Sneaky Standing Stretch Workout

By incorporating running into my exercise routine, I’ve found that my legs appreciate a bit more stretching than the rest of my body. While yoga is a great help in this area, sometimes I don’t have the time (or patience) to commit to a decent stretch routine.

So I decided to make my own. These exercises keep you moving but sneak in stretches for multiple areas of the legs and open up the hips. A few bonuses – since you’re doing them standing,  the routine helps with balance and engages your abs as well! No equipment necessary, so you can easily perform these moves after a run or while traveling.

sneaky standing stretch workout

If you have questions about any of the exercises, here are a few demos:
Extended Toe Touch
Leg Lift
Oblique Crunch

A few notes:
Extended Toe Touch – Try to keep legs as straight as possible and arms high. Make yourself work!
Windmill – Again, legs and arms straight. Twist from the waist & hinge from the hip. Should feel good on the back of your legs.
Lunge – Knees should be directly over toes, and movement should be up & down.
Leg Lift – To deepen the stretch, flex your foot. If you’ve got the balance, let your foot hover over the floor instead of placing it down between each rep.
Oblique Crunch – Extend the arm over your head and the leg out to the side. This helps stretch through your side as well as your legs/arms.

Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer, just a gal who likes to exercise. Consult with a doctor before beginning any exercise routine. This is pretty low-key, but if anything hurts (in a bad way), STOP. 

Pumpkin Ricotta Mini-Cheesecakes

‘Tis the season…for pumpkin, that is. If you couldn’t tell from Friday’s post, I’m in a serious baking mood. We currently have muffins, cupcakes, and apple crisp, and these guys in our house. Too much delicious-ness, not enough time!

pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin Ricotta Mini-Cheesecakes (recipe from 500 Cupcakes)
Yields: 12-16 mini-cakes

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. margarine, melted
2 tbsp. honey
3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup (5 oz.) pumpkin pie filling
4 large eggs
1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Place 12 baking cups in muffin tun.
2. In food processor, combine cracker crumbs, margarine and honey. Spoon 1 tbsp. of mixture into baking cup, pressing firmly into bottom. Chill until set.
3. In a large bowl, beat ricotta with electric mixer until soft. Beat in eggs, confectioners sugar, and pumpkin.
4. Spoon mixture into cups. (2/3 full.)
5. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from pan and cool for 5 minutes.
6. Remove cupcakes and cool on rack. Chill until ready to serve.

Store covered in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Notes: You may end up with more batter than crumb crust. (I did.) Estimated measurements and whipped up a smaller batch of crust. We can’t have leftover filling, can we? Also, I used Libby’s Pumpkin for the recipe and found that the first day, the cakes had a flan-like texture. Not something I look for in a cheesecake. After settling in the fridge overnight, the subsequent days gave us a more dense cake.

This post is part of my Try It Tuesday series. I find things I like and recommend them to you! For other Try It Tuesday posts, click here. If you have a suggestion for something you’d like me to try/review, contact me at

Scenes From A Walk

Walking was never really my thing until we got a dog. I liked taking them as a child, but as a young adult, walking by myself wasn’t something that I enjoyed. Now that Watson’s in the picture, I’m taking a lot more walks and, in doing so, learning to appreciate my surroundings. Here are a few scenes from our walk yesterday:

Shadows – Our evening walks are punctuated by shadows. I love the way W’s legs look sooo long!
shadowy dog

Halloween decorations – one is appropriately scary, one creeps me out as an adult.
halloween house

creepy halloween

The house on the hill – I see a nice house. Watson sees the cats on the porch.
house with cats

This is what made my weekend marvelous. Nothing extraordinary, but taking it easy made my heart happy. It also tuckered the dog out enough that Watson couldn’t make it through our movie last night!
sleepy pup


Are you a walker or a runner? Any scary decorations in your neighborhood?

Friday Five: Food Edition

I have many blogs on my radar, and most of them are healthy living or running related. Yet, there are a few in there that are food-based. And I neglect them. Their post totals add up as I move through the week (sometimes month), and I ogle the goodies while tagging things and never actually baking them.

Here are a few that caught my eye this week:

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins from Baking Bites – If you follow me on Instagram, you saw this pic earlier this week. This is the recipe I was making. I looked it up because these spotty bananas were begging to be used. Made it. Love it.
spotty bananas

Avocado Pasta from Dessert for Two – The JA isn’t sold on avocado yet. Maybe this recipe will turn things around…

photo by Dessert for Two

photo by Dessert for Two

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from Chocolate Covered Katie – Because when is better than fall for all things pumpkin?pumpkin can

White Chicken Quinoa Chili from How Sweet Eats – Because our apple chili from earlier this week was an utter fail.

photo from How Sweet It Is

photo from How Sweet It Is

And last, but certainly not least – Chocolate Caramel Apple Cookies from Hostess With The Mostess. I made them last year, and they suddenly popped into my head again this morning. Must make again!
choc caramel apple cookies

Obviously, I’m more of a baker than a cooker – which do you prefer?

