Friday, September 30, 2011

Magazines

I think there's a lot revealed about a person by their choice of their magazines.

Yesterday morning, I rolled out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn (4:45 a.m) to head to the gym to get a workout in. Sometimes, all the stars align, and I'm able to think conscious thoughts before the world is up and moving. This was one of those days.

Due to residual soreness from the half marathon, I decided to take it easy and hop on an elliptical with my iPod and a magazine. I walked up to the magazine stand to see what kind of selection I would find.

I found People Magazine, US Weekly, In Touch, Men's Health, Glamour, Elle, Self, Whole Living, and Good Housekeeping. Slim pickin's if you ask me. I'd already read the Self and Whole Living on previous gym visits, and I surprised myself when I picked up Good Housekeeping as gym buddy for the morning.

I'm 29 people.

Good Housekeeping? Seriously? But I mean, nobody was looking. I had the gym all to myself. And guess what? I really enjoyed the read!

I guess that title always struck me as a magazine my mom should read, but instead she subscribed for years to Better Homes and Gardens. Maybe as a gift, I should have gotten her a subscription to GH. Mom could have used some good housekeeping skills at times.

So this led to a little chuckle with myself while on the elliptical. I had picked up a mid 30's-married-with kids magazine to read. And I enjoyed it. It made me feel... established...grown up...and aged.

I'm growing into this stage of life where I don't seem to care what other people might be thinking of me. 29 is more about comfort, warmth, and my husband than fall trends or latest styles. I'm not so concerned with what Jennifer Aniston was photographed doing or the latest interview with Hugh Jackman. Instead, I find myself researching new recipes, tasty treats, and organizing tips, latest workouts, Jillian Michaels, and whole foods. I just spent my personal fun money on workout clothes, and a worm composter. Laugh all you want. I'm completely happy with my purchase.

I wear tennis shoes with my business attire to walk to and from the bus stop. I slip heels on at work b/c gym shoes are not accepted. If my hair dries funny and morphs into the ultimate frumpyness, oh well. A ponytail will do. I do not care if I don't look my best at work every day. Sure, dressing for the part has a place, and I do my best, but I'm not going to stress over it like I may have 5 years ago. I choose shoes based on comfort, and then color.

I like who I am.

And Good Housekeeping gave me some really great tips on how to clean and organize my desk space.

So take that 29!

Oh, and an extra exciting tidbit that I'm giddy about: I received a subscription to Real Simple Magazine for my birthday and I cannot WAIT to get started reading it! YAY!

Do you subscribe to any magazines? Which ones?

XOXO!
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Operation: Run a Half Marathon. COMPLETED.

Sunday was a major milestone in my life and one I probably will not only boast about for a long time, but brag to my kids about when I'm 50. You ready for this?

I ran and finished my first ever half marathon!

(don't mind the WOOL shirt I chose to wear!!!! It was threatening to rain and I wanted to be sure I was warm. But of course it never rained!)

I know, right? CRAZY.

I've been quietly training for this thing for about 3 months, ish. At the time I began I was unemployed, bummed with my repeated failure at my personal eating goals, and Mark suggested I accomplish something big like running a half marathon. I came up with a slew of reasons not to run a race right off the bat. For instance, running a great distance, training, and all the pain that would come along with the package was not something that sounded "fun" to me. I've never been a runner. I've never played a running sport like soccer or softball. I'm slow. With short legs. And I'd need a training buddy. But the more silly my excuses became the more I realized Mark was right. I needed something really BIG to challenge me beyond my comfort zone.

Before committing, I did a whole bunch of research, mostly to try to show Mark I couldn't do it. I looked at training schedules, eating suggestions, possible outcomes of injuries, and testimonies of people who completed such a task. And what I found was that I was actually the ideal person to set such a personal goal. I was already running 3-4 miles at least 3 times a week. I enjoyed running outdoors way more than on a treadmill. I could run, period. That alone is huge because so many people have injuries that inhibit them from running. I was in fairly good shape. I can and do cross train. I have a pretty simple personal schedule these days and Mark was headed toward grad school, freeing up some more of my time that would otherwise be spent with him!

So with every excuse I could possibly come up with refuted, I personalized a training schedule for myself and I jumped right in to training on the Fourth of July.

Training went very well. I had Mark running long runs on Saturdays with me. I ran in the wee hours of the morning during the work week, and I generally felt really good after every run. As I increased my mileage I continued to progress and stretch myself and thrived on the high of a completed run. I learned the value of being mentally prepared, and the power of positive thinking during a run. Which was a hard lesson that I failed on my 12 miler when I couldn't push past pain and had to stop at 10.5 miles and walk the rest of the way home fighting back tears. But aside from those few hard lessons, I was on on schedule to finish this thing.

