flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

I don’t talk much about working out on this blog. For a lot of different reasons. But mostly because my workouts are boring these days. And I’m usually ok with that.

I tried it all–every kind of exercise and diet–in my 20s. I was always worried about calories and weight. And I tortured my soul (and my thyroid) restricting both. I yo-yoed between two or three pant sizes for ten years. And it wore me out.

When I blew out the candles on my 30th birthday, something happened.

I changed.

After two really rough years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, I decided it was time to be kinder to myself. To go a little easier on myself. On my heart–and my soul. 

I stopped all the crazy, hard work-outs. And even crazier, harder diets. 

I fell in love with yoga and barre because neither hurt my body.

And I read the book “It Starts with Food”–that Whole30 thing. This was a life-changer for me.

And that was that. 

I’m 35 now. I run a little. I yoga a little. I barre a little. I don’t own a scale. And I eat real food.

My heart and soul–and body–are happy and healthy. And I haven’t changed pant sizes for years.

But sometimes…

Sometimes I get bored and lazy with the same old exercise routine. Don’t we all? Sometimes we’re so busy (I hate that word) being a wife and a mom and really hard-worker at our desk-jobs that we lose a little bit of our spark. The spark inside our hearts and soul that gets extinguished by all. of. the. above. 

And for me–that’s usually when the universe starts whispering. 

Last week she whispered to me through an Instagram post of a woman flying through the air with the greatest of ease–on a silky trapeze.

I just reread that and it made me laugh out loud. But whatever. She did. 

I knew I needed to try something new and different to liven up my old exercise routine and bring back a little of that good, old Angie-spark. 

I signed up for an aerial fundamentals class last week at Defy Gravity CU. And it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

The instructor was kind and patient–and made us all feel welcome and comfortable. We warmed up and did a few strength and stretching exercises and then we got to work on the hoop.



And the trapeze.


I was so nervous. I think all of us in class were. Flying through the air on a hoop–or a trapeze or silks or anything–is a little out of this mom’s comfort zone. But all the other gals in the class were so encouraging of each other. It was amazing and uplifting. And refreshing. 

Defy Gravity is a pole fitness and aerial arts studio (located at 24 E Green Street, suite 11 on the north side of building) in Champaign that welcomes people of all shapes, sizes, genders and ages–no matter what your fitness level. Their classes are designed to help you not only gain strength, confidence and a positive body image–but to also interact with a diverse and supportive community that will cheer you on as you meet your goals and have loads of fun. All of their instructors are certified aerial fitness professionals with the knowledge to make your experience safe and energizing. 

Did you read that? Everybody is welcome. Word. Also refreshing. 

I got a great work-out and felt so cool flying around the air on a bunch of circus apparatus. 

And I only farted (loud) once. Whoops. The instructor assured me it happens all the time. Phew. Bahaha. 

And when I left the studio I felt that good, old Angie-spark I haven’t felt in awhile. Boom.

I’m going to keep going back. I like work-outs that don’t hurt and still make me sore the next day. Check and check. My abs are still tender almost a week later. And I like working out with gals and guys who share good hearts and souls–and that good, old spark.

Feeling bored with your work-outs? Defy Gravity CU is having a Black Friday sale today. They’re offering a one month pass for $80. Sign up. Tell them I sent you.

We can all fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Let’s all be daring young (wo)men on the flying trapeze.

banana chocolate chip muffins–a consolation prize for me and you.

I had big plans for a big dinner and a new recipe post tonight. But life happened.

I broke the right arm off my sunglasses this morning–which happened to be my good prescription sunglasses. And I forgot my real glasses at work. So I had to wear my prescription sunglasses with only one arm into the grocery store this afternoon. 

It was a good look, let me tell you.

The boys wanted the car cart, of course. I love that thing. And I hate that thing. 

On one hand, my kids will sit still while they’re in the car cart–cramming the free cookies into their mouths for 30 minutes or so. Love it. 

But on the other hand, it’s hard to navigate the aisles of the grocery store feeling like you’re pushing the Titanic over a sheet of ice. Hate it. 

So anyway. I was pushing that car cart around the store, gathering all my ingredients for tonight’s dinner–working hard to read the labels with my one-armed-prescription-sunglasses. 

And of course we crashed into an endcap. 

An endcap full of red wine bottles. 

And we shattered a good dozen (maybe more) bottles of red wine all over the floor by the meat section. So sorry, meat section. My bad.

Aannnnd I called the ball, right then and there.

I offered to pay for the wine–they wouldn’t let me. God bless them. And then I helped the store clerk clean up all the broken glass with my one-armed sunglasses still hanging off my face. 

