Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goals, Spreadsheets, and Why I'm Awesome

That's what everyone else is writing about this time of year, right?  It's time for the annual recap of this year's goals and accomplishments.

My goal for the year was pretty simple--work out 10 times per month, every month, all year.  

When I started my magical spreadsheet a several years ago, my entire goal was to get fit.  In fact, "Get Fit" is the name of my magical spreadsheet.

I definitely had a more fit, more active year than I ever have before.

The last three months have been nothing short of insane, so I never got around to writing goal recaps for each of the months.  Instead, here are my workout summaries for each month.  (You can click to biggie-size them.)

So, the big question is: How did I do overall?

You probably guessed this already, but I kicked ass.

Basically, from 2006-2009 I worked out a combined total of 33 times.  Combined!  Yikes!

In 2010 I tripled that number in a single year and worked out 100 times.  I remember my last yoga class last New Year's Eve and how excited about the changes I had made in my life.

This year, in 2011, I tripled (!) my 2010 total and worked out 300 times (!!!!) in a single year.  

My workouts broke down as follows:  267 yoga classes, 3 extended walks, 1 heavy move, 3 times on the elliptical, and 26 bike rides (which is twice my number from 2010).  

In conclusion: I'm really, really proud of the fitness goal I set--and achieved--in 2011.  For 2012, my focus will be on maintaining my fitness, expanding to new areas, and focusing on other areas that I tend to neglect--like eating, sleeping, and finding balance in my life.

I hope that your 2011 was as happy and successful as mine has been and that you have a safe and exciting New Year's celebration!  

See you in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

I'm having a moment.

Maybe it's because I've been watching way too many episodes of Grey's Anatomy lately.  (Seriously, the show hits on way too many triggers for me--family issues, pancreatic cancer, dead mother, organ donation, people going nuts in the hospital.  Seriously. Seriously!)

Or maybe it's a delayed reaction to all of the heart openers we did in class this morning.  

Or maybe it's because I've spent a lot of time this week going through old belongings--sorting them, donating them, throwing them away.

Or maybe it's just because it's December--the month of my grandfather's birthday, my grandmother's death, family celebrations... and now we're in the post-holiday let down.

Whatever it is, I'm just a little blue today.  

2011 has been a great year in a lot of ways.  I focused on myself and on my fitness.  (I promise, I'll write a real post about those accomplishments.)  I've started working towards finding more balance in my life--although that's still a work in progress.  But It's a start.  My yoga practice has progressed leaps and bounds--starting with a series of workshops in January/February, then an amazing week where I took 22 yoga classes in Venice, and I made the somewhat spontaneous decision to start yoga teacher training which I finished a few weeks ago.

While this has been a year that I've grown as a person, it's also been a year when I've realized that I've grown apart from people.  I've spoken with one member of my own family on one occasion this year.  Many of my college friends have had their first (or second, or fourth) children--and we just relate to different things at this point.  Other friends have just drifted for no good reason at all.

So, I'm letting myself have a little moment.  I'll be better tomorrow.

And in the meantime, I'll keep reminding myself: I love my life and I have nothing to complain about.  Even if I'm a little blue today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

[Almost] Wordless Wednesday

Duff Man & I stop for a photo op in front of the Capitol Building during a bike ride in DC in November.
Perhaps the most delicious sandwich I've ever eaten--the Choriqueso
(Homemade chorizo sausage, rosted poblano, artisan Jack cheese, tomatillo salsa on AMAZING bread!) from Rick Bayless' Xoco in Chicago.
Duff Man and his trio of sake during Christmas Eve dinner.
Disappointingly tiny desserts, also at Christmas Eve dinner.
The cutest dog in the world, Rowdy.

Click to Biggie Size.
Please note that I only lost my last two games of the regular
season by a COMBINED margin of less than 1 point.  
I won the subsequent playoff games and was crowned
CHAMPION of my Fantasy Football League this year!
Too bad it's not a paid league.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recipe: Creamed Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

Creamed-Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes are one of my favorite Christmas side dishes.

Seasoned with nutmeg, these red and green treats look, smell, and taste like Christmas.  Even better, they're quick to make and are pre-portioned for guests.


2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose four
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bags of fresh spinach (or 2 boxes chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and thoroughly drained)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
10 medium tomatoes
1 cup mozzarella or parmesan cheese (divided)

Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.  Once the bubbling has subsided, whisk in the flour and allow to cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the cream, turn the heat to low, and allow to simmer until thickened.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  Once it's hot (but not smoking!) add the garlic and onion and saute until the onions are soft--about 3 minutes.  Add the spinach and stir, then add nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Add the cream to the spinach and mix to combine.  (Don't worry if your cream gets too thick in the pot--once you add it to the spinach, the water from the spinach will thin it out.)  Stir 1/2 c. of Mozzarella or Parmesan Cheese.  (I used the "Quattro Formaggio" blend from Trader Joe's.)

Place the rack of your oven on the highest shelf and turn the broiler on high. 

