Farmer’s Market Friday | Pickled Baby Radishes

Why is this so hard?  These are all terrible.  I hate this tripod.  Who decided to make food photography a thing?  I just need one shot.  Seriously, who decided that we need a flawless photo of every morsel we cook or eat??

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A few of the thoughts that went through my head as I tried to photograph the pickling of baby radishes.  Not overly complicated.  Until I noticed steam coming off the jar after I added the liquid and panicked trying to trap it until I could set up a shot to capture that lovely, wafting steam, in the process knocking a hot saucepan nearly off the stove.  Awesome, almost getting third degree burns for a photo.  Then I realized, I’ve never captured steam in a photo before, so maybe a spontaneous, rushed shot wouldn’t be the best time to start?  Correct.  So steam-less it is.  Of course, in my disappointment absolutely nothing seemed acceptable compared to the steam photos that only existed in my head, there was glare on the jar, and the tripod was completely off kilter when the levels said otherwise.  And on goes the list.

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The Best Days

NOFO wine trailWhy do they call them wine trails?  I never understand “the Connecticut wine trail” or “the North Fork wine trail”.  Are you supposed to hike between the vineyards?  It would certainly be the more responsible choice.  I, however, prefer to be driven by someone who has either consumed less [wine] than I have or who isn’t, like myself, out of commission after two glasses.  And some days, I do mean tasting glasses.

 

Life is always busy.  It’s hard to get away for just a day of relaxation.  Even though we’re fortunate enough to be able to take a weekend out of town, there’s constant talk of leaving, but it rarely materializes.  I’m cranking out recipes, food, eBay postings, and business plans at all hours, and Steve is working his behind off, being a rock star, and on top of it all, commuting almost three hours a day.  A technical note to avoid confusion–the “we” I refer to throughout this post most often means Steve and me.

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Disappointing News about Olive Oil

Last night, I attended an olive oil tasting at the beautiful Olivette specialty food store.  It was a lot to take in for an amateur, but a few points stood out to me.  Want the bad news first?  Okay.  When it comes to shopping for extra virgin olive oil at a supermarket or grocery store, there is no way to know for sure if your oil is blended with other plant oils, or to determine the oil’s quality without tasting it.  No, not even price is a consistent indicator.

 

In fact, we blind tasted an oil that retails for $29.99 per bottle, relatively expensive, and was among the worst we tasted (see below for what constitutes “bad”).  I used to think that, if nothing else, a more expensive bottle of oil would be the best bet, hands down.  The only other time I visited Olivette, just before Christmas, this was my assumption.  When I saw that many of their medium sized bottles of EVOO sell for under $20, I actually questioned the quality.  The owner’s knowledge and passion for her product put my fears to rest, and I think it’s safe to say that rather than winging it at the grocery store, I’ll purchase my EVOO, at least those I intend to use raw, from Olivette or other specialty stores.

Meeting the chefs/owner at some of my favorite CT restaurants (The Whelk and LeFarm) after class!

Meeting the chefs/owner at some of my favorite CT restaurants (The Whelk and LeFarm) after class!

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What I Ate on Vacation—without Gaining a Pound

Well hello, Balancing Active—long time, no see!  We just got back from vacation and I’m finally getting my bearings to get back on the blog train.  It’s been way too long, and I have lots of posts swirling around in my brain (and on random Post-It notes everywhere), so look for more to come soon.

We're on vacation!

We’re on vacation!

