A decadent holiday

Whew. You guys. I’m still coming down from a really lovely, relaxing Thanksgiving. This one was so different from years’ past, when Nathan and I hosted (and he cooked) the whole shebang. This year, we teamed up with my parents for a simpler version. We made things easy by transforming the day from a one-chef show into a potluck, switching to a smoked turkey (just heat’n’serve, peeps!), and organizing an unofficial Turkey Trot.

turkey trot thanksgiving 2016

No parking hassles, no crowds, just our little gang of runners out on a crisp, clear morning by the lake.

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After our Turkey Trot, we had everyone come back to my parents’ house for a simple breakfast. We made challah toast drizzled with sweetened condensed milk (sounds odd; tastes heavenly).

sliced challah loaf

Coffee. Mimosas. And, my special Toffee Smoothie.

toffee smoothie designer protein

You see, every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom has made English Toffee for the holidays. I LOVE that stuff. I could eat it all day long.

english toffee

Of course, now that I’m no longer 10 years old with a hardy stomach, I hurt myself if I eat it all day long. So I decided to bring those flavors into something that wouldn’t kill me with sugar overload, but would also help me feel like I was indulging in more toffee. TOFFEE ALL THE TIME TOFFEE.

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I whipped up a decadent smoothie with my Designer Protein Gourmet Chocolate Whey, and was kind enough to share it with my fellow turkey trotters. Sharing was not easy, friends. I had to muster all my holiday generosity to not down the entire blender’s worth myself.

designer protein

CHOCOLATE ALMOND TOFFEE SMOOTHIE RECIPE: 

  • 1 scoop Designer Protein Gourmet Chocolate Whey
  • 1/2 cup yogurt, or 1/2 banana (I’m not a banana person, but that will also give this a creamy texture)
  • 1 spoonful of almond butter
  • Optional: dash of cold brew coffee
  • 1 cup liquid (milk of any kind, water, whatever floats your boat)
  • Handful of ice
  • Top with: whipped cream, toffee crumbles

 

designer protein gourmet chocolate whey

One of the great things about this recipe is that it uses all those almonds and chocolate chunks that fall off the toffee and can sometimes go to waste. We usually save those crumbles as ice cream toppers; they also (surprise!) make amazing smoothie toppers.

This Thanksgiving was exactly what the doctor ordered. What with our current chronic sleep deprivation and general fatigue, keeping it simple was just the thing. Even when we have this whole baby parenting / sleeping through the night thing figured out, I think we’ll stick to this lower stress version of the holiday.

Make it yourself:

Amazing discounts below. I couldn’t recommend the Gourmet Chocolate Whey highly enough; it’s got a nice creamy milk chocolate-y taste, has none of those downsides you usually associate with protein powders: it has a smooth texture, no weird aftertaste, and, BONUS, it’s really light on calories for the amount of protein you get.

  • Designer Protein is offering 30% off everything at DesignerProtein.com with the code SWEATPINK30
  • AND, check out their Facebook page for 12 days of giving, going on through 12/6/16. Each day, they have a special promotion, and 12% of proceeds will go to the San Diego Food Bank to help feed the homeless during the holidays.

A day in the life, Tahoe edition

sweat pink sparkling detox

If you follow me on insta (@alysemb), you’ve probably seen that we’ve been spending quite a bit of this summer in Tahoe. It’s our way of escaping the Texas humidity—we Californians are just not cut out for that kind of heat—and also getting to spend some time much, much closer to family and friends.

weird workout prana

My husband and I are so, so fortunate that we can both work remotely and swing our Escape-From-Austin-in-August plan. And we’ve done our best to make sure that our summer takes full advantage of all the beautiful nature around us.

Here’s what a day in the life typically looks like:

5:30am-ish: Mackenzie wakes up for the day. I hit the baby version of snooze (give her one of the many toys floating around our bed) and let her talk to it as long as possible while I resist actually waking up. I surreptitiously check my email on my phone and respond to anything that came in overnight.

mac chewing on coaster

6am: Playtime! She chews on various things, such as a sweat pink trucker hat, or one of her books. I down coffee, water, and sneak a few bites of breakfast.

sparklingdetox

Once I’m a functional human, I put her in her carrier so we can do dishes or laundry, and take a walk down to the lake so she can talk to the waves and the trees.

sweat pink sparklingdetox

7:30am: on a good day, it’s nap time.

On a normal day, she’s convinced that only babies need to nap, and she is definitely NOT a baby. We keep playing.

Yes, that is a dog toy in her mouth. It's for the immunity, people.
Yes, that is a dog toy in her mouth. It’s for the immunity, people.

8am-1pm: Mac hangs out with the babysitter and I power through work, with intermittent nursing breaks.

