Friday, November 30, 2012

It all worked out in the end

The other day, I stumbled across one of my older posts about the time I bought a new wedding dress 8 days before my wedding, and I was reminded a) how crazy I really am, and b) how truly lucky I am. It all worked out in the end - phew!

Then I remembered I had some pictures from that dress fitting that completely changed my wedding future and fortune forever.

So I figured I'd share! Forgive the picture quality, they're from my iPhone 3GS...

Smiling through tears at this point, I was so relieved!

P.S. The bridal shop I used is called La Reine Bridal. The staff there was so incredibly sweet and friendly. They treated me like I was the only bride in the world that day and promised me I would leave there with a gorgeous dress. They held true to their word!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shameless plug

I came to the realization yesterday, I'm not sure I've ever actually mentioned on here what I do for a living. I graduated from Northeastern University in 2008 with a B.S. in Biology.

So naturally, I'm a scientist.
I work in an analytical lab.
And I love it!

Brent is a scientist as well, so you can imagine what our conversations are like when we both get home from work. "Proteins blah blah blah; cells blah blah blah; tumors blah blah blah; glycosylation occupancy blah blah blah." [[[[ Bored yet? ]]]]

One of the top accomplishments out there for a scientist is to contribute to writing a paper highlighting their innovative work in the field and have that work published in a prestigious scientific journal.

I am excited to share with you that Brent achieved this goal yesterday! This is his sixth publication. To say I am incredibly proud is an understatement. Not only was it published in Angiogenesis, but his paper was highlighted as a cover article. GO BRENT!!

---With that being said, when we eventually have kids and they turn out to be complete nerds, it will be because of him. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Exercise of the Week: Improving Your 5K Pace

Back about two months ago, I began trying out a new approach to improving my 5K pace, in hopes of re-emerging this spring and totally putting my previous PR of 24:30 to shame. My goal was to get my pace down to a 7:30 mile. So I dedicated one workout a week to tackling this goal.

After my 10 weeks of training, I did a sort of first time "test" last night to see how fast I could cover 3 miles. Granted, yes, I did this on a flat treadmill, so it's not entirely accurate, but...I was able to run 3 miles in 22:30 last night. This was a big deal for me as a runner and one that I was extremely proud of. So naturally, I celebrated with a big glass of Vignoles from Nashoba Valley Winery:

I wanted to share with you the approach that worked for me, in hopes that it will encourage those looking to improve their pace.

I've been doing this workout 1x per week on a treadmill for the past 10 weeks or so. I would even recommend increasing the frequency to 2x per week for 5-6 weeks then testing out your 5K time.
Also, if you are doing this outside, you will need to have a 1 mile route mapped out ahead of time.

Workout #1-3
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 20 minutes
-----Distance of run: 2 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #4
Run 2 miles at desired race pace. (my workout = 15 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 20 minutes
-----Distance of run: 2 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #5-6
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 20 minutes
-----Distance of run: 2 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #7-8
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 30 minutes
-----Distance of run: 3 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #9
Run 2 miles at desired race pace. (my workout = 15 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 30 minutes
-----Distance of run: 3 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #10
Run 3 miles at desired race pace. (my workout = 22.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 30 minutes
-----Distance of run: 3 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

If any readers decide to try this out, please let me know how it works for you! Good luck!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Spicy Cucumber and Peanut Salad

Somehow, I managed to lose a lb over the week of Thanksgiving. I attribute some of it to the effects of the Zombie drink the night prior, but really, most of it was just being conscious. I tried everything on the Thanksgiving table, keeping my portions small, and I opted to take home leftovers of my favorite dishes so I could indulge more the following day.

Brent also did a pretty amazing job commanding the kitchen post-Thanksgiving meal. He made this amazing Spicy Cucumber and Peanut Salad served alongside some tilapia on Saturday night, and it was absolutely FANTASTIC. This salad is crunchy, tangy, a touch sweet, and with a little kick of heat from the jalapeno. 

If you like heat, feel free to add the entire jalapeno. With seeds. Don't say I didn't warn you though.

Spicy Cucumber and Peanut Salad

1/3 C white wine vinegar
1 packet Splenda
Pinch of salt and pepper

Heat briefly to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

1 cucumber with skin on, sliced thinly 
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 jalapeno, deseeded and sliced thinly
1/4 C coarsely chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp roasted peanuts

Combine cucumber, red onion, and jalapeno. Add dressing and mix to coat. Allow to sit for 20 minutes in the refrigerator so that dressing soaks into vegetables. Finally, add cilantro and roasted peanuts before serving.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Traditions and snow globes

It's been my tradition to go out for Chinese food on Thanksgiving Eve for as long as I can remember. After dinner, Brent and I go meet up with my high school friends at the local American Legion with the other 50% of my small hometown. This year was no different - except for when I decided to try out this new-to-me cocktail at Wong's. Talk about night going downhill. I didn't know WHAT was in this drink, as the restaurant provides a very general description of "rums and fruit juices." So I decided to look up the ingredients this morning when I got into work...

