Balance is the goal. The goal is balance.

I recently posted about some of the physical changes I have been making in my life, and I’ve been asked specifics on what program I am using and the like.  So I thought I would just share a little bit about what I have been doing and how it has helped me.

The biggest problem I have is that I have never really exercised in any meaningful way.  This means that I have terrible balance and coordination, not to mention a complete lack of strength.  That made the gym and any group exercise completely out of the question as I had no intention of falling down in front of people, or allowing anyone to see me stand there awkwardly while I tried to process how exactly the instructor was moving in three different directions at once.

I expressed my concerns in a group of friends that happened to include Becky Collins, a fellow quilter who has often supported fellow quilters in  their quest for fitness.  She started the #sweatnsew group on Instagram, and you can learn more about it by clicking here.  She listened to my concerns and recommended that I talk with Brandy Martin, a Beachbody coach.

I chatted with Brandy and we determined what would be a good program for me to start with.  I committed to Beachbody on Demand so that I could stream the workouts from my devices.  I started the 21 Day Fix program which includes a series of daily 30 minute workouts and a nutritional plan.  The nutritional plan teaches about portion control and balance, and includes a protein shake made by Beachbody called Shakeology.  There are a lot of Beachbody peeps out there, so this probably isn’t news to you, but it was totally news to me.

The 21DF workouts are low impact, have lots of breaks, and walk through each move in such a way that it’s not hard to follow what the instructor is saying to do.  The first few weeks I pretty much cried every time I tried to stand from a seated position.  I dreaded going to the bathroom.  I got through the workouts with modifications, and my body was screaming.  I did the same workouts week after week for months.  The workouts are still tough, and still make me sore, but now it’s because I have learned how to make my body push a little harder when the moves get too easy.  And I really like being sore.  It means I worked hard, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Nutrition wasn’t a whole new world for me.  I love food.  All food.  Good food.  Bad food.  All food.  I wasn’t a stranger to things like kale and quinoa.  I like hummus and beans and avocados.  I also like chili dogs from the Varsity and a double patty melt from Freddy’s.  And let’s not get started on the donuts.

My real problem when it came to nutrition was portion control and knowing more about what I was eating.  Understanding that food is fuel.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love me some food.  And I still eat donuts and chocolate and a serving of fried zucchini at Brad’s Food Hut, but just not as often or as much.  I might order a sandwich, but skip the soda and the fries.

So what do I eat on a typical day?  I decided to document one day’s worth of food and be totally honest about everything I ate in that day.  So here goes…

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After my workout I make my Shakeology shake.  Currently I have been doing a recipe of Vegan Vanilla Shakeology, water, frozen banana, pureed pumpkin, frozen kale, PBFit, and pumpkin pie spice.  Years ago I used to puree my own pumpkin, but it is so much work to do and I find that the canned pumpkin is just as good.

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I have apples and peanut butter almost every day, but especially this time of year when there are so many varieties of apple available.  I have found that Smucker’s Natural peanut butter is my favorite commercial peanut butter.  There are a lot of natural peanut butters out there that are still loaded with sugar.  This one is just peanuts and salt.  I also like that the jar is glass and reusable with a full screw-on lid.  I can also get freshly ground natural peanut butter at Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market, but for some reason I just stick to this instead.  I think it’s because I like the jars.

Looking at this now makes me think that either this was too small of a serving, or this photo is deceiving.  I usually eat a bit more than what it looks like in this pic for a midday meal.  On this day I had a Mexican chicken with quinoa, brown rice, collard greens and cheese.  The Mexican chicken is just chicken breast, a can of Rotel tomatoes, taco seasoning and black beans prepared in the crockpot.  (I think it’s a variation on a recipe that usually also has cream cheese in it.  I just leave that part off.)  It is something that I make for dinner and have plenty of leftovers for a couple of lunches.

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Now a lot of people will look at this puny piece of chocolate and just laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.  I get it.  But eating one small piece of chocolate is actually not a trigger for me.  It usually just quiets the craving for something sweet, and I can move on.  However, put a warm, soft piece of white bread in front of me and it’s game over, my friend.  There is no such thing as just one dinner roll in my world.  I’m learning a lot about what my triggers are.

 

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Dinner on this night was a huge plate of salad topped with salmon and kalamata olives.  I used lime and salt and pepper to season it, and had cottage cheese and berries on the side.  The salmon was leftover from another meal, and it was perfect served cold.  As a note, I know I still use way too much salt for some people.  All I can say is that I use less now than I used to, and my focus is not on salt right now.  It may be later down the road, but it isn’t right now.

