Five Things Friday #4: Gardens Galore

This week I’m linking up for Five Things Friday! Somehow, recent days seemed to revolve around gardens for me. Not actual gardening, mind you – that’s a little tough in Manhattan. But from fashion to food to flowers blooming all around, there was a general garden theme, which made for a colorful and cheerful week!

 

In one of my favorite Lillys

One of my favorites

 

1. Lilly Pulitzer clothes: On Thursday, Bryant Park was transformed into a Lilly-palooza for the new capsule collection for Target. I am a major Lilly fan, wearing lots of dresses throughout the spring and summer, so had thought I’d hit this up, but I am an even bigger fan of not standing in line to spend money, which is what I would have had to do. I am looking forward to seeing if I can snatch up this dress online, but otherwise I’ll stick to wearing the Lilly I have because it makes me happy just to put it on! And really, I have so much Lilly already, and the clothes are made so well, that I’ll be able to wear them for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Flower power

Flower power

 

2. Trusty Tretorns: I love Tretorn tennis shoes, and wear them all the time for walking around. Basically, if I’m not in running shoes and I don’t have to be fancy, these are on my feet. They’re also well-made and last a long time, which is saying something, because I easily walk 5-6 miles a day around the city in addition to my morning runs. I’ve worn these for years, but always stuck to the classic navy or white pairs, until I discovered these adorable flowered kicks. And now that spring is officially here and I’ve transitioned out of boots (and also worn out my old pair until the hole near the big toe was too big to tape up!) I have flowered, happy feet.

 

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The Little Things in Life

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This week has been full of reminders that sometimes, it’s best to take a step back and take stock of your life, and find joy in the little things. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern where everything seems mundane. Instead of doing that, I’m thinking out loud about a few of the moments I’ve recently had that brightened up my day and made me feel like everything’s going to work out in the end!

Sunrise over the East River

Sunrise over the East River

 

Yesterday, watching the last moments of the sunrise over the East River as I jogged up to meet everyone at November Project, I was reminded again how shockingly beautiful nature is. Unadorned and unaltered by mankind, it’s bigger and brighter than all of us (and we should work hard to keep it that way!)

 

 

 

Puppies preening

Puppies preening

 

Later in the morning, I saw a group of the cutest puppies on my way out the door. If you can believe it, dog-walkers in New York handle twice as many pups as this at one time – this was the group for the left-hand leash! It’s so nice for the dogs that the weather is better, they can run and play in the park to their heart’s content without worrying about salt in their paws.

 

 

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WIAW #6: Yogurt and Peanut Butter and Ice Cream, Oh My!

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Welcome to another round of WIAW! I’m really getting into this habit and look forward to seeing what everyone over at Peas and Crayons is featuring for their eats. This morning’s November Project workout temporarily distracted me. I was loving the shout-out from Christopher MacDougall in the NY Times today…and then he showed up at our workout! Now that I’m home and showered and cozying up to a plate of pancakes, I have some major food photo drooling to do before I head to school. Without further ado, here’s a snapshot of my yesterday’s eats…

 

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast: Coffee, yogurt, a Braeburn apple, and an egg and goat cheese wrap inside a Food for Life brown rice tortilla. I received a package courtesy of Food for Life, and I’m happy to report that they’re a great new discovery. I love the Trader Joe’s kind, but the nearest TJ’s is one block south of my apartment – and about 1.5 miles to the west! Sometimes I buy groceries there and walk across Central Park, but in future I can find these at the natural foods store around the corner. The trick is to warm one for a minute in a pan before wrapping around your favorite filling. Then they’re nice and chewy and don’t break like a lot of gluten-free wraps!

 

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Maple Ricotta Oatmeal Cake

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I went for a run in the park yesterday morning and it was beautiful. I’m so excited spring has officially sprung. It’s always fun to see students ‘sunbathing’ on the Columbia campus…hard to believe in just about a month I’ll be graduating law school and leaving academia behind. Winter was so long, it makes the few weeks of spring while I’m still in school seem very short!

 

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When I got home from my run, I was in the mood for an oatmeal cake for breakfast. I picked up a tub of ricotta cheese over the weekend to use in a polenta dish, and though I often use it in omelettes or pancakes, I’d never thought about other breakfast treats. All that changed when I went to whip up an oatmeal cake after my run yesterday morning, and instead of reaching for my usual Greek yogurt to spoon in, I went for the ricotta instead. I added some maple syrup to the mix, and this little ramekin of deliciousness became a Maple Ricotta Oatmeal Cake. It was roughly the same density as one of my other oatmeal cakes, but with a texture just a tad lighter and fluffier. I’m sure it would be great with lemon zest (which I didn’t happen to have on hand), like a lemon ricotta pancake – but with just the maple and cinnamon it was a delightfully dessert-y breakfast treat!

 

Ricotta and maple syrup and cinnamon, oh my!

Ricotta and maple syrup and cinnamon, oh my!

