Wednesday, May 29, 2013


After reading some blogs I decided to try a program called Influenster. It's pretty cool - you get a box of free items and get to try them. You're more likely to get picked for the program if you write reviews through their platform. I received a box of items to try in what they call a "voxbox."

  1. Secret - clear gel deodorant 
  2. Oasis - hair product
  3. NYC - Gloss
  4. TastyKake
  5. Nicole Scherzinger - Nail

I am pretty brand loyal to my deodorant, so I guess it's a cool idea for Secret to use Influenster to get various demographics to try it. Unfortunately, I am not a gel deodorant gal. I am sure one of my sisters will love to try it. I also do not use any hair product besides shampoo, conditioner, and coconut oil - I am not above trying this no-poo trend. So I am going to gift the Oasis "Rough Rubber, Strong Control" to one of my guy friends who I know will love it. It really does seem like a great product - salon exclusive: promising soft separation and rough texture.  The nails are pretty phenomenal, the color "Just Say Yes" is right up my ally.  However, they supposedly last only for a week, and my nails were longer than these fakes. I think I am going to gift the remaining nails to a younger cousin as there are 24 nails in a pack.

I do love two items in the box. The first item is the NYC - Applelicious Glossy Lip Balm. I am addicted to it and wear it whenever possible now. It lasts a few hours which is nice. The gloss needs to be blotted or will come off on coffee cups, which is to be expected from a gloss. The color has a bit more of a punchy red tone than a similar color Nars - Orgasm, which looks great on just about everyone. I never would have tried an NYC product after stabbing myself with one of their hard eyeliners, but this is one product I am happy with. The product boasts the apple core which contains Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Vitamin E and Avocado Oil to give an added boost of health. I've been wearing the gloss as a chap-stick because of the moisture and smoothness it gives my lips. 

The other product I enjoyed was the TastyKake. I love chocolate. However, after seeing the calories (260!) I was determined to just eat half today and save the rest for later this week. Unfortunately, I was typing up this  blog post, and mindlessly ate the entire thing! It says it comes in Peanut Butter, Peppermint and S'mores. Clearly, the S'more TastyKake is delish. I am pretty sure that the Peppermint would taste even better. Really fluffy cake covered in chocolate with a cream filling - almost like a hostess cup! Excuse me while I go run a couple miles to work that off now ;)

Worth the extra mile.
Week  4 Squat Challenge : 130, 135, 140   

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day

7 AM - 11 AM

This year I woke up at a lake (waking up by the water always improves my overall mood) and drove to a race in my hometown Boylston. The race is in memorial of a girl who attended Tahanto HS while I attended Tahanto middle school. She was significantly older than me, so I only knew her in passing, but everyone, had a high opinion of her. Her friends and family host a race every Memorial Day to raise money for a scholarship in her honor. The scholarship goes to a well-rounded Boylston female resident, graduating from Tahanto, who plans to attend a 4 yr college. It goes without saying, I greatly enjoy supporting this race.

The race is always a slow 5k for me. My town is essentially one big hill, so this 5k is moderately challenging. There are about 500 runners with a great mix of abilities. There are top area racers, top hs athletes, little kids running with their parents, and beginner runners jogging/walking the course. There is room for all in this small town race. There are tech shirts for all participants and prizes for the top age bracket runners. This year, I consider myself fortunate to have snagged an award. I say snagged, as I thought there was an additional runner in my age bracket who beat me. Overall, I was the 7th female runner to cross the finish line. It was nice hearing that I was not the only one coming into the race with a slight hangover from weekend festivities, but I was upset at my old running buddy Rob for bailing for the same reason.

I felt sick around mile 2, I went out too fast, but my knee did not bother me until after the race.  My first mile pace was under 7 minutes, my second and third will have been much longer. I averaged a 7:30 pace. Not upset, not impressed. Regardless of the hungover, sleep deprived state - I have not ran a 5k in five years. My fastest 5k was a 19:09 (never managed to break 19), so the 23:17 I ran for this race seems slow and felt slow. I didn't realize how short a 5k would feel after running three 6-7 mile legs (20+ mi total) for Reach The Beach Relay last weekend! I thought there was an extra mile coming when I was at the end of my third mile. The runners who were drafting off me must have groaned when I realized there wasn't an extra mile and kicked. We cruised into the finish line, which felt great.


I went home showered, packed a BBQ outfit (hopeful the meet would end early) and left for Westfield State. It was such a long two hour drive, but the NDA girls made it worth it by rocking their events.
We had PR's but more importantly, there was awesome teamwork from the girls, as they got ice for each other, held blocks for their teammates, and cheered each other on to a successful DIV II
Central/Western Ma second place title. The team is so young, and graduating so few. I cannot wait to see what they achieve next year and will be following relentlessly through their twitter handle and by what the T&G writes. This season alone, has exceeded my expectations.


