April 16, 2013

A Running Battle

Earlier, I was eager to settle in with my laptop and give you the rundown of yesterday’s kick-ass race but after today’s tragic event, I don’t really know what to do or say. I’m still speechless with a permanent knot in my throat from an afternoon of choking back tears, haunted by the news that hit a little too close to home. The sense of accomplishment I experienced as I crossed the More/FITNESS Half finish line has been stripped and the strength I felt as my legs seemed to float across the hillier-than-I-remember Central Park has been depleted. I’m stunned, disgusted, sick to my stomach and angry because a selfless act of terror has forever changed the sport’s arguably most iconic event.

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I, like so many fellow athletes, run for that sense of freedom you feel when you reach your “happy pace.” It’s a rhythmic escape from both the good and the bad with a healing power unlike anything else. After the Boston Marathon bombing, that haven has been altered…challenged. The finish line is where our family members band together to cheer us on. It’s where we truly turn on the jets to test our body. It is there where we learn if the blood, sweat and tears we endured in training really paid off before setting goals for the next–a hopeful end to a new beginning. I felt better than ever yesterday, pushing myself to shatter my 2:03:18 Vegas race for a new PR of 1:47:23 but today’s frantic texts to friends and family put everything into perspective. My heart goes out to those in Beantown. I pray for the running community’s strength and perseverance. God knows, it’s one group that doesn’t and won’t give up without a fight.

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

April 8, 2013

Spring Has Sprung

Price Pritchett (who the hell is he? I couldn’t tell you!) once said, “Change always comes bearing gifts.” That’s why I adore spring. After months of brisk, blustery weather and corresponding drab ensembles, I welcome the turn in temps. I mean, I’ve been in heaven en route to work each day, sporting my sunnies, boat shoes and pastels, soaking up that vitamin D and taking a whiff of cheerful, potted daffodils. I feel like I’ve been a grinning goon, but luckily I’m not alone. The city is buzzing! This weekend I embraced the gifts change has already given me, alongside the exciting “presents” that await in my near future. Let’s just say they include a two bedroom with two baths, a gorgeous kitchen that will be sure to store any appliance my heart desires (wish list: juicer) and a walk-in closet Carrie Bradshaw would approve of. Granted, it will showcase my sneaker collection…not Loubs. Eeeee!

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No dotted lines have been signed just yet but I’m glad to say that after Saturday, we’re one step closer to a big move. Yes, it’s a bit depressing to think my city slicker days are already coming to an end. I’ve caught myself sulking as I savor every last Manhattan sunset and even wandering through yucky Times Square during prime tourist rush. A girl’s afternoon full of mani/pedis, shopping and lunch at Cafeteria with my gal pal, Allie, today further made me realize my love for the convenience and excitement NYC provides with its endless opportunities for all things fun. But after getting a taste of a different gorgeous view full of seagulls, sailboats and even a distant city skyline, I have a different outlook on what’s next. All-you-can-eat sushi just minutes away? That’s going to be dangerous. Stamford’s new Chelsea Piers outfitted with a FlyWheel, women’s hockey and lacrosse pick-up games, alongside tennis courts, gym, etc.? Holy heaven. Oh, and a Zara without New York State tax? Welp, see you never, paycheck. So yeah, things were put into perspective this weekend, to say the least. The city isn’t going anywhere…I’ll still be here Monday through Friday for work! Plus, did I mention some of my closest people are in that area? That may be the greatest gift of them all.
What are your thoughts on change?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

March 19, 2013

Glass Slippers Are So Back

Growing up, my sister and I were all about Disney. Like most little girls, we spun around the house in princess gowns (a Jasmine two-piece pajama set, in my case) dreaming of one day being swept off our feet by a handsome prince to live happily and royally ever after. It’s no wonder everyone drools over William and Kate! We have long been imprinted to believe in the whole fairytale baloney…ugh, the communication sciences major in me digresses. Anywho, on Saturday, Kru and my mom came into the city to relive those previously described childhood fantasies with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Sorry, Disney but this version of the most infamous rags-to-riches story took things up a notch. No longer is the soon-to-be princess painted as a pushover, unaware of her self-worth needing a prince to save her. This gal, Ella, is confident and empowering, ultimately teaching the prince a thing or two about standing up for his beliefs in order to be a powerful, successful leader. He needs her to introduce democracy to the kingdom and spread kindness among the people. You go, girl! Now that’s a message I hope all the cutie patooties in the audience takeaway. 

