May Morning and Maple Muffins

May dawned upon us this morning, and though the first day of a new month is always a time to begin anew, this one requires more than just whispering ‘rabbit, rabbit’ when you wake! Back in Oxford, May Morning is special. At dawn on May Day students stay up all night, or just wake up really early, and walk to stand beneath Magdalen Tower or on Magdalen Bridge. The Magdalen College Choir sings a hymn from the top of the tower to greet the dawn, and other music and festivities occur in the streets. Afterwards, people generally go to breakfast (and then sometimes back to bed, if they’ve been up all night after a ball – or they have to get on the river to train for Summer Eights!) My friends and I made the most of May Morning in our second year, when no one had exams in the summer term, and I still remember breakfasting afterwards at Patisserie Valerie on the High Street, everyone laughing and chatting companionably despite the sleep fogging our minds. There were lots of exciting times at Oxford, but that one stands out particularly in my memory because it was just so casual and normal, and yet so wonderful – one of the little moments that, strung together with a host of other good times, makes for the most wonderful memories.

 

 

East River

 

This morning began with a run along the East River, and though I wasn’t up in time to watch the sun rise, I did get to see some lovely sights. Roosevelt Island always looks pretty from the path.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunny Sunday ramblings and a scrumptious scramble

I hope everyone is having a lovely Eastover weekend, filled with family, friends, food, and fun (Easter + Passover = Eastover. It’s the new spring edition of Chrismukkah). For me, a satisfying Saturday gave way to a sunny Sunday, making this a perfect couple of days. It was also perfectly alliterative…yes, I’m still at it with the S’s! I’m on a roll after sharing Sasha’s story with you yesterday. Anyway, yesterday was sunny but extremely windy, so while my run was in a pretty green Central Park, it wasn’t exactly picture perfect. I literally had to hold on to my hat! This morning’s walk was much more peaceful, though when the wind is crazy it does feel like a bit of an adventure.

NP on Wednesday morning required a headband and gloves...this weekends workout was short sleeves and shorts!

NP on Wednesday morning required a headband and gloves…this weekends workout was short sleeves and shorts!

I did 9 miles at an easy pace, the wind insistent but stopping short of blowing me down. With 5 miles on Tuesday, 6 and change on Wednesday (4 at November Project + 1 and a bit there and back), and 6 on Friday, my grand total mileage for the week was just about 26.2. If only I could make up my mind to commit to that in one day – I’m getting there! For now, I ran against the wind with a smile, and a squint when the leaves and sediment swirled up too close. I especially enjoyed it when the song ‘Saturday Morning’ by Eels came streaming into my headphones. I have an iPod shuffle that I wear while running, since I don’t like carrying my phone, so each song is a surprise. This song fit perfectly with the moment as I headed down the park path near the Great Lawn, and was also a little bit of a throwback, since it was on one of the O.C. albums that I bought for my first iPod at 13 or 14 – meaning, nearly a decade ago, which is just head-spinningly crazy!

When I got home, I decided to whip up a scramble for my post-run breakfast. I had brunch plans with friends around 2, so I didn’t want to refuel to the point of being stuffed. I just needed something to tide me over, and I’d already eaten oatmeal for my pre-run morning snack. I like having smoked salmon on the weekends, because it reminds me of weekend morning breakfasts when I was little.

Back then, I scarfed down cereal or Eggos before school (oh, for the days before my wheat allergy was diagnosed, and all I had to worry about was avoiding almonds and oranges…). But on weekends, my mom would sometimes make us pancakes with maple syrup, chocolate chips, and a delightful topping called Strawberry Piggy Sauce that Stonewall Kitchen discontinued some years ago to our chagrin, because after asking at the company store in Maine, we were told we were the only ones buying it. Other days, my dad would head over to the deli to pick up a dozen bagels to pair with cream cheese and lox. Of course, my bagel days are long behind me, but I still love lox, or smoked salmon, which stayed a crucial part of my diet in college (the Brits enjoy smoked fish just like the Scandinavians and New Yorkers) – and I’m always finding ways to incorporate it into breakfast dishes. Which brings us to yesterday’s smoked salmon scramble, just like the lox ‘n onions scrambled eggs you’ll find at any diner. Make a big batch for an Easter or Passover brunch (sans wrap, it’s kosher for Passover) – or whip up a portion later in the week for a quick and tasty gluten-free breakfast!

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Five Things Friday #2: Flinging Myself Into Spring

The five things I’m really loving this Friday all have to do with the real arrival of spring in NYC this week! From food to fitness to fashion, it was hard to narrow it all down (so keep an eye out for next week’s post when some of them might make the cut!) And without further ado…

Blueberries for brekkie!

