31 March 2011

Happiness is a journey....

happiness is a journey, not a destination - souza 

for a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.  
but there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, 
some unfinished business, time still to be served, 
a debt to be paid. 
at last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. 
this perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness.  
happiness is the way.  
so treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. 

28 March 2011

ok foodies...

Carrot/Mango Salad with Grilled Swordfish

Mango Salad "Recipe"
* ripe mango cut into chunks 
* 3 carrots, grated 
* red onion, chopped 
* 2 green onions, chopped 
* handful of fresh cilantro, chopped 
* fresh mint, chopped
* 1/2 red bell pepper, diced 
*handful of sunflower seeds 
one 'go-round' grapeseed oil
two 'go-rounds' apple cider vinegar 
mix up and enjoy!

for the love of girlfriends ....


Zia & Em @ bump before going out
Ok so you may not be getting the whole "love of cooking" vibe from reading along lately as it seems that I've been eating out a lot.  I have to say that as much as I love to cook, I also love to socialize with my girlies and enjoy all the restaurants our city has to offer.  Plus with the weather warming up and days being longer, it just seems perfect to go out! With Easter around the corner I have many recipes waiting to be tried out and of course shared with y'all. 


Friday night we took Emmerson out for her first girls night! Here she is all dressed in pink with her adorable & yes obnoxious hat that her zia (me) gave her.  Who else would inflict such a fashion statement on a 5 month old!!?  


It really is amazing the comfort of girlfriends and I honestly love passing it along to the next generation of little ladies.  I could have a horrible day but then I get a hug and a kiss from one of my girls and instantly feel uplifted.  I am blessed to have many of the same girlfriends from the age of 14 as well as many other sets of friends that I have cultivated along the way.  It is from the love of my friends and family that I am able to find strength each day - to chin up and smile and know that I am loved when I need it most.  I haven't felt so courageous lately so luckily, I've had my girls to stand behind me and let me know that I will make it through. 


We often take those who have been in our lives the longest for granted so, if there is anyone out there actually reading this.... take a moment to call or email or send a card to let those who are in your heart know that you cherish them.  They may have been a friend for only a moment or a lifetime but if they are important to you, don't hesitate to let them know.  Nothing can ever be lost in telling someone that you care about them.  xo

27 March 2011

Today's Post brought to you by the letter "S"

SUNDAY and SUNSHINE-y!  
That's today!! Weather was just under zero but was beautiful. 

SEVEN mile goal - Eight mile run!! Yep you got it 8.09 miles and a sub 12min/mile makes me happy ok freaking ecstatic!! 

SWEET SHOES - I had my doubts in my first outdoor run with them but love having lighter summer runners and of course New Balance has never done me wrong! 

STRETCHING - Always feels great to stretch out the muscles.  Nikki kicked my butt with shoulders and core this week and I can totally now feel it in my runs.  I notice myself pulling more with my arms to increase my cadence and holding my abs in tight as I go! And as I stretched on the porch after my run, one of the neighbourhood cats joined me!!

SMILES - Love the camaraderie of running as every other runner you pass usually offers smiles and today some nice lady walking her dog gave me a little boost of encouragment which then made me smile more! 

SONGS & SINGING out loud! - A few new selections to my playlist including Loser like Me by the cast of Glee! LOL I am a total gleek but at least I know it, have made peace with it and hope that no one ever asks to hear my running tunes! 

SUCCESS - seriously a sub 12min/mile... makes me hopeful that I will reach my 2:30 goal in the 1/2 marathon.  

As I am writing this, I am enjoying a piece of left over pizza that I made last night and accidentally dropped it facedown on my keyboard so I know have Franks Red Hot SAUCE dripped in behind a few keys! 

So off to SHOWER and enjoy some more sunshine and perhaps avoid the work I should be doing.... there is always tomorrow!! 

Here is to the START of a great week!!

25 March 2011

I like to win!

Here's another fun fact about me - I like to win! I'm very competitive.  I get over it really quick if I don't but if you challenge me or dare me, I just have to do it and I'll bust my arse in trying to be the best.

