Books I Read in February

With the exception of the first book, the theme of this month was wrapping up two really good YA trilogies.  Looks like I need to get crackin' on my to do item of reading 50 books this year: Goodreads has this widget that looms large every time I log in, telling me what percent of books I've read towards my goal: 5 books at 10% and how many I'm behind: 2 books at 6% behind schedule.  Eek.

The Snow Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

SUCH an enjoyable read. I really love books with a fantastical nature, or I suppose what is called 'magical realism' (see also: The Night Circus); this fairy tale of a novel was suspenseful and full of beautiful prose. I only wish that it stuck with the magic of a girl conceived of snow and none of the supposed realities of her life. There were a lot of unanswered questions by the end of the book and I think they could have been forgiven if Faina's character was kept shrouded in mystery throughout, rather than revealing some things but not others about her character.  That said, it's still awesome.

Reached (Matched, #3)

Reached (Matched Trilogy #3) by Ally Condie

Of all the dystopian YA I've read, the first book in this trilogy (Matched) stood out for me and is one of my favorites in the genre. I was really looking forward to seeing this through and unraveling the secrets of the 'Society' and Cassia's family - specifically her grandfather. Alas, all the talk of Society vs the Rising vs the Enemy got convoluted and nothing is revealed that I didn't already assume. So many things are left ambiguous and I felt a bit beaten over the head with the theme of threes.  I have a problem where I pretty much have to read an entire series if I like the first book - with the exception of Game of Thrones, because life is just too short to be reading George R.R. Martin all day, every day.  It's just like the movies: sequels are rarely as good as the original and YA trilogies just seem to fizzle out by the third book (or completely fall apart, as the Maze Runner trilogy did).  One of the few exceptions:

Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Fantastic! Such a great series and a wonderful conclusion.  Full of plot twists and turns, I was furiously turning the pages to see how Amy and Elder's story would end.  There's lots of action, horror, mystery, and real emotional development for the characters. Bravo to a YA trilogy that I loved from beginning to end and that never lost steam.


This Week's Eats 2/24/13

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend.  My weekend was full of awesome.  Awesome movie (Argo), awesome company (Oiselle teammates and other running friends) with awesome deals (sample sale):

My haullllll

AND, I hit up the Brooks Outlet with my yearly friends and family event discount - thanks to my awesome friend Mandy! I thought I'd give the whole minimalist shoe thing a try, since they now have the first generation of Pure Project shoes available.

For $50 how could I not give them a try, plus everyone will see me comin' from a mile away!

On to food - last week's Pinterest experiment of Hawaiian grilled chicken was okay.  We needed to add a bunch of Huli Huli sauce to our rice to give it all a bit more flavor.  Thanks to friend Megan's awesome lunch suggestion of a fried egg on top of Huli Huli flavored rice, I had the sauce on hand.  Yuuuummm.


Friday Things

I always feel so cliche, claiming thank God it's Friday - but, MAN, thank God it's Friday.  Why is it that 'short' weeks, with a Monday holiday, always seem longer?  Not that I have ever have terribly much planned for the weekend.  Well, I watched Kate Grace last Saturday run the Wannamaker Mile:

Kate on the far left, from teammate Deloris' Twitter
How awesome is that pro running outfit?  Oh, and her race was rather awesome as well: helluva kick at the end to come in third at 4:28:79 (!), just after the much lauded Mary Cain.  Click on this link to see a good Youtube video.
Speaking of legit runners, this happened last week:
Bart Yasso (Chief Running Officer at Runners World) is followin' me on Twitter!  Well, along with nearly 17,000 other people...  But, still, that made my day.

So this weekend's excitement? The Oiselle SAMPLE SALE!  Squee!  Seattle ladies: get thee to 7109 Woodlawn Avenue NE between the hours of 10 and 4.

I'm also hoping to finally watch Argo prior to the Oscars on Sunday and saw this gem on the Pioneer Woman's Twitter:

Andrew Steger@acsteger
I'm watching Argo too. The plot is...thickening. 

OK, it's time to add some David Guetta to this year's playlist:

She Wolf by David Guetta, featuring Sia

Happy weekend!

