Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009!

A look back at 2009:

We celebrated the beginning of 2009...

Eric and I moved into our first home!!!

We threw our first "housewarming" party...

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day twice...

We watched my cousin run the marathon...

I threw my best friend's bridal shower...

I ran my first 5k...

I got my Master's degree in Reading & Language!!!

Katie threw me a 25th birthday party/engagement party!

We celebrated Katie's Bachelorette in NYC!

We celebrated 4th of July in NH

I watched my first friend get married, Melanie...

I was the maid of honor in my best friend's wedding...

I celebrated yet another bachelorette...

And another bridal shower...

We had our engagement party!


I got professional status at work, aka tenure.

I went to Timna's wedding- my first of three high school friends to get married...

I celebrated Tiff's Bachelorette in Newport...


I was in one of my oldest friend's wedding...

I celebrated my sister's 21st birthday...

Eric's football team won the Superbowl.

See a theme? Wedding related events much? Haha. Oh boy, this year may not be much better with my own wedding and at least 3 other weddings on tap.

Anyway, if you are still reading- here are my New Year's Resolutions:

1. Embrace exercise without running.
I spent a lot of 2009 learning to run and then getting injured and trying to run again. I've tried a lot to fix my knee and although it's gotten a lot better, I still can't run. I'm done obsessing about it and instead I am going to embrace other stuff, including the elliptical machine, spinning class, and ice skating!

2. Stop feeling guilty.
Back in November I made a goal to say "no" more. I did a pretty good job with this but I found I still felt incredibly guilty. This year I am going to make a decision and then try not to feel guilty with my decision. I'd say this is the New Year's Resolution I am least likely to keep, but I'll try anyway.

3. Explore the USA.
I have traveled a lot, but this year I want to focus on exploring the US a little more. I already have plans for a trip to Arizona in February and a honeymoon in Hawaii. I'd love to see at least one other new state this year...

4. Just ask.
I have noticed that people get a lot of things just by simply asking for them. I rarely ask people for things because I am afraid I will be imposing on people. I am going to get over that and start asking for things, the worst they can say is no, right? (PS. I am not going to start asking for crazy things from my friends and family, don't worry)

Happy New Years everyone! Have a safe and happy night!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Recap of December Goals

Start your year off right with the Elliptical Challenge!

How did I do on my goals for the month of December?

#1 Core Challenge- 4 core exercises, 4 times per week.

Success. I ended up doing the the core exercises about 3 days per week, and then integrating pilates videos 1-2 times per week. I also improved my plank time by about 30 seconds. There is still room to improve on my core, but I'm happy I stuck with it.

#2- Bike 200 miles by 2010.

Success. This ended up being a lot more of a challenge than I expected because I missed two weeks of exercise due to swine flu. It was great to have the motivation to get right back into exercising. Thank you to those who joined me in this challenge!

#3- New Breakfast Ideas

Success. Back in early December I tried a new breakfast idea every day of the week. It was fun to test out new meals and I ended up finding a few that I can integrate into my morning routine. My favorites were baked oatmeal and greek yogurt with banana and cereal. Now though, instead of Rice Chex, I use my new favorite cereal: Nature's Path Honey'd Corn Flakes.

#4- Implement Bill Paying Thursday.

Oops. In this goal I was supposed to carve out 10-15 minutes per week to just pay bills and manage money. I did not do that at ALL this month...not even one single Thursday. I might have to try this goal again in January :)

How do you feel about your December goals? Or even your 2009 goals?

If you are creating goals for 2010 here are some fun ideas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Day at the Wineries

Check out my 2010 Elliptical Challenge!

I do not remember the exact day we decided it, but somewhere along the years Eric and I have been together, we have become obsessed with visiting breweries and wineries everywhere we go.

I've had my eye on the Southeastern Coastal Wine Trail in Rhode Island/MA for a few years now, but I have only made it to two of the actual wineries, Truro Vineyard and Newport Vineyards. Today Eric and I decided to knock a few more off that list. The three wineries we planned to visit today were all about 60-75 minutes from the Cape house.

First stop? Running Brook Vineyard:

Hmm...not a single car in the parking lot and no signs of life. We knocked but apparently it was not open today, despite the sign (and the website) that says open daily from 12-5pm. A little discouraging, but off to the next place.