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Liebster Award Q&A

Liebster Award Badge

 

One of the great things about the blogging community is the way in which it really is a community. When I started blogging in December, I was looking for a way to share my thoughts on running, recipes, and life in general with the world. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I also missed writing for fun about subjects I enjoy, and I realize now that’s a part of me I never want to give up again! On a related note, this past Saturday was my 20th day straight of blogging, unplanned by me but the creative juices had been flowing for the past few weeks. That probably won’t happen again, I’ll keep it to 4-5/week at the sweet spot for me. But part of the reason I kept writing was because people kept reading! Another thing I didn’t know was how all the bloggers out there (and there are many, many more than I ever imagined) who found their way to my little corner of the web would be so supportive of my blog, and would themselves have such creative content that I’d become a daily reader of theirs. There was so much to learn over the past few months, and every day is another surprise. Like last Friday, when I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Peppermint Girl. I’d never heard of it, but I think it’s a great way to encourage connections between bloggers. So, without further ado, on to her questions for me…

 

What inspires you the most in life?

My biggest inspiration in life is seeing other people doing what makes them happy. For a long time, I thought I had to be the best at one thing or another, whether it was what I really wanted or not. I struggled to pick one thing and define myself solely by it. Now I understand that I’m much happier and on my way to living a full life by doing lots of things that I enjoy, whether I’m awesome at them or just average. In fact, that’s how I came up with my blog title. A Renaissance Runner Girl likes to run – and cook gluten-free treats, and look at art, and hang out with friends and family, and ski in winter and swim in summer!

What time of day do you write the best content for your blog?

I write the best content either early in the morning, before I go out for a run, or mid-afternoon, when I’m done with schoolwork or my internship and ready for a change of pace. 

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My Favorite Pancakes

Growing up, pancakes were one of my favorite breakfasts. My mom would make them as a special Saturday morning treat, filled with chocolate chips and topped with Stonewall Kitchen’s now-retired Strawberry Piggy Sauce. Pancakes at Sarabeth’s in Manhattan or my favorite diner in Connecticut were my birthday brunch treat, and my first year in college, the meal I ate before I went off to the airport for school each term to say goodbye to the US for a few months. (The UK one-ups the US by having a Pancake Day, but their pancakes are actually more like what we consider crepes). I’d have them topped with strawberries and bananas and drizzled with maple syrup, because I liked blueberries and chocolate chips, but why change a good thing?

When my wheat allergy was diagnosed, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy pancakes in the same way ever again. Part of why I liked pancakes was the way they conjured up happy memories of childhood meals, before any of my struggles with food began, and the special feeling of having a treat on an ordinary morning I got whenever a plate was set before me. It wasn’t that I thought gluten-free pancake mix would taste bad. I just thought the pancakes would taste different. Which is true, of course. But that meant I didn’t really eat pancakes for a few years, until I started learning to cook for myself and coming up with new recipes. Pancake perfection was a distant dream, but I began to try anyway. Remember that saying, shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll land among the stars? Well, I’ve taken that to heart, because the pancakes I’ve arrived at might not be perfect, but they sure do make me feel all warm and fuzzy the way I feel pancakes should. They’re sweet, fluffy, and gluten-free, and more than good enough for me!

 

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Five Things Friday #3: Costco Finds

This Friday, I’m sharing a few of my favorite Costco finds. Some people think that big-box superstores mark the end of civilization (as I mentioned in a recent WIAW, they have been saying this since You’ve Got Mail. Fox Books was the Costco of books.) But, Costco is actually wonderful for people trying to eat healthfully without breaking the bank. Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables make up the bulk of my family’s Costco cart, as well as dairy, eggs, fish, and poultry. And a few snacks like Angie’s and Skinny Pop popcorn. All at prices that are lower than the grocery stores in surrounding suburban Connecticut (and so much lower than in Manhattan it makes me sad to do the math!) The following are just a few of my favorite finds – which you may already have glimpsed in my past WIAW posts and will definitely be featured time and time again.

 

A trifecta of delicious berries

A trifecta of delicious berries

 

Frozen berries: Fresh berries are expensive even when they’re in season, so finding this frozen medley was a big deal! They’re not exactly the same as fresh berries, since defrosting them (either in the fridge or microwave) means they’re not going to be as firm and there will be a lot of juice coming out, but they’re perfect for using in baked goods, breakfast treats, and snacks. And the price really can’t be beat.

 

 

 

A sweet and tangy treat

A sweet and tangy treat

 

I’ve used them to make berry muffins and as a topping for pancakes, and I swirl them into yogurt and ice cream on a regular basis. Nothing beats the wild raspberries that grow in the woods around my childhood home in Connecticut, but these are great for getting through a snowy winter – close your eyes, take a bite, and think of eating fresh berries in the summer sun!

 

 

 

 

Two different medleys for vegetable heaven

Two different medleys for vegetable heaven

Frozen mixed vegetables: Veggies are a staple of my diet. I never had to be coaxed into eating my carrots, corn or peas – I’m still not big on green beans, but this mix is tough to beat on quality and price, so I usually douse them with a little Parmesan and dig in! I use them in everything from omelettes and breakfast bowls to colorful dinner accoutrements. Pretty much wherever you might think of to use chopped vegetables. And I use the Normandy-style blend for hearty winter recipes with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.

 

 

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