Another thing I should mention is about a week before my half marathon, I pulled a muscle in the back of my leg and felt pain focused mostly in the back of my knee. I don't know how I actually injured it but noticed it hurt after my body cooled down from my workout. I hobbled on it for a day and it seemed to get a little better. A few days later I hadn't felt much healing progress, but attempted one of my last runs before the race. Mid run my leg throbbed! And I panicked. So I headed straight to my doctor and he diagnosed a hamstring pull. He did a bunch of nerve work on me (craniopathic) and I walked out of his office with a taped up hamstring (from booty to lower knee) and no pain. He said he didn't recommend I run, but knew I would anyways, and said I would probably survive but result in aggravating the injury.

I ran.

I finished.

I finished RUNNING!


One of my best runs ever in all my training, except for the injury pain that crept up at about mile 7.

I was super nervous at the start of the race. Everyone was passing me left and right, and I didn't like the feeling of being behind. But it turns out I was not behind. In an out and back part of the run, I was able to see lots  of people were actually behind me, some walking, others jogging, and I was not LAST.

The course was through farming country and we weaved in and out of neighborhoods of farming families. I was able to forget about the race I was running and really notice the beauty of the valley offset by the mountains, the flowers, the animals, and the cute little homes! I want to own one of those farmettes one day! What a great distraction!

I refueled at mile 8 with a gel and some electrolytes at a water station and then it was all focus on finishing. Mile 10 things got mentally difficult. Mile 11 was a relief to see. Mile 11.5ish I felt lightheaded and thought I would pass out. I asked Mark if it was possible to pass out while running. He said 'no' but I still think it is possible. I pushed forward anyway.

And then mile 12 was different. After running on the side of a paved road for 11 miles, this last mile was on a hiking trail around a lake in the state forest preserve. It was littered with small rocks and pebbles. It was curvy. And it really aggravated my left ankle and my right hamstring. This trail is really the only place I stopped running for parts of any of the race. I was able to charge the little hills on the trail, but going down the hills my ankle felt like it was about to give out and roll. So I gingerly walked down the little hills, holding Mark's hand. Then I would run again, fighting back tears from the pain in my hamstring and the pain in my ankle until we came upon another hill. Mark sweetly talked me through all these little hurdles and caringly understood not to push me beyond what I knew I was capable of.

After the longest mile in my life, we emerged from the forest and the finish line was in sight! My last wave of adrenaline hit and I burst through the finish line sprinting! They took my photo, gave me a ribbon, and a water bottle. I remember asking Mark if we could stop now and he laughed and said yes. I limped the rest of the day.

We refueled with some of the tasty goodies they had. There was bread and peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, Oreo cookies, mixed berry shortcake and whip cream, orange slices and salad. The tastiest of all of them: Oranges. And I never eat oranges. But they were clearly what my body needed at that point, so I ate 5 slices. And an Oreo. Because I had just burned 1350 calories. Loved that part.

Thoughts a Day Later: It was worth it. I feel accomplished. And proud I did it. I think one day I will run a half marathon again. But next year. Not anytime soon, that is for sure. Eventually I'll want to see if my time would improve if I didn't have injuries going in to the race. I think it would.And now that I've done it, I know I can do it again.

Maybe... the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon in June.... Who's with me? Anyone??

XOXO!!
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tiny Sweater

I have a tiny cotton sweater. I bought it six years ago at Nordstrom and was instantly drawn to it because it is teal and stretchy, and did I mention teal? When I bought it, it fit. It looked great. And stylish. But somewhere during its lifetime it accidentally found its way into the dryer (more than once) and today it is faded, a bit nappy, and the sleeves are about an inch and a half two short.

Despite it's well loved ratty condition, I've had a very hard time with the thought of parting with it. It really does go with EVERYTHING, in my opinion, and if i scrunch up the sleeves, and put some jewelry with it, it doesn't seem so old.

Nordstrom probably sells this particular style and cut of sweater every season. It's a classic "basic" and I know I've seen other people wear different colors of my same sweater around town. So its probably possible for me to find a suitable replacement for around 30 dollars. But I can't bring myself to do it. I love this one too much!!! And why spend 30 dollars on a basic when I really need skirts to wear with my lovely new boots that hubby bought for my birthday. **squeal!!**

I'm wearing my tiny nappy teal sweater today and I'm still in love with it and all its fadedness. It makes me happy. And warm. Why fix what's not truly broken?

