Wanderlust Wednesday: My Favorite NYC Runs


The North Woods in Central Park 


Earlier this week I spoke about breaking out of a running rut by switching up my routes. I’m spoiled by living in NYC with a number of amazing parks and trails. I wanted to share some of my favorites trails that you should check out next time you’re in the Big Apple. Even if you’re not a runner these are delightful walks.

1. Cherry Walk (Riverside Park): This narrow trail is along the Hudson River and takes you from the Upper West Side to Harlem. You have to commit to this run because there is no way off the trail until you reach the end. The best time of year for this route is spring because as its name suggests it is particularly lovely when the cherry trees are in bloom.

2. The North Woods (Central Park): Lovely trails, waterfalls, and wildlife make you forget you’re in the heart of Manhattan.

3.The Reservoir (Central Park) If you want to run on a flat surface this trail is great and the views are spectacular.

4. The Inner Loop (Prospect Park) This is a go to if I’m training for an organized race. It’s marked with distance points so it’s easy to track your distance.

5. Fort Greene Park This is a smaller park compared to others on the list but you can cover the entire park in a short time.

6. Riverside Park South This is another river run but it’s easy to switch up your routine by heading inland to the park at points or outward on the docks.

7. Inwood Hill Park This park is at the top of Manhattan just below the Bronx. There are lots of up hill runs and lovely views of vistas across the Hudson.

8. The Peninsula (Prospect Park) If you want to enjoy some nature on your run through Prospect Park this is an alternative to the loop run.

9. The Boardwalk (Coney Island) I love running here early mornings in the summer. It’s right along the beach and is sleepy before the swimmers and sun bathers hit the sand.

10. Harlem Meer (Central Park) The south side of Central Park can be flooded with tourist on nice days. This Northeast corner of the park is low key and the path along the pond and willow trees is beautiful.



Mindful Monday: Breaking Past a Running Rut


So I’ve had a rough year. I’ve talked in the past about my weight issues and surgery to remove my lap band this winter and it has been a real struggle. I have been yo-yo-ing between a 20 lbs weight difference over the past six months and it’s hard. I know my body and that how I work. I have to work twice as hard for half the results where a number of my friends and family are genetically built to live on pints of ice cream, never exercise, and maintain their weight.

I really want to get to a point where I don’t care about the number on the scale or the size on a dress label, but if I’m honest I’m not there yet. I do want to feel healthy and strong so I’m trying to shift my frame of mind from success being measured by hitting physical milestones vs pounds disappearing from the scale. On thing I’ve been focusing on is running.

I’ve been running since 2011 when I did the couch to 5K program. I had fallen off a routine due to all these health issues and surgery last fall and winter. This spring I wanted to get back into a routine so I went back to basics and started my favorite C25K Podacast training again.

Now I’m back in a rhythm of running for 30 minutes about three times a week. This fall I plan on doing Bridge to 10K again. In the meantime, I’ve been committing to keeping up with my weekly runs. Those who know me understand that I’m not a creature of habit in a lot of ways. I get bored easily. I don’t always take the same subway to work because I get restless if I’m walking the same side streets every day. Based on this you might think that running for the same amount of time several days each week would be tedious to me, but it isn’t.

Running like any activity is about learning what you like, what you hate, and what challenges you in a good way. I’ve learned that I really don’t like running on a treadmill so I plan my runs around the weather each week. This also plays into the time of day that I run. During the summer when it gets hot I tend to do more evening runs. Now that we’re entering falls I do more morning runs during the week and afternoon runs on the weekends since it’s cooler and the sun goes down earlier.

What really helps me shake things up though is running different routes. Sometimes I run on pavement and other days I run on trails which switches things up and gives my joints a break. What is so wonderful about the parks in NYC is that I can run the same direction for months and constantly find new trails and detours that I didn’t know exist. I typically can run 5K in thirty minutes but my distance can change based on my route. I can often go further and faster if I’m running a flatter path or a course I’m familiar with. Somedays I don’t get as much distance in but it’s a more challenging run because of an incline or running uphill the majority of the time. This keeps things fresh. Some days a run is breezy and the time flies by. Other days thirty minutes feels like three hours and I want to cry. But keeping with this helps me appreciate the strength my body has.

365 Project: Recipes 196-210


Here is the latest batch of recipes from the challenge. I’ve crossed the 200 recipe mark!

186. Apricot Vinegarette


Source: Aim True 

Notes: This was a great end of summer salad dressing.

Rating: Liked

187. Strawberry Daiquiri Smoothie


Source:  Aim True 

Notes: Despite the name of this drink it is alcohol-free.

