- Fancy cheeses and crackers (Cheese is required at the birthday celebration of a Wisconsin native)
- Swiss Chard Lasagna with Mushrooms and Ricotta (I hope this is good because it was a process to make. It's in the fridge and ready to put in the oven when I get home tomorrow).
- Chopped Italian Salad (without the meat)
- Dorie Greenspan's Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake (I'm currently a bit obsessed with Dorie's cookbooks)
You guys, I am running a half marathon in less than two weeks! That's 13.1 miles! The last one I did was in 2007, and after that race I spent years battling IT band injuries that were so bad I never thought I'd run 13.1 miles again. But, here I am. How did this happen, you ask? Lots of patience, determination and incremental progress. Here are my tips for coming back from IT band injuries:
- Start running again slowly. And I mean SLOOOOOWLY. I started by running for one minute and walking for two. Every week or two I increased my ratio of running to walking by a minute or so, and if I was busy or sick and missed a week I re-did the last one. Many, many months later I was up to a 5k distance. Then, I slowly added mileage to reach a 10k training run. And, training for a half marathon followed.
- Work on core and hip strength! For me, yoga and physical therapy exercises work the best. But, I also did a boot camp workout once a week that seemed to really help my strength. And, good old weight training helps too.
- Stretch that lower back and hips! Yoga helps with this as well, and I make sure to stretch well after long runs.
- Use a foam roller. Ideally, I would use one of these after every single run (I'm not always that dedicated). Here's instructions:
Now, get running! And, wish me luck, I'll be out in the rain on November 27 with 15,000 other runners!
P.S. Of course, I've already planned my food. I'm going to make pasta bolognese the night before with a beer. And, after the race we're going straight to Tom Douglas' Dahlia Workshop for a biscuit sandwich (a half marathon is probably the only way I can justify eating one).
All my graduate school reading has been making my head hurt,* and I've been dying for some fun, escapist reading to lose myself in before I go to bed at night. (I was trying to finish Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, but that was decidedly not meeting the criteria so I've put it aside for a while.) I'm especially interested in young adult books, since I'm spending quite a bit of time with teens these days. I asked some literary friends for suggestions, and thought I'd share them. I can't wait to read these!
- I'll Be There, Holly Goldberg Sloan
- Full-frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
- Chime, Franny Billingsley
- If I Stay
- The Mysterious Benedict Society
- The Wave
- The Eyre Affair
- Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
- Marcello in the Real World
- If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
- How to Steal a Dog
- Shine, Lauren Myracle
- The Help
I also added a couple to the list:
- Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl (I love reading about food, and I think Reichl is the best food writer around.)
- Charlotte's Web (I heard an NPR story on the author, and decided it was time to read this classic.)
I've also started reading one to two poems each night from a book Pete gave me: Good Poems, by Garrison Keillor. I recommend this book to anyone else who wants to start dabbling in reading poetry!
* Becoming a teacher is hard!
Today the holiday cups appeared at Starbucks again. I had to get a latte immediately, of course. Such is the draw of the cheery, red cups. It made me happy on an otherwise stressful, tiresome day.
The cup also made me start daydreaming about Thanksgiving recipes and knitting patterns. I'm going to skip the stressful parts of the holidays this year (I hope) and just focus on the parts that make me happy. I'll save the stress for grad school.
I have another couple posts I'll throw up in the next few days. But, I wanted to note that all the pictures from my blog have disappeared. I think I know why, and I think it would be much too difficult to fix. So, I guess they're gone. I'm taking this as a sign I should start posting new content again. Yea for happy cups! Boo for stress!
Whatcom Peak and Mt Challenger, North Cascades National Park, originally uploaded by i8seattle.
Unfortunately, our local NPR station didn't post the text of the poem, but you can listen to Howell read it on their website: Poem: Christopher Howell and 'Dancers'
In other news, Pete and I will be making a trip up to the North Cascades National Park soon, and I cannot wait! I've been wanting to explore the park since driving through it a few years ago. And, it looks like we may even have nice weather.
Taken from Silesia Camp, Copper Ridge, North Cascades National Park
That's Easy Ridge in the foreground.
I just went on a sunny run serenaded by Dolly Parton on my iPod. LOVE Dolly. I always said my dream was to see her in concert, so when she came to Seattle I was so there - along with every adorable gay man in Seattle, dressed as cowboys, of course. Well, she has a new song that's kind of catchy.
And, this is the one I always have to sing out loud when I'm running and it comes onto my iPod. It's irresistible (even if I do look crazy)!
Raul Esparza makes it look so EASY to sing amazingly. I love "Defying Gravity"! Maybe someday I'll take those voice lessons - then I'll be able to sing like this, right??
Well, here's hoping Pete and I find some sun. And, that everyone else has a fun, sunny, delightful weekend!
