Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The September Check-In with Yourself

There's something about September that's all "back to business," even if you're not going back to school. (I'm not.)

When I worked in the corporate world (shudder) (vodka shot) (warding off PTSD), my manager and I always set goals in January that I was supposed to earnestly pursue throughout the upcoming year (I did my darndest.) Then we'd have quarterly check-ins to see how I was progressing...or should I say, we met quarterly so she could tell me that nothing I did was ever good enough. And when I did meet a goal, well, that just meant that it was time to set another. Which, as Sean Achor points out, only moves the goal post for happiness back ever-farther and makes it impossible to ever actually be happy.

Now that I'm out of the corporate world, I set New Year's Resolutions for myself and check-in periodically with them. So as September draws to end, I experience both the end of summer and the beginning of the last quarter before the year ends. AKA the last three months to try to meet those year-long goals. And although I've discarded a lot of crap from my corporate years, I think setting goals and checking in with yourself is actually a pretty good habit to keep.

I'm checking in with the goals I set for myself and seeing what I can do to finish the year strong. What about you? How are you doing with your goals? Care to check-in too?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Food: Linguine with Spicy Artichoke Sauce

Time for another delicious recipe. This one, Linguine with Spicy Artichoke Sauce, is from the amazing "Main-Course Vegetarian Pleasures," by Jeanne Lemlin, which I recently received as a birthday gift. (Super subtle hint-hint: let the b-day greetings commence.)

Don't let the title fool you--this is not just for vegetarians. My carnivorous hubby who didn't eat any vegetables when I met him (shudder) raves about it and my non-vegetarian best friend told me she actually wanted to lick her plate when I made it for her. It's fast, easy, and INSANELY good. Perfect for the weeknight dinner and definitely good enough for guests!

1 TBS of olive oil in a large skillet, heat over medium heat. Add 6 cloves of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. Cook 2 minutes, stirring often. (You will notice that the oil starts to turn orange and the smell of peppers starts to spicy spicy--this is good).

Stir in 1 28-oz can of plum tomatoes, finely chopped and well drained. (Note: I don't drain them. I add in the tomato juice because I like it saucy...uh, I mean I like sauce.)

Add 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the linguine (or pasta of your choice) and cook until al dente. Taste to avoid overcooking.

Add 1 6-oz jar of marinated artichokes and 1/4 cup fresh parsley (mine from the garden--huzzah!), simmer 5 more minutes.

Drain the linguine (or pasta) and place in a large bowl (or return to pot to save dishes), toss with the sauce and serve, sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Holy freaking YUM.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I'm Reading: If It Was Easy, They'd Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Married by Jenna McCarthy

My To-Be-Read (TBR) Pile is nearly as tall as I am (which, by the way, is fully in towering giantess territory), which is why it's taken me almost a year to get to this little gem. OK fine, I cheated a little by promoting it to the express lane because I've been excited to read it since I pre-ordered it last fall.

Turns out that my anticipation was fully justified. Jenna McCarthy's hilarious. I was literally laughing (yes, out loud, drawing stares in public and fully not caring) from the first page. She is irreverent, unafraid of "bad" language, and one of the most insightful, side-splitting, spot-on authors and commentators on marriage.

If you doubt me, watch her TedX presentation from December.

Some sections will appeal and apply more to some people than others. For instance, I didn't fully relate to the TV remote chapter because, if I'm brutally honest, I am the remote hog in my marriage. But even the sections that you may not think apply to you (for instance, in my case, the ones on kids didn't apply to me as I'm as-of-yet happily child-free) will still wildly entertain you (there's a scene involving two kids, adult supervision, and public urination that had me LOL yet again). For most chapters, I had to wonder if McCarthy didn't have binoculars trained on me and my house fully bugged--she was that in-tune with living with and loving the not-so-handyman I married. (I checked, she doesn't--she's safely across the country in California...or so her bio claims.)

It's a long-term habit that when I read something especially funny or awesome, I turn down that page's corner in order to share it with my hubby or other close friends. Turns out this is a dangerous practice when reading this book--there are sections in my copy where sometimes every page has been marked in this way. Sometimes the tops AND bottom corners are turned in!

I wondered if my husband would find it as funny or if this was geared toward the ladies (as the title might indicate). But I needn't have worried my pretty little head: Hubs laughed as hard or harder than me. When he wasn't laughing so hard he went silent, he managed to gasp out, "That's just like us!"

Oh good--it seems we agree on something ;)

Bottom line: I love it. I've recommended it (and will continue to do so) for everyone.

Best for: Anyone in a long-term relationship

Stars: Five, baby!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Yoga for the IT Band

In the corporate world, the term "I.T. Band" conjures images geeks with glasses playing Guitar Hero or hunching over their computers and checking out some website that's far too cool for you or I to know about while ignoring your repeated phone calls asking how to restart your computer.

Uh...I mean some adorable geeks with glasses who're helpfully waiting by their phones and only too delighted to help you locate the power switch so that you can restart your computer.

In the yoga geek world, I.T. (iliotibial) Band is the wide, thick band of fascia (I see you zoning out--stay with me!) that runs down the side of your legs between the hip (ilium) and the knee (tibia). It can get tight--really tight--and this can cause pain in both and the knee and/or the hip. It's also hard to stretch because it runs along the outer thigh (I promise this story really is going somewhere--stay with it!).

Last week after I taught, a student who is a runner came up and asked if I had any tips for her knee pain which seemed to be coming from her outer thigh and into her knee. After giving her the standard disclaimer about how I'm not a doctor...yadda, yadda, yadda...I suggested she try this I.T. Band release.

This week, she came into class--late, unfortunately, as everyone was already seated on their mat in the silent studio--and strode directly to the front.

"HEY!" She yelled, apparently forgetting she was wearing headphones with blaring music that necessitated this sort of volume, but the rest of us weren't. "GUESS WHAT?? I TOTALLY TRIED THAT I.T. BAND THING YOU GAVE ME AND IT WORKED!!!! MY KNEE DOESN'T HURT AT ALL!! SCORE!!!"

I high-fived her. The rest of the class seemed happy too--but not sure if that's because she then stopped yelling and the class continued.

Wildly curious? Mildly intrigued? Read on...

I.T. Band Release:
Grab a yoga block, a foam roller, or one of those foam block kid toys that look like yoga blocks. Alternatively, roll up a towel into a Tootsie Roll shape.

Lay on the floor on your right side with your bent elbow directly under your shoulder. Inhale and lift the hips up (you can place one foot on the floor if that helps), and place the prop perpendicularly under the leg half way between the knee and the hip.

Place the left palm on the mat to help support yourself. Inhale, steel your resolve, gird your loins, and when you are ready, drop the left hip forward (in effect "rolling" forward). Exhale, roll back. Repeat 10-12 times. Curse the day you were born, your mother, yoga, and this darn blog. Oh...and don't forget to breathe.

*This will always be intense, but if it's not good intense and you're using the block/roller, pad it with a blanket or towel. Or just switch to a rolled up towel.

Now it's time to do the other side! Repeat on the left.

Let me know how it goes. I promise you that I have students that request this every single week. They LOVE it and as far as I know, they're not crazy.