Rating: Liked

188. Apricot Bulgur Salad


Source Aim True 

Notes: I adapted this from Kathryn Budig’s recipe. I used bulgur instead of red quinoa.

Rating: LOVED

199. Tempeh with Blackberry Hoisin Sauce


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: I made this recipe vegetarian by using tempeh instead of chicken. I served this with steamed broccoli and peppers.

Rating: Liked

200. Orange Blossom Detox Shake


Source: Original

Notes: I blended dandelion greens, arugula, and spirulina with orange blossom water and distilled water.

Rating: Liked

201. Debutante Cocktail


Source: The Fashionable Cocktail 

Notes: I love cocktail bars and thought doing some more drinks at home and learning how to make some more obscure drinks might be a fun addition to this project. This drink is gin based.

Rating: LOVED

202. Egg White Breakfast Wrap


Source: Original

Notes: I scrambled egg whites with soy cheese, peppers, and arugula in a frying pan and served in a whole wheat wrap.

Rating: Liked

203. Summer Veggie Pasta


Source: Cooking Light 

Notes: I omitted the sausage from this recipe and used whole wheat rigatoni.

Rating: LOVED

204. Chocolate and Pear Quesadilla


Source: Weight Watchers  

Notes: This was a quick and easy dessert to make.

Rating: Liked

205. Pear Cider


Source: Original

Notes: I blended fresh pear, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, juice from half a lemon, and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Rating: Liked

206. Veggie Scramble and Sweet Potato Hash


Source: Original

Notes: I scrambled egg whites, almond cheese, peppers, and arugula together. In a separate pan, I cooked a grated sweet potato in coconut oil.

Rating: Liked

207. Horne Brothers’ Sandwich


Source: Reel Fancy Dinners 

Notes: I love the show Twin Peaks and served up some themed food and cocktails for the final that recently aired.

Rating: Liked

208.Black Yukon Sucker Punch


Source: James O 

Notes: I liked this more than an Irish Coffee.

Rating: LOVED

209. Leland Palmer


Source: Reel Fancy Dinners 

Notes: Sometimes I find a traditional Arnold Palmer too sweet. I liked this because it was lemon juice instead of lemonade.

Rating: LOVED

210. Tomato Party


Source: Plenty 

Notes: I’m taking advantage of the last days of summers by scooping up the last of the tomatoes, stone fruits, and berries at my local farmers’ markets.

Rating: Liked

365 Project: Recipes 181-195


Only 170 recipes to go! Since I’m a little behind my goal is to be at 200 recipes complete by September 1st and 300 down by November 1st. These seem like lofty but doable goals. Here’s the latest crop of recipes I tried.

181. Spicy Avocado Egg White Salad


Source: Original

Notes: I mixed half an avocado, mustard, sriracha, with egg whites and served over toasted Ezekiel bread.

Rating: Liked

182. Broiled Orange Blossom Grapefruit


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: I love orange blossom water and the sweet floral fragrance it adds. I used stevia instead of sugar with this recipe.

Rating: LOVED

183. Apple Jicama Slaw


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: I don’t like traditional slaw because I’m not a big mayo fan but this one was lighter and the apple and jicama added some extra crunch.

Rating: LOVED

184. Squash Blossom and Veggie Scramble


Source: Original

Notes: I have a weakness for farmer’s markets and the squash blossoms looked so good. I sautéed them in coconut oil with eggs, mushrooms, and kale.

Rating: Liked

185. Catfish with Blueberry Balsamic Sauce


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: The original recipe calls for salmon. I used catfish (because that’s what I had in my freezer) and it was delicious.

Rating: LOVED

186. Corn and Barley Chile Rellenos


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: I used almond cheese for this one. This was good but has quite a few steps.

Rating: Liked.

187. Orange Blossom Salad


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: This cookbook is from Weight Watchers. I have used other Weight Watcher cookbooks in the past and have really enjoyed them. They’re accessible even if you aren’t doing the program.

Rating: LOVED

188. Endive Boats


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: I used ground meatless for the “chicken salad”.

Rating: Liked

189. Mini Blackberry Almond Tarts


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: These were yummy. You need to make them for a party though or take them to the office. They go soggy after a day or two.

Rating: LOVED

190. Great Green Monster Smoothie


Source: Aim True 

Notes: I’m finding so many green juice recipes that I am loving!

Rating: LOVED

191. Shrimp Tequila Lime Tacos


Source: The Little Book of Fruits and Vegetables 

Notes: You could serve this over rice or in a stir fry too. I dished this into low carb whole wheat tortillas.

