Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm Grateful, Thankful and Appreciative

Once again I am stealing a theme from other Bloggers, known as "What I am Grateful for" which is a fitting way to say Good Bye to 2009. So here we go:

I'm grateful for my kids, and that I have a boy and a girl, so I can experience raising both kinds.

I'm grateful for my husband, who, although he snores, would walk through fire for me.

I'm grateful for my legs, which allow me to run, bike, ski, swim, play tennis and vacuum.

I'm grateful for anti-wrinkle/anti-blemish cream.

I'm grateful for all the major food groups, especially Mexican and Pizza.

I'm grateful for my house, and all the things I want to do to it.

I'm grateful for 10k's, 15k's, half marathons, and hopefully, marathons.
I'm grateful for my country, and for the freedoms I hope we never lose.

I'm grateful for spring, summer, winter and fall, and all that comes with it.

I'm grateful for my friends, old and new.

I'm grateful for my sisters, brother, and parents, even though after a couple of days with them I want to strangle them.

I'm grateful for my extended family, including my wonderful mother, father, sister and brother in laws, and all they do for us.

I'm grateful for high speed Internet, and my trusty laptop.

I'm grateful for my boots: black snow boots, tall black leather, and tall brown Frye boots.

I'm grateful for my public library, and discount coupons to Barnes and Noble.

I'm grateful for Nick Jr. and Disney movies.

I'm grateful for white wine, the occasional beer, and dirty martini's.

I'm grateful for a New Year, and Fresh Starts.

and on that note, Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

You Gonna Eat That? Cause I will if you won't.

I've been thoroughly enjoying Christmas, I'm surprised my pants still fit. I've been starting most days with a cookie along with my coffee, although I did whisk some Amazing Grass into my coffee the morning we packed up and headed down to NY for Christmas. I haven't run in 5 days, but it's sunny out right now, although I'm not sure how icy it is, but I plan on getting out there to get some miles under my feet.

We started our feasting on Christmas Eve Eve, with Tex Mex takeout from the Cactus Cafe near my Mom's house on Long Island. I had a spicy fish taco, along with a veggie burrito, but I was bummed because they left the vegetarian chili off the burrito. My mom had bowls of chocolates throughout the house, by the time we left Eliza and I made a pretty good dent in them.

For breakfast Christmas Eve, Mike went out for bagels, I had a toasted Everything Flagel with butter, we always had bagels on Sunday as kids, such a great comfort food. I was good about not eating too much in anticipation of our main meal, an 18 pound Prime Rib. I thought of taking a walk or a quick run, but there was still so much snow from the storm last week, that the roads were a mess. So I played with the kids in the yard, then started cooking in the kitchen with my sisters.
I roasted 5 pounds of organic carrots, just sliced, then tossed in olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and a bit of brown sugar. My sis in law D is a fabulous cook, she made stuffed mushrooms, a bruschetta with tomato, red onion, garlic and olive oil, and broccoli roasted with chunks of garlic and red pepper flakes. None of us had green bean casserole at Thanksgiving, so my Mom provided that, along with biscuits. The last dish was roasted baby potato's with garlic and fresh rosemary, made by my sister M.

I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of the finished prime rib, Mike roasted it on the grill outside and it was PERFECT. We got such a large piece because we thought there was a bone in it, but, nope, no bone! We had a LOT of meat, but after everyone took some home (and I picked at it bit by bit) there wasn't much left. My sister said a serving of prime rib is a scary 900 calories, but none of us eat this often, once a year if that, so we ate it guilt free. Plus we had such great vegetable side dishes. Hey, it's Christmas!

After we got the kids to bed, my sister Ali and Mike and I watched Emmet Otters Jug Bag Christmas, which is my favorite, and dug into one of those huge tins of popcorn. I opened an early present (a Snuggie, I think everyone everywhere got one of these) and was able to use it as a huge tablecloth so I didn't miss a single kernel of corn.
My sister Ali does Christmas morning breakfast, cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, toast. I also had a side of leftover carrots and broccoli to get some vitamins in my system, I didn't have my Amazing Grass smoothie at all while we were there, and that's how I get my daily serving of fruits, I'm not a real fruit person. I'm a chocolate person.
We made it to my Uncle J's for the day, and it was fabulous. All of my cousins were there, and Aunts and Uncles. My cousin told me she got a nine mile run in that morning down to the beach, I was so jealous. We started in on the apps, my Aunt L made a killer goat cheese log rolled in walnuts, cranberries and something else I couldn't identify. My Aunt J is Italian, so that's what we have for Christmas dinner, the only thing Irish about the meal is the drinking, and this year the drink was "Red and Ginger" Johnny Walker Red with Ginger Ale. I stuck with vodka tonics. There was an anti pasta (with knots of fresh mozzarella, I could eat just that and bread and be happy), sausage, peppers and onions, chicken parm, eggplant rollitini, penne ala vodka, spiral ham, and Caesar salad. I won't go into a long dessert description, but I made my border sugar cookies, and according to Eliza, the best thing of the whole day (not her presents) was the cake balls she had for dessert. These are little balls of cake whipped with frosting, frozen, then coated in chocolate and sprinkles. droooool.