On Listening to Your Body

I’m not one to stay still for long. I’m a multi-tasker. and I enjoy it.

That being said, for me to take a sick day is a big deal. I woke up this morning with a stuffy nose, an achy body, a scratchy throat, and a want for more sleep. I’m not lying on my deathbed by any means, but I knew I wouldn’t be very productive if I went into the office feeling the way I did. Cue the ‘should I or shouldn’t I call out of work’ conversation in my head. I finally came to the conclusion that missing a day won’t be the end of the world.

I made my calls, sent some emails, and went back to bed for an hour. I feel incredibly better. Plans for the rest of the day include: more naps, warm food, and cuddles with this guy.

'Look into my eyes & repeat after me. I will take you for a walk later, I WILL take you for a walk later..."

‘Look into my eyes & repeat after me. I will take you for a walk later, I WILL take you for a walk later…”

In reality, I’ll probably be itching to do something productive by midday. Laundry, reading, and baking top that list.

The bottom line is: I push myself to do better, because I know I can be better. I push my body to see where it can take me. I push my mind, because knowledge is power. But sometimes, I have to remember that it’s okay to take it easy. To take a sick day even if I’m not REALLY that sick. To take the long view and do what’s better for the long run than for that day.

the long view

Join Me for Tea

Join Me for Tea

If we were chatting over a beverage right now, I’d tell you that I feel horrible. My sinuses are draining, my throat feels weird, and it was such a struggle to get out of bed this morning. Not good with another big work event on tap for this weekend. Hence, the tea.

If we were chatting over a beverage, I’d tell you that I’m excited for dinner tonight – crockpot apple & white bean chili. It’s a first for this recipe, so fingers crossed it turns out well!

white bean apple crockpot chili

If we were chatting over a beverage, I’d tell you that I have a bit of race envy of all those who ran races this weekend. I see so many photos/recaps and even though I had an awesome weekend, I wonder if I could have pulled one out…

If we were chatting over a beverage right now, I’d share that I’m seriously contemplating signing up for a half marathon (the two that I’m looking at are the Frederick Half and the Ocean City Half). I think it’d be a great challenge, but there are some concerns that need to be addressed before I bite the bullet. Stay tuned.

Frederick Running Festival

Ocean City Half

If we were chatting over a beverage, I’d tell you that I feel bad that I haven’t done book reviews in a while. To be honest, I haven’t finished a book for a few months. Ugh.

If we were chatting over a beverage right now, I’d tell you that even though I feel gross, I still found the energy to take Watson for a walk. I may not have changed out of the tops I wore to bed to do so, but who can tell under a hoodie? Priorities, people.

He's much cuter than I am at 6:45a.

He’s much cuter than I am at 6:45a.

What’s something you’d share with me today?Any good books I should attempt to read?

Hot Air

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that in part of my prep for the wedding, I pampered myself and got my hair styled. I went to hot air, a blow dry bar located in Owings Mills. It was my first time getting my hair blown out and the first time in over five years that I’ve had someone besides my stylist touch my head.

Yes, I just said five years. Shelly’s been doing my hair for as long as I can remember. She’s my soul sister. She styled me for my wedding, she knows my ‘winter’ blonde, versus my ‘summer’ color, and she knows that I like volume but am scared of hair that’s too big. (I blame dance recitals for that one.)

In short, having someone else touch my hair is kind of a big deal. I made an appointment with Leah, and as soon as I walked in, I knew I would be in good hands. The atmosphere of the space itself is light and bright. I was offered a beverage upon walking in the door, and my purse was taken to the station where I’d be sitting.

photo from company website

photo from company website

photo from company website

photo from company website

I didn’t have a specific idea of what I wanted done with my hair, so when Leah told me that she wanted to do it curly and with volume, I told her to go for it. Why not? As long as everything held until the reception that night, I’d be good.

To be honest, when she finished, I was still a bit skeptical. It seemed big to me (even though it wasn’t). I went home, put on the dress and makeup and fell in love. I mean, I’m not one to brag, but I know when I look good.

JAs lumi wedding

True to Leah’s promise, the hair held through a night of twirling and dipping on the dance floor. Even the next day, it was still going strong!

day 2 hair

All in all, I’d recommend hot air for anyone looking for some pampering. Pricing was reasonable, staff was friendly, the space was clean and the hairstyle was fantastic! They also offer makeup services, so it could serve as a one-stop shop for a bridal party, birthday, or any special occasion.

This post is part of my Try It Tuesday series. I was in no way compensated for this post – just found something I liked and wanted to spread the word! For other Try It Tuesday posts, click here.