Saying Goodbye to our Beloved Family Dog

Where do I even begin?

The beginning..

the first bath

the first time we tortured him with clothing (the pic never fails to make me laugh out loud)
the first time we brought one of those screeching things into the house

his big adventures

or the daily rituals (doin' dishes)
his favorite daily ritual, his specialty...

He could alway tell when someone needed a snuggle.  Photo of my mom, courtesy of my mom.
how he was very much a central part of our family
It's been a really hard few weeks around our house and we had to say goodbye to our beloved pug Peeps today.  Earlier this month, on World Cancer Awareness Day no less, we learned that he had cancer and mere months left to live.  He developed some sores on his skin and had been acting a little 'off' having a few accidents in the house and such.  After getting a biopsy we got the terrible news that he had a type of lymphoma, of all 'effing things.  Apparently it's the cancer that likes to kick me in the gut.  We kept him hopped up on prednizone for awhile, but knew we wanted to send him to the big snuggly couch in the sky before he really started suffering.  This is by far has been the hardest thing we've ever had to do, and it's pretty much the saddest we've ever been in our lives.  He was our first baby and part of this family less than a year after it started.  I grew up with dogs, and have memories of utter sadness when I learned the family pet had died.  But I was never on the deciding end of these things - not the one to bear the burden.  It is excruciating.  It is horrible.  I am bereft.  But, oh, these nearly 11 years of wonderful sweet fuzzy companionship have been worth the pain.  Thinking on this old bit from the great comedian George Carlin helps me to cope with the tragedy I knew I was in for when we took him home: the whole video is great, but starting at the 2:19 is what I'm talkin' about.  I know SO many young couples (just like we were) and families who have added a little furry love to their family recently and I wonder if I could bear it again.  I know we will.  Of course we will.  Now I know that I'll be that much more appreciative of every day I get with that new little furball.  But Peeps...  Peeps the pug will always be the one that came first in our hearts.  


This Weeks Eats 2.23.14 and Panera Bread's Secret Menu

I've always felt sort of meh about Panera Bread.  When I learned that they introduced a 'secret menu' which is chock full of salads and protein rich options, I became much more of a fan!  If you haven't been in awhile, check out these secret menu items.  However, I'd suggest memorizing the ingredients to what you might order before you go, as the folks who work there don't seem terribly clued in on what their social media team is putting out there.  I order the Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad and they inevitably repeat something back to me that's on the regular menu, like the Power Spinach Salad.  But, if you're specific, they eventually find it and it's worth the effort!

It's romaine and baby spinach topped with chicken, bacon, egg, tomatoes with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing - a real sliced lemon and a small packet of olive oil.

Speaking of salad, the Pinch of Yum Brussels Sprout Salad from last week was pretty tasty: I've never used pomegranate arils on my salad, so I think I might do that more often.

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


A Few of My Favorite Things (Plus February Julep and Ipsy Review)

My love for Julep continues!  I have to say that the Aisha nail polish (an awesome berry color) from my introductory box stayed on without chipping for at least six days: six days of laundry, dishes, endless hand washing, etc.  LOVE.

a little fuzzy, but this was after the six days!
  I also used the Julep top coat, so this could be a factor in it's staying power.  I chose the Boho Glam again for my February goodies and had my first experience with real glitter nail polish.

February box: makeup item was a cute cream eyeshadow in color of my choice, the two middle polishes I chose as part of the Boho Glam box, and the extra gift was the third polish.  

'Stardust Finish' is Julep's version of glitter polish - goes on so easily and it doesn't flake off.  It doesn't stay on quite as long as the regular stuff, since it's rough texture catches on things more easily, but I got at least four+ days chip free.  This month's makeup was a choice of shimmery eye shadow.  I like the subtle and flattering color I picked, but it is a bit of a messy consistency to apply.  And there's always a surprise fourth item, which was another more gold glittery nail polish which I have yet to try.

I just chose my March box and I'm chomping at the bit for it to arrive.  I switched it up and went with the 'Bombshell' box.  I'm excited that the makeup item is a lip gloss, in a color that I choose.  Which brings me to this month's Ipsy box, which was definitely my last.  I cancelled the subscription yesterday.  

The gloss was nice but SO not my color, nor was the eye shadow.  When it comes to makeup colors, I really think they need to adhere to the survey that members fill out upon joining.  How is super hot pink gloss, purple eye shadow or false eyelashes anywhere in the realm of my preferred 'natural' look??  I do like the nail polish, and love doing facial masks, but I'd rather put my money towards the Julep box which I love, love, love.  Did I mention I love Julep?  Anyhoo!  

