Would You Care for a Spot of Tea?

My mom sent me home with a tea pot and matching cups and saucers over the weekend, so on Sunday, to add to my already exciting Downton Abbey viewing experience, I decided to enjoy some tea with my PBS.

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I thought I was all cool with my fancy tea cup and saucer.

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…but my cats quickly corrected me with their disapproving stares.

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U’z an idiot, hooman.

I know girls, I know.

In other news, my half marathon training starts in two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited. I decided to start four weeks earlier than the plan suggested to get myself back into a routine. Here’s what the first few weeks are going to look like.

*Sunday
(Rest)
Monday
(Easy)
Tuesday
(Cross Train)
Wednesday
(Easy)
Thursday
(Cross Train)
Friday
(Rest)
Saturday
(Long)
Rest 30 minutes
(3 miles)
30-40 minutes 30 minutes
(3 miles)
30-40 minutes Rest 3.5 miles

After I finish week four, I’ll launch into the actual training plan. Here’s a sample.

*Sunday
(Rest)
Monday
(Easy)
Tuesday
(Cross Train)
Wednesday
(Easy)
Thursday
(Cross Train)
Friday
(Rest)
Saturday
(Long)
Rest 35 minutes
3 miles)
30-40 minutes 35 minutes
3 miles)
30-40 minutes Rest 4 miles
Rest 45 minutes
(4 miles)
30-40 minutes 45 minutes
(4 miles)
30-40 minutes Rest 5 miles
Rest 45 minutes
(4 miles)
30-40 minutes 45 minutes
(45 miles)
30-40 minutes Rest 6 miles

You can do the math on how it will work out, but I actually only run as far as 10 miles before the race. This made me nervous at first, but I was told that once you get that far, a quick 5k is to finish it out is nothing. That makes total sense! Anyway, I’ll be posting the plan on my Fitness page sometime this week.

WIAW: Crock Pot Challenge Meal #5

I’m happy to report the Crock Pot Challenge is going very well so far. I’ve knocked out five recipes, so far, and plan to finish out the remaining five before the deadline. This week’s recipe was a PBFingers original. Looking for a simple menu item, I went with her Crock Pot Chicken Taco recipe. I must say, it was incredibly easy and extremely successful. I did, however, make one modification to this recipe. Instead of ground chicken, I used a large chicken breast. I did this mainly because I couldn’t find ground chicken at my store and partially because I thought shredded chicken seemed more appetizing. Now I know what you are thinking: “Isn’t she a vegetarian?” Yes, I do abstain from meat 90% of the time; however, on occasion I have been known to stray. I always make sure that if I do, I eat organic, local or at least GMO free meat. Thus was the case with the chicken.

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You had better believe that if I’m putting that crap into my body it is at least chemical and hormone free. I placed the breast in the slow cooker with 1/2 a packet of chicken taco seasoning and let it cook overnight on low for around 8.5 hours. When I woke up the next day, the breast was fully cooked and very tender. 

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I must say, I’m not a fan of actually cooking and handling meat. I also found it nerve wracking to deal with the stress of not getting raw meat on any of my household surfaces. Regardless, the chicken turned out perfectly and Alex was thrilled with the little taco bar I set up for us that night. 

Ok, now on to WIAW.

 

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After I pulled this together, I realized how unappetizing it all looked together, but keep in mind that these are things I’ve eaten over several days. The Coke Zero was definitely a craving impulse, but I literally NEVER drink soda, so I figured it wouldn’t kill me. The vitamins are my daily regimen. I have to say, the biotin is definitely working. My hair is growing fast! The Chobani was definitely the winner on this list. I took one cup of vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt and put in around 1 tsp of PB2 and 1/2 scoop of chocolate protein powder for a yummy, protein packed combo. 

My Healthy Tip of the Day: If you aren’t that into vitamins, switch to gummies to make the process fun again! Kroger makes a great Sourpatch Kids-esque version call Everyday. Highly recommend. 

FFF: Jewelry!