Honestly though. Autumn, I know you'll tell me the truth. Casey? I'll see you today. Does my sweater need to be replaced?

What piece of clothing do you love too much to part with?

XOXO!!
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tortillas!

Have you ever been to an authentic Mexican restaurant where you were served piping hot handmade tortillas?

No?

Google the closest one to your home right now.
I'll wait.
You now know where you're going for dinner tonight.

In my effort to use up my 15 pounds of bread flour purchased at Costco last winter, we started making our own tortillas. Mexican night is a weekly occurrence and we go through tortillas faster than a loaf of bread. Here's how it goes.

Basically, I started making the dough (no yeast!) and once its well mixed, I formed these little dough balls and let them rest for 30 minutes or more.
While they rested, I took an opportunity to take a few pictures of my favorite kitty while she sunbathed.
Caught in the act.
Then, I rolled out each ball one at a time, and cooked each one on the stove on high heat for about 1 min (30 seconds on each side).
While I waited for each cooking minute to pass, I rolled out the next dough ball.
Obviously, making homemade tortillas is not for everyone, particularly someone who has a busy life. My life is not busy at this time, and I enjoy the process of cooking from scratch. Hence this post! 
For those of you who want to give this a whirl, here's my recipe:

MOSTLY WHEAT TORTILLAS
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water

In a large bowl, stir together flours and salt. Rub in butter by hand until mix is the texture of oatmeal. Make a well in the center and pour in boiling water. Mix with a fork until all water is incorporated. Sprinkle with a little additional flour and knead dough until it doesn't stick to your fingers. It should be smooth. 
Make golf ball size balls, about 2 ounces each. Place them on a tray and let them stand for an hour or up to 8 hours. 

Heat your griddle over high heats. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a tortilla to your desired thinness. Fry one at a time about 10 seconds, then flip, 30 seconds, then flip again and give it 20 more seconds. Store each tortilla in a large Ziplock bag to lock in moisture. 

XOXO!

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Mrs. White

Heh! Hehehehe! I love this movie. 

Maybe it's time to put together a Clue inspired mystery dinner with Seattle friends! Who's in?
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

English Muffins and Kabob Dinner

One of my favorite things to eat in the morning before work is my homemade English muffins with a fried egg, wilted spinach and pesto.

I heat the griddle, fry the egg for 5 minutes, wilt the spinach on the hot griddle next to the egg, while simultaneously toasting the english muffin and assemble with pesto right before I eat and run out the door.
Keeps me full for hours!


ENGLISH MUFFINS
1 cup milk
2 T white sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 c. melted butter
3 c. all purpose flour
3 c. whole wheat
1 tsp. salt

Warm the milk in a sauce pan until it JUST bubbles. Mix in the sugar until dissolved. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve the yest in the warm water.  Let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the milk, yeast mixture, melted butter and 3 cups of the flour. beat until smooth. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add the salt and then the rest of the flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise.

Punch down carefully. Keep bubbles in dough for crannies. Roll it out to 1/2 to 2/3 inch thick. Cut rounds with biscuit cutter, drinking class, or empty tuna can. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal and put rounds on wax paper. Dust tops of muffins with cornmeal. Cover and let rise for 45 min to an hour. Heat griddle and cook each muffin on medium heat about 6-10 minutes on each side. (I've found cooking slower on a lower heat results best results.) Freeze until ready to eat!!!



Recently Mark and I shared a quiet evening at home after many nights out and about. What a nice change of pace! I didn't take too many pictures because I wanted to just focus on relaxing and enjoying his company. But here's a quick peek at our meal.
Some of the best 10 dollar wine we can find at Costco.
And marinated steak and roasted veggies!

What's one of your favorite date nights?

XOXO!
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Monday, September 12, 2011

12 mile run!

This is what an AM run starts off like.

Hair pulled back. Sleep eyes. Glasses so I can see.
Hydration for the run and a Cliff shot for the halfway point.
Heart Rate monitor--because I like to pace myself according to my heart rate.
And a quick iPhone shot of the city as we ran by. 


I completed my longest run on Saturday. It was killer. KILLER. No kidding, I nearly died. The next time I run a long run will be for the race on September 25th.

