Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another New Distance PR -- Will I Be Paying For It?

So as I've mentioned in my other posts, I am battling a mild cause of ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) AKA: My knees hurt like !@#! when I run. Okay, that's a mild exaggeration. They don't really hurt that bad, but it's enough to be noticable. Anyway, I had a short 3 mile run on Thursday and felt okay. Yesterday, I had a few twinges of pain here and there, but nothing big. I was able to get around, including using stairs (which is really painful with ITBS) without a problem. I massaged both legs and knees with my new foam roller, iced like crazy, and started popping ibuprofen like it was candy. I decided to give my 9 mile run a try today.

I chose a course where I could go out for 2.25 miles, come back, and then go out 2.25 the other way and then come back. That way, the course wasn't too boring, but I was never more than about 2 miles from my car, just in case. When I started, my left knee, which is the worse of the two, was hurting a little, but my right knee was totally pain-free! "I'm cured, at least in one knee!" I thought. Well, after mile 2.5, that tune changed. Both knees started to hurt, but nothing too bad. Once again, on a scale of 1-10, the pain was probably only a 2 or 3. I argued with myself about whether or not I should stop at the halfway point where my car was. I was so determined to do my 9 miles though, I kept on going. At that point, I made a mental decision to make the best of this run as I could. I would give myself the next 2 weeks off totally to heal and recover. I really just wanted to prove to myself that I could do 9 miles. Anyhow, the pain was on and off for another 2-3 miles. When I turned around though to finish off my last 2.25 miles, it was tough. While the pain continued to be on and off, the intensity of pain was increasing during the "on" times. Just as it was getting to be about a level 4 on my pain-o-meter, I was luckily almost finished. I looked down at my watch to see my finish time of about 1 hour, 29 minutes for 9.1 miles, which gives me about a 9:45 pace. I was happy about that, but what frustrates me is that aerobically, I felt totally fine, and my legs weren't tired at all (thank you again, magical Sport Beans!) -- I could have easily gone another 2-3 miles or more if is wasn't for my stupid knees! Whoda thunk that this was going to be what keeps me from progessing. Oh well. What are you going to do?

So, it looks like I'll be taking the next two weeks off from running. My elliptical and I will become good friends. I've at least proven to myself that I can run the 9 miles, so I'm not worried about running 10 for my race in a few weeks. I'll just have to keep my conditioning up with cross training. My goal now is to concentrate on getting to the starting line healthy so that I can actually enjoy the race!

As a side note, I ran with my new Balega socks today. I got them from my local Feet Fleet store. They are supposed to be super awesome for running and preventing blisters. (They better be! Those socks cost $10 for one pair!) Mine are like the ones in the pic, but pink. Well, after running my 9.1 miles in them today, I can attest to their awesomeness! With these babies, my feet may be sandal ready by May after all !

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Kite Runner -- The Movie


I just finished reading The Kite Runner and I LOVED it! The movie for the book is coming out next month. Check out the trailer!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Altered Mailboxes Revealed

Okay, I gave out some of my altered mailboxes, so it's safe to share pics now. SO...without further ado, here are some pics of the Valentine altered mailboxes I made for family and friends. These are just a few. The first pic in the slide is the BEFORE. All the rest are AFTERs!


They were a lot of fun to make! I hope everyone will enjoy them!

:-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Enjoying My Last Day of Freedom

Well, today is the last official day off I have from teaching. Our winter break is almost over! I know I shouldn't complain because there aren't many jobs where you get a full two weeks off for Christmas and New Years! Still, what can I say? I have been seriously spoiled! No more can I sleep in until 9, cruise the net until 10, and then shop/scrap/craft all day long! No longer can I forget about having to sit down for 3 actual "meals," eating whenever I want, and even better whatever I want! Popcorn for dinner? Why not?! Cookies for breakfast? Go for it! Chips at 11 at night. Yummm. Wait...my pants are feeling pretty tight lately...Okay, the random eating thing is definitely something I need to get away from! I will miss the tons of time I've had to do fun things though. I even get to blog almost every day! That's been fun! I hope to keep up with it. But wait -- It's not totally over yet though! Today I was able to finish up the cards I started yesterday using January's Sheetload sketch. In case you missed it, HERE is a link to the sketch. I challenged myself to use paper I don't normally use and I think they came out okay! I like how the embossing came out. I used some a powder in a pearl blue. I really like how it came out shiny. I am having so much fun with it!

What I am SUPER excited about is coming up tomorrow. A few of my friends are meeting up at our local Archiver's to do our own little "make-n-take". I am going to teach them how to make explosion boxes, my friend Deb is going to teach stamping techniques, and my other friend Heather is teaching something too. (She's still undecided on what though!) I'm super excited to learn what Deb has to share. She told me a little about it and I can't wait! I'll have to share with you later what we made! After we do our demos, we just going to hang out and scrap or make cards. We are actually doing our make-n-take during the Scrap Mania. It goes from 5-11 and they provide dinner, drink, snacks, a page kit, and prizes. I've never been to one but it sounds like fun! I hope it is something we can do again! I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Scraps of Snoopy

So last Saturday, a group of friends and I met at Archivers for their Scrap Mania night. It was a lot of fun! My friend Deb showed us how to use liquid applique on a layout or card. You just squeeze it out of the tube, dry with a heat gun and watch it puff up! It is super cool! I would like to try it on a layout or card in the next few days so I can try it out more and show you. I asked Deb where she got it so that I can buy my own to use at home, but Deb just gave me hers! WOW, thanks Deb! Heather and I were supposed to do a make-n-take too, but we got so caught up scrapping, we ran out of time! I was going to show how to make explosion boxes, but I forgot my scoring blade too. DOH! Hopefully we'll get to do it next time!

Anyhow, Scrap Mania was fun. They served us dinner -- fried chicken and jo jos, and salad. For our desert, we were able to make brownie sundaes. Yum! They gave small prizes out every hour and we got a cool page kit. The best part was just scrapping with friends though!

Here are some layouts I started at the Scrap Mania. I didn't have everything I needed to finish them there though, so I finished them at home tonight. The first two have pics of the cats with their new scratch toy we got them for Christmas. The PP isn't exactly Christmas themed, but what can I say? The pics on the second page had orange and yellow in it. It was hard to find PP that would go with it.



The second layout is just a one-pager. I got to use some of my new paisley stamps from Inque. They're pretty cool!


Tonight, the BSC championship is on. As an Ohio resident, I am obviously cheering for the Buckeyes. I'll be working on some cards though while I watch. Go Bucks!

A New Distance PR

The roads were finally clear today, so I got to run my LSD run. Don't get worried -- I'm talking Long Slow Distance -- not the other LSD! Today, I ran my longest run EVER in my life at 6.7 miles! Last summer, I ran this loop around my neighborhood about every other day. It's about 2 miles one time around. Usually I ran the loop twice, but I was SO glad when I was done, and I remember some days when I had a hard time running it just once! Today, I ran it two times with NO problem and even did another big section of my neighborhood. I probably could have gone even farther if I wanted. I felt so good -- what a difference! I ran a little over an hour too. If you told me last summer I'd be able to do that, I'd say, "Yeah right!" Now I'm just saying, "Yea!" I'm also super excited because I just realized that today's run is 1/2 of my 1/2 marathon goal! And I still have 6 months of training -- plenty of time!

Cookware Love

So what is this blog about anyway? Is it scrapbooking? Running? Cooking? Well, it's all about what's going on in "my little world" which basically means, it's all of those things! So I hope you'll bear with me as I write about all of the above every now and then! To make it easier, I'll separate my posts based on those topics. SO, if you could care less about cooking but want to read about running, scoot down to my first post for today. THANKS!

Okay, so anyway...Last Saturday, my neighbor, who is from India, showed me how to make some Indian food. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoy learning about new types of foods and how they reflect the culture of the region they originate from. Cooking with my neighbor really reminded me of cooking with my aunt when I went to San Diego to visit her. She showed me how to make a lot of Filipino food I grew up with. (I wish my mom would have been able to show me, but she couldn't. Luckily, she and my aunt cook the same stuff!) Anyhow, from her I learned how to make lumpia, pancit and muchiko! YUM! Maybe this week, I'll share how to make those fab Filipino feasts! Anyhow, I went to a local Indian store this week and bought some ingredients. Tomorrow I plan on trying my own hand at it. I'll write more about it tomorrow. One thing I'll share though is one of the reasons I waited to try my hand at making the dish. I was waiting for my new piece of cookware to arrive. After much anticipation, I finally received my cast iron enameled 4 qt saucier. Here it is right out of the box.


