need to many excuses to grill out. I love cooking outdoors and just enjoying the fresh air and beautiful weather. I kept it fairly simple tonight and just went with a grilled veggie salad. It is National Spinach Day after all, so I had to get in my spinach right?
I grilled up bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, yellow squash, and zucchini as well as tempeh that I marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette. I tossed on some cherry tomatoes mostly because I had them on hand. I also grilled up some homemade Wheat French bread (which I am now out of) to serve on the side.


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sunshine
  • Warm weather
  • Grilling out

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Super Sunny Weekend - Running, Lifting, Relaxing

Super Saturday
Yesterday turned out to be a great day. It was mostly about relaxing and enjoying the great weather really. I did get up and do a few house chores, but mostly...relaxing.

We did get in a good run as well. We drove over to the Two Rivers Bridge to start the run. Jason wanted to run through the "woods" or the prettier part of the trail. I was a-ok with that. If you start from the Big Dam Bridge (usual starting point), it's 2 miles just to the Two Rivers Bridge. Normally, not a big deal. Injured...big deal.

So, we got going with our run. I was just happy as a lark then Jason suddenly stopped. I thought he might have hurt himself or something bad. But he had lost the key to the car. We turned around and headed back the direction we came. Mind you, this was about 5 minutes into the run. Apparently he dropped the key at the very start of the bridge. So, the first .77 miles of the run was a bit chaotic. But, we found the key.

After all of that, we got back to the real run. Just chugging along, except I had to pee really really bad. There are no potties at the Two Rivers Bridge. I am a creature of extreme habit and always pee before I start a run. Period. Thankfully, I knew that 2 miles down the line there were some really nice bathrooms waiting for me. So let's just say this was a lot of stopping and starting type of run. No worries and no stressing out though. Seriously, I was just happy to be out there.

I hit an amazing stride around mile 3-4. I seriously had no heel pain for that mile. It felt absolutely amazing. I picked up my speed and sort of left Jason for a bit. He was struggling some because of allergies. I wasn't intending on leaving him for the rest of the run. But for that moment, I had to go. Just go.

For the first time since January, it felt like everything was clicking perfectly. No feeling of a loss of endurance, almost no pain, legs just took over and carried me along. Can we say just a teeny tiny bit of runner's high happening? Oh how I have missed missed missed that feeling. I probably could have cried I was so happy in that very moment.

In total, I did 5.6 miles. It was mostly pain free during the run, and finally my endurance for running felt back on track. However, after the run, I did pay a little bit. My heel is definitely more tender today. Lots of icing, stretching, rolling. And maybe only a runner can get it - but it's worth the pain. Smart? Probably not. But for sanity's sake, it was needed.

Do you ever do things you know you shouldn't do but feel that you must?

After the run, we got cleaned up and decided it was too nice to be inside. We had a late lunch at one of our favorite haunts - Dugan's, mostly because they have nice outdoor seating. When we got home...we continued the outdoor theme and relaxed on the patio for several hours. It was definitely an ideal day.


Sunny Sunday
This morning I would have just about given up anything asked of me to be able to run again. But, my heel was definitely tender, and I knew it wasn't smart. So we hit the gym instead. It can kind of be depressing having to take your workout indoors when you just want to be outside. At least my gym does have amazing views.

I went with biceps and triceps today. I started with 20 minutes on the elliptical then went with supersets of 3x8. I did increase the weights for alternating curls - new PR for weight. I did as many reps as I could at the higher weight then decreased for the remaining. I can now officially say I can curl 25's (dumbbells).

SS#1
Alternating curls - 4 at higher weight, 4 at next lower weight for 3 sets
Triceps pull downs

SS#2
Incline curls
Double-arm overhead triceps extensions

SS#3
Hammer curls
Weighted triceps dips

Definitely happy with the workout, especially finally being able to break the 20# dumbbells mark for curls. I know it's still not "that" much for some lifters, but man it made this girl happy ;-)

After the gym we did have to hit the grocery store. Then it was onto some much-needed yard work. I got a significant amount of weeding accomplished and cleared out the garden. Jason took care of the mowing. The dogs supervised.

I absolutely love this time of year when the first splashes of colors are in full bloom. The roses are really starting to take off now, which always makes me smile. Roses are my absolute favorite flower. We have 8 rose bushes if that tells you anything. And each one has it's own special color, fragrance, and even sentiment.
 
 
 

Tonight we'll definitely be grilling out. But, for now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of this gorgeous Sunday relaxing. I may or may not have a glass (or two) of wine as well.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sunshine
  • Warm weather
  • Working in the yard
  • Good workout
  • Relaxing

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fun Facts Friday - Friendship

Today I hit the gym for upper body. Nothing terribly exciting. So rather than list out my workout for the day, I thought I'd jump right on into Fun Facts Friday.

