This Weeks Eats

Hope everyone had a great weekend.  The Oiselle Team had an amazing weekend down in Eugene (a first and third place finisher in the half!) and I've got total race envy.  Also, Sweat Once a Day had the most inspiring race recap.

The healthy kids day at the Y was a huge success and I'll probably post some pics from that tomorrow - today is the day to talk about foooooood.  Before getting into this week's eats, I have to give an update on the Pinterest experiments from last week: Drunken creamy chicken was just meh, but the Greek turkey meatball salad was a HUGE success.  For one thing, kids like meatballs, so it was a win on that front.  Plus, the recipe made a TON of meatballs and now I have a bunch in the freezer just ready to thaw and plop on the veggies for a super fast dinner down the road.  Lastly, it gave me an excuse to buy the Trader Joes Greek feta dressing and now I have a new favorite salad dressing.  SO GOOD and SO GOOD with the meatball salad. 
So on to this week:

  • Monday - Pizza, yes pizza
  • Tuesday - Chicken/veggies stir fried with Trader Joes Red Curry sauce and brown rice
  • Wednesday - another Pinterest experiment: spaghetti in garlic sauce with cherry tomatoes
  • Thursday - roasted garlic and sea salt Mahi Mahi filets from Costco with green beans and roasted red potatoes
  • Friday - Country Club chicken - another Pinterest recipe that we tried awhile back and it's pretty tasty - weird, but addictive
  • Saturday - girls night out at Palettes and Pairings!  Never done this before, should be interesting... I will definitely share my masterpiece with y'all, whether it's with pride or complete shame.
  • Sunday - crock pot barbacoa tacos - another tested and approved Pinterest recipe


Friday Things

Pinned Image

A friend shared this on Pinterest today and I thought it was quite fitting.

First Friday thing, I am UBER jealous of all the speedy ladies on the Oiselle team (and supercool bloggers) heading to Eugene for the Eugene Marathon (and half marathon/5K). I might have to start looking into it for next year: road trip!  Or maybe a quick puddle jumper trip...

Second Friday thing: I want to give a big shoutout to The Y because tomorrow is Healthy Kids Day across the country.  Our local Y will be one of 1,900 hosting events for this great initiative.  If you're looking for a family friendly place to exercise and there's one near you, run, don't walk to join!  It's such a huge part of our lives and the community here - can't say enough about The Y.

Moving on to third Friday thing: has everyone already seen this video floating around the internets?  I initially saw it on msnbc and it kinda freaked me out because that's how fast I feel my baby is growing up. 

Which leads me to my fourth Friday thing: I think I need to start this 365 Grateful project that Design Mom linked to yesterday...  Kinda like the Instagram photo a day thing, but with just one theme: what you're grateful for.  Love.

Oooh, just got an email from my 'hills of death' buddy and it looks like I get a pass tomorrow 'cuz she's busy.  Yay, today I am grateful for a rest day on my day to sleep in.  Hope you all have lots to be grateful for and have a fabulous weekend. 


On Motherhood, Running and Inspiration

How awesomely inspiring is this photo of my aunt and her running buddies who placed in the top three of their 70+ age group at their favorite annual 5K?

My aunt (in the middle) with her 'golden girls' running buddies
 And before you ask, yes, there were more than three participants in the category.  Maybe I should encourage her to apply for the Oiselle ambassador program 

I’m so lucky to have such inspirational women in my family, the most important and obvious one being my mom.
Old fav photo of us in the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey (she's also inspired my love of travel)

For as long as I can remember, she has been involved in some sort of exercise – most often tennis. 
Mom off to play tennis with our neighbor friend circa 1976

 I’m sure she’d rather not divulge her age, but suffice it to say that she could run in my aunt’s age group and she still gets out almost daily to do some form of exercise.  Even after going through a major knock-down, drag out fight with cancer that she WON.  My mom was diagnosed in February of 2011 with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma when a tumor was found in her brain.  After brain surgery, months of inpatient chemotherapy, followed up by radiation, she was cancer free by May.  May 1st will be the one year anniversary of her totally clear MRI.  Her active lifestyle and attention to her health is without a doubt why she was able to handle the aggressive treatment and come out of it swinging.  She’s back out with her racket, hitting against a wall for now.  But still.

