Monthly Archives: September 2011

Fit Friday: Fall fitness

Happy Friday!

Is the season changing where you are? Here in Florida, we don’t get the traditional autumn tell-tales like turning leaves, chill in the air, etc. But I still feel it. It is less humid and the air just feels and smells different to me and the weather can’t seem to make up its mind. Last weekend we had crazy thunderstorms and flooding.

Creepy real purple rain from our front porch.

This weekend we are under fire warnings. Yep, that’s Florida. But at least the temperatures are cooler (85 degrees or so) and the days are still bright and beautiful (it’s just the late afternoons and evenings that bring the storms).

Since I started running with the C25K challenge in April, I’ve only known running in heat (and smoke and rain). I’m really looking forward to running when it’s cooler out. Of course, I’ll be eating those words when it’s cold out and skipping runs while blaming the other extreme since I’m a cold-weather wieney. :)

But with a certain mailer received today, I’m feeling fired up about some fun running events and plan to take advantage of some of their routes as inspiration.

1st Place Sports quarterly event guide.

In case you’re in the North Florida area (or want to be for a fall run) you can go to the 1st Place Sports website for a full list of upcoming opportunities.

I actually had every intention of running the Jax MudFest to benefit the Boselli Foundation in October. I had a friend to do it with and everything but the high entry fee ($50!) and $100-minimum fundraising requirement (oh yeah, and procrastination) got the best of me. I think I will aim for next year instead…boo (sorry Amanda!).

But running isn’t the only thing you can do outside. Walking the dog, working in the yard (we threw mulch last weekend and plan to do the same this weekend), playing basketball at a park, riding bikes and more are all much more enjoyable when you aren’t battling heat stroke.

Whether fitness is the goal (like running) or just a happy supporting outcome of the activity (like yard work), being outdoors just fits with fitness!

So I’m curious, what’s your favorite outdoors activity? Or maybe your most common even if it’s not your favorite, like if you live in one of those leaf-raking states. Is fall showing in your neck of the woods?

Quickie poll: When do you read?

Good morning! I have a quick question for you . Thinking of all the blogs you read, I’m curious when you like to read.

For me, I usually have a lull /coffee break around 10 or 11 a.m. and like to read my favorite four blogs then. The weekends are a bit different and I’ll get caught up in late night reading or I won’t read blogs at all. But in general, I’d say it’s mornings.

OK, your turn! :)

And if you want to say more after you make your selection, feel free to comment below. Thank you in advance!

Free stuff for exercising, flossing and other good decisions

Welcome to another Monday. If you’re reading this, you’re still alive and have a leg-up already, hooray! :)

OK, down to business. Super exciting/silly news alert! While perusing around Shape.com, I came across an article titled, “What if you got paid to make healthy choices?” Um, what now?

Hmmmmmmm...

The article goes on to describe:

A new website, DailyFeats.com, is doing just that. Here’s how it works: you check-in every time you accomplish a daily feat—usually something that people don’t naturally want to do like “!running,” “!eatyourgreens,” or “!talkingtoakid”—and then you get points for each feat you accomplish.

It took me about 4 seconds to skim the rest of the article,  jump over to DailyFeats.com to check it out and fall in love with the concept and people who created it.

Maybe I’m bias because I started a blog dedicated to trying new things and the benefits that come out of it, so it’s kind of right up my alley (okay, so it’s less “kind of” and more “exactly-I-own-a-house-there!”). ;)

I even introduced Jeremy and by the time he got half-way down the first page of feats, he had signed up. Feats like !talktoakid and !handwashdishes had him yelling, “I do that every day!”

Here’s what your feats page looks like:

Feats page.

  • Top right is your name and points so far. I have 75.
  • Below that is your “Life Score” that increases with each feat you accomplish. 10 is your goal, I’m currently at 2.2.
  • All down the page are a variety of different feats sorted by category like Health, Family, Money, Eating, etc. that you can either plan to do (they’ll e-mail you a reminder) or mark it as completed. You can see I completed go for a walk because it’s marked in blue and has a note from me attached.