Santa was very good to me, but the first present I opened was from my Aunt Linda, her coveted recipe for Irish Soda Bread, along with a cast iron pan to make it in. I seriously squealed with delight when I saw what it was. Her bread is the absolute best, I love it toasted with a bit of butter. I also got a Wii Fit Plus! Whoohoo! Now I can really tackle my fitness goals for next year, which involves a lot more cross training and strengthening of my core. I also got a new cookbook, Nigella Lawson's Christmas, oh, I love her, so I was very psyched for this new book of hers.

I'm not feeling guilty about any of my excesses these past few days, I know it's all about balance. And I'll get back on track this week, after I finish this brownie and bake two lasagna's for another round of festivities.....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Semi Wordless Post

I had fun writing my Twitter post, so I thought I would do a Wordless Wednesday type post on a Sunday, with photos of what I did this week. I'll start off with the above gingerbread house that I made with the kids, it took waaaay longer than I thought it would. I also
baked this for the PTA

Ran on this

Drank some of this

Saw this guy

Read these

Gave this a try

Snacked on these

And used this at the mall and toy store

I love Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rewind, reflect, and move forward

At this point of the season, I naturally start reflecting on the past year, in anticipation of what my New Year's Resolutions might be. New Years Eve is a no brainer for a fresh start, but when I think about it, I'm constantly restarting and changing, depending on what my life serves up.

Last year I wanted to focus on two areas, my role as a mother, and my physical goals. And I'm still working on them. I love my kids, but I am a very impatient person, I always have been. I can fly off the handle very easily, and little things annoy me. Perfect example was this morning at the drop off at Eliza's school. This woman always pulls up to the front door to bring her child inside, unlike the rest of us who park and walk our kids in, like you're supposed to. There is a pregnant Mom, and even she doesn't pull up to the front. This drives me nuts, and I'm never going to say anything to the offender, so I've just got to get over it, and not let these types of things bug me.

I do think I've been better with my patience with the kids, there were times where I prayed for it, and it was given to me. It's gotten easier now that they are getting older, but I'm always going to have to work on it. I can't believe we're out of the baby stage, I still look around for my diaper bag which I haven't needed in months.

Physically I am in a good place compared to last year. Last January I was finally over my hamstring injury, and my goal was to run a half marathon, which I did in September. I keep thinking back to last December, I was bummed out, had gained weight, and not being active really bothered me. Now I can't get over the difference a year can make. I don't want to weigh myself (I have a love/hate relationship with the scale, and it sits next to my dresser where I see it several times a day) but my pants are two sizes smaller, I even bought a new pair of jeans that are in my pre-baby size.

I pray that I stay injury free so I can tackle my next set of goals. 2009 was about running, 2010 will still be about running, but with a major focus on cross training. I did my yoga DVD this week and it was great, but I need to do it consistently, and work on my core. I rode my bike this year, I'm looking into getting a trainer for it to use it inside, but I cross country ski in the winter months so I think that will help to shake things up.

In March I find out if I made it into the NYC Marathon, I would love to do that one for many reasons, several of my friends, including my Dad have run it, and I'm from that area. I don't have high hopes, but I'm exploring other ideas if it doesn't pan out.

