The Art of Moving

…After weeks of hectic packing, cleaning, purging and purchasing, April In Progress has come up for some air for a blog post.

Sometimes there are few visual reminders of a workaholic’s efforts – one of mine: my house. Gutting and renovating our 1913 colonial has been a testament to this workaholic’s tireless work ethic, which has transcended my finance desk job. But after several years of renovating our current home, we are moving on.

Selling a house feels like selling years of memories – blood, sweat, lots of tears, many bumpsMoving box 2 and bruises and a lot of stuff. Every paint stroke and picture placed on the wall has been made very intentionally and we have worked diligently to create our own oasis—but in life, at some point we must end a chapter in order to begin another.

With this new chapter comes a great deal of packing and planning…

Harnessing your workaholic tendencies can be quite a challenge during this hectic time – packing and moving are seemingly easy to most, but those of us moving veterans know full and well, it is as much about planning and strategizing, as it is the amount of bubble wrap and boxes you buy.

Moving box 3For the ultra-organized workaholics out there—you’ll be pleased—moving is like any other project—it can be broken down, delegated and executed according to a calendar of events (for the most part). For that, this workaholic was thankful.

We have been plotting our move from the existing house, to my in-laws, to our brand new home over the last 2 months – having a father-in-law in the moving field has been amazing from a packing perspective, but also from an emotional one. He has provided loads of tips and advice over the last few months and I’ve paired my project-management skills with his priceless guidance.

The product?

A move that in the last week is 80% complete and a checklist that I will utilize for many years to come—as the staggering fact we learned in our house search, is that the average duration Americans stay in their homes is approximately 8 years—scary huh?

Moving Checklist and TipsMoving Checklist

In addition to the checklist, I have tried to include some useful links for changing your address, to qualifying a good moving company—here are a few:
1. Change of Address
2. How to find a good moving company
3. How to pack fragile items

We have learned a great deal over the last few weeks and will have many more suggestions and tips to provide as our move continues to unfold!

Here’s to the future and many great memories in our new home ahead!

How do you find time amidst the chaos?

Successful workaholics know exactly what company to keep on a hectic Tuesday afternoon…

Duncan at Home

Question to the workaholics out there –  how do you get back on track when you are completely consumed by work and personal commitments?

More to come on managing the chaos the Spring/Summer seems to bring…this workaholic fell off the balance bandwagon for about week and is hastily attempting to get back on track

Go girl!

So after 3 months of cross-fitting, I can say that yesterday was a turning point—to all the crossfit skeptics out there who paint a picture of super toned body builders (most of them being male) who drink creatine shakes, I have got news for you.

Go girl!Yesterday, yours truly accomplished a small but meaningful crossfit feat—this girl beat the boys.

Now I will admit that those who know me know full and well how competitive I am—but yesterday was a turning point not only for my physical fitness but my mental toughness.

The moment I saw the WOD (workout of the day) on the board, my stomach started churning and I felt a little unsure of myself for really no reason at all—because after 3 months, while the workouts still kick your backside, the thought of them has become more a moment of embrace than fear—but the dreaded feeling of self-doubt started to takeover.

I sat there looking at my jump rope, my bar and my poker chips thinking –“just keep your own pace—focus on you and no one around you”—it was in that moment I remember that feeling of slipping into “the zone”, where the world becomes quiet and the surge of adrenaline kicks into high gear. I should also note that I am not some incredible athlete but rather a steady competitor.

When the countdown began, I took a deep breath and started the first round of burpees—after 3 rounds I started on the 200m run only to realize that I was in the lead—while the coach was yelling “come on April you’re beating him!”

I turned to look behind me and saw 2 of the guys just behind me on the run and I could feel myself pushing the limits mentally and physically. For the first time in months my mind and body worked together to muscle through what I thought was my upper limit. The cheers from the coaches and other classmates gave me that final surge of energy to kick through the last few minutes, making sure I conquered each burpee, front squat, body row, double under and 200m run.