I also really, really, really like to win draws and giveaways! So as I read through like a million fun blogs each day there are lots who have fun giveaways - like on tallmomontherun.blogspot.com where you I could win a pair of Bad A** running socks!!

So I figure why not share the fun - I'm going to set up a little widget in my sidebar to share any good giveaways that I find - however if they are really good, I'll probably just keep them to myself.  FYI

Like I said, I really like to win.

PS - If you want to enter for the socks visit Tall Mom's blog.

24 March 2011

Two words - Motor Burger!

Original Motor Burger w/ bacon on a gluten-free bun
I broke out of my running slump this afternoon - I took my new kicks out for some time with pavement.  The first mile or mile & 1/2 was horrible! Literally I contemplated turning around and going home which isn't something I do often.  


Pushing through it and finding my go-to song on my iPod helped make me keep going! And then, all of a sudden, I felt so strong! Stella got her groove back!! 


One of my favourite things about running is smiling and waving at other runners along the way.  That quick nod, which shows "yep I know you feel like crap right now, your lungs are burning your legs feel like lead"...oh wait that's just me! Or it signals "you're looking great - keep up the good work and kick, kick, kick!" 


When I got home, i checked my GPS to see my workout details and saw a 8.57 min/mile - something has to be wrong!! Either that or my new shoes have some sort of magical powers because I haven't run a sub-9min mile since probably grade 10!  Looking at the course it shows me running includes a quick dash across the Detroit river and back across so I must have jumped to another tower when I was running along the riverfront! Well it felt good for a few minutes! Now I have to go and actually map it out manually to see what the true workout was! 


It was at least 5 miles so I didn't feel too guilty when I met the girls for dinner and enjoyed the Original Motor Burger with bacon (I only ate half), a pickle and taste of slaw.  We admired Kelly's tan, Leslie's purse, discussed Fran's entry to the NYC marathon and prepped for our Kalamazoo adventure in May. 


Today was a good day.  xo 

23 March 2011

Have passport - will travel!

Ten days ago, I went in with my beat-up, weathered passport for renewal.  It took me a few takes with the photographer because it's very hard for me not to smile!! They told me it would take 10 days or so (which it did exactly) for my new passport to arrive and at that point anxiety set in.  I didn't have to really go anywhere special, however just the thought that I couldn't get up and go to wherever I wanted, made me feel stuck.  You don't usually have to ask me twice if you are looking for a travel partner as I'm up for anything!  


I love to sit and look through the atlas and plan all the places in the world that I would love to go one day.   I do tend to choose destinations based on the name of the city and hope to venture to places such as Kennebunkport, Maine for that reason alone! Or, just like in one of my favourite Canadian films One Week, traveling across the country taking photos with the "-est" things such as the largest teepee or oldest windmill.  The world seems so small and life is so short - why not see as much of it as you can? 


I have an old fishing hat that belonged to my grandfather (that he wore in the garden, not fishing! come on we're italian!)  It is covered in pins from everywhere I've ever visited as well as pins I've traded through my youth playing travel softball representing people I've met from all over North America.  It's pretty heavy now and there is no way you could ever actually wear it on your head but it's one of my most treasured things.  I may have said it before - I'm blessed with a truly amazing family.   My grandparents were so important to me and I would give anything for one more dinner with them or one more cup of coffee.  They came to Canada with nothing and are such an inspiration to me to live the dream and experience the world.  


I'm sad in a way to put my old passport to rest - that was five great years and there are many, many stamps in old faithful... however I guess it's just another thing I have to say good-bye to right now and appreciate those times for what they were.   It is hard to say good bye - whether it be leaving somewhere, someone or something.  I think they only way to make it a bit easier is to look ahead and welcome the next adventure.  


So, now to plan where the first stamp should come from. Life, It's Worth the Trip! 

22 March 2011

Looking for sunshine....

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow."


Overall I think I have a pretty good attitude for life and all these changes that have suddenly happened it in.  Ending my marriage, moving back to Canada, running my own business and living life have been busy to say the least however I do think overall I'm managing it well.  Sometimes I wish I was a little more depressed so perhaps I'd lose those 10lbs everyone seems to lose on the verge of a break-up or divorce!! 


