Archives for November 2013

Pile on the Miles – Week 4 Update

It’s BLACK FRIDAY!!!!! As much as I hate the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving, I love Black Friday ;) And no, I’m not one of those crazies that will wait in line to get into a store right when it opens. I like to go out a few hours after the stores open Friday morning – Early enough to still catch the sales but late enough to avoid the mobs of angry shoppers!

So, as you read this, I’m most likely out battling the crowds and looking for some great deals on Christmas gifts (and gifts for myself…).

Since I’m out piling on the miles while shopping, I thought it was perfect timing to share my Pile on the Miles challenge update, hosted by Monica!

pile on the miles

I plan to do a short recap each Friday  to keep myself accountable and to make sure I’m making progress on my 100-mile goal for the month of November!

So, how’d I do this week?

  • Friday: 1.5 mile walk
  • Saturday: 3-mile run + 2.5 mile walk
  • Sunday: Body Pump + 2 mile walk
  • Monday: Vinyasa Yoga + 3 mile walk
  • Tuesday: Nada
  • Wednesday: 3.5 mile run + 3 mile walk
  • Thursday: Barre Class + 2.5 mile walk

TOTAL Mileage for Week 4:

21 miles!!

Woohoo!! Counting in my 85 miles from the past three weeks, I’m 106% of the way to my goal!

And I have 2 days left – Let’s see how many miles I can pack on over the next 48 hours :)

How many miles do you think I’ll end up with for the month of November?  Have you been piling on the miles?

Encourage Healthful Living this Holiday Season!

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Image Source)

And Happy Thanksgivukkah <– yes, this is a thing in case you were wondering… and it only happens once every 70,000 years! (Thanks to Davida for the video!)

I hope you are all having a fabulous holiday with your family and friends. And for my international friends, don’t worry or fret – I will eat a slice of turkey for you ;)

Since today – or actually tonight at midnight to be exact – starts the craze of the holiday shopping season, I have a perfectly-timed guest post for you from Blake. Today he’s sharing his tips on encouraging healthy living through gifts this season!

Blake Daniels is a stay at home dad living with his wife and two sons in upstate New York. Over the last year Blake has taken an increased interest in his diet and exercise regime. When Blake isn’t blogging or working out you can find him taking care of his lawn, spending time with his sons, or working on various projects around the house.

About a year ago I finally made the conscious effort to begin living a healthier lifestyle. When I was younger I paid little attention to my diet or fitness, however at 35 it was starting to show. My wife and I have two boys who seem to have a never ending set of batteries and chasing them around the yard all day is enough to make anyone short of breath. So last year I finally took the plunge and committed myself to a healthy regime of diet and exercise. Believe me it was not easy to get started, I put down the Oreo’s and pizza and started running 15 miles a week. Those first two months were quite brutal, there were a few times when I was out jogging and people stopped to ask me if I was ok because I looked so short of breath.

However here I am one year later and I can honestly say getting healthy was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have so much more energy while doing anything and I honestly don’t even crave all those junk foods I used to eat anymore. It’s strange now but among my friends and family I have become the resident health nut, and I’m fine with that. I have been trying to think of ways to inspire my brother to get in shape and I figured what better way around the holidays than a gift? Here is a list I put together of a few gifts that I think are perfect for encouraging a healthy lifestyle and are sure to please anyone who may be unwrapping them.

Cooking classes, products, and cookbooks

Cooking three meals a day all week is a difficult task. Cooking three healthy meals a day all week can seem near impossible. However many people don’t cook healthy simple because no one ever showed them how. This year get someone a gift certificate for some healthy cooking classes. Most local colleges offer weekly or monthly culinary classes specializing in healthy cuisine. Specialty cookbooks are also a fun way to encourage this, there are books on subjects such as vegetarian recipes, nutritious grilling techniques, and healthier ingredient substitutions. Pair cookbooks or class certificates with herb growing kits for the windowsill; fresh herbs make wonderful seasonings for meals, and the plants themselves will add healthy energy to the space.

