The Blathering

I had a hard time explaining The Blathering to my friends that don't really read blogs, or aren't on Twitter - yes, those people exist!  'So, it's a blogging conference?' Well, no.  Here's the gist, from the website:

The Blathering was born in 2009, when a group of friends wanted a blogging conference without the sessions and networking. We simply think every blogger needs a little face-to-face time with her best blogging friends in a no pressure environment.
Each year the Blathering picks a new and fun location and organizes a casual itinerary that mainly revolves around a lot of great conversation and good food. Most importantly, everyone is welcome to the Blathering — seasoned blogger or internet newcomer. If you think that doesn’t mean you, it does. Join us!

I've followed a number of these gals for YEARS. (I mean, not terribly long after meeting Jen Lancaster and following her blog over ten years ago.)  Much, much later, when I started this blog, I thought about maybe going to and finally meeting some of them.  And lo, Seattle was the city chosen last year and I JUMPED on the opportunity to join in the fun.

I'm so thankful that I was able to connect with so many different people and expand my circle of internet buddies.  Everyone was very inclusive, contrary to the bad rap that women are catty bitches.  (And certainly, I've met one or two since blogging - but they are just few and far between.)  As with Bird Camp, my 'pocket friends' inevitably end up being awesome people in 'real life.'  And the organizers are so welcoming, almost to a fault.  I mean, if I were planning a yearly get together with MY best friends, I don't know if I'd open it up for dozens of others to join in!  But that's just what these amazing ladies do every single year, organizing one hella entertaining weekend for old and new friends to enjoy.  Thank you Jennie, Elizabeth, Maggie and Emily, from the bottom of my heart!
me and Jennie
Okay, so here's the minutiae of my weekend for posterity (and some good ideas for your next visit to Seattle).  I thought I'd save some cash (and a few brain cells) by abstaining from draaanks and driving to events the first day.  For lunch I had my first meal at Etta's and finally tried Tom Douglas' signature coconut cream pie.  It was lovely, but I hold firm that his fresh donuts at Dahlia Lounge are the best dessert in town.  After going home to relieve my husband of sick kid duty for a few hours, because OF COURSE, I headed on over to Maggie's house for our catered dinner and gift exchange!  So much fun and I was so glad to finally try her bakery's treats.

On day two I packed my bag, kissed the kids' slightly less feverish heads goodbye and headed straight for our first activity of the day: eating dim sum like it was my JOB.  Afterwards, we headed over to the Seattle Public Library, which I have walked by a bunch of times and taken pictures of when I was a visiting tourist.  However, I've never set foot inside.  I know.

So gorgeous.  I also perused the books, because I could certainly check out a book.  The King County Library System is awesome that way - kinda like Redbox, I can hold or return books to/from any library in the system.  Alas, I figured it would be a pain to carry a book around all day.  Then we moseyed over to the Columbia Center and the Sky View Observatory.  Again, a destination I had not yet visited in Seattle.  Oh, and I have failed to mention, this whole time, this whole weekend, the city decided to show off and give us a clear, sunny and warm summer-like weekend.  The views were awesome and all the mountains were out.

I then enjoyed a nice stroll around the market and went to go check into my hotel.  By the time I made a decision on what night to stay downtown, the room rate for our group was sold out at the Waterfront Marriott.  But, I was glad to get a lovely room at The Moore Hotel - a really affordable (like $100 for the night) boutique hotel attached to the Moore Theater.

After a quick shower, I enjoyed the silence and chillaxed like a BOSS:
(A Caffe D'arte across the street from the hotel was CLUTCH, and yes I put on my pjs in the afternoon for lounging.)

At the dinner hour, I headed over to meet everyone at the Steelhead Diner.  Very tasty food and YUMMY cocktails.

I also tried a Moscow Mule at Rachel's Ginger Beer before finishing up the night at Kells Irish Pub and eventually the lobby of the Marriott, which was HOPPIN' on a Saturday night at nearly 1 o'clock in the AM.  Seriously!