First off, I love Stella & Dot jewelry. It’s probably the only distributor I don’t mind to spend a decent amount of money on. Normally, I’d go to Forever 21 or even NY&Co for my “fun” jewelry, but if I see something I like at a Stella & Dot party, I’m busting out my wallet. Here are a few of the pieces I want to add to my very small collection!

Stella & Dot

The Olivia Bibb Necklace: Destined to become an iconic favorite, layers of bright coral-hued epoxy stones suspend from a detailed gold plated brass necklace, creating the perfect preppy bib.

  • 16 1/2″ in length plus 2″ extender.
  • Lobster clasp closure.
  • Lead & nickel safe.

Inspired by her daughter’s incredible sense of style, Beverly Lueckemeyer picked the name Olivia for her piece. She hopes everyone will create joyful fashion combinations, like Olivia, when they wear this beautiful necklace. This necklace would be perfect for work or play. I love the casual look on the model, but think this piece could easily be paired with a white blouse or a blazer. A little pricey at $118, but still would be something to consider.

Olivia Bib Necklace

The Chimera Bangle: Shiny gold plated brass cast rope bracelet features dual lion heads with Czech glass stone details. My cat obsession would live on through this gorgeous piece. This bangle would not look great on it’s own, but also with the next item below. Price: $59

Chimera BangleChimera Bangle

The Christina Link Bracelet: Striking handset pave crystal links accent this faceted bracelet for a sophisticated look. This bracelet would look soooo sharp with my Fossil watch. The crystals would compliment the same accent on my watch. $49 for this bracelet, but so worth it, considering I’d probably wear it constantly.

Christina Link Bracelet

Sanibel Chandeliers: High-shine cabochon stones in semi-precious labradorite, semi-precious aqua chalcedony and rutillated glass shimmer in this satin-finished, chandelier frame in silver plating. These earrings are absolutely gorgeous! I am a huge fan of big earrings and always love stone jewelry, so it’s literally the perfect combo. Priced at $49, these are perfect for the upcoming spring season.

Sanibel Chandeliers

Aavelon Necklace: Irresistibly long, this delicat necklace is dotted with stationed links in Stella and Dot’s new signature motif.  

  • Chain with gold plating. 
  • 36″ long with 2″ extender. 
  • Lead and nickel safe.

I’m a huge fan of this combo and would probably end up buying both at the same time. I think this look would be perfect for casual or dress. The long necklace is priced at $49 and the shorter is $39. Not too shabby.

Avalon Station Necklace

Do you have any brands or designers that you can’t resist?

WIAW: Anything with a Spoon

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As you can see from the collage above (and from numerous mentions in the past), I love foods that require spoons. If I eat something that doesn’t, I’ll try to find a way to incorporate one into the mix. I sincerely have no idea why I love them so much. Anyway, I started off the week with, you guessed it, leftover Lentils and Wild Rice Stew. I still have a quart in the freezer to get through! With that, I snacked on a snack pack of carrots with ranch dip. So inspired by this delicious dip, I decided to make my own using Greek yogurt. I paired this with broccoli and carrots, as well. For a snack, I wanted yogurt, so I made a pretty little parfait using vanilla Greek yogurt, thawed frozen berries and some Multigrain Cheerios. I thought it turned out rather well. (Tasty to boot!) A simple veggie sandwich was thrown into the mix and was severely coveted by my lovely grey kitty, Grace. A delicious smoothie bowl was devoured for breakfast and finally, some very sinful Edy’s cookie dough ice cream. I didn’t feel terribly guilty about this one, because I had been to the gym earlier that day. So there it is!

Before I wrap things up, I wanted to take a moment to point out a pet peeve of mine. (Shocking, I know.) While at my apartment complex’s gym a few days ago, I encountered one of my biggest pet peeves: gym texters. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I text while on the elliptical, but I’m actually moving. What I can’t stand is when someone (sorry, but usually a guy) stands around the weight section either texting or actually having a phone conversation. In a span of 15 minutes (yes, I tracked it, but only because it was half my workout), this guy did two sets of about 10 reps of, we’ll say, bicep curls, and spent the remainder of that time chatting. Meanwhile, he practically set up his own lounge area. I seriously expected him to bust out a beer and start scratching himself.