Salt Block

Himalayan salt blocks

To true kitchen workhorses, salt blocks can be used in a number of ways. Cook with a salt plate instead of a pan on the cook top or grill, or put them to use in the oven. They can also be used for curing and freezing foods or as decorative plates and serving trays. Last year my wife ordered me a salt block from Red Envelope and I have never looked back. Used properly, they will add a nice, crisp saltiness to moist foods. Composed of 100 percent pure Himalayan salt, they are naturally anti-bacterial and very rich in the necessary minerals–like calcium, iron, and iodine–that are processed out of traditional table salt. They can be gently cleaned with a simple scrubbing under running water and left to air dry. Slightly thinner serving pieces will add flavor to the home as well as the palate; their varied mineral content results in many beautiful patterns and colors.

Yoga toes

Gym Classes

When a lot of people think of exercise they tend to think of lifting weights or going for a run. However there are many ways to get exercise that can be fun and exciting. More and more gyms now offer all sorts of classes. Yoga, boxing, hip hop dance, find out your friends past interests and give them a gift certificate for a class session. If your brother in law used to play tennis in high school get him a membership to a racquetball court and start playing with him. For the big basketball fan in your family get him a pass to the YMCA and try to organize a few pickup games.

Spa

Spa day

This may be more for the older member of your family who cannot exercise as easily. But a nice relaxing day at the spa can do wonders for your general stress levels and mental health. Which is just as if not more important than your physical health. Also spas may be somewhat taboo for men for whatever reason but believe me they are excellent. Get someone who you think deserves a break a spa pass for a gift and buy yourself one as well. Not only will you get to relax with a massage and other luxurious treatments but you will get to spend the day together. Trust me, afterwards all those stressors and problems you are worrying about won’t seem nearly as daunting.

Natural, chemical-free lotions and cleansers

Create a reusable gift basket with an assortment of chemical-free body washes, shampoos, and soaps. Some chemicals used in traditional cleansers are drying to the skin, and others have been proven to have long-term, detrimental effects on one’s health. Products made from all-natural ingredients are not only better for the body and the environment but smell wonderfully fresh and invigorating. Do a little research on your friend’s favorites products and try to find the closest all natural substitute. You would be surprised at just what exactly goes into some of these products.

Sometimes all it takes is that extra nudge to get someone started on the healthy path. A gift is the perfect way to present them with something that can jumpstart their interest in their health and it is a great gesture around a season when people struggle for meaningful gift ideas. Whatever you decide to give just be sure to know the person you are giving it to and put some thought behind it.

What are your favorite healthy gifts to give friends and family during the holidays?

Black Thursday?

Over the past few years, there has been a movement in the retail industry to open earlier and earlier each Black Friday.

While I was in college, I remember stores opening around 5am the morning after Thanksgiving and now, stores are opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day with some open ALL day long.

thanksgiving shopping

I could easily turn this post into a rant about how we should all boycott these stores this holiday season or how Thanksgiving is for spending time with friends and family, not for shopping or how the retail industry is willing to do anything (and sacrifice their employees’ sanity and work-life balance) for a dollar but I’m not.

All I’m going to do is to ask you to join me in NOT shopping on Thanksgiving Day. If you must shop, do so online. Trust me, if this shopaholic can avoid the malls for one day, so can you!

Let’s speak with our actions rather than our words this holiday season and insist that Black “Friday” happen on Friday in 2014.

{And don’t you worry, the retail rant post will be for a future day…}

Tell me your thoughts on Black Friday creep. What are your plans for Black Friday? Are you going to shop ’til you drop? 

#12 Treat Yourself Tuesday

Happy Treat Yourself Tuesday – Thanksgiving week edition! I’ve seen many of my friends on Facebook participating in a month of thankfulness for November so in today’s post, I am going to focus on why I am thankful for each of my weekly treats.

Treat Yourself Tuesday Badge

If you’re new to TYT, head over here to read about why I am a firm supporter and advocate for treating ourselves – even in the smallest of ways – everyday! I promise you will fall in love with the idea and once you do, please link up below :)

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On Wednesday, I wore a super comfortable outfit involving leggings to work. I am SO thankful that I’m allowed to do this. Wearing what I like to call “Saturday clothes” makes the day go by so much faster :)

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I made time in my busy work schedule last week for some important “me time” at the gym. After (or before…) stressful days, time at the gym is so necessary for my sanity. I’m thankful that my body is healthy and strong and that it allows for me to lift weights and run miles upon miles and hold yoga poses.