I didn't make it back in time for the BBQ, but when I got home there was a missed call on our house phone. We won a raffle prize at the town gathering! It was a great day overall. While I am disappointed I couldn't make it for the BBQ  - the first place finish, the second place finish by our girls, and the raffle win certainly help. I'll just save my outfit for July 4th and jazz it up. Haven't had this great of a day in a long time, had to share ASAP.

Thank you to all those who serve this magnificent country. 
Week  4 Squat Challenge : 130, 135, 140

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Club

Welcome to Book Club. The first rule of Book Club is: you do not talk about Book Club. The second rule of Book Club is: you DO NOT talk about Book Club! Third rule of Book Club: Host chooses "Book!", read it, discuss it, the Book is over. Fourth rule: the choice of book is not up for discussion, Host chooses. Fifth rule: one Book at a time, sistahs. Sixth rule: No host, no book, no club, so offer to host. Seventh rule: Books will go on for a set month. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at Book Club, you will be the first to jump & offer an opinion. xo


This past week we've been trying to get a book club going. We have discussed creating one since last year, but finally decided to ask people to join in. I managed to confuse everyone when I swapped out words from the most famous Fight Club Quote to restate the rules for our Book Club in a fun, memorable way.

Our first book was chosen by one of my favorite bookies Naddles. She chose The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, the New York Time's best selling author of  The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. I'm excited to read it!


This past week I finally finished The Female Brain  by Louanne Brizendine, M.D. It was a fantastic read and allowed insight into the way we think. She offers interesting insight throughout her book. Here is a quick recap of some of the more interesting facts I learned:

  • Take verbal tests on day 12 of your cycle as that is your mental peak
  • When at peak of fertility and in need of a mental boost, male sweat glands called androstadienone  will "brighten your mood" and offer mental clarity within six minutes (pg 87). 
  • Women have stronger and truer gut feelings due to their ability to read even the slightest of human movement/expression (pg 122). This may be the reason why women also have a harder time falling asleep after scary movies, as they are more in tune with emotions (pg 123).
  • Anxiety is four times more common in women (132) and this is supposedly a good thing. It allows a woman to concentrate quickly to protect her children and manage a hectic schedule. Women are three times more likely to suffer from SAD than their male counterparts (133) and genes which can cause depression can skip over males in a family and can just effect women. 
Consistently, she clears the fog regarding topics that you have likely wondered about yourself. She explained Premenstural Dysphoric Disorder  (PMDD) describing how hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) need to stabilize. This can be achieved with the help of the contraceptive pill, and through depression meds, which can help our bodies' serotonin levels.

I thought the most interesting section of the book focused on menopause. All women go through it, but I really don't know much about it. Other than it gives the older women in my life hot flashes - which seems like the worst thing to undergo in a work environment. The book discusses the inevitable low energy, libido, and mood that comes hand in hand with menopause. She discusses the use of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone to fight off these side effects. By replacing hormones and keeping the body vastly more stable, we can lead happier and more productive lives.

Louanne Brizendine also writes about the laws of attraction and monogamy. She offers that there is a "Monogamy Gene" (pg 73) and that when we are looking for a mate we strive to find a mate with a long gene variation of the vasopressin receptor, as these men are most likely to pair-bond, mate for life. She claims that men are not the only promiscuous sex, that science proves females are as well. Once the dad figure has been established, at certain times of the month, women become sexually attracted to the smell of the best genes in a room, even if they are perfectly happy in their relationship.

I highly encourage you to read this book as you will learn about a wide range of topics regarding the female brain. It helped me to further understand the hormonal and chemical happenings in a female brain and how these hormones can effect the various relationships and productivity in our lives. 

Happy Reading.
Week 3 Squats: 100, 105, 110

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The race that I have contemplated doing since middle school has been checked off the bucket list.  200 miles, new friends, stiff muscles, 31 hours later, we finished. The race supports Alzheimers,  JDRF (Diabetes), and DCR. Stuck in a van for 30 hrs based on common interest. Cheering and supporting each other to accomplish the group's goal is amazing and challenging in itself.

Members of our teams in both vans faced adversary and came out on top. People offered to take extra miles, moved their legs around as needed, and truly had team spirit. An extra few miles does not sound like a lot, but when you are running 15 miles and then find yourself accepting to run a few more, trust me, it's a lot and will cause anxiety. I can appreciate the effort given from those of us who took on more miles. But I cannot feel worse or more appreciative for those, of my team who got sick and stayed, to run/support the rest of us to the finish line. Driving in a full, cramped car with food poisoning/motion sickness/migraines to support teammates is a tremendous effort in itself.