First of all, I just love cooking with cast iron. It distributes the heat better than anything else I have. Because of that, you don't need to use as much heat. I can sear a slab of meat using nothing but medium heat. Yeah baby! I also love that it holds heat for a long time. You can serve your meal, eat it, and when you go back for seconds (and you will!,) they'll still be warm! I also love that this piece is enameled. That means easy cleanup and... oh yeah, it's a gorgeous red! Love it! This 4 qt is also the perfect size! I already have a 2 qt and a 5 qt, so this is just what I need! Oh my...Is it wrong to love a piece of cookware this much? Well, if it is wrong, I don't want to be right! LOL! Anyhow, I'll be testing this baby out tomorrow as I try my hand at making Indian upma!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Adventures with Acetate

So I'm making it a goal for myself to try to learn about more cool card techniques. First, I just like learning new things, but second, I want to have a variety of cards that I can make so that I can sell more in my Etsy store. (BTW, I did sign up for an Etsy store but I haven't uploaded anything yet. Maybe in a week or two! Be on the lookout though for "Pretty Little Papers"!)

SplitCoast Stampers has been the place where I've been getting most of my ideas. Today, I tried two of their tutorials. The first one is to make a "floating card". It's made out of acetate or transparencies. With me being a teacher, I have to have transparencies anyway, so I just used those. Anyhow, after much fussing, swearing, and re-stamping, here is my first floating card.

It was a royal PAIN at first because the stamp kept sliding on the transparency giving me a smudged image. So then I'd have to clean it off and start all over again. GRRR. Anyhow, after trying a couple of stamps and different inks, I finally had success!

Here is my second card. This a shaker card! It was super easy to make! It's still pretty simple...I want to do more with it, but I'm still not sure what. Anyways, here it is!


The brighter part in the pic over the butterfly isn't due to flash -- there are actually tiny little glass beads in between the butterfly stamp and the purple frame that you can shake around -- hence a "shaker card"! (There is a piece of transparency keeping the beads from falling out.)

And that ends my first adventure with acetate (AKA transparencies,) and I do not think it will be my last! :-)

Blossom Time Race Report!

(See post below for pre-race day planning -- short version: Goal time: 47:00 with a pace of 8:57.) Okay, race day...After a short warm up, I find my way to the huge pack of runners. A woman says, "Are you doing the 1 mile walk or the 5 mile run?" I tell her I'm doing the run and she says, "Oh, you better get closer to the front!" So I meander through the crowd and move up about 30 feet. It looks like the front so I figure I'm good. Then the gun goes off....yet nobody is moving! I'm confused! Then I look up and see a sea of people WAY ahead of me! I wasn't in the front AT ALL! Oh no! So I figure, OH WELL and just start trying my best to move up to the front through this crowd.


Finally, I start picking up the pace and turn on my iPod. I immediately started running to the beat and my pace was set. I know there's a big hill that starts right before the first mile marker, so I prepare. As I start to see the marker, I also see the hill. I'm pleasantly surprised -- it's not near as bad as I thought. I power up the hill. I hit my first mile at 9:12 but the guy at the marker said 10:12. It must have taken me a full minute just to work my way up to the starting line! URG! Oh well...the hill's not over and I need to really pick up the pace!

I see the Mile 2 marker coming up, the big hill is behind me. I know I can start cruising soon. I look at my watch -- 8:30 for my 2nd mile. Holy Moly! I'm feeling great too so I keep going. The course here is pretty flat and is on a residential road. There are people sitting out at the end of their driveways cheering for us. I even get a couple of high fives!

As I hit mile 3, I check out my split -- 8:33. COOL! Pretty close to my last one and definitely under the 8:57 I was shooting for. My legs started getting a little tired as I was heading towards mile marker 4. My legs wanted to slow down. I ignored my legs and pushed on. I cruised through to hit a split of 8:27 -- my fastest mile yet. Only one more to go now.

I push through and my last mile time was 8:21. Woo hoo! I can see the finish line now. Only 400 meters to go! There are people lined up along the street all cheering for us! I go as hard as I can even though my legs feel like they are dying! I see my DH and he jumps out to take a pic. I can here him yelling for me!


I don't know how fast I ran those last 400 meters, but my finish time on their clock was around 45:??. Take off that minute it took for me to even get to the starting line, and I'm in the 44s! Cool beans! (Still waiting for the official time.)

Overall, the race was awesome! The hills weren't tough for me at all and I really feel like I pushed it the best I could. It was great having so many people cheering too. And to top that off, I was able to hit the fair stands for a yummy post-race meal -- fair fries and lemonade!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

TWD: Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

This is my first official Tuesdays with Dorie entry and my first ever attempt at baking a pie... from scratch! I have to say too -- this was a huge learning experience for me. First was the dough. Well, let's just say it took a few tries before I got it right. I think my post on the Nest Forums kinds of sums it up:

Post title: My Nemesis -- Pie dough!
Ugh, this is only the 2nd time I've tried to make my own pie dough and I'm about to pull my hair out. The first time I made it, I used a Martha Stewart recipe and while the dough tasted very good in the final recipe, I had a devil of a time rolling it out. It stuck to EVERYTHING! Then tonight I tried to make Dorie's pie dough for the blueberry pie I'm making (for TWD). Well her recipe must use more ingredients (I lost the MS one so I can't really compare for sure) but my food processor was pretty full and that was just for enough dough for 1 crust. That scared me. And then in Dorie's pie dough recipe, it said to just cut the butter to 1 T sized pieces -- ugh that sounded kinda big! I went with it though and what a pain! Then I tried to wet the dough down with the ice water and had such difficulty determining when it was ready. Even while adding gradually, I put too much water in and had to redo the whole thing twice before finally getting a decent batch. UGH! So now I think I have two batches of workable dough. If this stuff doesn't roll out for me tomorrow morning, I don't know WHAT I'm going to do! Please tell (a) I'm not alone or (b) this will get better! TIA!


Well, I'm glad to say that in the morning, when I went to roll the dough out, all went well! Phew! So it took a few tries, but I finally figured out how to make pie dough in my tiny food processor. Yea! To make things easier, I used this cool item I got at my local kitchen gadget store. It's called a "Pie Crust Maker". It's kind of like a duvet cover, but for dough. HA! You roll the dough out while it's inside, and it makes a perfect circle in the perfect size. This type of thing is just what I needed!


I then went about assembling the pie. This was a bit tricky, but luckily, the dough was forgiving. I then put the pie in the oven and crossed my fingers.

About half way through cooking, I was supposed to lower the heat. I thought this would be a good time to check on the pie. I opened the oven to see (a) the crust was already browned, and (b) the blueberry mixture still looked just look blueberries with sugar and flour! Uhhh, the filling is NOT supposed to look like that... at least I don't think so... getting worried! I quickly went on the Nest and the oh-so kind girls there told me to just tent some foil over the pie to prevent further browning. Done! I then double, triple, and quadruple checked the filling recipe to make sure I hadn't messed it up. I did everything as suggested, so now I just had to pray the filling would somehow transform itself into the gooey goodness I had pictured in my mind.

Well, the timer went off, and no gooey goodness. I could see that the sugar was starting to melt down though -- progress in sight! I added 15 minutes to the timer... more progress, but no bubbling yet. I gave it 15 more minutes. That time, when I lifted the foil, I could see bubbling! Yea, my pie was done!


Now this thing is NO piece of beauty! It is pretty tasty though. I had a good mix of sweet and tart blueberries which was nice since there was the sweetness of the sugar and the tart lemon rind / juice in the filling -- a great balance with taste in every bite. I liked the filling overall. The crust was decent too. It was a little more crumbly at the edges than I would have liked, but I think that's more because of how I put it together. Hopefully I'll improve with practice!

So while this adventure was a pain in the behind, I really learned a lot and enjoyed tasting my final product. I definitely think I would like to try this again... in a little while! I can't wait to see what the next TWD challenge will be!

TWD: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

This week Vibi from La Casserole Carrée has chosen our Tuesdays with Dorie recipe of the week. It's been a week or two since participating in TWD. Unfortunately, time did not allow me to do the Kugelhopf and as far as the rice pudding, yeah, I decided not to make that since I know nobody in my house would eat it. I know in the book, Dorie mentions how she has only heard that some people may not like rice pudding. ***raising hand*** I can not stomach rice pudding! The whole texture thing... can't do it! So anyhow, to those who enjoy it, I'm sure it was awesome!

Anyhow, this was my first week back. I was excited to try a pie seeing as how I haven't made one in awhile. The last time I made a pie, I used this awesome pie dough recipe involving just cream cheese, butter, flour, salt, and sugar. The cream cheese I found was actually a new yogurt cream cheese. I tried it and it worked awesome! My local grocery store doesn't sell it anymore though so I had to just use regular cream cheese this time. Should work fine right? Or maybe NOT! UGH, I seriously hate making pie dough. I made a whole batch thinking that I'd have enough to make another pie later. Yeah, not so much! I had to use the whole thing just to get a decent enough round to cover my one pie plate. GRRRR! Oh well. The rest of the pie assembling went smoothly. I followed directions as Dorie instructed and placed my pie into the oven at 450*F. After 10 minutes, I lowered it to 300*F and went about my business.

