Fall and Butternut Squash Soup

October is one of my absolute favorite months.  There is no holiday craziness yet, but you can feel it coming on.  And it is the true kick off to my absolute favorite season.  Oh, how this girl loves her some fall in New England.  Pumpkin patches, apple picking, leaves changing, red wine, hot soup on the stove, cool nights under the comforter, and hot coffee is finally acceptable again. I totally embrace how cliche my love of this season is, and I own it.

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I am pretty sure this e-card was created after someone had a conversation with me.

We have been easing into our fall with lots of pumpkin coffee, and leaf collecting on our favorite trail.  In the next few weeks there will be pumpkin carving and apple picking.

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And now!  A recipe!  One of my favorites for fall.  It is a crock pot soup that is healthy to boot.  Enjoy!

Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • One butternut squash cubed (I cheated and bought the pre-cut one this time
  • Soup greens (my grocery store sells this really convenient little package of them.  If yours does not, its just a few carrots, celery, a small onion, and maybe a parsnip or two.  The butternut squash taste is so over powering that you really don’t taste the other flavors anyway)
  • Chicken or vegetable broth

Directions:

Chop, chop, chop. Slide into the crock pot. Cover in broth and maybe a little water.  Set crock pot to 8 hours on low.  When you are ready, use the immersion blender to blend everything.  If you like a thicker soup be sure to take out some liquid before you blend.

Scoop into your favorite soup bowl and enjoy :)  You could always a nice fall garnish like roasted pumpkin seeds!

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Any other great fall recipes out there?

I ran 5 Miles

Summer 2014 has been about many things.  Drinking beer, hanging out with friends, spending time in the back yard with Ella, grilling awesome food.  Exercise happened, but not as intensely or for as long as I would have liked.  I went for 3 mile runs a few times a week, but never really pushed my pace .  I always “planned” on 5-6 mile runs on the weekends but breakfast outings with my family, or afternoons in the back yard during nap time just sounded so much better.

As a result of all the beer, burgers, and non-running; I am starting fall with a solid 8 extra pounds on my body.  I realize 8 pounds is not a huge deal.  But on my small frame, it is noticeable and it may take a while to come off.

So I am re – committing myself to exercise and good eating on the weekends.  I say on the weekends because during the week I have excellent eating habits.  As soon as Friday night hits?  Its like I’m on death row and I cannot order a pizza fast enough.

So on Monday morning I set my alarm, I laced up my sneakers, and I headed out the door for 5 miles.  I told myself today was about distance not pace, but I absolutely could not go home until I had run 5 miles.  And man alive, it felt amazing.

Cheers to a fall filled with running !!

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Hey there!  Lets dive right in shall we?

How is it almost October?  I swear this year has flown by in a flurry of change.  Both good and no so good.  Remember when I said 2014 would be a year of settling and routine and being content?  Yeh, not so much .

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When I last blogged I was teaching a few yoga classes and week and was home with Ella the rest of the time.  I was merely teaching yoga, and not really involved in the running of any of the studios where I taught.  We went on a lovely Naples vacation in March, and when I got back a big opportunity had fallen into my lap.  One of the studios where I was teaching, Downtown Yoga, was in serious need of a manager.  They needed someone who could manage not only the studio and the yoga instructors, but also the money and the “business” side of things.  Cue music and hallelujah angels and lights.  DREAM JOB.  Yoga AND accounting?!  Pinch me.

I started working at Downtown Yoga just 1 day a week to help clean up their books, and bring a little organization to the studio.  While I was doing this I was still teaching at all my other studios.  I slowly by surely fell in love with Downtown Yoga and its mission.   We want to bring yoga to the masses no matter their income level, and want to create an enlightened society by using yoga as a medium for community out reach.  By the end of May I was managing Downtown Yoga and had left all my other positions .  I was teaching a 6AM “Rise and Shine” yoga class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then staying the rest of the day to work on the business side of things.

Over the summer I revamped the studio completely.  New software system, new payroll system, interviewed new instructors, created a new schedule for the fall, volunteered our time at tons of yoga events, and laid all the ground work for a successful fall.

Well my hard work paid off.  On September 5th Downtown Yoga hosted a big open house, and man alive was it a success.  New yogis, new memberships, lots of amazing energy surrounding the studio.  I could have asked for a better  culmination of all my hard work over the previous few months.