2013 Playlist
Alive by Krewella
Illmerica by Wolfgang Garnter
Drowning by Armin van Buren
Give Me Your Hand by The Ready Set
Language by Porter Robinson
Cry for You by September
You Are My Diamond by Tiesto - featuring Kianna
Arguru - Deadmau5
We Are by Jus Jack & Oza, featuring Aeone


Valentine's Day Dash Race Report

Oh heyyyy, I ran a race the other weekend!  I think this is the longest I've taken to write a recap.  Since I wasn't 'racing' it, I sort of let it fall through the cracks.  It was super fun, though, and bound to become Oiselle tradition.

I got to the race early for packet pickup and scored one of the last spots in the parking lot right next to the finish line.  What's great about a race at Greenlake, though, is that you can park on any side streets around the lake and you're probably not much more than a mile walk to any start/finish line.  I did a brisk mile walk from my spot at the boathouse over to Oiselle HQ (near the Greenlake Starbucks) so I could meet up with everyone at the office for pre race pics and a warmup jog back over to the start. 

Dawn, Kristin, me, Megan, Jacquelyn, Meghan, Sarah & Sally: Thrift Shop style (they look incredible, no?), Nolana, Sarah, & Morena

I wonder if covering two miles beforehand worked against me because I was a little winded from getting over yet another cold and did about 100% more warmup than I ever do in a 5K.  Which is to say, I usually do a couple of strides and call it good. Nonetheless, it was nice to take it easy over to the start and chat with Dawn and her husband, as I knew I wasn't taking down any PR.

Once we got to the start, I began to assume the role of 'mother hen' at the race, as I did for Natty at the Snohomish River Run. My first duty in this role was to sherpa everyone over to my sweet parking spot for team VIP 'gear check.' The second duty is a funny anectdote for the end of the recap.  Then I ran into Tweep Meghan, who I was supposed to run with for nine miles before the race, since I was on the same marathon plan for Eugene. Spoiler (not really): that didn't happen. It was great to still be able to hang out with her and a number of local yokels. 

After hitting the port-a-potty, which there were plenty of, I lined up with Nolana and Morena in a corral that I deserved to be in about 6 months ago. 

(Morena & Nolana on the far left & right with Team Manager Kristin) Love these gals, Love this pic: thanks for taking it Jacquelyn!

They convinced me to stay near the front and, luckily, I wasn't THAT person who gets in the way and is passed right and left after the gun goes off.  So I turned on my music and tried to keep a steady effort the whole way.  This was the first time I didn't turn on my GPS in a race.  It was rather liberating, but I'm still curious as to what my splits looked like...

The course was a nice easy loop around the lake and I was rather impressed that I didn't feel crowded in at all throughout the run, given that there were nearly 2500 participants.  The only problem I had was in certain sections, deciding whether to run on Greenlakes's outer path that's mostly gravel or on the street.  I weaved back and forth and probably should have just stayed on the street.  Otherwise, it was pretty non-eventful the whole way through: I kept things in low gear so that my hamstring didn't hurt too much, no splits to report, no play by play.  It was just what it was meant to be for most people - a fun run, as evidenced by decent race photos!  I think this is the key to good race photos: not RACING.

I think it's time to update my Oiselle profile pic! Hmmm, top or bottom one?  I also need to update my Q&A, it's been nearly a YEAR!  Thanks so much Irwin for the photos.

I put a somewhat hard effort in at the end, through the 'tunnel of love' and clocked it at exactly 28 minutes.  That's pretty much 4 minutes slower than my fastest 3 miles at the Labor Day 4 Miler.  Yeeesh.  At least it wasn't a personal worst, like I initially thought; it was still better than my return to running races two years ago where I ran a 29:38 at the Can Do 5K. 