I know I've talked about it before, but friendships are so incredibly important. And it's not how many friends you have that matter either, it's the quality of the friendship. And as hard as it may be to realize, not all friendships are meant to last, but some withstand the tests of time.
You meet friends in so many different ways as well. Sometimes, if you're lucky, it's your sister or brother. Some you meet the first day of pre-school or kindergarten. Maybe you meet in college. Sometimes it's a totally random meeting. And you can even find the best of friends through blogging. They don't all have to be IRL (in real life) to be special.


I am blessed to have my sister as my best friend. Not everyone is close to their siblings, I realize. I really cannot imagine having grown up without her.

And this guy, I am lucky that I met him by random chance. He's not only my husband, but my best friend and my soulmate. Pretty certain no one else would ever put up with me ;-)

I feel truly honored to have known this beautiful lady for about 33 years now. She's one of those beautiful souls that make the world a better place for just being around. And, she gives the best hugs ever.

Family members can make pretty darn good friends too. My cousin and I are only 7 months apart in age, so we basically grew up together. He's more of a brother to me than a cousin. Now if only he lived closer!

And it's truly wonderful when you meet an amazing couple that you and your husband both like. We met these fantastic friends by chance...well, sort of, lots of mutual friends. But we ended up being great friends. We pretty much hang out at least once with each other every weekend.

And then there are those blogger friends that become IRL friends. Again, so very honored to know this beautiful lady and receive her friendship and support. Now I just need a new picture with her sis too!

And then there are those friends we lose. Sometimes the friendships simply end, sometimes they are taken from this life too soon. But they are always with you either in your heart or in wonderful memories.

What are your thoughts on friends? To me, they are like family. Do you have friends you've known your whole life? How did you meet your best friend?

Daily To-Enjoy List:

  • Sunshine
  • Time with friends
  • Time with hubby
  • Relaxing

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thankful Things Thursday

Today the rain finally cleared out. The sun was shining and everything had a nice, fresh look - in other words, not a heavy layer of green pollen. I would have loved to have gotten out for a run, or even gotten in a workout at the gym.

But, I had appointments after work (finally a hair cut and more PT) that meant I had to leave a little early. So, today had to be a rest day for me. I mean, I could have gotten up early....right......

Since I don't have too much to talk about (no workouts) and won't be home early to make a fantastic new recipe (Jason will likely get veggie burgers started), I thought I'd do something a little different - Thankful Things Thursday.

Here are just a few things that I've been thankful for recently, or that have made me smile.

Wine outside with my sis on a perfect, sunny, Saturday

Email from a friend - the subject was "This reminds me of you."

Finishing my last half marathon with Jason - this picture makes me smile.


The perfect quote
Time with friends

What's on your Thankful Things List?

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sunshine
  • Getting hair cut
  • Having Jason start dinner

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Leg Workout on Wok Wednesday

Leg Day
Today has been nothing but rain, rain, more rain and gray skies. Definitely one of those days when you'd prefer to stay inside and veg out on the couch.

Thankfully my workout motivation wasn't as drab as the day. Oddly enough, I was looking forward to getting my leg workout done. I started with 20 minutes on the elliptical then went with supersets of 3x8 unless noted.

Barbell squats - warmup set of 10 reps

SS#1
Barbell squats
Plie squats

SS#2
Steps ups
Stiff-legged deadlifts

SS#3
Bulgarian split squat (though I think of these as a split lunge...)
Hamstring rollins on stability ball - 12 reps

SS#4
Narrow stance squats with dumbbells
Calf raises with toes turned out - 20 reps

I also did some ab work.

Overall, a pretty good workout. I did lower the weights for squats by 5 lb because I felt like last week my form was a little off. It might be that I'm subconsciously trying to avoid putting weight on my right heel, so something I really need to pay attention to. Sometimes it's not about going heavier all the time. Quality over quantity.


Wok Wednesday
We are starting to run low on a few things, but we definitely had enough for a stir fry. I made up a quick marinade for tofu that I also used as the sauce for the stir fry. I just whisked together some soy sauce, orange juice, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, Sriracha chili sauce, fresh ginger, and tahini.

I dry seared the tofu then let it marinate for about 20 minutes before baking to make it extra firm. For the veggies, I used carrots, red bell pepper, asparagus (I had a few stalks to use up), napa cabbage, broccoli, and frozen peas.

I did have rice this time, so that's what I served it over. Might not be the most creative dinner, but perfect mid-week dinner if you ask me. Do you have a favorite go-to meal for mid-week?