And there was, of course, much laughter, hi jinks and bonding with really, really awesome people.  They announced that next year will be in VEGAS, of all places!  Even though I'm going next month, I might just try and finagle it...


This Weeks Eats 4.26.15

Meatballs sure seem to be a trend on Pinterest, especially Asian inspired recipes.  I've come to the point now that I don't want to make a stir fry without a meatball in it!  We've done Thai Chicken Meatballs, Sesame Soy Meatballs, our favorite Green Curry Meatballs, and last week, the Orange Chicken Meatballs from Just a Taste turned out fantastic.  

We stir fried broccoli, peppers and onion and threw the meatballs and sauce in at the end to coat everything, then served it over brown rice.

To satisfy my meatball cravings this week, I think we'll do our favorite meatball salad recipe...
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!


This Weeks Eats 4.19.15 (and First Dim Sum Experience!)

The days after a little vacay are ROUGH.  Even one where I was only gone a day and a half!  Although, we packed in a LOT of fun stuff.  (I got to be a tourist in my own city, and even do things that were new to me - I'll recap soon.)  Staying up until the wee hours of the night having cocktails probably didn't help either...  So!  Menu planning got postponed one day.  This is another reason pizza night on a Monday is the best.  Also the best?  I finally had dim sum!  Our local Blathering organizer, Maggie, married into a Chinese family and her father in law picked his favorite place for us AND the menu.   

Now I get why most people want to go lie down after eating dim sum, though.  Hoo-boy, I was full.  The experience seems to create a sense of urgency.  Every time something new came out (and it seemed like it was never ending), I felt the need to rush and put it on my plate.  Hurry!  Before it's gone!  Must try it all!  Of course, there was always plenty.  Several things I've certainly eaten before, but not in a family style setting and not as spectacular tasting as O'Asian.  The salt and pepper calamari was the best I've ever had - absolutely perfect, as were most of the dishes.  Highly recommend if you're in Seattle. 

I'd also recommend the spaghetti dish we made last week.  It was a nice way to kick up what would otherwise be a plain pomodoro pasta with some pancetta.  We only put half the recommended amount in, because I think that pancetta (like bacon) can overpower a dish.  Also, you can get it pre-chopped/cubed in little packages from Trader Joes.  Making this recipe even easier!

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!


How to Improve Your Half Marathon Time (a Personal Checklist)

Last week after a particularly brutal bootcamp class (that included my first ever attempt at one-armed burpees!), I was feeling a bit of that old soreness in my hamstring/hip/glute area.  I immediately called up my chiropractor and have had a few very productive visits.  I'm feeling pretty much normal now and things should be just fine, but I already feel a little sluggish and slow from ramping things down after only a week.  It got me to thinking about how in the world I got out of a three year half marathon slump to have such a great race day last month.  How did I shave off more than fifteen minutes of every half I've done in the last three years?!  Certainly all the wonderful things about the Lake Sammamish Half I covered in the race report (the course, organization, etc.) contributed to a great time.  But, I really wanted to write down everything I could think of that might have helped me successfully cross that finish line, lest I forget...

The most obvious thing I did to improve was to stick to my training, but listen to my body.  If I was a bit run down after running a 5K, I skipped the interval workout the following week and ran trails instead.  I never compromised a long run, but there were a few times that I felt 'off' and postponed it for the following day. 

I'm pretty sure the run streak (I can't believe day 365 is almost here!) has helped with my endurance and weight management.  I lost a couple pounds a month or so into the run streak and I've maintained it ever since.  I'm thinking the lighter me is also a slightly faster me!

The run streak has also lent itself to daily stretching and core work.  Sometimes I just do my mile for the day, take a shower and I'm just done.  But when I was preparing for the Sammamish Half, I was much more diligent about my daily chores.  Every few weeks, I'd add on a few more moves or add time to my plank routine.  I've kind of let that go by the wayside, mostly just doing core on bootcamp days, and I think I'm paying for it!

