Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year in Review (A Project ESCR Post.)

I am so fired up for the new year and everything it has in store. In 2010 I made serious strides in my overall wellness and I plan to keep that ball rolling!

Remember good old Project ESCR? (Exercise. Sort. Create. Read. You can click on each category to read my thoughts on each. Apparently, I never found it necessary to explain "Create.") I pretty much stuck to this all year, completing a task in all four areas at least five days a week I'd say. It was sort of cyclical--sometimes the sorting took the forefront, sometimes the exercise, you get the idea. But all four parts really needed to be addressed regularly for my happiness to remain in balance. Here's the year in review.

Exercise. I began 2010 following the 8-week "Wellness Journey" class at BPC. I cannot recommend this enough. Lisa Cohen, a certified personal trainer, spin instructor, yoga instructor, scrapbooker, and home chef, is phenomenal as a leader and motivator. (And let us also remember she, like me, was once a Girls on the Run coach. And we have the same china pattern from Villeroy & Boch. So obviously I was bound to adore her.) She helped me set a lot of healthy habits in place, not just an exercise regimen. By May, I had joined the local gym and hired a personal trainer. In September I started Weight Watchers. (Going to actual meetings. The new program--points are not what they used to be at all--is amazing. So much healthier in terms of real-life sustainability than the old program.) The results? So far I am down about 12 pounds of fat, I've gained at least 2 pounds of muscle, I've lost 2.5 inches off my belly and 3 inches off of each thigh, and my VO2 max has gone from 36 ml/kg/min to 49 ml/kg/min (40 or greater is desirable for me). I feel strong and healthy. I've tossed my size 14 and size 12 jeans and am back into my trusty 10's with an occasional foray into the Land of Size 8. My total cholesterol is down 16 points, though it wasn't in a dangerous zone to begin with.

Sort. Biggest accomplishment in this arena is the full-on unpacking and sorting of all the crazy boxes in our garage. Those of you who know the Gutsy Family's tendency to ignore unopened boxes each move should be particularly impressed. This winter we are thoroughly enjoying parking both cars in the garage. No more scraping out the cars on icy or snowy mornings!

Create. You all are pretty much abreast of this one. I took a slew of online classes from BPC, Shimelle, and LOAD. Creating layouts (over 100 for the year) and honing my photography skills make me hyper aware of all the many, tiny blessings of every day. I really enjoy my life.

Read. I read or listened to 23 books this year. This is about 20 more than 2009, I kid you not.  Embarrassing for an English Literature major to have lost touch with her beloved books, but it's back, baby, it's back. I am currently enjoying The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. So far it is completely satisfying. I am thinking that The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Princess Academy by Shannon Hale will be near the top of my 2011 reading list. Young Adult books, I know, but they come so highly recommended.

Will Project ESCR continue in 2011? You betcha. But with a few enhancements and modifications. More soon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Birthday Girl

I can't believe my baby is two. But she is, whether I want to believe it or not. We had a spectacular double-birthday party today, half for Maddie's birthday and half for my mom's. I hope to share more details soon.


One Year Ago, Today:

Two Years Ago, Today:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Music Mojo

Readers who have been with me since the beginning (all two of you) may recall my lofty plans to share some Music of the Month with you every month. You will also recall that I had some rather erratic follow through. (I've been a little more regular with the Cocktail of the Month concept. Hmm.)

Nevertheless, I'm trying again. This might not happen every Monday, but at least on some Mondays I'd like to share some of the music I'm loving these days. Everyone could use a little new music mojo on a Monday, right?

Music is such an important part of my happiness, that it only seems right to share snippets of it here and there. Maybe someday it will be interesting to remember what I was listening to when I was a mom of two young girls. Very scrapbookish of me, no?

So now, without further ado, I present to you three songs I cannot stop listening to. (I'm just going to leave that preposition at the end of that sentence and forget about it.) I realize these are not new songs at all, but they are new to me. And as with most new happy songs I find, I feel a sort of infatuated, crush-like feeling for each of them.

First up is "New Soul" by Yael Naim. Pandora introduced me to this song, which immediately made me smile and bop around the kitchen. I didn't see the music video until just now when I was searching for a link for you, and I have to say the music video makes me smile, too. Clever.

Next up is "Question" by the Old 97s. Apparently this song was used on Scrubs, so many of you probably know it and may indeed be wondering why I am so late to the party. If you don't know this song already, just sit back, listen to the lyrics (ignore the graphics), and tell me if you don't start smiling during the chorus. This is SUCH a sweet song. (Discovered on Stephanie Howell's blog. Her husband included it on a playlist he made for her when he was headed out on an RLBT. How sweet is that?)