Kind Bars - These nutty, fruity bars are delicious! They were on sale at REI, so I got a box of the mini bars to keep in my bag and my desk. Actually, I just ate Almond & Apricot Bar.
Post-workout foods - Smoothies can be great, but sometimes I really want to bite into something with some crunch, carbs and chocolate! I've been putting in a bowl: Greek yogurt, Kashi Go Lean or Heart to Heart, or Nature's Path Organic Heritage O's, strawberries and dark chocolate chips. So good when you're starving after a long bike ride, swim or run!
Fish - Costco in Seattle has wild Alaskan Sockeye, and we were gifted some fresh trout last time we went up to the lake. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil, place the fish on it and brush on some olive oil and melted butter, sprinkle salt and pepper on it, and lay some lemon slices on top. Then put it in a 350 degree oven for 10-20 minutes, depending on how big the fish is. Check it often - you don't want to overcook a beautiful piece of fish! Throw in some potatoes tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper a little earlier, and some asparagus with olive oil at the late minute. Boom! Easiest, most delicious summer dinner ever.
Rhubarb - I made the rhubarb cake mentioned earlier - it was good, but not a winner I'll keep in my permanent recipe binder. I did have great success with individual strawberry rhubarb crisps recently, though. I had a little bit of rhubarb and strawberry in the fridge, and I wanted to make a dessert. It wasn't enough for a whole pan of crisp, though. I sliced up the strawberries and rhubarb and filled four ramekins, then sprinkled about 3 tablespoons of sugar over each, and then topped each with a little bit of crumb topping (I had some leftover from the crumb topping for these muffins, or you could just make a new, small batch) I baked them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 or 30 minutes. We topped them with (homemade) vanilla ice cream. YUM. I still have some rhubarb in my fridge - I'm thinking PIE. Why not go classic?
I wish I could talk about plans for exciting Fourth of July theme dishes, but we'll be out of town all weekend! I've been craving cole slaw, so I would definitely be making that along with some kind of red, white and blue theme dessert that involved cake, blueberries and strawberries. Maybe next year. We'll still be able to eat a burger and watermelon, and drink some beer on the Fourth - so we won't be totally un-American :). Happy Independence Day!
We're heading to the Oregon Coast for some camping, with a stop over to see friends in Portland along the way! It's going to be rainy, so we've brought lots of books and games, and we may escape to Tillamook for some cheese tours!
Here's to s'mores, camp breakfasts and bratwurst! Have a fantastic weekend!
A few things I'm into these days:
The Fleet Fox's new album
Catching up on documentaries like "Kings of Pastry" and "Bigger, Faster, Stronger." Next up will probably be "Waiting for Superman."
Reading and drooling over Super Natural Every Day
Penzey's Chili 9000 - a great spice mix for chili, Mexican food, whatever!
Reading through the AV Club's Nashville or Bust series (I know, I'm waaaay behind on this - just found out about it!) and discover or re-discovering awesome country music singers.
Signs of spring in Seattle - seeing ducklings and blooming Lilacs on my runs!
Seeing new bulbs pop up in the yard - I think it's the dahlia and gladiolus bulbs I planted!
I recently switched back to Nike running shoes after a long period of Brooks Adrenalines, and the Lunar Glides have been working great for me!
Does anyone get bruises on their eyes from swim goggles? I've been on a quest to find a more comfortable pair. This is the best I've tried so far.
Oh, and I just started the book "Little Bee," inspired by Seattle Public Library's Seattle Reads program. I'm hoping to go to one of the author events. (Our library system is awesome - FYI)
And, just for fun, the other songs on my current Glee playlist:
Pete and I are planning a themed meal for Cinco de Mayo tomorrow! (Which, FYI, is NOT Mexico's independence day. It's the day they defeated the French in a key battle.)
Here's the plan:
- Tortilla chips with salsa (bought from the store) and guacamole (made by Pete)
- Carne asada - My mom made this over the weekend and it was a hit! I picked up the flank steak at Costco yesterday.
- Margaritas! - We tested recipes this weekend, and I've listed my favorite combo below.
- Mexican chocolate ice cream - We're looking for any excuse to use our new ice cream maker.
I've recently whittled down the number of food blogs I follow to just a few favorites that consistently have winning recipes. One of my top blogs is 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson. She has delicious, wholesome, easy recipes - many of which have become regular week night go-to meals for me. I just bought and started reading Super Natural Every Day, her new cookbook. So far, I can tell that she and I have very similar tastes in the tools we use and how we stock our kitchens. (She likes to keep about ten different kind of nuts and seeds around - just like me! I'm glad someone else shares this addiction.) She's a vegetarian, which I'm not, but I often prefer vegetarian food and her recipes have such great flavor!
One tip I've picked up so far: Whenever you cook up a grain or rice, make a big batch and freeze the extra in a freezer bag. Then, just pull it out and warm it up next time. If you're ambitious and cook up dried beans, you can do the same!