Not that most of us need something else to keep up with, especially online. But I really like encouraging ourselves and each other to do good. Not to mention that most of it is stuff you are probably doing anyways, butby logging it in the Daily Feats system, you are earning credits to redeem for gift certificates to iTunes, eBay, Starbucks, Toys ‘R’ Us, American Airlines and more. Or, there are a ton of discounts to your local businesses–just enter your zip code to find them.

Examples from the Jacksonville / North Florida area include Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Dance Trance.

You can also create your own feats, join a team, connect your Twitter or Facebook pages, and even learn about the noble rooster (the company’s logo).

Last but not least, I really enjoyed learning about their business approach. It is a site started by friends and family. Their mission, which they call their “True North,” is worth reading and their blog has a great, quirky sense of humor.

So that’s my fun find today. High five to all my other quirky folks! I’m off to log feat points for !writing. ;) What are you guys up to?

Fit Friday: Good Form Running

Hooray for the weekend! Did you have a good week? Let’s talk a little form over function, shall we?

It’s funny what you can take for granted, like running. It seems like the most natural thing! Turns out, I guess like most other sports, there are tips you can follow to maximize your efficiency, reduce injuries and be an all-around better runner.

Thanks to 1st Place Sports, Jeremy and I were able to take a free Good Form Running seminar to learn what it was all about. You don’t have to sign up, you don’t have to pay, so why not, right?!

1st Place Sports actually sponsored the July 4th 5K we did and has a ton of running info on their site.

We showed up a little late (it was a work day and I’m always late leaving) and everyone was already out behind the store. Lining up to run! I almost left (Jeremy caught me). Have I mentioned before that I’m the most self-conscious extrovert you’ll meet? It’s stupid but true. Luckily, the other people and the 1st Place Sports employees (one guy timed and explained and another videoed everyone running) were so helpful and nice. I’m glad I stuck it out–even though I felt like throwing up, lol.

So here’s what happens:

  • Each person is filmed as they take a turn running at their normal, comfortable pace for one minute (30 seconds out and then 30 seconds back).
  • You all watch and cheer for each other. I was lucky to have a fun group!
  • As a group, you go inside to watch and analyze the individual videos.

This is the 1st Place Sports employee telling what we were all doing wrong. And we were all doing something wrong, haha.

  • After a while, we noticed trends. People seemed to make similar mistakes in just a few ways, like too much tension in their neck, going too slow, going too fast, locking their knees, etc.
  • Once we saw for ourselves how we all ran, he discussed the Good Form Running techniques. There are four elements to good form.

Don't versus do.

  • Once the learning was over, we all were taken back outside to practice. It was really hard to change the way you run. Especially when you are feeling tired or self-conscious, you tend to fall into your natural form. It was interesting to practice mindful running!

Here are the four key elements:

Step One: from goodformrunning.com

  •  This one I was actually good at except for the arm angle. I hold my shoulders up and my neck stiff. The video showed me running using my chest and shoulders for momentum. I ended up overcompensating and looked like Lurch from the Adams Family :) Baby steps.

Step Two: from goodformrunning.com

  •  Every single person in our group landed on their heel. Even the guy wearing shoes designed to enable mid-foot landing, which was funny. He couldn’t believe the video. This will defintely take more practice.

Step Three: from goodformrunning.com

  •  About half the people in my group were in the right spot on cadence (85-90 foot strikes per minute). I was at 75. Obviously a turtle. But, a bit part was my long strides and landing on my heel. By keeping your feet under you and taking shorter strides, you can pick up the pace with less effort.

Step Four: from goodformrunning.com

  •  This was the most interesting to me. It is so logical and easy to mess up. The 1st Place Sports guy recommended getting a feel for the correct lean by standing and then leaning forward. Right at the spot where gravity starts to take you and you have to put a foot out to catch yourself from falling is the position should be in to run. Gravity should propel you and your muscles should work just to keep you there. We practiced these “falls” in the parking lot and it probably looked hilarious to passers-by.