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I know, I know.  Twice in one day.  But I said I was going to be honest, so here’s to honesty!  I was up late that night as my husband was out of town and I was having a bit of a sewing party.  Could I have made a better choice?  Of course.  But I don’t feel the least bit bad about the choice I did make.

For me the key has been just to think a little more before I eat.  Even before I begin my day.  Or my week.  What do I need to buy at the grocery so that I have better choices on hand?  What do I need to take with me in my travels today so that I am not stuck with only less than desirable choices?  And how do I maintain balance?  It is totally okay to have a donut.  It is totally okay to eat a piece of chocolate.  It is also totally okay to choose to fuel my body with protein and fruits and vegetables.  And to give my body a chance to prove that it can do hard things by working out regularly.  Do I workout every day?  Nope.  But most days.  The goal is 6 days a week, but I am cool with 5.  Not less than 30 minutes, and not more than an hour.  And if I miss some while traveling that’s okay too, because I will go home and get going again.

Balance is the goal.  The goal is balance.

Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market- just a few things. This time.

I really don’t know much about the history of Your Dekalb Farmers Market, but I do know a little bit about my history with this place of awesomeness.

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I grew up in Georgia, mostly in the Atlanta area, and have lived in and out of the area most of my life.  I remember going to YDFM when I was very young with my aunt who lived in Decatur, not far from the original market.  I also remember going after they moved to the current site, but I believe it looked a bit different back then.  I was still very young, and I only went a couple of times, but I seem to remember being just enthralled with huge tanks of fish, and watching the employees reaching into the water to nab one for a customer.  There are still tanks of fish now, but I don’t think as many.

YDFM doesn’t allow any photography inside of the market, so sadly, I cannot show you the amazingness of this place.  However, I can tell you a little bit about it.  At least this particular trip.

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I live about 40 miles from YDFM, which in our area means it can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours to travel to or from the market.  And yet, it is where I buy the majority of our meat and fresh produce.  It is also where I buy spices, fresh pasta, drinking vinegar, and international products that I would like to try.  I also take our recycling to their recycling center as the one in our county does not accept as many items.  The photo you see above is from the furthest parking spot facing the front doors of the market.  I often refer to the parking lot as the Serengeti, mostly because the few trees placed here and there makes me think of the pictures I have always seen of that place.  I usually try to park under one of the trees, but on this day I decided I could use the walk since I skipped the treadmill that morning.

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If you’ve never been to YDFM, there are a few things you should probably know.

First, as you can see, they have extensive hours.  However, if you have any kinds of issues with crowds or claustrophobia, some days and hours are better than others.  I try to go during the week, early in the day.  Mid afternoon isn’t too bad, but for me the traffic on the way home is terrible, so I’d rather go in the mornings.  I’ve been on a Saturday a couple of times, and will only do that now out of desperation.  Also, the week or days just before a holiday are insane.  As in you can’t reasonably shop with a normal shopping cart on those days.

Second, speaking of shopping carts, if you want one, you’d better get it from the parking lot on your way in because there are none inside.  There are rolling plastic baskets that are deep but slim, and of course, hand carried baskets.  But I can only go every couple of weeks or so, so I generally need a bigger cart.

Third, they don’t take credit cards, and they don’t really like to take checks.  Cash or a debit card are your best bet.

Fourth, I have the same suggestion for this place as I do for IKEA virgins.  The first time you go, show some restraint and don’t buy much.  Just a few things, then go home and let everything you just saw kind of settle in your brain for a bit.  Otherwise it is easy to waste money and end up with a lot of food that you can’t possibly consume before it goes bad.

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My weakness is the bakery department.  I actually don’t buy anything there anymore for a couple of reasons.  First, it is so dang good that I could probably eat my weight in breads and muffins and croissants and cookies, and that just doesn’t work out very well.  Second, they are fresh baked and don’t have any preservatives, and so should be eaten within a day or two of purchase.  Sadly, I have found that we can’t eat it fast enough, and usually have some waste.