1pm: Gather up ALL the things you need to leave the house with a baby. Restock the diaper bag. Change her diaper and clothes. Stagger out to the car with baby items dangling precipitously from every part of my body, only to realize my keys are nowhere to be found.

Wait, where do you put the baby, again?
Wait, where do you put the baby, again?

1:30pm: Successfully in the car! Nathan, Mac, and I head out for a hike or other outdoor activity. While Nathan drives, I alternate between entertaining the baby and secretly answering emails on my phone.

We aim for at least one new spot a week, and rotate in our favorites on other days. That’s one silver lining to being dog-free right now: there is a whole new world of dog-unfriendly trails to explore.

hiking gerolsteiner

Mac loves hiking in the ergo, most days. She gets a ton of attention on the trail, and she loves talking to the trees. It’s the most reliable way to get her to take a  nap, too!

It’s so dry up here that I drink a ridiculous amount of water every time we so much as step out the door. Hydration is my constant goal.

sparkling detox

4:30pm: Back home, dusty and thirsty and hot. I convince Nathan to hang out with the baby so I can jump in the lake.

prana wetsuit tahoe

It’s like an instant refresh button. Oh, and more hydration.

gerolsteiner kayak

Hydrate hydrate hydrate!

gerolsteiner lake

5:30pm: (Because, yes, life after baby is not so different from life as a senior citizen.): Attempt to eat dinner.

mac nathan drinking

That means one of us shovels food in our mouth while the other distracts the baby, and then we trade places.

Do I have yogurt on my face?
Do I have yogurt on my face?

5:35pm: Family playtime. We all hang out on the floor for some tummy time and book reading (aka book chewing).

chewing on paper

Nathan and I alternate being engaged with Mac and getting some work done.

6:45pm: the beginning of bedtime. Mac starts cluster feeding, fussing, feeding, squawking, feeding, fussing… until ….

8pm: She’s asleep!!

naptime

8pm-8:23pm: I crack open the computer and hustle to get back to work.

8:23pm: Just as soon as I’ve gotten my teeth into whatever project I’m working on, she’s up and its time to feed her again.

8:40pm: back to work.

9:30pm: Fussy baby = more nursing.

11pm: to bed I go.

1am: Mac’s midnight snack.

1:30-530am: bleary blur of half-sleeping, fussing, feeding.

… and then we begin all over again!

Other than the lack of quality sleep, our lifestyle this summer has felt really healthy and balanced. I love getting outside every day with our family, and I am convinced the exposure to nature and people is helping Mac’s brain develop in healthy ways and setting a good example for a lifetime of healthy habits. (Right? Right.) The only thing that’s missing is a dog (hint, hint, husband).

dancer pose tahoe

I’ve also been laser focused on hydrating this summer. Between Tahoe’s extremely dry air, the high altitude, and round-the-clock breastfeeding, I’m perpetually parched.

A video posted by Alyse Mason Brill (@alysemb) on

That endless task has gotten a lot more fun since Gerolsteiner sent me all the water I need for the #SparklingDetox (I confess, I’m already breaking into my supply… 🙂 ) #canstopwontstop

If you want to join me and the #sweatpink community on the most fun detox ever, here are all the details:

Gerolsteiner #Sparkling Detox

September 12-16

Drink only Gerolsteiner Mineral Water for the five days of the detox: no other beverages.* That’s it!

* Not to worry, smoothies are a food, not a drink. 😉

Simple, right? I’m already dabbling with this challenge by incorporating more and more Gerolsteiner into my day, and am loving how I feel so far. I’m excited to see how I feel after a full, dedicated week of healthy party time in my cup.

Come join us in the dedicated Facebook group to get advice, support, and recipes & workouts you can do during the challenge.

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water is available nationwide (here’s a store locator), and… just between us, there might just be a HUGE giveaway coming up in which 300 people will win a case of Gerolsteiner. Stay tuned for more on how to enter that… Enter here! 🙂

In the meantime, go say hi to Gerolsteiner around the internets, and join our Facebook group!

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water website
Gerolsteiner on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
#SparklingDetox Facebook Group

This post is sponsored by Gerolsteiner Mineral Water. I so appreciate the brands who support the #sweatpink community, and as always, all opinions are my own. 

When in doubt, sparkle

One of my favorite things (okay, of about ten million favorite things) at BlogFest this year was that we had a beverage sponsor. And not just any beverage sponsor… a totally kickass, my-favorite-kind-of-beverage sponsor.

sweat pink

You see, if I had it my way, I’d drink only sparkling water. I love the stuff. During my pregnancy, it was my go to for mocktails and hydration – all the hydration – and the same still holds true now that I’m breastfeeding.