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With that being said, my only criticism would be that the whole musical harped a bit too much on this notion. Like, I get that they were targeting the tiara-wearing audience members so they had to be overly obvious about things but after a while, it was excessive and borderline obnoxious–especially in the song lyrics, which were, dare I say it, amateur and lame. So yes, I just contradicted myself a bit. I liked the empowerment message but I wish they toned it down a bit, particularly in the music. Get it? Don’t get me wrong, the show as a whole was whimsical, surprisingly funny and spectacularly entertaining. The set design? Spot on with regal architecture and an enchanting wooded forest. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the costumes. Woah. I’m STILL trying to figure out how Cinderella’s dress magically upgraded from tatters to gown mid-spin…twice! Mind. Boggled. I may no longer prance around in “gowns” and faux diamond-encrusted accessories from the mall’s Disney Store, but sitting beside my mom and sister during our matinee the other day brought me back. Watching the wide-eyed kidlings around me made me realize how grateful I am to have been raised to believe in myself, in my future so that I can “be whatever I want to be,” as the cast belted out–with or without some handsome prince. Lucky for me, I’ve got one of those, too.
Who was your favorite princess growing up?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

March 13, 2013

Snow Daze

Spring is just a week a way and although I’ve been loving the longer days (not to mention look forward to reintroducing pretty pastels/florals back into my attire,) this past weekend I embraced the last of the cold white stuff for a wintery weekend. A 6-mile morning run with my Mandi along the shoreline was the perfect precursor to a trip up north to VT with the family. Sunshine, 40-degree temps and amazing conditions for the last board of the season…is there anything better? I feel like I was sporting a toothy grin all Sunday as I cut through the buttery slopes. I was in my happy place. Let’s just say my legs are still feeling that burn. And I like it.


My main man and his gals

I may have returned to the city last night, but my mind and heart are still slowly road trippin’ it back from the Green Mountain State. Can you blame me?
Are you ready for spring?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

March 4, 2013

Clarity

If I learned anything this summer, it was the power of the mind. I have a tendency to push myself beyond my limits, often relying on rushing endorphins to power through above and beyond. The good news is that now, when I start to feel myself reaching my breaking point [insert headaches, fatigue, etc., here…] I force myself to slow down, take a deep breath and embrace some much needed downtime. This weekend, I rebooted and boy, did it feel good. Saturday I slept in, clocked 8 miles, hit up the grocery store and spent the day enjoying Mike’s company. Although we originally had a Broadway show ambition, we settled on a lazy afternoon full of goofing off and planning for some exciting stuff in the works. Ahem, we may not be city slickers for much longer. More on that to come! A delightful salmon dinner by moi later on made things all the more perfect. Gosh, I love the fish market near our apartment. So fresh!

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My guy was off early yesterday morning for work so I got things started off on the right foot with a solid gym pump. Bikini season is closer than you think, ya’ll! I’m determined to have fiercely lean, sculpted arms by then. Besides that, I had quite the productive “me” day. My lunches for the week were all prepped, as were my outfits (pressed, accessorized…the works.) A hair and facial mask were completed, followed by a gal pal gabfest for over an hour on the phone. I find it funny how rarely I actually talk on the phone nowadays. It’s all texting and I don’t like it. Would you agree? After hanging up, I chose a new book over television (win!) before whipping up a simple stir-fry dinner with spaghetti squash and tofu shirataki noodles. See you never, pasta! My makeup brushes were then cleaned for the first time in, well, too long and a fresh coat of pink polish was applied with some sparkly accents. Love! Before I knew it, I was hitting the sack early to get my beauty rest to tackle the week off recharged and bright-eyed. Yep, this was just the weekend I needed.
How do you prep for success? 