Within our first hour of racing our van made a few new friends (Frito Lays) and made a few enemies (Tramps Like Us). Nothing made us as happy as when we left the Transportation Area (TA) before Frito Lays Team. Nothing made us angrier than Tramps Like Us writing Tramps on the side of our van.
  {{ "Tramp Stamping" us is a cute/fun idea, most teams had magnets to tag other team vans not car paint. When I first saw the tagged "Tramps" on the side of our van, I was a bit mad. I took a car marker and painted over the T with a CH. Had I known it was their team name, I might have left it. However, "Tramps" on the side of an all girl van... well, it just doesn't look appropriate. Had they included the rest of the lyrics, "Baby, we were born to run" - we probably would have greatly enjoyed it.}}
You win some, you lose some... in this case we actually lost to both teams ;)

We enjoyed when two Ultra RTB runners (aka a 6 man team instead of 12)  made a tunnel for one of our runner's finishes. She wanted nothing to do with it and tried to run around them. They managed to rearrange themselves directly in her path again and she was forced to run under their out stretched hands. I would have tried to run around them too! They were both clad in nothing but men's speedos. Everyone was laughing.

This is one race filled with tons of smiles, miles, and support.  Between karaoke "Call Me Maybe" running dances, doing the waves for runners as they passed transition areas, delirious conversations during twilight hours - this run will test your body's mental and physical limits. It also builds some great relationships in the process.


I was happy to run my first 6 miles through my hometown Boylston. My parents came to cheer me on and I even saw random friends along the route. Earlier in the race, we had driven by my Aunt's house. I yelled out, "Hi, Sandra!" as she was outside watering plants. Unfortunately, she could not place her niece driving in an insanely decorated vehicle, until after I texted her. I was lucky and ran in the cooler evening. I handed off to Molly who was the first to wear our night gear.

My second  6 mile leg started with me bundled up around 3 AM. Underarmour, hat, gloves, scarf, long socks, handwarmers. I was feeling good despite the beyond early running time. My knee started killing me in mile 10. The last two miles of my second leg were torture, but I finished them with an avg mile pace time seconds just slower than my last 6 miles. I thought I had long enough to rest up for my last 7 mile leg. But the moment I started moving, I knew I was going to have difficulties. I stopped within the first half mile to take off my patella holder. Thinking maybe I had overused the holder in the first 13 miles and it just wasn't going to work for this leg. About 100 ft later, I had stopped to put it back on. I knew I was in for a tough run. I hobbled to keep the two runners in front of me in sight and struggled to keep a purple tutu behind me.

By mile 17 I was done, not actually done, physically done. I felt like I was churning my legs as fast as I ever have. In reality, I was just barely going faster than a walk. I took the breathing techniques I learned in Bikram and used them to my running advantage. Left, Right, Left, Right - Breathe Out. Left, Right, Left, Right - Breath Out. Keep those arms moving.

At mile 19, I was being passed by a skinny, male runner and his van. Even if I wanted to yell out, pick me up, I don't think I physically could have. At that moment, I was way past my physical limit. It was then we both started running on huge beach pebbles. Please imagine 1. the pain, as my ankles twisted at each step 2. my tears as my knees burned and swore at me and 3. my mental state when I realized there were still 2 miles to go. There was such a strong headwind that the three tears that fell, quickly dried off my face. Surprisingly and luckily, the pebbles section ended quickly. But the stretch had certainly done its damage. Overtired and emotional, I was struggling to finish. Searching for yellow signs with black arrows, I was wandering through Horse-neck Beach's trailer park.

"I think your friends went that way"
"What friends?"
"Other runners went that way"
"....Are you sure"

By this point, I thought the universe was playing a cruel trick on me and was slightly delirious. I had apparently started running the wrong way. Huge props to the man who chased after me to correct my error and stayed with me until I believed him.

In the final stretch, people kept saying, "You're so close!" "Finish strong," but the finish line never came. Until I saw a pair of vibrant red pants, I was miserable. I have never been so excited to see red wind pants. They belonged to one of my teammates. Tears of joy were now masking my tears of pain from earlier and the last 50 meters were accomplished in a blur. I almost completely forgot to hand off our team relay stick to my big sister. I had planned to do this when I had learned I had been granted the huge honor of finishing the 200 miles for the team. Molly and my Big Sister had organized the entire group/trip. However due to injuries, my big sister was unable to run. However, she still came along for the 30+ hr trip as a driver/support captain and she more than deserved to cross the finish line with us as our team leader and baton holder.

