My Pursuit of Happiness and Skinny Jeans

My journey to a smaller jean size

The Friday Five – 5 Recipes I Want To Try

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Happy Friday!  I thought I would do a Friday Five, since I haven’t done one in forever!

This Friday Five is going to be 5 recipes I want to try.  I follow many food blogs and Facebook pages and constantly find awesome recipes that I save to my Pocket account so I can easily find them when I’m ready to cook.  Here are 5 recipes that I’ve recently saved, but haven’t tried yet.  (NOTE:  all photos come from the websites of the recipe creators)

1.  Slow Cooker Cheesy Mexican Quinoa from Chelsy’s Messy Apron
cheesy quinoa casserole

2.  Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Chickenfrom the Lean Green Bean
Crockpot-Apple-Cranberry-Chicken-4

3.  Spiralized Mexican Sweet Potato and Chicken Casseroleby Skinnytaste
Mexican spiralized sweet potato casserole-3

4.  Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Coconut Curryby Tasty Yummies
butternut squash chick pea curry

5.  Crock Pot Coconut Peanut Curry Chickenby Cara’s Cravings
crockpot coconut chicken curry

Looking at this list I realize two things…I seem to be getting ready for crock pot season, and I have a strange attraction to casseroles!

I’m thinking I need to add at least one of these to this week’s menu plan.  I just need to decide which one…they all look so good!

If you were making one of these recipes, which one would it be?
Do you have any great recipes you think I need to try?

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EWGA Cup Road Trip In Pictures

If you’ve been following along, you know that this past weekend I headed to Connecticut to play in the EWGA Cup North East Regional Qualifier with my Grip It & Sip It Match Play team.  We had a fantastic time. Here’s a picture summary of our trip.

The plan was to meet at 3pm at one of the girls’ office close to the highway.  Well, as you can imagine, getting 7 ladies to show up on time is impossible (are a team of 8, but one of us had to work so flew to Connecticut Friday).  We had time for a parking lot beverage while we waited for everyone to show up and at 4:30 we were all loaded and ready to hit the road.

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7/8 of Team Grip It & Sip It…about to hit the road.

We planned to stop in Lee, MA Wednesday night and do some shopping Thursday, before heading down to Connecticut. After a long, but good drive (crossing the border at Queenston/Lewiston, driving all the way across I-90 in New York State, and a brief stint on the Mass Pike), we arrived just after midnight at the Black Swan Inn, in Lee, MA.  Since I was the driver, I had some catching up to do, so I pretty much cracked my first beer as soon as I walked into our room!

black swan

Nothing like a nice, cold beer after an 8 hour drive!

While we waited for the other car full of ladies to arrive we enjoyed a few many cocktails, took a few selfies, and when the other ladies arrived around 2:30am we were not quite ready to go to bed…so many more cocktails were enjoyed and we finally shut things down around 5:30am…someone tried to go to sleep earlier, but they were unsuccessful!

cocktails

Practicing for the 19th hole!

The morning/afternoon after:  looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to play tourist.

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After partying until 5:30 in the morning, we didn’t quite get up as early as planned, so we decided to skip the outlet mall and just head down to New Haven and tour around Yale.  It was back in the cars for a relatively short drive to New Haven.  We ended up losing the other car as they stopped for gas and lunch, so we went right into New Haven and found a pub for lunch.   We all  enjoyed a burger, fries and a beer (well, since I was driving I had a diet Coke).
IMG_5232After fueling up we were ready to tour Yale.  It was pretty cool.  I was kind of expecting it to have its own campus separate from the town, but it’s right in the heart of the town of New Haven.  The buildings were very old and big! (Yale was founded in 1701!)  Outside one of the dining halls was a monument dedicated to Yale students who lost their lives in the war.  The dining hall was amazing inside.  All dark wood and row after row of tables for the students to eat at. It reminded us of scenes from Good Will Hunting or Dead Poet’s Society.  I’m guessing this would be a pretty noisy place at meal time with a couple hundred students in there all talking at the same time.

yale 2

We wandered around for a while and did what tourists do…took a bunch of pics and selfies!
yale 1We met up with our other team members in the Yale Bookstore.  I got t-shirts for hubs and the kids, and although I have a picture of the Yale Golf t-shirt, I ended up getting myself a Yale Hockey hoodie and a Yale ball marker, which I used all weekend in the competition.