[courtesty of here]
1/2 oz Bacardi 151 rum
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1/2 oz apricot brandy
1 tsp sugar
2 oz light rum
1 oz dark rum
1 oz lime juice

YIKES- never again will I order anything with the word ZOMBIE in the drink title. 

Anywho, Brent and I had a really wonderful holiday full of delicious food, amazing company, laughter, love, and so much to be thankful for this year. Although this is my first Thanksgiving without my Grandfather here, we were incredibly blessed to have been able to spend it with my stepmother's parents who continue to amaze me every time I see them. Her father is 90-years-young, her mother not too far behind, and they have quite possibly a more exciting social life than I do. They still drive everywhere, attend church weekly, they go bowling, shopping, and one of their favorite excursion is Foxwoods. I look at them, and I can't help but hope that Brent and I will be like that someday - it's inspirational, really. 

After dinner, they taught us the game of Left Center Right, and people quickly learned how annoying it is to play games with Brent because he always wins. Always. So annoying. 

We spent all day Friday decking our apartment in holiday gear, which included putting our fake pre-lit tree up. Also, I ran across this amazing decorating idea last week while reading through blogs: DIY Mason Jar Snow Globes. So I set off to AC Moore on Saturday, gathered my supplies, and had at it. The end result was 6 of these beautiful, easy to make, snow globes:

Seriously, if you're looking for a fun project to do with children or friends this holiday season, this is perfect - and cheap! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Casey has always been a girl after my own heart...

She appreciates a good manicure.

She knows how to rock some shades.

She likes sippin' sangria in the summer.

And just look at her eating habits. Girl loves her food.

And for her, I am so thankful. She has been the one to really keep Brent and I's spirits up the last 5 days. Thank you, Casey, for being so wonderful. And crazy. 

Happy Thanksgiving all! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Goodbye, Love

Dear Max,

Your daddy and I had to make a very difficult decision at 1 o'clock this morning, after we finished cleaning up another accident, but we feel it's the right one. We've done everything we can to make your quality of life the best it can be as you near 10 years of age. Every day life is beginning to be a battle for you, and it is getting harder to see you struggle.

At 200 lbs, I really do believe a good percentage of that is your big ol' heart - you are the kindest, most gentle loving dog I have ever met. You walked into my life only 18 months ago, but the bond we formed is forever. If I remember correctly, you ran so fast to meet me that you nearly knocked me right over. Little did I know, that would be the way you greeted me every day when I would get home from work - at the door, with a toy, of course.

It may sound crazy, but you really are one of my best friends. You are a great listener, you love unconditionally, and goodness, are you the best cuddler. I sure will miss those cold winter nights, being able to crawl down on the floor and sprawl next to you, while you lay your head over me, as if saying, "it's okay, Mom, I'll keep you warm."

It's hard to even imagine our life without you in it. I will miss that sweet face and vibrant personality so much; how you come up and nuzzle me when you know I've had a bad day. How you grab the clippers out of Daddy's hands and throw them down on the ground after he cuts your nails. And no matter how deep asleep you are, your head will always perk up when you hear me open the peanut butter jar. How you can barely walk yet you still try to chase squirrels and rabbits. How you are 200 lbs but are deathly afraid of a 30 lb child. How you furrow your brow when I say the word "cookie" and it forms wrinkles all across your forehead. How you make new friends wherever you go because you're Mr. Social. How you burst into the bathroom while I'm taking a shower and sneak your head through the curtain just to say hello. Casey is always Daddy's shadow, but who will follow me around the house when you're gone?

There is so much more I wish we could have done together. We planned on taking you back to Delaney Park this fall, but we were afraid your legs wouldn't be able to handle it. We really wanted you to be around for one last Christmas, so we could dress you up again in that big red bow you loved so much last year. I had a genius idea for our Christmas card photo this year - now, I don't even want to do Christmas cards. I'm glad you got to see snow one last time a few weeks ago - your favorite all-you-can-eat buffet. You got to see Grammy this week, too, and I know she was one of your favorites. I'm not sure how Casey will be without you here. She has known you your entire life, you know. You two have always been the best of friends. I know she will miss you, too.

Life is a funny thing. A lot of people tend to take it for granted - but not dogs. You, my friend, have had quite an exciting life, and I'm certain you will leave this world today having no regrets. Daddy and I are going to stop off at Burger King on the way today to get you that delicious burger we always promised we would when the time came. You have taught me so much these last 18 months, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I will miss you more than you can imagine, my dear friend. <3

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Maintenance during the holiday season

I just looked at my calendar and realized Thanksgiving is almost a week away now - where the hell did this year go?

I feel like I finally just fixed the mess I made of myself while on the honeymoon (seriously, if I never see another drink with pineapple in it, I think I'll be okay), and now the dreaded holidays are approaching - that fateful time of year for your willpower and waistline.

Max and Casey last year on Christmas morning

While I'm not too worried about it this year, I know I do have to be somewhat conscious of the decisions I make over the next month or two. I figured I would share some things I've been up to on the fitness realm, and things I plan to do over the holidays to make sure I don't fall off the bandwagon.