 I can barely recall times when my mom would talk negatively about her body when I was growing up, maybe because she never really had much to complain about.  Regardless, I feel like I’ve been given this gift of not being as preoccupied with how I look as much as with how healthy I am.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint; I want to fit into nice jeans and I certainly went through periods of loooow self esteem: the most notable times being the late puberty years and those lovely postpartum months.  But, it’s not been a nagging pervasive thing that I know a lot of women can suffer from.  I just hope I can instill this same self-acceptance in my kids, especially my daughter. 

I’m sure that there are a lot of people who think of the constantly exercising stay at home mom as the narcissistic type, but that is so very, very far from the truth.  I run because of how it makes me feel – healthy, sane, and strong.  These are handy when dealing with two kids under five years of age!  One of the (many) things I love about race day is the ubiquitous kids dashes that give my kids the same sense of accomplishment that I get when crossing a finish line and meeting the goals I’ve set for myself.  Hopefully they will carry memories of watching me do just that as they go through life.  Or better yet, I hope that my running keeps me around long enough for them to watch me win my 70+ age group.


One Word Wednesday



Pasta with Trader Joes Roasted Red Pepper Spread

I adore Trader Joes - who doesn't, really?  My big brother is a 'Captain' of a TJs and every time I shop there or tell him about my latest favorite product he reminds me that I'm helping to feed his family.  So thanks everyone for feeding my two nieces and nephew!  There are lots of fun recipes out there using TJs ingredients, so I thought I'd give my own a go.  I was making this roasted red pepper pasta last week and remembered that I had the TJs Roasted Red Pepper Spread in the pantry. 

Rather than cooking up the onion, garlic, red peppers, etc. and having to use my mini food processor, I thought I'd make up a sauce with the spread instead.  Turned out pretty darn good and I had quite a bit less cleanup.

Angel Hair with TJs Roasted Red Pepper Spread, Toasted Walnuts and Goat Cheese

12 oz jar of Roasted Red Pepper Spread
14 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
1 T olive oil
1 t dried thyme
1/3 C toasted walnuts, crumbled
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat and add diced tomatoes and dried thyme.  Let them cook down for about 10 minutes.  Once the tomatoes have thickened a bit, mash them up with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.  Add the jar of pepper spread and stir to combine.  Cook until heated through - about 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta of your choice according to package directions.  Add sauce to cooked pasta and top with walnuts and goat cheese. 



This Week's Eats

Um, apparently it's summer in Seattle - hooray!  We were way busy soaking up the sun and having fun this weekend.  It was great to kick things off on Saturday morning with a nice workout on the hills of death.  Here are the three hills we 'ran' of the nearly 8 or 9 that my friend would NORMALLY run - omigod.

I probably could have picked up the pace a bit and tried to jog up the last hill back to our cars, but we were busy chatting by that time and walked up it.  So, not too terrible of a pace for those crazay hills and the amount of time spent walking/talking.

After a quick shower, it was off to my younger child's toddler group carnival where we raise funds for their classes with a big raffle, tee shirt sales, etc.  Meanwhile the kids play lots of fun little games for prizes and made several Froot Loop necklaces.

Sunday was another gorgeous day spent out hiking around the trails at our local state park. 

We even got out today after school for an impromptu picnic at the local playground with preschool friends.  I think we've soaked up enough vitamin D to last us until summer really starts in Seattle: the 4th of July.

Without further ado, here's this weeks eats:

  •  Monday - Piiiiiza!  (to make this a bit more interesting, I'll share our no-cook sauce recipe below)
  • Tuesday - gonna give this Drunken Creamy Chicken from Pinterest a try and add a few vegetables, probably sliced peppers and red onion
  • Wednesday - I've got dinner plans, hooray!
  • Thursday - good old Tyler Florence recipe for Mediterranean Pasta with chicken, artichokes, sun dried tomato and feta
  • Friday - blue cheese burgers on the grill
  • Saturday - Pioneer Woman's 'fancy' mac and cheese with caramelized onions and bacon
  • Sunday - gonna give another Pinterest recipe a try: Greek turkey meatball salad  mmmm, looks pretty good:

Pinned Image

As promised, here's our super easy, no-cook, pizza sauce recipe:

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 fluid ounces warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
1.     In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, anchovy paste, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and salt; mix together, breaking up any clumps of cheese.
2.     Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors; spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.