 Mocktails gerolsteiner mineral water

I just love how mineral water makes drinking water feel festive and fun, instead of a chore. Because yes, I am terrible at hydration; getting enough water is something I have to think about every day.

So when Gerolsteiner Mineral Water invited me to join their #SparklingDetox challenge, I was all about it. In fact, I’m so excited that, instead of waiting for the official start date of September 12, I might, ahem, be programing now. #DelayedGratificationIsHard

A video posted by Alyse Mason Brill (@alysemb) on

What is the #SparklingDetox challenge, you ask? It’s simple, really: for 5 days the only liquid I’ll be consuming is Gerolsteiner. This is my kind of detox: the restrictions are FUN, not, er, restricting.

And, I get to claim all sorts of health benefits, in addition to the joys of indulging in my favorite beverage. Every liter of Gerolsteiner contains 348 mg of calcium and 108 mg of magnesium. That’s 1/3 of the daily requirement for calcium and 1/4 for magnesium!

Want to join me?

Sparkling Detox Infographic

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water #SparklingDetox

September 12-16

Drink only Gerolsteiner for the five days of the detox: no other beverages.* That’s it!

* Not to worry, smoothies are a food, not a drink. 😉

Simple, right? I’m excited to see how I feel after a week of healthy party time in my cup.

Come join us in the dedicated Facebook group to get advice, support, and recipes & workouts you can do during the challenge.

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water is available nationwide (here’s a store locator), and… just between us, there might just be a HUGE giveaway coming up in which 300 people will win a case of Gerolsteiner. Stay tuned for more on how to enter that… 🙂

In the meantime, go say hi to Gerolsteiner around the internets, and join our Facebook group!

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water website
Gerolsteiner on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
#SparklingDetox Facebook Group

My own personal frappy hour

almond mocha smoothie

Years ago, when Jamie and I used to work out of various cafes around San Francisco, one of our regular haunts was the Starbucks on Fillmore. Wifi, seating, and available outlets were our main criteria.

sweat pink laptop skins starbucks

We’d usually begrudgingly order the same old tea with steamed soy, day after day, so sick of drinking tea but so aware of what a steal it was, in terms of rent cost.

I’ll never forget the day when, at the usually quiet-ish hour of 3pm—3:13pm to be exact—the store started filling up with all sorts of people. And these people behaved very strangely. Instead of going up and ordering, or avoiding eye contact with the baristas and grabbing a seat or an outlet without plunking down at least $1.85 for a tall coffee, they just stood there, near the counter, but not close enough to order.

Source
Image Source

They coagulated in the open area where a line usually forms, all of them just… waiting. No one stepped up; no one elbowed through to be first in line.

We watched this bizarre group coalescing until 3:30pm on the dot, when suddenly the horde rushed for the counter. Moments later, they left, one or two at a time, with giant, frothy, whipped-cream topped beverages and satisfied grins on their faces.

Frapp_Happy_Hour_Low_res
Image source

We later learned that was the first day of Frappy Hour, and we soon came to know that every day, eager sugar-hungry people would arrive just before 3:30 and wait, counting down the seconds until their blended concoction was available at half price.

Naturally, we took great delight in the spectacle of frappy hour. Who were these people, and why did they care so much that they arrived early to wait for frappy hour? Was this the best part of their day? And why, oh why, did so many people LIKE frappuccinos?

We took turns coming up with the most ridiculous sounding beverage, and threatening to order it for one another. We’d say, “I’m going to get you a venti mocha orange creamsicle mint cookie blast with apple caramel crumble and make you drink it!”

Mockery and juvenilia aside, I secretly wished I liked frappuccinos, especially as I ordered my boring hot tea day after day. I love the idea of an iced blended treat, and of adding in some variety into how I paid my rent; I just hated the taste and how the sugar content turned my stomach into a roiling queasy mess.

The fact is, I’m super boring when it comes to food and beverages. (Maybe purist is a kinder word). I like my coffee strong and black. I’ll take my nut butters without the sugar and oil and other additives. I think flavored yogurt is a crime against nature. I stick to a tried and true smoothie rut: frozen berries, spinach, plain yogurt, plain protein powder, almond butter. I know, I know, it’s almost criminal how much fun I am. 😉

mackenzie with berry smoothie

Done and done.

raspberry smoothie selfie

The other day, I was out of all those things. No yogurt in the fridge. No berries in the freezer. Nothing in the house but a fussy baby and a hangry me. I decided to improvise a smoothie without berries or yogurt (SAY WHAT?!).

I’d been using, and loving, Bob’s Red Mill protein powder—the unflavored one, thankyouverymuch—and scoured my pantry for anything, anything, I could add to turn plain ol’ protein powder into a meal.

berry smoothie bob's red mill protein powder
Did I mention I ONLY drink berry smoothies?

