Archive for April, 2010

Dog Quirks

Is this a subtle hint that a walk is needed??

My dog is a creature of habit.  Especially in the evenings.  From the time I get home after work and for the next two hours, he wants to go in and out to the backyard 5+ times (every 20 minutes or so), where he wanders around, and when he’s ready to come in, he sits in the sand hole he’s dug for himself and barks (every 3 minutes until you let him in). 

Around 7:45, Basil gets tired, and wants to sleep under a throw blanket on the couch.  He signals this by a stare-down contest, and when you say the word ‘blanket’ he gets super excited.  At 8:30, after his nap, he gets hot, crawls out from under the blanket, jumps on the floor and lays there for about 15 minutes.  Until he cools off.  Then, it’s back under the blanket. 

At 9:30, Basil wants to go to bed (for real), so he runs upstairs and jumps on the bed.  If I don’t follow fast enough – usually I get about 20 minutes – he’ll come back downstairs and stare at me until I shoo him away or follow him upstairs. 

Another weird quirk: when Basil has tons of energy and I’m resting on the couch, he goes to the side door (which we use instead of the front door) and grabs a shoe.  Any shoe will do.  He comes over, and drops it in front of me.  And stares.


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Wow – April is almost over.  I’m looking at my little desktop calendar and even though the month seems long (I went out for drinks with a friend a few weeks ago and it feels like a year has passed), it also seems short (wasn’t it just yesterday that I was worrying about someone paying a cruel practical joke on me for April Fools Day?).  One of my favorite sayings is, “The days are long but the years are short.” So true.

In April, I’ve been working on being outside more.  Other than one day (last Tuesday to be precise), I did very well with this challenge.  I’m thinking that it was a little too easy – only once or twice did I have to try to spend some time outdoors.  And, being in Boston a lot this month increased my time outside with all the walking and public transporation. 

For May (and moving forward indefinitely), I’ve decided to start my own Happiness Project, inspired by the book which I wrote about previously.  For May, I’ve made several resolutions around Health/Fitness.  Over the course of the month, I will work toward these resolutions (some make sense to follow daily, but others are more sporadic) to see if by sticking to these resolutions, I find myself happier…or not.  Oh, and these are in addition to my normal goals, which include working out 4x per week, limiting alcohol consumption, etc. 

May's Resolutions

I realize this picture is tiny, so my resolutions for the month are:

1. Plan weekly menus and shop in advance

2. Keep a food diary

3. Try new exercise options (kicking this off on Saturday with a free Pilates class at a local studio)

4. Make mindful choices when eating out

5. Try nutritious food fads (flaxseed and kale chips anyone?)

6. (still thinking about this) Experiment with a macrobiotic diet for a week

For #6, it kinda appeals to me to give a strict diet (like macrobiotic) a try for a week, just to see if I really would feel cleansed, or however you’re supposed to feel when you follow this kind of diet.  But, it’s a ton of work, and I don’t want to be hungry or only eat vegetables, so I’m still researching this.  I’ll leave it on the list for now.

Looking forward to a quiet night at home, walking the B-man and catching up on my DVR.  Oh, and I think I’m going to make baked sweet potato fries because that sounds fun.

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I realize that this goal in my life list is difficult to define.  I made my original Life List in a bit of a whirlwind moment, and not every item is:

1) Doable

2) Measurable

I’ve been taking some steps to better define what success will mean on many of my goals, and some items are definitely lifelong pursuits.  I’ve decided that what I really meant when I wrote this goal was that I want to continue to invest in my health and physical fitness.  So, because this is my Life List and I can change it if I feel like it, today I’m changing this goal to:

#46: Commit to physical fitness

I do have some extreme physical challenges on my Life List (including running a marathon and climbing a mountain), so those successes will be further evidence of my commitment to physical health.

Anyway – back to what I was planning to write about.  I recently started spending my Sunday mornings getting my butt kicked at Street Camp.  A trainer and instructor at my gym decided to invite friends/family/gym people to her house on Sunday mornings for an additional workout.  For fun [her words].  We meet in her neighborhood and using the surrounding hills, cars, sidewalk chalk, duct tape, and jump ropes, she leads us through a crazy and intense workout. 

This is exactly what it feels like!

This past Sunday, we ran to this nearby steep hill and did a variety of running drills up and down it.  We ran to the top and jumped rope for 30 seconds.  Then we ran down and jumped rope.  Back and forth for 10+ times.  Oh, and as we ran, we held our jump ropes over our heads.  Killer.  We followed that exercise up with a suicide run up the hill.  Then we ran back to her house.

I have really enjoyed this new workout routine.  It’s great to get some activity in first thing in the morning.  I’m home by 9:30 and feel like I’ve already accomplished a lot.  Plus, the group atmosphere helps me work out much harder than I would alone.  And, dare I say it, it IS fun!