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Yes I snapped a photo of him actually taking a break to lie down and enjoy his phone call. To be fair he did push out five chest press moves with free weights after the call ended. Anyway, the moral of the story is this: talk on the phone at the gym, text, whatever, but don’t do it in front of an area that is commonly used. Kindly move to a corner or take it outside. Oh and for the record, I don’t take phone calls when other people are in our gym.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: If you are going to put all the effort into getting dressed and heading to the gym, why not try to, oh I don’t know, work up a sweat.

Crock Pot Challenge Recipe # 4: Spaghetti Squash

I’ve always heard one of the easiest ways to prepare a spaghetti squash was in a Crock Pot, but I had no idea just how easy it actually was! First off, for those of you who have never prepared one sans slow cooker, it generally involves you stabbing into it with a large knife and then trying to split it down the middle, using most of your upper body to do so. (Or at least in my case…) I’ve found myself on top of a spaghetti squash on more than one occasion. Anyway, the Crock Pot method completely eliminates this! Here’s what I did.

First, I filled my Crock Pot up with 2 cups of water. I then took my squash and placed it into the water. Wow, what work. After that I just turned it on to high and let it cook for 4 hours. If you want to do this while at work, just put it on low and cook for 8. After the time was up, I pulled it out and let it cool for a bit. After it was safe to touch, I took out a knife and watched it slide into the middle of the squash like butter. No more kung fu fighting the spaghetti squash!

After I scraped out it’s guts (ew), I tossed it in with a mixture of mushrooms, snap peas, garlic, zucchini and yummy Hoisin sauce! Like most of my dishes, it looked gross, but tasted great! Crock Pot Challenge success!

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That bowl was half the squash! Highly recommend. Now on to My Plate Report. I’ve almost reached perfection today, which is surprisingly hard with My Plate Report. See for yourself.

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This was captured from earlier this afternoon, but hopefully after dinner, I’ll have filled that “grains” section! As you can see, my Lentil and Wild Rice Stew recipe covers veggies, proteins and grains. Nutritious, balanced and tasty! Give it a try. Seriously.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: By tracking your daily nutrient intake, you can better track what areas you are lacking. For me, since I rarely eat meat, its protein. That’s why I bulk up on beans, eggs and yogurt. Sometimes I reach My Plate Report quota and sometimes I simply fall short. I usually just chalk that up to a Cat Hair in my Coffee moment. 🙂

Crock Pot Challenge

Yesterday PBFingers Julie announced the start of her self-imposed “Crock Pot Challenge”. She’s of course inviting her readers to join in and being one of those readers, I’ve decided to join her! Since I’ve already made three successful “new” slow cooker recipes, I’m going to add those to the count. Anyway, before I get ahead of myself, here are the details.

Try 10 new crockpot recipes by the end of February.

That’s it! Pretty simple! Active discussion is welcomed, so she’s recommending you if you’re on Twitter or Instagram and want to communicate with other participants or share recipes, you can use the hash tag #crockpotchallenge. Try to tag @PBFingers, @CatHairCoffee or @BaileeMorris, of course.

Anyway, my recent Crock Pot recipes include:

Lentils and Wild Rice

Lasagna (recipe to come)

Squash, Chickpea and Lentil Stew

So far my favorite has been the stew. I made it a few nights ago for one of my closest friends, Abigail. We paired this African dish with some garlic naan bread and went to town. I didn’t snap any photos, but I have leftovers in my refrigerator. It’s one of those recipes that just looks like mush, but tastes like heaven. I highly recommend adding some curry powder to the mix. We poured some on after we had dumped our servings in a bowl and agreed it added something wonderful to the mix.

The lasagna recipe was good, but I didn’t add enough spices to my vegetarian half. Alex’s spicy sausage half was very good flavorful, but my spinach and mushroom mixture needed a little something-something.

