Monday, January 31, 2011

Interval Addiction...

I say: "Hi, my name is Jen, and I maybe addicted to intervals."

You say: "Welcome Jen."

Tonight's plan was an upper workout with Sabrina joining me. She had mentioned earlier in the day that she'd like to get a good run in, so me being the interval addict that I am becoming created a cardio plan that really gave us both a workout.

First you should know Monday's are the craziest at the gym, and coming across an open treadmill isn't always easy. I anticipated this so I created a plan that required one treadmill for two people.

We each did 1 minute sprint intervals alternating turns on the treadmill. During our non-sprint minute we did the following actions:

Round 1: Tricep Extensions
Round 2: 30 sec plank
Round 3: Bicep Curls
Round 4: 30 sec side plank (right)
Round 5: Crunches
Round 6: 30 sec side plank (left)
Round 7: 10 push-ups
Round 8: 30 sec plank
Round 9: Crunches
Round 10: Dumbbell Rows

After we completed our 10 sprints and 10 non-sprints, we decided to push it for 5 more rounds. For the last 5 rounds we each chose our own non-sprint set. Needless to say this was an awesome workout and made the time go fast. Each time we switched spots on the treadmill we used the pause button and then gave it a few seconds to get back up to speed before timing ourselves. In 40 minutes we covered over 4.5 miles between the two of us!

Normally I would only do Fastest Payoff once a week, but since I changed things up a bit I consider them different workouts. I guess my suggestion would be to give yourself at least one day of rest between high speed intervals, and always listen to your body!

Intervals- do you love them or hate them?

If you really want more, scream it out louder,
If you're on the floor, bring out the fire,
And light it up, take it up higher,
Gonna push it to the limit, give it more.
-More, Usher

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fastest Payoff..

I happy to see a few other enjoy edamame...they are quite tasty! This weekend was again fairly busy, nothing terribly productive but just a typical weekend.

Normally I workout Friday evenings, then take Saturday and Sunday as rest days so that I can "sleep in" and we can just have some fun. Well I woke up today (Sunday) at 7 so I figured I could squeeze in a workout before going out breakfast and heading to church!

So I went with the best quick workout around- Fastest Payoff! It is a great combination of cardio and strength training intervals that will having feeling great in no time, and maybe a bit sweaty. Sweat = Progress.

Here's the plan:

Set 1: 60 second sprint, 10 squats, 3o second plank of any style
(Complete 5 times in a row.)
2 minute active walking recovery

Set2: 80 second sprint, 10 bent-over rows w/dumbells, 15 sit ups (any-style)
(Complete 4 times in a row.)
2 minute active walking recovery

Set 3: 40 second sprint, 10 push-ups, 10 Single-leg Twists
(Complete 3 times in a row.)
2 minute active walking recovery

Set 4: 60 second sprint, 30 second planks
(Complete 2 times in a row.)
5 minute active walking cool-down

All you'll need is a yoga mat, 2 weights of your choice (I use 10lbs), and a treadmill. I grab everything I need and set up a little station behind my treadmill at the gym. Your sprints can be at any speed you're comfortable with, today I was sprinting between 6.5mph and 7mph- which is quick for me. Nobody seems to mind that I keep jumping on and off the treadmill, but I'm sure they are wonder where I came up with this idea.

My husband actually came across this workout about 2 years ago when we were in the earlier stages of our lifestyle change. I must say that back then I was probably doing my sprints at 5mph and feeling the burn. This workout is great because it grow with you!

Do you have any great workouts to share? Include a link if you have one!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Twig beans...

Lately I'm really into edamame, or when translated from Japanese "twig beans". It's a young soybean that is harvested in it's pod before it is fully ripened.


Soybeans are full of great nutrition. They are rich in protein, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and micro nutrients. To prepare you just steam or boil them, it is really that easy. You're most likely to see them served at a Japanese restaurant or for sale by the sushi. I always head to the natural/organic section of my grocery store where the frozen packages are cheaper than the fresh.