Friday Things

Has everyone seen this P&G Olympics ad yet?  Just in case you haven't...

I'm sure there were many mothers watching their children sweat it out in Boston this week.  So many amazing stories from Monday, I could literally not keep up with my Twitter account!  I am in awe of those of you who achieved such an amazing feat.  (Shoutout links to the Oiselle teammates who are 2012 Boston Marathon finishers) 

And when they get race pics, I'm sure they'll all look like ridiculously photogenic guy

And on a completely unrelated note (because that's what 'Friday Things' is about - randomness), if you have a girl child, here's something that gave me food for thought on what Lego set you might want to buy.... Leggo My Lego from livelyivy via NotMartha:

Have a fantastic weekend - I'm resting up now for a run tomorrow morning on what my friend, who does Crossfit (and COMPETES with her affiliate team in Crossfit), calls the Hills of Death.  Noooot sure what I'm getting myself into.  Hopefully I'll live to report back on how 'deathly' they are...


Silence is Golden

I'm a big fan of doing tub time during the day with the kids.  It gives us more time to hang out with Daddy in the evening, in the Spring and Summer months they are just too dirty to wait until night on most occasions and it's nice to all get clean at the same time.  I have a separate tub and shower setup in our master bath, so I can keep an eye on them while I shower.  My kids would stay in the bath for hours if I let them, so it works out well that I can sometimes get my laundry folded while I watch them from the bedroom when I'm done with a quick shower.  If I leave to put stuff away in the kids rooms, I'm usually only out of eyesight for five minutes tops.  Now, most parents will tell you that when the kids get quiet is when they start to worry.  So, as long as I hear them yelling at top volume giggling away, things are most often OK.  Not necessarily in the bathroom...

Today I came back to the bathroom to find about half inch of water covering my bathroom floor, counter tops, AND the ceiling.  What the...!?  How??  I mean they're pretty high ceilings.  Jaysus.  PLUS, someone dropped a tootsie roll in there - and NO I'm not talking about the candy.  That would be the girl child.  "I poop in 'dere."  Yes, yes you did honey.  On the plus side, our bathroom is really clean now.

I should've known better after the one time I left and came back to check on them and they were howling with laughter over touching someones private bits - that'd be the boy child's.  AIEEEEEEE.  "NO NO NO!  We don't touch other people's privates, only you can touch your own privates IN private" yada yada yada.  They probably didn't even hear me because I sounded like a howler monkey, just fuhrrreaking out.  All that parent education was swimming in my head trying to come out (wait, what do I tell them about touching their bodies...!?), but in the moment I was just a babbling mess.  That's why I kinda have a love/hate relationship with continuing parent ed (I've done a co-op preschool of some sort with both kids) or parenting books, they're so inspirational and full of great advice.  But when the shit comes down, it ALL flies out the window most of the time.  Never stop trying though, I suppose...  So I'm not sure if I said the right thing, but it hasn't happened again.  Oh. My. God.

After putting the kids down and the unplanned bathroom cleaning (which is the WORST, I feel like I need to prepare and be in a cleaning 'zone'), I was sooo looking forward to my coffee time only to find that the dog had pooped on the carpet.  I am not even making this stuff up.


One Word Wednesday



Healthy-ish Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Awhile back this nice little substitution chart from Chobani was making the rounds on Pinterest.

Chobani Conversion Chart

I thought I'd give it a go with my favorite oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from Smitten Kitchen because I eat them ALL. THE. TIME.  They're great as a pre-run breakfast with a banana, a snack or dessert for the kids, a coffee treat, a midnight treat...  Due to my conspicuous consumption, and that I double the recipe every time, I figured it would be worth my while to attempt this substitution and omit an entire stick of butter.  And, lo, they turned out just as scrumptious as they always are.  I also add some ground flax and subsitute some whole wheat flour for white to make them 'healthy-ish' or at least healthier... 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (adapted from Smittenkitchen)

4 tablespoons butter, softened and 2 tablespoons of plain (or vanilla) Chobani
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup AP flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1/4 cup ground flaxseed (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, yogurt, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flours, flaxseed (if using), baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, but then they end up slighly less thick.  I usually mix 'em up while my kids are eating lunch and stash the whole mixing bowl in the fridge.  Then I bake them while they're upstairs for quiet time/nap time so that I can have them fresh out of the oven ALL TO MYSELF.

sneaky cookie hiding mommy

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet, or if you have Silpats, even better. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.  If you can wait that long...