Rating: LOVED

192. Citrus 1


Source: Juice

Notes: This was too spicy and a bit acidy for me to want on a regular basis.

Rating: Okay

193. Greens 5


Source: Juice

Notes: The fennel adds a subtle anise flavor to this juice. I added some natural flavored protein powder to make this a meal.

Rating: Liked

194. Cheeseburger Quesadilla


Source: Real Simple

Notes: I used ground meatless and soy cheese to make this meal vegan.

Rating: LOVED

195. Shrimp Fried Broccoli Rice


Source: Original

Notes: I riced a head of broccoli and cooked it in coconut oil with and then fried an egg and added cooked shrimp and coconut aminos.

Rating: Liked


Mindful Monday: 35 Things I’ve Learned


I turned 35 last week. I have mixed feelings about that. My mom’s funeral was on my 30th birthday so I have bittersweet emotions about the day in general and both my parents only lived to be 65 so one tends to put things in perspective. That aside I’d like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two over the years so I’d like to share 35 lessons I’ve come to understand.

  1. Laugh loud and often
  2. You’re not a special snowflake/unicorn/mermaid
  3. Your pet thinks you are a special snowflake/unicorn/mermaid so spoil them rotten
  4. You’ll have lots of geographical friends throughout your life based on living in a common place, working at the same company, or going to school together. You won’t have as tight of a relationship with many of them after you’re no longer a part of the same place or situation and it’s okay. We only have so much energy for deep relationships.
  5. You will have a few relationships that transcend being in the same location or situation and those people are the most precious. Don’t take them for granted.
  6.  Never wear white if you plan on drinking coffee or eating anything red that day. It will end up on your clothes.
  7. Worry less about the size of the dress or number on the scale than how you feel in your skin.
  8. When your mind is all over the place and hard to listen to listen to your body instead.
  9. You will always be your harshest critic.
  10. Learn to be comfortable with alone time.
  11. Don’t trust people who give compliments or critiques too freely before they’ve gotten to know you.
  12. Knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want.
  13. It’s okay if you don’t want things that society tells you that you should want.
  14. Watch less TV and spend more time outside.
  15. Instead of focusing on what you perceive as your shortcomings be grateful for what you see as blessings.
  16. Say I love you often to the people you care about.
  17. You don’t always have to say yes.
  18. Eat more vegetables.
  19. Kindness and compassion are contagious so pass them on.
  20. Do what you love since you’ll spend most of your week at work.
  21. If you learn something from the experience it wasn’t a mistake.
  22. Be generous and not too proud to ask for help when you need it.
  23. Find a hobby or activity you love and don’t worry about being the best at it.
  24. Face your fears in order to conquer them.
  25.  Walk often and wear good shoes.
  26. Appreciate the little things in life that bring you joy.
  27. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present.
  28. People think about you way less than you think they do so don’t worry so much about impressing them.
  29. Get more sleep.
  30. The only person’s approval you should worry about is your own.
  31. Don’t settle.
  32. Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend.
  33. Fit in the things that are most important to you each day, if they’re truly important you’ll find the time.
  34. Never stop learning.
  35. Never stop loving.

365 Project: Recipes 166-180


Kicking off the week with another batch of 15 recipes. Enjoy!

166. Pasta with Lemon Saffron Kale


Source: Orginal

Notes: File this under another under 15 minutes from start to plate wonder. Cook the noodles of your choice according to the directions on its package.  In the meantime saute some kale in grapeseed oil and once it starts wilting add the juice from a lemon and some strands of saffron and mix till the ends of the kale blacken a little. Drain the pasta and put it back into the still warm pasta bowl. Add the kale mixture and toss in some parmesan before mixing. I throw some red pepper flakes to the top.

Rating: LOVED

167. Tropical Mocktail


Source: Orginal

Notes: This was sparkling water, coconut, and pineapple. If you wanted to make it a grown up cocktail I’d recommend adding vodka or rum.

Rating: Liked

168. Chicken Casserole with Cauliflower Rice


Source: Orginal

Notes: This is a throwback to the various chicken casseroles, my mom made when I was a kid. I wanted to make a low carb version so I mixed a cup of cauliflower rice and cream of mushroom soup in a 9X13 pan. I threw in some carrots and snow peas and boneless chicken thighs that I had coated in paprika and pepper. I baked at 400F for 45 minutes.

Rating: Liked

169. Amaretto Shake


Source: Original

Notes: I’ve done other variations of cherry protein shakes and this has been my favorite to date. I did 1/4 a cup of fresh cherries, 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, almond milk, and chocolate protein powder.