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Leg day
  • Easy dinner
  • Rain washing pollen away

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spinning & Black Bean Tacos

Spinning
Today I went ahead and opted for spin. I did try re-adjusting my bike to try for a better fit. My PT thinks (and I agree) that spin is aggravating my piriformis issues because I can't get the bike adjusted for my height (or lack thereof).

I usually go with the seat all the way down because just one notch puts me too high, but I know all the way down is too low. I need someone to drill a middle notch just for me ;-) So, since I can't make the seat height perfect, I did adjust the seat's distance from the bars.

I do think this made a little bit of a difference. I did feel my piriformis start to hurt towards the very end of class, but I think that might be because it's already unhappy with me to begin with. For those that spin, do you fight with trying to get the bike adjusted just right?

Of course, this is just one more reason in Jason's current list of reasons that I need a road bike. So I can ride outside and we can then rationalize the purchase of a trainer that we could both use at the house. I, however, am terrified of taking out an entire family or plowing over another cyclist. At least everyone is safe from me during spin class ;-)

So, do you enjoy cycling outside? Or do you have fears of hurting yourself or others like me?

Taco Tuesday
I had physical therapy after work, this meant dinner was going to be later. I wanted/needed something pretty easy to throw together. Seeing as how it's Taco Tuesday, that pretty much helped make the decision.

I had wanted to use lentils, but didn't have time to fuss with cooking them, so I used black beans instead. I Just tossed them with finely diced red onions, bell peppers, garlic and seasonings like cumin, red pepper, chili powder, salt, black pepper, cilantro.

To go on top, I asked Jason to throw together a quick pico de gallo - only we were out of jalapeños so it wasn't spicy. Just fresh tomatoes, cilantro, red and green onions, salt, pepper, lime juice and a splash of red wine vinegar.
We topped the tacos with jalapenos and Daiya Vegan Cheese. My only complaint is that the tortillas fell apart. Don't know why, but that makes me irrationally upset when my food falls apart. But, at least it tasted good!


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Rain to wash away pollen
  • Easy dinner
  • Spin class

Monday, March 19, 2012

Running & Balsamic Tofu Salad

Running
Today was probably the last sunny day until Friday, so Jason and I took advantage of it and got in a 3-mile run at lunch. It was already close to 80 degrees and a bit windier than I would have liked, but when it's hot, sometimes the wind can be a very welcome thing.

I'm slowly starting to feel my running endurance returning, but I still feel so slow and heavy. No, I'm not healed up all the way, which Jason keeps reminding me, so that probably is playing a huge role (duh) in how I'm feeling. I also feel like I am so focused on all the nuances of my body, that it's hard to just settle in and enjoy the run.

I'm constantly thinking about how my foot is landing, if it's starting to bother my heel, if my piriformis is starting to get tight, or oops was that an IT band twinge???? I feel like a total running disaster to an extent. One thing here offsets something else there, which then starts to offset something somewhere else. Talk about feeling off kilter to say the least.

But, I am so happy to be able to be outside running period. I just feel lighter thinking about it even. I've desperately been needing these runs, no matter how short they might be. And I know that there will come a time when running will feel like flying again...

Making Up Recipes 
Tonight I really wasn't sure what to make. We grilled veggies and had those with hummus in a wrap last night. If we grilled again, it pretty much would have been the same veggies used.

When I asked Jason what he thought, he suggested a "Chicken" Salad but using a balsamic vinegar style rather than a creamy, mayo-style. He's made this in the past with seitan. However, I am out of seitan, and I've never made it. So, here's my version of a Balsamic Tofu Salad.

Balsamic Tofu Salad
Ingredients:
1 1/2 packages extra firm tofu
1/4 cup or less red onion, finely diced
1 small honeycrisp or Granny Smith apple, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup raisins
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Drizzle honey or agave nectar
2-3 tbsp Dijon mustard (basically to taste)
To taste: salt, pepper, parsley


Directions:
Either press the tofu for several hours or dry sear. To dry-sear the tofu, cut the tofu in half, lengthwise then cut into half again making 4 slabs. Heat up a non-stick skillet and place the tofu into the pan. Using a spatula, press the tofu firmly so that the water begins to be pulled out. Brown one side then flip and repeat.

After the tofu has been seared, cut into cubes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the onion, mustard, raisins, spices, honey, balsamic vinegar and red-wine vinegar. (I did not use exact measurements, I just poured a little of this and a little of that until I got the right flavors that I prefer.)

Stir in the tofu, carrots, and apples and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
 

While this really didn't taste much like Jason's version, it wasn't too shabby. The apples added a nice sweetness and texture. It'd also be really good in a wrap or as a sandwich.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sunshine
  • Run with Jason

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Super Weekend: St. Patty's Day, Sister Time, Sunshine

Saturday Re-Cap
This weekend has been really good. Jason and I started Saturday off with a 4-mile run. It was mostly good. Definitely felt more like my old running self. It started sprinkling too, which was sort of fun - and it felt good considering it was already in the 70's and rather humid.

