Friday Favorites!

Hello again! I know… long time, no see. This summer has been absolute chaos for our little family and I feel like I’m almost ready for winter so I’m subjected to not ever leaving my home unless I have to. Don’t get me wrong, I love being busy and doing fun things, but wow, I’m ready for a break!

So far we’ve…

Traveled: to northern Indiana, Chicago, and heading to Pittsburgh in the near future.

Improved: Our house. Painted our doors and shutters, cleaned out our living spaces.

Worked: so hard at work, traveling to various towns across the state. School started back up for my husband.

Ran: a 5 mile race and placed!

Ate: Too many good meals to count. Grilled insane amounts of chicken.

Walked: over 10,000 steps per day for 3 months except for 3 days (my work has a step competition going on!)

Cheered on: The Braves at Wrigley field, and the Indians in Indianapolis.

And yet, I’m not ready for this crazy heat to end. Something about the summer sun just makes my heart happy. Okay enough summer recap. I thought I would kick off the long weekend with some of my favorite things I’ve found on the web or things I enjoy. Enjoy and have a wonderful long, labor day weekend and soak up the last bit of summer for me!

What’s Hot Now: 7 New Kitchen Trends I love my kitchen and its bright open space, but when I look at these dreamy kitchens, I want to start breaking down walls.

8 Ways to be Productive When You Feel Like You Have No Time. Yes. I needed to read this. The walking tip is something I need to keep doing in the winter months.

Honey Sriracha Chex Mix. I made this a couple weeks ago and realized I will be making this for all of our future football game day needs. I omitted the pretzels because I didn’t have any on hand and it still turned out fabulous.

Honey-Sriracha Chex™ Mix

Playing Kickball. I signed up for an adult rec league in our local town about a year ago and it was probably the best decision I’ve made in a while. The people are great, I’m active on a weeknight, and I get to kick some balls!

Pasta without Dairy in it. It must be a Christmas miracle! You have NO idea how much dairy is in everything until you are married to a man who can’t eat dairy. It’s shocking. These look delicious and I will definitely try some as the temperature drops.

18 Fitness Myths That Need to be Stopped. Could not agree more with a lot of these statements. Fitness is not one note, neither is nutrition. Most importantly, it matters what is going on on the inside (like cholesterol, glucose, A1c, etc.) The number on the scale doesn’t define you. What defines you is your entire health journey- not one diet – not one exercise.

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend!

What have you been up to this summer?!

A Running Survey

Happy Friday everyone!

I’ve had a crazy couple weeks at work and have been working more than I normally do and at odd hours so blogging took a small backseat just so I don’t get too overwhelmed!

Today I found a survey on one of my favorite running blogs so I thought I would play along. Enjoy!

1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail?

You know I do love the beach, but we live no where close to mountains so mountain trail it is!

2.  If you could choose the flavor of Gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be?

None, I actually hate Gatorade while running. It makes me extremely ill.

3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it?

New shoes. That would cover just a part of the cost. But if we’re excluding shoes I would buy new tank tops.

4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run?

I like a training plan when I’m prepping for a race but there is no better feeling than just going out and running however far and fast you want.

5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill?

I would rather end on a downhill, I think.

6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do?

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of body weight work like burpees, mountain climbers, and push ups so that’s been a fun change.

7.  What is your preference—>  Out and back, point to point or loop runs?

I hate point to point. I guess I’d say out and back only because loops play mental mind games with me.

8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be a—>

Good pair of shoes!

9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs?

Yes, I do! I’ve seen a lot of deer, beavers, and a ton of birds.

10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run?

Not that I recall…

11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be?

Probably a huge fruit salad. Sounds weird, but it’s so good and refreshing!

12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often?

Shorts. Fun fact: I do not own any running capris.

13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go?

As I’ve gotten older it takes me a least a mile to warm up anymore. Used to only take about 1/4 of a mile but my joints aren’t what they used to be!

14.  What do you do with your key when you run?

Put it in my shorts pocket!

15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be?

Probably the Bedford Half Marathon. It was so hilly, but for some reason I felt so strong that day and PR’ed on a tough course.

16.  What type of run is your least favorite type of run?

Probably Yasso 800s. They hurt real bad.

17.  What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to get your run on?

My health. It’s always been my biggest motivator.

18.  When you go for a run, do you leave right from your front door or do you drive somewhere to start?

Depends where I want to run that day! Typically my front door though.

19.  When running in daylight—>  are sunglasses a must or an annoyance?

A must for super sunny days but I typically don’t wear them.