Blueberries for brekkie!

 

1. Fruit: Of course, I’m a little obsessed with all the springtime fruit spreads out on the city streets and in markets and grocery stores. I like to eat apples and bananas (like the song says!) but after a long winter, fresh colors and tastes are a welcome arrival. From plump berries to juicy peaches, I’ll be nibbling fruit by the fistful and using it in springy recipes. This week, I feasted on a Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cake AND a PB&J Oatmeal Cake to showcase some blueberries. Also, on a somewhat related note, I was watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix this week, and can’t stop twisting the word ‘fruit’ around in my head because of that episode where Lorelai and Rory come back from Europe without a gift for Luke, and Lorelai tries to pass off that ‘Fruits de la Terre’ jam as French!

 

 

 

Cute store window

Cute store window

 

2. Foodie Find: There’s a shop called Food Passion on the corner of 88th and Park with a name I love that I hadn’t dropped into until this week. Park Avenue above 61st Street is almost entirely residential, with approximately three retail shops for the next thirty blocks. I really like this because it means walking up Park is much more peaceful and less crowded than on neighboring Lexington and Madison Avenues.

 

 

Menu

Menu

 

It’s mostly a catering company, but there is a small breakfast and lunch menu – you can get an omelette and a coffee or juice for under $10, which is almost impossible in this area of Manhattan. I rarely buy lunch out, preferring to pack my own, but I forgot to take my lunch out of the fridge yesterday and realized my mistake on the way to school, and had a nice cheesy omelette and cup of coffee to tide me over.

 

 

 

3. Fast(er) Feet: I run for body, mind, and spirit – not for speed. But, my body is a little achy-er than a 23-year-old’s should be, due to various injuries (broken right ankle, tendinitis in the right knee, and strained right hip flexor) that often mean I’m sore on the right side or overcompensating on the left. One way to combat this is trail running instead of pounding the pavement. The bridle path in Central Park was covered in a solid sheet of snow and ice all winter, and while my Due North spikes are great, there was simply too much slip-and-slide action going on. So I’m glad the paths are finally cleared and the packed dirt awaits my happy feet!

The reservoir a few weeks ago...

The reservoir a few weeks ago…

...reflecting beautifully once again!

…reflecting beautifully once again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Run n’ Brunch Fun

At the start

At the start

 

This morning I woke up to blessedly sunny skies and an absence of snowflakes. Dare I say that spring is finally here? Well, I don’t personally want to jinx it, but my Sunday began with an aptly titled Spring Meltdown 10k in Central Park. In the two weeks since the NYC Half Marathon, I’ve been taking it easy, with just a few 4-5 mile runs each week at a slow pace, because I aggravated some dormant knee and hip injuries during that race. This morning wasn’t much different, as I ran purely to get back in the swing of things (and metaphorically run in the spring). While the air was brisk, running in the sun was a treat.

 

 

 

After the finish

After the finish

My moderate workouts also meant that I missed November Project Wednesdays for a few weeks, so I had a blast this morning knowing that my friend Kaitlin was also running. Even though we just met last month, one of the awesome things about NP is how fast you get to know people (I think it has something to do with the hugs). After the race, we had plans to head out for brunch. I think I speak for both of us when I say that running and refueling with delicious eats is pretty much the epitome of a perfect Sunday morning!

 

 

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Snow and Signs of Spring

Marching through the spring snow

Marching through the spring snow

This winter seemed like it would never end, what with the snow and freezing temperatures taking over the Northeast from the holiday season well into March. There was half a foot of fresh powder on what was technically the first day of spring in the tristate area! I’m grateful that where I live wasn’t hit as hard as Boston or Buffalo. And though I may lace up and dash through the snow, waking up for my workouts all winter no matter what, brushing off concerns with the thoughts that others have it worse, I’m still so thrilled when signs of spring appear.

 

 

A river runs through once more

A river runs through once more

Earlier this week, I saw a ship chugging down the East River under a sparkling sun. The river is no longer frozen, with floes of ice so large it would be dangerous for any boat to pass through. While it’s still chilly, the water is moving again and nature is back on its proper course. The sparkling sun attested to that fact! On a related note, I took this photo from the river running path, which is finally free of the thick sheet of ice and resulting slush that made it hazardous for months. This means that November Project PR Day for April won’t require running in an ice bath!

 

 

Fuel for body and mind

Fuel for body and mind

Thursday we had misty rain, with temps in the mid-50s and rising. Today was a little nippy again (snowflakes!) That plus nerves meant I was experiencing some shivers this morning. I ate a small breakfast before heading to Columbia for the 8:30am start. A half-cup of coffee, a Chobani Oats apricot yogurt, a small apple, and a few squares of dark chocolate with black tea leaves (hey, dark chocolate is brain food!)  The new Chobani Oats flavors also contain chia, quinoa, and amaranth. I didn’t realize when I picked it up, and it was the first time I tried chia seeds. I’ll have to give them another go though, because the pre-test stomach butterflies were very unhelpful.

