Thursday, April 12, 2012

At Least Something is Enjoying This Heat

While I am melting in these hot temps during my runs (it's up to 93* today!) at least my roses are enjoying it. The heat has spurred these babies to open up those blooms. Here are my favorite roses in our front bed. The roses are called, 'Earth Song'.

What's that twig in the middle of the garden bed? That's another 'Earth Song'! The roots on these roses have really spread out. They're trying to make another rosie! :-) Here are some up-close pics...

All the roses in our back yard are blooming too. We have a bunch of them all along our deck. Here's 'Molineux' AKA Molly.
Too bad I can't stand to be outside for more than 10 minutes to look at them. Too hot! Ugh! Today's actually supposed to be the last day of this kind of heat. It should be back into the 70s and 80s by tomorrow. Thank goodness!

Well, after some thought, and after receiving some great advice from the RW forums (thanks Kai), I don't think I'll just that running club I wrote about yesterday. I didn't want to sound conceited and say, "This is too easy for ME!" but the bottom line is, it just doesn't match where I am in terms of training. If I'm running 8-9 miles now on my long run, it would be pointless to go out and do 35 minutes as my "long run" as is suggested in the program. I could always do the 8-9 on my own, but then that defeats the purpose of joining a group. I took some advice and looked online at other local running stores. Another running specialty store in the area (Vertical Runner) is also hosting a fall marathon / half marathon training group. I emailed the person organizing the groups with some info about myself and he gave me a training schedule which is perfectly in line with what I'm already doing! So glad to find that! One downside to the group though is that the half mary they are training for is not the one I was planning on doing, which is the Cleveland River Run. They are training for the Akron Half Marathon and the Towpath Half Marathon. I was wondering if maybe I could do the River Run AND one of the other half marathons they are training for. The one I would most likely be interested in is the Towpath half marathon since it is about 5 weeks after the River Run. That should be enough recovery time, don't you think? I've heard the course is really beautiful too, so running both is definitely a possibility. The only other downside to joining this training group is actually kind of silly! They meet once a week to do group runs together (usually the LSD run) and the runs start at 7:00AM! The place they start from too is about 30 minutes from my house which means that I would have to wake up by 6:15AM on a Saturday morning. AHHHHHHH! I am SO not a morning person! And 6:15 -- holy cow! That's what time I get up for work everyday during the school year! To have to lose one of my two sleeping-in days...uhhhhhh. Now that I am on summer though, I don't mind giving up my Saturday sleeping-in day seeing as how I can sleep in the other six days of the week (tee-hee). The only problem there is that because I do sleep in the other six days, it is that much more torturous to get up at 6:15 when I have to! Boo hoo! Well, the program hosted by Vertical Runner lets us try it out for a month before committing, so we'll see how it goes this June. I won't even officially start anyhow since the first group run is this Saturday and I have a race that day. I guess a lot of people are also going to that same race though since they said their first "kick off" run will be the following Saturday. Maybe I can meet some of them at my race on Saturday. Speaking of that...

Awhile ago I posted about how I SO wanted to place at the race that is coming up this weekend, the Jim Klett Memorial 10K. I have never run a 10K before, but based on my last race time, the McMillian Calculator says that I should be able to run a 10K in about 54 minutes. That would be awesome and could earn me some hardware! I can't say that I have been training super hard core for this race though. I've gotten a little distracted with some work stuff as well as stuff around the house. I've definitely been running my 4 days/week, in fact, just this week, I hit an all time high of miles/week: 20.9! It's not a lot to some, but it is for me! Anyhow, while I've been getting the miles in, I haven't done any traditional "speedwork". I've been running some hilly courses, but nothing that really pushes a consistent pace on a flat course. I need to do some tempo running. I can probably get two more runs in before the race. Tomorrow will actually be perfect to do a tempo run. Hope it's not too little, too late!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Woo Hoo! Surprise Day Off!

So last night I had a hard time sleeping. It was SO windy I swear there was tornado outside! I kept drifting in and out of sleep, having crazy dreams. At one point I thought I heard the phone ring, but I thought maybe it was just another dream. So when my alarm went off, I got up and started getting ready. I thought, "Hmmm, maybe the phone did ring and we have the day off school?! Nah! The weather is fine now and my district hardly ever calls off." So I finished getting ready. As I was walking out the door, I noticed the message light on my machine blinking. "NO WAY!" I'm thinking -- "This is too good to be true!" Sure enough though, my school was cancelled today! The wind knocked out power to the entire district. :-) Woo hoo! Surprise day off!