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Now I can finally say that I am the happiest and most fulfilled I have ever been.  I have been given an amazing gift and I do not intend on wasting it.  Through my work at Downtown  Yoga I am able to help the Hartford community, run a small business, teach yoga, and DO ACCOUNTING.  And the VERY best part?  I am home with Ella most days of the week.  The days that I am home are not broken up by rushing to teach this class or that class.  I can 100% concentrate on her and what she needs.  And then two -three days a week I get to concentrate 100% on my studio and what I need.  Its a win-win if I have ever seen one.

Since leaving SS&C over a year ago my life has changed and evolved in so many ways.  I now get to live my passion and work with people who are committed to leaving this world just a little bit better than how they found it.  Leaving my corporate job was easily the best decision I have ever made.

And this little girl?  I literally can’t even.  She is 19 months old and thriving.  New words everyday, running, smiling, laughing, and being so so silly.  She loves Elmo something fierce, and gives the best hugs in the universe.  She is a creature of habit and does best when we stick to a routine.  But is also easy going enough that sometimes the routine can be put aside.  She is the light of my entire life and I find so much joy in that smile and those blueberry eyes.

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Now that things are settled I really am hoping to start blogging again.  About both our family life and things we do, and about the studio and our different initiatives.  I am still striving for balance and still trying to be a mom and be me, and I cannot wait to actually start documenting this as 2014 winds down.

5 Day Juice Cleanse and Juicer Review

Hi friends!  I have officially drank the kool-aid and I am a total juice convert.  I love juicing.  I love the taste of juice, I love the rush of energy from all the nutrients, I am a juice juice juice freak.  I received the Omega VRT juicer for Christmas .  I cannot express enough how much I love my juicer.  It is easy to clean, it so efficient at removing the juice from the fruits and veggies, and it is super quiet. I have not found once thing that I don’t like about it yet.  There are less expensive versions out there, but if you are serious about introducing juice into your life and diet I fully recommend you make the investment in the Omega.

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After receiving the juicer for Christmas I went all in and did a back flip into the world of juicing.  I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and immediately visited Joe’s website looking for recipes and tips.  When I found the 5 day cleanse I knew I wanted to do this.  It would be an awesome kick start to 2014, and a way for me to make sure juicing became a part of my life for the long haul.  I gave myself the first 5 days of 2014 to clean up my eating in order to make the cleanse a little more manageable.  I did not want to feel so terrible as all the crap was leaving my body that I threw in the towel.  I do not have the luxury of napping or simply not teaching a yoga class during the day because I am feeling tired, so I used the first 5 days to find the juice recipes I liked the best to use during the cleanse.  Once I narrowed down the juices I wanted to use, I got to work.  I prepped all 5 days of juices in 1 afternoon.  IT. TOOK. FOREVER.  I am really glad I did it this way though. I do not think I would have been as successful if I had to prep AND juice everyday.  Prepping all at once on Saturday really made it easy!

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So here is the low down on how I was feeling during this whole thing:

Day 1:   Felt a little twinge for coffee.  But mostly felt great throughout the day!  I did not teach any yoga this day (I purposely started it on a day off) so had plenty of energy.  I felt pretty tired by the end of the day though, and went to bed really really really early. Day 1, total success.  Juices: I drank 2 Carrot, Apple, Lemon juices , 2 Green Variety’s, and 1 Un-Beetable

Day 2: Woke up feeling awesome.  Plenty of sleep, and ready to start day 2.  I felt the rush of energy after my morning juice that people talk about.  I taught a power yoga class at noon and felt great.  Little head ache toward the end of the day, but I chalked it up to not enough water during the day.  Started to miss the sensation of chewing. JuicesI drank 2 Carrot, Apple, Ginger juices , 2 Green Variety’s, and 1 Un-Beetable

Day 3: Best day yet.  Woke up feeling amazing, again.  And feeling CLEAN.  I just started to feel so light and clean and like nothing was dragging or holding me down.  Pretty amazing feeling if you ask me!  JuicesI drank 2 Sunrises juices , 2 Green Lemonade’s, and 1 Un-Beetable

Day 4: Ok, I am tired of this.  I still feel awesome, but man, I would kill for some coffee.  This day was my busiest of the week (3 yoga classes taught, starting at 6AM and ending at 8PM) so I am sure that had something to do with it.  I was ready to chew again. But I knew I could stick it out for one more day, especially since I had put this all over Instagram. Accountability, people! JuicesI drank 2 Sunrises juices , 2 Green Lemonade’s, and 1 Un-Beetable

