November 7, 2014

I Cooked!!

After attending a blogger cooking class at Whole Foods the other Sunday, I was inspired to do a little cooking at home.  For those of you who know me IRL, you are probably picking your jaws up off the floor.  It's true though, I voluntarily spend my Saturday evening cooking!  After loving the vegetable marinara sauce we made at Whole Foods, I decided to try making it at home.

One change I made to the sauce was to add a small zucchini and a small yellow squash.  Since I subscribe to the "the more veggies the better!" philosophy, I loved this addition.  I just diced the squash and zucchini and added them to the sauce when I added the other veggies.
SO MANY BEAUTIFUL VEGGIES!

Other than the additions, I followed the recipe that we used at the cooking class (see below).  This included a whole bunch of fresh, diced tomatoes.  They were yummy, but cutting them was a lot of work!  The next time I make this sauce, I will most likely used canned tomatoes or at the very least a mix of fresh and canned. 
The sauce turned out great, and the extra veggies were a great addition.  I did think that it could have used a little bit of heat, though.  Who doesn't love a spicy marinara sauce?  I will try adding some crushed red pepper next time too.  And there will definitely be a next time! 
And now for the full recipe, courtesy of Chef Sarah Kurysz and Whole Foods Market Northbrook:
Ingredients:
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful spinach, chopped
  • 8 tomatoes, diced including all juices
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 T oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place diced onion with olive oil in a medium sauce pan.  Saute until translucent and turning brown.  Add diced garlic and continue to saute until dark brown and very soft.  If it gets too dry, add water to keep everything moist.

Add all remaining ingredients except for salt and pepper, and 1 cup water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Cook on high until carrots are soft, about 15 minutes.

Remove cover and allow sauce to cook down and thicken.  Taste, and add salt and pepepr as necessary.

Serve as is, with vegetable chunks, or puree using a blender.

Thanks again, Chef Sarah, for hosting our cooking class and for allowing me to share this tasty recipe!

November 4, 2014

Take Time Tuesday

Hi friends!  I'm linking up with Katie today to take the time to share a few things I'm thankful for today!  

First, I'm thankful for a rare free and productive afternoon, especially for the time to sit down and write this post!
I had to dash out of school for a dentist appointment today, and made it home earlier than expected.  I took the time to give my apartment a (much needed) quick cleaning, put away some laundry that was lingering from the weekend, and took the time to catch my breath while writing this post with a cup of mint tea.  Happy sigh. :)

I'm thankful for the chance to run one last fall 5K Saturday, even if it was freezing.
I ran the Carerra de los Muertos 5K in Chicago Saturday morning.  While I was going on 3 hours of sleep after enjoying Halloween festivities the night before, and while it was in the 30s, I had a great time and a surprisingly decent race.  But heading into the warmth of a restaurant for breakfast after was the best part. 

I'm thankful for my phenomenal family.
I got to catch up with my brother, sister in law, and sweet niece and nephew via Skype Saturday afternoon, and spent Sunday with the rest of my family playing our favorite board game and enjoying a delicious dinner.

I'm thankful for these beautiful flowers that showed up for me as a surprise at school last week and continue to brighten my days.

I'm thankful for my wonderful, inquisitive, kind group of students.
In the midst of a year of what feels like endless pressure, high stakes, and at times micromanaging, I am endlessly grateful for a class of kids who make it all worth it.

What are you taking the time to be thankful for today?

October 30, 2014

Teaching Students to have a Growth Mindset

Ever since I read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck a few years ago, the whole idea of a growth mindset has really stuck with me.  I highly recommend reading it if you haven't yet!  After reading the book, I've tried to make little changes in the way I praise and talk to my students.  For example, instead of saying, "You're great at ___!," I try to highlight effort and hard work.  Instead of talking about strengths, I try to talk about how persevering and effort is what leads to success and learning.  But until this year, I hadn't explicitly taught this kind of thing to my students.