As the WOD came to an end I realized I had finished ahead of everyone in the class and was secretly proud – proud of my ability to focus and stay on my own pace, but also realizing that I had finally gotten to a fitness level I could be proud of after 3 months of hard work.thumbcay7vqye1

The lesson: this isn’t just for the big burly men—the ladies can more than hold their own in crossfit. It’s time we stop creating our own barriers and just get out and try something new, because for most of us the only thing stopping us is our own self-doubt.

So ends my 1 week hiatus from blogging and more to come…

Take a Chill Pill – For breakfast

With a steady pace of sunny, warm days, it is time to switch up the breakfast routine—because sometimes you need a kick in the rear even if the sun is coming up a little earlier these days. For those of you looking for either a small or large step outside of the breakfast comfort zone, why not try a smoothie?

The last few weeks have been a mix of hectic work deliverables, family parties and our house officially under agreement/dreading the prospect of being homeless in less than 1 month—after a couple of mornings of either skipping breakfast or grabbing the Starbucks special, I put my foot down and started experimenting with some genius smoothie recipes found via my favorite go-to foodie site—

SmoothiesSmoothies are not a breakthrough idea for a boring breakfast routine, but the term is pretty broad and contains a large spectrum of delicious recipes from entry-level to borderline mind-blowing.

Equipment and Prep
So you want to dabble in the smoothie endeavor for breakfast – just know that preparation and equipment do make a difference:

Blender Perfection – while we all do not want to invest the $600 for a fancy VitamixNinja Blender blender, there are suitable alternatives that provide great power and consistency:
o Ninja Blenders (Found here on                       
o Nutri Bullet (Found here on

Prep Work – have some spare bananas lying around the kitchen looking a little brown? Why not chop them up into 1-2 inch slices and store in freezer safe bags in the freezer until you’re ready for a smoothie?
o Prepping your fruits and veggies ahead of time makes for a much smoother prep time –             pun intended
o Buying frozen fruit also speeds up prep time and they contain just as many nutrients as               the fresh fruit—there’s no shame in buying the Wyman’s frozen blueberries from your                   grocer’s freezer section

Give it a Whirl
Here a few recipes, from the entry-level strawberry key-lime smoothie to a sneaky vegetable-packed smoothie:

Recipe #1 Strawberry Key-Lime
Adapted from:
Serves: 2

1-2 scoops of vanilla or strawberry whey protein powder
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
1 5.3 oz. Stonyfield plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 frozen banana, in 1-2 inch slices
Zest of 1 lime
1 cup frozen strawberries

Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth – enjoy with a slice of lime or strawberries on top

Recipe #2 Good-for-you Green Smoothie
Adapted from:
Serves: 2

½ cup of kale
½ cup of spinach
1 cup frozen mango, or even pineapple
1 banana, fresh or frozen, cut into 1-2 inch slices
1 ripe avocado
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp chia seeds (optional – I opted out the first few times because of the texture)

Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.

Recipe #3 Sneaky Veggie Smoothie
Adapted from:
Serves: 1

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango
1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple, chunks
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (Stonyfield is my yogurt of choice)
1/3 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup orange juice or pineapple juice
1/4 cup water, tap or even coconut water

Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.

Where did all the white space go?

After a couple of chaotic weeks, bouncing from one deliverable to the next – I sat back and thought to myself, “Where did all the white space go?”

Cry for Help and a Cliché
White Space AprilAre you one of those workaholic’s that is constantly fending off the constant borage of meetings, both meaningful and fruitless? How do you find time to get your actual job responsibilities accomplished? When do you take bio-breaks or even check emails?

It is a cliché these days, but we fundamentally lack essential white space on our calendars to get even the most basic of tasks completed—which inevitably takes more and more time away from non-work-related activities. As a seasoned workaholic, I sometimes drive home from work blurry-eyed only realize I hadn’t used the restroom all day or sometimes even have the urge to plop down on the elevator floor on my way out of the office—admittedly these are the days that should be labeled #cryforhelp

Taking Back the Space
I have read many articles, talked to trusted advisors and observed many experienced colleagues in action—and while company cultures vary and job responsibilities change, there are a few go-to tactics that I consistently utilize to take back my calendar.