This race was chock full of PRs and accomplishments for my teammates and I think it'd be a great one for spectating all of the fast runners and fun costumes.  I just saw this on the Valentine's Day Dash Facebook page today:

"The March issue of Northwest Runner has a great article on pg 14 that lists the local "Top 5" events per distance that routinely get the most "BEST TIMES" per age category that is listed in each issue of their Magazine. The Seattle Valentine's Day Dash is #5 for the 5K distance. Proof to the fact that our course is a FAST ONE." Source
Post race, they gave out little bags of candy that I thought were supposed to be chocolate.  Alas, they were really heart shaped jelly bean type things that I saved for the kids.  There was some chocolate sampling from Wow Chocolates and plenty of the usual post race suspects: bottled water, bananas, and tons of Food Should Taste Good chip samples.
After chatting everyone up afterwards, tweep Meghan and I started heading towards my car so I could give her lift towards her house.  Here's where my other 'mother hen' story comes in: there were three girls who'd just finished the race wandering on the opposite side of Greenlake looking very lost as they flagged us down and asked for help.  They ended up sheepishly asking if they could bum a quick ride to where their car was parked, as they were from out of town and had NO idea where they were.  The mother in me was worried for them and the Chicagoan in me TOTALLY understood how easily one can get lost on the streets of Seattle.  So they piled in with us and we all had a good laugh about never having hitchhiked/picked up hitchhikers as I used my GPS to navigate them to their car.  We also had a nice little chat along the way about running and, of course, Oiselle - I think I've got a few more converts.
Until next time, when I'm hopefully in better race shape and my race photos will probably look a bit more like this one:

ahhh, this picture from my 13.1 PR... it gained some fame on Ugly Race Pics and The Boring Runner featured it on his funny photo Friday.  But, hey, if you're not bringing the pain face at the end of a race, you're doing it wrong!


This Weeks Eats 2/18/13

Happy President's Day!  Hopefully you, too, had the day off (well, my husband did) and enjoyed it.  Mine will be spent going to the dentist and the chiropractor - huzzah! 

FYI, the Thai turkey meatballs experiment from last week was really rather tasty.  If you give them a go, I'd advise adding some panko crumbs/put them in the fridge for a bit to help the meatballs keep their shape, and I pretty much doubled all the spices. 

For this week...

  • Monday - Pizza
  • Tuesday - Hawaiian grilled chicken brown rice and roasted broccoli (found on Pinterest: it has lots of my favorite flavors and looks super simple)
  • Wednesday - girls night out, complete with much needed margaritas
  • Thursday - Mediterranean chicken pasta
  • Friday - fish tacos (with breaded halibut from the freezer section of Trader Joes, along with all the usual fixins and this cilantro-lime cream sauce)
  • Saturday - spaghetti with turkey ragu (pretty much the same sauce recipe as our arrabiata, but with ground turkey)
  • Sunday - easy burgers on the grill and a big bag of those Alexia waffle cut fries (they had a big sale on them at the Safeway, I highly recommend checking out the 'Just for U' program, and I picked up a bunch of different potatoes to throw in the freezer)


Friday Things

So, yeah, thank you for all of the kind words and support (friends o' the internet and real life) regarding my post the other day about the whole marathon deal-o.  I'm feeling a bit less sad about it and even spent the other night geeking out over all the fabulous trail races Washington dishes up in the summertime.  But, yes, I must figure my leg stuff out and heal first.  The chiro stuff is going OK; I sort of thought that after an adjustment or two, I'd start feeling better.  I feel about the same in my leg and now I just have an achy back!  I think I'm going to do what I can to get some more PT and try to find a sports medicine doc that might be covered somewhat by our insurance.  And, yes to those who've asked, take some time off. 

A random 'just because' gift from my mom - think she's trying to tell me something?

Moving on to random stuff - this cracked me up:

Anything that has to do with Harry Potter is cool and funny in my book.
We had a nice little lazy Valentine's Day and easy pasta dinner with the kids. Since big brother is on mid-winter break, we slept in a bit and then ambled over to the Y.  While I got in my workout, the kids enjoyed Valentine's Day fun: face painting, crafts and candy.  Speaking of big brother, I can't believe this stuff is happening already:
 This little harlot has been calling him 'cute' and drawing him pictures for years at the Y.  Now they're exchanging I love you's, hugs and holding hands!  GAH.  They're not even six!  Hahaha.  Truly, though, it cracks me up.
And speaking of love stories, I've just discovered 'Honest Movie Trailers' on Youtube.  Good stuff:
Here's the latest tune I've added to the playlist and happy weekend!
Alive by Krewella
2013 Playlist
Illmerica by Wolfgang Garnter
Drowning by Armin van Buren
Give Me Your Hand by The Ready Set
Language by Porter Robinson
Cry for You by September
You Are My Diamond by Tiesto - featuring Kianna
Arguru - Deadmau5
We Are by Jus Jack & Oza, featuring Aeone


Change of (Marathon) Plans...