Day 5: yay yay yay!  I get to have coffee tomorrow!  And chew!  Can’t wait.  I can stick this out for one more day, but I am ready to kick this ol’ cleanse to the curb.  Even though they still tasted good, I had to hold my nose by the time I got to the last juice on the last day and just choke it down.  But I did it!  5 days, 25 juices, no solid food.  JuicesI drank 2 Sunrises juices , 2 Green Lemonade’s, and 1 Un-Beetable

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Over all, I am so glad I did the cleanse.  It was an awesome way to detox my body after what I put it through over the holidays.  I shed some weight, got my system back on track, and gave my digestive system and much deserved break.  I would totally and 100% do this again, and I am sure I will.  I now incorporate juice into my life at least 4 times a week.  It gets expensive and is time-consuming, so I do not juice everyday.  I especially like that it boosts my fruit and veggie intake.  I am very good about trying to get the recommended amounts, but man, some days it is just hard!

Do you juice?  Have you done a cleanse?  What is your favorite juice recipe?

 

Meals and Fitness for the Week

Eat Clean 2014 is well underway.  And I have to say, we are hitting the ball out of the park.  We had friends over for dinner last night and instead of the cheesy , creamy, calorie dense food I would normally make for a dinner party I went simple and light and it was a big hit.  I made a turkey- kale chili  that I could seriously eat every day for the rest of my life and die a happy woman.  I paired it with some home made corn bread (which I also used to make corn dogs for the kids. HUGE HIT!).  I woke up not regretting a single item I put into my mouth and not feeling hungover, thanks to the fact that I stuck to seltzer and lime the whole night.  I am going to call this a major win.

turkey kale

In fact, I woke up with so much energy that I meal planned and fitness planned right away and went straight to the grocery store after Ella woke up from her morning nap.

Monday: Run 3 miles, Lemon and Herb chicken with sugar snap peas

Tuesday: Live Love Teach yoga pod cast, Italian chicken with pasta and marinara and sweet peas

Wednesday: rest, Beef strew in the crock pot with carrots and potatoes

Thursday: Love Love Teach yoga pod cast, Roasted broccoli with parmesan cheese and walnuts over brown rice

Friday: Run 5 miles, usually Fridays are take out or out to eat night.

Of course, things happen that are unexpected throughout the week and I know that I may not be able to stick to this plan.  I go into this knowing that I need to be flexible, but having a guideline for how the week should go food and fitness wise is incredibly helpful.

Now that the grocery shopping is done, and plans are all laid out I can concentrate on more important Sunday things.  Like large mugs of coffee, a 6 mile run, and watching my favorite little thing play.  While in a fancy Sunday tu tu of course.  Happy Sunday, friends.

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Baby Sleep Training

**please note, all posts about sleep are solely based on my experience with my baby.  please talk to your pediatrician before sleep training to make sure it is safe for your baby at that time**

After the nightmare that was 4 month sleep regression,  we decided we seriously needed to come up with a plan to begin to help Ella sleep through the night. I remembered reading that 80% of families did some sort of sleep training with young children, and that although sleep is one of the most natural activities we do a lot of children need help to figure the whole thing out.

Although I have tried to never take any one book as gospel; Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Babies really helped with sleep training. It made me realize that teaching Ella to sleep was not cruel, it was a valuable life lesson that would help her (and me) for years to come.

When we sleep trained:

I had read that the easiest time to sleep train a baby was at 6 months, before they learn object permanence.  After that , the baby knows that you are on the other side of the door and it takes them much longer to learn to soothe themselves.  Ella turned 6 months on Thursday August 25th, and that weekend was her baptism.  The following weekend Stephen and I were out of town for a wedding and Ella was staying with my mother in law.  I knew it would probably take at least a week of consistent controlled comforting for her to get it, so we pulled the trigger about a week before she turned 6 months.  In the weeks leading up to sleep training I stopped feeding Ella when she woke up at night.  I wanted to see if she could go this long without eating and she did great. She did not sound starving when she cried, and she did not wake up famished.  Once I knew she could get through the night without a snack, I knew we were good to go and she was waking out purely out of habit and inability to make herself fall back to sleep.

