Well, this weekend I definitely enjoyed lots of tasty treats!  I tried to do it in moderation, but I definitely came into Monday feeling a little over-stuffed.

It all started on Friday, with Bob coming back into town and wanting to eat at El Rods.  I put forth a pretty good effort to avoid some of the pitfalls of Mexican restaurant dining.  I always leave there feeling bloated and yucky.  For lunch, I had very minimal chips and a salad with no cheese sauce, which is their version of "dressing."  It was very good, and I would have been fine, but then we decided to go to Frosty Parrot for some fro yo goodness.  I love my fro pa, so I definitely had a big cup with a lite amount of yummy toppings, including Reese's cups, Snickers, and cookie dough bites.  Yum!  Fridays are supposed to be pizza night, but since I had indulged in the afternoon, I ate the salad I had originally packed as my lunch that day, so I sort of evened things out.  The salad was delish!  It was spinach, some cut up carrots, cherry tomatoes, and leftover cold salmon from the night before.  I mixed up my own dressing of some EVOO and lemon juice, with some Italian seasonings and fresh cracked pepper thrown it.  It really was very tasty.  Plus, I ate about 3/4 of a slice of cheese pizza.

Saturday's meals were scrambled eggs/whites for breakfast, half of a chicken wrap for lunch, pretzels for pm snack, and for dinner I had a Cobb salad at Red Robin, with the balsamic vinegar dressing, and Bob and I shared a slice of Red Velvet cake.

Sunday we had Father's Day pancakes and eggs/whites.  Lunch was grilled sausages, with spinach, cherry tomatoes, and roasted red peppers.  So good!!  I went a little overboard with the pm snack and ate a ton of graham crackers and chocolate PB2.  Graham crackers are my weakness!  Dinner was a special Father's Day dinner.  We had amazing grilled shrimp, 6 oz. filets, grilled zucchini, and some roasted baby gold potatoes.  For dessert, I made bite sized apple pies, using premade crescent roll dough, slices of apple, butter, and a sugar/cinnamon mix.  They were so good, and we served them with some vanilla ice cream.  Definitely a treat meal, but I enjoyed every morsel.  I actually only ate half of my steak and just enjoyed the other half of it as my lunch this afternoon (alongside leftover green beans, spinach, and cherry tomatoes).

So, what's in store for the rest of the week?

First let me announce that I am playing around with having themes for each night of the week, in order to facilitate menu planning.  Fun!  We will see how this works.  My themes are as follows:
  • Meatless Mondays
  • Tried and True Tuesdays (these are recipes that I've made a ton of times and know they are easy and tasty)
  • Wet Wednesdays (meals from the sea, aka Fish Night)
  • Thrilling Thursdays (meals that are either International or new or just fun in some way or the other)
  • Family Night Fridays (usually Family Pizza Night but can also include restaurants family members want to go to or other fun family-centered meal ideas)
  • Saturday & Sunday are nights when we'll have staples on hand and may need to get fresh veggies in order to do lots of grilling out (weather permitting) or meals that take longer to make and are easier to do on the weekend or help with prepping for meals for the week.

I've probably put too much thought into all of this, but it is something I enjoy.  I'm hoping this will help make menu planning easier and possibly even help with coming up with grocery lists, etc.

In a lot of ways, these themes are sort of close to how I've been planning meals for some time now.  We've done Fish Night on Weds for a long time.  We typically do easy meals the rest of the week.  One new thing is the "Meatless Monday" idea.  We'll see how long that lasts, as I'm not sure Bob is that into it.  I can also have some option meat add-ins for him.  But the themes might help me add a little order to my thinking, and we need to do a better job of planning for the weekend.  Often our weekend meals are "to be decided" and end up hinging on us going to the grocery store.  I would like to be better prepared so we don't necessarily have to hit the store in order to have dinner.

Considering how much I indulged this weekend, this week is a chance to get myself back on track and possibly do a little more planning so that I'm eating healthier over the weekend, as well.

  • Monday: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (stuffed w.black beans, salsa, cheese, broccoli, etc).
  • Tuesday: Smokey stuffed peppers
  • Wednesday: Baked fish, mac-n-cheese, broccoli
  • Thursday: Pasta Primavera, with mushrooms, tomatoes, and any other leftover veggies available, using either Penne or Bow Tie pasta
  • Friday: Family Pizza Night
  • Saturday: Turkey burgers with poached eggs

Should be pretty tasty!