About a half hour later, I confidently opened the oven and gently inserted a knife expecting to see nothing but maybe a few crumbs. But what did my eyes behold?! I runny, watery mess! WHA?! Okay, no biggie, right?! Just let it bake a little longer and check again... and again... and again... and again... okay seriously -- When is this thing gonna be done?! Well, after 30 additional frustrating minutes, I yanked the thing out of the oven and tossed it onto a cooling rack.

Later in the day, I decided to take a test slice of this taunting pie. I was not pleased. While the pecan topping was very yummy, the pumpkin layer was flavorful, but MUSHY! Yuck! I was expecting it to be firm, like a regulary pumpkin pie. I don't know... mine must not have turned out. I don't know why, but oh well!

So, between the pie dough and the over/underbaking, I think I need to give pie making a rest for awhile. Luckily, I liked the other fall dessert I made the other day WAY better anyhow -- the cranberry-topped orange cheesecake. I'll make that for my Thanksgiving desert. (Who would have thought that I'd be here saying that making that cheesecake was 1000x easier than this pie!) Oh well! I hope others enjoyed this recipe more than I did!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Running Update: Trying to Stick With It

Before I left for my vacation, I was doing pretty good in keeping up with my running plan. I completed a long run of 12 miles and a few short easy 5 milers before leaving. I packed my shoes in my suitcase along with a few packs of Sports beans and a good assortment of running gear. Ummm, yeah... they never made their way out of my suitcase. DOH! What can I say? I was too busy snorkeling with sea turtles and laying around on the beach! I should feel guilty about that, but... I don't!

So after I returned from vacay, I took a few days to get readjusted and then went out for what I thought was going to be an easy 4 miler. Note key word: thought! OMG, it felt like I was starting completely over again! It was such a hard run. I could barely get through it! I chalked it up to being just a bad run, until I woke up the next morning to find that I could barely move my legs! AHHH! I hadn't been sore from a run in months! And to think -- sore from a 4 miler? Oh no! I went out again for a tough 4 miler and then for a "long" and grueling 8 miler on Saturday. I thought I was going to die during that 8 miler, but I was determined to complete it. Not only did I refuse to give in to the soreness, but with a half marathon in just 3 weeks, I had to get it in! I needed to build back up, and fast!

Luckily, the next week (last week) got easier -- a lot easier! I went out for my 4-5 mile runs on Monday and Wednesday and am happy to report that they felt about 1,000x easier! I was still a little sore the next day, but at least the run itself felt good. Then came my weekend long run -- 10 miles. Physically, it felt better than my previous 8 miler, but mentally it was still tough. I kept thinking, "Am I THERE yet?!" Whaaaa!

After struggling to get back into it, I thought maybe a little new gear might help inspire some motivation. I headed over to my local running store and picked up a new pair of shoes. With 325+ miles on my Mizuno Wave Riders, it was time for a new pair anyway. I ended up getting another pair of the same shoes, but I also got this cool belt with water bottle.

You actually where it so that the bottle and pouch are at your back. It took awhile to get fitted properly, but once I did, it was pretty nice to have! I used to get SOOO thirsty on those long runs, it was nice to be able to get a drink whenever I wanted. It'll still take awhile to get used to wearing though.

So this week I am supposed to run a few easy 4-5 milers and then a long 12 this weekend. With school starting back up though, it will be really hard to get those in! Today was my first day back and with getting home way later than usual, I just didn't get my run in. I'll have to find a way to get it in tomorrow because that half mary is getting closer and closer!

I hope that even though school is starting, I can still fit in all the fun stuff I've come to love doing this summer!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Four Tidbits About Me!

Okay, I saw this on another Nestie's blog (Adventures in Randomness) and thought it was a great way to share about little ole' me! So here goes!

Four Jobs I'd Had In My Life
1. Waitress
2. Banquet Server
3. Teacher's Assistant
4. Teacher

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
1. Zoolander ("Doesn't anyone else see -- it's the SAME LOOK!")
2. Any Austin Powers Movie
3. The Illusionist
4. not many others -- I hate watching movies I've already seen

Four TV Shows I Like to Watch
1. Prison Break
2. Heros
3. Ghost Whisperer
4. Lost (when it's on!)

Four Places I Have Vacationed
1. Cozumel, Mexico (when I was a kid)
2. San Diego, California
3. The Bahamas
4. Maui, Hawaii

Four Websites I Visit Daily/Weekly
1. The Nest Book Club Forums
2. Blogger
3. Email
4. Google

Four of My Favorite Dishes
1. Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce and a side of garlic bread
2. Lumpia (a Filipino eggroll)
3. Pancit (another Filipino dish!)
4. Shrimp Scampi

Four Places I'd Rather Be
1. In bed taking a nap on a cold, winter's day
2. Laying on the beach on a nice sunny day
3. Visiting my family in San Diego
4. Meeting some of my family in the Philippines

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Chaos in the Kitchen" Challenge #3: Upma

Well it looks like I am heading east for today's cooking challenge with an Indian dish called "upma". As I said before, my neighbor showed me how to make it. She said that in India, it is traditionally served at breakfast, but she often eats it for lunch or as a snack. I think this would be a great lunch or even dinner side dish. It is quick and easy to make and it super healthy! It took me two tries to make, and a little tweaking of the recipe, but I think I've come pretty close to what she makes! (I am missing one ingredient and this is a homemade yogurt that she used. It's not like anything in the stores so I didn't want to substitute. It is optional though, so I just made mine without.) Anyhow, here is the recipe with a crazy close-up picture. (I didn't have time to plate well and then take a pic, sorry! Hopefully I'll have better food pics in the future!)

Oh, here are some special notes about the recipe, in case you want to try it: (1) Use a heavy-bottom pot. My enameled cast iron pot was perfect. If I had used my stainless steel, it would have totally stuck or burned to the bottom I think. (2) This recipe calls for an ingredient called Sooji which is Indian cream of wheat. It is very different from the cream of wheat you get in a box here in the U.S. My neighbor said not to use the American stuff -- it just doesn't work in this recipe. In fact, all of the ingredients with a * I got at a local Indian food store. (3) If you do have Indian homemade yogurt, use 1 cup and add it the same time you add the 2 cups of water. Okay, here we go!

Ingredients:
-2-3 Tablespoons oil (I used vegetable oil)
-2 cups water
-1 cup Sooji* (Indian cream of wheat)
-2 small onions, finely diced
-1 green chili pepper, seeded and minced
-3/4 to 1 cup frozen vegetable mix (or other veggies if you prefer those)
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/2 cup cashews
-1/2 Tablespoon black mustard seeds*
-1 Tablespoon cumin seeds* (much cheaper at Indian food store!)
-1 Tablespoon (more or less to taste) lemon juice
-1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
-salt to taste (about 1/2 Tablespoon)


Directions:

1) Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Drop in mustard seeds and cumin seeds. They should be sizzling. Stir for a few minutes, allowing to brown.

2) Add sooji. Toast with seeds and oil for a few minutes.

3) Add diced onions, saute for a few minutes. Add a little more oil if needed.

4) Add frozen mixed veggies and chili pepper. Stir. Add salt and lemon juice. Stir and saute everything 2-3 minutes.

5) Add cashews and raisins. Stir to combine.

6) Add the 2 cups of water and stir. (Water should reach boiling very quickly.) Turn heat to medium-low, cover and let sit for 2-3 minutes.

7) Uncover. Turn heat to low and stir until any remaining water is absorbed or evaporated and veggies are cooked. (Mine were done pretty much when I took the cover off.) Scrape sides and bottom of pot if needed. Add cilantro, stir to combine and serve!


Now remember, the recipe I have written is just based off watching my neighbor cook it and trying it myself. The measurements are fairly general and can be adjusted based on your preferences (more/less veggies, more/less salt, etc.) There are also TONS of variations! I hope you give it a try!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

Here is a pic of my two favorite things: gardening and "the Snoopster!"











There's No Turning Back!

I have officially registered for the first race in my "Getting my A** Back in Shape" Tour. It's the Twinsburg Bogsucker Strut (who in the world thought of that ridiculous name?!) and it is scheduled for March 15th. That's just a week and a half away! I hope to run a good time. Here are my goal times:

Realistic: around 27:30
Happy: around 26:30
Flippin' Out Excited: Under 26:00

Stay tuned for race results in T-9 days!

So yesterday I was griping about the gross weather conditions. I braved the snow though and completed my tempo workout. I've been excited all week though because I am supposed to do my longest run EVER this Saturday. I want to run 6.2 miles or 10K. I just checked AccuWeather to see the forecast for Saturday. Check it out:

High: 27 °F RealFeel®: 7 °F
Blizzard conditions with strong winds, low visibility and heavy snow, accumulating 4-8"; colder

AAAAARRRRGH!

I'm hoping my new blog template will at least make me FEEL like spring is around the corner!