Westport Rivers Winery looked a lot more promising...

The inside was just as beautiful. They have a huge tasting bar, and a cute gift shop. Upstairs is an art gallery filled with hand turned wooden bowls, handmade clothing, pottery etc.

The guy working at Westport was busy managing all of the New Year's orders but he took a good amount of time to talk to us about the winery and give us an informal (and free) tasting. They have been making wine for 20 years and since 1998 they have used only grapes grown at their winery. Since the Southeastern MA climate is similar to northern Europe, they only make certain wines that can be grown in these types of climates. I was even amazed to learn how "famous" Westport Rivers is, their Brut was featured in O magazine! He let us try 5 of the wines including: 2003 Westport Brut RJR, 2001 Blanc de Noirs, 2008 Rose of Pinot Noir, 2008 Rkatsiteli and Pineau de Pinot.

I have to admit that I am a pretty terrible wine taster. The first problem is that I basically only like Pinot Grigio so unless it is very similar to that it can only be "okay" for me, or completely terrible. However, I think my tastes may be expanding because I was pleasantly surprised by some unexpected wines today. My two favorites were:
#1- 2003 Westport Brut RJR

This was a delicious sparkling wine, which I am normally not a fan of but in this case I was. Eric and I bought a bottle of this for New Year's celebrating.

#2- Pineau de Pinot

Normally my thoughts on dessert wine are too sweet and too syrupy. This was neither of those. It was perfect, and the guy totally sold me when he mentioned I could pour a small amount on vanilla bean ice cream. Did someone say ice cream?

Needless to say, Eric and I left that winery with a box of goodies...

Westport Rivers was also gorgeous outside, but we did not get to enjoy that because it was FREEZING and windy out today. We were definitely in the country though...

Next stop: Sakonnet Vineyards

The tasting room was beautiful. I was right back in the Christmas spirit here...

Hello tag on scarf.
Anyway, it's $7 to taste wine here, but I didn't even mind because if I pay for the tasting I don't feel like I have to buy a bottle of wine if I don't want to. They allow you to check off six wines you want to try, but she let us try seven...double score.
I enjoyed the Gequrztraminer 2007, Cock of the Walk (white version), Chardonnay 2007 (definitely concluded that I like Chardonnay as long as it is not aged in Oak, then I stop liking it) and Rhode Island Red. I normally am not a red wine girl, so I was pretty happy to find a red wine I actually like.
I did not like Petite White, too acidic, Holiday Spiced Gewurz, tasted like I was drinking straight ginger!, and the Cock of the Walk (red version), too much bite for me.

What's your favorite kind of wine? Do you like visiting wineries?

If you have never visited a winery before I recommend searching for wineries in your area and giving it a try. You don't have to know anything (trust me!) and it's a lot of fun!

If you live in the Boston area, there are several wineries and breweries I recommend visiting (in addition to the ones I visited today):

Nashoba Valley Winery, Bolton MA
Harpoon Brewery, Boston MA
Red Hook Brewery, Portsmouth MA
Cape Cod Winery, Falmouth MA
Truro Vineyards, Truro MA
Newport Vineyards, Newport RI

There are many more I have not enjoyed yet so I'll keep you posted.

Elliptical Challenge 2010

Good morning everyone! I made the obvious conclusion this morning that I would be in AWESOME shape if I did not work at all. Wouldn't we all, right?

This morning I woke up and headed to the Cape Cod Y. I did an intense 45 minute elliptical work out created by Angela. This elliptical work out had me changing the incline, resistance, going backwards vs. forward and even using my arms vs. legs. It was so much more fun than my usual: get on, bump up resistance, cool down, stop. No wonder I get bored on the elliptical!

My playlist for this 45 minute workout was:

Down (Featuring Lil Wayne), Jay Sean- 3:32
Runaround Sue, Dion-2:52
Run It!, Chris Brown- 3:50
If It's Loving That You Want, Rihanna- 3:28
Uptown Girl, Billy Joel- 3:17
Party in the USA, Miley Cyrus- 3:23
Sexy B****, David Guetta- 3:16
Evacuate the Dancefloor, Cascada-3:30
Love Drunk, Boys Like Girls- 3:47
Heaven, DJ Sammy- 3:55
Hotel Room Service, Pitbull-3:58
All the Above, Maino-5:20
Walkin' On the Moon- TheDream & Kayne West- 4:15
Beautiful Liar, Beyonce and Shakira- 3:22
Replay, Iyaz- 3:02

This playlist was perfect because it kept me pumped up and had about 2 songs at the end where I could do some stretching (having extra songs to listen to makes me less likely to skip this important part!).