I tried to go back to sleep, but I was already wide awake. Besides, Snoopy came and tried to snuggle with me and he was being such a wiggle worm, there was no sleep to be had. So I decided to get up and get some projects done. I ran to Michaels first to see if I was in luck with any of those $1 stamps. Nothing yet. I picked up a few other things and ran home.

With my extra time today, I finished a Christmas LO and I made an altered mailbox for my friend's daughter! I made my friend the Hello Kitty one and when she brought it home, her daughter thought it was for her! My friend had to break the news to her. So then my friend went to Target to get a mailbox so she could make one for her daughter, but they were all out! Well, I happen to have a few extras, so I made one for her daughter today. My friend said she likes princess stuff. I had the perfect paper in mind. I hope she likes it.

Patterned paper is by Marcella by K (Target), flowers are Prima and Heidi Swapp, stamps are Studio G $1 stamps!

Well, it's only halfway through the day! I love having time to do fun stuff! I probably should do laundry and clean some dishes....nah!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Chaos in the Kitchen" Challenge #4: Enchiladas & Cornbread

Challenge #4: Shredded Chicken Enchiladas & Honey Cornbread Muffins
Recipe ratings: Enchiladas -- 4.5 stars, Corn Bread -- 4 stars

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

I found this recipe for the chicken enchiladas on a blog called, Loves to Eat. Click on the title above to see the original recipe. I have copied the recipe below but have made a few changes. Anything in italics is a modification I made.


Homemade enchilada sauce:
-15 ounce can tomato sauce
-small can tomato paste
-3/4 cup water
-1 can beef broth
-1/4 tsp cumin
-1/4 ts. garlic powder
-2 tsp chili powder
-1/4 tsp paprika
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 to 3 drops hot sauce

-Tortillas (4 large ones or 8 small ones)
-2 split chicken breasts, skin-on and bone-in
-2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
-1 small tub of sour cream
-8 green onions finely chopped
-Cheddar cheese (or Mexican mix cheese) to cover top
-Sour cream, salsa, taco sauce, etc..whatever toppings you prefer!

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Coat both chicken pieces in olive oil and salt and pepper liberally. Place in a roasting pan and roast chicken in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked. When finished, remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove skin, shred meat.

2. While chicken is roasting, make homemade sauce: Mix all sauce ingredients well and bring to a boil. Boil 15 mins.

3. Assemble enchiladas: Using a large spoon, spoon enchilada sauce on each tortilla. Spread to cover the tortilla. Fill with chicken, sour cream, onion, and mozzarella cheese. Roll up and place seam down in a 9x13 baking dish. Do this again with all tortilla wraps. Once all are in the dish, cover the enchiladas with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle on all the cheddar cheese. Bake at 350*F, uncovered for 30-40 mins or until bubbly and warm. Serve immediately with rice or veggie and choice of toppings! Makes 4 enchiladas or 8 mini enchiladas!

These enchiladas were so flavorful! The only big changes I made from the original recipe were these:

(1) The original recipe said to roast or poach chicken. I chose to roast the chicken. I've never done so before, but after seeing Ina do it on her show, Barefoot Contessa (Food Network,) I wanted to give it a try. Can I just say... O...M...G! After tasting this roasted chicken... well, all I can say is, "I hereby solemnly swear to NEVER poach another chicken again!" I mean seriously, it was like eating a completely different thing! Even my DH, who did not see me roast the chicken, commented on how good it tasted while eating the enchilada. It really made a difference!
(2) In the original recipe, it says to take the tortillas and dip them in the sauce before assembling. That was too messy for me. I just spooned the sauce on. Seemed to work well for me.

I highly recommend this recipe. It was super yum and very filling! With it, I served some Spanish rice (from a package...GASP! I know, I know...) and some honey cornbread muffins.


Honey Cornbread Muffins

Here is the recipe as it is on the Food Network website. (Click above for the link.) It is originally from the show, Down Home with the Neelys. This recipe makes 12 muffins.