My sister got here around 11:15, so lots of sister time this weekend. We started off the day going shopping. We hit up DSW (big fail, no deals) and Charming Charlie. I found a couple of bracelets and Sarah found several tops and accessories.

We were getting pretty hungry, so we thought we'd try to hit up Dugan's. However, being St. Patty's Day (Dugan's is an Irish pub)and a parade going on, eating there wasn't going to happen. It was standing room only, and even that was iffy. We ended up at another place nearby called Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro. They had outdoor seating which was a big score, but terribly slow service. Of course, we were hungry so even minimally slow felt drastic.

Once we got food down (and some wine), we were back in action and ready to meet up with some friends. Everything downtown was just jam packed. We ended up having to wait 15 minutes just to get a seat at a place called Sticky Fingerz.
I guess every place was just so packed and maybe slightly understaffed for the events happening because service was rather poor. We got one round of drinks and pretty much never saw the server again. Kind of took that as a sign to head home.

Our friends went and picked up their dog and brought the party to the house. It was such nice weather that we all sat outside and just relaxed until the sun went down.

Sunday
Today I was up a lot earlier than I had hoped, 7 am. But that meant hitting the gym earlier rather than later at least. Sarah was happy to get to hit the gym with me as we have some equipment that her gym doesn't have (like the assisted pullup machine).

After the gym, we cleaned up and went for a second round of workouts - shopping cardio. She had some things to exchange and then we did some real shopping. I kind of struck out, but she was the lucky one and walked away with several new outfits for pretty good prices. At least one of us was a winner ;-)

We decided to have lunch at a place called Pizza Cafe. They not only have a great outdoor patio area, but they have gluten free pizza crusts. So Sarah definitely wanted to try that out. It might not have been the best crust in the world (not that it was bad mind you), but she's just so grateful that more and more restaurants are offering GF options - especially pizza joints.

And now it's Sunday afternoon, the weekend is rapidly winding down. I'm thinking we might end up having a grilled veggie salad for dinner. It just feels like grilling weather. Plus, grilling seems to be rather relaxing, so it's perfect for a Sunday evening.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sister time
  • Shopping
  • Nice weather
  • Outdoor dining

Friday, March 16, 2012

Giveaway Winner & Fun Facts Friday - More Fashion

Food Should Tast Good - Winner
This morning started off a little hectic. It started storming probably around 5:45. Luckily it was short-lived, but Heath was still a little out of sorts when I went down to feed him. After he ate, he went outside and proceeded to hide under lawn furniture and wouldn't budge. It's always fun to have to uncover wet lawn furniture in the dark at 6:45 am to try to pull your scared pup out and get him inside.

But, it's Friday!  And....
As promised, the winner of my Food Should Tast Good Giveaway is:
Jen from Running with the Girls

Rest Day = Lunch Date
Today was a rest day for me - much needed physically and mentally. I used to be one of those people who dreaded rest days. Not so much anymore. I look forward to the recovery. Since I wasn't working out today, Jason talked me into going out to lunch, something we never do during the week.

There is a local restaurant just down the street from us called The Root Cafe. Jason has been a few times, but I've not been. They have several vegetarian and vegan options like Spicy Bahn Mi (tofu) and Shiitake Mushroom Burger.

My only complaint is that I wish the tofu wasn't fried and that the Shiitake Burger was actually a veggie patty. It was really just a grilled mushroom - tasty, but not quite what I was expecting. The Bahn Mi was definitely spicy, which we both love of course. They also have a few salad options.

What I do love, and really appreciate is that they try to make sure everything is as local as possible. So you know it's fresh and you can taste the difference. That definitely makes me want to go back. I do think it's important not only to support truly local business (not a chain run by a local) and especially those that are supporting the local farmers, artisans, bakers, etc.

Next time I'll take pictures. The place is teeny tiny, but it does have ample outdoor seating. Everything is very homey, as in thrift store, recycled, eclectic. Real napkins (think thrift store finds, nothing matching), glass canning jars for drinks, not a single matching plate to be found, and kitchen tables...real tables not restaurant style tables. So it's definitely quirky, but that makes it really relaxing too.

Fun Facts Friday - Friday Fashion
This seems like an unusually long post for a Friday. Honestly, I was fresh out of any random, fun, odd, quirky facts to list. I tried getting inspiration from other bloggers, from fun quotes, anything. But I am tapped out on the fun facts today. Except for the fact that I kept getting compliments on my shoes.

Not only were women complimenting, but men as well. And this happens pretty much anytime I wear these particular shoes. When I bought them, I had no idea the reaction they'd receive. They were simple I thought. Just a pair of black cage-style booties. No big deal right?