To start, I wanted to share the results of what was kind of a forced experiment in eating while on vacation.  I say forced because we were “confined” (poor us) to a cruise ship for about five of our days away, which limits the options as far as what to eat, even more so than vacation normally would.  You hear stories of cruise-goers gaining a pound a day on vacation, and I really did not want that to be me, especially given the amount of time I’d spend in a bikini.  My workouts would also be limited, as I wanted to focus on enjoying an action-packed music festival style ship, rather than on getting to a (crowded and hot) gym everyday.  Running on the treadmill while trying to get my sea legs and going from 15 to 75 degree weather?  No thanks. Continue reading

At Home Strength Workout 1: More Fitness Bang for Your Buck

If “buck” = time.  Prior to June 2013, I was as much a cardio loyalist as most girls in the gym.  The rise of crossfit is changing the landscape, but I think many women, if they need or want to lose weight, still turn to running, the elliptical, spin, Zumba, etc.  My bum knee has continued to not cooperate, however, so I’ve been involuntarily experimenting with more lifting and less traditional cardio in my fitness regimen to stay fit and toned without subjecting myself to a diet of lettuce, lettuce, and more lettuce (which, by the way, I do not recommend no matter what your workout routine is or isn’t).  And guess what.  It’s working.

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To Pin or Not to Pin?

That is the question.

 

If you’re living in 201314, it’s obvious that I’m talking about Pinterest.  Some people (like myself) are or were late to the party, but examples abound of real-life Pinterest weddings, Pinterest dinners, Pinterest crafts, Pinterest workouts, and, of course, Pinterest fails.

Ombre pink cake and fail

The pretty one is at www.eddieross.com.

It seems innocent enough, but as I simplify in 2014, I’m not so sure that’s the case.  I wanted to articulate both sides of the coin, because it really is a dilemma, considering all the factors below.  Ultimately, I don’t plan on shutting down my Pinterest account (and you may even see a Balancing Active Pinterest in the future), but I will continue, as I’ve already begun, to monitor my use and especially idle browsing .

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Plan-less Fitness

Working full time makes it challenging to keep a consistent, quality workout schedule, regardless of how little or much else is going on in my life.  The combination of time constraints and mystery knee pain has forced me into an experiment of, “Can I stay ‘race training’ fit without running?”  It used to perplex me how some women can stay so fit without following a “serious” training program, but I’m starting to believe that it’s possible.  At my current level of fitness, if my knee were fully functional, I don’t think it would be a stretch to run an unplanned 5K (or even 10K) at a little slower pace than my past personal records.

MapMyRun111613

Here are the specifics of a week in my new training schedule, which isn’t really a schedule at all, since I’m making it up as I go and it varies every week.  When I was training for my first half marathon last spring/summer, I used MapMyRun to record workouts.  Despite its name, you can use the app to track all of your workouts and various stats, but I’m inconsistent with my log when I don’t use it for race training, as you can see in the screenshot.  I want to get in the habit of logging workouts immediately after I complete them, so that I can use it as a tool to see my patterns and progress.  Of course, it also has a GPS feature if your device supports it (and it’s 2013, so basically any device you have should support it), which is perfect for recording runs, hikes, bike rides, etc.  If there are any apps you use to record strength workouts accurately (exercise, reps, weight), I’d love to hear about them!  That seems to be the only downfall of my use with MMR.  It’s also free for the basic version.  I upgraded to premium to get access to training plans and be able to view my full workout history on my iPhone.

 

Monday

  • Rest day
  • Wasn’t feeling well—stomach issues and cold symptoms.  Listened to my body and watched a movie on the couch!

 

Tuesday

  • Strength circuit designed by our office personal trainer—
    • Mini ab circuit—three moves times three circuits
    • Main circuit—six total body moves times two circuits
    • Rowing machine—10 minutes; moderate intensity
    • Stretch and foam roll.
  • Worked out right after work in the office gym.

 

Wednesday

  • Zumba class at LA Fitness after work
  • Due to substitute teacher and stereo issues, only 45 minutes of solid cardio (in a one hour class).

 

Thursday

  • Physical therapy (PT) exercises
  • Strength workout at home
  • Foam roll

 

Friday

  • Day off work
  • And…inadvertent rest day!  I planned on a 9:15 AM spin class, got up and ready, and didn’t realize that I had to show up a half hour early (read:  waste a half hour) to reserve a spot.  After my plan was foiled, I was a little cranky about it.  Instead of going back for the noon class, I opted for a super healthy, clean salad for lunch and not getting dressed (in obnoxious padded spandex) and driving to the gym again.
  • Walked a lot during our night out in NYC—in cowboy boots—so I think that counts for something!