But seriously, I was out for dinner with my two best girl friends last week and both of course are concerned for me always (which I love because I know they love me tons) but I as always reassured them that I am fine. I choose to find the good things out of this such as getting to have a first kiss again with someone and the butterflies of falling in love again - I hope so anyways!!  It is weird to think of moving on - I think it's like why you learn to drive when you are 16 and why you date in your 20s - because you feel fearless.  Now I worry of how I will find someone new but also how do I know they aren't some adulterous axe murderer.... I mean why are they single??? 


At least once a day I say the serenity prayer to myself - it's just something that gives me comfort and reassures me that I can do get through anything as long as I have courage.  Today I found the above quote because there are days that courage doesn't roar but you have to dig deep to find it and just find hope in tomorrow.  


I allow myself to cry and be mad a little bit but I really find no use in being angry about things that happen in life.  There are things beyond our control and we have to accept that - I think people get angry because they can't give up that control.  Now, I know what you are thinking (those that know me) because I really am your Type A control freak & organization queen.... but  in overall life terms I think I'm pretty good at going with the old adage that "what will be, will be".  I give in to the idea that there is a master plan and I pick and choose between knowing what I can control and what is beyond me.  


So yes there are times when I miss having someone to say good night to and yes I still sleep on my side of the bed rather than down the middle and sometimes I worry about where my life is going.  And when I can't hear courage roaring inside me, I just dig a little deeper and wait for tomorrow.  

17 March 2011

Ballet Feet & Runners Legs

Hip flexor is still sore today and though the weather is optimal I'm taking Friday's rest day today and moving my 4 miles to tomorrow.  Let's hope the sun is still shining then!! That's the thing with spring weather - you don't know if it will be the same tomorrow.  :( 


Today is actually quite windy so while I did enjoy walking around the 'hood and getting errands/groceries done, I'm opting not to push the hip into gusts of wind.  


I found a new little fun widget to help track my mileage and actually made a few new online blogging friends which is nice! Always good for the online running support!! I tried to put in my workouts for the month - I didn't want to go back through to the first of the year cuz I'm a bit lazy... 


Since I haven't really posted a picture lately I decided to show off my ballet feet along with my newly crocheted ankle warmers! I'm not sure if I love ballet class more for the dance or for the clothes....as with most sports I believe you are only as good as your outfit - which is also why I run in a skirt! 

16 March 2011

Dead Legs

Today was crazy busy... the day flew by with customer after customer which was great sales wise but I really got nothing on my to-do list actually done.  Walking outside at 5pm it was like spring had come to say hello and grace us with warm air, sunshine and a light breeze.  As soon as I got home, I threw on my running stuff and headed out with all the best of intentions.... a mile in my legs felt as heavy as cement.  


I HATE that - I hate being all geared up and to run in perfect conditions and your body just feels spent.  I also couldn't get my iPhone to stop repeating songs so that was frustrating as I needed the extra jolt of tunes to keep me moving. It was only a 2 mile day on my training schedule but it was SO nice that I felt like I needed to go further.  I pushed to 3 miles and that was it - I called it a day.  It's only wednesday and I've already logged 13 miles (plus my dance dance marathon last night!) so I concede.  


It's time to start breaking in some new kicks I think as well for race day as we are less than 7 weeks out.  I can tell it's time when my funky ankle starts and hip flexors start to act up.  


Now after my sister cooking me a great dinner of stir fried tofu with an insane amount of veggies and hot sauce, I'm going to shower, stretch and tuck in with Ruby and either my crochet project (new ballet socks) or my book.... 

15 March 2011

Dance Dance Revolution!

Tuesday night = Dance class! So whilst in full training mode for my upcoming 1/2 marathon, my cross training day includes ballet class with a zumba class beforehand to at least work up some sweat, some cardio and of course some laughs. 


Ok so I'm beginning to think that there may be a reason why my parents didn't encourage me to take dance. I mean softball was great fun and I was by no means graceful running the bases or sliding into home, however it was obvious that perhaps team sports was more for me than ballet or jazz.... 