I could not have asked for a better group to run my first RTB with. Most of the group was significantly older.  I was the youngest at 23, the oldest was 30. Half the group were experienced marathon runners, the other half were beginners. One individual decided this was going to be his first race! Another individual has qualified for the Boston Marathon three times in the past few years. It was a great group of people and a great race.

Joe came to pick me up and I slept for the majority of the following three days. Yes, I am still sore. But I know when the muscles heal, I will still be smiling at fond memories.

"& we will run 200 miles 
and we will run 200 more,
 just to be those who reached the beach hundred smiles
 to fall down at the shore 

Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da) 
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da 
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da" 

  We Finished :)
Week 3 Squats: 100, 105, 110

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

RTB food

I am beyond excited to be packing for this race, I think I have everything that I need packed into a small duffel bag. Look at the food! Yes all that, plus all the items I listed in a previous post fit into a small duffel. CRAY!      I should be a professional weekend packer by now.  In addition to all of this food, my mother is the most supportive mom ever and is providing the team pizza after I run my first leg!  I also bought a jug/case of water and an 8 pack of Gatorade. The only thing I am going to want is a Venti Iced Coffee.

Yesterday, I stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods to return a sweatshirt. I really wanted a simple, plain, black zip-up. Preferably an Underarmour hoodie. Is that too much to ask for? I ordered what I thought would fit the bill a month ago, but when I tried it on, it didn't fit my broad shoulders. ( Maybe I should have tried swimming instead of running.) My guy friends get upset when I wear boy sweats, but if it fits, I really don't see a problem... besides them missing a sweatshirt/pants for a few hours. The reason why I am even looking for a new sweatshirt is because my father wants me to toss all of my old sweatshirts. (I hope I am not the only one who gets attached to old comfy clothes, nothing has holes in it and they still keep me warm. I just don't see a problem with wearing an "I <3 London" or an old sorority sweatshirt in the house?)  Regardless, I am on the search for a comfy black zip-up. I did find a few deals while at Dick's that I could not pass up - like a $15 lavender sweatshirt and another pair of bright, visibility shorts.

After speaking with a store rep, I was disheartened to learn that my favorite sneakers have been discontinued. We all know I will be moping until I find another pair that I can grow to love. I was looking for new sneakers, as mine are just about hitting the one year mark. I am convinced that I have abused them to the point that they are now abusing me. Yes, my knee is absolutely killing me. I have come to the conclusion that I am suffering from Runner's Knee for the past few weeks. I cannot tell if I just upped mileage to soon, or I sprained it while doing shuffle drills, or if I should have been doing more strength training... Could be a multitude of things besides my sneakers wearing out. But I am convinced my sneakers are a contributing factor. Hopefully, my knee holds out for the race. The store rep encouraged me to buy a Patella Band ($19) when he saw how stubborn I was going to be about finding new sneakers. ( Sneakers are a huge investment!!) I've always thought the bands looked stupid and were unnecessary for athletes, but if it works? I will be eating my words and going back to thank that rep!

Week 2  of Squat Challenge
70, 75, 80 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Family History

My Mother always puts family photos on display in the foyer for major holidays. On Mother's Day, she puts out a ton of photos featuring my Grandmothers. I always enjoy looking at what is written in perfect cursive on the backs of old photographs. Bored, I decided to do a bit of family research by researching some of the names listed. My mom came into the study and asked what I  was up to. When I told her, she disappeared and reappeared. In a matter of an hour, she  managed to pull out a list of relatives which dates back to 1223. Gold mine of leads.  I had a few fun hours last night, researching how past distant relatives inherited castles in Ireland, were granted deeds for land, gained Sheriff to Burgess titles, and were acquitted charges by the future King Edward I of England.  I cannot wait to further dig into my family history. My father's family history is what intrigues me the most as my Grandfather's name was Otto Von Krassow, but beyond that there is not much information.

Side note: I was researching the castles that my relatives lived at and immediately thought that this castle ruin look like the filming location of Game of Thrones? The scene where Aria is captured this season? What do you think?


"Forewarning, coaching girls can be so rewarding, but very frustrating. Be wary of the girls who will stop everything to pick a flower." 

I had completely laughed at this, and thought, "Sure, maybe the kindergartener goalie bored out of their mind. But we're out for 30-50 minutes runs and I'm coaching high school girls." 

A week later one of our runners took off to pick flowers. I rolled my eyes. I told the girl, "Careful, that is private property, you could get arrested for pruning their flowers early." I hope that will deter her from picking flowers on runs in the future.

This past weekend, while running at St. John's, the boys were holding their annual Mother's Day fundraiser and had leftover flowers. 