To eat you basically just pull the soybeans from the pod using your teeth, it's one time where playing with your food is allowed. I was introduce to them a few years ago by my friends Sabrina, and once you try them I don’t think you’ll be able to deny they’re good!

Do you like edamame? Would you ever try them?

And some fun lyrics for the weekend...

Waking up too early
Maybe we can sleep in
I'll make you banana pancakes
Pretend like it's the weekend now

-Banana Pancakes, Jack Johnson

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cookbook Challenge #3

This weekend was crazy so I wasn't sure that I was going to get to the cookbook challenge, but on Sunday I took a look through the next cookbook in the line-up. I easily found a recipe that intrigued me and one that I had most of the ingredients for.

The Cookbook- Moosewood Restaurant: New Classics
This cookbook was a freebie my husband received from a co-worker that was clearing off her bookshelves. Moosewood Restaurant is located in Ithaca, NY and this cookbook was full of appealing recipes that will definitely be considered in future cookbook challenges.

The Recipe:

I chose this recipe because I've never made biscotti, I had most of the ingredients, and I love chocolate (who doesn't?). I made a few small substitutions on this recipe because it was far to cold to run to the store: I used craisins instead of dried cherries, white chocolate chips instead of regular chocolate chips, and vanilla extract instead of vanilla & almond.

I followed the recipe and combined all ingredients, and then formed a "loaf" with the dough that I molded until it was approximately one inch high, four inches wide, and fourteen inches long. I baked it as a "loaf", as instructed.

After it came out of the oven it cooled a bit before Matt sliced it to resemble the typical biscotti form. The sliced biscotti was then baked for a few more minutes on each side to create the crisp crunch we all know and love.

After all the baking and awesome smells filling the house our final product was pretty impressive for a first shot at biscotti. If I had been really ambitious they would have gotten dipped in chocolate, but after tasting them I decided they were perfect the way Moosewood Restaurant intended them to be!

What did you cook this weekend? Do you have any recipes planned for this week?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Social Butterfly...

Matt's birthday weekend really brought out the social butterfly in us both!

Friday I organized a bunch of Matt's friends to meet at a bar, which I brought him to. He was so surprised to see everyone gathered together and we had a great time!

Most of Saturday was spent with our friend Sabrina. I chatted with her in the warm house, while Matt took over her garage to do oil changes on both of our cars. It was probably about 10 degrees on Saturday, but luckily Matt had a friend with a propane powered heater to take the chill off.

After hanging out with Sabrina all day we decided to visit with two of our other friends, Jon & Emily, for some game night fun. We played Sorry!, Uno, and Crowns- it was quite a fun night. We were having so much fun it was 1am before I knew it, and I'm normally in bed by 10pm.

Sunday was equally as social with church in the morning and then hanging out with our friends, Kristy & Shawn, unexpectedly when Matt returned the propane heater. They have a cute little 1 year old that warmed up to us quickly and we just couldn't leave the cute little guy. By the time we made it home it was 5pm, and the preparations for the week were taken care of.

Coming tomorrow...Cookbook Challenge #3. It was a last minute decision, but it smells so yummy!

How was your weekend? Did you make any yummy treats?

Pretty pretty please don't you ever ever feel
Like you're less then, perfect
Pretty pretty please if you ever ever feel
Like you're nothing you're perfect, to me

-Perfect, Pink

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Matthew!

Twenty-eight years ago there was a snowstorm in New York and two new parents were on their way to the hospital to welcome their bundle of joy into this world. That little baby grew into the wonderful man that I now call my husband.

Everyday at some point I have a silent celebration that two parents created a bundle of joy that can always make me smile, supports me, and knows just what I need.

Happy Birthday Matthew!!!
(pictures thanks to my MIL, Kathy)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Tonight was Zumba night...