I absolutely love using Quantum Learning in my classroom, and this year I decided to introduce my students to the Eight Keys of Excellence.  One of my favorite keys is Failure Leads to Success, and I decided that this key was the perfect way to finally teach my students about a growth mindset.  We started by watching this amazing video from Kahn Academy about how we are all born to learn:
Then, our class had a conversation about how this video connected to the Failure Leads to Success key.  The video shows a baby learning to walk, and we talked about what would happen if every time a baby fell, he or she decided to give up.  We talked about all of the times we've said, "I'm not good at ____," or "I can't ___," or "___ just isn't my thing."  Then, we made this anchor chart to help us re-frame our thinking and create a "Failure Leads to Success Mindset."
Last, we read one of my all-time favorite picture books, Salt in his Shoes.  I had the kids listen for times that Michael Jordan showed a "Failure Leads to Success Mindset" in the story, and to give me a thumbs up when they heard an example.  All in all, it went great.  I loved explicitly teaching my kids how to re-frame their thinking and inner conversations, and I have already loved referring back to the lesson with my kids when they start to get frustrated and give up.  My students even remind me that "failure leads to success" when I make a mistake during teaching!  Awesome. :)

October 29, 2014

Whole Foods Blogger Cooking Class

Hey guys!  I've been needing some new inspiration to help me revive this blog, and Sunday I finally found it!  Katie from Live Half Full invited me to join her for a blogger cooking class she'd organized over at Whole Foods Market Northbrook Sunday, and I'm so glad I did!

You guys, full disclosure, I cannot cook.  Seriously.  My smoke alarm goes off so often that I practically ripped it from the ceiling trying to disconnect.  I eat pbj or microwaved veggie burgers for dinner semi-regularly.  But I actually left Whole Foods Sunday feeling confident about my cooking!

Our wonderful instructors Sarah and Robin taught us how to make a delicious, plant-based meal.  We started with making the dough for whole wheat pasta--super easy!
Pasta Dough!
Then, while our dough was resting, we got started on a veggie-filled marinara sauce.  My cooking partner Valerie and I had so much fun chopping our veggies, including using a trick for chopping onions that Chef Sarah taught us.
Now I know how to chop an onion!  (And hopefully NOT cut myself!)

That is, I had fun until I almost immediately cut my hand!  News flash: chef's knives are HELLA SHARP!!  Second news flash: my knife skills need work.  ;)  That didn't slow me down, though.  I patched myself up with a band-aid and a glove, and got back to work preparing our sauce.  I've never made marinara sauce from scratch, and I loved this sauce.  It was packed with veggies--onion, celery, carrot, pepper, spinach, tomatoes...YUM.  If WHEN I make this sauce at home, I'm going to add some mushrooms to it too.
Injury...

So bright and delicious!


Then, we got started on a dessert.  I was a little apprehensive when Sarah told us the Berry Cobbler we were making would be completely sugar free, but it ended up being great.  We sweetened it with a little maple syrup, date sugar, and of course fruit.



Next, Valerie and I worked on our salad.  We "shopped" for salad ingredients in Whole Foods and had so much fun selecting our ingredients to put our own personal touch on our salad.  We ended up adding pistachios and dried tart cherries--yum!  Then, we got to use a Vitamix blender to make our dressing.  I've only ever made olive oil based dressings, but this healthy dressing was amazing!
Speed Shopping!
I <3 bins="" bulk="" td="">

Loved the dressing we made.  I just might have to make it again!  Recipe: 2 avocados, 1/4 cup dill, 2 T parsley, 3 cloves garlic, 2 T lemon juice, 1 green onion, 2 T nutritional yeast, 1 t salt, 1/4 cup almond milk.  It made a creamy, bright dressing.
The Vitamix is NO JOKE!

Finally, we were ready to make our noodles!  Valerie and I had a great time using the pasta press to make perfect linguini noodles. I hadn't made pasta since I was a teenager, but it's always so much fun.



Then it was time to eat!  Everything was SO DELICIOUS.  My favorite part, though, was the vegetable marinara sauce.  I can't wait to make this recipe at home and to put my own twist on it!
YUM.
I may be a chocoholic, but this healthy dessert rocked.

