Sunday, October 28, 2012

Constant Improvement

Today turned into an errand and baking extravaganza, and I'm not upset about it. 

After a few hours of studying, Terry and I ventured out to Target and Trader Joe's, with a stop at the pumpkin patch along the way. We have a tradition of carving pumpkins, though Terry is far more talented than I am. I think this year I'll go with a Halloween word instead of a face.

Eventually I got around to starting my fall delights. I made a batch of pumpkin muffins and--a first for me--pumpkin bagels! I followed the recipe here, except I used all whole wheat flour, added 1 teaspoon cinnamon, made the dough in my food processor, and ended up needing almost 1/2 cup water instead of just 1/4 cup. 

The process took quite awhile: mixing the dough, kneading forever, letting the dough rise, forming rings, letting the dough rise again, boiling, and baking. (And let me tell you, if you need a bit of an arm workout, don't scoff at kneading!) But the bagels turned out great! I made a honey-cinnamon cream cheese to go with it (just whisk 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon honey, and 2 tablespoons cream cheese), but for breakfast I may try a peanut butter cream cheese. Either way, the bagels are delicious, chewy, thick, and dense. They have just a hint of pumpkin flavor, perfect for a breakfast!

The rest of the day felt relaxing, a great way to rest up for the week ahead. We read, played with (and laughed at) the kitten, watched the second season of Happy Endings (Terry picked it up for us on Friday). A lovely little day.

As October winds down and Halloween threatens to kick start the holiday season, I've been thinking about how best to finish out the year. Obviously, as my blog is all about trying to live a better life, I try to constantly improve. Improve myself, improve my surroundings, improve my outlook. A teacher of mine (the same one who taught me to empty my cup) had a lesson about never being satisfied. He had a mirror in his classroom that said, "Are you satisfied with this person?" All year, I wondered what that mirror was about, and it turned out you were supposed to say no. You were supposed to want to do better, give more, improve. And that's exactly what I try to do here.

I want to constantly improve. There are so many areas of my life where I feel I can be better: teaching, blogging, cooking, working out. Even in my relationships, I feel I can be a better wife, daughter, sister, friend, family member. That drive to better myself keeps me pushing, and it motivates me every day.

But it can also be overwhelming. Yesterday, Coach Valerie Kondos Field talked to us about aiming to improve 1% every day, and her idea really resonated with me. If we take our large goals--say, running a marathon--and break them into smaller parts (start with a 5K), and then break them down even further (run three times per week), we are much more likely to achieve them.

That's one thing I love about Tina's Best Body Boot Camp: We set goals and accomplish them weekly. As you all know, I'm participating for the third time around, and I'm getting more focused in my goals this time. I've said it over and over: I want to move my workouts to the morning. So this week's goals:

  • No snooze alarm.
  • One morning workout. 
Last week I finally accomplished the morning workout, but I cheated because I didn't have to be at school quite as early as usual. This time shall be different! I think the snooze thing will really help me, because how beneficial are those 10 minutes (20?) with a buzzer going off every few minutes? May as well get up! I'm hoping to push it to two morning workouts for the next two weeks, then three after that, and finally four. Wish me luck!

As for the rest of the holiday season, a few goals:
  • No Christmas shopping after December 20.
  • Enjoy a night at The Grove. (They have a huge Christmas display!)
  • Plan our summer vacations.
  • Finish our wedding album (yup, still not done!). 
  • Go to a movie.
With that, I'm off to (hopefully) enjoy the last inning of the Giants game! GO GIANTS!!!!

Any goals for the rest of the year? What are you working to improve?


  1. The honey cinnamon cream cheese sounds delicious! My only goal for the rest of the year is to not spend unnecessary money!

    1. The honey cinnamon cream cheese was an awesome surprise! I loved it, and it was perfect on the bagels. :-) Great goal - I need to do that, too!

  2. man you are some baker, those look great!

    1. Haha thanks, Alex :-) Except that I added baking soda to the bagel dough AND the water, but oh well.

  3. i really like that mirror idea! i know sometimes it's easy to become complacent and that's what i'm loving about boot camp too - it's forcing me to really look at areas of my life that i want to improve, but because it's only for a week they seem so much more manageable. and those pumpkin bagels look amazing! making bagels freaks me out because it seems like there's so much work involved but yours look delicious enough that the work might just be worth it.

    1. I totally agree about becoming complacent! Or I get so busy that I feel like I don't have time to improve. Typical excuse!

  4. I've been trying to switch to morning workouts too. The bagels look delicious!

    1. Let's switch to mornings together!

  5. My goals for the rest of 2012? My last half of 12 in 2012, BBBC and maybe one more! That should get me through the year.

    [Fitness, Health and Happiness]