I must say it was quite the workout! I definitely felt like a newbie, but tried to keep up as best as possible. I have a feeling most of the group goes to class regularly and knows what move is next- and I was just figuring it out as I went. My motto became 'just keep moving, even if it isn't right (and looks weird)'.

My Official Review: Two Thumbs Up! I don't know if I'm ready for crazy outfit and headbands that say ZUMBA all over them, but it was definitely a great way to break up my normal routine. And I can definitely say that Sabrina and I had fun shakin' our groove things!

Everything i can’t be
Is everything you should be
And that’s why i need you here
So hear this now
Come home
Come home
Cause I’ve been waiting for you
For so long
For so long

-Come Home, One Republic

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Disappearing Act...

I disappeared again, sorry sometimes I get busy and it always seems like blogging gets put aside. A busy long weekend getting things done around the house plus our Internet network being out for a bit combined to cause my lack of moving on.

A big THANK YOU goes out to all of your for continuing to come back here to my little corner of the blog world. I love and appreciate the comments, and I hope to figure out how to respond to your comments. I've been blogging for a year and haven't really done much yet. I get easily distracted, but I'm still loving the comments!!!

Getting My Clean On...
The filing drawers are finally clean. YEAH!!! It took some motivation to tackle, but I grabbed everything out of the drawers, spread it out on the floor, and just started dealing with it.

While I was working away it looked like this....

After it was all done my drawers and floors were in great shape. Everything got put in a binder or tossed if it wasn't necessary. Even all the owner's manuals have their own spot now, it may not sound exciting but it is! The only pile left is destined for the recycle bin...

Getting My Bake On...
I also got a chance to do some baking for my neighbor's son who has been helping shovel our sidewalks and driveway during the last few snowstorms. I guess he just likes to shovel, so I thought it appropriate to reward him with tasty cookies! (My husband benefited too!)

Other than that I've been sticking to my plan, getting my workouts in, making food at home, and finding ways to keep reaching for those goals! I even went for a run outside yesterday with temps 10 or less, but it was so sunny I couldn't resist the Vitamin D!

Oh wait...
I did attempt the cookbook challenge again this week- but it didn't work as planned. I used this cookbook:

I was going to make the asparagus risotto with tilapia for Matt's dinner last night, but in the rush I grabbed wheat berries from the cupboard instead of the rice- so it never actually came to be. He didn't go hungry though, I quickly whipped up whole wheat rice and topped it with the tilapia and asparagus- his taste buds were happy!

Alright I'm signing out for tonight...hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on ZUMBA!

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
We'll I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord
-In the Air Tonight, Phil Collins

(Tell me you don't love the drum solo!)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Exciting News...

I just found out some exciting new- I get to do some traveling for work! And it's to a place I've never been- CALIFORNIA! How exciting is that?

My destination is the Oakland area, which I never realized was so close to San Francisco and the Redwood Forest. I'm only going for two weeks, but at least I might be able to rent a car and do some exploring on the weekend.

Most people probably don't like traveling for work, but I don't mind it so much especially because I'm young and don't have a family that I'm leaving at home. Sure I do have a husband, but he's pretty self-sufficient so I'm sure he'll be okay- though I will miss him! It would be great if he could join me for a few days, but it's just not possible with his schedule and the long flights.

Anyone know of any must do activities or restaurants in the Oakland area?

In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of truth to the river so deep
We all end in the ocean, we all start in the streams
We're all carried along by the river of dreams
In the middle of the night

-River of Dreams, Billy Joel

(an old one, but a good one)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Cookie for Me and A Cookie for You

To be honest I was just being lazy tonight, but my friend Katie just sent a request through the comment section on the last post:

Katie said...
Jen, I've been trying to find that cookie recipe that I asked you for, but I cannot find it. One of my students just finally passed his first test all year! So, I promised him some cookies if he passed, so now I have to follow through!

My Response...
Katie, after he tastes these cookies he might try to find a way into your class next year just so he can get more cookies- just saying!