It may not be much to look at, but this little baby was super tasty!  May I present, the portobello pizza.  I could definitely see doing this in lieu of the traditional pizza on family pizza night (for myself, at least).

This was a vegetarian, easy, filling meal.  I whipped up the filling for my pizza, and while it was cooking, the boys made their own "make your own pizzas."  The result was very little clean-up and a fun, tasty dinner.

olive oil
cherry tomatoes, quartered
seasonings (I used some basil and thyme from my garden), minced
squeeze of minced garlic
a couple squeezes of lemon juice
handful of torn baby spinach
portobello mushroom
handful of skim, shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Heat up your pan with a little olive oil
Saute your tomatoes, seasonings, garlic, lemon juice, and spinach
Remove your stem of the portobello (don't worry about the ribs)
Fill your portobello with your filling and top with as much mozzarella as desired
Bake for 12-15 minutes, turn on Broil (Hi) for a couple of minutes at the end and make sure to pull it out before it burns.

I let the kids choose to use either English muffins or tortillas for their pizzas.  Stephen chose tortilla, Taylor chose the muffin.  They both had a bowl of cheese, and they requested sliced hot dogs as their toppings.  Oddly enough, they both turned down offers of spinach, tomatoes, and fresh basil.  Oh well!  They had fun and ate all of their "pizzas."

I probably went a little heavy on the cheese, but man, was it good!  I will definitely be making this dinner again :)  A great option for Meatless Mondays.

Print Friendly and PDF
Even though it rained most of the weekend, we still managed to have a pretty nice two days.  It was definitely a blend of getting things done around the house and having a little fun, too.  On Saturday, Bob managed to take both of the boys to get their hair cut, so now they are looking so grown up and handsome.  I can't believe how big they are getting.  The boys spent a bunch of time outside on Saturday, and Bob even managed to get the lawn mowed during a break in the rain.  I did menu planning and grocery shopping (fun times!).  And laundry, always laundry.  We had our awesome dinner, and Bob and watched a movie Saturday night, which was fun.  We watched Lincoln Lawyer with Matthew MCConaughey.  It was really good!  Suspense and intrigue but not so much that I was totally freaked out and not too gory, either.

Sunday was a little bit more of the same.  I worked on organizing a few things around the house, got Stephen's spring clothes in the wash, vacuumed, and just lots of basic cleaning.  And more laundry!  

Then, we went to Fro Pa!  My favorite weekend treat!  I think I actually managed to fill myself up with fro yo.  It was heavenly!  The kids loved it, too.  We got a bunch of pictures, and the owner let Bob wear the Parrot Head, so had to get pics of that!

After our frozen delights, we took advantage of a break in the rain and headed over to the Huckleberry with the boys' scooters.  Oh my gosh -- they had so much fun!  And who am I kidding, I had a blast too!  I spent the entire walk offering to ride Taylor's scooter if he got tired.  It actually takes a good amount of energy to push oneself along on the scooter, and we walked a pretty good distance, so he was tired at the end.  Which meant I got to ride.  It was so much fun.
I have to say, though, my favorite part of the walk was watching Taylor really glide along on his scooter.  I don't think I've ever seen him look as graceful as when he was gliding on that thing.  Stephen did really well with his three-wheeled scooter.  He was super cute pushing himself along.  He doesn't quite have the hang of steering yet, so he would scoot along and then have to stop and physically turn his scooter to keep from going off the path.  It was pretty precious!

At the end of our walk there is a set of monkey bars.  Sometimes I can go all the way across (I like to do these bars on my runs whenever I run by them).  Last week I couldn't make it, though, so I had something to prove this time around.  Well, I made it all the way across!  It felt pretty good :)

Last night's dinner was a spontaneous, and tasty, experiment.  We originally had boring old meatloaf on the menu, but then we ended up spending a bunch of time walking the Huckleberry and riding scooters, and all of a sudden, I was worried we wouldn't have enough time for the meatloaf to bake.  We considered stopping by the grocery store for some chicken and pineapple to grill out, but we really didn't want to go to the store for a third time in the weekend.  So, we got creative and decided to turn the meatloaf into turkey burgers!  To 1 lb. of ground turkey, I added 1 egg, a handfull of Italian bread crumbs, a big squirt of pre-minced garlic, same with pre-minced ginger, a healthy shake of Montreal steak seasoning, salt, and a squirt of soy sauce (I wanted to use Teryaki, but we were all out).  We took some mini peppers and coated them in olive oil, garlic powder, and salt & pepper and threw them on the grill to roast.  The dinner cooked up super quick!  We finished the meal out with a bag of Cranberry Walnut Salad (that came with an apple cider vinaigrette), and some orange wedges.