20.  When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting?

Wow, tough question! Probably inspiration from others. I love heartfelt stories like a 97 year old woman completes a marathon or people who lost over 200 pounds and now run ultras. I think to myself that if they can do it, I can do it, too!

Alright, your turn! Pick a question to answer and share below!

Making the Most of Your Farmer’s Market Trip

Happy Friday, folks!

One of the things I look forward to on the weekend (besides being outdoors & spending time with family) is going to the local farmer’s market! The market located in my town is absolutely beautiful. There are so many sights and sounds to enjoy and it reminds me why I love Bloomington so much.

Follow me on Instagram @mollymarie4

Going to a local farmer’s market can be particularity overwhelming at first but once you know how to approach the market, you’ll be a shoppin’ pro in no time. Here are some of my tips to make your trip a little more stress free.

1.) Go early. Beat the crowds and avoid the dreaded “Out of ____” signs. By going early you can snag a great parking spot and be able to take your time strolling through each of the unique vendors without the mass amounts of people.

2.) Be prepared to pay for parking. Now that our town has enforced parking meters, I always bring extra quarters with me to easily slip into the meter and get to the market.

3.) Bring reusable bags. Oh dear, when I first went to the market I noticed a ton of people carrying them around with their fresh produce in tow — I felt so out of place! Bringing your own bags not only helps the environment, but also helps reduce cost on the farmer’s side.

4.) Bring cash — specifically small bills. Most vendors don’t have a credit card swiping machine, so bring cash! Small bills are extremely helpful and you’re able to give the money to the vendor quick and sneak out of there.

5.) Compare shop. I absolutely love gawking at the beautiful produce laying out to purchase so we always do a once over of all the vendors and scope out what we might want to buy and then compare prices from other vendors. For example, last week Mitchell wanted bacon (gotta love my husband!). Well, one vendor had a pound of bacon for $9, and to our surprise, we found another vendor that was $7 a pound! Save two bucks on bacon? Yes please!

6.) Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to approach the vendor! They are more than happy to answer questions about what the grow and how they grow it. Last week, we did some investigating into the different types of cherries. The vendor even let us sample them before we bought them so we knew exactly what we were buying.

7.) Enjoy! There is nothing better than being able to buy fresh produce, meat, and cheese knowing that it was produced near by. I’m not lucky enough to have a garden in my small yard but I sure am lucky enough to be able to buy from farms that are located right in southern Indiana.

What are some of your favorite farmer’s market tips? Do you shop at your local market?

Of possible interest:

2015 Indiana Spartan Race Recap

Did I happen to mention I participated in a “Spartan Race” in May? I haven’t?! Shame on me.

Well, let me tell you it was WAY out of my comfort zone. I am a creature of habit; I’ve been running on the hard blacktop for years. 9 years as a matter of fact. I’ve completed a couple trail races but not one can even compare to a Spartan Race.

This race was a “sprint” race, it ranged from 3 to 5 miles but our race was closer to 5 miles. I didn’t mind the distance at all because I have ran 5 miles and then some countless times. Have I ever ran 5 miles in pure mud completing over 20 obstacles (and if you fail the obstacles, it’s 30 burpees for you!)? Heck no.

barbwire

Last year, my husband, Mitchell, completed the race with one of his best friends and I looked on as a spectator because I had a half-marathon to compete in a few weeks and didn’t want to get injured. After watching them complete the race in 2014, I knew I had to give this race a shot in 2015.

Between miles 1-2, I thought I fared pretty well. I completed a few tough obstacles, including the Hercules Hoist (basically you lift a giant sandbag weighing 100 pounds up 30 feet and lower back to the ground with a pulley system). I also made it over inverted walls, and cargo nets. I was on a roll until the muddy “climb up a wall with a rope” obstacle. I fell not once, but twice and then did 30 burpees because I failed to complete the obstacle.

Miles 2-4 were also okay, but probably not my favorite. There was SO MUCH mud. We had to climb up some killer hills and there were more upper body obstacles that I just could not handle. So burpees it was! I also barely missed the spear throw and could not for the life of me get a grip on the climbing wall (I think that had to do with all the mud!).

Causally carrying a sandbag through some muddy water.

Causally carrying a sandbag through some muddy water.

At the end of the race there was a gravel bucket carry. It seemed so simple, but hurt so bad. Participants would grab a bucket (about 5 gallons) and fill it to a certain line. Once filled, you took that bucket of gravel and carried it about a third of a mile down a muddy hill, made a sharp turn, and walked back up the hill. Once you were on top of the hill, you had to toss the gravel back into the gravel pit. Oh, one last thing – you CAN’T lose any of the gravel! If you lost any at all you had to do it again! Yikes!!!