The reason this run was killer was because I'm dealing with injuries, and I'm not doing a very good job of letting my body heal. I tried to make an appointment to see my chiropractor but he was unable to get me in before my 12 miler, so I ran anyway. And I regretted that decision because my hip began hurting intensely around mile 6. I tried to push through it, and Mark was an incredible encouragement, but I still felt discouraged and defeated for the entire second half of the run to the point where it got to me, and I burst out in tears at mile 10 and at 10.75 I couldn't run another step. I limped the rest of the way home and Mark prepared ice, Advil, and elevation for me the moment we arrived home.

A few hours later, I was able to walk, albeit in pain, but I could put weight on it and walk with almost no limp, so I did because my dad was in town and I wanted to show him around my turf. But three days later, my hip still hurts and my ankle is achy, and I cannot WAIT to get in to see my doctor on Wednesday.

Until then, XOXO!
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Salsa

It's Friday!!!!

I like to call Friday "Latte Friday" here in Seattle, because pending I haven enough Fun Money (we follow the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover Plan for our lives now, which includes personal spending money for each of us) I find indulging in a Starbucks beverage helps get me through the day and into the weekend with a super happy caffeinated face!

We have a special house guest this week(end) too. My DAD IS IN TOWN, EVERYONE!!! I'm really excited to see him and visit with him and hug him and squeeze him even though he's not the hugging type. I just love him and miss him so much. He's in a bit of transition right now as the house that we lived in as a family for oh...12 years just sold, meaning he sold it. He was all alone in that big thing, and it was way too much space, but the housing market has been bad back in Chicago until just recently. He also sold his chimney sweeping business and he just retired from the fire department, so he's a free man--and homeless. He's hoping to move this month, and even though the chances are small, I'm still hoping he'll move to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to us. After all, in a few years there will be grandchildren to babysit, right?

So we get to do lots of fun things with my dad including drinking the best beer ever, and taking the Boeing Tour, and maybe even going for a sailboat ride, and having dinner with my mom for my BIRTHDAY!!!

Oh and we have do that pesky little thing called Operation Run 12 Miles. I'll tell you all about how it went tomorrow. In the meantime! Here's what I'm lovin'.


SALSA!
Seriously the best salsa I've ever made because 1) its spicy 2) its healthy and 3) SUPER easy to make.

SUPER EASY FOOD PROCESSOR SALSA

2-14.5 oz. cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro, minus stems (you may not use all of it.)
4-6 green onions
1 large can "pickled" jalapenos (found them in the Mexican isle--see picture above for blurry visual)
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Cracked pepper to taste
Enjoy with tortilla chips or over yummy tacos

Basically, throw both cans of tomatoes, and half of all the other ingredients into the blender. (I use my Vitamix so I don't have to pre-chop anything, but feel free to do so if you want!) I blend, taste, add more jalapeno because I like it hot, and taste again. It takes me about 7-10 minutes to get it just right, but its worth it, and it makes a big batch of salsa. I find it stays good in the fridge for up to two weeks, probably because the main ingredients are canned. Enjoy!

XOXO!
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rosemary Parmesan Focaccia

Labor Day was a day of baking for me. I try to make all our bread-type foods at home because last year we spontaneously felt the need to buy the gigantic bag of bread flour at Costco. I don't really know what we were thinking but I do know it was a joint decision, and as a result I've gotten very creative these last 8 months trying to come up with healthy carb recipes to enjoy.

Let me say this: I'm not sure this one is "healthy". But it sure looks delicious! And my husband has been enjoying this loaf at every meal, regardless of what is on the menu! He has already requested I make it again soon.
This is my rosemary bush that I clipped my fresh rosemary from. In the Pacific Northwest, rosemary grows like a weed. Or rather, most people have some planted somewhere in their yard, and I've seen this bush grow taller than me. So when I decided to purchase my plant, I thought it would be best contained in a planter so that I could control its size, and take it with us when we move. Brilliant!
While I was out in the yard, I thought I'd grab a few shots of other things growing.
My tomatoes are FINALLY ripening. It's about time! Summer's almost over!

Straight out of the oven, this bad boy smelled sooo good. I wanted to rip right into it with both hands and gnaw on fistfuls of bread. 
Sliced up for Mark's enjoyment.
Are you drooling yet? Okay good.
Here's the recipe.


ROSEMARY PARMESAN FOCACCIA

3 cups bread flour
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 pkg instant yeast
1-1/3 c. warm water
2 Tbsp. olive oil + 1 tbsp. for bread topping
1 large garlic cloves crushed and minced
4 Tbsp. fresh minced rosemary
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, combine your crushed garlic and 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix well and set aside.

