Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall is a season of change, part 1

The Holland House: Madison Arboretum
University of Madison-Wisconsin Arboretum

Five years ago I embarked on a career move that I never dreamed of, and accepted a job with the Apple Education team. I knew nothing about inside sales at the time, but was ready for a challenge and excited to be working for a global company. I was wide-eyed and overwhelmed those first few weeks. Not only was I in the throws of job training, but I also drank from the firehouse at my very first National Sales Meeting, just a week into my new job. It was just as exciting and exhilarating as most new jobs are.

The first two years flew by and were a huge success. I exceeded my sales quota both years, and was rewarded with awesome trips to Hawaii and Nevis. And then things started to change. My quota skyrocketed to a number that I haven't been able to obtain again. My beloved field partner left the company, and I was tasked with managing a large strategic territory all by myself. The fall of my third year, I ended up with not one, but two new field partners. It was at that point that I realized how much I had learned, and loved sharing that knowledge as I helped train them. We've been a fantastic team ever since and I'm so thankful for the amazing people that I get to work with.

Change is inevitable in all facets of life, and I have certainly learned how to embrace it over the past two decades. At work we've had changes in management and changes to the way we do business. While some of it has been good, it has led to changes in how I feel about my work. Without complaining too much, I'll just say that I no longer feel as fulfilled as I did when I first started. At almost 40 years of age, I want more control over how I do business, and I want to be in front of people again.

About a month ago I sat down with my manager (who I love and respect dearly) to talk about how I was feeling about my work. I wanted her guidance on what other options I might have that would allow me to stay at Apple. She was supportive and understanding, gave me some good advice, and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted after that conversation.

Knowing that my options were limited, I made an appointment with an old friend who runs a successful career coaching business. I was in no hurry to make an immediate change, and wanted to be very thoughtful about what my next move might be. I established a goal of working to identify options that would be more challenging and fulfilling, with January being the time frame for when I would actively start searching for new options.

And this is when things started to get interesting......  (stay tuned for part 2).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

B is for Blair, Baseball, and Birthday!

It's hard to believe that my adorable, hilarious, sweet as pie nephew is 2. It seems like just yesterday that I was at the hospital holding a little tiny baby, wondering how I could love something as much as I loved my niece. It didn't take long to realize there was plenty of room for both, and now that he is pretty much a full blown toddler, life is so much fun.

The Holland House: Blair through the years
Blair from newborn to 2

Blair LOVES baseball. He goes to Texas State games with his family all the time, so my sister thought it would be fun to see an Express game in Round Rock. After the full blown First Birthday Fiesta last year, she opted for a much more low key, family only affair. I think everyone breathed a sigh of relief. We all met at my parents for a baseball themed dinner, presents, and dessert before heading north to the ballpark. Blair also loves sweets almost as much as he loves baseball, and could barely wait to dig in to some cupcakes. No party would be complete without Sweet Elise treats, so I made him some fun cookies as well.

The Holland House: Birthday Cupcakes

Sweet Elise baseball cookie favors

Everyone loaded up and headed to the park. It was pretty hot, but luckily our seats were in the shade. I absolutely loved seeing how big Blair's eyes got when we walked into the stadium. He wouldn't let go of his new baseball glove, and had the most fun saying "Let's go, blue" over, and over, and over again. (If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen his cute video.)

Not to be outdone, my niece Georgia stole the show as well with plenty of cheering and picture taking too. Even harder to believe that she will be starting kindergarten in just a couple of weeks.

Overall it was a super fun way to celebrate a birthday, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Marathon Training: Month One

I did it. I survived the first month of training for the Philadelphia Marathon. It's crazy to say this, but I am actually really enjoying the training. Despite the ridiculous heat and humidity, I am finding joy in each bit of progress that I make, and am learning a lot about myself in the process.

At the beginning of June, I struggled to run 3 miles. I was out of shape, and not very motivated. So I used that whole month to get my rear in gear- I cleaned up my eating with the Earn That Body plan, I consistently worked out 5 days a week, and I formed habits that would make July a lot less painful. In July, I did the work. I showed up, gave 100% effort, and took pride in each workout that was faster or longer than the previous. My personality type thrives on schedules, goals, and progress. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that training has been so motivating for me. It also helps that my husband is doing the same exact thing. I don't have to worry about being lame when I get in bed at 8. He's right there next to me. Five days a week, our alarms are going off at 4:30am. We're in this together, and it makes it that much more fun!