I also think making these cookies might just get her selected for teacher of the year! My teachers never baked for me when I passed a test!

For the rest of you that didn't get a taste of my newest cookies, they are basically stuff chocolate chip cookies. They can be stuffed with a brownie (the original), peanut butter cups, rolos, or anything else you want to try to hide inside. Doesn't that sound good?

So without further ramblings here it is:

Treasure Cookies
(adapted slightly from Bakerella)

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

12 oz. bag miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

To make your dough:
Beat the butter with a mixer until creamy, then add brown sugar and beat again.
Add your eggs, yolk and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt and stir together.

Next, if you're lucky enough to own a Kitchen-Aid Mixer slowly mix the flour into the wet ingredients until combined. But if you're like me and like to add love your baked goods, slowly stir the flour in by hand with a good sturdy Scopula. (Toward the end of mixing it will get a bit sticky, but hang in there and keep adding love!)

Once it's all combined add in your mini chips. (Note: I actually never used a full bag, but you make that decision as you go.)

Next take a break for yourself and let the dough set in the fridge, it makes the cookie flavors really come together and will make it easier to deal with. I left it in the fridge overnight, but you might only be able to make it an hour!

When you can't resist any longer, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and be prepared to get a little messy.

Using a spoon take a little more than a tablespoon of dough, make a little patty (not too thin!), and place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Do this only six times per baking sheet, and trust me here because these cookies grow when baked.

On your little patty place your treat. The candies are easiest to work with, but if you're using brownies go with a batch of brownies that you prepare ahead of time. Take a small chunk of brownie, create smaller patty, and place it on your cookies patty.

Next you will need to top each of your cookie/treats patties with a dome of cookie dough. It is key to cover completely, and again don't go too thin because the cookies will bake down and out.

Place in your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes. You'll know they're done when they are slightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and let them sit for approximately 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Repeat until the dough is gone.

And there you have it! It's a bit long winded and sounds like a lot of work, but I assure it isn't as bad as it sounds. I can also promise you that it is worth the effort.

These are big crowd pleasers so bring them to your next gathering or potluck!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Going green...

This week at the grocery store I decided to pick up a package of baby spinach in addition to the normal package of mixed greens. I picked them up to use in my protein shakes and to increase my intake of green goodness.

Tonight after work I made a quick green shake before I hit the gym. I used 2 cups water, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 a banana, and 3 big handfuls of spinach. All of it went into the Vita-mix, and out came the lovely green drink below. Be sure to note that radiant light beams are coming from the cup- it is not a coincidence- it is that good!

I know you're thinking- 'It looks a bit like swamp water.' I promise it tastes great! And it kept me well fueled during my upper body workout, and my 30 minutes of intervals!

All the doors that I had to close,
Everything I knew but I didn't know,
Thank God for all I missed,
Cause it led me here to this...

-This, Darius Rucker

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cookbook Challege- Week 1

One of this year's goals was to use my cookbooks more by selecting one cookbook and one recipe a week to tackle. I picked the book on the end to start it off.

The Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook This cookbook is 300+ pages of recipes that stretch the vegan food options further than just pasta with tomato sauce and salads.

After flipping through the cookbook and considering that I was craving some comfort food- I decided on Mac Daddy! This recipe is a vegan version of mac and cheese, obviously containing no cheese.

I made vegan mac and cheese once before last winter, but for the life of me I can't locate the recipe so I decided to give a new one a shot. Based on the ingredient list I knew this one would be different because it included tofu. I know many people eat tofu, but this was new for me!

I mixed, I boiled, I simmered, and then I combined everything together into a baking dish. Thirty minutes later, out came baked Mac Daddy!

Here's a close-up shot just in case you want a closer look at it.

So, now you're probably wondering- how was it? Honestly, I'd say it was just okay. It did have a similar look and texture to mac and cheese, but for me the taste just wasn't right. The ingredients for the "cheese" sauce called for tumeric and yellow mustard, which I think I would consider skipping if I make it again.