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

February 28, 2013

Homemade Taco $easoning

You know you’re a bad blogger when you forget your username and password at sign in. Add on the fact that WordPress got a whole new look since the last time you logged on? Yeah, I officially feel like sh!t. To be honest, I don’t know where my lovespiration for my little place on the good ol’ interweb has gone lately. I’ll blame my incredible job for draining most of my creative mojo from my noggin’. So why I am I trying to get back into things again after almost three whole months of being out of the blogosphere? For one, I’ve felt guilty. Guilty that friends on LinkedIn have been endorsing my blogging skill. (Hey, thumbs up for that!) Guilty that–my big head is talking here, naturally–I’ve been keeping my favorite peeps in the dark. But more importantly, I feel guilty for feeling guilty, if that makes any sense at all. I miss blabbing about the things I sometimes question people actually read. Let me take a quick moment to thank some encouraging tweets and Facebook messages as of late that have spurred my revival: “@soybeanflan: Whenever I want to eat something terrible I think #WWLCD ‘what would @SprinkledwLove do’ then I’m snapped back into reality” and from a talented artist that I know, “I think you should upload workouts!!! I’ve already done your sexy arm one you posted on insta!!! It’s not everyday that a gal who’s intimidated by weights (me) sees a girl who looks amaze not be intimidated by them and actually know what they’re doing!!!!” You guys…I’m blushing! And yes, I’ll try to do more workout-based posts. They’re in the works!

Holy guacamole!

So with that being said, I’m sick of switching off my brain after leaving the office each day and having a rather unproductive personal life, creatively speaking. I mean, I’ve been finding pleasure (loser alert!) editing my sister’s scholarship essays lately. Like, ew. I have a brand new computer and rarely touch it–instead spending my down time serial watching Netflix and Hulu+. Ahem, I’m almost fully caught up on the first season of Revenge. Come on, though…can you blame me on that? To get back in the swing of things, I’d like to present you with the epic, Oscar-worthy taco salad I chopped up this past Sunday for myself and my main squeeze. After watching a little Guy Fieri on the treadmill and diving into the documentary Hungry For Change (haven’t seen it? Welp, you need to…) I was inspired to create my own taco seasoning. Who needs the sodium-laden, pricy packets from the store when you have all of the ingredients already in your pantry? Get ready to get saucy.

Here’s all you need to spice up your [salad] life:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon minced onion
Pinch of dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes
Black pepper and salt to taste

Mix into a pound or so of ground meat or block of tofu, alongside chopped jalapeño, sautéed mushrooms and frozen corn. Add alongside a heap of black beans, cheese, avocado slices, crumbled chips and tomatoes over a bed of greens and holy guacamole, you’re ready for a healthy foodie fiesta! Hint: fresh cilantro. Just do it.
Do you make your own seasonings and dressings?

Sprinkled with Love[ly, taco spices],
Lauren

January 2, 2013

Hello, 2013. It’s a Pleasure to Meet You.

My birthday, the holidays and ringing in the new year has officially come and gone in the blink of an eye. What a whirlwind the last month or so has been! Ever since Vegas, I’ve been go, go, go. As you can see, blogging has been low on the priority list between all the celebrating, baking, working, ’tis the season shopping and wrapping. Welp, sue me. Let me get you up to speed. The night before my birthday, my nearest and dearest gathered at my apartment for chili, wine and Christmas cookies with tons of laughs in between, just what I wanted. Mike was out of town on business for my actual birthday and I may have had a mid-20 crisis/breakdown (ahem, when I say mid-20, I of course mean 23…), but luckily Emily came to the rescue for a quick sweat sesh and dinner at the new Tommy Bahama restaurant. Hey, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Our meal was too good, as was the company (Em, her dad, Bob, and Bob’s girlfriend, Dianne). Live music, a tropical setting–I literally felt like I was on vacation–and birthday cake? Perfection. Thanks again! Mike made up for his absence the following day with a perfect-for-me dinner of salmon and roasted veggies over quinoa and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. I’m. So. Spoiled.