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It wouldn’t a TYT post without shopping ;) This bag wasn’t full of things just for me – the holidays are quickly approaching! I did get an amazing, new-to-me evening facial cream, however – Clarins Multi-Active Night. I’ve only used it a few nights so far but each morning, my skin looks moisturized and less stressed than when I went to bed. I’m thankful that there’s a Sephora 2 blocks away from my downtown office AND that I have a job that allows me to spend too much money there ;)

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I totally lacked motivation to cook last week when Kyle was traveling for work. Because I went to the gym in the evening most nights, I stopped at my gym’s cafe (basically a mini-Whole Foods hot bar) on the way home. They have the freshest of salads and after a workout, I always crave fresh veggies, fruit and lean protein. I’m thankful that my gym is able to provide healthy foods for those of us who find ourselves too busy to cook some nights of the week!

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And I would be ashamed if I forgot to list one of the things I am turning into a weekly treat yoself tradition – My Whole Foods Saturday afternoon shopping trip with wine :) I am so so SO thankful I can shop with a glass of vino in hand. What would I do without ya, WF? <3

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What are you thankful for this week? How are you going to remember being thankful while treating yourself over the next few days?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites

It’s the week of Thanksgiving and I still have Halloween candy in my cupboards.

Please tell me I’m not the only one…

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And while I’m not complaining about all of this extra – wait, there is no such thing as extra candy in my world… let’s call it bountiful, mmkay? – candy, it’s about time to find some creative ways to make it disappear. You know, so I can make room for all of that Christmas candy coming my way ;)

I’ve seen images of these cookies floating around Pinterest (BTW, do you follow me?) for quite some time but – of course – I never pinned the recipe so I had to create these cookies through trial and error.

Reese's 1

Luckily, Kyle didn’t mind…

I “stuffed” my Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites with Reese’s because that is the candy I had on hand. (Surprise, surprise…) However, you could use whatever type of mini-candy that makes you happy: Snickers, Milky Ways, Butterfingers, Andes Mints or just more chocolate chips or chocolate squares!

Reese's 3

Chocolate Chip Candy Bites

Makes 36 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookies (This is my favorite – I just sub mini chocolate chips for the Andes chips!)
  • 36 pieces of your candy of choice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Prepare the chocolate chip cookies per recipe instructions.
  3. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with cookie dough and bake for 5-7 minutes, just until cookies begin to brown. While cookies are baking, unwrap your candy of choice (you can do this before placing cookies into the oven if it will take you longer than 5 minutes to unwrap all of the candy).
  4. Remove cookies from oven and quickly press one piece of candy into each cookie. You want to work quickly here so the cookies stay soft. Allow cookies to cool completely in muffin pan. Once cool remove from pan and store in an airtight container.

Reese's 4

I love this recipe because, well, for one it involves cookies. Two, because it combines cookies with candy. And three, because it can be easily customized to allergies and/or food preferences.

So do what I do, make these Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites and clear some room in your cupboards for all of that Christmas candy coming your way ;)

What candy are you most excited for this holiday season? For you bloggers, do you have a specific recipe plugin that you use? I want to make mine easier to read (hence the numbered directions today) but am not sure which one to use!

The weekend winter hit Chicago

Good {freezing} morning!

Boy is it a cold one today – actually, it’s been quite cold the entire weekend. I think it’s fair to say that winter has finally hit Chicago.

This weekend has been super laid back in the ONW household.  Just what was needed before a crazy holiday weekend next week.

leather gloves

Kyle arrived home from Sweden (and Spain and Portugal) on Friday afternoon and brought gifts. Please tell me I’m not the only one that insists on gifts when your significant other travels for a long period of time… ;)

Check out these leather gloves lined with lamb fur. And yes, I tried them out yesterday and they are nice and warm. As a side note, do not Google lamb fur – I’m going to forget everything I read about it because I want to like the gloves…

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Since Kyle was exhausted after his 9-hour flight, we had a low-key night and checked out a new bar in town, The Dawson. It was okay. We decided that we’ll probably just go there for drinks in the future… their menu doesn’t have a huge selection and a lot of it revolves around pork (my least favorite meat…) but the drinks were great.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and took Mitchell for a long and cold walk. Which was followed up for a freeeezzziiinnnggggg 3-mile run for me!