And!  And!  Just for fun, we topped each burger with an egg cooked over medium.  I don't quite know how or why we thought of this.  I have sort of been craving a Cheesy Western for a while now, and then we were talking about the ginger and sauce having kind of an Asian flare and how Korean BeMenBop (I know I butchered the word and the spelling!) has an egg over easy on it, and we just decided to do it to our turkey burgers.

It was very tasty and definitely unique!

Today's Workout

And finally, today's workout.  Ordinarily, this wouldn't be anything to write home about, but it was just so awesome today I had to share.  So I did almost the whole workout I had planned, but I did change things up a bit.  

The had some new weights that work well with the trap bar, and there were some 45s, so instead of doing 50 lbs. on each side, I did the 45s and ended up doing the trap bar deadlifts at 135 lbs.  I did four sets of 8 reps.  It felt amazing!

Then I did the squat with the single arm presses (20 lbs) and superset it with the bent over rows (60 lbs).  I did a pretty fast pace for the squats/presses, and I got a great sweat going!  I lost count and couldn't remember if I had done 3 or 4 sets, but I did 12 reps for all of them and stopped when I had about 10 minutes left to do ab work.

For the abs, I wasn't in the mood to do planks, so I opted to the ab work I have planned for Friday: inclined sit ups and side lateral raises.  I used a 12.5 lb. weight for all of them and got in as many supersets as I could before I had to hit the shower.

Increasing the weights left me feeling like I had had an amazing workout, in the same amount of time I usually have.  The squat/press combo was also great for getting my heart rate up, and I love that I was able to get the squat work in while also working my arms.  Love, love, love that move!

And what a great way to start my week!

I hope and pray the kids stay healthy all week this week :)
My week definitely goes smoother when I put a little planning behind it.  I'm just a person that needs a plan and needs the time and space to visualize something in order to achieve the best possible outcome.  I found this to be extremely true when it came to my marathon training, and now that I have really realized it, I am applying it to the rest of my life.  This has the potential to work out really well for me.  The downside, of course, is that I need to be flexible enough to adapt and not fall apart when the plan gets derailed, as it inevitably will.  I do believe that control is an illusion, but it is often hard to actually accept that and run with it.

Knowing all of this, I've been spending some time this weekend writing out my menu and thinking through my fitness for the week.
Here's this week's menu!

  • Saturday: Buffalo Meatballs, skinny blue cheese dressing, sauteed squash and zucchini, carrots, mac-n-cheese, and spinach (for me)
  • Sunday: Meatloaf, salad
  • Monday: Roasted chicken, broccoli, and cauliflower, leftover mac-n-cheese
  • Tuesday: Asian chicken lettuce wraps
  • Wednesday: Fish night, green beans
  • Thursday: Philly Cheese Peppers
  • Friday: Family Date Night

Let me just add, the Buffalo Meatballs and skinny blue cheese dressing last night was AWESOME!!  It was a total crowd-pleaser.  Bob took one bite and said, "We don't have this often enough!  It needs to be rotated into our weekly menus."  And the blue cheese dressing was sooooo good.  It had blue cheese (obviously!), nonfat, plain greek yogurt, about 1 tbsp. regular mayo, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and some seasonings.  And I would defy anybody to think that it didn't taste as delicious as the best full-fat blue cheese dressing out there.  The meaballs were ground chicken, one egg, some panko bread crumbs, 2 oz. nonfat cream cheese, and 3 tbsp blue cheese.  They were super yum!  Taylor at all of his and clearly enjoyed them!  Stephen just didn't seem that hungry for dinner in general.  He usually really likes meatballs, so I just don't think he was that hungry.  He ate at least one of his carrots and all of his mac-n-cheese.

Another thing I did in terms of planning for this current weekend is that I made enough of my healthy dinners this past week to have some yummy healthy options for the weekend.  This was a bright idea!

