Archive | January, 2018

Initial Thoughts on Tom vs Time

31 Jan

TVT_THUMBNAILI’d planned to write a top ten list of our most-used wedding registry items, but I’ve been completely transfixed the past few days since discovering the Tom vs Time docuseries being released on Facebook Watch.

As a lifelong Massachusetts resident, it was only a matter of time before I fell for the Patriots, or more aptly — Tom Brady. But the purpose of this post isn’t to explain how Tom turned me into a Pats fan, because I’m still not. Not really. Despite ten years with a sports lover in my life, (albeit, a Giants fan), I still don’t really understand football enough to be able to get into it during the regular season. But once we’re SuperBowl-bound, the excitement usually pulls me in.

This year though, this docuseries might be the hook that finally makes a convert out of me. I worked in Chestnut Hill and Brookline for years during my 20s, so it always made me feel weirdly, I don’t know — connected — to Tom when he settled out that way with his supermodel wife and family. And the fact that I also grew up and now live so close to Gillette is another weird connection factor. It’s as though football wants to be in my life but I’ve just been ignoring the signs.

Like everyone else, I raised my eyebrows in surprise when I heard about Tom’s strict diet a few years ago. No night shades? What the hell is a nightshade? I thought. And I garden. I grow a lot of my own food and even I didn’t know that one a few years ago. But I laughed about the avocado ice cream, joked with family friends that I’d probably eat better if I had a fancy chef in my mansion, and chalked it all up to an athlete just overzealously trying to keep in shape. I didn’t think he was quite the total weirdo as some, but I did think: wow, that’s commitment.

When Michael Pollen’s glorious book, Food Rules, came out ten years ago I was so onboard it wasn’t even funny. I was lucky to grow up with parents who not only cooked meals, but grew a lot of our family’s food when I was growing up, so a lot of the “eat unprocessed foods” messaging wasn’t new to me, but when you’re in your 20’s and feeling invincible, it’s a lot easier to enjoy late nights out for cocktails and rich meals and forget about planning an attack strategy for preserving yourself for the future.

But to watch Tom vs. Time, it gives some incredible insight into his philosophy about more than just his life’s work and has inspired me to pause to consider how I operate and live my life everyday. We all have a finite amount of time and time is coming for us all. I might not have the desire to win a SuperBowl and I’ve never felt that relentless drive to achieve or win on a competitive level and am pretty content with my family and life, but it had also never occurred to me to be so much more proactive with my health or fitness. I guess Tom vs Time brought it to my attention that there is another way and that it’s worth trying.

I’m only in my early 30’s but I constantly remind myself to be present because I know how quickly time passes. I’m beginning to feel the effects of two kids on me — the uptick in stress alone — nevermind the lack of sleep with a baby in the house.  I’m not saying I’m going to start the TB12 method tomorrow because I don’t have the same goals that Tom does, but what watching this docuseries has prompted me to start doing is thinking more about how to align what I’m doing as far as my diet and exercise and where I want to be in the future, which is alive and living without pain and chronic illness.

If that means I incorporate blueberry/almond/chia smoothies into my mornings and resistant bands into my workouts, it seems like a worthwhile effort. And his regime, though strict, isn’t all that complicated as outlined in this 2017 article, titled: Here’s what Tom Brady Eats in an ‘average day.” It sounds to me like he drinks a lot of antioxidant-laced smoothies, lots of lean proteins and a TON of vegetables.

Here are some quick rules:

  • Drink water within 20 minutes of waking up
  • Drink a protein shake within 20 minutes of a workout
  • Pay attention to food combining rules, like:

    – Don’t eat proteins with carbs
    – Eat veggies with proteins or veggies with carbs
    – Don’t drink water with meals, but pretty much constntly otherwise
    – Don’t eat fruit with anything else
    – Fight inflammation always: avoid nightshades

  • Enjoy a lunch of lean protein and a lot of veggies
  • Same for dinner
  • Limit alcohol to the very rare cocktail and follow it with an equal amount of water
  • Snack as needed on things like chips and guacamole, hummus, raw vegetables, or a protein shake

All totally doable right? To me if feels like any other restrictive diet, but I’d approach it more like a cleanse. Mindy Kaling once described her love for the latest fad diets, like juicing, because she lives to read up on all the rules and then dive in, which I totally get. I’d approach the above with the same kind of mindset — think of it as a cleanse or a chance to reset and even if I don’t adopt ALL of the principles, more than likely, some will begin to stick with time. Any maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll be able to look back at 30 and realize I’m in much better shape for having made these changes while it still mattered thanks to some inspiration from Tom Brady just before SuperBowl LII.


For the Kiddos: Hidden Veggies, Yay or Nay?