The good news is I have plenty of leftovers, which I'll eat during the week!

Did you try any new recipes this weekend? Add a link to your post or just share below.

Well, I’m not paralyzed,
But, I seem to be struck by you
I want to make you move
Because you’re standing still
-Paralyzer, Finger Eleven

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lentil soup for the soul...

It was a balmy 50 degrees last week for New Years, by Sunday it was back in the 20's and snowy- gotta love 30 degree drops in temperature! Anyways now that the temperatures are back to normal and there is snow on the ground once again, I decided it was time for some soup.

I had veggies left over from New Years and lentils in the cupboard so I decide to whip up some soup last night. I chopped up some carrots, celery (don't tell my husband), red onion, and garlic then sauteed them in a little olive oil to soften them.

(Yes that onion is sprouting!! Must be too hot in my cupboard.)

While the veggies cooked down a bit and filled the house with their tasty aroma, I measured out some some lentils. I decided to go with part green and part red for a bit of variety.

After adding the 1.5 cups of lentils to the pot, I added about 5 cups of liquid. I used about 2 cups of stock and 3 cups of water. Next time I'd use just stock, but I ran out so I had to be flexible. For purposes of seasoning you can add a bay leaf or two, and anything else that you like. I added some hot sauce because I wanted a bit of kick in my lentils.

Then let it cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the lentils are tender and tasty, serve up with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Lentil Soup

1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups lentils, any type
5 cups of stock and/or water
2 bay leaves (don't eat)
Hot Sauce to Taste

Saute the first four ingredients in a little olive oil in the bottom of your stock pot until soften, and be careful not to burn. Then add in your lentils, stock and/or water, and bay leaves. This would also be the time to add any additional seasonings you'd like. Simmer approximately 60 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are softened. Serve and enjoy!

What is your favorite meal to warm up with?

This land is your land and this land is my land,
From California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.

-This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie

(Yeah I know totally random song that reminds me of elementary school, but it's been stuck in my head all day!)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Current Workout Plan...

On the last post, ELC asked what workout program I was using so I guess it is as good of time as any to show you what I'm up to in the gym.

To give you a little background I should let you know that I am not a professional, and do the workouts because I've learned about my physical abilities/limits. If you don't normally workout, or aren't familiar with the exercises, please seek help from a professional prior to taking on anything new.

I have been using "12 Weeks to Your Hottest Body Ever" by Derek Charlebois. The program is set up to help you evolve your strength of 12 weeks (see page 32). I'm currently on week 5, and have definitely seen an important in the amount of weight I can lift. Also, the meal plan is based on body weight, which not every plan takes into account (see page 14). After reading the entire 49 pages, I decided to do the strength training routine and include portion of the meal plan suggestions.

After having done the lifting workouts for a month, I decided that I also wanted to include a more planned cardio routine and stretching routine as part of my weekly plan. While reading Self Magazine (January 2011) I found just what I was looking for- a yoga based workout and different cardio plans to use along with my normal cardio.

I've only completed one of the yoga workouts so far, but definitely feel good about it and there is plenty of room for improvement. And with that I'm off to get some sleep because Thursday morning is yoga workout number two!

Do you have any workout routines to share?

"I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, Saying AYO, Gotta let go, I wanna celebrate and live my life..."
-Dynamite, Taio Cruz

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Move it...

Today was quite the gym day. It all started at 6am when I headed out to the gym for a morning workout- yeah I know am I crazy? The answer is no, I'm determined.

I found a yoga based workout that includes 6 moves performed as a set, then repeated five times. It took about 45 minutes, then I was on my way home to get ready for work.

After work it was back to the gym for round two- yes round two, but don't worry Wednesday is my rest day. Tonight's workout was weighted lower body movements and cardio. Cardio consisted of 25 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes on the stairs- I got a great workout in and I'm feeling good!