Cut the tops off of the tomatoes; you want about a 2-3" opening at the top.  Use your fingers or a spoon to pull out all of the insides of the tomato--the seeds, the juice, and the piece in the center.  You should have a big, hollow space in the middle of each tomato.  If you'd like, you can also cut a small piece off the bottom of each tomato so they sit flat on the cutting board and won't roll around as you fill them.

Fill each tomato with 2-3 tablespoons of creamed spinach and place them on a foil-lined broiler pan.  Once all of the tomatoes have been filled, top each one with 2 Tbsp of cheese.  Broil the tomatoes until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling--about 3-5 minutes, depending on your broiler.

Transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish and enjoy!

Christmas Recap

Today was a good day.  It was easy to keep in mind all of the things I'm grateful for in my life.

Duff Man and I started our Christmas celebration by attending the Christmas Eve Mass at the church I grew up in.  It was the first time I'd been back to the church in many years, and also the first Catholic mass I've attended since the debut of the new translation of the Catholic mass.  I have to admit, the language felt awkward to me, but I was relieved when half the church gave the old response the first time there was a change.  It was comforting to know that I wasn't the only one making an adjustment!

Regardless of the words spoken, the mass itself was reverential and inspiring and the music was beautiful.  One of the things I loved the most about the church growing up was its grandiose size, its formality, and its beauty.  I know that those qualities can be off-putting for a lot of people, but to me they serve as a reminder that there is something bigger than myself out there.  

The dinner afterwards wasn't spectacular.  I think we'll be looking for a new restaurant next year.

I spent the rest of evening baking (Ginger-Molasses Cookies--in which I doubled the spices--and Pecan Puffs), cooking (Macaroni & Cheese for dinner and Fresh Pasta for gifts), and wrapping presents.  At midnight, I put Jesus in the manger of the nativity and kept on working like a good little Elf.  I finished up the food in the morning with my Creamed-Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes.  (I'll post that recipe later this week!)

Classic Mac & Cheese.  Bonus: The cast iron dutch oven kept the food piping hot until we were ready to eat!
Creamed Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes.  Recipe coming soon!
Once we packed up all of the food, Duff Man & I exchanged gifts.  

Check out that sexy Santa.
I got him some new gloves, a new wallet, and a bunch of fun gifts for his commute to work--a lighted Kindle case, some fancy new headphones, and a few other things.  Duff Man got me some fun yoga gifts...

Early Christmas present--Gingerbread Padmasana Ornament

Om necklace from Duff Man.  I love it! addition to copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking volume 1 (Kindle edition) and volume 2.  

We packed up the food and the puppies and headed out to Duff Man's parents' house.  It was a really lovely day overall--lots of good food and conversation.  

I got some more awesome yoga-themed presents...

Yoga MagPo from my sister-in-law more books, some gift cards, and a serving utensil set.  

I'm rather proud that Duff Man's nieces seemed to like our present the best.  (We got each of them the same thing--plus a few books and a contribution to their college fund.)
If you're looking for a gift for a 3-6 year old, here it is: VTech Kidizoom Spin & Smile Digital Camera.

All in all, it was a nice, low key, drama-free, food-and-family-filled, food-filled, FOOD-FILLED day.

I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as ours!  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Random Friday Facts - Holiday Edition!

1) My favorite Christmas movies are Elf, Love Actually, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  I quote all of these movies year-round.

2) I don't think I've ever seen "It's a Wonderful Life."  I saw "A Christmas Story" exactly once (about 2 or 3 years ago) and while I wanted to love it, I just didn't.  

3) I'm sad that we don't have any Christmas lights up outside this year.  I grew up in a house that had every tacky holiday decoration you could possibly imagine, so I feel like our house is naked without them.

4) Growing up, Santa always "stopped first" at our house, so we opened our presents on Christmas Eve.  Really, it started as a tradition that we'd go to Midnight Mass and open presents afterwards and then became "we'll open presents at midnight" and then... "Let's just open presents on Christmas Eve."  

5) I love Egg Nog.

6) One year, I'd really like to make a crown roast for Christmas dinner.

7) I'd really like to go see The Messiah at the Kennedy Center, but it always happens when I'm out of town.  We're debating about going to the sing-a-long version tonight, but we know the line will be super long since it's free.  

8) I really do think the best part of Christmas is picking out the best presents for other people.  It makes me sad that I have so few people to buy presents for.  (I think I've said that in the past, though.)

9) I waited until the last minute to do all of my shopping this year.  Oops.

10) I received several trinkets from my students this year, but the best gifts are always the sincere note telling me how much a student appreciates my class.  I didn't get any of those this year.  (Okay, scratch that, I got one email and it was pretty awesome.)

Three Things Thursday

1)  Duff Man and I normally put up our Christmas tree during the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Somehow, we never got around to it this year and with the madness of the basement flooding + Winter Concert + Teacher Training + heading out of town, we only got to it yesterday.

Here are our trees--our big tree and the little teeny tree I've had since my Senior Year of college--all decked out in college colors :)

Duff Man gave me an early Christmas present--this super cute ornament of a Gingerbread Man in Padmasana.
If you like the ornament, check out these Gingerbread Yoga Men!  I want these cookie cutters!

