Category Archives: Try it and See

Sleep

Growing up, there were seven people in my family. (Six Tals, plus the nanny). Because it fit so perfectly, we each got assigned as one of the seven dwarves, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. As a kid, I was Bashful. (Seriously, I cried if you looked at me wrong. If there had been a “Sensitive” dwarf, that would have been me.)  Now that I’m a “grown up”, I’ve come out of my shell a bit. But, I am my mother’s daughter, through and through.

What does this have to do with sleep, you ask?

Momma was Sleepy. Was and is. And as it turns out, I am too. I can sleep anywhere – in cars, on planes, on couches, through movies… you name it.

While sleeping is great, I really hate waking up to an alarm. I might wake up naturally at 6:30 am, but if my alarm goes off before I’m ready, I’m grouchy all day long. And what is worse than taking a nap that isn’t quite long enough? Nothing, that’s what. It’s a recipe for a grumpy disaster.

So I got to thinking, how much sleep does my body need? I want to know when to go to bed, and when I’ll wake up and feel my best.

(As a side note, whenever I talk about sleep I think of Eric Whitacre’s SleepIt is one of my favorite pieces of his, and it’s definitely worth a listen. But only if you’re not driving… it tends to make me, well, sleepy.)

I am extremely fortunate in that my start time at work is pretty flexible. I can be at work any time between 8 and 10 am, unless I have a meeting or appointment scheduled. For the last week or so, I’ve been experimenting a bit with my sleep patterns. I haven’t set an alarm, and I’ve just gone to bed and woken up when it feels natural.

You guys. Do this. It’s awesome.

I don’t know if it’s the change of weather (FINALLY it’s warm!) or the fact that I’m just letting my body do what it naturally wants to do, but I feel so much better. I’m less cranky, waking up is actually easy (and I am not typically a coffee drinker so it’s never easy), and I’m learning so much about what my body and mind need to be successful throughout the day.

I’m still working on finding the exact balance, but what I’ve found is this: I go upstairs and start unwinding between 9:15 and 9:30 pm. This means teeth brushing, face washing, catching up on the interwebs, playing with the dog, putting on PJs, etc. I’m usually in bed by 10, and asleep by 10:30. It turns out, my sleep patterns (when they’re not interrupted by Jameson) are pretty typical – a solid 8 hours. (Every few nights I’ll sleep 9, which is sort of surprising. This morning, I woke up at 7:20 and was shocked at how late it was.) Most days, I am awake pretty consistently by 6:30 or so, if not earlier.

Like I said before, I’m extremely lucky that I don’t have to rush in the morning most of the time to be at work at 8 on the dot. However, my goal is to figure out my sleep patterns so that even when I DO have an early appointment, I’ll just need to alter my bed time in order to make it happen naturally. I’d love to phase my alarm out 100%.

How do you keep track of your sleep? Does waking up to an alarm stress you out or motivate you?

 

 

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Spring Time! Start Fresh!

Back in January, I made huge proclamations that I was going to be better about New Year’s Resolutions by not calling them that, and making monthly/quarterly goals, and sticking to them because I have a blog goddammit and it will keep me accountable!

Fast forward to now. I haven’t written much about my goals, and to be honest it’s because I haven’t been super focused on them. BUT! I’m not really that upset about it. While it would have been nice to say I met all my goals, (I DID meet some of them), I’ve really just been having fun, keeping busy, and not dwelling on what I should be doing.

And the weird part?

Through doing what feels natural and good in my life, I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking to my initial Q1 goals. Let’s recap:

1. Get serious about training my dog, and learning more about dog training in general – admittedly, I didn’t spend a ton of time on this in the past few months, and Jameson can always use more training, but we have gotten serious about doggy time-outs when he misbehaves (read: barks out the window), and it’s not perfect, but it seems to be working! I also met a girl that rides at my barn who trains dogs, and she is coming over on Sunday to see if she can help us with his barking problem, and his “go nuts when someone comes to the door” problem.

2. Take more (and better) pictures for my blog – Okay, full disclosure: pretty much immediately after I made this goal, I talked to Dan and sort of decided that he will be my photographer. I enjoy photography, and with more time to focus on it, I think I could get pretty good at it. But really, he already has an interest in it, is good at it, and wants to help. By involving him this way, it gets us both interested and involved in each others’ hobbies, which is a great way to have separate hobbies but still stay connected.  So, I didn’t acquire a new skill, but I’m still calling this one a win. And for the record, I finally backed up my iPhone photos onto my Mac last weekend! Finally I have space on my phone for music and apps!

