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The Downside in Doing What You Love

August 29, 2011
I realized something today. 
I currently have 3 jobs! 
I have my full time job which usually has me working 50+ hours a week.  I have my blog, which takes up around 15+ hours a week.  And I have my gym job where I teach about 2+ hours a week but spend another 3-5 hours practicing.  
There are 168 hours in a week.  I am working almost half of them.  
Now please let me preface, I am in now way complaining.  I absolutely love what I do and feel I have the best job in the world.  I absolutely love blogging and can’t imagine my life without it.  And I absolutely love teaching and helping others reach levels of fitness they never dreamed they could.  So definitely not complaining, more just taking note that although I’m 100% happy with my life and all that I do with it, I can see why I get overwhelmed so often.  
Today, Beth posted about being an “all or nothing” person and I feel I fall into that category as well.  When I go for something, I put my whole heart into it and if I don’t feel like I am giving it everything, I start to stress, worry, and feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.  
Breakfast 
1/4 C Natures Path Flax Plus w/Strawberries, 1/4 C Natures Path Multigrain Flakes, Strawberries, Banana, Blueberries, Granola, Sunflower Butter 

Lately, I haven’t been feeling the guilt when it comes to my work, but I’ve been feeling it when it comes to the neglect it has caused me to show towards my family and friends.

I know they support me and I know they would never make me feel this way, but it’s more of my own blame.

Lunch 

Leftover salmon over greens with zucchini, red pepper, peach, almonds, goat cheese

 Drizzled with Raspberry Balsamic 

I feel I’m rather good at balancing my life, but sometimes the plates get too heavy on one side.  Before I add on another plate to my “career” hand, I need to stop and think about what I would be giving up on the other.  
I am pretty darn blessed and I don’t take any of that for granted.  At least I try not to.  As much as I love what I do, I don’t want that to be the only thing that defines who I am.  I am also a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt, a friend…..these roles are just as important if not more.  
Just wanted to get that off my chest. 

Dinner 

Smoky Refried Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 15 ounces fatfree refried beans
  • 15 ounces black beans, cooked
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (I used fresh) 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 – 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Spray a large, non-stick pot with cooking spray, and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook for one more minute. Add all the remaining ingredients and cook until the flavors blend, 20-30 minutes.
  2. Serving suggestion: Garnish with fresh tomato, sour cream and avocado. 

This is one of my favorite soup recipes.  It reminds me of tacos in a bowl.

In other news: 
I was just contacted by a reader who is a yoga certified teacher and currently organizing a wonderful retreat in Sri Lanka, India in December. 
Alexia and her friend will be teaching Vinyasa Flow and some restorative classes, meditation and also have the opportunity to learn about Ayurveda, get massages and enjoy the freshly prepared Sri Lankan vegetarian cuisine. 
She is looking to bring 2 people with her for a very low rate.  The cost of this 8 day retreat is about $1,070 (US) but Alexia is going to bring 2 people for only $700.  (includes accommodations, meals, pick up from airport, meditation and yoga, and a surprise excursion) 
Ummmm, can you say AMAZING!!!  That is what I said.  If anyone is interested, please email me so that I can contact Alexia.  You can find out more information here….http://namasteyogaretreats.weebly.com/
Namaste! 
Have you ever felt like your job or social life was interfering with your family?  How do you balance out your career with your personal life? I try to never assume that they are 100% okay with me ignoring them.  My family is amazing and would never make me feel that way, but sometimes I take their silent support for granted. 

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Sweet Summer Endings

August 28, 2011
A few notes from the weekend…..
Summer is winding down but the fruit is still going strong.  For that reason, I will continue to consume mass amounts until further notice…
Some of my favorite fruit combinations- 
Blackberry Banana 


Tropica

Raspberry Nectarine 

With the end of summer near, the need for as many summer cookouts as possible is a must.

Quinoa  Tomato Cucumber Corn Salad with Feta

Veggie Sliders

And finally, crisp summer whites must be enjoyed while the air is still warm and the sun sets just into dinner time.

In my opinion, wine goes with just about every meal, but tonight, it really brought the flavors of this salmon to life.

Grilled Peach, Asparagus and Salmon Salad with Avocado, Cucumber, Almonds, and Honey Goat Cheese

 Cheer to an amazing summer!

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Napa Recap: The Final Day

August 28, 2011
This is the final post recapping our Napa vacation, I promise. 
Day 5: August, 17
With all of the excursions, sight seeing, and wine tasting we had been doing all week, we decided that our last day should be spent with one goal in mind…relaxation! 

Most of the morning was enjoyed by the pool.