TWD: Chocolate Pudding

Melissa from It's Melissa's Kitchen chose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Baking: My Home to Yours and she decided on chocolate pudding. Dorie Greenspan, the author of the book, posted the recipe on her blog as well. At first I was a little disappointed in the choice. I really wanted to learn more about baking and wondered how much "baking" there was to making pudding. Besides, why bother -- Jello Instant Pudding is pretty darn easy and mighty tasty. I reminded myself though that one of the main reasons I wanted to do TWD is to challenge myself to try things I might not ordinarily do, and making pudding surely fits that category... so I gave it a whirl!

With my new desire to bake all sorts of goodies, my DH and I are becoming buried under baked goods. We can hardly even keep up with all of the eats! I've started sending my DH to work with tons of goodies and the direction to come home empty handed! Anyhow, I've decided that I must tone it down, so today, I decided to just make half the pudding recipe. It worked out pretty well since I have a tiny food processor and could only do half a batch in it anyway. There was actually one point when even the half batch wouldn't fit! (The mixture gets very frothy when adding the hot milk. I had to empty most of it out before adding the last bit of milk.) Anyhow, everything was pretty simple and pretty quick. In fact, I'm surprised how few ingredients there were. I've been so used to baking recipes that require umpteen different ingredients (one of which is usually an insane amount of butter,) I was pleased to see how minimal this one was. In regards to the butter, I actually had to do a double take when seeing how much was needed for this recipe. For half the recipe, I only needed 1 tablespoon. At first I was like, "WHAT?! Just 1 T?" I'm so used to recipes that list the amount of butter in sticks, not mere tablespoons, I was shocked! LOL! Anyhow, I was eager to find out how this homemade pudding compared with Jello's.

After dinner, we finally dived in. This dessert is very rich, thick, and decadent -- a totally different food than the stuff from the box! It is the perfect chocolate fix! For me at least though, I could only eat a small amount. The serving Dorie recommended in the recipe was just enough. Anything more might have been too much for how rich it was. We ate just the pudding alone though. My DH said he liked it but would have probably enjoyed it more with some whipped cream to balance out the depth of the chocolate. I agree. In fact, with my first taste, I already started thinking about how I could adapt it. A pudding with that deep a chocolate flavor was just begging for a hint of orange. But how could I incorporate that? Hmmm, maybe a little orange liquor? I wonder too how it might be a hint of mint. I love mint anything. Maybe I could put in some mint chocolates with the bittersweet chocolate. And what other toppings could I use besides whipped cream? What fruit would go well with this? So many things you can do with this! I'm so glad I gave this recipe a try!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Getting Into the Groove

After taking yesterday off, I was ready to go out there and try to start building my long runs back up. I decided to just take it easy and start with 5 miles. I checked the weather and it said that the rain would hold off till around noon, so I had a small breakfast, lounged a bit, and got dressed for my run. Since I was planning to be out for nearly an hour, I also charged up my iPod and downloaded a new Podrunner podcast. In case your unfamiliar, Podrunner podcasts are AWESOME! They are house/techno mixes that last around an hour or more and are all set at certain beats per minute (bpm). They work really well for me in terms or helping me keep a consistent pace. Run to the beat and your pretty sure to stay on pace! Going on a slow run, choose a mix at about 145 bpm...going on a faster run, go with a mix at 160, 170 or 180. Want to practice running negative splits (starting off slower, than running progressively faster)? They have mixes that starts at 140 and progressively increase to 180. They've also just started interval mixes -- mixes that vary in bpms -- mostly one bpm with intervals of faster bpms to help you get in that speed work. I love being able to choose the mixes with the bpms that I need for my particular workout. In fact, these mixes are designed specifically for working out and the guy who puts them together, DJ Steve Boyett is a runner himself! I've found that when I run with these mixes, my splits are more consistent AND faster! Here's another thing that I love about Podrunner -- it's a FREE podcast! That's right. Go to iTunes and download a new weekly mix for FREE! Can't beat that!

So anyway, I downloaded a new mix at 150 bpm and headed out the door. It was sprinkling a bit, but not bad. It's been awhile since I ran with my iPod, so I started getting into the groove of the music. I don't usually listen to house/techno, but it really helps me get pumped up while running. Anyway, I ran the first loop of my two loop run feeling a little tired, but pretty good. Just as I was passing my house though and getting ready for the second loop, the rain starting coming down even more. (So much for ACCUweather!) By the time I was at the end of my street, it was a pretty heavy downpour! As I turned the corner, the wind started picking up. I focused on my music and pushed on. As I turned the next corner, the rain started really pelting my face. Running in that headwind was like trying to run through a wall! The techno music was pumping in my ear challenging my legs to move faster and faster -- I felt AWESOME! I pushed even harder and ran that last mile and a half faster than any part of my run! My knees hurt a little throughout, but not enough to bring me down. It was an exhilerating run and I felt so strong afterwards! I love workouts like that! Hopefully I can pull another out like that soon!

After my run, I quickly got cleaned up and my DH and I took his mom and dad out to dinner. It was nice chatting with them. We ended up eating at Max and Erma's too. I LOVE their chocolate cake. It is the BEST I've ever had and I always get a piece anytime we go there. I felt guilty getting it this time though since I usually just go there for a special occasion, but oh well. I just can NOT turn down that chocolatey goodness! Anyway, we had a nice time catching up and I wished her a wonderful Mother's Day! In fact, while I'm at it, happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! <3

Saturday, November 5, 2011

To Join or Not to Join -- That is the Question!

I was really excited to go to an informational mtg today for a new training group that my LSS is sponsoring. I was interested in joining a group to:
  • meet new people who have a common interest, maybe even make a few new friends,
  • find someone of like fitness level who can really push me,
  • get some good info/training that is specific to my needs and goals, and
  • just have someone to chat with on those long runs!
Well, after the info session, I'm not sure if this is the right training group for me. Here are the details:
  • Cost: $100. This covers the race fee, but originally, I thought the race would be something like $50 or more in which case I'm really just paying $50 for the coaching, training, group runs, store discount, etc. But then I found out that the race fee is $30 for the half mary (CHEAP!). So now I look at it as $70 for all that stuff. Hmmmm... I have no problem swinging that, as long as I feel it's worth it.
  • I'm afraid the group will be small. Only 7-10 people at the info session. And there was no one around my age! (Now that's not a requirement on my "Want to Be My Friend?" application, but it's always a plus!)
  • My biggest concern: I picked up the most involved of the three training programs, but I am worried that even that one is a little more conservative than I would like. For example, for the first week, the long run is just 35 minutes. Uhh....I just did 9 miles this morning. Their plan doesn't even get to 9 miles until week 10 of the 13 week program! Secondly, the longest run of the entire program is 12 miles. I would like to do at least 14-15 a few times. The girl there said that the program can surely be adjusted, but it seems like I would be adjusting it a lot! And if that is the case, will I just be running by myself? Kind of defeats a few of the reasons I wanted to join the group in the first place.

So anyway, I have until Wednesday to decide. It would be fun if there were people who I could run and train with, but if I'm by myself, I don't need to pay $100 for that! I do that for free already! Oh well. Needless to say I am kind of disappointed, but maybe I'll decide to do it anyhow. Maybe as I think more about it, I'll find a good reason to join that maybe I didn't consider before. What do you think?

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Wedding Slideshow!

I finally learned how to create a slideshow and thought I would try posting it to my blog! So here it is. Thought I'd start with pics from our wedding! :-)


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Went to Chiropractor Today -- More Confused Than Ever!

A group of girls at my work all go to the same chiropractor. It just so happens that you can also get massages there for just $5 (with our insurance). They usually schedule to go around the same time and then go out for lunch or dinner afterwards. Sounds pretty fun! Well, a few have been talking to me about coming with them, but I never really had a reason to go to a chiro. Well, after reading up on my whole knee issue thing, it turns out a visit to the chiro may help! Even if it doesn't, at least I can start getting my $5 massages, right?!

So anyhow, I went in today and the doctor took a look at my knees. He checked out a couple of things and took x-rays. Turns out, he does NOT think my knee problems are necessarily due to my IT band! He thinks the reason could be something altogether different! Something about a problem in my lower back which is causing my knees to overcompensate in some way? I don't know! He used a lot of mumbo jumbo doctor speak, so I wasn't really sure WHAT he was saying. He said that he is almost sure he knows what could be causing the problem but wants to wait to talk to me about it until he can confirm with the x-rays. I guess that makes sense. It would be a waste to talk to me about something if it turns out that isn't the diagnosis after all. Still...I'm dying to know! I tried to kind of ask if I should take it easy on the running and other workouts, but I didn't really get a clear answer either. He didn't seem to think that I needed to totally lay off of it...so I guess it's not that big of a deal...? I tried to explain that I tried to work out on my elliptical for 40 minutes but could only go 30 before experiencing pain. His suggestion -- just go 15-20 minutes. Uhhhhh, okaaayyy! I guess I could have asked more specifically, but I get so intimidated with doctors. Like, I hate to waste their time by asking dumb questions, but I guess that's why I'm there, right?! So next time I go, which is this Saturday, I will come armed with the only 3 questions I really care about: 1) What in the world is wrong with me? And please write that down with pictures and diagrams -- stick figures / speech bubbles are acceptable! 2) What do I do to fix it/prevent if from ever coming back? 3) When can I run again?! Hopefully, I'll have those answers by noon on Sat!