Another race that I hope to tackle is the Mountain Goat, here in Syracuse. It's a 10 mile run, and very hilly. The Lake Effect Runners are planning training runs for it, which I'd like to be a part of. And finally, I hope to do the Boilermaker for the fourth time. Notice how I keep saying "I hope" and "I'd like." Sounds like I don't want to jinx myself, if you believe in that sort of thing. Which I do and don't. I think.
So I'm looking to continue on with what I've been doing, being a good mother to my kids, a good wife, sister, daughter and friend. I want to keep running and get stronger than I am now. To not sweat the small stuff. And finally, in the words of the Eagles, I wish you peace.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What I would Tweet if I Tweeted

I am a slave to facebook. And to blogs obviously, and my latest obsession is foodbuzz. I have yet to join the Tweeting community, because I don't think I'm that interesting, if anything I'm pretty predictable. For the heck of it, this is what I would tweet over a couple of hours this morning...

7:40 a.m. the kids are awake, and it's Mike's morning to sleep in, so I've gotta get up.

Coffee, with eggnog creamer? or peppermint mocha? May as well have a Christmas cookie with it.

Get online and check what's new in the world, and the kids.

Hungry, Amazing Grass smoothie with milk, frozen blueberries and peaches.

I'm not going out to get the newspaper, don't feel like navigating the icy driveway in slippers.

Still hungry. Slice of toasted Italian bread with a piece of bacon and melted cheese on top.

Play Cooties with the kids. I want to run this morning, so I stretch as we play.

Put on the Santa Clause 2, put on outdoor running clothes.

Is that freezing rain? Change clothes.

Mike is taking the kids to the mall. I wonder if he's getting me that nail buffer I hinted about.

Go down to the treadmill. Better grab the phone. And the water bottle. And tissues.

1.5 miles in. I have to go to the bathroom.

I wonder if the prime rib we bought for Christmas Eve Dinner is enough for 11 people?

Ooooo Three's Company is on, and it's a Christmas episode.

I think it's interesting that my parents will be spending another holiday together this year, and they've been divorced for 30 years.

Eliza really needs a haircut.

Did I feed the fish?
Oh, Ladder 49 is on, a friend of ours has a small part in this.

I wonder if my brother in law made his Holiday Chex Mix for their party later today.

I should finish reading Have a Little Faith for bookclub so someone else can borrow it.

I think it's terrible that those Navy Seals are being court marshalled.

My hamstring hurts.

My brother is on the phone, need to talk to him so I'll walk for a couple minutes on a high incline.

I can't believe Billy Corgan is dating Jessica Simpson.

That southwest grilled chicken salad was really good last night.

What the heck am I going to get Mike for Christmas?

I'm done with my run, six miles. That makes 17 for the week.

That's enough for now. No big surprises, I love food, running, and television.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two vices in one

I'm a sucker for a salty and sweet food combo. Pretzels dipped in whipped cream, salty caramels, chocolate covered potato chips, we even throw dark chocolate into chili (it really adds a richer flavor to the chili). If I'm going to eat junk, I alternate between potato chips, and dark chocolate. And back again.

There was a cooking show on years ago called Two Hot Tamales with Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, and everything they made had a spicy accent to it. The two chefs have a restaurant in Las Vegas called Border Grill, we went to LV for my 30th birthday and planned to check it out.....but never quite made it. Hey, it was Vegas, and what happens in Vegas......

Well, they made a shortbread cookie that I have been making at Christmastime ever since I came across the recipe. And it is made with (surprise) potato chips and chocolate. I have to make several batches in December because they disappear in two seconds. So without further ado, here are the Border Sugar Cookies....

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crushed potato chips
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
sugar for dipping
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate for garnish
a heavy glass, like a pint glass

Preheat oven to 350.
Line a cookie sheet with Silpat or parchment paper
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy
Beat in salt and vanilla
Add pecans and chips and mix well
With a wooden spoon, stir in flour until it disappears
Roll batter into balls the size of a walnut and place on sheet, allow room for spreading
Coat bottom of glass with butter, then dip in sugar, and flatten each ball into a 3 inch circle.
Bake 8-10 minutes, edges should be light brown.
Melt chocolate, and use a fork to drizzle chocolate over cooled cookies.
Refrigerate to set, or if you live in the freezing northeast like I do, stick them in the garage covered with paper to set.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Christmas all over again

Once again Christmas has snuck up on me, every year I say the same thing, that I can't believe it's the holiday season. But it's here, and I'm into it. I was tagged by Sophia's Mom over at Wannabe WAHM for this Christmas meme, and I haven't done one of these for a while. Before I dive in, I wanted to share a website for AnySoldier.com, where you can get the addresses of deployed servicemen and women around the world. This is a hard time of year being away from home, so sending a soldier a holiday card might help brighten their day.
Now onto the meme:

Have you started your Christmas shopping?
Yes, almost finished, just need some more things for my husband and kids.