So, I guess I can share my Friday outfit for Fun Facts Friday. My recent posts have included lots of The Limited pieces. But today I actually only had on one piece from The Limited (a necklace). The tank is so incredibly comfy that I wish I would have bought more. Same for the cardigan. Both were from last year though. While I do like the outfit, I kind of think it's more about the shoes than the clothes.
Please excuse the squinty eyes, forgot sunglasses & sun came out
Striped tank and jersey cardigan - Express
Jeans - Always Skinny, The Gap
Shoes - Madden Girl, DSW

So do you have any outfits where it's really about the shoes or maybe accessories?

Daily To-Enjoy List:

  • Warm temps
  • Sunshine
  • Lunch date
  • Friday!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weights, Tabata & Veggie Burgers

Weights & Tabata 
If I had time to workout tomorrow, I think I would have ended up taking today as a rest day. But, I am glad that I got my workout done and look forward to the break tomorrow - and on Friday too ;-)

I started with about 20 minutes on the elliptical before hitting the weights for back and shoulders. I went with supersets of 3x8 unless noted.

SS#1
Assisted chinups - dropped the weight today
Overhead shoulder press

SS#2
Underhand barbell rows - increased weight
Lateral raise

SS#3
Pullovers - 10 reps
Front raise

I finished off the workout with 3 rounds of a low-impact kettlebell workout done tabata style. I ended up doing 3 rounds for a total of 15 minutes.

Pin It



PT & Burgers
After work I had another round of PT. She did have a new exercise for me to try in order to strengthen the deeper muscles of my feet. She had read a new article discussing the idea that the previous strength exercises for plantar fasciitis might not truly be getting to the root of the problem.

She also gave me some new exercises for my piriformis syndrome. I apparently have some muscle deficiencies in my hips that are likely the cause of many of my issues.

After PT I hit the grocery store and spent 10 minutes driving around the dang parking lot trying to find an open space. This was after 6 and still packed. Highly annoyed to say the least.

So, dinner is extremely late...for us. Just going with something simple: homemade lentil burgers that I had in the freezer and baked sweet potato fries (of course).


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • More sunshine
  • Warm temps
  • Painting my nails

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Short Run & More Grilling

Short Sunny Run
It sounds like almost everyone is have just insanely awesome weather right now. It was another 80-degree day here again. Sunny, warm, but really windy. I guess that's spring for you. I am loving all the new blooms of color right now. Just so refreshing - other than the pollen that is. We are already having pollen alert days if you can believe that. But I'll certainly take a greenish/yellow car if that means warmer days and vibrant colors.

I have decided to follow a 10K training plan from Smart Coach. I chose a moderate plan with low miles. It's not necessarily so I can race. It's merely a tool I am going to use to ease back into running. So no 6.5 mile runs right now. Nope, easy 2 milers or short tempo runs is all this plan has for me slowly building towards 5 miles tops. And I think that's what I need to scale back and start fresh.

Who knows, maybe it'll help me rebuild my speed and endurance much better than before. If nothing else, at least I am outside.

Today Jason and I did a pretty easy 2.19 mile run around the neighborhood. While my head wanted to keep going, my body was glad that we stopped earlier. I have decided that coming back from any injury or even illness means that everything feels doubled - so 2 miles feels like 4, 6.5 was 13, and 13.1, well, my poor body thought I was trying to force a marathon.

So while the run wasn't pain free, it was mentally much better than Saturday's run. It was the kind of run I really needed. I worked hard, no doubt about it, but it felt good. And the sunshine and good company sure didn't hurt matters.

More Grilling
The weather was just too nice not to take advantage of the grill again tonight. Jason stopped by a local market and picked up some asparagus, squash, and mushrooms. I had plenty of bell peppers on hand.

I had intended on making some quinoa as a base for the veggies, but apparently am out. So I went with barley instead. I was debating on mixing everything together and adding in a vinaigrette, but decided to cook the barley in a bit of a leftover balsamic vinaigrette that I had used to marinate tofu in for yesterday's dinner.

When the majority of the water had cooked out of the barley, I added in salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, and the vinaigrette and let it cook until the rest of the liquid was absorbed. It definitely made the barley much more flavorful.

In the end, I tossed everything together in a single bowl and also included chickpeas. I add more seasonings to the veggies (same as for barley as we didn't season before grilling).

So, long rambling, non-recipe to say we made a grilled veggie and barley dinner. And...it was really pretty tasty I must say.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Sunshine
  • Warm temps 
  • Run with hubby
  • Grilling out

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First Vegan Grilled Dinner of Season

Elliptical & Kettlebells
Today was another oddly warm day - 80 degrees in March. Rather than hit the gym at lunch, I had to make a quick trip to Target. It was nice being outside even if it was just a quick errand spent mostly in the car. The sunshine definitely helped my mood.