Today I also followed up my elliptical workout with a 30 minute Yoga Sculpt video from Exercise TV. I love Yoga Sculpt because it's challenge and you really feel like you got a good work out at the end.

During my awesome elliptical work out I started to think about how I need to integrate more elliptical workouts into my weeks. For me, the elliptical is one of the biggest pains because I have to go all the way to the gym, and it's not a class so I get bored more easily. However, it's by far the best cardio for my knee and doing an interval elliptical work out made me see how fun it can be!

So ENTER: Elliptical Challenge 2010. For the month of January, I am going to try to do 120 minutes, or 2 hours per week of elliptical work outs. I can break it up any way I want, but I will most likely do 2, 45 minute work outs and 1, 30 minute work out.

Want to Join Me?

The Details:

1. You can create your own goal. I picked 2 hours per week because I think it's a challenge, but also allows me to continue with other work outs I enjoy such as spinning and yoga. Please just let me know what your goal IS so that I can check at the end to make sure you meet that goal :)

2. The challenge can start either this week Dec. 27th or next week Jan. 3. I am starting this week because I have some extra time on my hands, but I am going to leave the challenge open until Saturday January 2nd, so you are welcome to start on January 3. It doesn't really matter since it's a weekly goal anyway!

3. The challenge will end on January 30th.

4. If you meet your weekly minutes on elliptical goal, you will be entered to win a $10 iTunes giftcard to help you create fun work out playlists!

If you would like to join, please e-mail me at so I can share the google document with you. This will allow you to record your weekly time spent on the elliptical.

Throughout the challenge I will be posting fun elliptical work outs that I create, find online, or that you send me! Tis the season for setting goals, make elliptical time part of yours :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Vacation Eats

Raise your hand if you eat way too much on vacation?

I do !!!

Vacation just screams...

"What new restaurant should we try tonight?"
"Oh well, I'm on vacation!"

And other dangerous quotes.

However this vacation, I cannot afford to eat out every night. Let's just say my yearly car insurance bill and home insurance bill came on the same day. Awesome. Oh yes, and I've gained 5 pounds since Thanksgiving. OOPS. I know it couldn't have anything to do with the extra Lindt chocolates I've been popping. Or perhaps the unusual number of cookies I have been savoring?

Point is, we can eat out sometimes (hey! we are on vacation!), but not every meal. We have a kitchen down here, but it's funny how many kitchen essentials you forget you need when you are using a different kitchen.

Last night I tried out one of the Amy's individual size pizzas. In high school I use to always eat the Amy's spinach pizza but I avoid cheese these days so I tried the veggie pizza...

Here is a peek at the nutrition facts...

410 calories is not bad for a meal, but 14 grams of fat is pretty high for my tummy. An even bigger problem is the 780mg of sodium- Gina would not be proud. So why eat these high fat and sodium pizza?'s delicious for one thing. Also, it's ridiculously easy to cook. It's got 5 grams of fiber AND I actually know what everything on the ingredient list IS...

A quick meal with onions, artichokes, peppers and mushrooms? Can't be all bad...

Still though, I have to please my tummy, so for dinner I ate half of this pizza (2 small pieces) with a side of leftover mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were made only with low sodium chicken broth, so I figured they would bring the fat percentage down a lot and not add TOO much sodium.

If you are a salad person I think this pizza could be paired with a delicious salad for the same effect. Yum.

Tonight I got to enjoy Eric's sweet potato risotto. He tried a couple of new things today including brown Arborio rice. Eric thought it was terrible, but I didn't mind it, though it never got quite as soft as white rice does.

Eric also tried cooking the sweet potatoes in the oven instead of on the stove today. Both of us loved this change, the sweet potatoes were so soft and delicious. I enjoyed the risotto with a glass of wine I bought at Newport Vineyards when I was in Newport for Tiff's Bachelorette.