The Holland House: Marathon Training

Our training schedule was pretty consistent for the whole month:

Monday- Circuit workout
Tuesday- Recovery run (30-40 minutes, easy pace)
Wednesday- Track/speed workout (2400m test, or 4-6 mile fartlek)
Thursday- Recovery run (30-40 minutes, easy pace)
Friday- Rest
Saturday- Long run (I did distances of 10, 11, 11.5, and 12)
Sunday- Rest

Each month we do a 2400m test on the track. It's basically 6 laps, all out. Your time on this test helps determine what your Marathon Goal Pace (MGP) should be. In June, my time was 13:26. I was one of the slowest in the group, and just tried to view it as just a starting point. In July, I shaved over a minute off that time, finishing in 12:23. Wednesday morning we have our August test, and I'm hoping to finish at an even 12:00. That's an 8 minute mile, and that sounds fast enough for now. At my current pace, my MGP is 10:15, which translates to a 4 1/2 hour marathon. I would love to finish faster than that, but I'm still sticking to my main goal- finish it without a meltdown.

The fartlek workout is basically intervals. We have done one minute fast/one minute slow, two minutes fast/one minute slow, and 3-2-1 fast, with 1 minute slow in between. We've increased the miles that we do this, and have also picked up our pace. I'm proud to say that I can hang with ladies that I wasn't able to keep up with a month ago. It's a hard workout, but really satisfying when done. 

Saturday long runs have been a different ball game. We alternate flat and hilly routes, and they have been a beating. Part of the problem is that we're running them at MGP, when we should really be doing them a minute slower pace. I had two 11 mile runs that were so, so tough. I had almost nothing left at the end. So this past Saturday we actually listened to our coach, and we slowed our start way down. We then progressively got faster over the course of 12 miles. The result was a solid run with a strong finish. I could have continued going, even though I was more than happy to stop! We've been rewarding ourselves with a dip in the Barton Springs spillway afterwards to cool down (the water is a perfect 68°), and I look forward to that almost as much as I do the breakfast tacos and coffee that we have shortly after.

The Holland House: Marathon Training
Barton Springs Spillway

There is absolutely no way that I could be surviving this training without the wonderfully inspiring group that I run with, Gilbert's Gazelles. Gilbert's motto is to "Run with Joy", and we practice that on a weekly basis. I've gotten to know some really lovely ladies, and my husband and his faster group of friends have been so encouraging and supportive- recognizing the progress that I'm making. I'm quickly realizing what a group effort it is to accomplish something like this, and I'm so thankful for the support. 

There are a few other essentials that I absolutely could not survive this training without.

1- Good running shoes. I'm a Mizuno girl, and just replaced my blue Wave Riders with this pretty purple/green pair. I really can't run in anything else! It's important to keep your shoes fresh and cushy, and I plan on purchasing one more pair just before the race. 

The Holland House: Marathon Training Essentials

2- Hydration.  It's hot and humid in Texas, and staying hydrated all week is really important. I recently switched from Nuun to Skratch Labs Hydration Mix, and am a big fan of the pineapple flavor. The Matcha Green Tea with Lemon flavor is surprisingly refreshing too. You can buy single servings to test out flavors, and then a big bag once you decide on a favorite. For Saturday long runs, I also take 1-2 Hammer Endurolytes. I haven't had any issues with cramping, and I've found that I don't have bad headaches later in the day. (This has always been an issue for me.)

The Holland House: Marathon Training Essentials

3. My Garmin watch. Right now I have the Forerunner 110, and I plan to upgrade to the 220 at the end of August. The one I have is perfect for basic pace monitoring, and getting a summary of your run at the end. But I can't program it, and that is a functionality that I'm finding I could really use. Luckily I run with plenty of friends who have the 220, and have been able to rely on them for our interval workouts.

The Holland House: Marathon Training Essentials

4. Anti-chafing balm. Did I mention how hot and humid it is? I produce an enormous amount of sweat on the long runs, and have run into some chafing issues that have been less than pleasant. I use Glide under my arms and on the part of my thighs that rub together (you won't be finding any thigh gap here!) I'm hoping that with a November marathon, this won't be such an issue. But you can bet that I will pack some in my Spi-belt just in case!