And that my friends, is good form. Have you heard of it? Have you ever been told you have a distinct run? Give these tips a try. I’d love to hear about your experience. Anything to make running easier and more effective, right?

Half-birthday party

Whoop! Here it is…today is my six-month anniversary of blogging (aka Greenhorn Living’s half-birthday)!

Firstly: to the supporters, readers, commenters, strangers who let me take their picture, friends and family members whose meals I’ve interrupted for a picture, and my sweet husband who I often ignore in the evenings as I edit pictures and type up posts–THANK YOU! I appreciate you more than you know! Well, unless you are reading this…then you should be adequately informed. But I’ll be happy to repeat it if you ask. :)

Feel free to comment any improvements or ideas you’d like to see here or if you have something new you want me to try! Or just type gobbly-gook because comments in general are awesome. I even read my spam comments because it’s good times.

Speaking of favorites, being able to see the search terms that led people to your website are also a treat. Some are great, some help me understand key topics people want to know more about and some, well, some are just hilarious. Here are the ones that made me holler to Mr. Greenhorn, “Hey! You’ll never guess what someone who read my [fill in the blank] post originally searched for…”

  • “knee burns girl”<—to this person, I feel like I should apologize since I have a feeling my workout injury is NOT what you were hoping for.
  • “maybe you should start bein the right guy, thats why you got punched out you’ve had the wrong attitude right outta the gate” Ha! My favorite Yes Man quote.
  • “mushroom baby pool” ?
  • “c25k week 8 fail” Yep, I feel your pain searcher.
  • “goat slaughtering” Yikes!

I’ve definitely learned a few things, too. Like:

  • It’s more work than I expected.
  • Editing photos takes forever but I’m getting better!
  • Time management is key.
  • I see things differently.
  • If I don’t get excited about it, I don’t post it.
  • Trying new things is as important and fun to me as ever.
  • Time flies! I swear someone has a fast-forward button on my life all of a sudden. We’re almost done with 2011…wow.

Hope you’re having a great week. Thanks for taking part in my mini celebration. I’m still a noob, for sure, but I’m having fun learning as I go. What are you celebrating? I want to hear what you’ve tried lately!

Mixing cute girls on skates with elbows to faces

I went to my first roller derby match! Oh my goodness people.

Event program

I’ve wanted to go to a Jacksonville roller derby for a year. Ever since I found out we had a team… Well, it turns out they have FOUR! Three home teams and one away team. And a few weeks ago, they were competing in a double-header not too far from my home.

I immediately recruited my very awesome friend, Amanda, and we dolled up to watch the mayhem.

A Florida Times Union newspaper photog caught us!

Spoiler alert–we had so much fun. We hollered, we learned the rules, we rooted for a fight, we ate nachos…we also discussed being roller girls for Halloween, lol.

Probably like any sporting match, if you don’t know anything about the sport and have no interest in one team over the other, you probably won’t have as good a time–just to be honest, it’s girls skating in a circle for an hour. Soooo:

Here’s what you should know if you want to go

And you should want to go! :)

The basics are covered in each program.

  • Roller Derby is an “every-girl” sport. Although many wear lingerie, this is not a models-only sport. It embraces that every body type and personality can shine and have advantages. Girl power ;)
  • These “girls” are the women who do your taxes, teach your kids, wait your table, manage your department. Oh yeah, but they also practice at 10 o’ clock at night for a sport they enjoy and put on a heckofa show for those who come out. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll run into one you know! I ran into an old college friend who used to wait tables with me and it was awesome to catch her (Hi Heather!).
  • I don’t know about others but the Jacksonville group is a WFTDA league, which stands for Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Flat track is just that, flat. The track they skate isn’t pitched or raised on the edges. There’s definitely still scrambling and wipeouts but there aren’t as many brawls. Probably because skating is harder and gravity isn’t helping fuel the speedier attacks.
  • The food is bowling alley food. But if you burn it off yelling and jumping, you should embrace the experience of overpriced and less-than-healthy experience of slushies, beer, nachos, hot dogs and warm pretzels (and the potential pounds and indigestion to follow).