All smiles at the finish!

There was no greater feeling than crossing that finish line. I’ve ran a lot of races in my life, and each finish is so unique and representative of any fears I may have had going into a race. This race made me get over my fears in many, many ways. I had to climb up not one, but TWO cargo nets and I absolutely hate heights! One of my other fears is swimming in cloudy water (I like to see where I’m going!) and I had to complete that, too!

I’m really proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. Was I sore the next day? Heck yes. Was I so over the race at some point? Oh yes, my ankles had enough! Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone? Completed a Spartan race?

P.S. Read another Indiana race recap by the Spartan staff here. Apparently, it was a very muddy one!

A Well Stocked Refrigerator

Last time we chatted, I talked about having a well stocked pantry to be able to prepare healthy, home cooked meals. Today, I’m diving into the refrigerator! Just like having a well stocked pantry, it is as equally important to have a well stocked refrigerator. Let’s get to it!

fridge

1.) At the top of my fridge, I keep all of our leftovers. By placing them at the top, it reminds me that I have already prepared food ready to eat at any time. This is especially helpful when I am hangry (hungry+angry). Next to the leftovers, I’ve been keeping my proteins up there as well (like chicken or fish), which I totally realize is not ServSafe standard, but again, it reminds me what I have available to cook.

2.) On the middle shelf I keep most of our dairy products. Mitch is lactose intolerant so we have lactose free milk on hand and I drink unsweetened almond milk. Milk is not a staple in every fridge but I certainly keep it in our house for a lot of breakfast meals. Mitch normally eats homemade granola (made by yours truly) and I occasionally whip together a smoothie for breakfast. Yogurt is also stored on this shelf, again for basically for the same purposes. I keep greek yogurt in the fridge because I use it in everything. When we have tacos, it’s used as sour cream. When I make a cream sauce for dinner, I use greek yogurt instead of extra cheese. Oh don’t be fooled by the non-fat kind of yogurts. Go full fat-it’s worth it. We also store eggs on this shelf. Eggs are so versatile, I use them every day in some way, shape, or form.  The small drawer on that same shelf also carries one of my favorite dairy products… cheese! Even though Mitch is lactose intolerant, we still eat cheese just because some cheeses are actually naturally lactose free or low in lactose. We also keep bacon in this drawer because, well, bacon.

3.) The bottom shelf is for our large lunchboxes. We pack our lunch almost every day. It saves us money, and our waistlines will thank us in the future. I also keep weird odds and ends on this shelf like salsa, chipotle peppers, olives, capers, sriracha, and pizza sauce…a little of everything! These “little of everythings” help boring meals go to great meals in seconds.

4.) The bottom drawers are filled to the brim with produce. I have certain staples I buy every week like bananas, apples, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms. All of these items are relatively low in cost but contain a decent amount of nutrients. Sometimes I have weeks when I throw together “clean out the fridge” salads so nothing goes to waste. But trust me, that doesn’t happen often!

5.) The side of our fridge door is a hodgepodge of condiments. I have a whole shelf dedicated to nut butters that is unfortunately not pictured. Another side pocket contains what I like to call “The Summer Fixins”. It holds ketchup, mustard (dijon, spicy, regular), and worcestershire sauce. On the very top left corner of our fridge, we store the butter. You never know when you might want a fresh batch of cookies. 😉

6.) Finally, the last shelf at the very bottom of the drawer contains beverages. Everything from champagne, to OJ, to craft beer. Oh and sparkling water because I just can’t get enough of it.

There you have it! A sneak peak into our fridge. I didn’t include the freezer because frankly, it’s very boring. All we keep in there is frozen fruit, ice, and sometimes frozen fish.

What do you keep in your fridge?

Currently…

Happy Friday! Is it just me, or has this week lasted forever?! I saw one of these surveys floating around the internet and I thought I would give it a whirl so you can see a little glimpse of my life for some Friday fun.

Current Book: None. I’m so embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read a book since my Wine Book Club ended! I did recently download “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation” by Michael Pollen just because books like that really intrigue me. Here’s hoping I get a chance to dive into it this summer!

Current Music: Taylor Swift. On repeat. I bought 1989 when it first came out and I haven’t removed it from my CD player. It’s also on my iPod and a Pandora station. 1989 World Tour, I am so ready for you! 

Current Guilty Pleasure: Watching the Real Housewives of Whatever City it is at the time. I don’t know what it is about rich, mid-aged women but I am drawn in every season and watch it relentlessly.  Also- The Bachorlette. The season premiere was on Monday and whoa, can we talk about those “On this season of the Bachelorette…” previews?! Drama!