After everyone had finished shopping we decided we needed to see the ocean, so back into the cars we went and we headed to West Haven and Sea Bluff Beach.  The water was really low so we saw some interesting creatures on the ocean floor, and we thought it was a sign that we saw a golf ball sitting there too!
sea bluff 1

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The team, clockwise from top left: Cathy (me), Anne, Jennifer, Jane, Jacqui, Michelle, and Andrea. Just missing Kendall who was flying in later.

After we were finished at the beach, it was back into the cars to drive up to Wallingford, CT to the hotel we were staying at for the rest of the weekend.  It wasn’t too far away, check in went smoothly, and soon enough we were all gathered in a room having another cocktail.  Are you starting to understand why we are called Grip It & Sip It!  🙂

Friday we were playing a practice round at the course – Lyman Orchards.  It was a pretty nice course, with a few rows of apple trees between the 11th and 12th hole.  We all picked and enjoyed a few apples…and we may have enjoyed a few cold ones on the course!  I did not play my best game.  Shot a 113, but that’s with 12 – yes 12!! penalty strokes. UGH!
lyman 1Saturday we played the 4 ball matches.  Our team won 2 of 4 matches, earning us 2 points for the day.  Sunday was the singles matches.  We won 4 and a half singles matches, giving us a total of 6 and 1/2 points. (I did not win either of my matches, but they both went the full 18 holes, so I put up a good fight!)

A total of 6 teams out of the field of 16 got to go on to the finals in Kissimmee, FL in November.  At the end of the day, we were tied for 6th place.  They ended up going by quality of wins, where we ended up being the 2nd place team out of the 3 of us tied for 6th, so we aren’t going on to Florida.  😦 We were all disappointed, but we came close and had a damn good time trying!  And if there were a prize for best dressed, we would definitely have won it!

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Kendall, Cathy, Jennifer, Jane, Andrea, Jacqui, Anne, Michelle. The best looking and best dressed team in the field! 🙂

The lunch and awards ended around 4pm Sunday afternoon.  No one was really looking forward to the drive home, but it went very smoothly.  As Jane said, I might have had lead inserts in my Converse, and we were home shortly after midnight.  It was a long drive and a pretty tiring weekend overall.  I feel like I’m still recovering!

Although we didn’t qualify for the EWGA Cup Finals, the weekend was a HUGE success.  I had a great time with some great friends.  We had more laughs than we could count, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

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And We’re Off!

Today is the day!  Team Grip It & Sip It is on the move to Connecticut for the North East Qualifier for the EWGA Cup15-EWGACup-Logo

We are all meeting this afternoon at 3, loading everyone’s clubs and gear into 2 vehicles, and then hitting the road.  Our first stop is Lee, MA for the night, followed by some serious shopping at the outlet mall tomorrow morning.  One of the girls in our group LOVES to shop, so I’m pretty sure she will do some damage here.  From the store directory, it looks like there are many of the same stores here as we found in the outlet last year when we were in Phoenix.  It could be dangerous!   I can’t wait!

Although I am super excited to be going away with a great group of girls, and I am sure we are going to have the best time, I am a bit worried about what I’m going to be eating for the next 5 days.  Every meal from here on out will be eaten in a restaurant of some sort.  I am going to do my best to pick healthy options, but realistically, I’m guessing my nutrition will be less than ideal.  The one good thing is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I will be playing 18 holes of golf, so at least getting some activity in there.  Plus, I’m guessing I will hit my step goal on Thursday as we shop at the outlets and play tourists in Connecticut.