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As you can see above, I mostly focus on fresh produce at the market.  There’s aisle after aisle of varieties of produce, most of which I am familiar with and know what to do with, but some is just foreign and intriguing.  There are organic and nonorganic options, and the description above the bins includes the origin of the food.  I find that the produce is fresher than at the grocery, and that the prices are at least competitive, but often are better.  They bring in and move such a large volume that the turn over is amazing.  Also, if you are wondering if something is actually in season, or if it is maybe late in the season, you will know quickly at YDFM.  In the height of the strawberry season the berry table is overflowing with packages of berries, but when in winter the selection is much smaller.  While there are always a wonderful variety of apples available, it is evident that apples are currently in season by how many more than just the standards there are in the market.

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Other favorites are the deli, seafood and meat departments.  Pictured above is a pretty normal lunch for me.  YDFM smokes their own meats on site, and I prefer their sliced turkey, chicken and roast beef over other places.  While I don’t often eat it in a sandwich, I do like to make kind of a deli plate for a light lunch. They have an amazing selection of cheeses from all over the world.  I like to buy a new cheese to try from time to time, and then talk my husband’s head off over dinner about where it is from.

The seafood department at YDFM is a force in it’s own right, and simply has to be experienced to be understood.  My house could fit in the seafood department.  My entire house.  And if it is seafood and they aren’t selling it at YDFM, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.  I have gone in there when every bin and tank was full, and and I have been there when the seafood selections were thin.  There’s a reason for that.

I don’t like to buy chicken anywhere else.  I find that the chicken at YDFM is the size that you would expect a chicken to be.  It doesn’t look like it came from a chicken that could beat you up in a dark alley.  And they have just about every cut you could think of.  They also have turkey, beef, bison, lamb and pork.  There’s probably something else in there, but I can’t remember, and well, no pics allowed to help me remember!  We love the sausage that YDFM mixes.  They have it in turkey, chicken and pork.  The hot is the best, but to each his own.  *Here’s a tip… When buying seafood or meat at the market, ask for ice.  If they have any available, they will double bag your meat purchase in a bag of ice.  However, I find the cashiers don’t really like it because it gets the labels wet and makes them difficult to scan.

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Spices are another thing that I love at YDFM.  They are significantly less expensive than the national brands at the grocery, and are fresh.  They don’t come in fancy packaging, but they don’t need to look good to taste good.  I use the pumpkin pie spice in my favorite fall protein shake.

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McClary Bros Old Timey Drinking Vinegar is another thing that I recently discovered at YDFM.  I believe you can purchase it elsewhere, but it’s just as easy for me to get it there since I know they carry it.  Every evening before bed my husband prepares a glass of this drinking vinegar mixed with some seltzer water for each of us.  The biggest benefit we’ve noticed is a significant reduction of acid reflux at night.  I don’t know that it is as healthful as Bragg’s, but it is definitely more palatable.  There are several different flavors, but we like the Michigan Apple Pie the best.  I’d say the Beet and Carrot one would come in second, but really, by a long shot.  The other flavors are just too sharp for me.  It’s also a little pricy in my opinion, but we only drink a little at a time, and since we don’t really drink anything else other than water and Red Rock Ginger Ale, we have room in the budget for it.  Again, I am sure Bragg’s is a healthier option, but how healthy can it be if you hate it so much you won’t drink it?

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Dinner on the same day as a trip to YDFM usually involves whatever I saw that wasn’t actually on my list.  This time it was fresh whole wheat pasta and YDFM’s own marinara sauce.  I’ve wanted to try their marinara for a long time, and it was quite good, but I have to be honest, I like mine made from our homegrown and bottled tomatoes better.  The pasta was perfect, but Jeff wasn’t crazy about the texture.  Fresh pasta is a little different from dried.  I froze what pasta we didn’t eat that night, and I’ll probably have it for lunch some time.

So, that’s your intro to Your Dekalb Farmers Market.  If you live in the Atlanta area and have never been, you really should give it a try, and if you are in the area visiting, it is worth putting on your list of places to visit.

The Getaway Gang

The Green Apricot hosted two retreats in 2017.  One coincided with QuiltCon in Savannah, GA, and planning for it began two years ago.  The other was just simply a getaway to take a breather at the end of summer and beginning of fall.  This one was a little more last minute, and while based a great deal on the fun time we had at Tybee Island in February, it was intended to be more low-key and have better accommodations.