My third and final offering today is my latest Glee number, "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine. Almost every episode of Glee introduces me to a new song to love or reminds me of one I already adore. (As was the case with my old friend "Fire.") Anyway, I was tempted to post the Glee version of this song for you, but felt it was more polite to honor the original artist. That said, the artist's video for this song is so bizarro that I think it detracts from the song, especially on a first listen. If you've never heard the song, listen to the one below. If you already know and love the song, check out the 2010 video and tell me if you don't find it both beautiful (a bit) and distractingly strange (a lot).

Incidentally, I have no idea what half of the lyrics are about here, but I do enjoy belting them out as though they are very meaningful to me anyway.

We have a bit of snow here and so the birds have arrived, searching for food on our back porch. Jillson had the food out for them a week ago, so she is as thrilled as I am that they need it and have found it. I hate cold weather, but I do love those cute cold weather birdies.

Have a merry Monday!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Redux

Strangely, I didn't take nearly as many photos as I usually would.  Must've been having too much fun.  Here are a dozen favorites.

Will the last two cousins EVER get here?

You wouldn't believe how much mileage we got out of these boxes. That's my petite mom in there with two grandkids.

 A walk in the woods.

 A family that runs together... eats lots of turkey together!

All dressed up and... in bed watching videos.

Cousin craziness.  Where is Austin?

My adorable cousin made these adorable treats for the little cousins. She learned how to make them over the phone from her boyfriend, whom I can only assume is adorable, too.

Chef Emily takes on the important responsibility of decking the sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

The longer I look at this picture, the taller I feel. That's me, my Aunt Sallie, and my mother.  (LOVE the aprons.)

 There''s Austy!  All snuggled in for Snow Buddies.

There's nothing like a mealtime to wrangle all seven cuties into one place.

Three men and their shovels.  And the beginning of Jim's skating rink.

I miss Thanksgiving!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cocktail of the Month -- Pomegranate Cosmos

photo courtesy of foodnetwork
I'm sure you all have just been on the edges of your seats wondering whether I would ever publish another Cocktail of the Month.  Well, the wait is over.  Heather has come through for you again.  Yes, the very same Heather (my sister-in-law) who recommended the DELICIOUS Pimm's Cup we all enjoyed (with great frequency) this summer.

For our annual Thanksgiving-time girls' night in, Heather suggested the drink, my mother and Aunt Sallie procured the ingredients, and we all sat around and enjoyed one of the best Chinese takeout dinners I have ever had.  Certainly the cocktails added to that enjoyment, but I will be perfectly honest and cheesy by saying that the real enjoyment was the intergenerational love and conversation accompanied by many, many laughs.  (We missed you, Nina!)

Next time you have the chance to surround yourself with many women you love, try these.

Courtesy of Ina Garten, a gal who knows her cocktails
2 cups (16 oz) good vodka
1 cup (8 oz) orange liqueur (we used your average triple sec)
1 cup (8 oz) pomegranate juice (we used POM)
1/2 cup (4 oz) freshly squeezed lime juice

Pour all ingredients into a pitcher and give it a ceremonial stir. Refrigerate until ready to consume. A classic cosmo would be served in a chilled martini glass, but we enjoyed this on the rocks with a splash of seltzer added.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

So Many Things to Blog About

I have blog posts stacking up.  This technically makes no sense, since no one is forcing me to blog at all, but there are so many things I want to share (mostly so I won't forget them).  Sometimes I am inclined to ignore my family just so I can blog about it.  Which also makes no sense.

Meanwhile, these 8 photos have been resized for blogging and have been sitting on my desktop for nearly a month so I don't forget to blog about them.  Enough is enough.  I forget all the witty things I was going to say about each photo, but in order to get these off my desktop so I can get on to blog about more important things, I'm posting them here and moving on.

I'm guessing I wanted to share this one either because (a) Jillson walked around for a long time in my favorite shoes without breaking an ankle or (b) I thought her mug was funny.

The below photo is most certainly intended to be part of my ongoing series entitled "Something To Do When You Are Very, Very Bored."  (Strip down to leggings and make a sleeping bag out of paper towels.)

The next three shots are from the Veteran's Day parade.  My favorite veteran took the kids to the parade--with a picnic--while I got my hair done.  (I joined them for the end of the parade.)

No clue why I wanted to share these:

The GM