For instance, our zumba instructor extraordinaire D is so much fun and so encouraging that it actually makes you think that as you are wriggling around trying to look sexy doing the samba, that your moves are good! As well, I usually try to push myself so when there is an option to hold weights through the class to give that little extra to the workout, I of course take that option.  Fast forward to our combo move tonight where I manage to smack myself in the jaw with a weight...no joke - you can't make shit like that up! OMG! 


Then on to ballet where now the moves slow down and concentration sets in and I realize that not only am I not good with instruction but really I have an issue with moves that require me to move my arms and my legs together, in opposite directions! Luckily J our instructor has worked with children so us 30 & 40 year olds laughing at ourselves doesn't bother her. 


I think it's important to allow ourselves the opportunity to challenge ourselves and push our limits while at the same time laughing at ourselves and not taking life too seriously.  


So in the essence of being positive each day and finding joy in everyday things I realize that 2 hours of completely uncoordinated dance, surrounded by wonderful, encouraging ladies and the followed up by cheese and fresh strawberries makes for a pretty great day!  And it gives me things to think about in the miles I have to log tomorrow!! 

14 March 2011

Thankful

Today I ran 6 miles - the first few weren't good - I had to stop to stretch it felt like every few 100m - had a knot in my  left calf and I thought I was never going to get my stride.  Eventually I did loosen up and enjoyed myself with the crisp air and the sun shining down and I probably could have pushed another mile or so.  


I was thinking alot during my run today - about others whose battles are far longer than the miles I'm logging.  I always try to dig for some sort of inspiration when I'm finding it hard to get going and champions like little Emma always get me to push a little harder and dig a little deeper. 


Well, later today my cousin A published this video which not only made me cry my eyes out (sorry a little emotional these days!) but made me grateful again for the strength I have within me.  It may not ever be enough to come in first but it's enough to get me out there.   The love this dad shows for his son and the triumph on both their faces when they finish the Ironman was truly inspirational. 


So tomorrow if you are looking for a reason to be inspired or searching for the energy to lace up, watch this and be grateful.  Wishing everyone strength and tenacity in all your challenges.  Push yourself one step further and be thankful for all the steps you've taken.  

11 March 2011

Thinking Positive

I have to say that through this whole situation of life right now, I am making the daily choice to think positively and focus on the future and all the good that lay ahead.  Not to say that there aren't moments where I am kinda pissed off such as when I got my car stuck in the snow bank, or times when I start crying upon hearing certain songs on the radio, but for the most part I face each day with a smile and am grateful for all the good in my life. 


I came across a few positive things today online by Lucy MacDonalad that I wanted to share with you ... 


3 simple rules for living a happy life: 
1. Start each day with a grateful heart.
2. Focus on the positive aspects of every person you encounter.
3. End each day with a grateful heart.


As well, I chose this quote  "no matter where I am going, or what I am doing, or who I am doing it with, it is my intention to focus on the positive" as my mood message because I do believe that happiness is a choice.  We can choose each moment to focus on either the positive or the negative in that situation and really, if the choice is ours, why not be positive? 


On that note today was a pretty great day! I got to relax and enjoy a coffee while waiting in line at the passport office, then I had a great workout where my trainer N pushed me to do 30 push-ups! Real ones  - not the girly, on-your-knees kind.  REAL BIG GIRL ONES! Then I had a great lunch with my photographer friend A at my favourite organic, health food place, followed by an afternoon at my store, then dinner and shopping with my sis and friend S.... 


Now I'm tucked in bed, reading through blogs and just entered my next 1/2 marathon on May 8th in Kalamazoo... 


Here's to a good day, grateful for all the good in my life 
xo xo 

08 March 2011

Fat Tuesday

So, today being shrove Tuesday, fat Tuesday, Paczki day blah blah blah I was of course excited at the possibility to whip up my favourite Carrot Cake Pancakes - accompanied by a nice side of turkey bacon and fruit salad.  


The recipe is simple - use whatever recipe or mix you usually use to make your pancakes and add in 4 grated carrots, chopped toasted walnuts, a few go-arounds of cinnamon and voila! Carrot Cake Pancakes! 