A few other favorite things...

I have to talk about the Olympics, of course.  The media has done their job well and completely sucking me I'm more of a summer games fan, but I loved watching slope style skiing and snowboarding, as well as the ridiculously awesome cross events.  And, yes, any second that Meryl Davis and Charlie White are on my tv screen I tune in.  No, I don't care how many times you tell me they've been skating together for 17 years - I need to see more!  Here are some gorgeous pictures from Sochi.

My husband got me a boot rack to put in our coat/shoe closet and it's a total game changer.

I finally have some of this stuff in my life!

Even though regular nut butters are still my go-to, this PB2 is pretty awesome for adding quick and easy peanut butter taste to smoothies, oatmeal, cereal, even hot chocolate.  Soon I might experiment with baked goods... 

I spent about an hour drooling over this new-to-me food blog, A Sweet Spoonful, the other day and want to make all. the. things. I also learned that she's a Seattle-ite and that I can stalk her and her granola in person!  Awesome!

This 24 hour music video is fantastic, and a great soundtrack for my day.  Who doesn't want 24 hours of happy??

Speaking of tunes, I've added Ten Feet Tall by Afrojack featuring Wrabel to my current playlist - enjoy!


This Week's Eats 2.16.14

We're not big Valentine's Day people, but we did use it as an excuse to pick up our favorite Trader Joe's dessert (chocolate lava cakes from the freezer section) and a slightly more expensive bottle of wine than our usual for Saturday dinner.  I also whipped up Shutterbean's Banana Walnut Baked Oatmeal for us all to enjoy over the long weekend for breakfasts: YUM.

The Easy Sesame Chicken from last week was truly easy, as well as tasty.  We added some carrots and roasted broccoli, which made for a fantastic dish over brown rice.  I didn't end up making the new risotto dish because I assumed that we had a key ingredient in the pantry, which we did not: risotto.   Whoops. So we threw together a quick and easy Pomodoro over angel hair pasta instead, since we always have tomatoes and pasta on hand.

This week:
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Operation Stay Healthy

Posts on running and racing have definitely diminished on the blog lately.  My wonky leg is starting to feel so much better; but, I'm taking things easy, staying cautiously optimistic and totally babying my leg so that I don't re-injure myself.  Which brings me to my running theme for this year: Operation Stay Healthy.  That's it.  I just want to run.  I might even take the 5K PR off my to do list for the year.  

On Twitter, a teammate mentioned being overwhelmed by run-culture: when to run, how, why, etc.  I so identify with this!  As I've said before, I think my steadfast following of somewhat complex training plans was part of my downfall in the last year or two.  Which, by the way, is the number one way to "Screw Up Like a Pro" according to Lauren Fleshman's latest hilarious tongue-in-cheek column in this month's Runner's World.

I am taking every single point to heart

This year, I will not stress about the tempos, hills, speed work, etc.  I will not let my favorite cross training (bootcamp) fall by the wayside.  I will run the whole year by feel.  Now, I'm not saying I'm foregoing any challenging running workouts.  Believe me, I really want to get out there and put my Garmin to work.  I almost have to hold myself back right now.  Nevertheless, just running without any aches or pains has been pretty satisfying.  Since I'm not distracted by my pace, I've had the mental capacity to really concentrate on my form.  I remember trying to utilize some basic chi running principles in my PR half and haven't given much thought to my form since then.  Specifically, concentrating on my hip rotation, which I think probably helped my form and to employ the correct muscles when running, rather than over using my hamstring.  Which is exactly what was going on with the author in this really eye opening article called "The Whole Body Fix" - also in the latest issue of Runner's World. 

Apparently, the March issue of RW was written just for me.

 The injury that she is dealing with is also a wonky hamstring!  The jist of the article is that healing our injuries (going to the chiro, getting Graston or ART), is only part of fixing the problem.  Many runners do not have the wherewithal or the means to investigate and correct the source of our woes.  In the writer's case, she has what I've definitely heard diagnosed in some of my fellow runners: sleeping glute muscles.  I've added some of the glute strength exercises and cues she outlined to my routine of PT exercises for my lower back/sciatic area (which I'm pretty sure is the main source of my issues).  So far, so good.  And, I will not stop now that I'm pain free.  I know better and have learned my lesson: prehab is just as important as rehab.