Yep, I claimed that I was going to focus on dwelling in the positive.  Here's my attempt at being positive about putting ye olde marathon plans aside for now...

I signed up for the Eugene Marathon in July, back when they had a $10 off the early bird special and my legs felt footloose and fancy free. 

It was right after I went to do an easy six and tacked on two more miles just for fun - that's how great I was feeling this summer. Full of PRs and fresh legs. I suppose that when you start on a running journey, there's going to be a period of constant improvement, constant PRs and immediate rewards.  And now, I'm in the all to common injury phase.

Just a mere six months later and I'm struggling with an easy six, and definitely unable to fathom adding two more miles for fun.  My paces have gone down the toilet and I'm not even at the place I was before my first half marathon.  Since September I've been lamenting to anyone with ears about the recurring pain I have in my left leg; I'm sick of listening to myself talk about it, too - believe me. 

I kinda feel like Ted talking about Elaine... (if you don't know what I mean, watch this video from about :40 to 1:30)

I did PT for a few weeks and was feeling decent by October, so I took it easy until the Seattle half.  After that race, my leg was a bit angry with me, but I figured that backing off for a month and doing extra PT would set me to rights, just in time for marathon training.  I figured wrong. 

So, I'm seeing a chiropractor; our insurance changed as of January 1st and they have more coverage than PTs.  Not sure how I feel about this, as I've always thought the whole chiro thing is a bit gimmicky and my first adjustment? WHOAH!  Kinda freaked me out.  It didn't hurt, but I'm one of those people that can't even stand when people crack their knuckles.  But, I'll do what I have to do to get back to where I was, when I was super happy with my running.  I'm also ramping back up the PT exercises I did in the fall and a few teammates happen to be PTs, so I might work with them as well.  I'm hoping to still travel to tracktown and run in the footsteps of legends, but I think the 26.2 will have to wait.  At least I'm paying what seems reasonable for a half marathon by registering early (dwelling! positive!). 

I have a pretty decent list of goals and I don't want to mess up 2 or 3 other really important ones (like trail running and Ragnar!) over this, just because it's a big goal and it's what everyone else is doing.  It's hard to gain perspective once you're part of the running community, especially on Twitter where damn near everyone is running marathons or even ultras.  I have to remind myself what's right for me and I want to be in that place of adding extra miles for fun before I venture off on the marathon path.  Maybe next year, maybe five years from now, maybe when the kids are in school, maybe when I'm 50, like Sweaty Emily's mom - just whenever it feels 100% right.  I now know that I will never say never.   



Friday Things, on Tuesday! - Trying to Dwell in the Positive

(Errrr, edited to add that I thought this posted on Friday - guess hitting 'publish' didn't work, or my head really was that cloudy with Sudafed...  In any case, here's some Friday things on Tuesday!)

I'm trying really hard not to be Debbie Downer, but man...  If it's not one thing, it's another these days: another cold sweeping through the house, another pain in my leg (could only muster 3.5 out of my planned 6 miler this week (edited to add what I also think was a PW at the Valentine's Day dash) - more on that later), another bad day with the 5 year old, and another thing to throw money at: 8 grand towards a leaky roof.  Yay! Aaaaargh. 

Pinned Image
From the Oiselle Blog
Ever since Lauren's cards were put to a vote, I have been trying to keep this quote in mind.  I'm really working on developing the skill of dwelling in positivity.

Anyhoooo...  Other than taking the morning off with a great book at Starbucks yesterday and a long chat with my mom, here's what's helping me dwell in the positive lately:

I've contemplated joining a CSA, now I'm not so sure; this would TOTALLY happen to us.

We happened to catch the last part of my alma mater's win last night over my big brother's alma mater, sorry dude!