At least I am aware that my nutrition might not be ideal, and can hopefully be strong and chose healthier options when it comes time to order.
food mindfulnessWish me luck!

Do you have any tips on how to eat healthy while travelling?

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A Week Off From The Gym

I’ve put my CrossFit membership on hold for the week.  I can’t get in for my usual 4 classes this week, so rather than waste a week with only one class, I’ve put it on hold.  While this is financially a smart move, it makes me sad to miss a whole week of class 😦  I miss it when I can’t get to the gym.
miss the gym
I have a good reason for not making it to the gym this week:  I’m off to Connecticut on Wednesday to play in the EWGA Cup North East Regional Qualifier!  This is a team match play competition, and I’m part of team “Grip It & Sip It”…8 ladies who love golf and who have been known, on occasion, to enjoy a cocktail or two!

We leave Wednesday, late afternoon, and will be stopping in Lee, Massachusetts overnight and hitting an outlet mall Thursday morning, before making our way Middlefield, CT, where the competition is being held. We are playing at Lyman Orchards, and have our practice round Friday afternoon.  The tournament rules meeting is Friday evening and competition kicks off at 8am Saturday with the four ball matches.  Sunday is singles match play.  Top 6 teams (out of 16) from the qualifier will go on to play in the EWGA Cup finals Nov 13-14 in Kissimmee, FL  at Reunion Resort!  Last year we played in the finals in Pheonix.  I wrote a bit about it here…and then fell off the blog wagon.  (We didn’t win, but we were the best placing Canadian team…and we had a very good time!)

I can’t wait!  We have team outfits and we are going to look spectacular.  I will save the full outfit reveal for another post, but here’s just a tease…our hats…how awesome is this?

GRIP SIP HAT
Despite not going to the gym this week, I will still be fairly active.  I have my regular league golf round tomorrow (I’m hoping work cooperates and I can leave a bit early to squeeze this in), and then golf Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Tonight, I am going to try to do a basement WOD.  I’m hoping to do a modified version of the WOD from the gym.

sept 14 wod

I’ve got a rack, barbell, and plates downstairs so I can work at finding my 3 rep max back squat.  For the Met Con, they are doing Karen, 150 wall balls – YIKES!  I don’t have a wall ball, or a wall high enough to do wall balls at home, but I do have dumbbells, so I’m thinking of modifying to 150 dumbbell thrusters.  This will give me a good leg workout and the thruster sort of mimics the wall ball toss part of it.  I’m pretty sure I will hate it just as much as if I did Karen!  Now, I just need to make sure I make it to the basement to actually do it!

Anyone want to join me for my basement WOD?  Or at least hold me accountable for it?

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Happiness Update

MHP

I’ve been officially working on my Happiness Project for a little over a week now, so I figured it was time for an update.  As I mentioned in my Happiness Project kick-off post, I started my project with two simple things:  Making my bed every day, and setting an alarm for bed.  Here’s how I’ve been doing with these daily tasks this past week.

Making my bed:  A+  I have been faithfully making my bed since I started thinking about my Happiness Project.  It is such a simple thing to do and it does make me happy to see the nicely made bed each morning as I head off for my day.  Now, I’m getting the kids involved in this one and getting them to make their beds each day too.  They really aren’t too good at this, but we’ve had a chat, and starting tomorrow, they are going to make their beds every day too. This will likely make them slightly unhappy at first, but I’m hoping that they will get the same happiness boost that I’ve been getting when I see my nicely made bed.  I’m pretty sure having them make their beds every day will also make me happier since instead of looking into their rooms and seeing a disaster area, I will be greeted by a nicely made bed.

make your bed

Setting an alarm for bed:  A+
Actually going to bed when the alarm goes off:  A
Getting my goal of 7 hours of sleep a night:  

Every night my alarm goes off.  Most nights I’ve been heading upstairs, getting ready for bed, reading a bit, and then turning the light out by 11:30, which was my goal.  The problem with getting 7 hours, is that I have been having the crappiest  sleeps!  Check out the sleep I had Tuesday night (my Fitbit calls it the sleep I got Wednesday).  I went to bed on time, got up on time, but actually got less than 6 hours of sleep with all the tossing and turning I did.  UGH.