We actually got luck and had most of the pool to ourselves.  I guess these resorts get busy on the weekends but seem to clear out significantly during the week. 
Towards the afternoon, it was time to think about how we wanted to spend the rest of our day.  After doing some contemplation, we finally decided to engage in one last taste of the valley with a few more wine tastings up north of Napa. 
Before that, a quick stop for lunch….

Food is a very important factor before engaging in the sport of wine tasting…trust me.

Our frist stop was a well-known winery that attracts many tourists for their elaborate vineyards and elaborate tours.

Robert Mondavi Winery 

They offered two different kinds of tours, one lasting 90 min and one lasting 30 min.  We opted for the shorter one.

The tour was a walking tour that allowed us to taste and drink throughout.

We were led into the actual cellars where the wine is made and stored.

 (The red stripe on the barrels indicates a red wine) 

After Mondavi, we stopped at two more wineries but I don’t seem to have any pictures.

St. Supery – known for their incredible Sauvignon Blanc
V. Sattui- one of a kind and not sold anywhere outside of Napa

Our final dinner in Napa was simply amazing.  We chose a restaurant that had been on my list of recommendations and were 100% happy with the choice.

Brix 

Brix is known for having contemporary French inspired California cuisine that sits directly in 16 acres of prime Napa Valley gardens and vineyards.  The views were outstanding and dining on the patio was an incredible experience.

The problem with wine tasting all day is that by the time you eat dinner, you really can’t drink another glass.  I originally stuck with water, but then I remember that it was my last night in Napa and I needed to go out the right way.

The food was unbelievable!

I chose the Strip Bass which was lightly cooked in a simple olive oil and lemon seasoning along with fresh squash, zucchini and tomatoes.  I swear it tasted just as they picked these vegetables right from the garden.

Toly went with the chicken.

Fulton valley chicken . heirloom tomato panzanella salad . tomato vinaigrette

We both enjoyed our meals so much.

Finally, no world class dining experience is complete without a sweet ending…

Our waiter raved about the apple tart that was served with a vanilla gelato and blackberry sorbet.

His raving worked.  It was the perfect way to end the night and our entire trip. 
And that concludes our 5 day dream vacation in the Napa Valley.  Coming home was hard for several reasons, and after living and breathing the valley for a week, I had a strong urge to leave my job and make wine for a living.  I can definitely see how this happens to people and why it’s such a tempting offer. 
Although living there might be more of a dream, at least I have a case of memories to drink that will bring me back with every sip. 

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Guest Post: A Local Day in South Central PA

August 25, 2011
My dear friend Audi, who has just recently become introduced to the blogging world, is one of a kind.  She’s full of life, incredibly artistic, and fully passionate about the local food movement.  When I asked her to write a guest post, I knew she wouldn’t disappoint you all.  Local readers, pay close attention to this one….there just might be some useful information for your local purchasing.
 __________________________________________________________________________________
A local day in South Central PA.
Hi friends, my name is Audi and I am a friend/coworker of Lauren. I was stoked when she asked me to do a guest post but seeing as I have never blogged I hope I don’t bore you.
This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time! My cousin (Tori) is in town from Indiana so I had a partner in crime for this adventure. Plus I didn’t have to feel like a loner taking pictures of my finds (some people don’t get it or maybe they are jealous of my camera – not sure which).
1st stop: Fitzgerald Pottery – Mark and Wynn Mai are 2 of the sweetest people I know and they welcomed us into their business with open arms. I went to school with their boys so it was great to catch up with them.
 This is me – posing with their sign
Meet Tori – she was so intrigued by this place being a potter herself
 How cute are these piggy banks with a cork nose!?

These are on my hit list with a bottle of wine from Napa (hint hint)!


My buys for today – a spoon rest & mug. I can’t wait to show off my new mug.
2nd stop: Oak Grove Farms – This local farm is one of my favorite places for so many reasons!


 Look at all this goodness
Tomatoes galore!

Check out this green bean mountain – you know we got some of these!
So colorful and nutritious
 Mmmm fresh fruit!
We scored so many goodies and couldn’t leave without walking through the wild flowers.
My favorite shot. I love chasing butterflies.

 If you look really close there are 2 people out by the truck picking produce.
3rd stop: Rosemary House – I have never been to this place but I have heard my family buzz about it. They sell everything from tea & spices to soap & gnome statues.


We bought 3 different blends of loose tea and French Herb Biscuit Mix. Stoked to try these finds.
4th stop: Juice & Java I had to show her my favorite café! We eat got a bite to eat & coffee treat.





Yum!

Things I loved about today: spending some QT with my cousin, sharing my local hot spots, supporting small business owners and reaping the rewards of their hard work!
What did you LOVE about today?
Do you stay local and support your local artisans? If not, give it a try!
Lauren: Thank you for this opportunity. Next time you can be my partner in crime and we can visit some of Dillsburg’s finest places (The Blossom Shop, Dill’s Tavern, Maple Shade Barn and the farmers market). 