This weeks eats!

Aaaaaand of course it starts to rain as soon as the kids start spring break!  I had high hopes for lots of outdoor park time this week.  At least we have this fab weather pattern out here called 'sun breaks.'  This is a term that I was completely unfamiliar with until making the big move to Seattle.  As I type, the room just lit up with beautiful sunlight - and dust motes, but I'm choosing not to look at those.  Moving right along...

  • Monday - pizza.  Maybe I should just omit this bullet point altogether because it's kind of redundant...?
  • Tuesday - the roasted red pepper pasta with walnuts and goat cheese got pushed back to this week due to a little girls nite dinner outing.  Love when that happens.
  • Wednesday - green chile enchiladas, from the freezer.  I made these enchiladas (an awesome recipe from mels kitchen cafe) a few weeks ago and just doubled everything but the cheese/sauce.  Then I rolled up the tortillas/filling and stuck 'em in a ziplock to use with whatever sauce/cheese combo after thawing.
  • Thursday - a chicken strata recipe from Art Smith (chef at Table Fifty-Two in Chicago).  I found this in People magazine of all places..  We use broccoli instead of asparagus in this dish - just seems to work better.
  • Friday - Stuffed sole filets from Trader Joes and I'm gonna try to convince my husband to eat roasted brussel sprouts as a side dish.  My vegetarian friend ordered them when we had our girls dinner out (at Purple Cafe) and I couldn't stop stealing them - want to attempt them at home.
  • Saturday - husband sent me the link to this recipe from msnbc for short ribs, so we're gonna give that a go with some brown rice and maybe bok choy
  • Sunday - chopped salad (again - I could eat chopped salads almost every day) with chicken, bacon, avocado, red and green onions, tomatoes, blue cheese and my homemade champagne vinaigrette.
Hope no one's having a 'case of the Mondays' and that this might help with your meal planning!


Captain Jack 8K

SO, this went infinitely better than I thought it would!  I had a few things working against me today: coming off a cold bug, have done ZERO training for hills, and (stupidly) ate way too many fajitas last night.  Blargh.  Since I'm all about full disclosure here: thankfully, I know the area well and was able to use a 'real' bathroom at a local coffee shop beforehand.  'ahem. 

Things working in my favor?  The weather:  "Could this weather BE any more perfect?" (said in the voice of Chandler Bing)  No, it could not. My absolute favorite weather is in the low 50s and overcast.  Thing two working in my favor?  I haven't run an 8K in AGES, so long ago that there are no records and I certainly can't remember my time from 1999: guaranteed PR!  Thing three?  I had friends running the race with me (well, not with me - they all finished 5-7 minutes ahead.  I need slower friends...) and we had bloody mary plans afterwards.  It's good to have incentives.

The first mile of the course includes a lovely stint in elevation gain from about 75 ft to 246 ft - awesome!  Then it's little hills ranging from 25/50 ft until a nice huge downhill at mile 3 where you go from about 230 ft down to 62 ft in less than a half a mile.  Hallelujah!  I earned that mo-fo.  Because, prior to that at the 3 mile mark, my gps was telling me that my pace was pretty much on par with my 5K PR from the other week.  First three miles done in about 26:27.  Wah-huh?  Even after that HILL?  SUHWEET.  I  think that's my biggest accomplishment from this outing. 

Plus, I met the one goal I had for this race of keeping my average pace decently under a 9min mile averaging 8:40min/mile.  Official chip time is 43:21.7 - how awesomely accurate is my gps?!  Make fun of my non Nike+/Runkeeper app with a silly (SportyPal) name; it gets the job DONE.  I was 140/528 overall and 17/94 in my age group (men AND women).