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Soon enough, it was Christmas. I headed back to Connecticut for good food, family and thoughtful gifts (13.1 was a common theme!) with new traditions and a new stove…FYI the holidays are never a good time for a stove malfunction but luckily, ours went on the fritz the day before Christmas Eve. Plenty of time to scramble and get a new one, right? 2012 had its fair share of ups and downs. I was in and out of New York interning, cruised with some of my bests for spring break, graduated from UConn, mourned the loss of two family members, enjoyed a summer of a whole lot of nothing, moved into Manhattan with my boyfriend of 5 years and started my dream career. I ran [my first] two half marathons, tackled a Tough Mudder and ran up the mountain I’ve skied down since I was a tot. I went dairy and gluten-free after suffering from tummy troubles for years. Fellow recent grads can probably relate when I say that this has been a weird limbo chapter of my life but certainly an exciting one. I’ve embraced city living more than I ever had expected although I still all too often find myself retreating to my comfort zone. This year, I need to start living, as I’ve put it. I have an itch to explore, learn and try new things. I have set an ambitious goal of six half marathon races this year, I want to get my spin on (SoulCycle every other week with my old roomie, Allie, why not!?) and have decided my body needs yoga again. Like desperately. Oh, and I have already signed up for another obstacle mud race in the summer. I never thought I’d say that. If 2012 has taught me anything, it is to be grateful for all that I have, appreciate loved ones and be patient, for hard work always pays off in the end. So cheers to 2012 but boy am I glad to start fresh this year. Let’s do it.
What fit goals/resolutions do you have set for 2013?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

December 8, 2012

Vegas (According to Instagram)

The past week or so has been a blur–especially with the time change/travel–and although I got back from my Vegas adventure Monday, I have yet to unpack. My apartment is a mess, I’m behind on all of my favorite shows and haven’t read a single blog, let alone blog myself. So let’s rewind. Last Friday started off er, well…interesting. I guess “an adrenaline rush” would summarize my trip to the airport. My reserved car service never arrived, I went to the wrong airport (how you mix up Newark from LaGuardia, I couldn’t tell you…) and I paid over $200 in cab fare to make up for my blonde moment from hell. I learned my lesson so I guess something good came out of the whole thing but still, I’m not made of money! I considered that my “loss” in Vegas. That’s right, who doesn’t hit the slot machine or play a little black jack in the gambling capital of the world? This girl. It could have been worse. Somehow I made it my flight with time to spare and, after treating myself to a blissful holiday cup of red eye perfection, I boarded my flight. Phew! Four hours and three friends later (25D, 25E and a fellow racer), I landed in Sin City. Watch out, lame soon-to-be 23-year-old coming through! (NOTE: birthday countdown = 9 days. Ew. Let’s not talk about it.) 

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Remember my friend Chelsea? She met me and my parents out there, how freaking awesome is that? The now brunette has been living in Cali since this past summer–tough life, I know–and brought a whole lot of fun to the trip. First item of business? Bury Grandma. No, I’m not joking. My mom carried her on the plane (yes, United Airlines was aware and yes, this is what she wanted…to be laid to rest out there with her late husband) in a lunch box. Burial? Half-marathon? What kind of Vegas trip was this? Not your typical one, that’s for sure. Need another example? Chel and I had fully intended on hitting the Strip like normal people our age a few nights (she even brought me club appropriate ensembles, since clearly my J. Crew wardrobe wouldn’t cut it) but we never made it out past 11:30. We preferred our luxurious Imperial Place hotel room, I mean Palace…ahem, please note the sarcasm. (The first “a” in “Palace” no longer lights up outside of the construction site. Little did my mother know that when she booked it. “But the photos online looked so nice!” Yeah, mom. That’s what the place will look like in a few months.) Anywho, more to come on my second half-marathon and all…I just can’t think straight at the moment. It’s officially the holiday season! Holy craziness.
Have you ever been to Vegas?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

November 26, 2012

Trottin’ Like Turkeys

I didn’t really know what to expect this Thanksgiving but after my conductor gobbled at EVERY stop on my train ride back to Connecticut, I had a good feeling. (No, I was not able to nap because of his outlandish noises but I give the guy credit for being all festive I guess.) After years of putting on the hoopla for my grandmother and uncle’s sake, my parents, sister and I didn’t really know what to make of the holiday without them. We originally planned on going north to Vermont, avoiding tradition altogether, when our good friends–or should I just call them family at this point–invited us to join them for dinner. It was pretty perfect and after my dad being sick and all, it was nice to not have the added stress the holiday can present. Plus, since we stayed local, I was able to run in the annual Turkey Trot with my favorite running pal! Doesn’t get much better than that. 