-1 cup yellow cornmeal
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 cup whole milk
-2 large eggs
-1/2 stick butter
-melted 1/4 cup honey
-Special equipment: paper muffin cups and a 12-cup muffin tin

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

3. Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

I followed the recipe directly as stated and they were super yummy! Although it should be noted that these are a little sweeter of a cornbread -- you could definitely taste the honey. I like that though! While these muffins were tasty as is, I might try adding a little spiciness by adding some minced jalapeno or Serrano peppers. That way, they'll have a little bit o' sweet and a little bit o' heat! Yum!

I would say that this challenge was a success, even though my plate presentation and picture-taking still isn't -- I swear, it may look terrible, but it was super yummy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

But They're Only $1! So That Means I Can Buy More...Right?

Okay, before I get carried away with my new find, here are some cards I'd like to share. I made them today using a Becky Fleck sketch and some Basic Grey Blush paper. What's funny is that ever since I came across Sheetload, I can not do just one of any card! I end up doing a little assembly line and making at least 6! I made 8 with this sketch. I probably don't know enough people to even send this card out to, especially since I have so many others, but that is okay! I like making a lot of extras. That way I'll have some to send for Cards for Heroes and to maybe sell in my future Etsy store. Here is just a sample of the ones I made today...

The hearts were cut with my Cricut and the stamps are Studio G $1 stamps. In case you can't see in the pic, the one across the bottom says "sending my love" and then on the heart is a package that says "for you" that has a heart on it also. Wait...speaking of Studio G stamps...

So if you've read any of my other posts, then you know that stamping is one of my new things. I got started by using those cute $1 stamps by Studio G. You can find them at Joanns or Michaels. I guess there is another store called ACMoore that carries them, but we don't have that around here. Anyway, while I was crusing my message boards, I ran across a post that has all of the Studio G $1 stamps pictured. (HERE it is if you want to see.) Well today, they added the newest set -- 40 sets with Valentine, St. Patrick's, and Easter theme. (Better pic of those on THIS thread -- scroll down to see.) They are TOO STINKIN CUTE! I want those babies so bad! (In my best Smeegle impression: Muuuuust haaaave the preeeecious...) Well, maybe not all 40 because that would be too much $$, but I do want so many of them! The only problem with these is that they are only $1! How is this a problem, you ask? Because in my mind, I keep saying, "Oh my goodness! It's just a buck! I can get a few more!" Then all of sudden 1 becomes 5, which becomes 10 and so on and so on! I swear, when I put those things in my little basket, they mulitply like rabbits or something! I don't know how else they turn from "just a few" to "that'll be $25 please"?! EEK! Oh, must.... practice.... restraint! I may have help though. It looks like these may only be available at ACMoore, which as I said, we don't have around here. I would be so sad if that were the case! Please, oh PLEASE let them be at M's or J's! I need to start using my positive thinking....I can't wait to get to M's or J's in the next few weeks and get them! I know they will be there for me, just begging to jump into my basket. Send out those positive vibes for me everyone! :-) Muuuuust haaaaaave the preeeeeciousssss...

Six Word Memoir Challenge

I've been tagged by Jen over at Jen's Birthday Challenge to write a memoir in 6 words or less. Well, I like to blab a lot, (as you can tell!) so 6 words or less is going to be tough, BUT, here goes...

Determined to forge my own path

Now what in the world does that mean?!?!?! Well, without getting into the details of my After School Special-like childhood, (Do they even have those anymore?!) I am determined to live my life in a way that is positive for my health and my sanity! Let's just say, that as much as I love my family, if I continued to live my life in the same way I was raised, I surely would have lost one of those things, if not both! So instead of following in their path, I choose to forge my own! In doing so, I try to...

  • Keep my body healthy! That means staying in shape (running and working out) and trying to eat (and drink!) somewhat healthy.
  • Be educated! I wanted to make sure that I had the education I needed so that if anything ever happened, I would always be able to take care of myself. I'm glad to say that I've accomplished that, but I still like learning about all different kinds of things!
  • Develop strong relationships with the people I love. I always try to make sure that I let my friends and family know that I am thinking about them and will always be there for them. Sometimes they care and sometimes they don't, but I still try.

    Well, that's me in 6 words or less! Actually...that was way more than 6...oh well! Now it's my turn to tag a few people to complete the 6 Word Memoir Challenge! I choose... Kai at See Kai Run, See Kai Eat and Morgan at Quick, Like a Bunny! If anyone else reading wants to jump in, please do! Your memoir can be serious or funny! Can't wait to see what you come up with!