"What are you doing with those flowers?"
"Nothing, want them?" 
"Wait, seriously?"
 Best day ever. 

So we stopped thanked them for the flowers and added an extra five mins to our workout. Oops. I guess it doesn't matter how old a girl is. But as a girl, how could we let pretty packaged flowers go to waste?


I have been really good about eating relatively clean lately and watching portions. However, yesterday my body revolted and I went on a see food scavenging diet. I legit ate EVERYTHING in sight. I stopped on my way home for a McDonalds breakfast sandwich, after reading a sign advertising it (I've never had one before! I maybe eat at Mcdonalds three times a year total!) At home I got dressed for church, then went to a Mother's Day brunch buffet. Of course I tried every possible morsel available. Finally, I went home where I proceeded to down the sleeve of thin mint cookies which had been left on the counter, as my sister made pasta for dinner. You'd think this was bad enough, but Joe came over to watch Game of Thrones and brought over cookies and biscottis. I was stuffed, but they were so tempting - I had three cookies, two biscottis, and of course we shared a bag of popcorn. Pop me with a pin now.

To think that I used to eat like that everyday while in High school actually disgusts me. Thank you Coaches for telling me that I was too thin and encouraging me to eat fatty foods to gain weight. I cannot even imagine the damage that was done to my body as I used to force myself to down two burgers, a mcflurry, large fries and dollar menu nuggets before every basketball game. Just so I would have a little more meat on me to "box out" as center.

Due to how gross I am now feeling, I am going to go dig out my magic bullet from my dorm supplies that I have locked away in storage. A  few of my friends have tried 3-day to week long juice cleanses. I am extremely nervous to try this as clearly I love food, but I think it's necessary after yesterday's monstrous set back. If anyone has any amazing nutritional juice recipes that I should try, please do not hesitate to send them my way! Next week is juicing week! :)

Week 2 of Squats:
70, 75, 80

Friday, May 10, 2013

Packing for RTB

I am so excited for RTB. When my Big sister in DPhiE initially called me asking me to run a few legs for her team, I started laughing. She told me I had no choice. Trapped, I did two things 1. Started training 2. Started Assistant Coaching. The second was the best possible thing I could have done. Keeping younger girls motivated, motivated me in the process. It was a reality check listening and watching them surpass their own PRs. I know they told me more than once that it was easier to complete a workout while I was running with them because someone else was holding them accountable. I don't think they realized I knew this already, as it works in reverse as well.  Ideally, I wanted them to grow to become confident, strong runners who would enjoy going out this summer on their own (and some of our J.V. girls already have started this as their season has ended!).

Running is a constant battle, not an easy one either.  Having someone accountable running with you is a love/hate relationship, and knowing this I tried to switch up running groups throughout the season. Having the girls to coach helped me keep my mind focused. Some days were significantly harder than others as I would be doing my workout then coming to practice to do theirs. Haha sometimes I didn't know what I was in for as the Head Coach devised the workouts. On those days, I would inwardly groan myself. I hope that my cheerleading and support were as beneficial to the girls as they were to me.

I had been putting off doing a half marathon because I did not think I had the stamina nor strength to complete one without walking. After this race, I think I will have the guts to do it. I just finished a relatively flat, beautiful sea route 10K back in April and proved to myself, I can do the mileage necessary for a leg of RTB.

 312  32/159  F1829   51:33   51:09   8:14 Helen Longvall         23 F   986 Boylston MA  

However, my first leg for RTB is considered a rolling hill route. I would like to point out that I somehow was given the leg that goes DIRECTLY through my town. I hate running in my town because it is essentially one big hill! haha and I will be forced to race up it. I know that this is no rolling hill leg.

 In the meantime, I started packing. It's only a week away after all!


Entire Race:
Sneakers, Sandles, Glasses, Glasses Container
Use Large Ziplock Bags to Number Leg Outfits to quickly grab clothes, stay organized, and keep smelly clothes locked away from clean clothes :)

Day Running Gear Leg 9:
Shorts, Neon Shirt, Socks, Sports Bra, Panties
Car Clothes to Sleep in:
Leggings/Sweatpants, Long Sleeve Shirt, Sweatshirt, Bra, Panties
*  light blanket and/or small pillow if you must *

Night Running Gear Leg 24:
Long spandex, Shorts, Underarmour Neon Pink Shirt, Gloves, 
Hat, Ear wrap, Long Socks, Sports Bra, Panties, Hand Warmers
(I'm a Wimp)

Day Running Gear Leg 36:
Shorts, Tank, Neon Running Cover, Sports Bra, Socks, Panties

Finisher's Clothes
Tank, Long Sleeve, Shorts, Socks, Sports Bra, Panties
Smile :)


1. Water bottle 2. Reflective Stickers 3. Blinking Lights 4. Reflective Vest
(You need all these things to race RTB at night  [and more] - I'm not a huge dork ... although now that I have the items, might as well use them right..?)