When I was trying to decide on a marathon training plan oh so long ago, I thought that Higdon seemed too boring.  But right now, straight up mileage without any expectations (miles that I can customize with the kind of workout I want, when I want) seems like a fantastic way to ramp things up safely.  I really miss running long.  So that's where I'm at right now: a few weeks into a Higdon plan and I want to run another half marathon this year.  I'm not gunning for a PR - I just want to race the distance again after a year long break from 13.1.  Now the fun part, choosing a race and trolling Gametiime!  Any suggestions?


Making Espresso at Home and This Weeks Eats 2.8.14

A few weeks ago, I was on one of my (almost weekly) trips to Target and happened upon a Nespresso demonstration.  It was pretty tasty, so I became intrigued and did a little research.  I've never done the pod coffee thing because I like pretty strong coffee and those things just don't cut it, no matter how strong of a roast.  It's still too watery for me.  But a pod espresso maker?  Hmmmm...  In the end I thought that the machine was just too expensive, wasteful with all those cups and I wouldn't be able to buy Starbucks Espressso Roast (you have to buy Nespresso brand coffee pods only).  I figured I'd get a cheap espresso machine and see how I fared; you can get one for $40 at Target!  Brewing espresso always seemed like such a mystery to me and I was a bit intimidated by the process (cue the laughter of my born and bred Seattle friends).  Here's a little step by step with pictures that I wish I had when debating whether to take the plunge on a machine.  Spoiler: it's really easy and is pretty much like setting up a regular coffee machine, without having to buy filters!  Bonus!

  • First off, buy some espresso ground coffee or grind your own beans down a little bit more fine than drip coffee.
  • Your machine should have a little metal basket filter with level indicators for 2 or 4 shots.  Start adding grounds to the basket.
  • Tamp the grounds down gently as you go, don't pack it in.
  • Wipe any excess from the rim so that it gets a good seal in the machine.

  • Place basket in the porta filter - the thingy with the handle.
  • Line the notches on the filter up with the machine and turn until it tightens.  I suggest fiddling with it before putting the grounds in to get used to how it feels/works.
  • Fill the reservoir with the corresponding amount of water to grounds in the basket and then put the empty pot under the filter.
  • After you screw on the reservoir top tightly, go ahead and turn that sucker on!

  • Mmmmm, strong sweet espresssssssso.
  • Once it gets close to your desired amount of coffee, hurry up and turn it to steam if you are making a latte.  If you're doing an Americano, just add some hot water and yer done.
  • Take your cup of milk with any flavor syrup added (I am a devout follower of 2 pumps Starbucks Toffee Nut and I fill about 1/3 of my mug with milk) and place the steam wand just under the surface of the milk to froth it.  Clearly this is not a top-o-the-line machine and I'm not making pretty foam that could support leaf patterns and whatnot here.  But it gets the job done.
  • Pour in your espresso and voila! 

This week has been, to put it mildly, craptastic.  Lots of craziness and stress kept us from having the time or the inclination to make dinner, including a nice little Saturday night trip to ER for my boy.  He's totally fine, but he scared us with some acute tummy pain.  And, well, we're a little cautious when it comes to his innards after this summer.  So we're doing a bunch of repeats from last week.  Wah.  
Also, a big thumbs up for the chili recipe we tried over Superbowl Sunday - I halved the recipe and there was plenty for us, as well as leftovers.  If you end up loving any of my recipes, or some you’ve cooked, you can make your own recipe book on Shutterfly. You can store all of your family favorites in there!

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Books I Read in January 2014


The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

With The Goldfinch getting all sorts of current accolades and attention, I thought I'd read one of Tartt's older novels first.  Especially after reading Elizabeth's negative review (utterly depressing, no thank you), but that she loved The Little Friend, I steered away from the current bandwagon and picked this up instead. I tried, really I did.  After a good 300 pages, I just couldn't continue.  I'm just not a fan of TOO MUCH DETAIL and entire chapters that don't have anything to do with moving the story forward, even if they are beautifully written. For sure, I felt like someone plopped me down smack in the middle of Virginia in the 70s; Tartt really is masterful at setting a scene. But the story is too languid and I have too many books on hold that I want to read to put up with this one any longer.


Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

This story of Piper Kerman's stint in a woman's prison was really fascinating material. It was a super quick and interesting read. Sometimes the story didn't flow/felt disjointed, and I think she introduced a few too many characters to follow. But overall, I'd recommend it.

