Take a moment to set your intention

It’s been so peaceful and calm over here.

I’m sorry if that silence has been uncomfortable for you. I was just having a moment of meditation. During my (2+ weeklong) meditation I have come to the following conclusion: I love yoga. I really really love it. I am really really bad at it. But, being the competitive person that I am (competitive yoga? Why not!) I am embracing the challenge and practicing at least 3 or 4 times a week (often more!). This has lead to very sore arms but no rock hard abs (yet!). I’m not giving up hope. Give me a couple more weeks (months) and I’ll post pictures of my chiseled physique!

Speaking of weeks: what else has happened in my absence?

1) I got engaged

2) E and I moved

3) I went up to family camp

Are you noticing a trend (besides the: Emily is having a really kick-a$$, fabulous summer trend)?

Over the past couple weeks I have been doing a lot more posting on my other blog

This is something else I have been thinking intently about during my meditation. What is the purpose of life (er… for this blog)?

I originally conceived it as a sister-blog to Emily’s Weblog. But I’m just not witty/motivated enough to keep 2 blogs going, full swing. In the past couple months, I’ve noticed that whenever I focus on one blog the other suffers.

So: I am taking a moment to set my intention for this blog. I will not give it up completely. I like having a place to talk about food and fitness, and I don’t think my other blog is that place. But I won’t be posting here nearly as frequently. Maybe when I learn a new yoga move and have a fun pic. to share, or when I try a new chocolate recipe that is deliciousoso. Or when I am sick of the other blog. But for those of you who have only been reading this blog and who feel like I don’t post enough (this may only apply to one or two people in the world, but if that is you, then HURRAH–> read on), please consider bookmarking my other blog: http://lairdea.wordpress.com.

I plan to update that more regularly.

Follow Through

First, a practical note: Thanks for all the money saving tips, you savy shoppers. I’m contemplating working on integrating them into my weekly grocery shopping adventures!

But please don’t hesitate to comment (or email/write/call) if YOU have other healthy shopping tips to share. Like websites with good coupons, or just extra copies of books like “How to Recover From a Whole Foods Addiction”  (if you wrote that book, I bet it would make a lot of money… which is kind of ironic  I guess. But what better way to make money than by preying upon those with shopping addictions? Actually come to think of it, don’t write it. I’m going to figure it out and write it myself).

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I have been promising to do yoga for REAL for a while. And while wii fit yoga is fun… it isn’t quite real. In fact, it is virtual.

SO, when my friend Krystyna begged me to come to a yoga class with her at her yoga studio (green monkey) and told me it was going to be FREE (she had a free pass), I couldn’t come up with a good excuse not to (actually I just ran out. She’d invited me before, and I’d already used all my good “I have to bake and gain weight” excuses up). So I went to a real yoga class with Krystyna.

And, it was hard.

Like really, really hard.

And even though it was at 7am (that should have been an excuse in itself) there were loads of yoga people there, so I felt like a fool. It was hard, and I was just sweating everywhere even though all I had to do was bend over and stand on one leg (who knew I couldn’t do that? You learn something new every day.). And at the end, you just lie on the floor and let the (in some people’s opinion) sexy instructor put lavender smelling stuff on your forehead. So what’s my problem?

Turns out, I have zero muscles. I would say negative muscles, but I think that would mean something weird that I can’t wrap my head around, so let’s stick with 0.

And now, all my muscles hurt. Which for zero, is a surprisingly large amount of hurt.

And yet… 6 hours later, I had forgotten the pain, (and my vow to start saving money) and suddenly found myself paying for a 6 month unlimited pass to the studio.

Um WHAT?

Yes. A very expensive (and what I’m sure will be very PAINFUL) six-month membership to Green Monkey.  The only thing I can think is, there must have been drugs in the smelly forehead stuff. I mean look at that monkey, and tell me he isn’t on something!green monkey yoga logo

So what am I doing?

I am… unsure. But since my new diet (let’s not even GO there) only allows me to eat a little chocolate every day, I think this blog might be a nice place to showcase my yoga practice, or yoga intention, as the yogis say. Instead of chocolate I will document my unique struggle, my aches, pains and maybe someday my rock hard abs?

Personally, I think it is going to be a cinch. I’ve already gone to the yoga studio twice! I might even really follow through on this. Like maybe I’ll  go 4 whole times (that’s enough to get rock hard abs, right?)!

I’m a STAR!

And now for something Canadian and therefore cultured.

Puppy in Poncho = CUTE

Puppy in Poncho = CUTE

All Quiet on the Chocolate Front

Sorry for the quietude. I was observing a moment (or two) of silence in Mr. MJ’s memory. Now that he has had his memorial service, that moment is gone. And I am back.