crappy sleep
Part of the reason my sleep was so crappy Tuesday night was hubby.  He was snorting and snoring like crazy and I just couldn’t block it out.  Anyways, I had a horrible sleep and Wednesday was a rough day.  Thursday I still didn’t hit my goal of 7 hours, but i had a much better sleep (perhaps going to CrossFit and having a hockey game on the same night helped!).  Weekends are the best.  Not having to get up at 6:30am pretty much guarantees I get more than 7 hours.  I guess I need to win the lotto so I can quit my job and make every day a weekend.  Since that is not likely to happen any time soon, I need to keep trying to find a way to get at least hours of sleep EVERY night.

While I continue to work on these first two happiness tips, I am adding in a third of Gretchen Rubin’s Try This At Home Tips.  This was actually the first TTAH tip she gave in her first podcast: The One Minute Rule:

one minute

If a task can be completed in one minute, do it “without delay”.  Taking care of the little things will allow you to better deal with bigger things.  This is another tip that seems like it should be fairly easy to implement.  Anything that only takes a minute to do can’t be that bad, right?  Little things like emptying the garbage or recycling bin when they are full instead of trying to keep cramming more stuff in, hanging up a coat instead of throwing it over the back of a chair, putting things back where they belong instead of just leaving them wherever you finished with them.  I’m hoping this is another TTAH tip I can get my family involved in, since they all seem to be fans of leaving crap all over the place!  Hopefully if we all start doing this our home will be a little more tidy and organized, which will definitely make me happier!

Do you have any tips on how I can get 7 hours of sleep a night?  

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I Got A New Gadget

So, it was my birthday on the weekend and hubby came through big time!  He got me a super cool golf gadget, called Game Golf.
game golfAccording to their website, “GAME GOLF gives you a revolutionary way to track your shot performance. Shot by shot, it records all your stats so you can visualize your game like never before and enjoy it on a whole new level. Don’t just view how you did on your scorecard. Gain the insights you need to start shaving strokes off your golf game.”

I’d discovered Game Golf earlier in the golf season at one of my EWGA events, when one of the girls who was playing had the device clipped to her waistband.  I asked her what it was and she told me what it did.  I immediately thought it was so cool and mentioned it to hubs when I got home.  I think I might have sent him a link to the website at some other point this summer, again saying I thought it was a neat gadget.

I was super excited when I opened my gift to find this inside the bag.  I’m a horrible golfer, but I love gadgets, especially one that might help improve my game!  We were at the cottage when I got my gift, so I had to wait until we got back home to set things up.

Set up was very easy.  I created an account, set up my golf bag by telling it what kind of clubs I had in my bag, assigned pins to each club, charged the device, and was ready to go.

GAME-GOLF-Club-Tags

It was very simple.  I found a little “how to use” write-up on their website, had a quick read, and was ready to play my first round with it yesterday at my EWGA league night.

When I got to the course, I turned on the device, clipped it to my skirt, and went about getting ready for my round.  By the time I got to the first tee, it had picked up the satellites, and I was ready to go.  Using the system was very easy too.  Every time before I took my shot, I just tapped the pin on my club to the device, which they refer to as “tagging”, and it gave a little vibration and beep, letting me know the club was registered.  Then I took my usual shot and walked up to the ball for my next shot, where I chose the club I wanted, “tagged”, shot, and repeated the process until I holed out, including putts.  A couple of times I did forget to tag, mostly putts, so I just went back to roughly where I had putt from and made the tag.

Once I got to my computer, I connected my device and downloaded my round.  I was able to edit my holes to add penalty strokes for lost balls, etc, and add in shots that I forgot to tag (I forgot to tag my third shot out of the same bunker!), and then I saved my round.  And voila…my 9-hole round as I played it, shot for shot.

my round
You can also select a hole and get a shot by shot summary:
6th hole

Here you can see where I added in the penalty shots for going into the crap along the left side of the hole on both my first and second shots.  The course treats it all as lateral, so I could just play my next shot from where it went in.