We circled back to the rotisserie chickens like that was our plan all along. Dinner is served. Boom.

So here’s our consolation prize–a banana chocolate chip muffin recipe sure to make everything better. I’ve been making these for awhile. My kids love them. I love them. You’ll love them. Get after it–they taste great with a big glass of red wine. Ha.

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup almond butter
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 2 overripe bananas
  4. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1/4 salt
  7. 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin pan (I use coconut oil spray). 

Throw everything except the chocolate chips into your food processor. And blend. 


Fold in your chocolate chips. 


Pour into a mini-muffin tin. Bake for 15 minutes. Dive in. 


This recipe usually makes 20 mini-muffins. 

I’m eating one wearing my one-armed-prescription-sunglasses right now. Yum.

classic (paleo) beef stew.

Want to know how to have an awesome fall? Eat this. All day, everyday.

This is the best classic (paleo) beef stew of all the classic (paleo) beef stews. It rivals  Grandma Eleanor’s Beef Hash–which is one of my all time faves. This is another recipe from Mel Joulwan. If you search my blog you’ll find many of the recipes I use come from her. So check her out. Buy her cookbooks. I own all of them including her latest Well Fed Weeknights–a must for a new working mom like me.

I’ve cut and pasted from her blog again. No adaptations needed. She nails it, really truly. So fire up your stove and get after it.

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking fat
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 cup red wine (for Whole30, replace with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Directions
1 Pat beef dry with paper towels. In a large bowl, mix arrowroot, 1/2 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Add the beef and toss until coated.
2 Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the cooking fat and allow to melt, then add the beef and brown on all sides. Give the meat plenty of breathing room so it forms a nice crust; you might have to cook it in two batches. As it browns, remove the meat to a bowl.
3 When the meat is browned, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the same pan. (If it’s dry, add another teaspoon or two of cooking fat). Sauté the vegetables until they’re soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the wine and broth; stir to combine, then add the beef and accumulated juices to the pot. Cover and simmer 1 hour.
4 Add the potatoes to the pot and simmer another hour, until the meat and potatoes are tender.
5 Simmer uncovered 5-10 minutes to thicken the gravy, then sprinkle with minced parsley before serving.
Get a big spoon and dig in. We ate ours on my Grandma Eleanor’s old harvest tablecloth–a perfect backdrop for this fall favorite.

it’s fall, finally. and a new post, finally.

Oh hey, fall. Are you for real this time?

It’s November 6th and I feel like the seasons may actually (finally) be changing. Don’t tease me though. I’ve been waiting for what seems like months.

We fell back last night. And it felt so good.  I may be the only person I know who’s ok with it getting darker earlier. I don’t care. I love it.

Cooler temps. The crackle of leaves under my booties. Fires in our fireplace. Sweaters. Flannel sheets. Earlier bedtimes. Pumpkin-cinnamon-spice-everything. Bring it alllllll, fall.

I love unscrewing the hoses from the house and replacing the old furnace filter. And there’s nothing better than that burnt dust smell that fills the air when you turn your heat on for the first time since last year. Yum.

Speaking of replacing the old furnace filter–our marriage survived the replacement of this old school accordion furnace filter today.


This was a task that ranked right up there next to putting IKEA crap together on the old Marker-Divorce-Meter. Threat level midnight, people. But we did it. Phew.

And I know I haven’t written for a long while. Thanks for not bringing it up. I love you for that.

I’m working more now. Both boys are in school full-time. And we’re still settling into our new digs. But I’m finally feeling like a have a slight grip on this beautiful life–and some free time to write a bit more. And this blog is still important to me.

So check in with me now and then again, ok? Let’s be like those good, old friends who haven’t talked to each other for a few months but can pick up right where they left off–because those are the best kinds of friends.

And make this stew. Because it’s fall and it’s so delish.

. . .

I wrote this at 4pm. By 5:30pm everyone was losing it over here–and I was rethinking how much I love falling back. Here’s hoping I’m not the only mom with kids who are totally coming unglued right now.


These tears were because they are exhausted from the time change. And they finally realized I’d eaten all their Halloween Kit Kats and Twix. They take threat level midnight to a whole new level.

Calm down, sweet babies. I left you all the sour fruity candy–your favorite.

Tomorrow will be better though. Right? Right. So cheers to that. And cheers to fall. See you back here soon…

the best gazpacho.

Oh hey, Sunday.

Our back patio door is open. There’s pumpkin spice steaming in my coffee cup and cinnamon bark and orange hissing in my diffuser.

It feels like fall over here today, doesn’t it? And I’m loving it.