As for the Lentils and Wild Rice, well it was amazing. I’ll be eating on that stuff for the next week or so!

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My Healthy Tip of the Day: Join me, along with PBFingers, in the Crock Pot Challenge! If you plan on blogging about your experience, link your entries in the comments section of Cat Hair in my Coffee or send them my way at cathaircoffee@gmail.com. I’d love to feature some of your recipes!

My First Smoothie Bowl

So far, I’ve used my new blender to make four different smoothie recipes and have loved every single one! Today I went with a PBFingers classic: the Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie.  I actually made mine into a smoothie bowl by adding more milk and a little more ice. Yum! I wasn’t keen on the idea of using a banana in this recipe, but I found it surprisingly delicious. The banana flavor wasn’t overpowering and it really helped thicken the whole thing up. I dumped the whole thing in my favorite Christmas soup bowl.

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My teeth were chattering by the end. Coffee quickly fixed this. Anyway, the thing I love about smoothies is that they make me feel full but not weighed down. I know they’re going to be perfect for summer weather!

In other news, I’ve finally started getting into a solid gym routine. Yesterday, I made it in after work and squeaked out a 20 minute workout before meeting my friend for dinner. Here’s a sample routine I’ve been trying out. (Yes, I’m on the ‘create a graphic for my workout’ bandwagon and loving it.)

2013 Kick Off Workout

 

Give it a try and see how if feels!

My Healthy Tip of the Day: If you are having trouble finding your workout groove, start out slow. Try making it a rule to do some form of exercise at least twice a week and then go up from there. After you get your days down, you can start figuring out what works best for you. I like to work out Monday-Thursday and then at least once on the weekend. I find that allowing myself two to three days off really keeps me from getting burnt out.

Crockpot Lentils and Rice

Today was an accidentally productive day. I got up and headed out to what I thought would be a volunteer GOTR 5K planning meeting, but was surprised to learn that I had missed the latest email updating the date/time/place of the meeting. Oops. Since I was out, I decided to sit in the Tutto Gelato Café and sip some tea for a bit before heading home.

Once home, I started up dinner. I wanted something that would be ready around 7 or so, so I chose a yummy lentil stew recipe, which I modified slightly. (Recipe to come.)

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While that was cooking, I decided to go ahead and start prepping my snacks for the rest of the week. I cut up some celery, carrots and had some broccoli and cauliflower bagged up, ready to pack in my brand new lunch box this week.

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I desperately needed a new bag and found one yesterday when I was shopping at Home Goods in the Robinson Township with my friend Katie. I was so excited to discover that it was not only cuter than my old one, but had much more space. Hooray! I packed up my lunch and started thinking of something else I could cook up. This led to my second attempt (ever) at roasting a red pepper. It’s still in the oven as I type this, so I’ll update later. I’m hoping to make a yummy red pepper hummus dip with it.

Ok, back to the shopping outing yesterday. I had never been to a Home Goods store, but heard it was amazing. (TJ Maxx, but all house stuff? SHUT UP.) I can now confirm that it is indeed amazing. We walked in and I almost fainted. So much stuff! We hit every section and walked out with a good amount of stuff. I got my new lunch box, sponges, a sponge caddy for my sink, a table runner, linen napkins, and a new end table for $100. Not too shabby! I really needed a new end table and since I’ve always wanted to do a grey living room, I found the perfect piece to start working towards this goal.

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I love it. I’m obsessed with it. I can’t stop talking about it. I’m also mildly obsessed with my other purchases.

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I love this runner! After we left there, we hit Garden Ridge, which I could have spent an entire day in. I left there with two new kitchen rugs. Finally, we rounded out the trip by hitting the Robinson Mall. Much more shopping took place there. The entire day was a success.

Ok, I’m off to check my red pepper and get some other chores done before Downton Abbey tonight at 9! Wish me luck!

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Do yourself a favor and get your cooking and lunch prep done on Sundays. I can already tell I’m going to have a worry-free week because of this small step.