Overall race impression: it's a great close-knit feeling race.  I saw several familiar faces.  One of which was my Oiselle teammate Susan who actually was the first female to finish.  It's organized by my favorite running store, Everyday Athelete and benefits a cause close to my heart, the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  Maybe more detail on that another day...  The postrace goodies were fun:  each bib had a ticket to claim your treasure from the 'treasure box' at the end.  I got 2 GUs and a race belt, and the fun thing was that you could go to the 'trading post' to trade for something you might like better.  As a rule, I do not wear belts.  Ever.  I traded for some arm warmers - nice!  My friend scored a nice pair of socks, too.  In addition to water/bananas/bagels, and I think some other foodstuffs that I ignored because The Radical Cupcake had bowls full of fleur-de-sel caramels and these PHENOMENAL salted caramel chocolates.  I adore salted caramel, so I might be biased.  The only drawback at all to the race was a weird switchback that had everyone crossing each others path, but it worked out fine because really there were only 528 of us.

I just realized that I didn't take any pictures from this race and that's a bummer because I would've loved to get one with friends.  I guess we were talking to much.  Although, I did manage to snap a picture of this bad boy:
Bloody with Absolut Peppar

And to top it all off - the house was VACANT upon my return home!  Because the kiddos have an awesome dad who was out with them at the local state park for some hiking while I showered and relaxed. 

Hope everyone had a weekend as enjoyable as ours.  Next up, my first 15K on May 20!


Friday Things

I'm a bit apprehensive about the Captain Jack 8K on Sunday because a) I'm still getting over a crappy cold and b) I just remembered that the course is quite hilly.  After the Seattle Half Marathon, I was all about doing some hill repeats....  yeaaahhh.  Didn't get on that - I just looked for the next half that was 'flat and fast.'  But, no matter how I do, it will be a 8K PR because I'm sure I'm a bit faster than I was the last time I ran one, which was... ohhh about 13 or 14 years ago!  Yikes.  It's probably a good thing that you can only search back to 2003 for Shamrock Shuffle results. 

In the tradition of Friday randomness, have you seen this make the rounds on the internet?  Just in case you haven't, it is fantastic.  The internet can be fantastic and this kid is fantastic.

Also abuzz on the internet is the collaboration between Instagram/Facebook, which made me go and check if they finally have the app for Android.  And, lo, they do.  How late am I to the party?  So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce you to my dog, Peeps, Instagram Style.

Have a wonderful weekend and don't go getting a sunburn Seattle peeps.


Marine Biologist, Artiste, Sex Ed Teacher?

The other day my five year old told me he wanted to be a fireman, a Transformer (good choice) or a mailman (he looooves checking the mail - highlight of his day).  Although, if he knew there was such a thing as a marine biologist, I bet he would have included that in his list.  He's always loved Finding Nemo and Ponyo; but, ever since a recent trip to the aquarium, he's been slightly obsessed with the stuffed whale he acquired at the gift shop.  You know, the gift shop you need to go through to exit the building?  Yeah, that one.  Here he is with 'Humphrey' the humpback whale:

Also, I must add a picture of the two year old's ridiculously awesome acquisition from the gift shop.  I kinda want to steal it, it's so freaking cute.  Please to enjoy, 'Seattle' the Seal:

It's like Puss in Boots when he gives THE LOOK.  And you see there on the momma's belly? That's a little BABY seal in a wee wittle pocket - and when you squeeze it, it squeaks.  I die.  And I digress...

So yeah, we go to the Seattle Aquarium, which has ZERO whales and we come outta there obsessed by them.  Man, I can't wait to take him to the Shedd one day - his mind: BLOWN.  Maybe we'll try to get on a whale watching boat this summer and see some orcas.  He's also keeping with the sea life theme in his art at school:

'Giant Squid'
'Blue Whale'

His teachers picked up on his love of whales and gave him a book from the school library to borrow, all about whales.  Very cool, although yesterday I think he said the word 'sperm' at least a dozen times.  He seems very comfortable with it - me? Not as much...


One word Wednesday




How cool is it that our local Y sits right on a trail and all of my runs start off with this view:

Usually there are ducks along this section of the trail - soon there will be lil' baybeee chicks. awww.

I can just drop off my kiddos and get right onto the trail.  I came across this guy the other day on one of my longer runs that hooks up with the Lake Sammamish Trail:

Speaking of the Lake Sammamish Trail, THIS is conveniently located right alongside it:

That would be Redhook Brewery, a great place to start/end a run and it's home base for a lot of great races.  Races that include things like this:

This was after the RAC to Redhook fitness run.  mmmmm.