Here are a few key tactics to try, so get your pen and paper out and be prepared to cut the proverbial cord with your Outlook, Google, or old school notebook calendar:

No Meeting Meetings – I have mastered the Calendarart of scheduling what I refer to as “no meeting” meetings on my calendar each morning.

These scheduled blocks of time often look like standard 1- to 2-hour meetings to anyone investigating my availability in Outlook. However, these are blocks of time I set aside for specific tasks, from checking emails to completing my own deliverables.

Don’t be a Pushover – being a “yes man” can make you feel like your organization’s knight in shining armor in the moment, but could ultimately suck you in like quick sand, quickly suffocating you and depriving you of free time. Again, another cliché, but you must learn to say “no”.

As a standard since my days in public accounting, I decline all meetings that do not contain a purpose or context into the “why” of the conversation. The intention is to compel colleagues to define the rationale behind the meeting, because all too often we are sucked into meetings that may be more an FYI, as opposed to actionable tasks—and in that case, it is best to utilize the power of an email.

Breaks by Design—one of the greatest pieces of advice I received in the way of time management came during my time at Amazon. This concept of taking 1-hour meetings and condensing them into 45 minutes and 30-minute meetings into 25 minutes—why? The answer: out of consideration your colleague’s Maslow needs, because who needs bio, email and sanity breaks in between a day littered with meetings?

Allowing yourself and your colleagues that 5 to 15 minute span of time to regroup between meetings allows for better prepared team members further downstream in the day. Why not give it a try and lead by example? Sure you’ll get a few awkward stares or even some raised eyebrows, but sometimes being a little peculiar is a good thing…it may just be the type of constructive disruption your organization needs.

We all have different learning styles and personalities, so if these do not resonate with you, hereBook are a few additional resources:
• Book—7 Habits of Highly Effective People – link to the book on Amazon (here)
• Article— 6 Things the most productive people do every day – Article Link Here 

At the end of the day, figuratively and literally, we all have to acknowledge and be sensitive to the fact that the most limited commodity in a work day is time.

Throwback Thursday Dinner #TBTD

It appears the common theme this week is food to feed a busy schedule and a body aching from head to toe as a result of a tough crossfit week.

Giving into the #TBT trend—why not bring back a classic, easy, and make-ahead meal courtesy of my good friend Jules—baked goat cheese salad. This was a simple, flavor-packed meal that my friend Jules gifted to our group of friends just after college graduation, when money was tight and we were developing finer pallets.

This dinner can be easily misconstrued as unassuming—but the real reason to give this a try is its ability to pack a punch of bright flavor, as well as its ease in preparation and storage. I often prepare the goat cheese patties several days to a week ahead of time, seal them up in freezer-safe plastic bags and take them out as needed for dinners, lunches and even appetizers.

These delectable cheese parcels are perfect on top salad greens (from spinach to arugula to romaine) and even with some hearty crackers or veggies for dipping. Let your imagination go wild – or if you are like some workaholics (eh em) you can even choose to eat these sans veggies altogether.

Goat cheeseCulinary creativity does not stop at the peripheral accompaniments to this treat—you can experiment with the type of goat cheese and even the crusty topping. For instance, I often mix up the goat cheese from prepared fresh goat cheese with honey to mixing ad hoc spices (oregano, parsley, rosemary) with plain fresh goat cheese. And if you really put yourself out there, you may want to try swapping out crushed Melba Snacks, with panko bread crumbs—live a little!

So after another killer crossfit workout, consisting of thrusters (awkward term, effective for toning the shoulders and upper back) and box jumps (tough plyometric that somehow makes me smile like a child every time)—it was time for a delicious dinner.

TBT Goat Cheese Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Freeze Time: 5 minutes to 5 days

4 oz. fresh goat cheese
1 egg white
1-1 ½ cups Melba Snack crackers, crushed
Salt and pepper
Spices, as needed (use your imagination)
Salad greensGoat cheese salad

Divide and shape the goat cheese into 2 patties. Place the crackers in a plastic bag, sealing tightly and use a rolling pin to crush the crackers into bread-crumb-sized pieces. Set up 2 bowls, placing the crushed crackers in 1 and the egg whites in the other. Dredge the goat-cheese patties in the egg whites, coating evenly, and then dredge in the crushed crackers.