Addition to the playlist: Illmerica by Wolfgang Garnter

Happy Friday peeps, here's to a new 'tude and a fabulous weekend!

 2013 Playlist
Drowning by Armin van Buren
Give Me Your Hand by The Ready Set
Language by Porter Robinson
Cry for You by September
You Are My Diamond by Tiesto - featuring Kianna
Arguru - Deadmau5
We Are by Jus Jack & Oza, featuring Aeone


This Weeks Eats 2/11/13

Mmmmmm, ain't that purty??

We even picked up some sake and dusted off our wee sake cups and carafe.

Okay, enough about the seven flavor beef - we're gonna try a new Thai dish this week and probably polish off most of these:

I'll use any excuse to make the Christmas cookie recipe again.
  • Monday - Pizza
  • Tuesday - easy cheesy chili chicken breasts (verrrry old Food Network recipe we broke out from our archives)
  • Wednesday - Thai green curry turkey meatballs (this week's pinterest experiment)
  • Thursday - angel hair with pomodoro sauce: just saute garlic and onion with olive oil in a large pan, add a 28oz can of whole san marzano tomatoes and mash with a potato masher, season w/kosher salt, pepper and crushed red pepper, cook about 15 minutes/until it thickens and add LOTS of fresh basil and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  (and maybe some other red items for a fun Valentine's Day dinner with the kids)
  • Friday - Italian beef stew and mashed potatoes
  • Saturday - chicken parmesan (one of our faves for 'Valentine's Day' and a good bottle of wine)
  • Sunday - chopped chicken salad (grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, red onion, green onion, blue cheese and homemade vinaigrette - olive oil, red wine vinegar, dash of honey, dash of dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste)


Marathon Training - Week 6 and Funny Movie Clips..

Week 6 in a nutshell:

  • Monday - planned: 3 miles & weights/did 3.5 easy on the treadmill and all the leg weight circuits
  • Tuesday - planned: rest/good thing it was a rest day because baby girl brought another lovely cold into the house
  • Wednesday - planned: 5 miles/did 30 Day Shred level 3 at home with still scruddy baby girl
  • Thursday - planned: bootcamp and a couple miles/tried to get in the 5 miles I missed on Wednesday and could only muster 4.7 with several walk breaks.  Argh!  My turn to have a cold.
  • Friday - planned: 7 miles/still feeling the cold so I did 3 miles on the adaptive motion trainer elliptical and saved the 7 for Saturday
  • Saturday - planned: rest or maybe elliptical/did 7.5 miles and felt pretty good
  • Sunday - planned: rest or yoga/um, maybe this cold isn't going away...? Felt crappy, but we did do a nice little walk around the watershed trails with the kids: 1.55 miles in about an hour. 

After that I rested like a BOSS and ate lots of chili.  I quite liked Beyonce's performance, the Tide 'Miracle Stain' commercial as well as the Samsung Galaxy one: I'd watch Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen read the phone book together.  One of my favorite movie scenes ever, from Knocked Up (well aside from when they're tripping on shrooms in Vegas - it's hard to find a decent clip of that on Youtube):

"I like the way you move." I die.  Or this scene from 40 Year Old Virgin?

"I saw you make spinach dip in a loaf of sourdough bread once."
Anyhoo!  It's funny, I've come to the conclusion that the one thing I thought I'd hate about the Higdon plan is the one thing I'm really digging: it's totally open ended, just miles - no specific workouts.  Normally I crave more structure, not LESS.  But right now, with weather, kid craziness, sickness, random aches and pains - going by feel seems to be the exact right approach for me.  Up next week: I try to run a 5K after getting in 9 miles!  Should be rife with hilarity...

Week 7 Plan:
  • Monday: 3 miles & weights
  • Tuesday: rest
  • Wednesday: 6 miles
  • Thursday: bootcamp, couple extra miles
  • Friday: elliptical or rest
  • Saturday: 12 miles is on the plan, so 9 miles + Valentine's Day Dash 5K
  • Sunday: family walk or yoga


This Weeks Eats 2/3/13 and Thai Cooking Made Easy

Yep, we're making the seven flavor beef recipe again this week and I realized that this recipe may seem overwhelming with a number of ingredients that might not be laying around in your pantry.  But, I assure you, they're worth adding to your staples.  If you only ever use the fish sauce for this one dish, that's coolio because this stuff will last forever in your pantry - don't put it in the fridge! 