Tonight was somewhat upsie-downsie for me. I’ve been trying to get in shape the “easy” way by eating anything I want and not exercising. So far it hasn’t been too successful. But, as a true scientist, I wouldn’t dream of ending the experiment prematurely just because some stupid video game tells me I have GAINED weight over the past two weeks, am less balanced, and have a “wii fit age” of 32 (I always knew I was mature for my age). Nope, more chocolate and lazing around for me. There is nothing I won’t do for science.

Yoga Fit

So realizing I am raising my BMI was the UPSIE part of the evening. The Downsie part? Monetary.

I use an online tracking service to help my keep track of our expenses and expenditures. Up until this point, I was happily managing our money, content in the denial that the large amount we spend on groceries each month was normal. Then I got a wake-up call. A fellow blogger has issued herself  a challenge: to spend less than $100 on groceries for herself and her husband this month (they’ve attempted and successfully obtained this goal before). Now I am not going to scare any of you with the actual amount I spend on groceries in any given month… but let’s just say… I’ve already spent 100+ this month. And I have been out of town for half of it. SO. It looks like I won’t be attaining that goal this month.

In all areas of my life, it is time to trim the fat.

And, I need your help to do it.

I beseech you, good, faithful, good credit readers: I need your advice. How do you spend less on groceries? Does one shop at Costco? Does one plan meals at the beginning of the week (I fear this is a critical part of the answer… and my procrastinating heart hates it)? Does one clip coupons? Buy more meat, less meat, more frozen meals, less frozen meals?

Yes I may have the wii fit age of a 32 year old, but my spending habits more closely resemble those of a 13 year old (ooh I see gum. Yes, I will buy it! We do need chocolate!)

But I’m not 13. I’m 24. I’m about to become a poor-overworked-bitter graduate student. Help me get my grocery bill in line before I crawl into my lab cave and don’t see the light for 5 years (come to think of it, that sounds dirt cheap! Idea!)

The good news is there is light at the end of the cave tunnel:

1) I get paid  to go to school(although it is closer to indentured servitude than to a job), so at least I’m not in debt

2) There will always be chocolate (it might just be less fancy)

best chocolate ice-cream cone ever

Laughing at clouds

We have spent the past 5 days biking (and sometimes singing) in the (cold and windy) rain. Being the honest person that I am, I will tell it to you straight: I have enjoyed some things more than this in my life.

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But we’re having fun all the same!

And the guides have picked up on my subtle hint that I like chocolate (I said: next time you buy snacks, buy chocolate)

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Chocolate at 9am? Yes please.

They’ve even gotten into the whole chocolate blog thing and offer to take my pictures with (a percentage of) my chocolate conquests

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a different cake

another night, another cake

Needless to say, no amount of biking can counteract this kind of gluttony. But I tried!

CIMG0756And when the rain lifted for just a second, we actually saw nice scenery too.

chamomile fields?Alright, enough lazy blogging, off to a (free!) yoga class before our last gluttonous glorious dinner.

Je vouz aime beaucoup. Happy (almost) 1/2 birthday to me :)

Against all odds, we are not dying

Hello chocolate loving friends.

I am here in the heartland of Charlevoix, Quebec trying my darndest to speak le franch. It is an amusing endeavor.

Yesterday, I had an apparent breakthrew when I ordered lunch and the waitress kept exclaiming about how great my french was (buttering me up for le service? Peut-etre). I was super satisfied with myself. Oh lala I am so french. When the meal came? It was not what I thought I’d ordered.  “C’est la vie.”

The actual biking part of the trip has been harrowing, to put it mildly. Apparentlythis is monsoons season in Canada and it has rained every day all day (ok ok we had some sun today, but not until the last kilometer). Also, it has been particularly grueling. I am the youngest guest on the trip (by 20 years… at LEAST) and I am walking up some of these hills. I think this may say more about my endurance than it does about the trip, but je suis FATIGUE.

The good news, however is that the hardest is over. The other good news is that the countryside is beautiful, and a cool rain feels remarkably heaven sent when you are climbing 16% inclines for kilometers on end (ok, so I actually rode the van on that hill, but vous comprendez, n’est pas?)

The GREAT news is that Canadians follow after my own heart and aiment bien le chocolat. Today I had chocolate cake for after lunch, and then visited 2 chocolateries after biking. So long as there is chocolate, toute va bien.

And now, without further adieu: Voila les photos!

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Rain? Check! Hill? Check! Walking the bike? Check!

Rare cameo by the sun (i.e. my smile)

The sun makes a rare cameo(i.e. my smile)

And now the good stuff”:chocolate cake

chocolate bars

chocolate sculptures!

chocolate sculptures!

Time to go eat dinner and drink d’alcohol!