Something I've noticed that past few weeks is that I do a great job during the work week of eating fairly clean and getting in daily fitness.  Then, on the weekends, it's not that I go crazy in the opposite direction, but I definitely take Sat. and Sun. as rest days, and I am usually quite lax on my eating.  Pretty much ever since we started the marathon training and Taylor started having soccer games on Fri. nights, Friday has become "Family Pizza & Movie Night."  Quite frankly, I've become pizza-ed out.  So with pizza for dinner on Friday, and our lazy, big pancakes & eggs breakfasts over the weekend, plus more processed foods with lunches and sometimes dinner, I am basically just feeling a little yucky by the time Monday rolls around.  

In terms of my daily weight fluctuations, I have also certainly noticed that my daily weight is a nice, fairly consistently low number throughout the week and then over the weekend it sort of creeps up.  Now, this isn't a huge deal because I am not dieting, and I am not trying to reach some magically low number.  I'm comfortable with my body, I'm comfortable with my weight, and I know that it fluctuates over time anyway.  That said, I still don't like feeling like I'm some weekend roller coaster or yo-yo.  It just sort of goes against the consistency I sort of strive for in my life.

So I've been thinking about all of this and I decided to plan ahead a bit and try to have some healthier options for myself this weekend.  I had some nice leftover meals to have for my lunches the past two days.  And yesterday I experimented with a smoothie I've been wanting to do for awhile now, so I have been very happy with my weekend eating.  I'm so happy with it, in fact, that I will have absolutely no problem going out and enjoying a delicious fro yo snack this afternoon :)

Here's what I've been eating this weekend:

On Friday, when the rest of the family ordered pizza from our favorite restaurant, I ordered a chicken breast and substituted the starch for a double order of veggies.  I ate half of it for dinner and saved the other half.

On Saturday, I totally enjoyed our traditional pancakes and eggs (eggs made with half whole eggs and half egg whites).  For lunch, I had a thawed salmon in the fridge that I needed to eat, so I sauteed that up and enjoyed it on top of a bed of spinach, with sliced peppers and cherry tomatoes.  I squirted some lemon juice over the whole thing as my dressing.  It was insanely good!!  

For Sunday breakfast, Bob didn't want to have too big of a mess in the kitchen, so we skipped our pancakes, which was kind of a nice, light, change for me.  I ended up accidentally making an omelet (the eggs cooked as an omelet while I was prepping my spinach and tomatoes).  I had that alongside two turkey sausage links.  I snacked on two apple slices and a half a banana smeared lightly with natural pb.  Lunch was leftover ground chicken taco meat, mixed in with chopped spinach and cherry tomatoes, and finished off with two of my guilt-free oatmeal cookies.  Right now I'm having a cup of carrot cake tea, which is super tasty and comforting.

Here's my fitness plan for the week!

Last week was hard, to say the least.  So much happened, it felt much longer than an average week.

I have to say, I had a great weekend, filled with my in-laws (love!), moving (my sis-in-law, that is), my brother and his girlfriend (also love!), Spring Game, energetic little boys, and a nice chance to reunite with my long-lost husband who was out of town most of last week.  Frozen yogurt was consumed.  Really super double love the fro yo

This week is going to present some challenges, but I am ready for them :)

To that end, I started out my Monday with a great workout!  Here's what I did:

  • Warm-up: my mountain climber/jump up chin-up combo (4 sets, 8 repsx4sets)
  • Deadlifts with 125 lbs. on the trap bar, superset with side arm presses with 25 lb. dumbbells (3 sets)
  • Inclined crunches with a 10 lb. weight, superset with side arm raises with 10 lb. dumbbells (3 sets)
  • Farmer carries with 50 lb. dumbbells
Here's the plan for the week (and what we did this past weekend)

  • Past Saturday ('cause it was so tasty!): Crab legs, Filet & Lobster, grilled starburst eggplant, grilled zucchini, & grilled baby carrots.  Dessert?  Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Blueberry Graham Swirl Frozen Yogurt -- insanely good!
  • Sunday: Sauteed Ginger Lemon Chicken, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and bow tie pasta (cooked it all ahead of time and then packed it up and had a picnic dinner at the playground.  Leftovers are today's lunch)
  • Monday: Creamy, herbed Brussels sprouts and chicken sausage
  • Tuesday: Chicken Parm Meatloaf Muffins & Salad
  • Wednesday: Baked Salmon, mac-n-cheese, and green beans
  • Thursday: Philly Cheese Peppers
  • Friday: Who the heck knows?!?!  Probably pizza.