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    A Few More

    I made a few more cards today using some of my scrap DCWV "All Dressed Up" paper. I used the same sketch as below...I'm not sure I like the "bday" stamp on the one on the left, but it's the only birthday stamp I have that was small enough to fit on the tab. Oh well. All stamps are $1 stamps by Studio G, flowers are Prima and the metal dots are by Colorbok. I hope to send some of these out soon! :-)

    On a different note, I experienced a little Christmas miracle today! A few days ago, someone stole $7 out of my desk drawer. (That was NOT the miracle!) I'm pretty sure I know who it was, but no proof, so I'm out of luck there. Anyhow, I talked to my students about what happened in an attempt to guilt the suspect into confessing or at least to get any info from my kids. No luck. Anyhow, my students came up to me today and handed me $7 in coins! They said that they felt really bad about what happened and that they felt that I should not have to be out $7 because of someone else's lack of honesty. So, each student brought in a donation to reimburse me for my $7. Can you believe that?! My heart totally melted! While I was really disappointed that someone would steal money in the first place, this act totally outweighs that! Now I would like to take that $7 and use it to buy something for the class. Of course $7 won't get much so I'll have to increase that, but I want to definitely let my kids know how proud I am of them! :-)

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Summer Vacay = Too Much Time = New Quest

    So now that I am on summer vacation, I have all of this time on my hands. While I have used it to work on training for my half mary, let's face it, that doesn't take all day! I have done a few other things around the house like I said I would, but a new desire has fallen upon me. The desire to awesome cook! Why you say? Well, my one SIL is known for baking these amazing chocolate cookies. Every time she makes them, people go CRAZY! And she seems to be the only one who can make them. She's giving out the recipe countless times, even showed people how she does it. But nobody can make them like she can! And then my other SIL is known for her sugar cookies. It isn't Christmas until she's made her cookies. The funny thing though is, she's not giving up her secret. She refuses to give out her secret recipe to anyone! But guess what -- I want a little glory too! I want to be known for cooking or baking something fabulous! Or even better, I just want to be known for being a great cook. Now if you know anything about my past experiences with cooking, you'll know what a stretch this has been / is going to be for me. Let me give you a few examples of my early ineptness...

    While growing up, I was spoiled in the sense that I never really had to do anything! My mom cooked all meals for me and I was never really expected to help, so I really did NOT know my way around the kitchen. My Dad used to tease me about it all the time too. Anytime I would try to do something in the kitchen, he'd make such a big deal about it, I finally just stopped. It was a big joke and I was not going to give him the satisfaction at another laugh at my expense. So anyhow, when it came to me having to make my own food once I moved out at 18, I had about 3 things in my cooking repertoire -- PB & J sandwiches, tuna salad sandwiches, and Ramen noodle soup. Now, that'll get most college kids pretty far, so I was golden for awhile. Then I started dating this guy and he wanted to make dinner at home for once. We went really gourmet and decided on Hamburger Helper. We picked up some stuff from the store and brought it home. I still remember him throwing the ground beef into the skillet and telling me to start breaking it up to brown it. Can I just tell you -- I had never ever SEEN ground beef before! It freaked me out! I remember thinking that it looked like brains! I just kept poking at the mass of wiggly looking meat, pretending that I knew what I was doing. Thankfully, the rest of the cooking experience was pretty doable, as Hamburger Helper is. While eating that meal though, I just remember thinking, "Goodness gracious, what the hizeck am I going to do when he expects me to cook something real?!"

    Well, as hard as I attempted to mask my complete ineptness in the kitchen, the BF caught on pretty fast and boy did he have fun teasing me about it. At first I just laughed, but then it started bugging me. He was just trying to be funny, but he made me feel really stupid. I think it bugged me more though because I hated knowing that there was something I was terrible at. Instead of learning how to cook better though, I just retaliated by refusing to do anything kitchen related. I showed him! (***Insert sarcasm here.***)

    So anyhow, a few BFs later and I finally meet Mr. Right. I figure, this guy deserves to eat more than just PB&Js and Ramen Noodles, so I better get my act together. Unbeknownst to him, I secretly practice and try different recipes while we are dating. I only feed him the ones that actually turn out edible. It works! I landed the guy and proved to myself that I can learn to do something beyond opening a jar! (It probably helped though that Mr. Right would be perfectly satisfied eating PB&Js and Ramen Noodles! I also knew he was a keeper too because he never made me feel bad about what I could or couldn't do!)