During the class, we also got to watch two quick food demos for how to use a Vitamix blender to make healthy smoothies and how to use a food processor to make cocoa date truffles.  These were great!
I had a blast at the #WFMPlantProteinParty blogger cooking class.  The best part is that I really feel confident about my cooking and feel that I could make any of these recipes at home!  For this microwave queen, this is huge. :)

October 28, 2014

Race Recap: Halloween Hustle 5K

I'll admit it--I can be a little pushy, especially when it comes to fitness.  If someone mentions in my presence that they might want to get into running or try yoga or that they're thinking about a triathlon, I become part perky cheerleader and part evangelical athlete.  I can't help it--I absolutely love helping beginner athletes get started with running and triathlon.  Well, I've been mentioning to my team at school that we should do a 5K together for the past couple years, and I was elated when I finally wore them down this fall!  Saturday we finally did it!

Here's my six-word race recap:
Inspired new runners, crushed my PR!

Ever since my huge PR at the Milwaukee Marathon, I'd had 5K PRs on the brain.  My 5K PR was two years old, and I've definitely gotten faster since then.  I wasn't sure if I was ready to go for it just 3 weeks out from my marathon, but after a speedy run Thursday night, I decided I was ready!

Saturday morning, we met up with my team before the race.  It was a first 5K for two of my teammates, two new runners and one walker!  I was so excited for them, and talking through the logistics of races helped distract me from my own PR-attempt nervousness!  
Don't be fooled by this picture--this race HURT!

I lined up with two of my teammates and my boyfriend, Joe.  Joe promised to help pace me to a PR, with a sub-27 being my goal.  Despite a dinner of raw veggies and junk food at book club the night before, I felt pretty great for the first half of the race!  However, the second half was rough!  I pushed myself to run a pace I've never managed to run before, and pushed through it when all I wanted to do was walk.  In the last mile, I realized that I would MUCH rather run a half marathon than race a 5K.  I am definitely not built for speed, and this race HURT!  I reminded myself what I told myself when I was shooting for a PR during the Space Coast Half a couple years back--setting a PR is supposed to hurt.  
I was about ready to lay down and die during our sprint to the finish line as you can see in this picture.  Yikes.  Trust me, my other pictures were even less flattering if that's possible!  I was clearly working hard!   I crossed the finish line in 26:27, averaging an 8:31 pace and coming in sixth in my age group!  I have never run that fast in my life!  I still kind of can't believe it!
I was super proud of myself, but I was even more proud of my team.  It was so much fun to share this experience!  We even wore our race shirts to school Monday and told our students about it.  I love being able to set an example of healthy living for my students!  Can't wait for the next team race!

October 7, 2014

Race Recap: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

...In which all of the stars align to create the PERFECT race weekend and I CRUSH my first marathon time!  You guys, I don't even know where to begin.  I have been on an extended blogging hiatus, but some things are just too special and memorable NOT to capture and share!
First, my six word race recap:
Perfect weather, perfect race, perfect day. :)

Before I get into the race weekend itself, I have to say that  marathon training was totally different for me the second time around,  I didn't feel any of the self-doubt and concerns about actually finishing the race that I did last year.  Also, I knew so much better what works for me and my body while training this year than I did last year.  I knew that I needed less miles per week, for one thing.  Instead of following Hal Higdon's plan to the letter like I did last year, I ran just 3 days per week this year and spent my off days riding my bike and doing hot yoga.  I felt so much stronger the entire training cycle.  Less running for the win!
Anyways, back to the race weekend.  Before heading up to Milwaukee Saturday morning, I proceeded to PACK ALL THE THINGS.  I am a crazy over-packer when it comes to race weekends.  Seriously, I follow "When in doubt, pack it all" philosophy.  This is how I ended up with six pairs of shoes, 4 headbands, and enough underwear for a week.  Not to mention the gatorade, bananas, and peanut butter that accompanied me.  Laugh away, but I was glad I had it all!!  Saturday was filled with hanging out with friends, time at the expo (obviously buying more headbands...seriously I have a sickness...), and so much amazing food.  I think I had the best ravioli of my life.  Could this be why I ran so well Sunday?  Probably. :)
This Swirlgear top is seriously my new favorite running shirt.  
It was PERFECT!