So, I only had 20 minutes for my workout this morning.  Mondays are often tough for me to fit in my workout, and that was definitely the case today.  Since I only had 20 minutes, I tried hard to make it count!  Here's what I did:

Warm-up: 4 sets, where I did 8 mountain climbers and then one jump pull-up.  I did all of that 4 times and then took a short rest.  Then I repeated until I'd done the 4 sets.

Deadlifted 125 lbs. with the trap bar, superset with side arm presses with 25 lb. dumbbells.  I did 2 sets of 8 reps.  I was bummed I only had time for the 2 sets, but with the heavy weights, I had a nice sweat going!

As many stability ball crunches as I could do, which ended up being about 20.

Finally, I finished by doing as many push-ups as I could do, which was 20 and a personal best for me!!  I was so excited that I managed to knock out 20 really good, solid push-ups.  If I only had 20 minutes, why not do something I'm super proud of to really sort of turn it into an awesome workout.  Yay!

I saw this saying on Pinterest, and I've decided it's going to be my motto for the week:

Today is a good day, to have a good day.
We've got another busy week ahead, so went with another simple menu.  

  • Sunday: Chicken kabobs with pineapple, red pepper, & onion, leftover Indian rice and brown rice, and a skewer of grape tomatoes (yum!).  The leftovers have been my lunches for the past two days -- delish!
  • Monday: Chicken Parm Meatballs, spinach, steamed green beans -- these were a hit, especially with the boys.  I'll do a post about them soon.  These leftovers are going to be lunch tomorrow -
  • Tuesday: Sharkey's
  • Wednesday: Philly Cheese Peppers
  • Thursday: Fish with pasta primavera
  • Friday: Pizza & Movie Night

I saw this quote today on a blog (peaceloveandotes), and it resonated with how I am feeling today.  I was kind of down on myself this weekend, because I had a flat-out bad run on Saturday.

I had been saying it was a tough run, but I'm coming to acknowledge that it was just a bad run.  I didn't want it to be bad, and I tried as hard as I could to have it be positive, but it's time to admit it: it was just bad.

It was 20 miles, though, and I finished it, and that's the positive take-away.

I think it comes down to the fact that there just wasn't much about the run that I truly enjoyed.  The first half was fairly easy, and the weather was nice, and the route was fairly interesting.  And of course, I love my running buddy.  I'm not sure I would've made it through the run without Bob.  I don't know what I would've done without him, really.

But, I never had that elated, soaring, amazing feeling that I usually get when I'm running.

Somewhere around miles 13-15, my legs just starting aching.  From the balls of my feet, through to my hip flexors, everything just started hurting.  And it wasn't any kind of sharp, injury-type pain.  It was just the kind of pain you wouldn't be surprised to have after running for 15 miles or so.

As one might imagine, miles 15-20 were damn hard.  Mentally, I just couldn't distract myself from the pain.  It was all I could think about for about the last hour of our 3:40 minute run.

I had two mantras that I repeated a lot for those last, rough miles.

Sometimes I repeated those mantras out loud.

So where am I going with all of this?  Where is the pep talk?

It's this.  

I was so down on myself, and then I started thinking.

You know, that was just a hard, bad run.  There will be other bad runs in your life.  And it's getting through those bad runs that take you to the next step.  You learn from them, and you learn not to let them determine who you are or what you're going to do.  It was a training run, and it's going to train you to be stronger.

I had this realization while walking into work this morning.  The first half-marathon I did, was not a pleasant run.  It was really freakin' hard.  I got a stomach cramp about 1.5 miles in.  It was also painful and hard, and I remember feeling desperate for the finish line.  When it was all over, I didn't really feel a lot of joy at what I had accomplished.  Rather, I mostly just felt glad it was done and a little disappointed that I had not enjoyed the experience more.

However, the second half-marathon I did was amazing!  I felt great starting out, I felt great the whole time running.  Sure, by the end, I was getting sore and ready to be done, but it was just a very different experience.

So, I guess my pep talk to myself is to take your runs in stride.  Remember that, often, before success comes seeming failure.  Acknowledge that there will be bad runs in my future, but know that they will make me stronger.  Take those experiences and run with them.
Mashed cauliflower.

I think mashed cauliflower really came on the scene back when Atkins was so popular and low-carb was all the rage.  Following an Atkins and low-carb diet was the only way I had ever lost weight, prior to my newfound love of fitness, and I remember trying mashed cauliflower in an attempt to eat something resembling mashed potatoes.  I made mashed cauliflower at home and tried it at a restaurant, and both times I was pretty much majorly disappointed.