3. Get in shape (for my life and my wedding) – this is one of the areas where I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve naturally moved forward, without obsessing and really focusing in on the details. In the past few weeks, I have been admittedly crazy busy, and haven’t made it into an actual gym recently. But with that said, my eating habits have improved greatly (I actually look forward to my salads, fruits and veggies – more on that later), and I’ve been exercising fairly regularly. I’ve been horseback riding at least twice a week, and now that the weather is getting nicer (seriously, Spring, get your act together) I’ve been taking Jameson on longer walks in the evenings. I feel better, have more energy, and when the dog is tired, I sleep better. 🙂

4. Plan for the future – I started some of the things I mentioned in my last post about this, like making a 2 year plan in Excel and creating a business plan. While I’ve sort of got these things under wraps, what I’ve really got are a lot of hopes and dreams that involve not sitting at a desk for 9-10 hours a day. Things are slowly coming together into a solid plan, though, and I’m confident that after the wedding (!!) I’ll have more time, energy, and money to focus on them.

So, now that I’ve word vomited all over the place, here’s what I’m going to focus on for the next few months:

  • Katie’s Wedding! It’s so soon! I’m so stoked!
  • Getting my sleep schedule/patterns more consistent.
  • My garden – I can’t wait to start it this year!
  • My pup and pony – training, exercising, and spending quality time.
  • Planning my wedding 🙂

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Shower Time!

Happy Monday Everybody!

I have been a very busy bee. So busy, in fact, that this little blog of mine has taken a backseat in the priorities wagon. Sad but true. I could try to recount the last two weeks with an epic play by play of my oh-so-exciting life… but to be honest you’d be bored to tears. It’s been a lot of calorie counting, boring meals, and work work work. But there is one thing that’s been keeping me busy that I can finally spill the beans about, because it finally happened this weekend! Katie’s bridal shower!

4some

I was honored to put together a shower for Katie along with the help of her mom (the wonderful hostess!) and many of the other bridesmaids. I got super lucky, because Kristin (bridesmaid and mutual best friend) had to work in Rockville, MD for the week, so she was able to come to VA on Wednesday and Thursday to help me cook and prepare. I don’t think the shower would have been half as successful without her :).

kristin bags

I don’t really know what to say, but there are lots of pictures to tell the story.

First up: the food. Oh, the food.

Food spread

We have: Savory: Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts, Deviled Eggs, Spinach and Onion Dip with Hawaiian Sweet Bread, Baked Brie, Veggie Platter, and Cheese and Crackers.

Sweet: Fruit and Marshmallow Fluff Dip, Whiskey Fudge, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Merlot Cupcakes, and Cake Balls!

The fun:

Toilet Paper Dress Contest. Everybody won!

Toilet Paper Dress Contest. Everybody won!

The Presents!

The haul

The haul

Even Patrick got some goodies.

for patrick

But most importantly, we learned (as if we didn’t already know), that you can dress her up…The sistersBut you really can’t take her anywhere.

KB mustache

Sisters mustaches

Congrats again Katie!! I can’t wait for your day!

 

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Getting Committed

Happy February! The shortest month filled with the most love. Or something.

You guys. I won a contest! I’ve never won anything before, but I won a blog contest! Cassie from Back To Her Roots had a giveaway for 10 free days of “Accountability Coaching” from Krissie over at Commited Coaching. Krissie is a certified running coach (whatever that means), but she also focuses on helping people meet their fitness, food, and lifestyle goals. I’ve only had one phone call with her once so far, but I’m excited for what the next 10 days will bring!

I told Krissie my goals (get in shape for wedding, form healthier eating and workout habits, etc.) and she’s already been super helpful, just giving me tips on how I can be more efficient and more effective. For the first ten days of February, the plan is for me to tell her my plan day to day in the way of food and exercise, and she’ll text, call, or email me once a day to see how I’m doing. If for some reason I’m not hitting my goals, she’s not there to “punish” or “shame” me, she’s just there to help me figure out what’s going on and see if from an outside perspective she has any insight on how I could change my habits for the better.

You guys. I’m stoked.

I don’t really know what to expect. I don’t know if I’ll be successful or if I’ll want to continue on with Krissie after my ten free days. But I do know she has some  really good ideas up her sleeve that I’m excited to hear.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Tiny Things are Better

Mostly. The only time this sentiment is untrue is with dogs. Big dogs are better.

Okay, maybe tiny things aren’t always better, but when it comes to food… they usually are.

Cupcakes > Cake

Mini quiches > Regular quiches

Chicken fingers > Chicken breast

Red Onion Close UP

They taste better. They’re more fun. There’s less clean-up. You have an excuse to lick your fingers. The tiny serving size means you don’t have to share. And usually, they mean less calories. (That last one might be a stretch.)

ingredients

Enter: Tiny Pizzas! This is a really fun, fast meal that you can make with ingredients you have on-hand. It’s great for busy work nights or lazy Saturdays. We make ours on pocket-less Pitas, which provide just enough crust, with enough density to support allllll that cheesy, saucy, vegetably goodness. Load it up! If your pita can’t support it, you can use a fork. I won’t tell the other tiny foods you needed a hand with this one.

pre-bake 1

  • Enough pitas for each person to have (at least) one. I use whole wheat.
  • Marinara or pizza sauce – you can go home made here, but for a quick meal I use store bought
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Bleu Cheese
  • Feta Cheese (are you catching on? CHEEEEESE!)
  • Onion
  • Green pepper
  • Turkey sausage
  • Whatever you want! Tiny pizza doesn’t discriminate.