We went halfsies.

  • Bring lawn chairs. The flat tracks don’t have stadium seats or benches for spectators so take care of yourself. However, maybe don’t bring a six-foot lounge chair or eight kid chairs if you are going to let them run around the whole time since there is limited floor space.

It was a packed house. Sorry it's blurry, they were moving fast.

  • Get there early. There is a line to find parking, there is a line to get in, and then once you do, it’ll be full and there won’t be room for your chair.
  • The skater names were definitely one of my favorite parts! So many are really clever or just plain hilarious. Amanda’s favorite of the night? “Wargasm” Hearing the emcees announce it was just awesome. My favorite was a girl called “Great Wall of Gina.” I totally want a roller derby name!

Have you been to a roller derby event? Apparently, Jacksonville has a men’s roller derby league, too. What would your name be? I’m considering “Helen Wheels,” “Helena Handbasket” or “Knockout.”

A dreamy weekend

Happy Monday! I had such a normal but fun weekend. It feels great to get back to some old routines but add some new touches, too. I so badly want to show you San Diego but I’m still only half-way though all the photos I took (and truthfully, I’m also only half-way unpacked. Yes, I have been been back for 11 days.)

So, instead, I’m reliving a weekend that was unusually packed with dreams for the future — but not without enjoying the present. ;) Here’s what I did:

Celebrated our second wedding anniversary all over again thanks to Maggiano’s and this guy:

That's my cousin Jerry officiating.

My very thoughtful cousin (who actually married Jeremy and I) sent us a gift certificate in honor of our anniversary and we finally got to use it. Maggiano’s not only arranges a card on your table for special occasions, the food and service have always been great.

Thanks, Maggiano's folks!

And, just FYI in case you are near one, right now they are doing a Dinner for Two special. You get an appetizer to share, a pasta dish each, a dessert to share and a pasta dish each to take home…for $40.

YUM!

Be prepared to be rolled out of the restaurant and have your car and fridge smell like Italian food for three days. Being of Italian descent, I may be bias, but I’m telling you–it’s glorious. If you’ve never been to Maggiano’s–go now. If you don’t have one near you, I’m sorry.

 Planned and went home reno shopping:

I think we hit up every specialty retail store in a 20-mile radius. Jeremy and I teased that it was like that college party scene in Old School where Will Ferrell is telling the kids they “had a pretty nice little Saturday planned.”

Bed, Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Target, HomeGoods, Michael’s, Rug Depot, you name it, we were probably there. We are especially looking forward to a Lowe’s kitchen planning consult visit later this week.

The new fridge of my dreams! And a great price at a Sears Outlet Store. But still $1700...too much for now.

I totally fell for this blue area rug. 6x8 for $70! But our cat attacked it before we even took it out of the bag so it had to go back. :(

I spent way too much time on floorplanner.com. I'm addicted!

I talked about babies:

So many people we know (and bloggers I “know”) are having, or are within weeks of having, babies! It’s so cute and I wish them all the best (like Jeremy’s brother and sister-in-law who delivered the newest nephew last Thursday). My friend, Jen, had shared a website that predicts baby gender (by age of the woman and month conceived).

Did you know you have a lunar age? I still don't know what that means...

It’s not scientific, but still fun. So, I played with that, too. If you have kids, go calculate, see if it’s accurate and let me know. :) It’s got good stats at Jen’s work!

We enjoyed Sunday football:

OK, technically, our Jacksonville team did horrible. But we enjoyed having a friend over and gorging on junk food like chicken wings. I also made mini cupcakes!

Teal ;)

We went to the beach:

You know our girl loves the beach! Jeremy was collecting sand for his science classes’ erosion lesson so we took a family trip. Too bad it was raining and windier than all get-out. Here’s a short video (you may want to do yourself a favor and turn the volume off. All you can hear is the feedback from all the wind!) This second short clip is just a gratuitous puppy love video because of how cute it is when she takes off into the surf! Sound, still sucky. Video, shaky. In fact, you can watch for the spot where I almost break my ankle when I step into a hole I could see because I was filming.