Another thing I need to get back into is my twice monthly yoga.  It's such a great cross training option, but after the race and then Spring Break, I kinda got out of my habit.

Over the last year I DID get into the habit of having several pairs of shoes in rotation.  Normally, I'd have a pair of running shoes, cross training shoes and trail running shoes.  That's it, and that's probably more than fine.  But I think the addition of an extra pair of running shoes I happened to win from Brooks (yay!) helped condition my feet.  I'd wear my newest Ravennas for long runs, my slightly worn pair for middle distances, my low heel drop/minimalist Pure Cadence on one-miler days, Adrenalines for bootcamp and my Gore-Tex Adrenalines for trail.

Yep, I wear all of these shoes.

I am also so thankful for the gait analysis I was able to do at Everyday Athlete.  Just a few little tweaks got me feeling so much better in my form.  Additionally, it gave me something to concentrate on (distract myself with) during the race.

Which brings me to the most helpful point of all: don't stress about the outcome.  This was a not so happy coincidence for me, coming down with a nasty cold in the days before the race.  I pretty much gave up on any kind of PR aspirations and just ran to get through it comfortably.  All I thought about throughout the race was: my form, breathing, smiling, my music, and what a lovely day it was until the end when I realized I'd been doing a pretty decent clip.  Apparently, this was the key to my success!  I really, really, wish I knew how to create this mild (and helpful) form of apathy without getting ill.  Will report back after my next half!


This Weeks Eats 4.12.15

We've got a shorter list for this week's menu plan because it's BLATHERING WEEK!  There will definitely be lots of food involved, of which I'll report back.  And of course some draaaanks.  It looks as if there's even a signature cocktail that Elizabeth is creating for us, and it looks delicious.

I totally hijacked this from her Instagram account.

It's crazy how times flies, I can't believe this event I bought a ticket for so many months ago is already here.  I'm even staying downtown overnight on Saturday, yay!

Okay, back to menu planning!  The jerked Sriracha roast pork from last week was fantastic.  The flavors were just so complex and addictive.  We'll for sure make this again.  Even though it's a short week, I thought we'd throw in a new dish on Wednesday...

  • Monday - Pizza
  • Tuesday - Chicken with Artichokes, Tomatoes and Mozzarella (an old favorite Emeril recipe)
  • Wednesday - Classic Spaghetti All'Amatriciana (trying this recipe from Blogging Over Thyme)
  • Thursday - Burgers on the grill with Alexia fries
  • Friday and Saturday - BLATHERING DAYS!
  • Sunday - Spicy Avocado Enchiladas (I have leftovers of this great dish via The Novice Chef.  It's a great recipe to double and freeze half the sauce in one Ziplock and half of the rolled/stuffed tortillas in another.  I just buy more cheese, easy peasy.)
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 March 2015

Unbecoming by Rebecca Sherm

This was another novel I could see people comparing to Gone Girl, in the sense that we're dealing with characters that emerge as morally ambiguous as the plot moves along.  Grace was definitely one of the more complex anti heroes I've come across.  I waffled greatly between wanting to see her get what she wanted and wanting her to be held accountable for her actions, despite any suffering she's endured.  I really enjoyed the detail that went into the character and her experiences in the art world, but the pace didn't pick up for me until the last third of the book.  I'd definitely recommend though.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This book is SO going to be in my favorite books of 2015 list.  It's alternatively narrated by twins Jude and Noah and their heartbreaking story of love, loss and redemption.  They have become two of my favorite literary characters ever.  Their voices are so unique, funny, passionate, vivid, and poetic.  The two have a falling out and we alternate between Noah's point of view from the past when they were kids, to Jude's point of view in present time as teenagers.  I was FURIOUSLY turning the pages waiting and hoping for them to finally understand each other and to know the whole story.  Just a deftly and beautifully told story that comes to a wonderfully riveting ending.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