Feel free to top with butter and maple syrup or cream cheese as a few did tonight and then syrup... I always like to pair a nice aged cheddar with mine (shout out to my cousin/godmother who taught me that years ago!).  


I did take a nice shot of the girls enjoying them - my little dinner part of five - but they all asked me not to post pics of them shoveling pancakes in! It did make for a slightly heavier belly at ballet class later this evening but well worth it. Now tomorrow begins Lent so I am off to enjoy some junk food since I'll be giving it up for the next 40 days... 

07 March 2011

Healthy Mac N Cheese

So it's Friday night - my sister is over and Sophia came down from the upstairs apartment with the bribe that I would make my homemade mac n cheese in exchange for their labour in painting the living room.  

We got kind of a late start and well... no painting got accomplished but we did enjoy this great dish:


It was plenty for all three of us with enough left over to give each person lunch the next day! I may officially become my mother when I start purchasing take out containers to give away food to my guests! 

Ok recipe... feel free to adapt as you see fit! I always add in new things depending on what is in my fridge at the time (hence the sausage in this round!) 

1 pkg noodles (I used corn penne but usually use gluten-free macaroni noodles) 
1 pkg cubed, frozen butternut squash (I have also subbed in a can of organic pumpkin or squash in the past)
organic milk - enough to cover the squash in the pan 
small container low fat ricotta
1/2c shredded cheese (I usually use old cheddar and mexican cheddar) 
1/2 roll goat cheese (optional) 
I pkg organic chicken & gouda sausage (thank you whole foods!) 
frozen edamame, shelled (as much as you like) 
frozen corn (as much as you like) 

preheat oven to 350 degrees 
cook noodles as per package - leave a bit al dente as they are going to cook further, drain 
over medium heat, warm squash and milk until warm and mushy 
remove pan from heat, stir in all cheeses
stir in noodles until coated
pour into baking dish - I topped with pieces of smoked cheddar but you could do bread crumbs or even those canned  french's onions if you are able to eat wheat unlike me! 
heat about 10m until all melty and yummy looking! 

I've also subbed in cubed ham, various cheeses as well as chunks of lobster meat! Use what you enjoy! 

04 March 2011

Chicken Corn Chowder



Yummy Chowder
I teeter on the edge of being one of those women in the waiting room tearing out the page of Canadian Living magazine for the recipe.  I love to cook and I love to eat and I most certainly am my mother's daughter - I love to feed people.  


Now the thing with me and recipes is that a.) if I find one I like, I never follow it to a tee as there is always some adaptation I do to make it 'my own.'  And b.) I tend to make up recipes a lot of the time and not write it down as I go so people will ask me for it and then I frantically try to remember.  This also makes me my Nanna's granddaughter because as she taught me to cook many of her recipes the amounts were always measured in "this much" looking at her cupped hand.   Or "you know, until it feels right" as a gauge of how much of some ingredient to put in!! 


So it's been over a decade since I've lived on my own - bachelorette style - and I'm still getting used on only having to cook for with enough say for lunch the next day.  Luckily I am currently sharing a duplex and my friend S lives upstairs and really likes having me as her new wife!! Also my sister is just a few streets over so we have been taking turns cooking for each other - we both share the need to adapt recipes!! 


The other day, while waiting for my sis to get her eyes examined, I flipped through Chatelaine and stumbled upon a few delicious soup recipes perfect for this time of year and found Smoky Corn Chowder - their photo looked a lot better than mine but I'm a cook, not a photographer! So I share with you MY version - try it out and tell me what you think! 


Smoky Corn Chowder w/bacon 

  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 leek (white part only), finely chopped (I subbed green onions but you could use either) 
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped into small cubes
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 398 ml can creamed corn
  • 1/2 red pepper diced 
  • 2 Shredded chicken breasts (cooked separate) 
  1. Heat a large pot over medium. Add bacon and cook just until crisp, 4 min. Discard all but 1 tbsp of bacon fat. Add leek and sauté until tender, 1 min. Then add potato, corn, broth, milk, creamed corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium/low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, 20 min. Season with fresh pepper.

BONUS: Creamed corn adds richness to this soup without adding a lot of fat

Enjoy!