Prep your yeast in the warm water and add a pinch of sugar. Let that bubble for 10 minutes. In the meantime, combine your flour, salt and 2 Tbsp.of oil. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and mix the dough until pliable. Kneed dough on a floured surface until smooth. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled--about an hour. Coat a baking sheet (I used our Pampered Chef pizza stone) with oil and gently press the dough out to about about 1/2 inch thickness. Brush the garlic oil over the top of the dough. Its okay if garlic bits get onto the dough! Make dimples on the dough. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and rosemary. Let rise until doubled (30 min or more). Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 12 sizable servings.

XOXO!
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

If you're an oatmeal lover, and you love yummy breads like zuchinni bread, banana bread, or carrot cake, you HAVE to try this recipe. No joke, the best oatmeal I know now to make and its perfect for a rainy day and the cool weather months to come. Don't be scared away by the length of ingredients. I don't measure most of the time, and it turns out great, so start throwing things into the pot while it cooks, and I promise, you won't be disapointed.

CARROT CAKE OATMEAL
(makes one serving)
1/3 c. old fashion oats
1/3 c. water
1/3 c. almond milk (or your favorite milk)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup grated carrots
2 dashes cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
1/8 c. (small handful) craisins or raisins
1/8 c. (small handful) shredded coconut
1 to 2 T. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. vanilla (optional)
1 T. coconut butter (topping)

In your favorite saucepan, add everything except the coconut butter topping. Cook on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes until oatmeal mix thickens. Spoon into your bowl and top with a heaping tablespoon of coconut butter. Eat carefully! It's hot!

(picture to come!)
XOXO!


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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Return from Vegas

I'm back.

Vegas was exactly what I expected. NOT my style.

I spent Friday in complete SHOCK over how huge and ridiculous Vegas is. The street blocks look normal but are extra large and seriously take 10 minutes to get from one end to the other. And then you get there and another block full of people is in your way. There was money to be spent everywhere. Whether it be shopping, gambling, drinking, eating, watching, gazing, gawking, or room service, it was all for sale. I hated that part. I personally think paying excessive amounts of money for vacation is wrong.

The drinks were not quality. I hate light beer.  Light beer has got to be a sin. Which would explain why its the drink of choice in Sin City. I wanted to avoid all hang overs, so I never had more than 3 drinks in a single day often spread out over many hours. We were forced to enjoyed a pricey French buffet for the reception dinner (that we had to pay for!) and that included unlimited cheap drinks if you wanted them. I forced two glasses of wine down, and I swear they added water to it to stretch it farther. Like I said, I'm a small person, and I don't eat a lot. A buffet is something I would never choose on my own because we don't get our money's worth with me. I walked away from the buffet feeling mighty full and barely able to walk. Lying down on my right side was the most comfortable position, and I don't think I ate again until 3 p.m. the next day. I've been cleansing on green veggies ever since.

At least the wedding part was fun. I wore a pretty pink dress and Mark took lots of photos since the happy couple opted to not hire a photographer. The chapel was small, and the pastor dude that married them was very good and had some really sweet passages from the Bible to share. Elvis joined the ceremony and sang 4 songs, one at the beginning of the ceremony, one right after the personal vows to break the tension and tears that were flowing freely, and then two at the end including "Viva Las Vegas" and "Blue Suede Shoes". I liked the Elvis, even though he was a skinny Elvis. I thought Vegas was the one place you could be sure to get a good lookalike. Oh well, at least he sang well!

I was glad to be back home on Sunday evening. Mark and I cuddled up on the couch and watched Legends of the Fall. I seriously love that movie! Brad is a stud. And Monday we slept in, did a 6 mile run, and I spent the remainder of the day in the kitchen cooking tasty breads and dinner. I took pictures of all my creations and I plan to share those along with the recipes this week. So stay tuned! Until then,

XOXO!
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vegas!!!

I just wrapped up my 11 mile run with my husband. My feet ache a bit and I have them elevated and iced every hour for 20 minutes.

Tomorrow morning we are headed off to Vegas to watch Mark's best friend get married by Elvis. It should be quite a weekend! I've never been to Vegas before, don't really care to drink more than one or two drinks (hate hangovers), and I don't gamble. We're staying at the Venetian and I heard they have a beautiful pool and a gym, so my plan is to hang out in both those places for the majority of my free time. I have my sunscreen, my bathing suit, sunglasses, and a good book packed.

We're eating the reception meal at a buffet, which for me is a complete waste of money because I don't eat enough food to ever make a buffet worth the bucks. At least we get to hang out with the happy couple and toast to them and celebrate them! I like that part!

I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend too! Tell me all about it so I have fun stories to read when I return on Monday!

XOXO!
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