Okay, on a totally different topic, I wrote about one of my new fave shows which is Iron Chef America. Can I just say...the hottie Chairman -- yeah, I met him! Here's the dish: When I was in high school, I got to be an extra in this movie called Double Dragon. It was a movie based on a video game...a pretty bad one at that. Anyhow, the movie starred Scott Wolf, Alyssa Milano, and hottie Chairman guy! (He's the one on the right in the movie poster.) I got to meet all of them, ever so briefly. Funny though, when I checked out the Iron Chef America website, they didn't list Double Dragon under hottie Chairman's film credits! Wonder why?! :-)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I got this super cute card from a friend. Thanks Deb H.! Just thought I'd pass this along to wish everyone a "spook-tacular October"!


Let's be spooky. Let's have fun.
We'll scare ourselves before we're done
with ghosts and goblins, winds that howl,
things that fly and things that prowl.
We'll talk about such creepy stuff,
until we all get scared enough
to hear the things we cannot see,
and see the things that just can't be.

Have a spook-tacular October!

TWD: Chocolate Chunkers

This week, Claudia of Fool for Food chose the Chocolate Chunkers for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. (Click on her website for the recipe!) This recipe was a little different than the norm cookie recipe in that you had to melt some chocolate and butter and incorporate that into the batter. I really wasn't sure how these would turn out. Well, when they first came out, after letting them cool for 10 minutes, I took a nice big bite. They were WAY gooey! I remember reading in the cookbook that if they were too soft in the middle, to put them in the fridge for 10 minutes. I popped them in for awhile and then kind of forgot about them. About an hour later, I finally remember them and grabbed one to give them a try. It was rock hard! I threw it out after only half a bite! I figured these things were a bust and just threw them in some tupperware.

Well, the next morning, I decided to give them one more try. I poured a nice glass a milk and took a nice big bite... a nice, soft, chocolaty chocolate bite! The consistency this time was PERFECT! The cookies were a little too chocolaty for me though and one was quite enough. I gave them to my DH to try who ironically hates chocolate but really liked these cookies! He said they reminded him of old candy bar called a Chunky. He took them to work and everyone there said they liked them too! Glad they were a hit! :-)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In Honor of Halloween: Do You Believe in Ghosts?


I found this cool article on Ezinearticles about ghosts! I am always interested in ghosties and other paranomal stuff, but I thought this would be cool to share with Halloween right around the corner!

What is a Ghost?
By Rhetta Akamatsu

Have you ever seen a ghost? Or have you ever heard or felt something that felt creepy to you? Ghosts are very popular subjects these days. About half the American people admit to believing in them, and there are ghost beliefs in nearly every culture in the world. People have told ghost stories and reported ghostly encounters for all of recorded history. Today, paranormal investigators are compiling film and audio evidence, and experimenting with changes in electromagnetic fields and temperature in allegedly haunted places to try to determine if there is objective evidence for the existence of something we might identify as a ghost. Growing evidence indicates that there is, indeed, some unexplained phenomena that can, for lack of a better word, be identified as a ghost or spirit.

But what, exactly, is a ghost? In folklore, a ghost is the manifestation of a dead person, and many people belief this is so. But what are other theories of what a ghost might be?
Here are some popular ideas:

1. A recapturing of some violent or deeply emotional event in the past. This is what is called a "residual" haunting, and appears to be the most common kind. The apparitions that are seen in these cases are always in the same place, doing the same thing, and show no awareness of their actual surroundings or of living beings who are present. These ghosts would have no personality or substance, but would be the psychic equivalent of holograms replaying one small bit of history. An example of this might be the well-known ghost of Alice, at the Hermitage near Myrtle Beach, SC.

2. A projection of our own thoughts. We use only a small part of our brains; some people theorize that certain circumstances combined with a certain frame of mind will trigger an extremely vivid vision that appears to be real in every way. Anyone who has ever experienced a hallucinogenic drug will concur that reality can often be a tricky thing. It is not explained how such a manifestation might be caught on film or tape, however. One of the reasons that paranormal research is so intriguing is that we do have to take into account that we usually are in a haunted place because we either really do or really don't want to see something unexplained, and that can bias our experience. If we can catch phenomena through technology, that validates our experience.

3. Angels or demons. People of a particular religious background who laugh at the idea of ghosts may be much more willing to believe that something unknown is either supernaturally good or supernaturally evil. In most cases of haunting, there is little evidence of either extreme.

4. Creatures from outer space- though why they would take forms from throughout history or hang about in places that are often empty for most of the time (such as abandoned jails and hospitals) is hard to understand.

5. Glimpses into another dimension- String theory is responsible for the new popularity of this theory. In string theory, one conjecture is that there are many, many dimensions, and not just the ones we are familiar with. Some people theorize that there may be other beings inhabiting parallel dimensions, going about their lives in similar fashion to our own, and once in a while some circumstance will create a break between the dimensions, and we catch sight of one another. This would explain why apparitions who do appear to have intelligence and emotion sometimes seem so surprised to see us.

None of these theories, which do not include the possibility of intelligent interaction between the spirits of the dead and the living, explain why ghosts often seem to be emotionally involved with the place where they are or with people in the place. It seems from my research that much more often than a ghost seems angry or dangerous, the entity will seem lonely or concerned about someone or some place left behind. This is especially true in EVP work (electronic voice phenomena, where voices are captured on tape that could not have come from anyone present in the room.) In EVPs, it is not unknown for unseen entitites to actually address people by name or refer to items in the room or the building.

Of course, it is all just theoretical, and no one can say for sure what causes ghostly phenomena. However, it seems difficult to explain away all evidence that in a small number of cases, there is intelligence, and at least a shadow of recognition and emotion, attached to what we choose to call ghosts.

So what do you believe about ghosts? Do you have any haunting stories?

Another Cool Card from SplitCoast Stampers

I found more cool tutorials at SplitCoast Stampers and decided to try what they call a "waterfall card". It's really cool because you have four stamped images they lay on top of each other, and when you pull the paper strip at the bottom, they flip up and reveal the stamped image below. Sound confusing? Just check out the pics! I had some dollar stamps that I got at Michaels that I've been meaning to use -- this was a perfect project for them! Here is the card I made using their tutorial.
Now pull the tab at the bottom...
And finally -- my little ducky wishing everyone a Happy Easter!

This card was super easy to do and a lot of fun! I still want to add a saying to the pink pull strip so that as you pull it, the saying is revealed. I'll have to be on the lookout for a good stamp or rub-on to put there.

Well, that's it for me today! I hope you all had a great weekend! :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

They Didn't Prepare Me For This In College!

Funny Teaching Stories From My First Week Back in 6th Grade:

Scenario 1: Ghetto what?
-Me: Okay kids, for today's writing prompt, I want you to pretend that you are having a dinner party and you can invite any 3 people you want -- people from the past or present, family or famous. Write about who you would invite and why. What would you serve for dinner, what would you talk about...
-Student 1: Can I write mine ghetto style?
-Me: Uhhh, excuse me?
-Student 1: Ya know, nothin bad, just with some ghetto flava -- ya know, a little ghetto slang!
-Me: (Trying to keep in mind the importance of diversity and not squelching the desire to express oneself...) Uh, as long as your topics are school appropriate and I can understand it.

Fat chance of the latter happening!


Scenario 2: You like fat WHAT?
-Me: "Student 2," do you know why I may be pulling you in the hall to have this conversation?
-Student 2: Uh... (looking away)... cuz I said some things.
-Me: Do you want to elaborate?
-Student 2: I was just talkin about what boys talk about. Those girls thought I was being mean, but I was complimentin them -- I like girls with fat asses.

Okay.....


Scenario 3: Wolf boy
-Me: "Student 3," why do have no work done after 10 minutes?
-Student 3: (LONG pause) My pencil's not sharpened.
-Me: So why don't you sharpen it?
-Student 3: I don't know where the sharpener is.
-Me: Did you look around the room?
-Student 3: No.
-Me: Well, why don't you try that.
-Student 3: (Looks) Oh, there it is. It's on the wall by the door.

How CRAZY is that. Ten minutes later...

-Me: I see you still have no work done. What's up?
-Student 3: The sharpener didn't work that good.
-Me: Well, how might you solve this problem?
-Student 3: (Long pause) I don't know.
-Me: You really have no idea on how else you might be able to get your pencil sharpened?
-Student 3: ....................no
-Me: Maybe you could borrow someone's sharpener.
-Student 3: (stares into space)
-Me: Could someone please help him with his pencil!

GRRRR.

I talked to the counselor right away and she's like, "Yeah, you're going to have to treat that one as if he were raised by wolves! He's been home schooled his whole life. He's never even set foot in a school. He has no social skills and next to no academics. Good luck!" Oh MY!