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California Dream: Napa Vacation Days 3 and 4

August 25, 2011
In case you missed Part 1 of our Napa Valley Vacation….
Continuing where I left off from our Napa dream vacation…..
Day 3: Monday, August 15
We knew when we planned this trip that we wanted to reserve a day to spend in San Francisco.  That is one of the main reasons why we rented a car.  Since San Francisco is about an hour south of Napa, we decided to make it a full day excursion. 
First was breakfast.  Before we hit the freeway, we grabbed something to eat at The Sunflower Cafe, which sat right in downtown Sonoma. 

Our hotel kept recommending this spot to grab breakfast so we figured it had to be good.

I had a hard time choosing, but eventually stuck with what I knew best…oatmeal.

I was so impressed by the fresh local made Kefier on the menu and asked for this on the side.

We found a quaint little table outside and filled our bellies before the long day ahead.

Before San Francisco, we made a stop in Mill Valley for a glorious morning hike in Muir Woods National Monument.

Muir Woods is known for their breathtaking views and the massive redwoods.

We did the moderate Ocean View trail that lead us right up to the top of the mountain.

On the way down, I took the ideal opportunity for an impressive photo shoot.

 Plank that!!

After a vigorous morning hike, it was time for lunch.  We cleaned up and made our way into San Francisco.

Lunch was the first thing on my mind and luckily the first place I saw was exactly what I was hoping for…

Authentic San Francisco Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl.

I fully believe in taking advantage of each cities most well known fare when visiting and Boudin’s sourdough is definitely one of them.

 Toly apparently feels the same.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Fisherman’s Wharf and taking in the sites….

For you Kath

 Later in the day, we moved north to Sarasota.

Another gorgeous town.

With a full day of sightseeing behind us, it was nearing dinner but we were both pretty full from lunch and the many samplings we partook throughout the day.

We contemplated eating in the city, but figured it would be better if we waited a bit and made the drive back into Sonoma.  That way we would be hungry and wouldn’t have to drive back tired.

This ended up being a fantastic decision because we stumbled into an incredibly authentic and charming Italian Restaurant that was probably the closes to Italy I’ll ever get.

Della Santina’s 

This restaurant was actually one of Rachel Ray’s features and has won numerous awards.

I knew I was in the mood for fish and after the waiter convinced me that the salmon would be the best salmon of my life, I couldn’t pass. 

He was right, this was salmon perfection.

We wasted the night chatting for hours, sipping on cappuccino, and taking in each other’s company.

But what would this authentically delicious Italian meal be without the icing on the cake….

 Or Tiramisu for that matter.

Day 3….Success!

Day 4: Tuesday, August 16

Happy Anniversary to us!!! 

Tuesday was our 3 year anniversary and clearly the best day of the trip.

When I did research on wine tours in Napa, I found a few that seemed a bit sketchy. I then remembered when Jenna posted about an unforgettable experience she had with Platypus Tours and decided to look into it.

The Platypus Wine Tour is known for creating a unique and exclusion tasting experience that goes to 4 different wineries. The bus picked us up at 10am, where we were greeted by a few other couples.

Our first stop…

Whetstone Wine Cellar

Whetstone was formed by a young winemaker and his wife.  They nestled their tasting room in a small italian inspired villa that was remote yet unbelievably breathtaking.

Whetstone is most known for their one of a kind Viognier, originating from the Russian River Valley and this quickly became my new favorite wine.

By 11am, we set out for our next tasting….

William Hill Estate Winery 

Another gorgeous estate that came equipped with a view.

We were served lunch at this point.

By this point, we were starting to feel good but still had 2 more tasting ahead of us.

Third stop….

Razi Winery

Probably the least favorite of the four, but still notable.  After the tasting, things started to get silly.

The fourth and final stop on the tour…

All I can say is, thank God we had a driver.

We had such a blast on the tour and were completely impressed by the service and the entire experience. Well worth the money!

I’m not sure how people do this for a living because after a full day of wine tasting, I ended up like this…

Apparently it’s a sport and I need more practice than I thought.

I was so thankful we made 9pm dinner reservations although I probably could have slept right through the night.

Good thing I didn’t though because I would have missed out on quite possibly the best dining experience of my life.

Bottega 

I knew Chef Michael Chiarello’s restaurant sat in Napa but I almost forgot until someone at our tastings told us that we had to go here for our anniversary dinner. It is one of the most well-known ristorantes in the valley and will leave you speechless.

True fact: I have always loved Michael Chiarello and used to watch his show almost every day.  I didn’t actually expect him to be at his restaurant but wouldn’t you know, he was there, cooking my dinner!!!

I wanted to get a picture but I chickend out.  Just take my word, I was star struck.