Rating: LOVED

170. Garlic Tahini Dressing


Source: Vegan Richa

Notes: If you want this dressing thinner you can add more liquid. I liked the chunkier texture though.

Rating: Liked

171. Ethiopian Berbere Chickpea Pizza


Source: Vegan Richa 

Rating: I used the tahini sauce I made with this recipe. I didn’t make the crust from scratch. I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough.

Rating: LOVED

172. Citrus 11


Source: Juice

Notes: The berries in this were a nice compliment to the citrus.

Rating: Liked

173. Whipped Cream


Source: Blue Apron 

Notes: This was another case of someone giving me their Blue Apron box. I didn’t really want to make any of the dinner recipes that were in that week’s box so I recycled the ingredients into other recipes I made. Blue Apron has started including cards with dessert recipes now so I did take a stab at that. Homemade whipped cream knocks store bought varieties out of the park.

Rating: LOVED

174. Ice Box Cake


Source: Blue Apron

Notes: This was easy. You just need time to let it chill overnight. This is a great dessert to serve at a summer dinner party.

Rating: Liked

175. Lemon Thyme Bars


Source: D. M. R. Fine Foods 

Notes: I could have eaten the whole pan so it’s a good thing I took these to the office to share.

Rating: LOVED

176. Apple Ginger Protein Shake


Source: Original

Notes: This was a Granny Smith apple, spinach, celery, a teaspoon of ground ginger, a scoop of plant protein powder, and water.

Rating: LOVED

177. Snow Pea and Citrus Salad


Source: The Yummy Life 

Notes: This was easy to make in the morning and take to work. Perfect for a hot summer day.

Rating: LOVED

178. Sriracha Egg White Salad


Source: Original

Notes: This was two hard boiled egg whites mixed with a tablespoon of vegan mayo, two tablespoons of dijon mustard, and a teaspoon of sriracha. I served it on Ezekial bread with watercress.

Rating: Liked

179. Zoodles with Homemade Pesto


Source: Original

Notes: This was another quick to make in the morning and take to work for lunch recipe. I spiraled a zucchini into noodles and cooked them in boiling water for about five minutes and then drained them. In a separate saute pan I toasted pine nuts in a tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of basil. I tossed them into the drained zoodles and added sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese.

180. Super Human Breakfast


Source: Laura Hames Franklin

Notes: My yoga teacher told me about Laura’s Super Human Breakfast challenge and how she was enjoying it so I thought I would give this try.

Rating: Liked.


Creating Your Own Manifesto


Here is one from the archives of the old site. I wanted to revive it to see if this manifesto still spoke to me two and a half years later. It does.

I’m a fan of Creative Mornings which is a breakfast lecture series in over 250 cities across the world. The talks are so popular that there is often a waiting list. The New York chapter used to have field trips to local companies for people who are on the lecture wait list. In 2015 I attended a field trip at Holstee whose company manifesto is now famous.

The field trip was to encourage people to write a personal manifesto for themselves or their business. I want to eventually pen one for ModSpinster, but I thought it was important to write one for myself first. Why write a personal manifesto? Businesses have mission statements which they hopefully hold themselves accountable to. Shouldn’t we have something similar in our personal lives? I like the idea of using this when I’m faced with decisions or a crossroad to make sure the choice I’m making rings true to what I hold at my core.

There is no right or wrong way to write a manifesto. I distilled a list of beliefs, wants and truths into mine. I’m going to share mine and hope you’ll be inspired to write your own.  

Paula’s Manifesto

Karma exists, what you put out into the universe will come back to you tenfold. When it comes to empathy and random acts of kindness a small gesture can be huge to the person receiving it. Tell and show people you love that you love them often. You never know when you won’t have the opportunity to anymore. Never do something because you expect to get something out of it. If you have no expectations you’ll have no disappointments.

Go to bed each night feeling like you’ve made a difference in at least one person’s life. Travel around the world to see incredible sights, listen to people’s stories, taste local flavors, capture memories through smell, and tell the wonders you’ve experienced to others. Be the type of person people speak well of. Care less about what other people think and trying to please everyone. Treat your body like an instrument. Leep it in tune and love it for all its unique qualities. 

People aren’t defined by their jobs or careers, but by their hearts. If you put your energy into efforts where you aren’t valued or that you don’t value you’ll come out of the experience empty. Friends are the most valuable possession which is why they can’t be owned. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable makes us stronger. If you do what you love happiness will follow.

What’s your manifesto?