Well, it's a few weeks later since that first week and you know what? ... I love those kids! :-)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Clowning Around with Wilton 1 (No TWD)

Today is Tuesday, which means that I should be posting a TWD recipe, but alas, I am not. I signed up with a couple of friends to take a Wilton decorating class, and that has taken over a lot of my baking time. The class is usually once a week, which wouldn't be a big deal, but this class is condensed to twice a week. I tutor on the opposite days of the class, so my baking time is cut significantly! BOO HOO! As much as I have been enjoying the decorating class, I look forward to having some of my time back. So anyhow, while I don't have any TWD recipes / pics to post, I do have some cake, or in this case, cupcake decorating to show!

Last night, we learned how to do shells, dots, flowers, and another step to the Wilton rose. I learned that while shells look very easy, ummm, they are NOT easy for me! I need some major practice. Consequently, dots are my new best friend! LOL! The flowers (I forget what type they are called) were pretty easy too and I like the look of them, so I'll probably be doing a lot more of them. The Wilton rose was tough for me. The instructor kept yelling and me and my one friend, "Turn, Turn, Turn! Lift up your hand! Higher!" AHH -- the pressure! We were both like, "Are we done with this yet?!" :-) Luckily, we finished off the evening by making clowns! Now when I first looked through my lesson book, I saw this clown cake and thought, "Oh my gosh, that looks so silly! I hope I don't have to make that!" At our last class, I found out that we did have to make it, so I figured that I just might as well suck it up and try to at least make it look good... as much as I could at least! I Google Imaged "Wilton clown" and found lots of super cute clown cakes! The more of them I saw, the more I thought that they were actually cute and pretty fun! I decided to buy the clown heads after all for my cupcakes. Once I got to the table with my clown heads, my friends all kind of laughed. "You actually bought those?!" I said, "Yes! You wait and see! Mine is going to be cute!" Well, after all was said and done, they were borrowing the extra clown heads for their own cupcakes. :-)

Today, I bake my final cake for tomorrow's last class. We will be doing nothing but roses. Oh no... I can hear my instructor already! Wish me luck!

Friday, October 7, 2011

That'll Be a Cinch...Famous Last Words

As I was looking over my training program, I decided that I am not doing enough cross training. I thought about working out on my eliptical, but then I remembered an old pilates tape that my mother-in-law let me borrow awhile ago. I decided to give that try. I used to do pilates every other day and really liked it, but the tapes I had were only 15 minutes each, so I'd do two at a time. Well the tape my MIL gave me was 50 minutes. I previewed it a little last night just to make sure I knew how to do everything. I told my husband, "Oh, that looks like a cinch."

So after snacking on some Easter candy this morning, (Happy Easter btw!) I put on some comfy clothes and popped in the 50 minute pilates tape. After about 30 minutes, I knew I was in trouble! Some moves I couldn't do because I was not nearly flexible enough. I even started laughing aloud -- "She wants me to do WHAT?!" My husband came downstairs to see what was so funny. Yeah, it was me. Well, after I shooed him away, I tried a few more exercises -- Holy guacamole -- I was working muscles I didn't know I had! And the crazy pilates instructor just kept introducing more and more AND MORE exercises. It was the workout video that would never end! I finally had to turn it off. It was to the point where I could not even get my body to move in the positions she was telling me to. It was crazy! When I finally got upstairs, I told my husband, "I'd rather run 10 miles than to do THAT again!" He laughed. I will try pilates again, but probably not that tape! Not at least for awhile!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Miracle Demystified :-(

A few weeks ago, I went on a run in my brand new pair of Mizuno Waverunner 11s. The trail was snow covered and difficult to run on, but I felt pretty good. I felt even better when my Nike + iPod told me that I had completed my 2 miles at a pace of 7:26! I thought, "these are some miraculous shoes!" Well, I never really hit that time again and I was beginning to think it was a fluke. Well...it was.

As part of my workout today, I had to do a 1 mile warm up and I decided to do that on the track by my school. The track was snow covered, but no ice, so I did my four laps without much problem. When I finished, I looked at my iPod to see: Distance: 1.32mi. Say WHAT?! Last time I checked, 4 laps around a track = 1 mile...not 1.32. So, there you go. Apparently in snow, my Nike + iPod is not very accurate. :-( Oh well...watcha gonna do?

Now this coming weekend, I am planning to do a long run of 10K or 6.2 miles. I just turned on the news though and they are forecasting "the storm of the year" with projected snowfall totals of possible 1 1/2 feet! Yikes! How will I run 6.2 in THAT?! Ugh...and what makes it even worse -- it is supposed to hit around 8AM Friday morning and go into Saturday which means I don't even get a snow day off of school for it. Oh well...can't win them all!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm Back...Sort of!

Well, I survived my 3 days in the wilderness with 300+ sixth graders! They had an awesome time at camp, and I had a pretty good time too. The weather was terrible our first day, but after that, it was perfect! It'll take me a few days to get back into the swing of things though. For the past three days, I've been operating on minimal sleep (5 hours or less, which for me is torturously too little) and eating food that is horribly bad for me at totally random times of day. Fritos for breakfast, S'mores at 3 in the morning, a midday snack of pancakes and Skittles...ugh, my stomach is aching just thinking about it! Needless to say, I didn't run the Wednesday or Thursday I was at camp, and even though I returned home today at 3:00, I am just not feeling it. Let's just say, after stopping by the house, my DH and I decided to do a little shopping today -- about 5 minutes into our drive to the store, I had already fallen asleep in the car. I am exhausted! Hopefully, after a nice long, hot shower in my own bathroom, and a good nights rest in my own comfy bed, I will feel back up to going out for a run. In fact, I hope to get 6 miles in tomorrow. I have a 5.25 mile race next weekend, so I want to do as much as I can to prepare. From what I hear, the course if supposed to be pretty tough, so I am really crossing my fingers!

Oh, BTW, I read many of your comments regarding the running club I discovered at Fleet Feet and you've all really convinced me to do it! I think it will be an awesome experience and I can't wait to learn more about it! Just a few weeks to go!

Heading Farther East in my Cuisine

I haven't title this a "challenge" because I've made this dish a number of times before. I believe this dish originates in China but is more well-known as a Filipino dish. It's called pancit and is something that my mom often cooked for me growing up. It's kind of like fried rice in the sense that it consists of meat and lots of veggies, but instead of being cooked with rice, the meat and veggies are cooked with rice noodles! The rice noodles, also called rice sticks, are probably the only ingredient you might have to search for a little bit. I have to say though, for years, I was only able to get the rice sticks at my local (if you can call a 45-minute drive "local") Asian food store. I'm happy to say though that I have recently seen rice sticks in my local grocery store (in the ethnic food aisle!) Yea! Okay, before I write out the recipe, here are a couple of things you should know:

(1) Because this is like a stir fry or fried rice, you can really put whatever you want in it so don't feel like you can't do this recipe if you don't have everything listed -- improvise! Also, change the veggie/meat amts to your liking.

(2) I use chicken in the recipe. How you choose to cook it is up to you. You can poach and then reserve the water to cook the noodles in OR you can roast the chicken and then just use a different liquid to cook the noodles in. For the recipe, I'll explain using the second option.

(3) The rice sticks package says to just cook in water, but what you need to know is that the rice sticks cook like pasta in the sense that they absorb the flavors of the liquid they are cooked in. So just like you have to salt water when cooking pasta, flavor the water you cook these rice sticks in. You can use soy sauce, throw a few chicken or beef bouillon cubes in the water, or use chicken or beef stock instead. It'll make a big difference! Okay, here we go!


Pancit (recipe from my mom and my aunt)

Ingredients
-2-3 carrots, finely diced
-2-3 celery stalks, finely diced
-½ head of cabbage, finely chopped
-1 yellow onion, finely diced
-2-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2-4 chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, or legs)
-3-4 Tablespoons soy sauce
-1 package rice sticks
-2 quarts water or stock
-1-2 lemons, quartered for garnishing


Directions

1. Roast chicken pieces: Cover chicken pieces in olive oil. Salt and pepper liberally and roast in oven. (Time and temp will vary depending on type of meat -- light vs. dark. I use split chicken breasts (skin on and bone in,) and roast at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.) When finished roasting, allow to cool. When meat is able to be handled, remove skin and shred.

2. Begin cooking noodles. Boil about 2 qts liquid in a sauce pan. For the liquid you may use water that is flavored with a tablespoon or so of soy sauce, or you may use chicken or beef stock instead. Once the liquid is boiling, submerge the rice noodles in the liquid, cover, and turn off heat. Allow noodles to soak for 10 minutes.

3. In the meantime, saute garlic and onion in olive oil for a few minutes in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.

4. Add carrots and celery. Cover for 2-3 minutes.

5. Uncover and add cabbage. Add about 2 tablespoons soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes.

6. Add chicken, stirring and allowing to heat through. Combine with noodles and mix.

Serve with lemon wedges. (Squeeze the juice on top for some extra fresh flavor!)