She also admitted that she does not make homemade broth. So refreshing! So many food writers make me feel inadequate with their weekly routine of broth making. It sounds wonderful - but who has time??
I had to miss her book signing in Seattle last weekend :( and it sounded amazing. Darn. But, I've been on a kick with her recipes lately and I can't wait to try more from the cookbook!
A few winning recipes:
- Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup - A good, basic lentil soup recipe made more interesting by the saffron/Greek yogurt on top. I really like this addition, but Pete said he'd skip it next time.
- Double Broccoli Quinoa - Just made this last night and it was delicious! We didn't have Parmesan, and it still had great flavor. I'd probably add some tofu next time.
- Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie - Pete wasn't in love with the whole-wheatness of this, but I thought they were awesome! I'll definitely make them again for a quick dessert that's a crowd pleaser. Plus, I love any dessert that involves my cast iron skillet.
- Simple Cauliflower Recipe - I usually add tofu to this and eat it with brown rice. This is a long-time standby for me. LOVE cauliflower.
- Bike to work at least five times during the month of May (this doesn't sound like much, but I have a really crappy bike commute). I've committed to do this as part of Bike to Work Month here in Seattle.
- Work my way up to running the 6.2 mile Cheshiahud Loop in Seattle.
- Do at least one triathlon - I may do both the Seafair Triathlon and Danskin. (Danskin seriously needs to work on its website.)
- Hike Mt. Si.
- Go on a weekend backpacking trip with Pete!
- (Oh, and cheer on Pete when he ride RAMROD!)
P.S. I used to LOVE "Get in Shape Girl." Yea for the '80s!
My hair has been looking 100% better the last few months, and I'm using fewer, less expensive products. Double bonus! Here's what's been working for me and how my morning routine works:
Notes: If you're going to try this, make sure to do one last wash with normal shampoo to get rid of all the built up silicones in your hair. Also, I don't see why someone with straight hair couldn't incorporate a lot of these steps. They're cheaper and cut down on the heavy products in your hair.
Here's what I do:
1. Get in the shower, get my hair wet and squirt A LOT of Suave Naturals Coconut Conditioner in my hand. Plop it on the top of my head and rub it into my scalp with the pads of my fingers. Rinse it out. (This takes the place of shampoo. Trust me, it really does clean your hair - even after a sweaty workout or swimming!)
2. Put a pretty good amount of L'Oreal Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Conditioner in my hand and work it into my hair from the ends up to the crown of my head (but not into my scalp.) (Seriously, this is the best conditioner I've ever used!) I leave it on my hair while I do the rest of my shower routine. Then, with the conditioner still in my hair, I comb my hair with my fingers. Last, I wash out the conditioner.
3. Get out of the shower and dry off my body as usual, but DO NOT use a terry cloth towel on your hair. Keep your hair away from that soft but deadly terry cloth.
4. I put a generous squirt of gel in my hand - either Pantene's Curly gel or Herbal Essence Totally Twisted - and rub it into both hands. (The reason these gels work is that they don't have silicones.) I flip my hair over and shake it out. Then scrunch my hair with both hands. From here you can go straight to drying it, or "plop."
5. When I don't get ready at the gym, I plop in the mornings - which basically means putting my hair up in a special plopping towel or t-shirt. You can see how to do it here. I usually just leave it in the plop for 15-20 minutes while I make coffee, etc. At home, I just use a long-sleeve t-shirt to plop.
You can buy special towels for curly hair. I recently bought the Curl Ease towel to use at the gym (since I don't want to walk around the locker room with a t-shirt on my head, like a crazy person.) I put the towel on my shoulders to absorb some of the moisture from my hair right when I get out of the shower, and then flip my head over and scrunch with the towel, then apply gel as usual.
6. Then, I dry my hair with a diffuser following these instructions:
7. Then, DON'T TOUCH YOUR HAIR. I used to fix my part right after drying, but that just frizzed out the front of my hair. I've found it's better to just let it dry wherever it naturally parted during styling, and once it's 100% dry I fix the part.
8. You can add a little hairspray right after you dry it, while it's still partially damp, or once it's totally dry. I LOVE the Aveda hairspray - it's really light and smells good.
I know this is all very specific and detailed, but this really is a science. Once you do it a couple times, it's no big deal and it doesn't take me any longer to get ready in the morning. There is A TON of information and tips on this method - so I encourage anyone interested to do a little research and figure out the routine that will work for their type of curly hair! One good place to start is NaturallyCurly.com, where you can find lots of forums and articles.
A lot of people who use this method have also been raving about oils like Flax Seed Oil and Coconut Oil - applying them to their hair right before gel. I may give that a try at some point. Good luck and have a great weekend!