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Next came Whole Foods, with wine of course ;)

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For dinner Kyle made a delicious potato-leek soup that is going to be fabulous for leftovers this week.

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And we ended the evening with an 8pm showing of Catching Fire. It is SO good so make a point to see it (but read the book first…) if you haven’t already!

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Today started out deliciously – bagels and lox for the win!

I felt super productive for making brunch, balancing my checkbook (anyone else still balance their checkbooks?!), making smoothies, cleaning the kitchen and walking Mitchell by 9:30 :)

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The rest of today is going to involve Body Pump, the Bears’ game and maybe a bit of shopping. And then it’s a 2.5 day week – WAHOO!

Tell me the best thing you did all weekend. What is on your agenda for today?

Pile on the Miles – Week 3 Update

It’s time for my Pile on the Miles challenge update, hosted by Monica!

pile on the miles

I plan to do a short recap each Friday  to keep myself accountable and to make sure I’m making progress on my 100-mile goal for the month of November!

So, how’d I do this week?

  • Friday: 4 mile walk
  • Saturday: 5-mile run + 3 mile walk
  • Sunday: Body Pump + 2 mile walk
  • Monday: Cardio Kickboxing + 4 mile walk
  • Tuesday: Absolutely nothing :)
  • Wednesday: Play Tough Class (It was TOUGH!! – Stair runs, bosu balls, ropes and TRX) + 5 mile walk
  • Thursday: Spin Class + 4 mile walk

TOTAL Mileage for Week 3:

27 miles!!

Woohoo!! Counting in my 58 miles from the past two weeks, I’m 85% of the way to my goal!

I will most definitely be meeting my goal – especially since the short work week next week gives me more time to walk and run outside! That is unless I break both of my legs or something catastrophic happens over the next few days which is entirely possible if you’ve ever seen my clumsiness in action ;)

How are you doing with your challenge? Have you been piling on the miles?

How to Relax and Recharge

Happy Thursday! Today I have Amy from Long Drive Journey to share an important-to-me topic with you – RELAXATION. I’m pretty sure 99.9% of the blogging world (and all you readers too!) have problems with this simple, little task which makes me SO excited for Amy to share some tips with you :)

Hi there Olives ‘n Wine readers! I’m Amy from Long Drive Journey, blogging about eating and cooking good food, running slowly but steadily, and living life.  I was so excited when Becky asked me to share a guest post, because I am a faithful Olives ‘n Wine reader myself!  I’m not sure how I originally found Becky’s blog, but I keep coming back because I love her honesty, openness, and delicious recipes.  Plus she is the single most active Instagramer that I follow! {Editor’s note: I might have an addiction to Instagram… ;) }

I’m not sure about all of you, but the past few weeks have been absolutely INSANE over in my corner of the world.  I’ve had crazy deadlines, gotten a nasty cold, and had unexpected stressors popping up left and right.  Now that it’s almost the holidays, I know that things will only get busier.  Because of all of that craziness, today I want to talk about a topic close to my heart – relaxing.

just breathe

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I have trouble relaxing.  I tell myself that I have half an hour to sit on the couch and watch TV or chat with a friend on the phone, and what do I find myself doing? Cracking open my computer on commercials, checking email when there’s a lull in the conversation, and otherwise feeling downright guilty for not completing another item on my to-do list.  In the past, I would cut my relaxation time short and just get back to work full force, but I have slowly been learning the importance of recharging and taking a break.   Here are some relaxation tips that help me:

1. Unplug.  Leave your computer and your phone in another room, and allow yourself some time without them.  Your email will NOT disappear just because you give yourself thirty minutes to pick up a book, do a little bit of yoga, or even just turn on some trashy TV.  Make a cup of tea and take a moment for yourself.

relaxing on couch

2. Leave the house/apartment/dorm and spend time with another human being.  Go for a walk! Grab a coffee!  Do something with another living soul that doesn’t involve complaining about how much work you have.  You don’t have to spend three hours at lunch if you have a bunch of tasks to complete, but you can spare 30 minutes to take a walk with a friend.  Plus, focusing on someone else often helps to lift your mood. Win-win!

fall leaves

3. Breathe.  Breathing is so important, but often overlooked.  When it feels like everything is crashing in and needs to get done IMMEDIATELY, put your paper down, walk away from your computer, and breathe.  Sometimes we all need to close our eyes and take a deep breath in order to regroup.