The Holland House: Marathon Training Essentials

I'm glad to have July under my belt, and I'm hoping that August goes by pretty quickly because the heat just isn't letting up. For month two, our Saturday long runs will bump up to the 12-15 mile range, and I should start averaging 30-35 miles per week of running. I keep telling myself that if I can keep running in these conditions, then a November marathon in Philadelphia should feel like paradise. It's testing my mental toughness, for sure. But I'm having a blast doing it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adventures in Fostering: Percy

It's sad that we've actually had two foster dogs over the past several months, and I never got around to writing about them. I'll come back to recap the most recent, as we actually had him for almost two months. But today is all about Percy. Get a load of this little guy:

The Holland House: Percy the Foster Dog

We got an email last week from Wags, Hope, and Healing, asking if we would be interested in helping to socialize a feral pup. Some people had purchased property, and found a litter of 5 dogs on it with no mother in sight. One of the pups was deceased, and the remaining four were filthy dirty and in need of a few good meals. Our schedule is crazy busy right now, but we said we could commit to two weeks. Luckily, there is an adoption event planned on August 8th, so the timing worked out perfectly.

We've had a variety of foster dogs, but none that had ever been feral. These pups had likely never seen a human before they were found, and were rightfully frightened of people. It's said that the first 12 weeks of a puppies life can make or break them, so thankfully there was a window of opportunity to show them how fun people (and homes) can be. He is estimated to be around 10 weeks old.

The Holland House: Percy the Foster Dog

Hank picked the name Percy because it's short for perseverance. It's also a little bit "country" which is exactly what Percy is- a country mutt! Having been with him for a few days, the name is a perfect fit. He is definitely warming up to us, and loves to snuggle (especially at night). More than anything though, he LOVES his foster siblings. He follows them everywhere, and is so cute when he tries to instigate play. Brees has been really good and patient with him, and will engage in play and snuggling. Maddie is a little more hit or miss. Her contribution has mainly been teaching him who is boss.

The Holland House: Percy and Brees

I have no doubt that he will continue to come out of his shell over the next couple of weeks, and I know it will be hard to say goodbye when the time comes. But we love getting to help like this, and we'll make the most out of our puppy time.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Texas Wine Country

A couple of weekends ago we drove out 290 west towards Hye, TX for some wine tasting. Hank and I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate my mom's birthday, and no one knows wine quite like my parents. Texas wine often leaves much to be desired, but we have a few favorites, and stumbled upon a new one on this most recent trip.

Our day started at Grape Creek Vineyards. It's one of the larger operations, and they have a beautiful property. There is a huge patio, live music on the weekends, and a menu with substantial food to help get you through a day of drinking. We lucked out with really nice weather, and enjoyed sitting outside eating lunch before our tasting. The wine was ok- not really memorable. But this was a great stop to kick off our afternoon.

On the patio at Grape Creek.

Next stop was a smaller operation called Hilmy Cellars. A friend has recently been to visit and raved about their Rosé. My mom and I both loved the fact that it was a working farm, complete with pea fowl, goats, and a giant Great Pyrenees who kept all the other animals safe. The property was really pretty, and I couldn't have been more excited to see Simon the dog sleeping on the cold concrete when we got there. He is up all night guarding the animals, and gets to sleep wherever he wants during the day. When he's not sleeping, he's begging for ear scratches from anyone who will indulge  him.

The Holland House: Hilmy Cellars
Hilmy Cellars

The Holland House: Hilmy Cellars

Our tasting experience was a lot of fun. The guy who was pouring really likes what he does, and the people he works for. He even gave us a little tour. The Rosé was delicious, as well as most of their white wines. The reds were a little rough- but it's hard to make a good red with Texas grapes. We did join their wine club The Flock, and I'm looking forward to getting a shipment this fall. They also have a tasting event on July 17th at Oasis Brewing, (conveniently located minutes from our house) and we'll make an appearance there. I do highly recommend making a stop there. It's the perfect place to cool off with a glass of white, and maybe eat a few snacks on their patio. Just be sure to give Simon some attention.

Me and my beautiful mother.

Next stop was Kuhlman Cellars. We hadn't necessarily planned on going there, but decided to give it a try when we drove by it. Little did we know that you really need to make reservations ahead of time, as they do a food/wine pairing. Luckily they were able to squeeze us in, and I'm so glad they did. This ended up being our favorite stop, and by far the best wines of the day. The winemaker is a French woman who has also spent time in California. Both the whites and reds were really sophisticated, making use of Texas and California grapes. We also joined their wine club, and will make a return visit soon to try out their new pairing menu. If you head this way, definitely make a stop at Kuhlman (and make a reservation ahead of time!)