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Moving along with my movie-watching goal, I watched a great film over the weekend.  I realized after watching two black-and-white foreign films in one weekend that it works much better for me if I can mix it up and watch some older/some newer, English/foreign, etc.  I reserved this movie at my public library and was able to watch it in bits and pieces all weekend.

Talk to Her

Overall: big Thumbs Up!

Quick summary: Two guys meet each other as the loves of their lives are in persistent comas.  The guys become friends.  One guy’s love (a famous bullfighter) dies.  The other guy is accused of raping his comatose ‘girlfriend’ and is put in jail where he accidentally kills himself (he is trying to put himself in a coma…naturally).  The remaining girl wakes up.  Still living guy and still living girl meet each other at the end of the movie and sparks fly.  The End.

I’ve talked to several movie buff friends who are surprised to see this movie on Time’s Top 100 – after all, it is quite new, and it only won one Academy Award (Best Screenplay 2002).  But, I agree with all the people who wrote positive reviews that it is rare to find a movie that is complex, and light and dark at the same time, funny, disturbing, sympathetic and gross, etc.  I was happy to watch it and I think my dad will like it (my true tell if a movie is ‘good’ or not – he is extremely picky).

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I feel like a lot of my recent adventures have been in the food-making arena.  I think this is mostly due to the fact that I’ve been in class a LOT lately in Boston, and the back-and-forth routine leaves me drained, causing me to putter around the house on my one day off.  Fortunately, that will all be over this weekend, as I have wrapped up my weekend course! 

On my one day off last weekend, I decided to make something in my slow cooker (NOT very frequently used, as evidenced by the layer of dust on it!), and for added excitement, I decided the dish should be Indian.  I love Indian food and the recipe looked easy enough.

Fortunately for me, the five hours of waiting while the slow cooker did its thing was worth it: it was delicious. 

 Slow Cooker Lamb Korma with Spinach

Serves 6-8

1 T. oil (we used olive, but whatever works for you!)

2 lbs lamb roast, cut into chunks (can substitute beef, any kind of cut that is good for long cooking times)

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 or 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped (we used two and it was pretty spicy!)

1 T. turmeric

1 T. ground cardamom (or 4 cardamom pods)

1 T. mustard seeds

2 T. grated ginger (or dried)

¼ c. Water

Up to 1 lb fresh spinach (we used about ½ lb and it was perfect)

½ c. plain yogurt (we used Greek)

Salt/Pepper to taste

In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  In batches, brown lamb chunks on all sides.  Transfer browned pieces to the slow cooker.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add onions, garlic, chiles and spices until onions are softened, 5 – 10 minutes.  Add water and stir.

Transfer mixture to slow cooker and stir to combine with the meat.  Cover and cook on Low for 6+ hours, or until meat is falling apart. 

About 15 minutes before serving, add spinach leaves and yogurt, stir thoroughly, and allow spinach leaves to wilt. 

Serve over hot cooked rice of your choice.

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I just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and I just can’t help but post about it immediately.  I loved, loved, this book and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen (including a woman on the train who asked about it the other day).

My five sentence summary:

Gretchen used to be a lawyer, found her calling as a writer, and has been a professional writer for some time.  She had this idea about making a year-long happiness project for herself when she was riding the bus one day.  She decided to make small, doable changes in many areas of her life to see if the cumulative effect did, indeed, make her happier.  Each month was dedicated to a different area of her life and she kept track of her progress in a chart.  Sure enough, she was able to make her life happier!

I am drawn to this book for many reasons.  First, I love charts.  I love lists.  I make Monthly Challenges in my own life, so her process seriously resonates with me.  Second, I really believe that you can make your life happier when you try.  I know that there are things that if I do them every day (get enough sleep, eat well, and don’t drink too much), I will feel good.  Third, I think that this idea/project can be easily modified for anyone.  Finally, I really, REALLY, love that Gretchen has taken her cause to the web. 

Her original blog tracking her Happiness Project is here.

Then, she made a bunch of tools so others could do their own – here.

You can also start your own group of fellow people embarking on their Happiness Projects and she’s put together tools for that, too. 

I can’t speak highly enough about this book.  I’m not sure if I liked it more than normal because of the whole project/chart/list thing, so I’ll see what my less list-inclined friends say when they finish my copy (which I’ve already loaned out). 

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Here are some of my favorite blogs in the “Home” and “Health” categories on my Google Reader.  Yay – happy weekend!


Love. Living. Small.

Making it Lovely

Young House Love


101 Cookbooks (healthful cooking, which is why it’s hear instead of under the Food category)

Carrots ‘n Cake

Healthy Tipping Point

The Great Fitness Experiment

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