6 Days of Exercise a Week. Sorry, I wish I could preach that sitting on the couch all afternoon burns as many calories as running 3 miles, but I can't - someone should probably get on that though, make that shit happen!  So I have been running 5 days a week, averaging about 20 miles throughout the week. I change up my runs daily, alternating between fast-paced endurance runs, low mileage high intensity interval training, and once a week, I do a long, slower endurance run. I add in a day of kickboxing to break up all that running, and once a week (typically Fridays because it helps me unwind after the long work week), I do yoga. On days where my cardio is under 30 minutes, I throw in some weight training to work opposing muscle groups, typically 2-3X per week. I'll do back/abs, biceps/triceps, and chest/shoulders combos.

Limit Drinking Calories During the Work Week. There's comfort in coming home after a long day at work, eating dinner, and catching up on DVR with a nice big glass of red wine. Except that big glass of red wine could run you 200 calories - multiply that by 5, and that's an extra 1,000 calories during the work week. At least through the holiday season, I feel like I can make better use of those extra calories than drinking them. I'm going to try to substitute that glass of wine for some green tea at night.

Cooking at Home. Brent and I are really good about this anyways and only eat out one night a week, typically on a Friday or Saturday. This has made it a lot easier to maintain weight loss. You have much more control over what you are eating when you prepare the food yourself.

Make Vegetables the Star of Your Plate. Not only do they leave a significantly smaller caloric footprint, but vegetables are incredibly filling. Make your dinner plate at least 50% vegetables - and the remaining, a lean protein. Save the carbohydrates for the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Don't Go Back For Seconds. Thanksgiving dinner is one of those meals that comes only once a year, and because of it, you need to get as much of it as possible before it disappears again until next year. So chances are, you are going to fill that Thanksgiving dinner plate into a heaping pile and lick it clean - hell, that's what I do at least! Usually by the time I begin to see the bottom of my plate, I'm undoing the top button on my pants and need to be rolled out of my chair. But I still reach into my favorite fat-ridden casserole for more because it could be gone in 5 minutes, and I might not get it again until next year. C'mon, at what Thanksgiving feast have you been to where there aren't leftovers for an army? Skip the seconds this year, and take only enough leftovers for one more serving.

What are you doing this holiday season to maintain your healthy lifestyle?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

That time my hair got molested by an 80-year-old man in TJ Maxx

It snowed here in New England yesterday, so to ease my depression, I decided to stop off for my biweekly visit to TJ Maxx for some retail therapy on the way home from work yesterday.

So there I am, perusing the sweater aisle, minding my own business, when I notice a little 80-year-old man to my right, standing there and appearing to be chatting with himself. I kept to myself, mostly because people who talk to themselves aren't usually in their right mind, you know? And then I realized he wasn't actually talking to himself, he was talking to ME.

80-year-old man: It gone done started snowing since I've been in here. Can you believe it?

Me: Uhm, yes. Yes it has. I'm not a fan of snow.

Man: Wow, miss. Your hair. It's so long. And beautiful. So shiny.

Me: Uh, thank you.

Man then continues to sweep his hand through my hair.

Man: Wow, your hair is so just so soft! I sure hope your husband doesn't mind I just ran my fingers through it. I wish I could done cut a bunch off to stick on my head, that way I would have hair again. And I could carry a piece of you with me.

Me: (nervously laughing) Well, thank you, I should be going now.

Man: Oh, but please. You must tell me what you use for your hair. What shampoo?

Me: Uh Pantene I think?

Man: I heard of that Pantene - 'supposed to be good. Do you condition? You must condition. It's so soft.

Me: Sure.

Man: And you know, they say it's not good to shampoo every day, but you can condition every day. And use plenty of it - you can't never use too much conditioner!

Me: I will remember that...(taking steps back from man)

Man: Kind of like wax!

Me: Huh?

Man: When you wax your car, it's best you use a lot of wax. It's never good to skimp on car wax.

Me: Very nice.

At this point, I have taken so many steps back that I have managed to enter another section entirely, and the man is somehow still with me.

Man: (sees me eyeing a random fur jacket) Oh, wow, what a pretty jacket.

Man continues to grab the jacket off the rack and hold it up to me.

Man: This would look nice on you. Do you know how to make sure the fur is real? You rub it and blow on it. Do you want to try?

Me: You know what, I really should be going to try this stuff on and get back home. Have a nice day.

I think I might have started running to the fitting rooms.

Man: (yelling out to me as I scamper off) I'm going to pick out a new car today - I'm hoping to go with the Ford Fusion. They say it's great in the winter - my car now has leather seats and everything.

And that is when I finally made it our of earshot of crazy 80-year-old man. 

Why does this shit happen to me? Brent thinks it's because I must look rough around the edges.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I respect others' opinions, and I expect the same in return. None of this "You're entitled to your opinion unless it's different from mine" business. It's like people forget the word 'respect' every 4 years.

And when I see this crap, it really annoys me.

So if you are feeling similarly on election day, you should check out this amazing post of 25 Images That Will Turn Your Day Around. My coworker sent it to me, and it put an instant smile on my face. 

And P.S. I think I know what I should have made for Max's Halloween costume last week - see #2!