How we sleep trained:

Stephen and I decided to use a graduated extinction (or controlled comforting) method to sleep train Ella.  I did not have the heart or the emotional ability to do a straight Cry-It-Out method.  The plan was on the first night to follow her normal bed time routine which had been the same since she was roughly 8 weeks old (bath, massage, nursing, rocking/singing, bed).  But instead of rocking her until she fell asleep, we simply put her down after about 5 minutes of rocking.  Of course she cried, she was not used to this!  Below is how the whole thing played out:

Night 1:

6:30- bath, massage, nursing, pj’s

6:55- upstairs to rock in her room with the sound machine

7:00- put her down in her crib, started to cry

7:05- first round of comforting

7:15- second round of comforting

7:20- ASLEEP!!!

1AM- Crying. Started the timer.

1:15- first round of comforting. literally felt my heart breaking as I walked out of the room.

1:20- asleep!

630AM- awake!

Wow, that first night went so much better than I thought it would.  Previously, she was up 4 or 5 times a night.  By letting her fall asleep on her own, it looks like she was able to roll over and go back to sleep whenever she woke up in the middle of the night.  Maybe she figured out she did not need me to put her back to sleep every time she woke up.  Whatever it was, it worked!

Night two was very similar.  And by night 3 we had a baby who slept 11-12 hours.  Holy crap on a cracker that felt good!

The aftermath:

Outside of special nights when she is teething or sick, Ella is a fantastic sleeper.  Since we sleep trained she consistently sleeps 11-12 hours at night and takes two long-ish naps a day.  One aspect of sleep we have been battling is that she continually wanted to go to bed earlier and earlier, which means wake up time has gotten earlier and earlier.  We can generally keep her awake until 630PM, but then many morning she is up between 5 and 530AM.  I try to count my lucky stars that she sleep through the night so well, but sometimes that is hard while I am cursing at the coffee pot to BREW FASTER at 5AM while she crawls around my legs with all the energy in the world.  But I digress.

The bottom line is that you need to do what is right for you, your family, and most importantly your baby.  If a family bed works for you, go for it.  If waiting until your child figures out sleep on their own is the best for you, by all means, make that your game plan.  No one knows your baby better than you do, and no one can tell you what the best course of action is for you as a parent.  We choose to sleep train because it was best for us.  We felt that as long as we were attentive and affectionate parents the rest of the time we spent with Ella, that 3 nights of crying out not overshadow that.  She is such a happier baby and we are happier parents when we are well rested and functioning on all cylinders.

Would I do it again?  In a heart beat.  Anything to see this face well rested and ready to tackle the day :)

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2014- Grabbing Life By the Horns

We are ten days into 2014 and this year is off to a great start.  Ella is at such a fun age where she is showing more personality and learning new things everyday.  I dropped a few yoga classes, and added a few on different days with different studios.  I am loving our new schedule and the new studios I am working for.  Below are just some things we have been up to in the first 10 days of 2014:

Eating all table food:

Ella is completely off of pureed food and only eating table food now.  Some favorites are pineapple, blueberries, peas, cheese, ham, and noodles with sauce.  One of her favorite activities right now is sharing corn muffins with her corn muffin loving daddy!

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Food has been so much fun.  She has really liked most foods that she has tried, and I am trying to get as many fruits and veggies into her before all the food pickiness of being a toddler starts.

Juice Cleanse

I got an awesome juicer for Christmas from my in-laws and immediately became obsessed with all things juice.  I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and really liked the idea of a juice cleanse to start the new year.  The month of December left me feeling hungover, bloated, and tired.  I knew my system needed some major nutrients and I thought a juice cleanse would be the perfect reset button.  So I followed the 5 Day Jump Into Juicing from Reboot With Joe .  I had the greatest experience.  I plan on doing a whole post on a review of this cleanse and for my juicer.

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Clean Eating and a New Exercise Routine

After the juice cleanse I was excited to eat incredibly clean again and finally lose the last of the baby weight.  Breakfasts includes either egg whites with salsa or smoothies.  My new go to lunch is tuna on cucumber slices.  I realize I need to really prep meals and plan in order to eat clean during the week.  Our schedule is usually pretty hectic during the week and I find myself all too often just grabbing handfuls of cereal or granola bars or hitting Subway.  I am dedicated to making a serious effort to eat cleaner in 2014

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Our new schedule

I am loving our schedule.  When I first left my job to teach yoga part time and be home with Ella, I took on teaching any and every yoga class I could.  I ended up teaching 6 days a week and it was just way too much.  I felt like I was constantly in the car running back and forth to studios, dropping Ella off either at my mother-in-law’s or at child care.  I was giving so much during classes that I didn’t feel I had anything left at home.  Now I am teaching 5 days a week, with two of those days only having 1 class.  Soon it will be 3 days only have one class, and I am really loving it.  Fridays (and soon Thursdays) are amazing because I only teach in the AM and I am back before Stephen leaves for work.  Ella and I spend the rest of the day together without any agenda or place to be.  Sometimes we are in our pj’s all day.  The nap schedule gets stuck to, endless games are played, and I just get to enjoy time with my little girl.