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The Fall 2017 edition of  #thegreenapricotgetaway was located at a resort in Crossville, TN called Fairfield Glade.  I think you could call it a mixed-use property, as it is part resort and part community.  There are people who live there full time, but there are also a number of condominiums, and amenities ranging from golf courses to walking trails, from horseback riding to swimming, from medical facilities to a spa.  It’s located just off of I-40 about an hour west of Knoxville, and while the property is huge, I was surprised that not many seem to know about it.  It is not explicitly a retirement community, but it is definitely retirement friendly.

So, a few months ago I reserved 6 condos and got to work planning.  I knew that the condos were not big enough for all of us to sew in, and I reserved the classroom in the community center for three days.  I ended up limiting the attendance to just 12, including myself, because I was concerned about having enough room for all of us to be comfortable sewing in the classroom.  Each person had a 6 foot table, and there was plenty of room for 3 cutting mats and 4 irons.  Perfect size, and no electrical problems!

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Not everyone knew each other before the retreat, but the beauty of a small group like this is the opportunity to chat on a more personal level with other people in our sewing community.  There was a wide range of personalities and ideologies, and it made for some fascinating conversations throughout the days and nights.
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Machine name tags helped with getting to know your sewing neighbor, but putting them on the handwheel certainly made them more entertaining.  If you don’t believe me, just try it sometime.  I had prepared and brought several games to play throughout the getaway, but in the end decided to keep things simple.  We had several gifts donated by Rana from Sewn Into the Fabric, some of which were part of daily treats, like this dang cute pumpkin pin cushion called Big Delores, and some were drawn for.

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One game we did play was to find the blue Peanut M&M.  Before heading to the retreat, I sorted 12 pounds of Peanut M&Ms by color, and hid a blue one in one of the jars.  The one to find it won the first prize of the week- a Seymore Bones kit from Rana!  Kris didn’t miss a beat and immediately dumped out his jar of M&Ms and found the blue one…

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That started the drawings that went on throughout the retreat.  Kris drew the name of the next winner, and then also drew what prize they got.  We had another Seymore Bones kit, three copies of “Simply Strings,” also by Rana, and several boxes of Wonder Clips by Clover.

I didn’t get pictures of every project that was made or worked on, but I got a few.  Here’s just a snippet of what some of us were working on…

During the planning process I found that I was less than excited about catering options, so I decided to cook for all of us.  Preparing food for 12 can seem daunting in some ways, but really, I come from/have a large family, so I am pretty accustomed to cooking for a crowd.  I don’t consider myself to be an especially impressive cook, or excessively healthy, but I feel like I do okay in the kitchen and I have learned a lot about improving my own nutrition over the last several months.  I checked with everyone for any special needs, then set a menu based on meals that I’ve made for my own family before.  Most of the shopping had to be done ahead of time, so my car was incredibly weighed down on the drive to Crossville!

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We ate at my condo because, well, I hate food near fabric!  Snacks are okay, but it really does bug me to sit in front of my machine with a plate of food.  The sewing room was just under a mile away from the condos, so most of us drove back and forth for lunch and dinner.  But the weather was PERFECT for a walk, as well.  I served the same way I do in my own home- countertop buffet style.  I also dislike a lot of garbage, so we used real plates and glasses and I washed cloth napkins between each meal.  I very much enjoyed cooking for everyone, and with a little preparation it wasn’t nearly as much work as it could have been!

Monday:  Lunch- Green Veggie Minestrone with salad bar; Dinner- Acorn squash with sausage, apples, and kale, roasted broccoli, and salad

Tuesday:  Lunch- Salad and sandwich bar; Dinner- Lemon rosemary chicken with brown rice, roasted asparagus, muffins and raw veggies

Wednesday:  Lunch- Sandwich and salad bar; Dinner- Pork roast and apples with roasted mixed veggies and raw veggies

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Several of us also took a minute or two to visit some of the local establishments, like Little Blessings Quilt Shop in Crossville, and Gina’s Bernina in Knoxville.  This fabulous yarn shop was just a few miles down the road from the resort, and I was glad to have the chance to stop in at the Yarn Patch.  It’s a lovely shop, to say the least, and I didn’t have to look to hard to find something to take home with me.  I was especially impressed with the person working there, who I assume is the owner.  She handled her customers beautifully- gently guiding them as needed, and letting them wander as desired.  It really was a pleasure to shop there, and I hope to support this shop again sometime in the future.

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And just like that, it was all over.  The weather was wonderful.  The accommodations were perfect- including the enormous mirrored bathtub/shower in every unit- haha!  But the best part was the company.

Until next time…