Tell me about one of your special traditions.
I like to read books about the meaning of christmas with the kids.

Are you a Black Friday Shopper?
Hell No.

When do you put up your Tree?
The weekend after Thanksgiving.

Do you Travel at Christmas or Stay home?
We alternate each year, between Syracuse and Long Island. This year it's LI, so I'm praying for good travel weather.

What is your funniest Christmas memory?
One year my mom took us to a Spanish mass by mistake.

What is your favorite Christmas Movie of All time?
I have to have two, the original Miracle on 34th street with Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood, and a newer favorite is Love Actually.

Do you do your own Christmas Baking, what’s your favorite treat?
I make a potato chip shortbread cookie every christmas, and will post the recipe this week!

Fake or Real Tree?
Real, can't beat the smell of it. Plus picking it out is half the fun.

What day (as a mom) does the actual panic set in to get it all done?
I never panic, I just go with the flow and enjoy everthing about this time of year.

Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve?
No, but I only finish a day or two before that.

What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas?
We make cookies, and drive around a few times to look at christmas lights.

What Christmas craft do you like the best?
I am so not crafty, but I like taking photos of the kids and picking out the christmas card.

Christmas music. Yes or No, and if yes What is your favorite song?
Yes, and I like too many to have just one favorite....Baby Please Come Home by U2, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland, Fairytale of NY by the Pogues, Noel by Josh Groban, and Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC.

When do you plan to finish all your shopping?
A week before Christmas.

I'm tagging

Yonca Is Cooking
Girl with the Flour in her hair
Colorado Runner

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lake Effect Run

Today was my first run outside since the Turkey Trot, and wow, it was like night and day. The Lake Effect Run Club is a group for Central NY Runners, and they have weekly runs in different parts of the area. I've been wanting to run with them for a while, but the runs are usually on Tuesday nights, which is hard to finangle with the kids and Mike's schedule.

But they have Saturday morning runs as well, and I was able to join them today. This run was up in the Tipperary Hill neighborhood, the four mile loop which makes up the Shamrock Run in March. This area is hilly, and I've never run that race, so I wasn't sure what to think.

I got right up at 6:30, it's amazing how I sleep for exactly seven hours when I'm not dealing with insomnia, it is the perfect amount for me, and once I get it, I up and ready to go. It was 28 degrees out, but no snow flurries like I had expected. I had plenty of time to stretch and get to the coffee shop where everyone was meeting by 8:30. There was a group of 21 runners, including Jeannine and Bill.

We took off and it was a really great run. The cold didn't bother me at all, and it was fun to have a new route to run. There was one long hill in the beginning, which I was told is normally at the end of the Shamrock Run, but since we tackled it early on today, it wasn't a problem. There were inclines, but they were quick, and at times it was steep going downhill. I had my ipod, but didn't really use it, I was busy looking around, and chatting with Jeannine. We finished the four mile loop, but decided to continue on, so we ended up doing around six. Towards the end I pushed my pace, and it felt really good. It was nice to be outside early in the day, and breaking a nice sweat. We grabbed coffee in the shop afterwards, but I didn't stay too long as I had Christmas Tree shopping on the agenda. I'm so glad I went today, runners in general are a friendly bunch, as was everyone I met today, so I'll definitely join in again.

This week, I received two things from some blog friends, first, an "I Love Your Blog" award from Susan's Family Formula Blog, she's always got something good to share from her life as a Mother and Teacher.

Then I won a Yoga DVD from Nicole at Mom's Home Run! It's called Pulse Yoga, for toning and balance, and I can use both. I've been trying to get into yoga all year, but haven't been very successful at it. I did find a great Yoga for Runners show on the Sportskool channel, but they got rid of it, so my yoga devotion was short lived. Hopefully this new DVD will give me the push I need, thanks Nicole!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Parenting Post

I wrote out this post, then something happened when I added a photo, and the whole thing got screwed up. Which is annoying because when I write, I'm emptying out whatever I have going on in my head, and once it's cleared out it's hard to find it again.

Regardless, I've been alone with the kids all week, Mike is due back from his trip tonight, but he leaves again on Sunday for a few days. And surprisingly, I haven't lost my mind. I think.