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2013 was a year of incredible change and adjustment.  I am so excited for 2014 to be a year of comfort, settling into a wonderful routine, and enjoying.  Yes, that is what 2014 will be all about.  Enjoying everything, every moment, big and small.  Just being present and enjoying.

Ella’s First Christmas

Every time I think about getting caught up on blogging, I just get over whelmed and take a nap.  So lets just start from last week :)

We celebrated Ella’s first Christmas with my side of the family in Pennsylvania.  We left at bedtime on Monday night (the best and only time to travel with a child who still hates the car).  This was perfect because it meant we got to spend all of Christmas Eve Day at my sisters house!  Ella had a wonderful time with her cousins.  She is at such a fun age and it was amazing watching her interact with my sisters kids.  She and Blake are only about 10 weeks apart and they were particularly interested in each other.  On Christmas Day, after all the presents were opened, we headed to my parents house about an hour away to spend a few days relaxing, eating, and enjoying each other company.  

Having a child during the holidays has been stressful, and fun, and amazing, and exhausting.  We nixed our tree this year because it just sounded terrible to try and keep Ella away from all the pointy needles and glass ornaments.  Christmas morning she had no idea what was happening, but totally fed off the excitement from her cousins.  She squealed with delight as she played with ribbons and bows and wrapping paper.  It made me really excited for next year when she has more of an idea of what is happening!

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8 Months

Hmm, it seems I have skipped a few months of updates :)  Lets make up for that shall we?

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Last time I gave an update on Ella she was 4 months old, and I had no idea that we were about to go through 4 month sleep regression.  But you know all about that, and at this point in her life there is SO much more to Ella than her sleep schedule.

For one thing, she is EATING!  I mean really eating.  Solid food, finger food, everything.  We started her on rice cereal around 5 1/2 months.

rice cereal

I was trying to wait until 6 months because of food allergies, but sister was HUNGRY.  She did wonderful with rice cereal, and we slowly started adding other foods.  I am having a blast cooking for her and introducing new food.  Right now her favorites are :

  • blueberry puffs (I am use the Organic Super Puffs)
  • blueberry or banana Stonyfield Yo Baby yogurt
  • steamed Spinach pureed with apples (my favorite to make too because its SO easy!)
  • broccoli pureed with pears (again, very easy to make)
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (cannot get it into her mouth fast enough)
  • apple cinnamon oatmeal
  • apples

Ella used to love avocado but  one day after having one for lunch she woke up from her nap covered in hives and with almost totally swollen shut eyes.  I had a minor freak out, pulled on my big girl/mommy panties and then took her to the hospital.  They said it was just a mild reaction but to avoid avocado’s for the time being.  She will most likely grow out of it, thankfully.  A life without guacamole does not sound like a very pleasant life to me.

Ella starting crawling at 7 months and man, she is on the move.  One of my favorite things to do right now and just walk behind her as she explores.  I cannot imagine what is going through her mind as she explores our house.  She is seeing everything with brand new eyes, and I want her to always have a healthy sense of adventure.  I am not really into telling her “no” at this point, unless she is doing something that is dangerous (why is my house so full of SHARP EDGES!).  I will obviously need to start setting boundaries and telling her no soon, but for now I am just enjoying watching her take in this whole new world.  She is an expert furniture surfer now too and we had to replace our coffee table with a leather ottoman in hopes of avoiding any severe head injuries.

Her sleep has been AWESOME (knock on wood) we practiced graduated extinction for sleep training at 6 months and it worked so well.  She takes two long naps a day (morning nap is usually about 2 1/2 hours after she wakes up and afternoon nap is around 2PM most days) that range in length from an hour to an hour and a half.  She is in bed asleep by 7PM, and generally sleeps until 6 or 630.  Every 4th or 5th day or so she seems to be ready to party at 4AM, but luckily those days are getting fewer and far between.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, this is my FAVORITE age :)