23 Jan

Happy Monday, everyone! I was browsing a selection of used books at the library recently when I saw Jessica Seinfeld’s book, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating. I’d always thought the concept of sneaking vegetables into kid’s food was counterintuitive since I want to teach my children to appreciate and enjoy eating healthy, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But, as I stood there thumbing through the book, stomach rumbling, I realized that the recipes sounded just plain good. And that lead me to thinking more about my daughter’s diet on a week to week basis.

My mom once reiterated something my brother’s pediatrician had shared once with her at one of his checkups. He said you shouldn’t panic if your child eats nothing but carrots one week, then chicken fingers the next because he IS getting the necessary nutrients, just not in the way we’re used to. Now that’s not to say this applies to picky eaters who may not be getting all their servings of fruits and veggies in a day, but it did give me pause.

If you ask E what her favorite foods are, not just fruits and veggies, she’ll rattle off: broccoli, carrots, pears, berries, and bananas without hesitation, but on a day to day basis, I’m lucky if I cover half of what’s recommended for her nutritionally. I have the best intentions as her gastronomic steward, but the reality is, I’m a working mom of two with limited brain cells at the end of the day to devote to developing optimal cuisine. Most days, all I want is a pizza and a nap by the time dinner rolls around, so psyching myself up for a round of “enthusiastic, veggie-eating role model” during dinner is about the final straw.

I jest. Kind of.

I think something like Deceptively Delicious could actually be a really handy read to have on hand, if only to inspire some new ways of thinking about how to pack a bit more nutritional *punch* into foods my toddler already knows and loves. Take this Pasta with Tomato and Hidden Veg. It manages to cram celery, carrots, leeks, peppers, tomatoes and onion all into the dish. I mean, leeks? That’s impressive. Alone, my daughter loves just about all of those foods, but to combine them into a single dish builds a more complex flavor profile which is good all around for her palette development; she’ll learn to love and appreciated more sophisticated and nuanced flavors eating like this, and bonus — it’s a heck of a lot easier to get ALL those veggies into her body AND for mom to maybe still make it to bed on time. Probably not, but here’s hoping.

So all this to say that my opinion on sneaking veggies into my child’s food has been swayed in favor. While I think it’s extremely important to help cultivate an appreciation of the good stuff, like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, spinach and peppers, I think my girls will only stand to gain if I perk up a few of our go-to recipes to be a bit more veggie-dense. These Creamy Avocado pops are top of the list for my next kids in the kitchen afternoon with E.

Where do YOU stand on sneaking veggies into your kids’ food? Are you in favor? I’d love to hear what foods your toddler simply refuses to eat too. I’m always curious. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

My Favorite Christmas Gifts, or Gift Ideas for the Casual Minimalist

7 Jan

For a few years now — and not just since having children — I’ve found myself moving more and more toward a modest sort of minimalism. All the STUFF cluttering my life, from the zillions of phone pics to my packed closet tipped me to a point of constant aggravation, frustration and lack of appreciation for my belongings, so I’ve been slowly cleaning out and lightening up and it has made such a difference.

So, with Christmas behind us and a successful trial of a NEW approach to Christmas gifting in the bag that I’ll post about soon, I thought I’d take a moment to share some of my OWN favorite Christmas gifts. And in the spirit of not contributing to landfills, many of these are consumable goods – or recycled.

  1. Christmas ornaments
    I constantly find adorable, sentimental or hysterical ornaments that remind me of friends or family as I shop for Christmas each year. This year my sister was the recipient of a hysterical, leggy, bespectacled Hedwig-like owl and a garland of llamas that I just couldn’t stop tittering over in the aisles of T.J Maxx. These were the gifts I was MOST excited to see her open on Christmas day. The thing is, unless there is a birth, wedding, or anniversary, I don’t think many people think to gift ornaments or decor. But as a sentimental Christmas lover, I can’t think of anything better. And it’s far more fun to decorate a tree covered in ornaments gifted by family and friends over the years than tearing through Target and filling a cart with themed ornaments just for the sake of having a fully decorated tree.I’m hoping to begin an ornament exchange with friends NEXT year, but I wanted to also mention a brilliant idea I saw at a bridal shower recently. The “wishing well” suggested guests bring a Christmas ornament for the newlyweds tree — aww! Finally, (and this is definitely NOT in the spirit of minimalism), I’d love to do a Secret Santa with my siblings but with a twist and that is to seek out the most ridiculous Christmas decor they can find. We’d all end up building our decor collections, have a laugh, and end up with decor we can cherish (and laugh over) for years to come.
  2. A playlist
    I’m the laziest music lover ever so a thoughtful selection of songs for my Spotify playlist makes me happier than you could imagine. Bonus points if it’s a gym mix or for easy listening.
  3. Citrus Fruit from Florida
    When I was growing up, my paternal grandparents retired to Florida but would send an absolutely enormous box of oranges and grapefruits up to us shortly after Thanksgiving every year. The cardboard package usually arrived dinged and worse for the wear, but the contents within might as well have been glowing jewels. To this day, I find myself stockpiling citrus around the holidays. After mentioning this memory to my husband last Christmas, he surprised me with an early January shipment of my Florida favorites and it was one of the gifts I’ve most wished for a repeat of.
  4. Lenox Holiday “Holly” china
    We were ecstatic to celebrate our first Christmas in our new house last year and I love family traditions, (particularly if they’re related to food), so when I found a beautifully patterned Lenox Holiday china set, there wasn’t too much persuading that needed to happen to convince Brian that we should begin a collection to break out for use starting on November 1st.We added just 4 place settings that first Christmas and plan to add to it over time, but shortly after I started to search secondhand for a few more pieces, we were actually gifted a 2-tier server by a college friend’s mom who heard we were collecting. Talk about a wonderful memory to carry with us through the years of holiday gatherings.
  5. Any meaningful family treasure
    There is a photo of me as a toddler sitting on a wrought iron couch in my grandparent’s yard. Today, that same couch sits in my backyard, newly sandblasted and repainted and absolutely treasured because it belonged to my grandmother. My grandparents are both gone so it’s all the more meaningful to have something of theirs that is a part of my everyday life. As much as my grandma talked about the jewelry she’d leave for me one day, it’s her patio set that my family can enjoy today that keeps my grandparents alive for me today.