It's called "In the Buff" (insert middle school giggle right here) and it's Chardonnay. I normally do not like Chardonnay but it is not oak aged, which apparently is what I generally dislike about Chardonnay (according to Eric, my wine expert, apparently I don't listen well during all the wine tours we have been on).

Stay tuned for more about wine tomorrow. Eric and I are going to take on a portion of the Southeastern Wine Trial in RI and Southeastern MA.

Why Spin? (and Barney Butter WINNER!)

Barney Butter Winner:
#15- Rookie on the Run
Sara- I hope this Barney Butter makes you feel better about running injuries :) Please e-mail me at with your address :)

What is Spinning?

Spinning is a class at the gym, in which participants use a stationary bike to get a 45-60 minute workout. Spinning is not simply an indoor bike ride. There are three positions in Spinning:

First Position- Participants sit in their saddle (bike seat) with hands on handle bars.

Second Position- Participants stand up and "run" on their bike. Hands should be very lightly gripping hand bars, they are on their for balance. Participants should stand straight up.

Third Position- Participants are still standing, but they are leaning their upper body forward and lightly gripping the end of the handle bars. Participants should keep their lower body over the saddle.

During a spinning class one instructor will place his bike at the front of the room. The instructor is in charge of the music, which will change every 3-5 minutes. During each song, you will receive different instructions. For example, during the first song you may do a hill in first position, which will mean that you will be pedaling in your saddle and slowing push up the resistance when the instructor says it is time. During the next song, you may do sprints in second position, where you are standing up and the instructor tells you when to push it as fast as you can. On some bikes you can tell the rotations per minute (RPM) on your bike, so the instruction may advise you to be at a 10 on the resistance and moving your bike at 70 RPMs. If your bikes are not this fancy then you will be able to go at your own pace. Often you will move between positions during one song.

Why Should I Try Spinning?

Spinning is a GREAT workout. Although I cannot tell you exactly how many calories you will burn spinning (it depends on your weight, effort, etc), most people burn between 400-600 calories per class!

Spinning does not get boring. Songs change every 3-5 minutes and with that your routine will change. During some songs the instructor will focus on a hill work out, during others you will be sprinting etc.

Spinning works many different muscles, including your quads, glutes and even your core muscles.

Spinning is a low impact exercise so it is great for people who are prone to running injuries like shin splints and knee pain. However, it is possible to get overuse injuries from spinning in your hips, lower backs and knees. Therefore, most trainers recommend 2-3 spin classes per week combined with other exercise routines.

Tips for Spinning
*You do not need any fancy equipment for your first class. You can eventually buy special spinning shoes, but most bikes will have a spot for fancy shoes and a spot for regular sneakers. You will want to bring a water bottle and a towel to any spin class, you will sweat!

*If you are not used to biking, you may have a bit of a sore butt from spinning. Try either wearing padded shorts or bringing a gel seat to your first few spinning classes.

*If you are new to spinning, go to class a few minutes early so the instructor help you set up your bike. You are more likely to get injured if you are in the wrong position.

*Spinning does not work all leg muscles equally. If you plan to make spinning your primary exercise, you should also integrate resistance training workouts to work your hamstring and inner thighs. Pay particular attention to this if you start running, as an imbalance between your outer thigh muscles and inner thigh muscles can cause Patellofemoral Pain syndrome.

Have you ever tried Spinning? What is your favorite thing about Spinning? If not, try it! And let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lots to Say on Sunday

Tonight is your last chance to enter the Barney Butter Giveaway! I will use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner and announce it in the morning :)

Cape Adventures
Today was a rainy and dark day at the Cape, but Eric and I have been excited to be down here for too long to let that get in our way! We decided to do some indoor & fun exercise: ice skating. After a bad experience attempting to skate with a pair of skates that don't fit, I got smart and invested $16.99 in a used pair of ice skates that actually fit. Today was my first day skating with them and I was so relieved to find that I did not forget how to ice skate! (I figured skated for 9 years and played hockey after that- so I better know how to skate). Eric and I were able to weave with the best of them and believe me, weaving was necessary at public skating on vacation week, oh boy!