But there are lots of awesome recipes that call for fish sauce: here are some of my favorites: Thai ground beef or satay chicken.

Lemongrass (also used in the satay chicken dish) was an ingredient that frustrated me for a long time: it's hard to find, and when you DO find it, it's a pain to peel and chop.  Behold:

Lemongrass paste from the herb section at the grocery store!  I've never had a problem finding this at our local QFC or Safeway (Dominick's to those back home).  Again, this is something that will keep for months in the fridge, as does the hoisin sauce - and that stuff tastes great on it's own in any stir fry.  Yet another item that can keep for months?  Ginger.  I get a knob of ginger, peel it and stick it in a snack size Ziploc in the freezer before I ever use it - that way, it's so much easier to grate into dishes, rather than chop, and will keep for months. 

Anyway, hope this was helpful in some way and will inspire more at home Thai cooking!


January 2013 in Pictures

Yay, one month down on the photo a day!  Well, I could fit 30 pics in the collage, so I'm calling it good for January...

1. empty bottle from New Year's Eve
2. sunny park day
3. 'camping'
4. movie night cuddles
5. much needed tequila

6. much needed carbs
7. great wine find at Purple
8. pink ears
9. little shopper
10. yummy soup

11. Starbucks retreat
12. frosty trees
13. snow!
14. cozy pants and pug
15. a sampling of the Transformers collection

16. homework
17. Kindy bus
18. foggy week in Seattle
19. pancake helpers
20. mess

21. yoga!
22. Jump Planet!
23. Caspar Babypants!
24. cool new fun at the library
25. dancing

26. nature walk
27. school conference
28. Valentine's prep
29. new weekly grocery tradition (I get the salted caramel; hey, it's 2x$2.50)
30. sunny day


Friday Things and Elsewhere on the Internets

I've got a fuzzy head today; I think I'm picking up a nice little cold that my daughter had this week, so I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite places to hang out on the internet.  Specifically, two non-running blogs.  (For great running blogs, click on the Oiselle Team Blogroll tab above or check out some of these awesome local ladies.) 

I started reading Ashley Ann's blog, Under the Sycamore, over two years ago after coming across her cool bird canvas craft project.  As I delved deeper into her blog full of crafty fun (stuff I'll probably never make, but it's so awesome - someone make THIS for my girl!), I just kinda fell in love with her and her family.  I could really identify with her raucous and sweet Star Wars obsessed boys and spitfire little girl.  I followed along as that little girl landed in traction in the hospital (she's just fine and back to her spitfire ways) and followed her amazing journey of adopting a beautiful little girl from China.  This post, just man..  I cried off and on all day when she finally held that baby.  It's an amazing, yet everyday story.  She's just a bright light of goodness on the internet.  I wish she was on Twitter...

Speaking of Twitter, if you follow me there, I've already re-tweeted some of Elizabeth's posts (like this one) from her blog, Princess Nebraska.  Not only is her blog where I go to feel less alone as a parent (she also has a boy and a girl the same ages as mine, that seem to delight and frustrate her in the same ways mine do) but I also love to read her spot-on book reviews/recommendations, as well as troll her weekly super cute outfit ideas.  She's the kind of girl I'd love to sit and drink with (or run with!) - a goal of mine is to attend The Blathering one day...

OK, hopefully my head cold will clear a bit so that I can get in my 7 miler tomorrow, it got pushed back because of the sick kiddo.  Blergh.  At least it looks like we're going to keep this amazing Seattle weather - 50s and sunny!  And I'll be adding this to my playlist:

Drowning by Armin van Buren

Happy weekend!

2013 Playlist
Give Me Your Hand by The Ready Set
Language by Porter Robinson
Cry for You by September
You Are My Diamond by Tiesto - featuring Kianna
Arguru - Deadmau5
We Are by Jus Jack & Oza, featuring Aeone