To begin this journey of food delicacy, Toly and I split a starter.

“Succotash” forno roasted summer squash & sweet corn, cherry tomato, ricotta & chili stuffed squash blossom, arugula leaves, corn pudding

And after much debate, I finally made my choice….

Mediterranean Seafood Brodetto mussels, Gulf prawns, clams and Monterey calamari, forno-confit tomato broth, olive oil crouton, paprika saffron rouille

The picture simply does not do this justice.  Hands down one of the top 3 best meals of my life.

As stuffed as we were, dessert could not be passed….

I can’t remember exactly what this was, but just think a crumbled lemon almond cookie with a carmel and sea salt gelato over a shot of espresso. 
I died! 
What a remarkable way to spend our anniversary and one that I will never forget. (Okay, so parts are fuzzy but that is why we have cameras. ;) 
Day 4 and 5 will wrap us this series and will be coming shortly….

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Shake, Rattle, Roll

August 24, 2011
I know I posted yesterday about it being my first official day back from vacation, but today was my first official day back to work from a long but wonderful vacation. 
<<< Insert sad face here >>>
Actually, it wasn’t that bad.  I thought I would feel more overwhelmed with a full inbox and a thousands tasks to get to, but surprisingly, I was more at ease just knowing my month of chaos was over and I could focus on the things ahead of me. 
Breakfast this morning included a souvenir I found in San Francisco. 
With all of the hype that revolves around Biscoff and its glorious spread, I knew this was making it back with me. 
Breakfast 
1/4 C Natures Path Flax Plus Strawberry, 1/4 C Natures Path Multigrain Flakes, Berries, Banana, Almond Butter, Biscoff 

And my thoughts….good, but super sweet.  A tiny bit is really all you need or else I think it would be a little too overpowering. 
Lunch 
All day yesterday, I had a major craving for eggs.  I was thinking of having them for lunch, but then opted out last minute.  Then, when Courtney posted her egg lunch, I was envious and craving them even more. 

It had been far too long…

2 Egg Whites, Broccoli, Pepper, Tomato, topped with hot sauce
I made a quick frittata that took no more than 10 min, start to finish.  I also had roasted brussels sprouts and some melon. 

Dessert was my latest love….

I’ve been swooning over these for months.  Apparently, they are not sold around here anywhere, so when they appeared in my HLS swag bag, I melted.

The rest of the afternoon was eventful.  I’m sure most of you heard about the earthquake on the east coast.  Well, here in PA, we definitely felt it.  It was frightening but I’m sure even more alarming in VA and DC.

Even more eventful was RPM tonight.  I went with the intention of just practicing because it had been a few weeks but the instructor asked me to ride on stage and teach 1/2 of the class.

Totally unprepared and a little sore from a 12 mile run, I managed to kill it.

I’m teaching again on Saturday and can’t wait!  Nothing is more thrilling than coaching a group of people to kick butt on a bike.

Dinner 

I got home quite late from spin and thankfully asked Toly to start dinner.

Amy’s Roasted Veggie No Cheese Pizza with added veggies, basil, and nutritional yeast 

The leftover strawberry orzo pasta salad was a perfect accompaniment and required no prep at all.

I practically inhaled dinner.  
If you notice a difference in my photos, you are not seeing things.  Although I’m no photographer, I am using my dad’s extremely nice DSLR Cannon Rebel T2i and I’m clearly obsessed.  I’m kind of hoping he forgets he lent it to me. :) 
Did you feel the earthquake today or have you ever felt an earthquake? That was the first time I had ever felt one and it was definitely quite scary. I can’t imagine what its like to feel them all the time.  We apparently have no idea here on the east coast. 

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Strawberry Basil Orzo Salad with Feta

August 23, 2011
This summer, I seem to be enjoying more and more grain based salads.  I’ve noticed that with my Chron’s, eating the amount of raw vegetables that I used to was not working so well in the process of digesting.  The solution, I discovered, was to pair the vegetables with a grain based carb and that seemed to aid in the break down of raw veggies.  
So that is when my passion for coming up with grain based salads amounted.  I’ve been playing around with ingredients such as quinoa, millet, and wheat berries, and my most recent addition…orzo. 

Strawberry Basil Orzo Salad with Feta 
  • 1 C cooked Orzo Pasta 
  • 1/2 C sliced strawberries
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 C crumbled feta
  • 2 T Almonds (I used sesame coated) 
  • 1/2 C fresh torn basil 
  • 2 T Lemon juice
  • 1 T Olive Oil 
Combine first five ingredients into a large bowl.  Add the basil and lemon juice.  Stream in olive oil and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 
This salad serves as a perfect summer side dish. You could also add a bit of protein like I did last night and make an entire meal out of it. 
Enjoy! 

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