Current Nail Color: Nothing! Can you believe it? Those who know me well, know that I paint my nails religiously. I’m going to paint them tonight in Essie “Sunday Funday” — my favorite color for the spring/summer.

Current Drink: Right now I’m on a huge lemon water kick. I have one of those cool water bottles that diffuses the flavor of whatever fruit I choose. I normally prep it at night before and it’s all ready to go in the morning for the work day!

Current Food: Avocado toast. It’s becoming a staple in my breakfast routine. There’s something about crunchy, toasted bread and buttery avocado that is perfection.

Current Favorite Show: Survivor! I have watched this show since the second season. Mind you, they are now on season 31. I’ve spent about 15 years religiously watching this show. The finale was this past Wednesday *sad face* but next season looks amazing with the second chance cast. The Survivor crew really knows how to hook you in to keep watching season after season. I’ve convinced some of my friends to watch it with me and they have enjoyed it so much that we turn our Wednesdays into “Survivor Night”.

What’s your favorite show? Favorite guilty pleasure? 

Of possible interest:

A Well Stocked Pantry

Today I’ve decided to share a little piece of my home with you all! My pantry. I know, it doesn’t sound too exciting but I’ve always believed if you keep good food in your house, you will eat good food. I typically try and limit junk food in our house and keep things on hand that are healthier to snack on and cook. Our pantry is no where near perfect, but I think it’s a good start. By having a well stocked pantry I can pretty much cook up anything at the drop of a hat, which in turn, keeps us from picking up take out or going out to eat.

pantry

To store food, I use baskets I picked up from Target. I also try and make sure every product has a home by using jars with reusable lids. By doing this, the food product stays fresh for longer, and eliminates wasted space. You all know how big some boxes can be and I cannot stand how much room they take up!  The shelves are labeled by number for your convenience.

1.) Paper products and K-Cups. This top shelf is my least favorite. It’s actually really hard for me to get to so I don’t keep much there.

2.) Brown Basket: Oils- coconut oil, olive oil, tahini paste, and nut butters (I can never have too many jars of peanut butter).  I roast a lot of vegetables so olive oil is amazing to have on hand. Coconut oil is used for granola and sauteing as well. Nut butters are non-perishable so I stock up when it’s on sale.

Tan Basket: Dry goods- this includes brown rice, whole wheat pastas (I have way too many types!), quinoa, and panko bread crumbs. There are also oats stored on the very far right hand side. Again, these are all non-perishable items and really easy to cook when I’m in a pinch for dinner. Oats are great for about everything. I use them in breakfast foods, like granola, pancakes, and homemade snack bars.

3.) From left to right- baking items. This includes baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla, dried fruits, chocolate chips, etc.  I am always baking up something on the weekends. Whether it be breads or even an occasional sweet treat. The middle basket includes nuts, popcorn, flax seeds, & chia seeds. These are all wonderful extra ingredients to have on hand to make snack bars or trail mix. The far right basket contains flours- whole wheat, bread, and white(OMG! 😉 ) and more oats (seriously, it’s a problem). I make a lot of food from scratch, specifically pizza dough and breads, so I always make sure I have many types of flour in the pantry.

4. From left to right- vinegar, all the vinegars- red wine, apple cider, white, balsamic. Vinegar is so versatile; I use them in salad dressings and marinades all the time. I also keep unique oils in this bin as well. I have sesame oil as well as flavored olive oils. The middle basket contains spices. Yes, that whole entire basket is spices. I also have a spice rack on my counter. I cannot get enough. Spices elevate the flavor of so many bland and boring foods – I’m looking at you, chicken breast. I make my own taco seasoning every time we have tacos. By doing this, I’m avoiding a lot of added preservatives and excessive sodium. Oh and did I mention it’s cheaper?! (Tip: if you live in Bloomington, go to Sahara Mart. They have the cheapest prices in town!) Finally on the right, I store canned goods. I typically buy low sodium chicken or vegetable stocks, coconut milk, tomato paste, and beans. I also have chicken noodle soup on hand because you never know when you’re going to need that!

5. The bottom shelf and floor are typically for snack foods and breads. Mitch loves chips and salsa so I always have tortilla chips on hand as well as some whole wheat crackers. We also have protein powder, whole wheat tortillas, and whole wheat breads. This shelf really changes depending on the week and what’s on the menu. The floor (not pictured) stores sparkling water, onions, and potatoes in respective baskets or containers.

Now that I’ve I’ve shared our pantry with you, I’ve gotta know, what are some of your “must have” food items in your pantry?