 

Saturday

  • Cardio day.  Intensity of each is on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being near vomiting/passing out:
    • 15 minutes elliptical (4)
    • 15 minutes stairclimber (7)
    • 15 minutes run/walk on the treadmill, with almost no knee pain! (5.5)
    • Walked to and from the gym (eight minutes each way) in our 60 degree heat wave!

 

Sunday

  • PT exercises
  • Ab circuit from Tuesday
  • Strength workout (modified from Tuesday for home equipment)
  • Stretch
  • Foam roll
  • On my feet alllll day while doing recipe testing for Christmas.

 

I also forgot to track exactly how much time I spent on each workout, but it’s usually one to one and a half hours (four to five days per week).  If that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that this is something I do for enjoyment.  I may not be a professional body builder or elite marathoner, but working out is more than just a means to maintain my desired weight/body composition.  Like any hobby, it’s a way to let off steam and get better at something outside of my job.

Off the Cuff

All my entries so far have been planned in pretty great detail in a Word doc, with just a few tweaks when I transfer to the actual post.  I’ve wanted to start posting regularly, but life is busy!  Somehow, two months later, we’re still moving in.  I found two huge boxes in the garage the other night full of random papers, washcloths (?), childhood toys, and other miscellaneous “treasures” that have been making the rounds with me for years.  Anyway, if I don’t sit down and start writing, it’ll be another couple months before I post consistently, and then I’ll miss out on documenting the balancing act that this blog is meant to address.

 

Another reason I’m hesitant to write without a plan and 11 drafts is that I don’t want this to end up as a daily journal.  There are already plenty of great blogs that do that (see my blog roll page), and I want to focus more on big ideas, projects, and events related to achieving a balanced, healthy life.  Whether that happens as I expect, we’ll see, but now it’s out there.

 

In real news, I went to ZUMBA tonight!  I’ve been struggling for months with mysterious knee pain and am forced to find lots of new ways to stay fit.  This class, surprisingly, got and kept my heart rate higher than it’s been in weeks for a full hour.

 

I danced for eight years growing up, and Zumba brings back that feeling of something you were good at when you were younger, and you realize maybe you’ve still got a little of it.  I’ve come to the realization that I really regret quitting dance before high school (much the opposite of how I don’t regret quitting baroque recorder.  Yes, that little wind instrument you played in fourth grade).  From where I stand now, I can see that it was something I loved and was good at, and that my fear of auditioning for the high school kickline shouldn’t have stopped me from pursuing it.  At the time, though, that lesson hadn’t been learned yet, so I don’t blame myself or anyone else for quitting.

 

Maybe as a result, though, I’m strangely obsessed with the CMT show Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders:  Making the Team, and, after eight seasons, with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders themselves.  These girls are gorgeous, super fit, humble (if you can judge by their on-camera personalities), talented, and take on a commitment that is much more than just showing up to games to dance for four quarters.  I mean, who else can still do a jump split in their late 20’s??!!  Anyone who falls into that category likely is on the Cowboys Cheerleading squad.

I would love to be a part of something like that, and it makes me a little sad that I quit dance, because I think I had the chops to dance in college or in the NFL.  But sitting around and moping about what could have been isn’t enriching my life at all.  Yes, maybe if I dropped everything else in my life to pursue NFL cheerleading I could do it.  And if that was my life’s goal, I would, even at my ripe old age of 28.  While I may not be taking THE big risk that I sometimes dream about (literally), I can take little risks, like going to Zumba instead of hitting the stationary bike, and eventually finding some more dance classes.  I can also send my boyfriend on a cheerleader hunting mission while he is in Dallas on business this week to procure a signed squad photo of the DCC.