Overall, not a great round.  I took 2 penalty strokes on the 6th hole, one of the 7th (3 off the tee!) and another on the 8th (another 3 off the tee!!).  That’s 4 extra strokes.  That, plus 3 shots to get out of one bunker (2 extra strokes) and 2 to get out of another (1 extra stroke), all add up to about 7 extra strokes – Yikes!  Ugh…golf is so frustrating!  But I love it, and can’t wait to track all of my rounds for the rest of the season…especially the ones I will be playing next week in Middlefield, CT at the EWGA Cup North East Qualifier (more on that to come in a future post!).

Anyone else out there use Game Golf?
Let me know so we can follow each other and cheer each other on.

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Back to the Grind

Today was the first day of school in my neck of the woods.  For me, that means back to early mornings, car pools, and heavier traffic coming into the city.  None of this really makes me happy.  To be honest, all three of these things might actually reduce my level of happiness, which it too bad, since I am working on my Happiness Project and supposed to be doing things that make me happier.

So, to combat this, I need to find a way to make those three things seem better.  Here’s what I plan to do:

Early mornings:  All summer I was sleeping in about an extra hour to an hour and a half on weekday mornings.  That was awesome and it really helped me hit my goal of 7 hours of sleep a night.  Now that the alarm is back to going off at 6:30am, to get my 7 hours, I need to be asleep by 11:30 at the latest (and even earlier would be better).  For that to happen, I probably need to start by bedtime routine by 10:45pm at the latest.  This will give me time to change, brush my teeth, etc, and give me some time to read before I actually go to sleep.  I’ve got my alarm set for 10:45, so when it goes off, I need to head upstairs and start the process.  Otherwise, I don’t have a chance of hitting my 7 hours and will likely be tired and grumpy the next day.
time for bed

Car pool:  There isn’t too much I can do about this one.  My oldest goes to school in the city and I drive him in every day.  This is not a problem at all, since his school is about 5 minutes away from my office….which is part of the reason why we chose this school when we were searching. There are a few other kids from our area who also go to the school who can’t get there on their own, so I drive them to/from school for their parents.  This is fine, however, when the other kids are in the car, my son tends to put his headphones on and listen to music and zone out or sleep for the whole drive.  When it’s just the two of us, the headphones stay off and we generally chat for the hour long drive to school.  I miss this time with him when the other kids are with us.  I’m not too sure what to do about this one yet…I will keep thinking on it.
car pool
Traffic into the city.  While there isn’t too much I can do about the volume of traffic, I have decided that at least twice a week I will make the time in the car more enjoyable by listening to one of the podcasts I follow on the drive into school.  I’m not sure what the kids will think about this, but who knows, maybe they will learn something.  The podcasts I’m listening to are all about being healthier and happier, so maybe they will find them interesting, and if not, oh well!  Who knows, maybe the podcasts will generate some conversation from my normally silent travelling companions and address item #2 above too.  Fingers crossed!
podcasts

So that’s my plan of attack to try to not let the daily grind become a happiness suck.

How do you not let things become a happiness suck?

Have any other suggestions on how I can make sure these three things don’t get to me?

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My Happiness Project

I mentioned before that I had started listening to Podcasts on my drive into and out of work – click here to read that post. I’ve really been enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” podcast.  So much so that I also decided to read her book,  “The Happiness Project”.  Between the podcast and the book, I decided it was time for me to start my own happiness project. As you can see, my blog is called “My Pursuit of Happiness and Skinny Jeans”.  For the most part, my posts have dealt with my pursuit of skinny jeans or the fitness and nutrition part of things.  I really haven’t dealt too much with the happiness side of things.