There was a point where Eric and I started to get concerned about seriously hurting the little kids. Look how much bigger Eric is...

But not too concerned to take weird slanted pictures of me...

Once things got really crazy (as in, there was no where to even weave anymore) we decided to head out. But we will definitely be back. Hyannis has TWO gorgeous new skating rinks, so we have to take advantage. Our hometown (which is a big skating town) could only dream of such a beautiful facility.

What is your favorite active thing to do that counts as "exercise"?

Wedding Program Plans
On another note, I'm doing some thinking about my wedding programs (on my list of wedding related things to do this vacation). I came across this cute programs you can do that also act as fans.

(photo from Etsy store Fairy's Loving Creation)

Since my wedding will be outside in July, thoughts? The only major negative I can think of is that they won't really fit into a purse, so people may be less likely to take them home. But then again, do they just go in the trash at home anyways? I also may have slightly less space but then again, what really needs to go on a program? Would love to hear your thoughts...

Pleasure Reading

Like everyone, I never have enough time to read all the books I want to. I am trying to catch up big time while I am on vacation. Today I finished Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble.

I had read her other book The Reading Group so when PinkFlipFlops reviewed the book on her blog, I knew I had to read it.
Next, I am going to read a book called Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky.

It is not something I would typically read for fun to be honest, but it was given to me by one of my student's mom and I want to at least give it a try. I tend to be stubborn in my book (and movie) choices and sometimes when I force myself to try something out of my comfort zone, I am happily surprised. If it doesn't go well, I am going to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

What books are you reading right now? Any recommendations?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas Detox

Don't forget to enter my Barney Butter giveaway, it ends tomorrow night and I will post the winner on Monday :)

This morning, at an absurdly early hour, I was at spinning class finishing up my last miles of 200 Miles by 2010 Challenge! When I established this goal at the beginning of November I thought it would keep me on track, but not require any serious dedication. However, after a 2 week break from spinning due to swine flu, it became much more of a challenge. In the end, it encouraged me to go to spinning class 2-3 times a week for the month of December, and forced me to push myself at each class to get the mileage up.

There were a lot of times I considered giving up on this goal, but that's why I love the blog- you guys hold me accountable :)

The great news of the day though is that Eric and I are officially on vacation. We have relocated our lives temporarily to my parents house at the Cape. It's hard to explain exactly why Eric and I love being down here so much. There is not a ton to do in the winter, but I think that's why we like it. It's really just the ultimate in relaxation. We love social events as much as the next couple, but we have been overloaded lately so it's nice to just come down here and be able to relax for several days in a row. With Eric's full time job + football coaching schedule this year so far, he needs it even more than usual.

Usually Cape Cod gets less snow than the Boston area, but last weekend the huge blizzard dumped more snow here than up North...

Tonight we hit up the Olive Garden. I know, not too fancy, but I absolutely love this place and there is not one near my house at home...

We ordered our favorite drinks. Eric loves the Italian Margarita...

I love the Cavit Pino Grigio...

Like my new Sacred Heart sweatshirt that my brother got me for Christmas? You may be seeing that a lot in pictures this week, I love the softness of new sweatshirts and the color of this one cannot be beat.

I love Olive Garden's minestrone soup, though it's probably loaded with way too much sodium...

I try to keep things slightly healthier by ordering my breadsticks plain with no salt and oil/butter. They are still amazing dipped into the soup...

For my meal I ordered Capellini Pomodoro which is actually one of the healthiest things on the menu (I know this because Olive Garden so nicely posts all their nutrition information online...say what you want about chain restaurants, I love that!). It's a lot of calories if you eat all of it, but I barely put a dent in this meal...


I can just feel any stress and tiredness escaping out of my body right now. I literally left my kindergarten plan book on my desk at work this vacation and all my plans involve relaxation, fun and a tiny bit of wedding planning. February vacation is always spent frantically writing report cards, so I am taking this one off.

Peek at this Week's Blog Posts:

1. Best Food & Exercise Discoveries of 2009
2. Progress Update on December Goals
3. Goals for January, and all of 2010

I hope everyone is enjoying some relaxation time this weekend.

PS. I thought it might be fun to do some Question and Answers this week since I have a little bit of extra time, so if you have any burning questions for me- ask in the comments :)