With my half so close (one week from today…ahhhh!) and Mandi training for one, as well, we decided to turn the five mile race into 10. You know those crazy people running to the race? That was us. Surprisingly enough, it was a great idea. It felt good to get such a nice warm-up in before getting our Turkey Trot on and as Mandi put it, pushing through the last five with so many people around kept us moving toward that finish line. I mean, everyone from our towns were there, we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves after all. All of that running lent for a guilt-free Thanksgiving, which was two plates full of turkey, slaw and roasted veggies for me! My simple, seasonal broccoli slaw salad was awesome, if I do say so myself (recipe below). The perfect crunch to pair with the whole turkey and mashed potato bit with a sweet tang from chopped apple chunks and the occasional dried cranberry…I may have singlehandedly ate half of that bowl. 

Ingredients
12-ounce package of broccoli slaw
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Stevia packet
Salt and pepper, to taste

Since my family loves leftovers–who doesn’t!–we ended up making our own bird and a few favorite side dishes the following night. It was weird not having Mike around to devour a plate or two of grub with me. The man I’m most thankful for couldn’t celebrate this year because of work (stupid football!) but don’t you worry, I brought him back a huge container of his favorite Thanksgiving things to show him how grateful I am to have him. I mean, come on, no Thanksgiving? That’s just plain wrong and he deserved some turkey. As you can see, the slaw made another appearance. You know a recipe is good when you make it two days in a row. Oh and in my opinion, avocado trumps gravy any day. Yum!

I have so much to be thankful for this year although, as you know, it’s been a bit of a crazy one. It was a bit strange not having Grandma Ginger and Uncle Ricky across from me Thursday night, but as I toasted to all that I am thankful for and clinked my wine glass with my dad, I couldn’t help but focus on the positive. I’m living in arguably the best city on Earth with the guy I fell in love with when I was 17-years-old. I have a dream of a job that I look forward to every single day. I am surrounded by the most incredible, supportive friends and family anyone could ask for. After quite the scare, my dad is well and even starting to run again. I cannot wait to jog alongside him as I compete in my second half marathon. Let the carboloading begin!
What dish did you contribute to your Thanksgiving dinner?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

November 18, 2012

Another Chili Recipe…With a Pumpkin Twist

There’s nothing better than a big bowl of chili to accompany football watching (/noshing) on a cold Sunday afternoon. Hearty, delicious and beyond easy to make. One batch, dinner for a week. Or if you live with two boys, like me, a meal and a half total. Tops. Let’s just say Mike isn’t shy when it comes to seconds or thirds of this stuff and I don’t blame him. Although I’m a fan of old-fashioned chili, I wanted to add a little pizazz to the norm so experimented with pumpkin. I couldn’t help but think–or should I say dream–of this warm concoction during my Tough Mudder a few weeks back so after completing all of those obstacles, I tackled this kitchen feat. It hit the spot. I was cold and knew a hefty serving of spicy goodness would do me well, heating me up from the inside out and lending a hand in my recovery. Protein, check. Carbs, check. Veggie-packed sweetness with a kick of jalapeño…check, check and check. Adding pumpkin for depth and texture was a fabulous idea, if I do say so myself. Watch out, healthy chili recipes! This one will knock your socks off.

Ingredients
1 small yellow onion
2 green bell peppers
1 small jalapeño
2 Roma tomatoes
1.5 pounds ground turkey
28 oz. can of tomato purée
15 oz. can of pumpkin purée
1 cup dried black beans (soaked and cooked)
1 large garlic clove
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cinnamon and cayenne pepper
Sliced avocado to top, duh.

In a large pot, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat. Chop up and toss the onion, bell peppers, jalapeño, tomatoes and garlic into the pot. Stir until the onion is cooked through before mixing in the turkey. Once the turkey is browned, add pumpkin, tomato purée and water. Bring to a boil, combining beans, corn and spices. Simmer for 15-30 minutes and serve. Yep, it’s that simple. Want to add in other veggies? Go for it! Remember this recipe? I like chili. Can you tell? Warning: leftovers are just plain amazing.
What’s your twist on the traditional chili recipe?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

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