So now I leave you with this bit of lyrics to consider...

"I dare you to move, I dare you to move, I dare you to lift yourself, to lift yourself off of the floor..."

-Dare You to Move, Switchfoot

Monday, January 3, 2011

Workin' my plans...

With a New Year comes a chance to refocus on goals. I've spent the last week or so thinking about what my current goals are and created a little list. I broke the list into four different areas that make up "Canoe of Life".

-Sticking to our budget, and being able to say at the end of 2011 that I am debt free.

-Learning to use our new toy- Canon T2i! I've been using it for a month now, and I've seen some improvement in the blog photos, but I'd like to learn more about the manual modes.

-Planning, saving, and taking our real honeymoon in Germany!

-Working hard at my current position and making new connections whenever possible.

-Looking for new opportunities that can improve my chances to get the position I'm hoping to get in the next two or three years.

-Fine tuning my current eating and activity levels to continue working toward my goals.

-Competing in at least one race greater than 5K, and possibly the Iron Girl Triathlon if I can figure out an affordable place to get pool time.

-Working to hold plank for 2 minutes!

-Supporting those around me that want to include more fitness and health in their daily lives.

-Starting each post with the lyrics of a song. Since I'm always listening to some kind of music in the car, at work, while in the kitchen, while at the gym, and even when the alarm goes off each morning. (Let me know if you like it!)

-Trying one new recipe a week, taken from the shelf of cookbooks.

-Posting at least three times a week whenever possible.

And there you have it, my ever evolving plans. What do you think?

"Life’s not the breaths you take, But the moments that take your breath away..."
-George Strait, The Breath You Take

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 in Review....

One year and 197 posts later, 2010 is over. It was a year of many adventures, excitement, and learning...

Posts that really sum up the year here at Canoe of Life include:

Weclome to Canoe of Life 1/1/10- The first post on Canoe of Life.

Valentine's Day Treats 2/14/10- A day full of fun homemade treats...even healthy can taste good!

Mission Accomplished! 3/6/10- My first race distance greater than 5K...

I Have Arrived, Where am I?, and I'm back from a Whirlwind. Just a few post from a month spent in Dallas for work between March/April.

Finisher!!! 5/30/10- A recount of my first Half-Marathon, which was a major goal of 2010.

Kitchen Remodel! From May through July we gutted our kitchen, rearranged the layout, installed all new cabinets and fixtures, and completed the upgrade all on our own! While I don't have single post, we posted several times on our progress.

Twenty Nine and doing fine... 7/29/10- I celebrated my 29th year, which means this year is the big 3-0!!!!

Celebration of One Year Together 9/7/10- Our first wedding anniversary weekened when lots of fun was had...

Warriors!!! 9/21/10- Along with some friends we officially became Warrior at Windham Mountain- and we are recruiting for 2011!! Want to join us???

Thankful 11/25/10- I recounted the many blessings in my life...

Workin for the Weekend 12/19/10- I prepared all the cookies for Christmas and assembled all the gifts and platters. Which reminds me I need to share some recipes that were requested from those that tasted the goodness...

New Years Celebration 12/31/10- The last official post of 2010 recapping our festive party to ring in the New Year...

Next up is the plan for 2011!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Celebration...

We rang in the New Year with great friends, great drinks, and great foods! Here's a fun photo review of our evening!

My husband rockin' his New Years hat...

Hats for our guests...

Drinks for all tastes...

Homemade Sangria...

Saranac Winter Beers...

A gourmet spread for all tastes...

Mini Cuban sandwiches...

Chicken, Apple, Brie Paninis....

Braided stromboli from Sabrina...

Displayed stromboli....

Fancy cheese board...

Hummus and blue chips...

Now does all that look like a super tasty way to ring in the New Year????

Up next a recap of 2010 at Canoe of Life, and a look forward at what we hope 2011 will bring...