You CAN do this.  Just remember not to drive yourself absolutely crazy trying to get everything done all at once! Thanks so much to Becky for letting me share today!

Do you have trouble relaxing? Any tips to add?

Tourist Tips – Chicago!

Have I told you how much I love Chicago?

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No? Well, today I am guest posting about what to do when you visit Chicago on Holly’s blog! Make sure to head on over and check it out :)

 

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#11 Treat Yourself Tuesday

So many treat, so little time! The past week was FULL of wonderful and I can’t wait to share it all with you today.

Treat Yourself Tuesday Badge

If you’re new to TYT, head over here to read about why I am a firm supporter and advocate for treating ourselves – even in the smallest of ways – everyday! I promise you will fall in love with the idea and once you do, please link up below :)

The first treat of the week was ALL OF YOU! Y’all seriously blew me away and it was an amazing day <3 Thank you again and – in case you were wondering – those brownies yesterday… yep, they were for you. You know, just to let you know I wasn’t giving up on the whole chocolate and peanut butter thing quite yet ;)

And now onto how I treated myself…

I had an entire #treatyoself day on Saturday dedicated completely to me.

Do I think this is selfish? Not at all! I had a crazy week, the husband was gone and I had a free schedule to do whatever the heck I wanted. The day was needed and I took full advantage of it.

Most of the day is recapped here but I want to share a few of the juicy details that I haven’t told you about yet!

Saturday night was an epic night. And by epic I mean super lame to anyone but an HLB (healthy living blogger), if ya know what I mean ;)

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It started out with a trip to Sephora! I always forget how much I love this store (thanks to Amanda for rekindling my love most recently!) and it’s almost as bad as Target with all of their item displays that draw you in and practically pull your credit card out of your wallet…

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Anyways, I was running low on mascara (yikes!) and I’m a very loyal mascara customer so I planned to just quickly run in (haha, right…) and grab my Dior New Look. As soon as I found my mascara, a sales associate recommended a new mascara to me – Givenchy Noir Couture. It was the same price and I was told it was very similar to Dior so I decided to change things up. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet but I will definitely let you know what I think!

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The other item I purchased at Sephora was the Anastasia Brow Genius Kit. When my ladies were visiting last weekend, Alisha showed us all her mad brow skills and recommended a specific brush to me. This brand wasn’t too expensive (and it was on one of those dang endcaps that always draw me in!) so I thought I’d try it out. Unfortunately, I picked up the wrong color – WAY too dark. Thankfully (or not…) there is a Sephora 2 blocks away from my downtown office and they were kind enough to exchange colors for me yesterday. Again, I haven’t had the chance to try it out yet but once I do, I’ll share my thoughts.

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Since the mecca of Whole Foods was just around the corner from Sephora, I thought I’d make a little stop there before heading home. I mean, I didn’t have any plans for the evening and well, why not?! ;)

This Whole Foods allows you to order a glass of wine or beer and shop with it in hand. I was nervous and a little self-conscious to do this at first but then I noticed that EVERYONE else shopping had wine in hand so I bellied up to the bar and ordered myself a glass of bubbly!

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Best decision of the night! Also smart on the part of Whole Foods… I threw a lot more into my cart because of this.

Here are some of my finds…

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Some new coconut flour, FINALLY! Can’t wait to make my one of my mug cookies later this week :)

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And chocolate, oh the chocolate. I tried both of these last night just so I could give you a review and they’re both worth it! I would lean more toward the coconut dark chocolate if you have to pick just one…

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I almost got this cookie but it was the size of my face and 3 inches thick {#twss} plus I had my own treats at home, so I passed. I DO have some self-control ;)

After a stop at the hot bar and throwing multiple other items into my cart including a rotisserie chicken, apples, cranberry-walnut bread and my favorite seeduction bread, I was able to break away from the magnetic draw of Whole Foods and head home to call it an early night.

So that, my friends, was my EPIC Saturday night. Please tell me I’m not completely lame… please?

And on that note, what did YOU do to treat yourself this week? Do you want to hang out with me on a Saturday night? {Please say yes, it’s good for my self-confidence ;) }

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