Leading up to the race, I was nervous about the weather.  Weather.com was predicting a temperature of 39 degrees at the start.  While I know cool weather is perfect for marathoning, I was concerned that I hadn't done any running in the cold yet this season.  I must have rethought my outfit a hundred times.  Sunday morning, though, I decided to go with shorts, a tank, a long sleeve, and gloves.  This was the *perfect* outfit choice.  We rode the bus 26 miles from downtown Milwaukee to Grafton, WI--the marathon is a point to point race.  I have to say, as I sat on that bus I realized once again how truly far 26.2 miles is.  I mean, that's no short drive!!  Yikes!  Luckily the Grafton High School was open for runners to hang out in, so we were able to stay nice and warm pre-race.  Around 7:10 we headed out to the start line!
I cannot say enough good things about this course.  The first 20ish miles were through beautiful small towns, quiet neighborhoods, horse farms, and of course gorgeous fall leaves.  The weather was perfect, and I felt so strong.  You know those runs where you just find yourself loving every single minute?  Yeah, that's exactly how I felt!  As much as I loved the crazy crowds and cheering stations at the Chicago Marathon last year, I loved completely different atmosphere of this race so much too.  I grinned like a crazy person when I passed two older men playing the banjo and washboard at mile 8 or so, and every time I saw a glimpse of beautiful Lake Michigan I about lost my mind.  It was just pure, perfect running joy.
Mom & Dad = Best Race Cheerleaders and Photographers EVER.  The end.

I came into this race hoping to set a PR and knowing 100% that I could.  I mean, in Chicago, I took 5 minutes standing in line for a bathroom break within the first 6 miles!  Not to mention a few stretch breaks in those last several miles!  I knew that I'd been training so well and running so strong--I was hoping that if I had a PERFECT race, I'd be able to come in around 5:15.  I ran the first two miles in 11 minutes, and from there forced myself to slow way down to about an 11:45 average pace.  That felt SO SLOW to me, though!  After a couple more easy miles running happy, I gave myself permission to slowly chip away at that average pace on my Garmin.  And chip away I did!  I was elated when I crossed the 13.1 mark at 2:30 on the dot.  A couple of years ago, a 2:30 half was a huge, crazy dream for me!  But Sunday, a 2:30 half felt easy.  I felt so strong that I knew I was going to negative split this race, and at that point I realized that this meant I'd likely come in under 5 hours.  FIVE HOURS.  I almost didn't want to let myself believe it.
Pure Joy.

A few miles later, I saw something up ahead that I'd NEVER in a million years expected to encounter in a marathon--the 5 hour pace group!  I took a deep breath and told myself that I was going to pass them and STAY ahead of them!  Guess what?  I did!  When I realized the 5 hour pace group wasn't even in my rear view mirror anymore, realized that I was still feeling SO STRONG, and realized that I was going to finish under five hours, I about cried.  Words cannot even describe,

The real race started for me around mile 20.  At that point my goal went from sub-5 to "get my average pace under 11min/mi."  I dug deep and focused on speeding up with every mile.  I got comments from volunteers and spectators that I looked way too fresh and strong for having run 20 miles!!  As the miles ticked by, I pushed myself harder than ever.  The race was starting to take it toll by this point.  My feet hurt, I was tired, but I still felt completely unstoppable.  (And I felt NOTHING like I did in Chicago!)  I knew that there were no proverbial "walls" in my path--no one was going to stop me.  I was going to do something I never thought I could.  I mean seriously, guys, I ran my first 5K in like 36 minutes.  I don't even know myself anymore!
With the Lake to my left and my amazing parents riding along on their bikes, stopping for pictures every mile from 20-25, I cruised through Milwaukee.  I focused every last ounce of energy I had on that finish line, and tears came to my eyes when I flew past it, passing runner after runner on the final stretch.
While we didn't run together, I was blessed to spend this race weekend with my boyfriend who also ran the race!  Loved sharing this experience!