 That was back when I didn't really like cauliflower.  I went from never having eaten cauliflower to trying to cook it and whip it and thinking it was going to taste exactly like mashed potatoes only healthier!  Well, that's a fairly tall order, and I think it also holds the key to whether or not you're really going to like mashed cauliflower.  

In order to appreciate mashed cauliflower, it helps if you actually enjoy cauliflower.  Not rocket science, I know, but oddly enough, it took me a while to figure this out.

Now that I see mashed, or what I call "whipped," cauliflower as simply another way to prepare the tasty, cruciferous vegetable, as opposed to a desperate attempt to re-create mashed potatoes, I appreciate it on a whole new level.  And I truly enjoy it!!  This particular recipe blew me away.  I was literally licking it out of the blender.

The funny thing about this recipe is that I thought I had ruined it.  I thought I had undercoooked the cauliflower and after I (unsuccessfully) tried to mash it with the masher, I thought it was pretty much a lost cause.  And then Bob suggested I pulse it in the blender.  Well, that's what I did, and it turned out AMAZING!  Now the only thing I'm worried about is being able to recreate it, since the whole thing ended up being a little "fly by the seat of my pants."

This recipe from Faithfulness Farm was my inspiration, but I had to change it up a bit to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand.  I eyeballed everything in my recipe, which I think is a fine thing to do with a dish like this.  Just work with what you've got!

Olive Oil, Garlic & Cheese Whipped (pulsed?  blended?) Cauliflower

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • a bag of precut cauliflower
  • salt & freshly cracked pepper
  • big squeeze from my tube of garlic paste (love that stuff!  You can get it in the produce department near the fresh hebs)
  • hefty drizzle extra virgin olive oil (maybe 1 tbsp or 1 and a half tbsp).
  • 1/4 c fat free half-n-half or milk of your choosing
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (I used whatever I had on hand -- I think it was shredded, part skim mozzarella but I could also see using Parmigan or Romano)
  • Salt & freshly cracked pepper


Use a large piece of aluminum foil to create a packet for your cauliflower.  Season with salt & pepper and add your big squeeze of garlic.  

Place packet in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes or until tender. 

Once you think it's done, remove everything from the packet (it will smell divine!) and put it into a blender.  Add your olive oil, half-n-half (or milk), and cheese.  Blend until desired consistency.  Mine was pretty smooth but still had enough tiny, tiny bit of cauliflower to give it a bit of texture and nice mouth-feel.  

Add more salt & pepper to taste.  

The original recipe says it can be made ahead and reheated in a 350°F oven until piping hot, and I am thinking about trying that this coming weekend.  We'll see!

If you want to be really fancy, you can reserve a few pieces of the cauliflower once it's come out of the oven and use them as garnish.  I would have topped this with chives if I had any :)

Seriously so good.  The above picture is using the last little bit that was left in the blender because I could not stop eating mine long enough to take a picture and then Bob went back for seconds.  I was all like, "we need to stop and take a picture before this thing gets devoured!"  Again, doesn't really taste like mashed potatoes, but what it does taste like is freaking awesome.
I've come to the conclusion that physical fitness plays a huge role in alleviating my day-to-day stress levels.  I love to start my day with a good workout, and the positive energy from that experience seems to lift me up and help me power through my day.  Whenever I don't have that workout, be it running or strength conditioning, at the start of the day, I'm always a bit more sluggish and sometimes downright grumpy.  Moreover, whenever life throws bumps into my path, I think I can handle them better if I've had some good fitness already or if I get the chance to burn off my stress later in the day.

That said, there are days when it's just not possible to work out.  Additionally, there are other things I enjoy about my life besides feelin' the burn and gettin' my sweat on.

I realized the other day that I am truly, genuinely in a good place right now, and I want to embrace that and appreciate every moment of it, because I know that life is full of ups and downs, and I've got to really live in the moments of the "ups" because the "downs" are inevitably coming. Maybe that sounds really negative, and that's not my intention here.  I think it's just me pausing to recognize that I am really happy and trying to take a moment to reflect on how thankful I am right now that so much of my life at this moment feels So Right.  And if I can pause now and be thankful, maybe later down the road or whenever my mood shifts, I can draw from this well of gratitude and remember all of those things I have to be thankful for.