    So since I have met Mr. Right, I have come a long way in learning how to cook. Ground meet no longer frightens me! I've tackled things far more complicated! My DH even said yesterday that I was "a good cook". (The funny thing though is, I'll probably never believe him, but that's my issue.) But I WILL continue on my quest to being an awesome cook. I've been cruising one of my old fave forums, The Nest's What's Cooking and have gotten a lot of tips and recipes. I found some AWESOME blogs too. (If you're a foodie, you've got to check out Good Things Catered. The girl who writes it is super funny and down to earth, and her recipes AND PICS are drooliciuos!) So each day this week, I will be trying a new recipe. I will posting some of my successes, and yes, some of my failures too. I actually started this awhile ago. The whole Lemon Blossoms post was one my first adventures. While it wasn't a success, I still learned from it -- That's half the battle! I hope enjoy reading about my journey...oh, and if you work with my DH, you'll be tasting it too! Put in your requests!

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

    Stefany over at Proceed with Caution choose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Whew - that's a mouthful! Check out Stefany's blog for the original recipe. Basically though, the cookie is pretty much a combination of a peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate chip cookie all in one. It was super easy to make -- all you really had to do was follow a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe but add some oats in with the flour and some peanut butter with the regular butter. Oh, and there was an addition of cinnamon and nutmeg somewhere in there. The cookies came out pretty soft, but definitely with some substance, which I like. While I did enjoy the cookies though, I don't know that I'd call them my fave. If I want a chocolate chip cookie, I want just chocolate chips. When I crave peanut butter, I want to savor nothing but that pb taste! If I somehow have a craving for both and maybe an oatmeal cookie too, than I know that this'll be the perfect one! (Apparently I'm crazy though. I took a dozen and a half to a family get together and only came back with 4! Everyone really liked them!)

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    The Aftermath of The Storm

    After all of the storm snow settled, here is what we were left with...

    Snoopy didn't like the snow at first. Hi hissed at it when I opened the door to the back deck!

    Basil Ice Cream

    When I went to Williams Sonoma to pick up my new Cuisinart ice cream maker, the girl checking me out mentioned the she had the same one. Then goes on to say that her sister recommended an ice cream recipe that she thought sounded crazy, but once she tried it, she loved it! What was it you ask? Basil ice cream! I thought, wow, this does sound crazy, but considering I have three giant basil plants in my backyard just begging for me to do something with them, I thought this might be a fun adventure.

    As soon as I got home, I found the recipe on Epicurious. To make life a little easier, I'll list it here. Any changes or notes I've made are in italics.

    2 cups whole milk
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    1/2 cup sugar, divided
    4 large egg yolks
    1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream*

    Special equipment: an instant-read thermometer; an ice cream maker

    1. Bring milk, basil, 1/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring, then remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender (reserve saucepan) and blend until basil is finely ground, about 1 minute. (I chopped the basil very fine initially, so I skipped the blender step. You will strain the basil out anyway, so I don't think it's necessary to use the blender.)

    2. Beat together yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 1 minute. Add milk mixture in a stream, beating until combined well. Pour mixture into reserved saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and stir until cold, 10 to 15 minutes.

    3. Stir in cream and freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours.

    Cooks' note:
    Ice cream can be made 2 days ahead.

    * As I was typing this, I just noticed that while 1/2 cup heavy cream is listed in the ingredients, it is never mentioned in the directions! Consequentl
    y, I never used it, but my ice cream still came out great. Maybe next time I'll try incorporating the heavy cream in step 1 to see what kind of difference it might make.

    So what's the verdict? Two thumbs up! The flavor of the ice cream was very sweet, light and refreshing! It reminded of a mint flavored ice cream. I could definitely see this topped with chocolate of some sort or maybe I could add in some chocolate chips. I think this would be a great dessert to serve after a heavier summertime meal like a grilled steak with potatoes or something. Overall, it was a nice change from the traditional and is something I'll definitely make again.