Je vous aime!

Withdrawl

I’m home for about 35 seconds.

My parents and I are headed to Quebec tomorrow to go on a bicycle trip with VBT (Vermont Bicycle Tours). As my mother kindly pointed out, we haven’t been on a trip just my parents and I since I was 3 and we went to Club Med in Mexico. That was a wonderful trip except that I screamed whenever they left me in daycare (which was all the time, if I recall correctly) and our hotel room had rats who ate holes in our underpants.

That doesn’t bode particularly well for this trip, however we are starting our stay off in a 5 star hotel, so (fingers crossed) at least no rats.

Additionally, as this is an exercised based tour (shudder) one might be concerned about the quantities of chocolate and ice cream provided. However, if past experience is anything to go by, VBT loves to feed you. Here is a picture of my sisters and I during a break on our trip from Prague to Vienna 2 summers ago:

ice creamI think it is safe to say, no one is going to starve.

The same can NOT be said of conditions here in Ann Arbor. I returned home yesterday afternoon to find our house empty of people, full of puppies and devoid of chocolate. Obviously, most concerning was the latter (my parents were at work, they’re very dedicated people. And the doggies belong to us, I was expecting them). Apparently my father has issued a “no-chocolate” embargo (or something) on our house. My mother is about to waste away! Of course my first order of business was to run to Whole Foods and buy some yummy dark chocolate (with pepermint, de-lickyourlips-cious). It was much appreciated upon my mother’s return from work. No Chocolate? Seriously, who ever heard of such a thing?

Anyway, that’s just one more example of my good selfless chocolate-giving nature (although I did make my mom pay me back. Whole foods chocolate is EXPENSIVE).

Alright, it is time for beddybye. I have to wake up early and fly to the francophone city of Quebec. But not to worry: I’ve informed my father how important blogging is to my fans. He’s agreed to bring his computer. Anticipate ACTION SHOTS.

For now I will leave you with puppy shots. Mucho amour.

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puppy sister

back in the pupster days

back in the pupster days

Solstish

Bonjour mes amis.

Happy belated Summer Solstice (and father’s day! Hi Dad!).

In Miami, we started off the summer right with about 95 degrees at 85% humidity. I was not amused. But despite the humidity shower I take every time I step outside, I am happy that it is summer!

Here are just a few of the good things about this summer:

1) E and I are moving into a beautiful house owned by my colleague. It has a mango and avocado tree, a yard, and is within walking distance of bars and bookstores. We’re so excited!

2) I’m leading (and loving) this anxiety/depression prevention program we developed for kids at a summer camp. You can read more about my exhaustion related to this here.

3) I’m going on a biking trip in Canada avec mis padres next week! I’ve never been on a vacation with just my parents, but I anticipate it will be mostly conflict-free and food-filled. That’s all you can ask for!

4) Going to “family camp” (think Dirty Dancing, and you won’t be far off) with my parents AND sisters in August. We used to go every year growing up, and now it’s been 4 or 5 since we’ve been. I’m so ‘cited!

If you can believe it, in addition to all the wonderful things that I am anticipating this summer, I just got back from NYC with E and his family, and that was a blast as well!

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Identical to 90% of pictures E & I take

E has 2 older brothers, one of whom lives in D.C., while the other lives in Israel. But in the summer, Israel dwelling brother, R, comes to the states (NYC specifically) to study, and he brings his lovely wife and scrumptious daughter with him. We went to NYC this weekend not to see the sights, but to see the ultimate attraction: Baby A!

playing the 'hat game'

playing the 'hat game'

cutest baby of the year

cutest baby ever

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I had so much fun with baby, I completely forgot that there were other attractions to see in NYC, but E and co. managed to drag me away from the baby long enough to go see a show (Irena’s Vow, amazingly good and not nearly as depressing as it sounds) and eat cupcakes.

Last week, Shannon, the fabulous author of thedailybalance.com (extra super fabulous because she has featured me as a guest blogger) went to NYC and taste tested 3 of New York’s finest cupcakeries. After reading her review I knew I had to get myself to Crumbs and try some if not all of their mouthwatering options.

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E’s sister-in-law, D is a New Yorker and when she heard that Crumbs was ranked higher by Shannon than Magnolia, she just had to get in the action too.

And then, (since no one says no to cupcakes) the whole crew tagged along. In the end, our purchase looked something like this:

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~70% of our purchase (E wouldn't wait for the pic to eat his, and D's was on the way)

And out experience looked something like this:

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Before

After

After

In the end, the New Yorkers concluded that Magnolia was better, but Crumbs was in the same league. We didn’t have time to go to both, so I’ll have to decide for myself next time!

Alright, tonight was something of a picture-party. More substance next time!