Don’t get me wrong.  My life really isn’t that bad, but I do think I have room to be happier – probably every one does.  So after listening to the Happier podcast, I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a try, and implementing a happiness project of my own.  I’ve been using the tag of “my happiness project” for a few weeks now in various posts, but as of today, with this post, I am officially kicking off My Happiness Project!

MHPI’m sure this project will evolve as I get further into it, but for now, I am going to try implementing the various “try this at home” (TTAH) tips that Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth, talk about during their weekly podcast and other things that struck a chord with me from the book.  From what I can tell so far, most of the content of the book is being covered off in the podcasts, which nicely reinforces the concepts from the book. I like this, as it makes the concepts and tasks easier for me to remember, since Gretchen and Elizabeth always give examples from their life to help explain the various happiness habits and tasks they are talking about.  Most of the TTAH tips are really simple, quick, and easy things that seem like they would be easy to implement into my daily life and routine.  Which is good, because if they were big and complicated the likelihood that I would keep doing them is pretty slim.

The first TTAH that I implemented was from Episode 3:  Make your bed.  It sounded so simple and so easy…which is why I decided to get started with this tip.  Most days I already did make my bed…but I’ve been faithfully doing it daily since the end of July and I have to say, seeing a nicely made bed every time I walk into my bedroom does make me a bit happier..or at least doesn’t reduce my happiness.  I think I’ve even rubbed off on my hubby, since if he’s the second one out of the bed, he sometimes will take a minute and make the bed – which really just means straightening the duvet cover.

the bed is made

The second TTAH that I implemented was from Episode 2:  Set an alarm for bedtime.  If you’ve been reading aong with my blog regularly, you know that getting enough sleep has always been a challenge for me.  When I heard the tip about setting an alarm to bed, I thought it was genius.  By setting an alarm for bed, it reminds me that I’ve decided to make sleep a priority and that if I want to hit my goal of 7 hours, I need to start my bedtime routine.  So far, I haven’t really been too successful with this one.  Most days the alarm goes off and I turn it off and finish watching whatever show we’ve been watching on tv.  Some days I do go upstairs and get ready for bed, but those days are rare. Hopefully I will get better at this one, since I really do want and need to get more sleep

.sleep alarm
So, there you have it…the first few pieces of my happiness project.  My plan is to implement a new TTAH every week, while maintaining the previous tasks I’ve built into my daily life and routine.  Some will be easy, some will be hard, and some I’m pretty sure I won’t do.  Regardless, I’m hoping they all contribute in some way to improving my overall happiness, which I’m hoping will improve the overall happiness of everyone in my family.

Have you ever done a happiness project of your own?  How did it go…did it make you happier?

Feel free to try these TTAH tips yourself and let me know how you do.

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I Need A New Phone

I remember when I got my iPhone 5 and how excited I was to make the switch from BlackBerry to iPhone.  Here’s my extremely brief post from the day I got it – November 5, 2012.  Wow…I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 years!  Time flies.  Also, I need to make both of the recipes that I talked about in that post…so yummy!

Since it’s been almost 3 years since I got my phone, I’m eligible for a new phone as part of my plan.  I’ve actually be eligible for a few months, but I can’t decide what phone to get. 😦  I’m debating between switching to Samsung – either the  Note 5 or the Galaxy S6 (the just released new versions of both models)…

Or sticking with iPhone – either the 6 or the 6 plus.

I think I’ve decided I need a big phone since I’m having a hard time reading my iPhone 5 a lot of the time, especially at the end of the work day after staring at my computer screen all day.  Getting old sucks!  So, I’m leaning towards the Note 5 or the 6 plus.

My kids have Samsungs and love them and tell me it’s time to make the switch.  My sister just switched to a Galaxy from iPhone – she still has some figuring out to do with it, but seems to like it so far.  I have a few friends with the 6 plus and get mixed reviews from them – some say it’s too big, others say it’s awesome.

So, I’m putting it out there to the blogosphere…what do you think?

If you were buying a new phone today, which one would you get? 

Thanks for your help!  

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