I sometimes wonder if I'd have been bitten by the running bug if we were still living in Chicago.  Sure, there's the lakefront, and I ran along it quite a bit in my twenties.  But, that's because my apartment was a mere half mile from the path.  By the time we bought a condo, yeaaah, not so close.  I get frustrated nowadays if I have to cross more than one stoplight.  And the winters?  Omigod.  I think I only skipped one or two runs outside because of the cold this year.  Seattle is just one of the best cities for running.  We talk a lot about what it would be like to move back home one day.  If or when we do, I would really miss (among many other things) running the trails.


This Week's Eats

    Another gorgeous day in Seattle!  My spirits were slightly dampened by a certain 5 year old that is in a lovely phase of picking a fight with me ever 5 minutes (as opposed to every 20 or so) and we both left preschool in a massive snit.  Gee, I wonder where he gets it from...  Nonetheless, we managed to regroup and spent more than an hour soaking up the sun in the backyard.  I'm wondering if we should switch up the routine (gasp!) and do the turkey burgers tonight instead of pizza so we can fire up the grill... hmmm, well I'll just leave pizza for now and play it by ear.  Happy Monday!

  • Monday: yes, pizza - think we'll do the Dominos take out deal if we get it tonight.  8 bucks for a large 3 topping pizza ain't bad.
  • Tuesday: turkey burgers - I just take 1/2 pound of ground turkey and add a little egg, breadcrumbs, cilantro, chopped garlic, jalapeno and onion, along with a ton of southwest spices: chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne and throw 'em on the grill
  • Wednesday: angel hair with roasted red pepper sauce, toasted walnuts and goat cheese - awesome recipe I found in Fitness magazine 
  • Thursday: havin' the artichoke chicken from last week because we got lazy one night and ate sandwiches instead.
  • Friday: chicken fajitas
  • Saturday: rigatoni with arrabiata sauce (in a dutch oven, sautee 1/2 pound italian sausage with onion/garlic in olive oil, deglaze with some white wine once it's cooked and add 28oz can crushed tomatoes, 8 oz sauce and a can of tomato paste - let it cook as long as you can stand waiting to eat)
  • Sunday: pork tenderloin with ginger dipping sauce and roasted red potatoes


Easter Tradition

Our Easter tradition?  We worship at the altar of inflatables:

Every year that o holy Jump Planet has been providing Easter entertainment, we have been in attendance. 



I'm sure most kids would agree that Jump Planet is a very sacred institution.  However you celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful day with lots of fun and chocolate.


Breaking Free

SO, I just wanted to take a moment, more than 140 characters, to rave about my new Oiselle acquisition. Over the last couple of years, compression items seem to have really taken off and I totally jumped on board. But, most of the compression pants out there are SUPER thick lycra and are like putting on pantyhose. Now, I'm certainly not throwing out my trusty CW-X. That kind of pant has it's merits: I feel super slim lookin' in them, they support my muscles, and keep me toasty warm. But the sun is shining bright today and the just the thought of another summer in thick compression fabric has me breaking out into a sweat...
Enter the Lesley Knicker! The fabric strikes a perfect balance of being thin/but not too thin, and has mesh panels on the hips and behind the knees for added breathability (is that a word?). I have yet to come across another pair of pants with this awesome feature, which will come in handy this summer. They are so comfy and soft with just enough support so that I don't feel like my jiggly bits are a-jiggling while I move. And, in my opinion, the contrast stitching is quite flattering. They also have a super subtle non-chafey (is THAT a word?) drawstring that kept them in place without cutting into my waist when I broke them in on a 6 and then 4 mile run. That is the WORST when you have to hike up yer pants while running. If you, too, are looking to break free from the binds of thick lycra compression and want to lighten up a bit as the weather warms - these are awesome. And if anyone reading this is wondering: no, Oiselle didn't ask me break out a review - I just love 'em! Thank you Kristin for sending them :) I may even wander into shorts territory this summer (where I have not ventured for YEARS) with the long Roga, which gets all the spotlight... poor Lesley.


Friday Things

So here's some randomness from this week. 

I tried to do a more complicated fartlek on the treadmill yesterday and it went pretty well.  The 'Mona' fartlek I read about in the latest Runner's World Magazine, if you're looking to mix it up on the treads: 

Named after Steve Monegehetti, a champion Australian marathoner who included this in his training.