This is both one of my and my husband's favorite dishes and it is so easy to make! I hope you give it a try sometime!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Scaredy Cat!

My husband and I have been wanting to buy one of those inflatable holiday decorations for awhile. We finally got a cute snowman to put out. My husband set it up and then later let the cats out to check stuff out. Normally Snoopy LOVES to go outside, but soon as he saw our blow up snowman, Snoopy freaked out! His tail got all puffy and he ran straight to the door! He now refuses to go out at all as long as Frosty is out! We tried to show him that Frosty was just a toy, but Snoops would have NONE of it. What a scaredy!

(Sloooowly) Getting Back to Training!

Well I've gone to Dr. Craig now for a few adjustments, and I feel better already. Last week, I tried to do one of my Firm videos -- Total Body Time Crunch. I could only do five minutes before I had to turn it off. My knees hurt too bad. Well, I got my first adjustment the following Saturday and tried the video again that Sunday. I could do the whole thing with no pain in my right knee and only minimal pain in my left! Woo hoo! I did the video again yesterday and felt just as good. I'd say that's progress! I also went for my first run today in a week and a half. It was only a 2 mile run, so I don't know that I can judge that much, but my right knee felt good! My left was still a little painful though. I am hoping that my continued trips to the Chiro will help! I can't wait to get back to training! I sure hope I'll be up to running those 10 miles in a just a little over a week from now! Yikes!

Monday, September 12, 2011

In Honor of Halloween: A Famous Ghost Story

In hopes of getting in the Halloween spirit, here is a ghost story I found that I would like to share with you!

The Bell Witch

What if you were vengeful and utterly unrestricted by the veil between the physical and the next dimension? That’s exactly what Kate Batts had going for her. She was a spiteful old woman who believed that she had been cheated in a land purchase by John Bell and was hell bent (literally) on tormenting him and his children, or at least his favorite 12-year old daughter, Betsy.

On Kate’s deathbed, she vowed to haunt the family of the Bell’s who had done her wrong. After her death, she made good her promise. It felt to the Bell family that this ghost took no other pleasure than tormenting them incessantly. Kate pinched their noses, poked needles into them, threw kitchen objects about, screeched at them in her now notorious high-pitched voice, pulled hair and was a presence that none of them could escape.

Kate’s wrath was particularly directed at John and his favorite daughter, Betsy. With the wife and other children she was sometimes heard crooning softly, saying something pleasant, or just ignoring them completely. John and Betsy were not so fortunate. Kate enjoyed mentally and physically torturing them with her shrieking voice or physically punishing antics.

Gossip moved as quickly then as it does now and this was a much talked about event in the small farming town of Adams, Tennessee. People were deeply fascinated by the rumors and some even came from hundreds of miles away to visit the place of unrest. Some spectators were greeted with handshakes, some with shrieks and some with a full dialog of warning. So popular did the story become that General Andrew Jackson, the future President of the United States, gathered a few friend to investigate the story himself. He and his cohorts wanted to either debunk or repel the feisty spirit of Kate Batts.

Jackson and his men were in for a surprise though. When their wagons stuck fast to an otherwise smooth and flat road, their jests of dealing with the witch came to a halt. No matter how they examined, pushed, cursed or whipped the horses, their wagon was not moving. It was said that Jackson, in a fit of frustration and resignation, declared, “By the eternal, boys, it is the witch." Much to the amazement of Jackson and his men, the legendary screech could be heard from a nearby bush that replied, “"All right General, let the wagon move on, I will see you again to-night." Moments later the wagon and horses were suddenly free to move about. There wasn’t a person present that could account for the voice’s owner or its whereabouts.

Kate wasn’t miserly in her haunting antics and bestowed upon Jackson and his men the same torturous treatment as she had John and his daughter Betsy. Jackson’s bedcovers were repeatedly yanked from his body and his men were delivered the same pinches and pokes as the family were. Jackson and his men realized they were no match for the Bell witch and hastily abandoned their adventure first thing in the morning.

Ghosts never die so it was not surprising that the haunting of Kate lasted the duration of John Bell’s life. In fact, the ghost of Kate Batts was said to have been responsible for John’s death.

In October of 1830, John Bell was rumored to have suffered a stroke and taken ill. While he was bedridden, his family found him in a particularly bad state of stupor and position. Alarmed, his son ran to the medicine cabinet to fetch what he thought was his father’s medicine. After administering it, the family heard the witch’s glee as she victoriously declared she had poisoned John herself the night before with that vial and this last dose was surely his undoing. True enough, it was. The contents were later examined by a doctor and found to be very poisonous.

Kate was not satisfied with death alone. She sang in merriment at John’s graveside and was still heard singing happily as the last person hastily left.

Notable points: This story is popular enough to have spawned several recent movies of which include the Blair Witch Project and The American Haunting. It is also noted as one of the very rare poltergeists that caused a man’s death.

Keep it in Perspective

Sometimes I look at the miles I have to run to prepare for my half marathon and they look insurmountable! But then I read about this guy Dean Karnzes who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days! Not THAT is a lot of miles! I heard he had a book too so I went to check it out and ended up finding a website about him, his Endurance 50 adventure and so much more. I learned that he also completed a run that was 262 miles long and since then, has a completed a 300 mile continues run! Makes my 4.5 seem much easier! HERE is the website if your interested. If you click on the section "Books and Lectures," you can watch an interview he did on The Late Show with David Letterman. It's actually pretty funny, so if you have a few minutes, watch it! (I wonder if I could get pizza delivered to me on one of my runs?!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oh, Bother!

So yesterday I was all excited about some of the different trips I was taking. Well today I just found out that I won't be able to go on one. I was supposed to help chaperone the 5th grade trip to Michigan, but I found out today that my principal didn't approve me to go. I asked the trip supervisor about it and he said that he didn't know why. He just gave her the list and she crossed off some names -- mine was one of them. Being the super paranoid person I am, I then start to wonder... "Why did she cross MY name off? Was mine the only one crossed off? Does she not like me?" Oh, bother! I need to not worry about that stuff so much. And to top that off, I've been running for 6 weeks now and haven't lost a single pound. UGH. I don't need to lose a lot -- maybe 10 pounds. I used to tell myself that the dryer was shrinking my clothes...I don't think I can use that excuse anymore!

On a more positive note, I have decided to register for a 10K race to be held in June. It's a long way away, but I need something to look forward to at this point. Hopefully that'll help!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Clinging to a Dream

I was so pumped about my 8 mile run yesterday, I put aside the fact that my knees were hurting a little during the run. They didn't really hurt bad, just enough to let me know they were there. Well, as the day went on, they were hurting more and more! I did some stretches for my IT band, which usually does the trick, but they only got worse! Walking down the stairs was extremely painful! I wanted to CRY -- not because of the pain, but because of the possible loss of my dream! I've just been getting into a training groove! My long runs have been getting longer than I ever thought and I've been improving with my speedwork. I've been so happy with my progess, I don't want to stop now! Besides that, I can't afford to take time off right now...I have a race I'm already signed up for in less than 4 weeks! That sounds like a lot of time still, but my training runs are scheduled so that I'll be ready just in time for the race. It's a 10-mile race and my longest run so far is only 8. I'll need every day of the 4 weeks to work up to 10-miles and still have some time to rest. BOO HOO!

Well, I've been icing all day long and will do so again tomorrow. I may take off tomorrow and hopefully run Tuesday instead. We'll see. Send me some good health vibes if you can!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blueberry Crumb Bars

My MIL and I went to pick blueberries the other day. I was so excited because for one, I had never picked my own blueberries before. Secondly, as much as I love blueberries, I never buy them because they are so crazy $$, so I was happy to be able to get them at a lesser cost. Anyhow, we were picking for nearly 3 hours before I was finally able to almost fill my bucket. When we went to pay, I was completely surprised to see how many I had picked -- nearly 8 pounds! I was even more surprised to hear the girl tell me how much they cost. My almost 8 pounds was only $9.40! Woo hoo! What a steal! I immediately took them home and starting cleaning and freezing them.

I set a few aside to make a quick blueberry recipe. After asking on the What's Cooking forums, Melissa from Delicious Meliscious recommended these Blueberry Crumb Bars. They looked mighty tasty and better yet, super simple, so I decided to give them a try. Here is the recipe with my minor adaptations. For the original, see Melissa's blog or Allrecipes.com.

Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening (I used butter instead)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
4 cups fresh blueberries
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon, if desired. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the shortening and egg. (I used my food processor.) Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, gently toss the blueberries with zest and juice of 1 lemon. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.


I brought these over to my friend's house and both she and her husband loved them! Now I am wondering if 8 pounds of blueberries is going to be enough for this and all the other fab blueberry recipes I'll be making this fall and winter!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Valentines Already!

Well, I was afraid if I waited too long, I would put off scrapbooking Christmas pics until forever, so I did them as soon as I developed them. Here are a few pages. I still have a few more to do.