Yesterday was Election Day, which always means a huge potluck at my office. I ate my weight in See's Candy, and threw in some doughnuts, deviled eggs, pulled pork and curry chicken. Does that sound like a recipe for disaster? What am I, eight years old? Well, I had a massive tummy ache last night and could not wait to have a green smoothie this morning. Ah, already feeling better. And, now I've got a big salad, cottage cheese and hard boiled easter eggs for lunch. My body, and tummy, are thanking me.
What is a green smoothie, you may ask?
Right about the time that my acupuncturist suggested I try to get more greens and vegetables into my breakfasts, a friend posted a link to something called the Green Monster Movement. The idea is to make breakfast smoothies that include greens like spinach, kale, chard and collards. I usually get into a smoothie kick each spring and summer, but I had never thought of adding the greens. Great idea! I've been experimenting with some combinations lately, and I've had some great breakfasts!
In-a-Hurry Green Smoothie
Add in this order to the blender:
1 T Flax Seed (or peanut butter)*
1 scoop protein powder - optional!**
2 cups of pre-washed, bagged spinach - about one big handful
1/2 cup frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
1 cup milk or soy/almond milk
Blend until smooth. Add 4-6 ice cubes, if you'd like. I now leave out the ice cubes.
Fabulous Green Smoothie
A few last notes:
The bags of pre-washed spinach are definitely the easiest green to use. You just grab a handful and throw it in! Other greens are great, but involve more prep with washing and cutting.
A don't like raspberries or blackberries in smoothies because of all the seeds! Just my opinion, though.
Rinse out your cup and blender right away, or you'll come home at the end of the day with some hard-wash-dishes. (And, blenders are especially annoying to wash.) I rinse out my blender right away, and then let it soak during the day with a little dish soap.
I use organic spinach and strawberries, since those seem to be ones that are always recommended to buy organic.
If you're growing greens, those early little leaves that are starting to pop up are perfect for smoothies. I used some of the small chard leaves from our garden this morning!
A quick run down of the Easter weekend highlights. (These are too late be to helpful to anyone this year, but may be good to file away for next year.)
I cooked lamb. It was super delicious. (Plus, I got to use my new food processor!) I will definitely make this again next year.
Pete and I made a spring kale salad. Yum! (Recipe posted below.)
We dyed eggs using turmeric, beets and red cabbage. You have to leave them in the dye overnight, but the colors turned out really saturated and cool.
We got to sing to lots of organ music in church. (I love seeing all the kids in their Easter outfits!)
We went to an amazing Easter potluck and drank some lovely Washington whites: CMS Sauvignon Blanc (left over from our wedding) and Maryhill Pinot Gris.
I started reading through Heidi Swanson's new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day.
We watched Winter's Bone, which kept my heart rate elevated for the entire movie. A little stressful, but still a good film. (Also made me more excited to see Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.)
I had a nice run on Saturday morning, and have finally gotten to the point where I can add a little mileage every Saturday. My goal is to eventually run the 6.2 mile Cheshiahud Loop, which goes right by our house.
I decided to do the Seattle Danskin Triathlon after hearing that a friend is planning to do it. Fun!
I read a book in the sun for hours (and got a sunburn!).
I went through my clothes and took a load to Goodwill. (Therapeutic purging.)
We grilled with friends.
And, finally, I had a bit of a fiasco with hot cross buns. I went with Nigella Lawson's recipe, which is in her Feast cookbook. I mixed and kneaded the dough on Saturday night, and then put it in the fridge as directed so that I could bake them in the morning. The next morning, I had . . . a very cold, hard lump of dough that just didn't look right. So, there were no hot cross buns for Easter brunch. But, I let it raise over the course of the day, and then finished out the recipe last night. And, they're really good. I might try it again next year, but I'm not sure about this "let it rise overnight in the fridge" thing. Any suggestions?
Spring Kale Salad
Adapted from this recipe
1 bunch kale (I used curly), washed, dried and cut or torn into bite size pieces
1 lb. strawberries sliced
1 pear cut into bite size pieces
1 cup roasted nuts, I used sesame seeds, slivered almonds and macadamia (I think it's easiest to roast them on the stove top for a few minutes, moving the pan back and forth like you're making Jiffy Pop. I tried doing the macadamia nuts in the oven and burned half of them - hence adding the other nuts.)
For the vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons shallots, minced
The wedding, that is. It was . . . fantastic, amazing, beautiful, fun, wonderful! Any more adjectives I should add? For all you brides and grooms and parents and friends working on planning a wedding right now - all the hard work really does pay off in the end. Thank goodness!
I hope you're all cheering for green and yellow on Sunday! Go Packers!!
Have a great weekend whether you watch the Super Bowl or not! I'm doing some wedding prep and going for a run, in addition to all things Super Bowl related. See you on the flip side!
I love squirrels!