Start with 10 minutes of easy running then do:

Two pickups of:
90 seconds hard followed by 90 seconds of easy recovery running
Four pickups of:
60 seconds hard followed by 60 seconds of easy recovery running
30 seconds hard followed by 30 seconds of easy recovery running
15 seconds hard followed by 15 seconds of easy recovery running

Finish with an easy 10 minutes of running.

I also upped the pace by .1 on each set, gaining 1.2 mph overall on both the easy and hard parts.  Although, my brain kinda hurt trying to remember how many sets I had finished/had left to go.  I think I'll take your advice Meg and just do 4 minutes hard/1 minute easy next time, to give my noggin a week off of such a taxing venture!

Also, thanks for nothing to Penny for posting the following video to Facebook the other day and adding a totally awesome guilty pleasure song to my playlist full of cheesy pop hits.  This just makes me think about the days of my youth and when we'd drink out of red solo cups.  There I go, reminiscing again.  Oh well. LOVE:

Speaking of videos, I finally got out to see The Hunger Games with some friends last night.  Team Peeta?  Team Gale?  OMG even though I read the book years ago, I still can't decide!  I thought the casting was great and there were no moments of me rolling my eyes in annoyance, like when I watch Twilight movies.  Anyhoo, was psyched to see this trailer because I'm a total sci-fi nerd.  I watched all of BSG practically in one week, (please tell me you know what that stands for), I love Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Stephen Spielberg, JJ Abrams and my husband and I are already making plans to go see The Avengers this summer.  Now Ridley Scott is finally returning to scifi.  I am atingle with anticipation:

And, lastly, I think I might have to make a whiskey sour now thanks to Food Lush Blog.  Maybe after eating a nice big steak dinner.... 

Happy Friday everyone!


In the Moment

Lately, when E and I leave the gym, she's really into holding my hand and saying, "mommy jump!" Off the sidewalk, off the curb, off the grass, anywhere.  And well, her version of a jump is getting into a low crouch, then standing up straight really fast, aaaand...taking a step.  It's the cutest and funniest damn thing.  Although, a lot of times, we are rushing out of there to pick up her brother from preschool and we only do one or two jumps.  The other day, the side parking lot was nearly empty and we had time to kill - added bonus: there were puddles and her favorite boots ("ki-eee booos"):

I just sat there grinning like a fool and watching her, and listening to her sweet baby voice, just being present with her, in the moment.  We moms get tons of advice to 'be in the moment' and get on the floor and play, don't worry about keeping the house clean, etc.  I am guilty of this, to be sure, (I was totally checking email when B scored a goal in soccer the other day) but it's become easier to get into that happy place with the kids since having a second.  I'm not nearly as worried about milestones, and worrying/waiting for them to grow up.  In fact, I want E to stop growing THIS INSTANT.  I enjoy so much of her baby-ness, and in turn, it's given me the perspective to appreciate the small stuff with her older brother. 
But as I was enjoying being in the moment with her, I thought, how much do I try to be in the moment when it's just me - for ME?  I kind of had a realization that I tend to dwell on the past a lot, in good and bad ways.  My husband and I spent nearly two hours the other night discussing bars in Chicago (of course, there aren't many cities that can hold a candle to Chicago's bar scene) and we had such a fun trip down memory lane.  He kept laughing at how I could remember the name of almost every. single. bar.  (Alumni Club was eluding me for awhile, though - and it's not even named that anymore.)  Anyhow, I have a memory like a steel trap and and for all the good it does me, it does me ill.  I still ruminate on grievances from the past from time to time: crappy layoffs, slights from friends or an old boss, or that time we just got up and left Dublins when we'd waited over an hour and a half for a SALAD and the waitress had the nerve to run out after us and give us crap.  Man, that one still makes me break out into a sweat!  Grrrr.  And I do plenty of worrying about the future, too....   

Whoops, sorry, I was just freaking out there about B's birthday party next month because I just found out half his preschool class will be indisposed that day due to a t-ball game - this is while I'm supposed to be just sitting here, enjoying me time (ie - nap time/quiet time) with my coffee and computer.  Argh!  I suppose that's why running is such great therapy, at least for me.  I never really think about anything/worry about anything while I'm running - even on those long runs.  I'm mostly thinking about nailing my pace, about how I feel: thinking happy thoughts or motivational thoughts if I need them, and singing along to songs in my head.