Burial Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Well, this is the opposite of cheery: reading historical fiction about the last days of a condemned woman. It was a beautiful, haunting, atmospheric novel and would be great fodder for book clubs - what makes a person guilty? Much thought is given to the idea that no one is entirely bad, or good. So, not a lot of suspense, since it's based on this woman's true story, but I feel as if there could have been. I've read plenty of page turning books on the subject of Anne Boleyn, and the unfolding of Agnes' story just felt meh, and overly depressing.


A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

I'm not usually a fan of existential stuff, but this novel had just enough of a suspenseful plot to lure me in. I loved the voyeuristic aspect of reading this girl's diary, which washes up on the shores of an island in British Columbia by way of Japan. It gets a little "woo woo" and almost 'Neverending Story'-ish with the woman who discovers the diary (our other main character, Ruth) becoming part of the story. It's very sublime and infused with layer upon layer of very beautiful symmetry and symbolism.  Yet not so much so that I didn't enjoy the narrative.

Linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy's awesome 'Twitterature' book posts roundup!


January Goals Check In and February Goals

Goals from January
  • Make a batch of soup just for my lunches/eat less frozen meals for lunch.  I didn't end up making extra soup just for lunch, but kept a LOT of leftovers from dinners and barely ate anything frozen.  I also picked up some more Yumm Sauce from Whole Foods and got back to makin' some bowls for lunch.

  • Plank/do core work at least 6 days a week - giving myself one day a week to space out.  Okay, I think there were two weeks where I only did 5 days of core.  Otherwise, I was really good about this and even set a daily alarm on my phone.  I'm just starting to work on the endurance, but right now I can do about 90 second straight arm planks, about 45 on my elbows and sides.  Now that it's become a habit, I'm hoping to increase my time by at least 15 seconds on each.
  • Get some PT for my wonky leg. Done!  I've seen my sports chiro who did some adjustments and ART therapy.  I can tell my leg is on the mend and I think I'll try to see him at least every 6 weeks to check in and not let this problem flare up again.
  • Refill contacts prescription. (exciting! done!)
  • Make scheduled maintenance appointment for my car. (more excitement! done!)

Goals for February
  • Start following a 13.1 plan to start increasing mileage/get ready for the Hot Chocolate 15K - more on that later...
which one....hmm.
  • Get things for the kids Valentines in a timely manner (no scrambling at the last minute this year!!) and work on them a little bit each day
  • Drink more water; at least 72oz a day.  I tell myself to do this all the time, but in a more generic way.  Having a concrete goal of three bottles a day should help me get on track.
  • Get up early on Thursdays to do cross training.  I usually take a rest day and run errands, go for coffee, etc. since my youngest is in preschool and I want to take advantage of at least one of the days (Tu/Th) that I have 3 hours ALL TO MYSELF.  I did a morning step aerobics tape or Jillian Michaels a few times in January, so I'm going to try to rise and shine before the family every Thursday in February.
  • Schedule time with the tax man - awww yah, good times.


Chicken BLT Chopped Salad with Fresh Lemon Garlic Dressing and This Week's Eats

I put our standby chopped salad onto the menu quite often, but with no real recipe - just a list of ingredients.  Last week I shook things up and made a new dressing by combining the elements of several that I love.  It turned out awesome and I figured it was time that our chopped salad got an official recipe on the blog.

Chicken BLT Chopped Salad with Fresh Lemon Garlic Dressing

for the salad:

  • two heads of romaine lettuce
  • 4-5 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled (cook in the microwave for about 6 minutes between paper towels - quick and easy to clean up)
  • 1 cup cooked diced chicken (preferably on the grill with olive oil, Kosher salt and lots of cracked pepper)
  • 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 small avocado diced
  • blue cheese (totally optional, I know blue cheese can be polarizing - I didn't even include it in the picture.  Feta would be good, too.)
for the dressing:

  • juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic pressed or minced fine
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • good pinch of Kosher salt (more to taste)
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
Rinse and chop the romaine and toss with the remaining salad ingredients.  Whisk dressing ingredients together until they emulsify.  

Pour about half to 3/4 of the dressing over the salad, toss and taste to see if you need more.  For me, the amount in this recipe can be a little more than needed, so I save some of it for a lunch salad the next day.

This week:
Last week's Chicken Parmesan Meatballs were really good.  I think I'd just use a can of crushed tomatoes for the sauce next time, as the blended whole tomatoes seemed a bit watery/lacking in a bit of flavor.  And the Crock Pot Chicken Mole from the week prior was really easy and really tasty if you're a fan of mole.  

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!