I must say that I was a little disappointed with this book.  I really enjoyed Fingersmith (which I read in January) and expected the same from this bestselling novel by the same author.  Alas, I kept waiting for some complex plot to evolve.  It was a rather straightforward story of an illicit affair gone wrong, a murder that brought up some skeletons in closets, and a pretty tense, but unfulfilled, ending.  Not good enough for a 600 page tome.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

This book is described as '3.5 in the Lunar Chronicles' and it seems that Marissa Meyer was stretching to make it even that much of a book.  There were some important plot points and character arcs revealed.  But, I think they could have been abbreviated and added as a foreword in the upcoming final installment.  It was nice to revisit the series and it DID make me really excited for the final book.

I'm linking up with Everyday Reading's quarterly roundup, so here are links to the books I read in January and February!


This Week's Eats 4.5.15

Happy Easter Bunny Day!  I'll say one thing for the Easter Bunny, he sure does bring on some seriously good candy.  For the most part, Halloween involves candy that's readily available throughout the year.  There aren't any specific Christmas candies I can think of, and I'm pretty sure you can get chocolate coins year round.  Besides, it's more about the COOKIES when it comes to Santa.  

Easter is the ONLY TIME you can get these:

And one of the more polarizing candies out there:

My husband is firmly in the 'no Cadbury Creme Egg' camp, and I'm very much in favor of the Cadbury Creme Egg.  Whatever your opinion, or religion, hopefully you enjoyed a lovely Spring day!
I don't really know what they're trying to convey here...
Last week's meatloaf and potatoes were excellent.  However, I just added one turkey sausage link into one pound of ground beef so as not to overpower the meat. It turned out delicious.  Also, adding panko crumbs to roasted potatoes is GENIUS and we will be doing that for always, amen.  Thank you Cooking with Curls for this revelation.  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!


April Goals and March Recap

My list for March was super short, but I've got a lot on my plate in the coming months to make up for it...

March Goals

Run a smart half marathon.  I think that I did this so well, that I can just throw the other two goals out the window!

Recover and decide on a new running goal/plan. Well, I've definitely 'recovered' and have done a speed workout or two since the Lake Sammamish Half.  But, I really haven't settled on a goal race.  However, I've put into practice a running schedule of one long run (at least 6 miles), one half marathon paced run (at least two miles with a warm up/cool down) and one 'other' run (interval, tempo, trail) per week, along with two cross training days (usually two bootcamp classes, or one and a trip to yoga).  I think this should keep my base mileage in a good place (and keep me from going crazy) while I still think about a goal race.

Trail running is always the most fun 'other' choice.
Read at least five books.
I read four and a half - so close!  In my defense, we got HBO this month and totally caught up on Girls and Game of Thrones.  I'm so excited not to be a year behind now.  PLUS, I read The Paying Guests which is nearly 600 pages. So.  Maybe I'll get this accomplished next month.

April Goals

Start birthday prep for the kiddos.
Both have birthdays in early May, so it's a bit hectic for us.  We've decided on a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in lieu of a party again this year.  But, now that the kids are starting to form closer friendships, we're trying to also plan a fun, low key outing with a buddy or two.  I'm going to try my best to avoid Chuck e' Cheese, but I can't rule it out...

Get Easter Baskets
Yeah, we're not real religious around here, but does one categorize the Easter Bunny as such?  It's a nice excuse to enjoy a pancake breakfast, maybe some hot cross buns and relax while the kids are distracted by their goodies.

Fill up our spring break.
We might get a little stir crazy after nine straight days of family time.  It will be LOVELY to sleep in, not do homework, etc.  But I've gotta get in a special activity or two, even if it's a trip to the movies.

Enjoy The Blathering!
This is one of those gimme list items.

Keep up with my aforementioned fitness plan.
With Spring Break and The Blathering, this might prove to be a bit difficult.  I shouldn't have trouble keeping up the run streak (SO CLOSE TO A YEAR!), but I'm going to give it my best shot to get each of those workouts in every week.