I crossed the finish line in 4:46:09, nearly FIFTY MINUTES faster than I finished my first marathon last year in Chicago.  FIFTY.  That's almost 2 minutes per mile faster.  I could not be prouder of myself, but just as amazing is the fact that I truly loved every. single. mile.  This race reminded me of EXACTLY why I run.  Alyssa left a post on my Facebook wall Saturday night, reminding me that "The race is the reward."  I kept this thought in my mind throughout the race--the race truly IS the reward.  Training is so hard and time consuming, and there are days when it's tempting to give it all up.  But the race isn't the final challenge--it's the celebration.  The gift.  And this race truly was a gift.
My amazing friend Katy came up to Milwaukee to cheer!  
How did I get so lucky to have such great friends??

Milwaukee was for me 4 hours and 46 minutes of bliss.  I tell people that I run because it makes me feel alive, unstoppable, joyful, and fearless.  This race was everything that I love about running.  As long as running continues to bring me such amazing joy, I know I'll never stop.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again: anything truly is possible if you want it and work for it.  As the band The Weepies says, "All it takes is a little faith and a lot of heart."

Tell me about a run or other experience that made you feel completely ALIVE!!!

July 7, 2014

Frozen Bean Winner!

The winner of the Frozen Bean sample pack is...


Jonesyjl2, email me at juiceboxesandcrayolasATgmailDOTcom to claim your prize!



July 1, 2014

Frozen Bean Blended Coffee Mixes Review + Giveaway

Hi guys!  I have a yummy product with you today.  You guys know I have a sweet tooth and a coffee addiction, so when Frozen Bean reached out to me asking me to review their frappucino mixes, how could I say no?  Frozen Bean sent me a sample box of single serving pouches of their drink mix.  To make the drink, all you do is mix a handful of ice cubes, a cup or so of liquid (I used almond milk, but you can use milk, water, or coffee), and the beverage powder.  Blend away, and voila!  An iced blended beverage right at home!
The first mix I tried was the Vanilla Latte 50/50 mix.  While I love iced blended coffee drinks like frappucinos, one reason I don't indulge in them very often is because they are usually just not very nutritious. The Frozen Bean 50/50 mix is 1/2 the sugar and fat of the regular line, but still had 320 calories and 9 grams of fat for a 12 oz serving.  That still feels like a lot to me when plain coffee is calorie-free.  The drink was delicious and was the perfect way to cool off after a hard workout on a hot day.  
 I tried the Double Mocha Latte 50/50 mix next, which was also great, although a tad too chocolately for my taste.  I love chocolate, but I prefer to eat it rather than drink it.  Again, the drink was yummy and there was no way you'd know it was less fat/sugar than a regular frappucino.
Frozen Bean + Sign Language Homework
I also tried the No Sugar Added Mocha Latte mix--I was curious to see how it'd compare to the 50/50 Mocha.  Overall, I liked the flavor better than the Double Mocha--it was more like a Wendy's Frosty with a hint of coffee.  I love a good frosty, so this one tasted good to me.  Calorie-wise, this mix was about the same as the rest, but it did have a few less grams of sugar (14 as opposed to 24).
Frozen Bean + Coffee Ice Cubes
The last mix I tried was the salted caramel latte mix.  Because I didn't realize until it was too late that I was out of ice cubes, I ended up blending this drink with frozen coffee cubes.  I'm glad I did--it tasted great!  I was expecting this drink to be on the too-sweet side, but the coffee cubes cut the sweetness, and the result was a delicious post-run snack.

Okay, now for my overall opinion.  I have to be honest that it took me forever to get this review written simply because it took me forever to try the different products.  Why did it take me so long?  Well, it turns out there are just not a lot of times when I think to myself, "Man, I could really go for a frappuccino!"  I drink a home brewed iced or hot coffee every morning, and when I need a cold and refreshing hearty beverage, I usually go for a fruit + spinach smoothie.  Also, the calorie count was way too high for me to drink these on a regular basis.  That being said, they were delicious.  I would recommend Frozen Bean to a person who is a frappuccino lover looking to save a few bucks by making their own blended drinks at home.  They could not possibly be easier to make, and the result is for sure as good as Starbucks.  They make a great "summer treat" too.  