As E and I were saying bye-bye to the puddles, a car pulled out of a spot and a elderly woman rolled down her window to tell me that watching my sweet girl play in puddles just gave her so much joy and that it made her day.  And then I tried not to cry.  *the end*


One word Wednesday



Books I've read this year

So, my hope is to update this monthly, but I thought I'd start off with what I've read so far this year.  Love sharing book reviews, as well as getting book suggestions!

  • Across the Universe, by Beth Revis  I have a real soft spot in my heart for YA novels - usually the dystopian literature that seems to be all the rage since everyone finally caught on to The Hunger Games.  This one is a bit sci-fi/dystopian - the main character and her parents are cryogenically frozen and supposed to awaken 300 years into the future when they arrive on a distant planet.  Due to some hi jinks she wakes 50 years too soon and many mysteries about the ship she is travelling on begin to unfold.  I devoured it in just a couples days - probably would have sat and read it in one sitting on a rainy Sunday, pre-punks.  And, like all YA these days, it's a trilogy.  So, I had to read the sequel:
  • A Million Suns, by Beth Revis This one seemed a little less original and like a very formulaic 'whodunnit.'  But I invested myself in the characters and the mysteries of the Godspeed, so now I have to know what happens.  Stupid trilogies...  Speaking of..
  • A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness  AND nearly all contemporary fiction is jumping on the bandwagon o' trilogy.  The first in a series about a forbidden love between a vampire and a witch, comparisons to Twilight, Anne Rice, blah de blah.  For me it was bogged down in too much detail, the courtship between the two main characters is dragged out for-ev-er and it's a wee bit campy - I had a hard time suspending disbelief.  Don't think I'll be going back for the sequel...
  • 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami  Dude, just.... dude.  I don't know.  It's like looking at art and trying to interpret it - I'm not down with that.  It was on every. single. best. of. 2011 list.  So I muddled through.  Check it out if you're way into the surreal.
  • The Tigers Wife, by Tea Obreht  This was another on all the best of the year lists.  Meh.  It felt like a bunch of disjointed short stories and, whaddya know, it started out as a short story.  Kinda highbrow, smarty pants stuff that might have been fun to dissect in college, but not what I want out of books nowadays, i.e. brain candy.
  • Ten Thousand Saints, by Eleanor Henderson  Er, same review as above - maybe I need to steer clear of 'best of' lists...  At least this one had a coming of age narrative that was somewhat compelling, but still too many themes and issues to really just focus and care about any one of the main characters.
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry  I finally read the mother of all YA dystopian literature and could easily see how it's inspired some really great current fiction.  This is one that I could sit and discuss at length - the value and sacrifices involved in trying to attain a utopian society.  Haunting and powerful.  Only downside, we're kind of left hanging about the fate of our protagonist - I HATE that.
  • Austenland, by Shannon Hale  Ha! Haahahaha.  Man, I could have written this book.  I mean, I like brain candy, but not brainless candy.  There's lots of good, well written chick lit out there - that doesn't assume we women are completely clueless.  I could tell exactly how this was going to go from the second chapter.  I can't believe Stephenie Meyer is helping make this into a film.  Maybe this will be one of the first instances of a movie being better than the book...
  • Bringing up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman  There were some interesting anecdotes regarding the differences between French and Americans, but I felt like she kept repeating the same information. Definitely gave me a few things to think about. However, it could have easily been boiled down to a magazine article. I also became annoyed at the collective 'we' when she'd talk about guilt-ridden, neurotic American moms - some gross generalizations going on about moms as well as our children.
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green Now here's a coming of age story that was completely mesmerizing, mysterious, emotional and will stay with me for a long time.  Two thumbs up.
  • State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett  This is the best book I've read so far this year.  I was totally surprised by it - by the contents of a very boring cover, by the author that I wasn't super impressed with (I didn't understand all the hubub over Bel Canto), and by the story itself - I mean there were several parts where my hand flew over my mouth in an 'OMIGOD!' moment of surprise.  It's a keeper.  I can't even explain what it's about, just get it.  Thank you, Princess Nebraska for giving me that last bit of convincing I needed to put it on the Kindle, as well as Looking for Alaska!