So, how about you? Try anything new? Start any projects? Dream up any great future plans? Let’s relive the weekend together!

Smitten

Well, I finally ended an 11-hour work day that was only briefly interrupted by going to pay $300 for a car repair. Sheesh! But now my car can hold its coolant and I was able to enjoy this view on my drive home in it.

I love a dusky sunset over the river.

I also love a blog called Bump Smitten! It’s an adorable site that features baby showers.

See? Adorable.

I’m a sucker for party planning. Seriously, it’s bad. And this site is full of beautiful parties and amazing plans.

Wanna make beautiful pomander flower balls? Bump Smitten shares how.

 

Cutest shower ever. Baby "shower"

Want to swoon at delicious food display tables? Yep, you can count on that, too.

There are four categories:

But I think what I love most of all about this site, is the love it displays. A baby shower is such an intimate celebration (c’mon, your celebrating a couple doing it…is that weird to anyone else? Too much? Yeah, sorry.). I guess you’re also celebrating the strength of women and the fact that some girl you know just grew a human! Wow.

I absolutely can’t get enough of this site because of the beauty and love reflected in the people who such time and attention into making something special for a person that is special to them, in expectation of someone special who no one has met.

Picture from one of the featured real baby showers with a note from the mom-to-be / party planner.

Look at the smiles… Jennifer, I don’t know you but I’m still excited for you! Ha.

Looks like fun ladies!

So, that’s my Wednesday night ramblings. Hope you enjoyed! :) I want to thank Elizabeth for creating Bump Smitten and sharing the love, and letting me highlight it (OK, fine, she didn’t know. But she’s all about the sharing, and I love that, too.)

What about you? Do you have a website that makes you smile? Gives you inspiration?

Veggie adventures: Calabaza

While cruising through the grocery store, I ran across a produce item that I didn’t recognize. Jeremy and I of course made inappropriate dirty jokes about it and guessed at what it was. The tag said “Calabasa.” It also said that they were 99 cents each.

Calabasa group...er, bunch? Pile? I'll go with herd.

{Source, because I didn’t have the forethought in a funny moment to snap a picture of the real bin}

I say funny moment because the conversation went like this:

Me: Wow! 99 cents? Throw it in the cart.

Jeremy: Haha. Oh, are you serious? We don’t even know what it is.

Me: That’s why God invented Google. It’ll be fine… It’s a dollar for cryin out loud!

So it came home with us.

Then something funny happened…I couldn’t find anything on Google! Noooooo! There many results but they were all for the California city of Calabasas or some kind of fruit called calabash or pictures of pumpkins and acorn squash. Even Wikipedia said that “calabasa is a term that can be applied to many different types of gourds.” Crap. But I noticed they spelled it with a “z.” Hmmmmm…

Re-googled the term “calabaza” and bam! Success. I found it described as the Caribbean pumpkin and the Japanese pumpkin. I learned it was reminiscent of butternut squash but most like a kabocha, and can be roasted to eat in wedges or pureed to make soup or bread. One blogger explains, “It’s light in calories like a squash, flavorful like pumpkin and hearty like sweet potato.” How does that sound? Sounded great to me.

But I knew exactly what to do when I found a recipe on Epicurious for calabaza soup with corn relish that had 3.8 out of 4 stars and 65 reviews.

It even earned a blue ribbon!

And if you can’t trust the tastes of strangers, who can you trust? ;) So, I went for it. Luckily, it turned out amazing! So delicious. So, although I would’ve shared the trial either way, I’m happy to be able to share the recipe and experience with you as a positive. One that I encourage you to make, too. Here’s how:

Ingredients

For soup:

All laid out for the soupage.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (2 1/4-pound) piece calabaza squash or 1 (2 1/2-pound) whole kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (12 ounces)
  • 3 ears of corn (fresh or thawed frozen), kernels cut off and reserved for relish (below) and cobs halved crosswise
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

For corn relish:

To be relish(ed).