Sunglasses, Sunglasses Container
Waterproof Sport Sunscreen


Tech: Cell Phone, Car Charger, Camera, Ipod, Watch, 
Personal: Money, ID
 Race: Leg Maps, Race Rules, Costume


Garbage Bags, 
Toilette Paper, 
Cleaning: Paper Towels, Wipes


1. Vitamin C 2. Daily Vitamin (putting these into a medicine case) 
3. (First Aid) Band-aids, Neosporin 4. Athletic Tape 
5. Advil, Tiger Balm > Icy Hot 
6. Allergy Meds: Cough Drops, Allegra D, Inhaler
7. Vasaline & Chapstick (Burts Bees)
8. Toothpaste/Toothbrush
9. Hair Elastics / Lady Items


I've put a lot of thought into this one. I really like the new Adidas bags as one has the necessary mesh siding for sneakers / used clothes and has a water resistant base. However, I found this one lying around the house and snagged it. It has the mesh paneling I love. Another side panel for all my night gear. And I just packed an old track drawstring bag with all of my "other items." Of course I rolled all of my clothes up to pack more efficiently. 

Now I just need to pack my favorite / hard part... FOOD! :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Squats & Crunches

Running is a constant awareness of your body's health. I did a hard work out with a friend and the next day my knees kept giving out while running downhill. It's irking to feel the baby aches and pains that sting and burn and make you question if you should be out running again so soon. Allergies kept me inside for the past few days, but I am hoping with this rain we had today that I can head out tomorrow after a couple weeks hiatus!

Two days ago I started a Squat Challenge I found on Pinterest. I mean look below, it's just so pretty! I'll let you guys know the results in a month, but if anyone wants to jump in and do it with me.... Please do :)

This pink chart is a fun way to ensure you hold yourself accountable for each day's workout. Write the number of squats on one side and the day on the other. Rip them off as you accomplish each day's goal!

Tonight I also tried a new yoga ball workout. It is super easy, moderately timed (15 minutes) and can be modified to be easier/harder. If you do it correctly you will fee the burn :) Crunches are so necessary as it builds your core. All runners should love and work hard to achieve an amazing core. Need it to run healthy and strong!

Shoot me a comment or link to workout suggestions!

Lemon Sauce Pasta and Salmon

Lemon Sauce Pasta and Salmon

30 minute meal - Preheat oven 425

Boil two large pots of water:
One for steamed veg (asparagus pairs well with this meal!)
One for pasta

Prep salmon by sprinkling lemon pepper, fresh lemon thyme, parsley, and the juice of half of a lemon over salmon. Stick salmon into oven once preheated.

After ten minutes, pour pasta into boiling pot. Add some fresh scallions.

Put bottoms of Asparagus into steam pot.

After an additional five minutes, stick tops of asparagus into the steam pot.

Start making sauce. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter down with the remainder of the herbs and other half of the lemon (see picture for reference). I also added a teaspoon of coconut oil - told you I'd be sneaking it in when possible! After three minutes simmering, add 2 tablespoons of flour. After this blends, add a cup of milk and let boil for a minute. Stir continuously.

Turn off pasta, drain, rinse and return to pot. Add sauce mixture.

Next take asparagus off heat and pull out salmon.

Take sauce pot and put straight into sink with water - so it'll be easier to clean once your meal is over!

An "A" from Dad and a "4.0" from Mom. Yum :) 

Ten Travel Tips

Ten Travel Tips for Weekend Exploring

1. Limit yourself to a backpack you would feel comfortable carrying literally all day. I will never forget my friend's and I struggling to carry our heavy bag across cobblestones as the sun rose in Lisbon, Portugal or over 5 bridges in Venice, Italy to get from our train to our hostel room. If they gave out gentleman awards, it would have been given two years ago to my friend for carrying not only his bag, but our best friend's bag as well over those bridges. 

2. Don't always be in a rush to get to where everyone says to go. Look at where you fly into and plan out your morning. I can almost guarantee that if you're backpacking in Ireland you'll want to spend time exploring the city of Dublin. However, you are flying into Dublin at 4 AM! Use the morning to sight see, then hop on a bus in the evening to stay in nicer and relatively cheap B&B accommodations in Galway. Don't be afraid to look outside of major cities, you'll be rewarded with a more authentic feel for the culture, and often a cheaper stay, by doing so.