Now for the giveaway:  Frozen Bean has generously offered to give a mixed case of individual serving size beverage mixes to one of my readers.  

Here's how to win: (Feel free to do as many or as few options as you'd like, and leave a separate comment for each entry.)
  • Follow Juice Boxes + Crayolas via Bloglovin', Google Friend Connect, via email (see sidebar), or via any other blog reading platform.  Leave a comment below letting me know how you follow! (1 entry)
  • "Like" Juice Boxes + Crayolas on Facebook (1 entry)
  • Visit the Frozen Bean website and leave a comment letting me know which flavor(s) you would be excited to try (1 entry)
  • Share this giveaway on your blog, facebook, or twitter (1 entry for each)

That's 6 possible entries!  This giveaway will end at midnight on Saturday, July 5th.

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample pack of Frozen Bean mixes in exchange for writing my review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

June 29, 2014

Life Lately: Summer Edition

Hi friends!  Can I just say how much I love summer?  Love it so much.  I haven't been blogging much these days because I haven't felt like I have too much to say, but I thought I'd share a little bit about how I've been spending my days...First, there have been lots of naps.  So. many. naps.  Saturday I took a three hour nap in my sweaty running clothes (ew, I know, I'm disgusting) after almost falling asleep at the wheel on my way home from a training run.  The run was only six miles too--god help me when we get up in higher mileage!  There may not be enough hours in the day for all of my napping!
Speaking of training, that's the one non-lazy thing I've been doing with my time!  I am in week 4 of training for the Milwaukee Marathon.  Now that triathlon season is over (for me), it's nice to have just one big goal to focus on.  I'm following Hal Higdon's Novice plan again this year and training with CARA (Chicago Area Runner's Association).  I love my CARA group--I made such great friends in it last year that I couldn't wait to be back to regular Saturday morning runs with them again this summer!  That being said, I'm still adjusting to the early Saturday wake up calls.  In fact, starting THIS WEEK I am instituting a no going out and absolutely no booze on Fridays rule.  Just in time for the Fourth of July...oh well.  No one said training for a marathon was fun and easy, right?
Taken before last year's 20 miler--love these ladies!

I have managed to squeeze in some fun outside of training.  Of course I've been spending a lot of time reading on my balcony...


Obv had to reread before the movie...during which I think I became dehydrated from excessive sobbing...
And laying around here...

And watching way too much Food Network and ABC Family.  Oh ABC Family, you and your trashy/addicting shows!  Ahem Switched at Birth and Pretty Little Liars...

I saw two great plays in the last few weeks--The Last Five Years and Avenue Q.  Last Five Years was beautifully heartbreaking, and Avenue Q was nonstop laughs.  Both wonderful and highly recommended.
Last week I got some teacher friends together for a backyard yoga class.  I absolutely fell in love with teaching my informal after school "teacher yoga class" during the last few months of the school year, and I was excited that some coworkers were up for meeting me to do some summer yoga.  This just in--it's hard to chaturanga on grass.  But listening to birds sing during savasana is bliss.  After our hour-ish of vinyasa flow, we soaked up the sun and enjoyed breakfast, coffee, and company.  Can't wait til our next yoga day!

Oh, and Friday night was my monthly book club.  This month we read My Life in France, Julia Child's memoir.  I really enjoyed it, but it kind of dragged for me.  It was wonderful to enjoy book talk over French yummies and wine at Katie's house.  Can't wait until next month's meeting!
Source: Katie's Blog FB Page :)
All in all, summer is shaping up nicely. :)  Looking forward to a couple of outdoor concerts this week, some time with friends, and a pool day for the Fourth.  Have a beautiful week!

What summer things are you loving these days?  Any big plans this week?
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