Place the patties into plastic bags and store in the freezer for at least 5 minutes, but they can be left in tightly sealed bags for up to a week.

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake until soft, approximately 12 minutes. Place on a bed of greens and enjoy!

Cramping Cured by Chocolate—and banana

As I lay down after another tough crossfit workout, that all-too familiar cramping begins from my feet slowly creeping up to my calves. Now what? Reaching for a banana may not help you in this very moment, but it may certainly serve to prevent cramping if incorporated as part of your regular diet.

The banana’s sweet secret? Potassium.

Key Potassium Facts
Required daily intake: 4,700 milligrams (1 banana contains approximately 420 milligrams, or 10% of your daily intake)
Claim to Fame: this vitamin helps process and utilize carbohydrates; it is both an essential vitamin and electrolyte
Other Sources of Potassium: potatoes, oranges, spinach, tomatoes and avocadoes

Bananas curing muscle cramps is not a new concept/fad/treatment—however this tried and true treatment could use a little facelift—after all, while bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the US, according to the Centers of Disease Control, finding new and inventive ways to satisfy your daily potassium requirements can sometimes be a challenge.

Here are a few ideas…

Green Monster Chicken Sandwich
Cook time: 15 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Chicken Sandwich Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
½ cup green pepper, dicedAvocado Mayo 1
3 tablespoons chives, finely diced
1 cup avocado mayo (see recipe below)
¼ cup pickles, diced (optional)

Avocado Mayo Ingredients:
1 avocado, very ripe and diced
2 tablespoons avocado oil, or olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt

Remove chicken breasts from package, pat dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat small amount (1-2 tablespoons) olive oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Place seasoned Avocado Mayo 2chicken breast in skillet and cook approximately 5 minutes each side, or until chicken registers 165 degrees F.

Let chicken cool and while cooling, prepare the mayo. Combine all mayo ingredients in a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth (1-2 minutes). Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and combine with mayo, green pepper, chives and even some pickles. Serve by itself, in a wrap, or on some freshly sliced bread and enjoy!

Banana Boat Treats
Cook time: 15 minutes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 2

2 medium to large-sized bananas
Choice of toppings (examples: mini chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, Reese’s pieces, butterscotch chips, whatever your fancy)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or heat your grill until it registers 350 degrees F

Using a paring knife, cut the banana (enough Banana Boatsto break the skin) length-wise down the banana peel. Pull the peel open and lightly cut slits in banana. Fill the banana boat with all the toppings you like.

Wrap the filled bananas in aluminum foil, being careful not to let them tip over (my first attempt – I had to refill my boats twice because they tipped a few times). Place bananas in oven or on grill for about 15 minutes, until marshmallows begin to melt and brown. Serve immediately and enjoy!

A Case of the Mondays: Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

Middle management can sometimes get the best of even the most seasoned workaholic—can’t win with upper management and can’t win with your direct reports—stuck between a rock and a hard place was a term coined from the experiences of a middle manager—if it’s not, it sure feels that way.

Now we all know that when you come home, work needs to stay at work—do not make a habit of bringing your work drama home—well today I brought it all home (thankfully it was just the dogs and I—my boyfriend happens to be half a world away in Beijing for work).

Despite getting home at 4:15 pm (hooray), I sat outside with the pups and reflected upon a turbulent day filled with plenty of double-dealing, hidden agendas and general craziness—typical case of the Mondays in Office Space speak—but instead of reaching for a bottle of vino or continuing the vicious cycle of negativity propagated by one disgruntled employee, I chose to channel the energy into cooking.Chicken 1

Why not eat your feelings right?

After cruising through and feeling less than inspired, I decided to play with some oven-fried chicken—why not cook it out in order to thicken my professional skin—the results—skinless Mexican-inspired oven-fried chicken with a cool ranch dipping sauce.

Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken with Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 2
2 chicken breasts, patted dry
½ cup flour
2 eggs whites
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder

For Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
1-2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Traditional Seasoning

Preheat oven to 415 degrees F and spray with baking dish with nonstick spray

Set out 3 bowls—1 with flour, 1 with egg whites and 1 with panko bread crumbs combined with black pepper, cumin, turmeric and chili powder. Take dry chicken breast and dredge in flour, making sure to get in the crevasses, gently brush off any loose flour before dredging in the egg white mixture. Cover the chicken in the egg white mixture and finally dredge in the panko bread crumbs—making sure to get in the crevasses again. Place on baking dish, being careful not to crowd the chicken.

Bake 20 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 165 degrees F, and let rest 5 minutes before serving

Chicken 2While the chicken is baking, combine the sour cream, chives, garlic, black pepper and Mrs. Dash seasoning in a small bowl, let stand until chicken is ready

Hopefully this boneless, skinless chicken recipe is enough to thicken your skin after a tough day as a middle management workaholic—so pull up your chair, enjoy dinner and let the haters be silenced.

Happy Monday workaholics and keep your heads up!

Cheater, Cheater, Cupcake Eater

Clearly my guilty conscience has gotten the best of me on a weekend that generally celebrates the end of self-control and restraint—while I did not give anything up for lent this year (mostly because I was so swamped at work/life, I completely lost track of time), I have tried to make a year-round effort to eat in moderation and log at least 4 workouts per week.

…that was until Wednesday night—now, I will say that this cupcake catastrophe was primarily the result of the obligatory birthday celebrations for colleagues at work—I generally like to combine celebrations at work with my hobby for baking—but I cannot blame this all on work, as there was clearly an inner voice screaming for homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting.

This cupcake recipe was not something new or trendsetting—because when it comes to baking, sometimes the tried and true route is the best course to take—who doesn’t love a good (I mean really good) chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting?

On Wednesday night circa 10:00pm EST, the lessons from my Cambridge School of Culinary Arts baking classes came flooding back to me as I searched for the perfect cupcake recipe—some of those helpful cupcake and baking tricks of the trade will be forever engrained in my memory:

Chocolate—to whip up a more well-rounded chocolate taste, especially in cakes, it is integral to incorporate some coffee (or even a little liqueur). While you may not necessarily taste the coffee or liqueur—think of it like adding a little lemon zest to a pie or tart—the notion is the same, many people describe the effect as “brightening” the flavor;
Sifting—if a recipe calls for sifting, don’t skip this step! Sifting is another critical step to ensure a balance of the dry ingredients before they are incorporated into the wet ingredients—nothing is worse than getting a bite of baking powder or having clumpy-looking frosting;
Anyone can Pipe—anyone can learn to pipe frosting for a professional finish on any cake or cupcake—using a standard 12” piping bag with a variety of tips—just remember the key to beautiful piping is maintaining even pressure throughout

Before you embark on your next cupcake creation, give this YouTube video a view for some helpful tips on frosting:

Onto the cupcakes—as adapted by my favorite cook of all time, The Barefoot Contessa:

Betty’s Chocolate Cake
Cake Ingredients:
• 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups sugar
• ¾ cups good cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup buttermilk, shaken – see below for instructions on how to prepare
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Frosting Ingredients:
• 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray and line cupcake pans—cupcake
liners are not required, but remember to spray extra well if opting to go without.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the coffee and stir to combine. Stop the mixer and be sure to scrap the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pans—filling cups a little over ½ way. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool pans for 5-10 minutes and continue cooling cupcakes on a wire rack until completely cooled.

To prepare the buttercream frosting, beat butter for a few minutes in the stand mixer with the Cupcakes
paddle attachment on a medium speed. Slowly add the powdered sugar and turn the mixer down to low. Beat until the sugar combines with the butter. Add the vanilla, heavy cream and cocoa powder and beat on a medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the buttercream becomes light and fluffy.

Note: Do not go out and buy buttermilk, unless you’re planning to make 6 dozen of these treats. Instead, combine 4 tablespoons of lemon juice in a cup of milk –stir and let stand for 10-15 minutes before using.

This cupcake experience inspired some fun Easter-themed cupcakes to be served tomorrow–stay tuned for more details!

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