The Holland House: Kuhlman Cellars Wine and Food Pairing

What are your favorite stops for Texas Wineries? There are several regions to go to, and this area is really the only place that we have gone. Would be curious to hear about other "can't miss" locations.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

No Shortcuts

A few months ago, I signed up for a marathon. I think I'm still in shock that I committed to do it. Two years ago, as I watched a friend cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon in record time,  I was inspired. I told Hank "if I'm not pregnant by the end of the year, I'm signing up to run one." Well, the pregnancy never happened. But I kept putting off the marathon idea, along with other things, "just in case". After a lot of soul searching, I decided to stop waiting, and start living my life.  I was tired of holding off on plans while holding on to the hope that by some small miracle I would get pregnant.

The Holland House: Life is to short to wait

One small wrinkle in this new plan- I was in absolutely no shape to run, or even train for, a marathon. I've continually gained weight over the past 3 years, and reached a new low when a recent body mass test revealed that I was borderline obese based on my body fat percentage. I was on a roll with running earlier this year, until a chronic cough sidelined me for almost two months. I kept coming up with excuses to get back at it, until a friend posted a picture of me from 3 years ago. It almost stopped me in my tracks, the physical difference between then and now. I knew that if I didn't find a way to make sustainable changes, I was going to head into my 40's at a weight that wasn't healthy for me. Marathon or not, I owed it to myself to find a way to improve my overall health and fitness.

The Holland House: Ideal Picture

Enter Earn that Body, and the wonderfully inspiring Kim Eagle. I had noticed that a girl from my training group was really looking good. Not that she didn't before, but there was a noticeable difference in her physique, and she looked amazing. Healthy and strong, but not too skinny. She looked the way that I wanted to look again. So I asked her what she had been doing, and she mentioned Kim's programs. It wasn't for the faint of heart, she said. But that's why it's called EARN that Body, and not WANT that Body. I emailed Kim a few times, and decided to try her 30 day ETB-tox program. It seemed worth a shot.

The Holland House: Earn that Body

I was nervous heading into it, not really knowing how restrictive or hard it would be. I've tried countless programs before, only to completely fall off the wagon afterwards. That's totally my MO. But I had a different determination heading into this, and was pleasantly surprised as I went through the program. It was realistic. It made sense. It wasn't so restrictive that I couldn't find a way to make permanent changes. It was as simple as this- Real Food. Real Work. Real Results. There is no special food to buy, no drink powders or pills to take. Just good old regular food! The biggest challenge for me was no alcohol for two weeks. I didn't think I would be able to survive, but I honestly believe this one was a game changer for me. I'm now a "alcohol on the weekend only" person, and my life hasn't changed for the worse because of it.

So I did the work. I feel like I gave at least 95% for the entire 30 days, and my results are plentiful:

1- I've never slept  better in my life. Before, I used to maybe get 5-6 hours or restless sleep, and now I'm getting 7.5-8 if I go to bed early enough.
2- My skin looks amazing. I think that eating more fruits and vegetables, with hardly any processed food, had made a tremendous difference. I also drink a ridiculous amount of water.
3- I feel amazing. I might be tired after a long run, but overall I have great energy and feel....healthy!
4- I lost 6.5 pounds!! My clothes fit more loosely, and I can see the weight loss in my face for sure.

The Holland House: Before

The Holland House: After

I still have about 6-8 pounds to go before I reach a weight that I think is healthy and sustainable. To put it in perspective- I weighed nearly as much as my husband just 30 days ago. I'm not ok with that! But I'm doing it slowly, and doing it the right way. I'm continuing to make great choices each day (see previous post about meal planning), and I feel like I'm set up for success. They say that weight loss is 80% what you eat, and 20% exercise. While I do work out 5 days a week, I think it was the change in diet that lead to such a successful start for me, and that's what is keeping me motivated to continue making better choices.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 6/22-26

Hi friends! I'm here, barely surviving end of quarter at work. While I suffer through a webcast during lunch, I thought I would take a few minutes to share my most recent weekly meal plan. We've actually been doing this for all of June, and it has been a huge success. I'll share more about that next week when work is absolutely dead, and I'm trying hard to look busy at my computer.

On to the food....