Oh, and on the subject of putting things up late... we'll be sending out New Year's Cards instead of Christmas cards.  Oh well.  It's the thought that counts, right?

2) As of this afternoon, I am officially on Winter Break.  It marks my first real break since I started teacher training back in August.  I'm looking forward to reading, sleeping, making good food, watching Grey's Anatomy, taking an excessive number of naps, yoga (duh), finally seeing "The Muppets" and getting some stuff done around the house generally avoiding being productive as much as possible.  Unfortunately for me, Duff Man has also taken all of next week off of work--and he's not one to sit in the dark and make as little sound as possible.  Thanks to the basement flood, his office and our family room are out of commission, so our big house (for us, at least) could become cramped quarters by the end of the week.

3) We had two waterproofing companies come in to give us estimates on dewatering systems for our basement.  Sadly (hehehe) it appears as though we may need to knock out and rebuild the grody basement bathroom.  You know, the bathroom that was made with leftover construction materials.  The one where, when we moved in, they hadn't sealed the holes around the knobs in the shower so you could look from the shower into the laundry--or from the laundry into the shower.  Yeah, that one is going to have to get replaced.  (**happy dance**)

I know, I know.  How could I pass up this super klassy bathroom?

So, I think my thought process was on the right track back in September when we first flooded.  And again right around Thanksgiving.  I am grateful for what I have and I have nothing to complain about.  In this case, I am grateful for the flood because it looks like it's going to mean I finally get a renovated bathroom.  Woohoo!  (Somehow, I don't think Duff Man is going to see this one the same way that I do.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The End of the Beginning

Back in August, after some prodding thanks to a two-by-four the universe aimed at my noggin, I decided to pursue my RYT-200 Yoga Teacher Training.  
Our first day started out like this.

The funny thing is that I hadn't committed to training by the time Padma set this up...and yet, she set a spot for me.  

She said she'd have been more surprised if I hadn't shown up than if I had.  We all know how that turned out.

It's been an intense ride.  I've balanced 17 hours of yoga teacher training on most weekends with my regular full time (and then some) job, marching band, and taking or assisting yoga classes.  Oh, and there's a dude at home who looks kinda familiar.  I think I saw him at my house a few times in the past four months.  

We learned about anatomy, alignment, the Eight Fold Path of Patanjali, the Sutras, the History of Yoga, Ayurveda, Chakras, Doshas, Koshas.  We had a Yoga Book Club.  We taught Yoga I, Mixed Level, Partner Yoga, Restorative, Yin, and Meditation classes.  We studied a variety of styles of yoga, and even some Tai Chi.  I'm rather proud that I can recite the first four Yoga Sutras in Sanskrit.  Ask me the next time you see me!

The best part was that I bonded with an amazing group of women who all bring unique talents to their yoga teaching.  We practiced.  We failed sometimes.  We succeeded a lot.  We had fun and we laughed and we learned and we OM'ed.  I'm going to miss holing up at the studio with these ladies.  (But, fear not... we'll still see each other during our yoga book club meetings!)

After 4 insane months, 200 hours of training, taking 50 yoga classes, assisting 6 classes, a written exam, and a practical exam which consisted of teaching a 60-minute class to members of the general public, I'm finally done.

The puja to celebrate our graduation was held on Sunday evening.  We made it.

Of course, we're not really finished.  Our real learning begins if and when we decide to go out into the world and start teaching.  As Padma stated (quoting my friend/yoga teacher J) during our Puja, "Finishing yoga teacher training is a lot like puberty.  It's where the real growth begins, but it's really awkward."  

I'm still deciding where yoga teaching will have a place in my life.  I think it does--I mean, after all, even Duff Man asked me when (not if) I would do this some day.  I think I have an idea of where I want to go with it, but I am still in the process of getting my head to understand what my heart already knows--and trying to find a way to maintain some balance in the process.  

Maybe I just need the universe to swing another two-by-four in my direction.

Thanks to Cheri for all of the photos!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.  Last night was my Winter Concert.  It was one of those Murphy's Law scenarios: Our theatre is under construction right now, so it had to be at another school.  I was supposed to have had three buses, but only two showed up... it was pouring rain and we had to rearrange all of the students and equipment; Duff Man called me and told me the basement was flooding yet again. Everything ran 15 minutes late.  BUT... in the end it was a nice evening.  My students performed well and I was really proud of them.  (And REALLY thankful for the other school and their band director who were willing to host us!)

2.  The up side of having a flooded basement is that I had an excuse to purchase some really cute wellies... which I'm using to clean up the flood today.

3.  I get to teach my first yoga class to the public this weekend and I'm SUPER excited!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Funny Yoga Things Thursday

There have been a confluence of funny yoga links and articles and jokes that have come my way in the past week or so, so I thought I'd share them and spread the laughs.


Number one:

Number two:

This fabulous article from The Onion (from 2005): 
Report: One In Five Women Training To Be Yoga Instructors

Number three:

This is quite possibly my favorite.  From the same guys who brought you The Whole Foods Parking Lot comes "Yoga Girl."  I love it--it's funny and catchy... and it makes me miss Venice