Anyhow, while I was out hitting the after Christmas sales, I noticed that the stores are already putting out Valentines stuff! Well, I guess it is a month and a half away. Normally I don't get too psyched for Valentines, but what can I say? I am in the spirit this year! I decided since I had so much fun making Christmas cards, that I would do Valentine cards too. So, today I went to a Valentine card making class at a local scrapbook store called Archivers. I really just wanted to learn some new techniques. Since I was still kind of new at some stuff, like embossing, my cards did not come out...stellar, but they are still pretty nice. It was funny though because at one point the instructor saw me fussing over a piece of ribbon trying to get the glue dots in just the right place so that they would not be visible and she was like, "The person looking at it probably won't even notice. It's okay if it's not perfect." I almost gasped! Ummm, not perfect? Ah yes, we just met. Let me reintroduce myself: My name is Tammie and I am a perfectionist. If the glue dots can be seen from behind the ribbon, I might as well just throw this away! (Okay, I'm exaggerating a little. I do know that my work doesn't have to be perfect, but I do like it to look neat.) I didn't say that of course but I was thinking, "This lady is crazy!" Then I realized that it probably wasn't her that was crazy! :-)

Anyhow, here is a link to the cards I made: Archiver's cards. Once I got home, I made a few of my own Valentine's Day cards. A lot simpler, but still cute I hope. (The colors in the pic came out funny. The heart gems are dark pink, not red, and the pink ribbon is the same shade as the pink paper. They are perfect matches!) :-)

On another note, with the postings and blinkie I put up for the blog Sheetload, I was entered in a contest to win some cool Studio G dollar stamps. I used my positive thinking and simply thought, "I can't wait to see that I've won those stamps!" Then when I looked to see whose name got drawn for the prize, I saw my name as one of the 5 finalists (out of 50 people!) Cool! I am happy to even be a finalist. I have a few of those stamps already, so I am just hoping that the person who would benefit from receiving them the most wins. I wouldn't be sad though if I did get them! Wish me luck! Or should I just say, send out those positive vibes for me!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Unexpected (and Unwanted) Effects of Running

****WARNING: TOTAL GIRL TOPIC / POSSIBLY TMI!****

Now I normally don't talk about this sort of stuff, but I just thought it was too funny that I just had to share. So I was commenting to my DH the other day about how I am pretty mad because I swear that my excess running is causing me to lose weight, but unfortunately -- it's in all the wrong places! Not sure what I mean? Well, have you seen that commercial where there are these pencil drawn characters -- a man and a woman and the woman is talking about losing weight...she says, "My husband and I wanted to lose weight so we starting eating better. This is what happened to him," and in the picture, the guy becomes super skinny, then the woman says, "And this is what happened to me," and her body stays completely the same except her boobs get super tiny? Well, let's just say that I can relate! Now, being an A cup, I am not well-endowed to begin with, so I'm like, "You have GOT to be kidding me! Is it even physically possible to GET any smaller?!" After a week or so of thinking that my bras which no longer fit would magically fix themselves, I finally decide to go out today and buy some new ones. I remember that there's this one brand that has the half sizes, so I swallow my pride and walk into the dressing room with a "nearly A". Now get this...I put the flippin thing on...and it's TOO BIG! WHAT?!?!?! OMG, I am so going to need therapy over this! That's it! Just point me to the training bra section! Or maybe I should just save my $$ and buy some bandaids! Ugh. I was so mad, I just left the store altogether!

So be warned ladies! You want to lose weight? Be careful what you ask for! And yes, feel free to laugh at my misery. I am! :-)

Friday, August 12, 2011

My 10-Miler Race -- Afterthoughts

Considering my 3 week hiatus before the race, and a prevailing nagging knee, I had no idea what to expect for my 10 mile race. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I presevered through the race. I ran a pretty "easy" 10 minute pace and finished super strong. I don't think I was really running beyong a conversational pace except for maybe my last mile. During that last mile though, while I had a good deal of energy still left, I really starting contempleting a 13.1 half marathon in September. I thought, "Oh my goodness...I can't imagine having to run 3.1 more...I think 10 miles is good for me!" Now that it is all said and done though, not only do I feel like I could do 3.1 more, I think I could do it a lot better than I did yesterday! My goal yesterday was simply to finish without stopping and I proved to myself that I could do that and more. If given the opportunity, I'd love to run another 10 mile as an actual race! I'd love to run it, really pushing myself to see how fast I could do it! I don't think they'll be another 10 mile race anywhere near me, so it looks like I'll have to show my stuff at a half mary! After all, after running 10, what's another 3.1, right?!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gearing Up for the Hermes 10-Miler

So I asked Dr. Craig the other day if I still had the OK to run my 10-Mile race this weekend and he said "absolutely yes!" I'm not sure if I'm excited or scared that he said yes! Of course I'm glad that I get to do it since (1) I was really moving my training along prior to the injury and felt so good about it, but also (and possibly more so...) (2) I totally want that finishers medal and tech shirt and (3) I already paid for the race! (Yes...I'm a cheapo!) As sad as it is, #2 is probably my primary reason for running this stupid thing! Plus, I'm hoping it'll be fun. There's supposed to be music on the course and a concert afterwards. I just hope the weather holds up. They are forecasting rain/thunderstorms all day Saturday, especially in the morning. Ugh!

So anyhow, it looks like I only have 3 days left before the race. I went running Saturday and yesterday -- 3.1 miles both times. I only did 3 since Dr. Craig said to keep the mileage low at first. I felt twinges of pain here and there, but overall, I felt WAY better than I have in weeks! I'm just so worried though that the pain will come roaring back mid race. I mean, I felt good doing 3.1, but that's WAY different than 10! I know that I'll just have to really concentrate on my form. My other concern though is that my longest run to date is just 9 miles. Now one more mile isn't that much of a big deal, what is a big deal to me though is the fact that I ran those 9 miles nearly 3 weeks ago! Since then, all I've done is piddly 2-3 mile runs! Even then, my last two runs were tiring towards the end. I sure hope I have the endurance to go 10 miles! I remember writing this myself though -- it's all mental. I have to work on convincing myself I can do it before I even step up to the line, right?! Any help with that out there?! ...please...no really...HELP ME!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Some Christmas Spirit!

Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays) to everyone! To celebrate, I thought I would share this cool Christmas light video. If you haven't seen it, check it out! It's about 3 minutes long. If you have the time, watch it until the end -- I think that is the best part.

Pretty cool huh? Can you image living across the street from this guy though? All those lights flashing -- it's enough to give me a siezure! :-) I love it though!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

TWD: Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

This week, Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy chose the Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake for Tuesdays with Dorie. I was excited to try this recipe since it had a few different techniques that I've not done before. First, the "brownie cake" batter was made with the traditional ingredients, but a good portion of melted chocolate was incorporate in. That was new for me. Usually I just use cocoa powder to get that chocolate flavor. After mixing the batter, it was poured into a springform pan -- another item that is fairly new to me. After allowing the brownie cake to bake and cool, I started working on the caramel. This was going to be fun! I heated the water and sugar as directed and left it alone for about 15 minutes. I watched carefully as it went from pale yellow to a deep umber. As soon as it reached that deeper color, I added in some heavy cream and butter and waited for it to return to that golden color. Once it did, I tossed in the peanuts. I let it cool a bit before adding it to the cake. Once the cake was topped, I stuck my finger in the bowl to taste the creation and it was super yummy! It tasted just like it did from the store! I was worried though because it seemed to be hardening quickly. After 30 minutes, I decided to slice a piece to try. I wish I could say that it was love at first bite, but I'd be lying. I didn't care for this brownie-cake very much. The cake itself was a bit dry, but that may have been my fault. I left it in the oven for 5 minutes longer than I probably should have. Aside from that though, while the caramel-peanut topping tasted good, it was way too hard and sticky for my tastes. I would have liked it to stay smooth and pliable like when I first poured it from the pan. Anyhow, I barely finished my slice. I chalked up this recipe as at least a good learning experience. I got to use my springform pan and I learned how to make caramel... hard caramel, but caramel nonetheless!

So, I told my DH that he could take the remaining cake to work the next day, as he does every Monday. On Monday morning though, I looked at the brownie cake and almost told him not to bother. I was thinking of just throwing it out -- I was pretty disapppointed with how it turned out and didn't really want to serve it to anyone else. I was running late for work though and didn't have a chance to tell DH before he woke up. Well, it turned out that was a good thing! My DH took it to work and he said that it was gone in a jiffy! He said a lot of people liked it -- and their favorite part -- the caramel topping! I said, "OH, that was the part I liked the least! I mean, how did you even eat it? Didn't it break your plastic forks?" He laughed and said that actually it did! Nobody really cared though once he brought some other forks. They liked the taste and texture of the caramel. My DH even said it was his favorite TWD recipe to date! WHAT? Oh well! Glad I didn't throw it out after all!