Here is a link to the actual document that I use to stay organized, but I wanted to include more info about how I actually handle the planning and prep. On Friday morning (or Saturday, depending on my schedule) I'll thumb through Pinterest recipes that I've saved and start making a list of the meals I want to make. I try to cook once/eat twice for at least one dinner and one lunch, to limit how many things I buy and how much time I spend in the kitchen. So I keep my eye out for recipes that I can divide into two containers, or that would make for good leftovers.

Next up is shopping. Lately I have been making a quick stop at Trader Joe's for a few favorite items. I love their Greek yogurt, Verde Sauce, Corn Tortillas, Wheat Bread, and a frozen Multigrain Veggie Mix. I do the bulk of my shopping at HEB though (either Saturday or Sunday morning). Once I have my meal plan in place, I'll start with prepping and cooking.

**If I can offer any advice- it would be to start small. Don't try to jump into meal planning all at once- it will be overwhelming. If you can work on one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner to get a head start on the week, then you'll be in good shape. Once you collect recipes that are easy and that you like, it gets a lot easier to rotate and figure out a schedule that works for you.

(Keep in mind that I'm cooking for two. Some of the recipes can be modified to make more or less, depending on your needs.)


The Holland House: Weekly Meal Prep- Breakfast

Overnight Blueberry Almond Oats (I made 4 containers worth on Sunday)

Egg Muffins (This is enough to make 12-14 muffins, depending on how many veggies you add)

1/2 small carton organic Egg Whites
6 free-range eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt (I use 2%, but you can use non-fat too)

2 cups spinach, chopped
2-3 roasted red peppers (I use ones in a jar)
1/2 small log goat cheese, crumbled

1) Line a cupcake pan with foil cupcake liners. Set oven to 350.
2) Mix the first three ingredients into a small bowl.
3) Combine veggies only into a separate bowl (or just go straight from the cutting board)
4) Fill cups half full with egg mix. Then top with veggies.
5) Add remaining egg mix to 3/4 full, and then sprinkle with goat cheese.
6) Bake for 20-25 min, until the muffins no longer "jiggle" in the middle.
7) Let cool completely, and then store in an airtight container.

**Please note that you can use any veggies you want.


The Holland House: Weekly Meal Planning- Lunch

Vegetarian Chickpea Spread, makes about 6 servings (I subbed Greek yogurt for mayo, and served it on wheat bread with spinach and tomato)

Butternut Squash and Broccoli Chicken Pasta, makes 4-6 servings (I tried to copycat one of my favorite Snap Kitchen meals)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and finely diced
1 bag whole wheat pasta, cooked (I like to use fun shapes like bowtie or fusilli)
2 cups cubed Butternut Squash, roasted (I buy it already cut at Trader Joes)
2 cups broccoli, roasted
1/2 small log of goat cheese, crumble
1/2 walnuts, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
chopped basil to taste
nutmeg to taste

**There is a lot of prep to put this dish together, so spread it out if needed. Roast your veggies together. Cook pasta and chicken at the same time. When all ingredients are ready to go, toss the pasta with oil, vinegar and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Then portion out pasta into your containers, add chicken, veggies, and then top with goat cheese, walnuts and chopped basil. It will keep for up to 4 days.


Crockpot Verde Chicken, makes 2 servings (I use 2 skinless, boneless, organic chicken breasts for this, and the Trader Joe's Verde Sauce. We shred the chicken and serve on corn tortillas with a small scoop of greek yogurt, and sautéed zucchini on the side)

Sautéed Zucchini 

1-2 zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
red pepper flakes to taste

1) Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add zucchini and stir to coat. Once they have started to cook through (2-4 minutes is good), add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, and a dash of red pepper flakes.

Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake, makes 8 servings (This is hands down one of our favorite dinners, and makes for excellent leftovers the next day. I divide the whole recipe into 2 square foil containers so that I can bake them on two different nights. Makes it so easy to come home from work, throw it into the oven for 30 minutes, and then sit down to eat.)

Baked Chicken with Trader Joe's Frozen MultiGrain Veggie Mix, makes 2 servings (Pretty self explanatory. We bake or grill two chicken breasts lightly seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve the veggie mix on the side. Not exciting, but it gets the job done.)

If you've never tried to meal plan/prep before, I hope that some of this helps. I'd love to know if you try any of these and if it helps make your week a little easier. I realize it will take up a few hours over the weekend, but I'd much rather do that than get home after work and stress about how to get a decent meal on the table. Feel free to share your feedback or questions in the comments section!

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