I won't harp on it; I feel like it's becoming redundant. But I really had no motivation for the gym. It just felt too nice outside to be stuck indoors. Thank goodness my gym does have a nice view. That helps some. But my PT wants me to lay off spin for now, so that really only leaves me with the elliptical, weights, and the kettlebell tabata that I've been doing (low-impact).

In other words, it's kind of hard to get excited about doing something not terribly exciting. I can definitely understand why people stop working out if they aren't doing something they really enjoy. On a positive note, I did pick up some new magazines while at Target. I've gone through A LOT of magazines since being stuck on the elliptical.

I ended up hanging onto the elliptical for 45 minutes then did 4 rounds of tabata using kettlebells and body weight exercises. 

So, workout done. Nothing to write home about. No inspiring new workout to share. I wish I could come up with some more low-impact moves for cardio, but there really aren't that many. I keep searching for more kettlebell moves - let's just say I should have amazing shoulders and hiney when this is all said and done ;-)

What do you do to keep your workouts from becoming yawn inducing? Especially if it has to be low-impact? Otherwise I'd be all over some kickboxing and plyo, but right now that's too much for my foot.

(Please note that I'm not trying to illicit any sympathy at all. I'm looking for ideas or just venting a bit, but fully understand that this is just temporary.)

First Grilled Dinner
While the weather is definitely more like late spring, I went with a dinner that was far more suited to winter. But, I did try to make it feel more spring-like by grilling the veggies. Grilling always screams spring and summer.

I had beets and sweet potatoes on hand, so I grilled those in foil packets with just a small drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper (each in their own packets as cooking times were different).

Meanwhile, I sauteed some kale in white wine along with onions, garlic, pepper, splash of OJ and agave nectar. Last night I had started marinating tofu in a balsamic vinaigrette. So I did add that to the grill using a grill pan then when everything was done, I just tossed it all together.
 

Super simple but packed with nutrients and protein. Plus, it didn't heat up the whole kitchen since I used the grill. I can't wait to get out there and do some more grilling now. I love being able to cook and enjoy the fresh air. Now I just need a new outdoor kitchen pretty please.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sunshine
  • Warm temps
  • Grilling

Monday, March 12, 2012

Black Bean & Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Leg Day
While the time change sure made it hard to get up this morning, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. This means you can really appreciate the time change in the evening. Yesterday it was dark and rainy so you really didn't get the full effect.

While I would have loved to have gotten out for a run, I knew I needed to stick to the gym. I ended up working through lunch and just going to the gym at 3 today. I thought the gym would be totally deserted, but oddly enough, it wasn't. I thought I was going to have to throw down with some guys to keep my space and a bar ;-)

I went with legs. I figured I'd been putting off my leg workout long enough. I really wasn't super excited about it, but once I got going, it was all good. I did increase weights for 3 exercises as well. After a 20-minute warmup on the elliptical, I went with supersets of 3x8 unless noted.

Barbell squats - warmup set of 10 reps

SS#1
Barbell squats - increased weights
Barbell plie squats - increased weights

SS#2
Stiff-legged deadlifts
Bulgarian split squat

SS#3
Alternating front lunge - increased weights
Calf raises - 15 reps (I used dumbbells for these)

SS#4
Side lunges with single weight
Hamstring rollins on ball - 12 reps

I was happy with how I felt with the workout. And even happier to walk outside to sunshine and warm temps, as in 78 degrees. Ahhhh, perfect temperature if you ask me.

Mexican Monday
Since Jason discovered his lactose intolerance, we stopped cooking with much cheese. But every once in a while, he really wants something we used to make - like goat cheese quesadillas for example.

Being that it's Mexican Monday, I figured I'd make the man happy. I mean, he did put up with me for a 6.5 mile run on Saturday after all.

Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
Ingredients:
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
Dash of salt
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups black beans
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
7-8 sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and minced
Baby spinach - as much or little as you prefer
To taste: salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes
3-4 oz goat cheese
Shredded Daiya or other cheese of your choice
Whole-wheat tortillas (or gluten-free)

Directions:
In a large non-stick skillet, saute the onion in small amount of olive oil and dash of salt on low heat for approximately 15 minutes to start to caramelize.

Add in garlic, beans, bell peppers, sundried tomatoes, and spices. Lightly mash the black beans (this helps ensure they don't roll out of your quesadilla later on).

Allow to cook approximately 8-10 minutes then add in the spinach and cook until that begins to wilt. Re-season if needed. If mixture begins to become too dry, you can add in a splash of white wine or vegetable broth.