 

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Moving Forward in Bites and Bounds

It’s only Wednesday and already I feel as if I’ve done enough this week to warrant a weekend of rest (which is not happening anytime soon, thanks to my recurring insomnia and realization that I’ve tried to cram an entire February of fun into about four days). Between school and my internship, running and yoga, finding time with friends and working on my Junior League volunteer commitment, and recently adding November Project to the mix, life’s been a whirlwind. But like Ferris Bueller (my film hero) tells us, life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. Not happening for this girl!

So I’m taking the time this week to tackle a few new challenges. I’m working to raise awareness during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I can’t fully describe how healing it was to be able to write about my own experience on this blog, and to have that post hit an all-time high of readership. Even if just one person read it and was encouraged to seek help or to come forward with their own story, I would feel like I was able to make a difference, taking past pain and turning it into something positive and far greater than myself. It’s already been so much more. And as I said in that post, part of moving forward with my life is staying healthy and happy so that I have the energy to enjoy new experiences that I never would have thought possible. To that end, I’m running through the winter (race you to spring!) and hosting my first dinner party, but keeping what’s most important at the forefront of my mind all the while.

 

Salt lasers across the metatarsals

Salt lasers across the metatarsals

Staying motivated this winter has been easier than expected. I don’t mind the cold as much when I’m out on the run. I guess it’s because I’m constantly in motion and keeping my heart rate up in a way that even a brisk walk won’t do (and I walk A LOT). But even I’m getting tired of all the white and grey stuff falling out of the sky and turning to slush on city streets. This morning, I was confused because I thought my sneakers suddenly didn’t match – turns out, the white lines I had begun to think were part of the design are actually salt stains. So I’m happy we finally had a few days above freezing, looking forward to spring, and getting ready to start my runs under a rising sun (though the sunrise is magical!)

 

 

Bakery on Main Carrot Cake Oatmeal goes well with apple spice tea! I also had a Caramel Apple Cinnamuffin on the side...so many oodles of delicious oats.

Bakery on Main Carrot Cake Oatmeal goes well with apple spice tea! I also had a Caramel Apple Cinnamuffin on the side…so many oodles of delicious oats.

But my experiences didn’t just lead me to healing via exercise and eating right. They also taught me the importance of rest and relaxation. There’s a difference between being a bit of a sleepyhead, rolling out of bed anyway, and going out for a pre-school jog or meeting the November Project tribe to start my day off right, and truly pushing myself past the brink of exhaustion. Yesterday I woke up to the latter kind of feeling. So instead of going for 5 miles as planned, I stayed under the covers a little while longer, had a bowl of oatmeal with berries and some tea, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading off to my internship. It was the best choice I could have made, and this morning I woke up refreshed and ready to get outside and greet the sun.

 

 

That leisure time also gave me a few moments to go over the menu for my dinner party on Saturday. I’ll be serving three courses, making most of the food myself (a few friends are bringing side dishes, but most will provide the wine and laughter!) As I sat there going over recipes and making a shopping list to pick up any ingredients missing from my cupboard, I realized just how far I’ve come. I could never have cooked for other people when I was suffering, the thought of being around so much food was actually frightening, and baking as often as I do now? With all the taste testing? It was out of the question. A few years ago, I read Brave Girl Eating. The author’s daughter struggled with anorexia, and while I don’t have a family that understood my experience in the way that hers did, the idea that food is just too fraught with complications in our culture struck me. We literally have policy debates going on about food, which is necessary but sadly so. While I don’t think that food necessarily equals love, I do think that food is food, and it should be whatever we want it to be – a source of quelling our hunger or experiencing new tastes or something that brings us together with other people. No one should have to feel like their decisions about food are anyone else’s to make, or like they have to justify eating or not eating anything. Hungry for an apple? Eat one! (Even when others think it’s too “healthy” – that’s why I try to share as much of my way of life as possible, because I definitely eat fruits and veggies alongside baked goods and ice cream.) Want some steak frites? Have that instead! Not hungry at noon? Eat lunch at two! Do what works for you, and listen to your own body and mind. This is what I make up my mind to do every day, and so far, so good.

 

The reservoir may be frozen, but I'm secretly hoping one day the sun will overpower it so much it melts into instant spring (like in Narnia...)

The reservoir may be frozen, but I’m secretly hoping one day the sun will overpower it so much it melts into instant spring (like in Narnia…)

 

 

 

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