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. 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