I found, first, the cute little card that Bob’s Red Mill sent with the protein powders, with various recipes on it. I happened to have all the ingredients for their oatmeal cookie smoothie (well, no dates, but hey, close enough).

Bob's Red Mill smoothie recipe card

Hmm, I thought. That sounds like something I’d hate. But maybe it’s worth a go. What do I have to lose?

Answer: half a cup of oatmeal, a cup of almond milk, and a scoop of chai protein powder that I had not yet opened and already decided I disliked. 

In went the ingredients, with some almond butter to make up for the missing dates, and some peanut butter granola on top for an extra crunch.

oatmeal cookie smoothie

Guess what, guys? I fucking loved it. It was a fucking perfect afternoon treat that made me feel all yummy inside and kept me full until dinnertime. It tasted exactly how I wanted a frappuccino to taste, only so much better. It tasted like a grown up, balanced, healthy frothy beverage that just happened to have protein powder in it.

I loved it so much I had a second one for dessert later that night.

And then I tried all the other Bob’s Red Mill flavors that I had so judgily decided I didn’t like, and I fucking love those too.

almond mocha smoothie
This one’s called an Almond Mocha. I should categorically HATE it, but I can’t get enough. I would totes show up early and wait in line for this.

 

That plain flavor that I swore by when I first got my package is sitting, lonely and abandoned, in my pantry while I celebrate healthy frappy hour in my kitchen on the daily.

 

bob's red mill chocolate smoothie
With cacao nibs and hemp hearts on top? Hellz yeah.

 

I’m revising those frappy threats into a way more positive version:

I’m going to give you a chocolate peanut butter / oatmeal cookie / vanilla frappy and be jealous while you drink it.

This post was sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. All opinions & strong language are my own. I really do love this stuff, and I also love it when you support the brands that support the Sweat Pink community.

Our get out of the house morning routine

Nathan and I have split up childcare by time of day, meaning I take Mackenzie in the mornings and he takes her in the afternoons, so we can each get some work done. (More on how that’s working, or not working, in an upcoming post!)

I’ve found that for the sake of my sanity, we have to get out of the house in the mornings. Otherwise I end up still in pajamas, with makeup creased down my face, and the crazies in my head spinning out of control.

alyse mackenzie warrior 2 zilker park
Yay, we made it to the park!
tigger stick at zilker
Tigger loves this routine, too.

Of course, getting out of the house with a baby is an art that for first time moms, takes some practice to get used to. Some mornings, just brushing my hair feels like a major accomplishment—forget loading up the baby, stroller, and diaper bag into the car and getting ourselves somewhere else. My sunglasses and keys always seem to be in different rooms, and I never have enough hands to pacify a screaming baby, find my stuff, and get out the door.

That said, over the last few weeks I’ve been consciously working on a routine that seems to ease those roadblocks to getting out. Here’s what’s helped us:

Collect your belongings the night before

alyse mac tigger with diaper bag
I learned the hard way you always, always need your diaper bag with you. Whoops.

Every night after Mac falls asleep, I spend about 10 minutes collecting all the rogue items that have scattered around the apartment: pacifier, my wallet, headphones, diaper bag, water bottle, baby carrier, etc, and load them back into the diaper bag so that’s ready to go in the morning. I also restock  the diaper bag with diapers, burp cloths, and backup outfits.

Have a get-everyone-fed routine

We start the morning with Mackenzie’s (fourth) breakfast, then after a diaper change, I put her in her bouncy chair so I can make coffee and a smoothie. Feeding and caffeinating myself is so important and really affects the rest of our day.

alyse mackenzie smoothie

My smoothie is a protein explosion that also includes oats and spinach to help with milk supply.

manitoba harvest hemp protein smoothie ingredients

manitoba harvest hemp protein smoothie and baby

I’m super in to the new Hemp Protein Smoothie from Manitoba Harvest – the berry flavor is delicious, and it includes greens. One less ingredient to pull out of the fridge!

Just fucking go

It’s really easy to get caught up in “oh, maybe I should wait until after her next meal / diaper / nap before I go” decision fatigue. Whenever I find myself waffling, I remind myself to just fucking go. Nursing, diaper changing, and naps can all happen in the car / in public / wherever they need to happen.

mackenzie napping postnatal yoga
This nap happened during our postnatal yoga class. She’s so good at savasana.

 

alyse mackenzie at zilker
This is also a nap. Funny thing, we get way better nap results when we’re out and about.

 

So that’s how we’re doing it, so far. It’s far from perfect; it still takes us an embarrassing amount of time to leave the house and also to come back in. But at least we’re out and about. 🙂