What You Do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Put 2-3 tablespoons of sauce on each pita.
  3. Load up with toppings!
  4. Bake at 350 until cheese is melty, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Switch your oven from bake to broil (high) and broil for 2-4 minutes, until cheese is golden and bubbly.
  6. Cut into quarters and enjoy!

baked

 

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Chicken Schnitzel and Brussel Sprouts

Full Meal

Growing up, we had a pretty standard list of dinner options that we cycled through weekly: Spaghetti (with sauce from a can usually), Stouffer’s Lasagna, meatloaf, baked chicken with bar-b-que sauce, and my favorite – chicken schnitzel. I’m pretty sure that traditionally, schnitzel is made with pork, but my dad grew up in Israel, where pork is hard to come by. Jewish schnitzel = 100% chicken.

Schnitzel Cooking

This is one of those recipes that you could make your own, this is just my family’s take on it. It’s still one of my favorites, and is up there with spaghetti as one of my go-tos in the kitchen.  It’s one of the only ones I make regularly that I don’t use a recipe for 🙂 This is alllll from my memory baby. This meal can be made in about 30 minutes, and tastes like it’s out of a restaurant kitchen. (Maybe it’s all the oil? Who knows.) I dip mine in honey. I have no idea why, but it’s delicious. Dan uses ranch. My brothers have been known to use ketchup. Whatever you do, it’s okay to make it your own!

Schnitzel Cooked

What You Need (Schnitzel):

  • 1 lb of chicken breast, thinly sliced 
  • 1-2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 cups of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil

What You Do (Schnitzel):

  1. Heat oil in large skillet on med-hi heat.
  2. Lightly beat the chicken with a meat tenderizer. (If you don’t have one of these, or if you’re lazy like me, it’s okay to skip this step.)
  3. Dredge chicken first in egg, then in bread crumbs. Be sure to thoroughly – this is what gives your chicken that beautiful brown crispiness!
  4. Place chicken (carefully!) in HOT oil, it should sizzle as you put it down, and cook until golden brown on one side. Flip and repeat on the other side.
  5. Place on a plate with a paper towel underneath to catch the excess oil.
  6. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes with a vegetable.

What You Need (Brussel Sprouts):

Sprinkled Sprouts

  • As many brussel sprouts as you can eat, quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp of Olive oil

What You Do (Brussel Sprouts):

Cooked Sprouts

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place quartered sprouts on a baking sheet – I line mine with tin foil for easy clean up
  3. Mist or pour olive oil on sprouts, coating evenly – I use my Misto and I LOVE IT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE GO GET ONE RIGHT NOW!
  4. Salt and pepper to taste – you can play with the spices. I also use garlic powder occasionally
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until edges start to turn brown and crispy

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My New Obsession

Does it count as an obsession if I’ve only made it twice?

Chopped

I think at this rate, I’m well on my way. I simply cannot stop making and eating soup. Not like from-a-can-Campbell’s-condensed-crap. Good, hearty, home made soup. I think it all started with making Lasagna Soup at Gretchen’s a few weeks ago. Last week I made this delicious Broccoli, Cheese and Potato Soup from SkinnyTaste.com. And it was. So. Good. Plus, it gave me a good excuse to use my immersion blender for the first time in forever, so, win for kitchen gadget usage! It wasn’t even that hard! The most time consuming bit was the chopping – other than that it could have been ready in less than 45 minutes. Not too shabby for a weeknight meal. And then for lunch a few days as well.

Onions, Carrots, Celery

One quick note about reheating – it does get pretty thick in the fridge from all the potato starch, so adding some milk or water when reheating is not a bad idea.

Recipe from Skinnytaste.com

Soup 3

What You Need:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 cups fat free chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 4 cups (about 2 heads) broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 slices 2% American cheese
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese

What You Do:

  1. Chop onion, carrot, celery, garlic in a chopper or mini food processor.
  2. In a large soup pot, melt butter.  Add chopped vegetables and sauté on low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add flour, salt and pepper to the pot and stir until smooth.
  4. Add broth, milk and potatoes and set heat to high until it comes to a boil, then cover and cook on low until potatoes are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add broccoli florets, parmesan cheese, and stir well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add cheddar and American cheese, stir well and remove from heat.
  7. Using an immersion blender, quickly blend part of the soup for a quick second or two. If you don’t have an immersion blender, remove about 1-2 cups of potatoes and broccoli, place it in your chopper, then add it back to the soup. This helps thicken it a bit.

Soup done

**Note: The broth adds a lot of salty flavor, so go easy on the salt!

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