  6. Your favorite X, Y or Z
    My husbands’s aunt and uncle visited us just before Thanksgiving and thoughtfully brought along Uncle Greg’s favorite bottle of wine. Love it. Love wine. And love that I now have a tried and true bottle to add to my “Wines I love” list without having to do any legwork to hunt down an excellent bottle. Similarly, I’m an in-denial coffee drinker. I don’t seek out the best beans because, in my mind, I don’t actually drink coffee. My coffee pot would sing a different tune since I shouldn’t even be conversed with until I’m at least two huge cups in. Thankfully, one of my best friends is a well traveled coffee aficionado who regularly sends me the best beans from wherever she had been. (Thanks, Lauren!)
  7. A box of books
    My college friend Stef deserves credit for this one. One of her favorite gifts she once told me is simply “a box of box” from her parents each Christmas. Mostly found used, it’s just a curated collection of books the giver thinks the recipient would enjoy. An EMPHATIC YES. Is there anything better than a good book recommendation? A box of books takes it a step further so it’s perfect for a busy student or mom. I don’t read as much as I did before I had kids, but that’s often because I don’t have a book at the ready. This would go a ways in solving that problem and doubly, eliminates a lot of waste since I’d probably pass the books along once I’d read them.
  8. Absolutely ANYTHING from Patagonia
    OK, maybe not a hiking pack. I was thinking more in the realm of a half-zip sweater or a sweatshirt. I own just two Patagonia items and they are probably worn more than anything else in my wardrobe. Plus, I love everything the brand stands for. This could extend to anything you know your gift recipient doesn’t have or could use a “Best” version of. I finally broke down and invested in Bean boots a few years ago and they’re one of the most-used items in my wardrobe. I’ve got them in my gift arsenal for anyone who says they could use a pair of boots because they’re amazing.
  9. Spotify subscription
    I work in digital marketing and design but have managed to keep my personal life reasonably “unplugged.” I’m not what you’d call an early adopter — ever. I owe my early adoption of Spotify to my co-worker Dan, the developer at my old digital agency for introducing the magic of Spotify into my life. I recently learned that Spotify will now work with Amazon’s Alexa, so you can command the device to play whatever you want to hear on command. For me, this magic because my iTunes collection is a disaster and I rarely have the songs I want to hear at the moment in my library. For any music lover, I think Spotify is a must.
  10. Holiday-specific treats
    After discovering TapasAddict on Instagram just after Thanksgiving, all I wanted to snack on while we decorated, wrapped presents and watched Christmas movies, was antipasto and charcuterie boards. Around this time, a Harry & David catalog made it’s way into my holiday mail pile and it set in motion, what turned out to be one of the easiest and most well-received holiday gift-giving experiences ever. In case you’re not familiar, Harry & David are famous for their absolutely perfect pears but also, their gourmet treats — Moose Munch and Chocolate Covered cherries are just a few of my personal favorites. I ordered everyone some iteration of their tower of treats and called it a day. Everyone who got one LOVED it and I had nearly all my shopping done (online) well before the first of December.

I’ve always prided myself on my thoughtful selection of gifts for friends and family, but as life gets more chaotic with a growing family, what brings me the most peace is to make space in my life which has largely meant minimizing all the stuff. I’m not depriving myself or my family, but… I’m choosier and more mindful of what I bring into my home. Christmas can often be a time of mindless spending and needless consumption, so I hope you find this Minimalist gift list useful. I’m not joking when I say these are among my favorite gifts I’ve ever received. And since starting to give them back to friends and family, I’m finding they are loving them too.