This is not to say that everything in my life is perfect, because that's totally unrealistic.  And there are moments throughout the day where I get upset or something doesn't go my way, or things just aren't so great.  I still worry about the people I love and the things they are dealing with.

But there is a lot in my life that I am enjoying and I have a lot to be thankful for.

So here's a little list!  And it's a nice thing to think about, especially on days when I can't get my spiritual and emotional form of anti-anxiety medication (aka -- my workout!):
  • I'm loving our Keurig right now, and I'm loving our coffee, my new flavored creamer (sugar-free caramel, yum!), and my evening teas.  This may seem silly or superficial, but it has had a pretty big impact on my life.  I know the flavored creamer is probably processed poison, but it'll be a looooong time before I ever give it up.  I figure, I don't have many vices: I don't gamble, I don't do drugs, I don't do a lot of things to excess, so maybe my flavored creamer is my vice, along with all the caffeine from the coffee!  I would say the coffee and the cream are a bit excessive, but I do have a 12:00 noon cut off point.  No coffee after noon.  There's only so much damage I can do before noon, right?!  Anyway, I look forward to getting up in the morning, because I'm looking forward to my coffee.  I also am already thinking about and looking forward to my evening tea.  I feel a little like I'm turning into an old woman, but I have seriously fallen in love with the warm, relaxing beverage.  It's so soothing, and it has become a part of my evening ritual.  I used to think I wouldn't be able to fall asleep if I didn't have a glass of wine or a beer, and now I actually feel like any alcohol has the *opposite* effect and can prevent me from having a full night of sleep.  Now I'm much more reliant on my evening tea as part of my wind-down process.  
  • I love packing my lunch each day.  I have gotten into the routine of packing up my dinner leftovers into my nice little lunch container, and I enjoy eating my lunch at my desk.  Sometimes I use this time to write a blog post, but often I'll work while I eat.  I truly look forward to my lunch each day, and I know that I am saving money by packing my lunch, and the food is always really yummy (and pretty healthy, too)!
  • I love it when I'm top of things and the house is (relatively) clean and organized.  There's something so special about winding down in the evening, with the great room clear of clutter, the carpets looking fairly well-vacuumed, the kitchen counters and table clear, and knowing that the laundry is clean, folded, and put away.  The truth is, it's not often that all of the things on that list are completed, but it is *such* a good feeling when all of those little chores are done.  Usually the laundry is what ends up at the end of the list.  We often get held up at the "folding and putting away" stage, but these days whenever I am tempted to just let the laundry sit in the dryer or basket, I remind myself of how great it feels when it's all done and put away, and I get my butt in gear and get it done. 
  • Did I say how much I love my coffee and tea?
  • I love cooking, baking, and preparing healthy foods my myself and my family.  There is just something about providing nourishment for my family that brings me a huge sense of peace.  If life gets crazy and we find ourselves getting carry-out, going out to eat, or getting pizza too often in one week, I can feel the anxiety start to creep up on me.  It really does bring me a lot of happiness, fulfillment, and peace to be able to feed them and to give them some fairly decent choices, health-wise.  I've really been enjoying making baked, sweet treats and finding healthier alternatives for the whole family.  One thing I noticed is that as we phase out a lot of processed foods and processed and refined sugars, my palate is really changing, and I'm tasting food in a whole new way.  Sweet vegetables (such as red pepper) taste sweeter, and fresh fruit can just blow me away with its sweetness.  Finding ways to make healthier alternatives for sweet treats has opened up a new world of possibilities, and we are all having a lot of fun exploring the new foods.  I love to get the kids in the kitchen with me, and they're enjoying the new recipes.  Sure, sometimes all of my kitchen "helpers" can get exasperating when they are begging to eat all of the ingredients and fighting over who gets to pour what when, but I love to see them get excited about food prep, and I know it has contributed to some of their willingness to try new foods.

Those are some of the big picture things that I'm loving in life right now.  Nothing super crazy or special, but these are things for which I am thankful on a daily basis.  I'm thankful for the ability to provide food for my family; I'm thankful when my little universe is ordered (or at least when I'm enjoying the illusion of order).  I'm thankful for my little rituals, like my morning coffee and my evening tea and packing my lunch.

Check out my "Things I love" page to see a longer list of the "little things" in life that make me happy.  I'm going to work to keep adding to that list whenever I think of awesome things that make me smile :)