Remove mixture from heat and transfer to a bowl.

Wipe out your skillet and return to heat. Very light brown one side of the tortilla, flip then sprinkle with small amount of shredded cheese, crumbled goat cheese then spread the bean and spinach mixture on half the tortilla and fold the other half over. Cook until the bottom is browned them flip and brown the other side. Repeat until mixture is gone.
 

Top with your choice of toppings such as Greek yogurt, sour cream, cashew cream, even jalapenos. The filling is very subtle in terms of flavors. The punch really comes from the sundried tomatoes and the goat cheese. If you wanted to make this vegan, I think it'd be important to add in lemon juice and maybe kalamata olives for the additional "tang."

I had to giggle to myself while I was making this. I have never truly succeeded at caramelizing onions. I've tried, they get super soft, but that's it. One year my sister had family over for some event and had decided to caramelize onions. She had the heat on super low, they were cooking super slow. But never really cooking. I kept stirring them for her only to discover about 30 minutes later that the flame had gone out. So of course when I started mine today, I kept checking the flame. 

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for Food Should Taste Good if you haven't already. Winner will be announced Friday, March 16. 

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sunshine
  • Warm temps
  • Leg workout

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Running Mind Body Disconnect

Re-Thinking My Running
Yesterday ended up being one of those days that turned out to be a good one, but totally not planned. It was a sunny, warmish day. I really couldn't stand the thought of the gym to be honest. So this leads to the first unplanned activity - a run with Jason.

We started off slow and steady. He had a route that he wanted to go. And his routes are very very different than mine. I wanted a simple out and back. I actually would have chosen to drive to the river trails. He, on the other hand, meanders, starting from the house.

So, while I'm just trying to get my running legs back in action, he's meandering around for the run. Sudden left turns, now a quick right turn. It might be planned out in his mind, but he wasn't sharing his plan with me. Let's just say I was a little annoyed at that, but was trying to be a good sport and just enjoy being outside running.

It was definitely windier than we had expected. Hello running in place feeling. But, the sunshine felt so wonderful on my arms, my face. I could forgive the wind this once. I think this feeling of being outside, the sun, the fresh air, the blooming flowers is what I've so desperately been missing from not being able to run.

The run itself wasn't a good one for me. I'll be honest, no sugar coating. I was very frustrated with my body and honestly wanted to just cry at times. My legs felt heavy; I felt like I was running a sub-7 min mile and that was clearly not the case at all. In other words, my perceived exertion was absolutely nowhere near my true exertion level. I am going to really have to step back and start slow. Yesterday we did 6.5 miles when I should have done 2 miles.

My head still thinks of 6 miles as a base mileage, an "easy" run. But my body disagrees. So it's frustrating to have the mind and body at a total disconnect. I am going to have to get my brain to start listening to my body. To realize that I can't just go out and knock out 6 miles right now...unless of course I want to stay injured.

But, the positives do still outweigh the negatives of the run. While I was frustrated and angry with myself and my hips hurting, I've still had far worse runs. So, the positives: I was spending time with Jason; I was running; I was outside; and my heel pain is not any worse from running. So that's really a good feeling for me. I see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I know that I will heal. I know that I will run again. And I know that I still love running.

Family Time
After the run, we ended up making the decision to head to our hometown. One of Jason's sisters and her kids were in town from out of state. His brother and his family and one of his other sisters and her family were all supposed to get together today. But we knew it'd be rainy and nasty, so we chose to go down yesterday.

Funny thing, his brother decided the same thing. So it really worked out for the best. The kids could all play outside too. I stayed for about an hour, then my sis picked me up and we had a little bit of sister time. We ended up at TJ Maxx, but both came away empty handed. So the next stop was a bar to enjoy wine ;-) It was really a great afternoon. 

Soggy Sunday
Today has been rainy and dreary. Quite the opposite of yesterday. I like the time change for the fact that it's light later. However, I hate waking up already being an hour behind.

The weather did nothing for my motivation levels. But, we did manage to drag our rear ends to the gym. I had planned on legs, but my legs would have straight up given out. So I went with biceps and triceps instead.

I did supersets of 3x8 and then finished off with dropsets.

SS#1
Barbell curls
Triceps pulldowns

SS#2
Incline curls
Double-arm overhead triceps extensions

SS#3
Hammer curls
Weighted triceps dips - 10 reps

Dropsets biceps curls - 6, 8, 10
Dropsets double-arm kickbacks - 6, 8, 10

After the gym we should have gone to Target. Instead I went home and stretched and rolled for a while. Then we ended up meeting friends for a late lunch. About the only productive thing I've done has been the gym and washing some clothes. But, it's Sunday so that's a-ok.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for Food Should Taste Good. I will announce the winner on March 16.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Lunch with friends
  • Relaxing

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Food Should Taste Good Giveaway

Yesterday I came home to these awesome goodies waiting on me.