3. Learn to sleep on transportation. This is imperative. I could not do this until the later part of my study abroad period. My friends would fall asleep mouth open, clutching valuables tight. However, I was too nervous and excited to sleep. On bus rides across country sides, I would keep my eyes and ears open so I would not miss a thing. Stupid. As soon as we'd get to where we were going I would need a nap or be grumpy the rest of the day. Force yourself to shut your eyes and zone out. You'll need this moment of peace before being bombarded by cultural differences, strange sounds, and weird foods.

4. Call ahead to see if there is a secure place to keep bags until Check In. Most flights get in absurdly early, if you book late you really will have a lacking when choosing flights. Realize this flaw, see it as yet another reason to pack lighter; otherwise, you will be stuck lugging your bag from 4 AM when you fly in, until 1 PM when you can check in. This is another reason to check where your hostel/hotel is relative to your arrival location. You may want to explore where you land/debark before continuing to your sleeping quarters, and realize that is all your hotel/hostel is: a place to sleep. Amenities; other than perhaps free WIFI, should not really entice you. Ideal is clean, safe, and cheap. Remember, you're plan is to be off exploring all weekend, the most you should be spending at your hotel/hostel is 4-7 hrs a night.

5. Spend the morning of the first day doing a walking tour. While a tourist will eat this up and do as many tours as possible, some travelers do all that they can to avoid these. My belief is that an hr long bike or free walking tour,in the early morning, is the perfect way to get your feet wet and get your barrings in a new city. Then it's time to wander into the small cranny cafe, get a coffee, and talk with the people over a recommended pastry and see what a local suggests for city sights and activities.

6. Try to Speak The Language and be mindful of culture.  "Do. you. speak. American." is the first way to drive a local off. Nothing is as repellent as a tourist who is not respectful of the culture they are traveling in. Learn a few key phrases and cultural cues. For instance, in Paris, do not forget to say Bonjour or Bonsoir (pending on the time) and Au revoir when entering and leaving a true Parisian Shop. You might not even be served if you forget this simple politeness - it will be seen as extremely rude. When partying in cities, I have seen tourist of all nationalities completely return to their old habits and this is relatively fine as everyone is looking for a good time. However, if you plan on staying out late night with locals, do your best to remember that this is their turf! You'll end up putting a damper on everyone's night and your memories of the city by not doing so.

7. Hit up a local food market for lunch or take a cooking class at dinner. This is the perfect way to interact with locals. Two of my favorite food markets were in Rome and Barcelona. The olives and nuts in Rome were so fresh and the exotic fruits from Barcelona were so fun to try. Trying new raw material to cook with can be such a liberating experience. 

8. Keep a Wandering Journal/Blog. I promise everyone will ask about your trip when you return home. "How was it?" Unfortunately, a simple answer will not cut it. Additionally, you will be asked for recommendations when a friend of a friend learns you have been there before. Having a journal to reference with places (food, hotel, sites) starred or slashed, will help you sound well traveled, mature, experienced and less like the kid we all are wandering around lost in a big city.

9. Your best purchase prior to backpacking will be a comfortable/stylish pair of flat boots.  Don't underestimate the power of a good pair of flat boots and a water resistant light trench coat. Keep your feet dry all day and blister free from the cobblestone horror stories that can occur while wearing heels. I will never forget my friend hoping out of a cab late at night and falling face first into the street thanks to her heel getting stuck. Do yourself a favor, don't pack heels. Keeps your pack lighter and will save you from embarrassment. Also Travel in Layers.  You can always unzip/carry over your purse if it gets too hot. Learn from my mistakes. If you don't bring it out with you to begin with, you won't have it later and will be complaining for the rest of the night much to the annoyance of friends.  Wear your heaviest/bulkiest clothes on the plane.  That should help maximize the room in your backpack. (I will be sure to make a post for what to pack on a backpacking trip & another for carry on needs!)  

10. Do not get frustrated when things are not going your way, learn to remain calm and let go. So many times while traveling things can go awry. Whether it's a booking problem with the hostel/flight, flight delays/cancellations, communication problems, confusion while navigating a new city, lost luggage ( another reason why carry on backpacking is ideal), lost passports, ids, credit cards, stolen goods. You think none of it will happen to you, until ALL of it does.
Just remain calm, and backpack on

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Basic Allergy Defense and Offense