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups corn kernels (see above)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

I started by prepping. Chopping the onion and cilantro, cutting the kernels off the thawed cobs, and peeling, seeding and cubing the calabaza. This is what it looks like inside:

Can you see the pumpkin relation?

instructions

Make soup:

  • Heat oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking,
  • Sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and edges are browned, about 4 minutes.
  • Add cilantro stems and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.
  • Add squash pieces and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes.
  • Now we're cookin!

  • Stir in water, coconut milk, corn cobs, salt, and cayenne and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.
  • The good stuff.

Prepare corn relish while soup simmers:

  • Whisk together lime juice, salt, and sugar in a bowl, then add oil and whisk until combined.
  • Cook corn kernels in a saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour corn into a sieve, then rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
  • Drain well, then transfer to dressing along with cilantro and shallot and toss well to coat.
  • Mixed nibblets.

Finish soup:

  • Discard corn cobs.
  •  Purée soup in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) until smooth, transferring to a 2-quart measure.
  • Batches are the best way, no question.

  • Divide soup among bowls and gently stir 1/4 cup corn relish into each.
  • I totally had to cheat for the photo and use my spoon to keep all the corn from sinking to the bottom.

  • Find wine pairings, reviews and a printable grocery list on Epicurious!

I decided to follow the brilliant advice I found last time I made soup and pour the extra into ice cube trays to freeze it (since there’s just two of us and this probably makes 4-6 servings for us).

Mess-free and easy to reheat.

So that’s it. It seems labor intensive but I think it took me about an hour total (which included struggling to peel the odd crooked neck shape, stealing glimpses of the Jag game and running out to buy lime juice in the middle).

The only sad news is we suffered an appliance loss. You know where it says above to be careful blending hot liquids? I thought they meant not to burn yourself. I think they may have also meant that if you have an 8-year-old basic blender, hot soup may be the last thing it ever blends. It was already rebelling and I think this was the final straw. Of course, when I say “I think,” I mean liquid came pouring out the bottom of the blender (you can see it starting in the blending in batches picture above). It wasn’t so subtle.

I guess the seal where the blades hook into the bottom of the pitcher had enough abuse and finally gave way. Say a prayer, friends. Also, does anyone have any blender recommendations?

The real world

Happy Monday! What a wild week. After a week in San Diego and a glorious few days at home with the remaining PTO days,  today, I went back in the real world.

Only, mine has less drinking and fewer camera men.

[source here]

Isn’t it funny how routine life can get?  I didn’t access Facebook, Twitter or blogs while I was on vacation. It killed me the first day. I was taking pictures and thinking of things to say on my own blog about what I was doing. I was wondering how Susan was, whether Emily‘s baby was a fruit or vegetable that week and what the Petersik house had going on.

Then, I realized, I was ignoring my vacation time! So, I (temporarily ;) ) quit. Cold turkey. But, I’m so glad I did. Luckily, I had a ton of things to distract me…

...and great company to play with!

I shook up my routine so much I now need time to get back in the rhythm! :) I was grateful to come back to my wonderful Mr. Greenhorn and sweet puppy girl. Even doing our more regular-life tasks, like visiting Lowe’s home improvement store for wood stain and a hose, is still fun.

Heehee. They had their Halloween decor out.

(side note, this little prop fun is one reason we heart Lowe’s…however, does that rope belt look inappropriate to anyone else?)

Going back to work I had 547 e-mails awaiting. But, luckily, I also have an award-worthy boss who held down the fort so I could rejuvenate (he also resolved the bully situation while I was gone, woot!).

So, although I’m back to the real world, I sure enjoyed the break (Hi and thanks Mom!) and have to wonder if the rest of you are taking the breaks you need. So, I wanna hear. What did you try this summer? Did you go anywhere? What is your getaway?