Before I start simmering chili and baking cornbread, I thought I’d share one last summertime favorite recipe.

The best gazpacho–yummmm. It’s so easy and so healthy. And it will use up that crop of tomatoes you have hanging out on your kitchen counter.

My girlfriend Brook hooked us up last week. She knows the way to my heart. Would you look at all this homegrown goodness?

She and her little farmers gave us (pretty much) everything I needed to make this tasty cold soup. So get after it.

The Best Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped)
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions

Throw tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, jalapeno and garlic into your food processor. Pulse until it’s blended.


Add EVOO, water, lime, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and basil. Pulse until it’s all blended.


Chill for a little while–the longer the better. And enjoy.

I went to town on this bowl before I remembered to take a pic. Whoops. It’s just that good.

PS. We’re easing into a new fall routine over here.  A new job for mom. A new school for Johnny. A new house for all of us. So the posts may not be coming as fast and furious for a little while. Hang in here with me though, ok? XOXO.

this is 35.

A little over a month ago I packed up my old, chipped coffee mug and my lucky green Sharpie marker–and left the only job I’d ever had.

For 13 years I’d loved that place. That job. Those co-workers. But over the past year I’ve learned to listen to the Universe when she whispers–even if what she’s saying scares me. And lately–she’d been raising her voice.

So I listened. I packed it all up. And gave that place and that job–and those co-workers–all my love and all the peace signs.

It was time.

. . .

I turned 35 last month. My baby turned 4–his golden birthday. My mom turned 60. And my big boy is headed to kindergarten in three short weeks. All of that–and an upcoming change in latitude for our family–had me feeling like this was the summer to be present.

This was the summer to unplug–to soak it all in. Because time–it’s fleeting. It’s precious and it’s fleeting. And for whatever reason– I could really feel it flying by. I wanted to live it–really live it–before summer cooled to fall.

I turned off all the notifications on my iPhone–and unplugged my computer. I turned off all the bad news on TV and hid the iPad. We got out there. I was present with my self–and my people. And we lived it up.

The adventures were good–and the memories were made (more on that later this month). And for all the active yin packed into our summer days, we packed an equal amount of lazy yang into our summer nights.

It was an awesome summer–and I’m grateful.

. . .

It’s August now–and if I inhale deep enough I can smell fall. My heart and soul feel happy–and re-energized. So does my brain–unplugging for a bit will do that for you.

It’s time to figure out what’s next for me–for all my Markers (even the green Sharpie). Remembering to slow down as much as we speed up. Staying present–really present. More writing. A new place–a new job. A new school for Johnny. Some more unplugging, for sure–because it felt so good. So many adventures await–for all of us.

This is 35. And it’s a good place to be.

us. on the morning of my 35th. photo credit: Pops.

the best paleo ranch.

Remember this spring when I told you I couldn’t wait to slip on my garden clogs and start digging in the dirt? I had plans for a big backyard garden this year–and plans for a big blog post about it too.

But the good (busy, cringe!) life happened. It does that sometimes, doesn’t it.

We bought a new house and sold our old house–and spent the summer renovating an investment property. And we had that big, old summer bucket list to conquer too. So that big backyard garden? It never happened. Eh, whatevs. Maybe I’ll get around to it next spring at the new house. We’ll see.

Lucky for us, I have a brother-in-law who has the most amazing green thumb–and loves to share his impressive veggie garden crop with us! Would you look at these beauties?


Is there anything better than cucumbers and tomatoes right from the garden? Well yes. Yes, there is. Cucumbers and tomatoes right from the garden–covered and smothered in my homemade ranch. Boom.

I made this ranch dressing a few years ago when I tried my first Whole30 and it’s been a staple in our fridge ever since. Up until then, I was always a Hidden Valley girl, but this ranch–woooooeeeee. It takes the cake.

Here’s the recipe, straight from the Whole30 website.

Basic Ranch

  • 2/3 cup light olive oil
  • 1 room temperature egg
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs (dill is the only way to go here, trust me)
  • 2 tbsp full fat canned coconut milk

Place the egg, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, spices and herbs (everything but the oil and coconut milk) in your food processor.

Pulse a few times.

Slowly pour in your oil through the top hole of the food processor (running on low speed). It will take a few minutes to get it all in.

Once the oil has been added, add the coconut milk. It looks like this.

And pulse a few more times. Then refrigerate. Or dig in.

an oldie, but a goodie (probably two years ago). the boys shoveling in fresh garden veggies from deb with this paleo ranch.

Don’t like raw eggs? Here’s an egg-free recipe from my dear, old girlfriend. It’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser too.

Enjoy.