I really would really like to believe that I was dying a slow death this past weekend until I found Allegra D. I was in so much pain. My head was throbbing. My sinuses were swollen and hurt to press against. My eyes were itchy. I was coughing with a raw and sore throat. Flem, puke, sneezing. (yes puke, have you ever had allergies so bad you got physically sick from the migraine?!) I was a miserable mess. The entire experience was fully cultivated as I grabbed the last tissue of a relatively new tissue box. I had forgotten how awful the allergy experience can be as I have not had allergies this bad since high school. I decided it was time to take action and am posting ways to avoid allergens in the future:

Avoid the possibility of allergens settling where you sleep at all costs.
1. Take off shoes before you walk indoors
2. Wash your sheets/towels a bit more often than normal.
3. On that note, do not hang clothes to dry outside!
4. Leave clothes in a hamper entirely outside of the bedroom
5. Do not let pets into your room (this means you Prince, stay out)
6. Keep windows and doors closed.
7. Vaccum a bit more frequently
8. Use AC in the car and at home. Fresh air is great, but not at this cost!

Other Suggestions to Combat Pollen:
9. Wear sunnies - this is done to: hide watering eyes and keep pollens from reaching eyes.
10. Do outdoor activities after 10 am to avoid high pollen times! (Save your morning run for later.)
11. Steam shower as soon as you get into the house
12. Medicine

Allegra D and Advil. Advil will help the headaches and soreness. Try to take the Allegra D in the morning. I took it at night for the first time and felt like I was on adderall. This may have been because I had literally been in a migraine fog for the past week and suddenly my head was cleared, or it might have been the extended release properties. Either way, I am in love with Allegra D. I am also hooked on Ricola's Lemon Mint lozenges and a particular kind of tea for throats called Organic Throat Coat by Traditional Medicines. It can be found in most grocery stores in the specialty food section. I enjoy it with a teaspoon of honey and milk. Usually whatever sore throat I am struggling with dissolves within the day with these offensive moves :) Anyone else have any allergy meds/tricks&tips they would like to share??

Coconut Oil

I've been in love with the white stuff lately. Coconut oil that is! It does wonders for your hair. Recently, I have been using it to keep down fly-aways and as an intensive conditioner once a week. It is less abrasive than hairspray and adds a natural shine which after reading the first quarter of "The Female Brain" by Louann Brizendine is truly an attractive quality to have as it signifies healthy genes to our male counterparts. ;)

photo.JPGThat study pretty much sold me on the benefits! It has the ability to manage weight. Other positives from the article states:
1) Improves cholesterol ratio by allowing a more efficient conversion of pregnenolene in the body.
2) Restores thyroid function i.e. helps balance insulin levels
3) Leads to efficient breaking down of energy i.e. helps balance weight
4) Allows for "positive antioxidant action" i.e. anti-aging properties
5) Healthy Vitamin E source for hair and body
 - LoGiudice, Pina. "Surprising Health Benefits Coconut Oil." Mon 10/29/2012. Accessed on 05/08/2013. <>

And after reading an article by Organic Coconut Oil I am going to start using it in my cooking for the family instead of olive oil/butter at least twice a week. The article states that Coconut Oil when ingested helps to relieve stress, aids a healthy heart, and helps with calcium absorption. It aids in a lot more functions and this article lists many more benefits, but those three are the ones that sold me!
- Kiran, Patil.  "Health Benefits of Coconut Oil." Accessed on 05/08/2013. <>

I am excited to start using coconut oil more often! Some sites suggested shaving with the stuff, I am nervous to try that! I already use it on my hair and skin, but how much should we use in cooking? Pina LoGiudice, suggested based off a study to ingest 2 tablespoons daily. That seems like a lot to me, but I will start using it more in my cooking for now. I am also going to buy another bottle so that I can keep one for the kitchen and one in the bathroom closet. :)

Pina LoGiudice ND posted for Dr. Oz, "One 2009 study found that women who consumed 30 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems."  

Like I said, SOLD.

Study Abroad England Scrapbooking

This is my second attempt at scrap booking from the summer after sophomore year. I'd like to think the skills improved. Does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do with all of the post cards I have left from my travels? I would love to display them, but am finding difficulty thinking up a way that doesn't take up too much space and still highlights them effectively. So far I have thought of 1. shadow box 2. bulletin board 3. clothespin hanging - anyone have any other suggestions? I realized after looking through my scrapbook that I still have to finish my final pages for Australia! It'll be a fun day activity.

Royal Holloway Adventures 

London Adventure

Portugal, Lisbon


 Bus tour of Holland, the Netherlands, and Belgium


 London, England

 Paris, France - Birthday Weekend

 Barcelona, Spain

 Spain to Rome

 Venice - where we hopped on a a cruise

 Santorini, Greece

 Croatia to Turkey

 Florence and Milan

Berlin and Prague 

 Vienna and Budapest

 Room Note and Home