The wonderful people at Food Should Taste Good sent me a few bags of their awesome chips to try out.

I love their chips and almost always have a bag of the Sweet Potato flavor on hand. The ingredients list is simple, straight forward, and gluten-free. Not only are they made with ingredients you can recognize and pronounce, they taste amazing.

They have several new flavors now like the Lime, Kettle Corn, and even new Kettle Cooked flavors. The flavors are subtle, but very much there. You won't be blown out of the water and feel like you're eating olives out of the jar with the Olive flavor (as an example), but you get the subtleness of a nice kalamata olive. It's perfect.

Here's what the company has to say:
In case you aren’t familiar with our product our all natural chips are made from real, simple ingredients. All of our chip varieties are free of cholesterol, preservatives and trans fat, and do not use genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). They are also certified Kosher and Gluten Free, lower in sodium, and are a good source of dietary fiber.

We currently have 16 flavors in our 5.5oz line: Multigrain, Sweet Potato, Olive, Jalapeño, Lime, Cantina, The Works!, Chocolate, Blue Corn, Cheddar, White Cheddar, Toasted Sesame, Hemp, Jalapeño with Cheddar, Hatch Chile and Kettle Corn. As well as a brand NEW line of Kettle Cooked Sweet Potato Chips with 4 classic flavors: Original, Barbeque, Salt & Pepper, and Salt & Vinegar. 

Ok, I'll stop bragging about my loot now. Instead I'll share with one lucky winner. Yep, not only did I get to sample some new flavors, they have agreed to let me do a giveaway. You get not just 1 bag, but 5 bags to try out.


Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents through midnight March 15. I will announce the winner on Friday, March 16.

Mandatory entry - Go to their site and tell me the 5 flavors you want to try. 

For additional entries, please comment separately for each that you do:
  • Follow me on Twitter and Tweet the giveaway including my twitter handle (@hriacobacci) and a link to this post.
  • Blog about the giveaway and share the link here.
Please note that I was not paid for my review, but given the samples for free to try. As always, my opinions will be honest and completely my own. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fun Facts Friday - Sephora Addiction

Non-Rest Day
We were supposed to have rain for 4 days straight. Sometimes it's great when the weather people are wrong. Hello sunshine. It's definitely cooler, and windy, but sunny. Since I took my rest day on Monday, that meant gym today.

Initially I was going to hit the legs. I even pulled my resistance band out of my bag. I started with a warmup on the elliptical then ended up hitting back and shoulders instead of legs. I thought I'd give them one more day to recover from the half marathon.

I went with supersets of 3x8:

SS#1
Assisted chinups (gettin' easier)
Overhead shoulder press

SS#2
Underhand barbell row
Front raises

SS#3
Double-arm rows
Upright rows

I also did some ab work.

Fun Facts Friday - Sephora Addiction 
I was really not sure what I wanted to do for Fun Facts Friday. Sometimes I have great ideas, sometimes no ideas at all. Today was a no idea kind of day.

While I was getting myself ready again after the gym, it hit me...another Fashion Edition - Makeup. I know it doesn't sound terribly exciting. But let me explain. I used to be very simple when it came to makeup. Wal-Mart was as fancy as I got. Mostly Cover Girl or Maybelline (still use their mascara though).

But, that changed two years ago when a friend invited me to the special opening for the new Sephora store. She is a local DJ and they were hosting a big event. Jason actually encouraged me to go...which I bet he regrets now.

Anyway, I really didn't want to go. It wasn't my scene, but, I wanted to support my friend. I actually spent some time looking up products online so I wouldn't be overwhelmed when I got to the store. I had it planned out exactly what I wanted - a Bare Escentuals Starter Kit. It wasn't too pricy, but definitely a splurge for me.

That was the beginning of the end in a way. I am definitely a girlie girl! Sephora is a little taste of heaven. I have discovered a new love of makeup, anti-aging products, nail polishes, brushes, you name it. So, what are my favorite products? Here's my list:

Eyeshadow - Bare Escentuals


Eyeliner - Bare Escentuals in Plum

Blush - Bare Escentuals

Powder/Base - Korres Mineral Powder

Lotions - Korres Anti-Aging Line



Makeup Brushes - all by Bare Escentuals

Nail Polish - Sephora by O.P.I - Current favorite colors are "Never Enough Shoes," "Break a Legwarmer," and "Beauty Junkie."

Are you a makeup junkie or are do you keep it pretty basic? What are some of your favorite brands?


Daily To-Enjoy List:

  • Sunshine
  • It's Friday
  • Relaxing evening
  • Giveaway announcement tomorrow