I feel like in some ways, we have a traditional Leave it To Beaver marriage, Mike works and I take care of the house and kids. Mike doesn't have expectations for me, but I have them for myself. Every day at 4:30 I get a little OCD, making sure the house looks nice, and that I've done everything I meant to that day. When you're a Stay At Home Mom, it's hard to gauge how you're doing. When I was a Salesperson it was easy, I had clear goals to attain, and if I made them, I was rewarded. But now, I don't have a quarterly review of my housekeeping skills, and I don't get a raise when my kids are happy and well behaved (well, I might get a coffee mug from Chicago). So although I've missed Mike this week, with him gone my days have been more easy going, I even let the kids skip brushing teeth one night.

Last night I was sitting at the table with the kids as they ate, and something felt familiar, it felt like my childhood. My parents divorced over 30 years ago, and we lived with my Mom, and saw my Dad for Wednesday night dinners at an Italian restaurant, or for weekends in Brooklyn. I don't know how my Mom did it as a single parent. Sure she yelled, and I know she was unhappy at times, but we were a team. She put herself through school, and spent her nights at class or at the kitchen table studying. So sitting with my kids reminded me of her, which I guess is good and bad at the same time.

This is the picture that caused me to lose my previous post, but I love it. I'm nine months old here, and I love what my parents are wearing. Nope, it wasn't a costume party, just the early '70's.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This will keep the Vampires Away

Thanks to everyone who entered the Stonyfield Farms Oikos Yogurt Giveaway.....I used random.org to pick the winner, and it was #3, The Pursuit of Healthfulness! Congrats!

Mike is out of town most of this week, as well as next week, so I'm faced with Cooking For One. I'm not a cereal for dinner type person, I still want to sit down to a hot meal at the end of the day. We ate out and had takeout several times over the weekend, so yesterday's lunch was Bang Bang Shrimp in a whole wheat tortilla (Bonefish Grill leftovers) and dinner was Pra Ram Long Song leftovers from my favorite Tai restaurant. I ran six miles this morning so I might let myself have some pasta for dinner tonight.

I thought I would share my favorite homemade soup, Garlic and Brie. It's actually pretty healthy, minus the cheese, and I think Mike found the recipe years ago in a copy of Bon Appetit magazine. We made a double batch a couple of weekends ago, and just a cup of it is perfect for an afternoon snack. Give it a whirl, just don't expect anyone to kiss you afterwards.

Garlic and Brie Soup

5 heads of garlic
1 large vidalia onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/4 cup flour
6 cups of chicken stock (your own, or an organic, no salt broth)
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
7 ounces of Brie, with the rind removed, and cut into slices
olive oil, kosher salt, pepper
blender, or submersion blender (which is easier)

1. Roast the garlic. Usually I cut the heads off, brush with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt, put it on aluminum foil, and bake for an hour at 375 until brown. When cooled, squeeze the garlic out of their skins, into a dish and smash into a paste. The last time we made it, we broke the garlic down into segments, and tossed them in oil and salt, then roasted them for about a half hour. It was easier to get the garlic out of the segments this way.

2. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Sautee onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Add celery and carrot, sautee another 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir for a couple of minutes until it turns golden.

3. Slowly add stock, and garlic, and bring to a boil while stirring often. Turn heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes until soup thickens a bit.

4. Time to puree the soup, take it off the heat. Either use a submersion blender to puree everything until smooth, or pour one cup of soup at a time into a blender, and blend.

5. Once smooth, return soup to saucepan if you used a blender, and add oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to taste, then bring soup back up to simmer on medium/low heat.

6. When you're ready to serve, put soup into bowls, and add brie so that it melts, but doesn't completely dissolve.

It's soooo good with a crusty bread, enjoy!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I ran it like a Turkey

I've felt a bit disappointed since Thursday morning's Turkey 10k, I feel like I had a dismal run. I was really looking forward to it, I've been keeping up with my runs, cross training on my bike, taking walks with the kids, as well as on the treadmill at high inclines. I'm a slow runner, but I've started to push myself to be faster. For this 10k, I wanted to pull about a 9:30 minute mile.
Things were going well, until I caught a nasty cold from my kids, and I was sick for the whole week before Thanksgiving. I started feeling better by Sunday, but I only got in a couple of walks in the few days before the race.

I was excited for the run Thanksgiving morning, the weather turned out to be warm (for Syracuse, it was in the mid '50's) with no rain or snow. It's always fun to get some exercise in before a day of indulging! I had on my new grey (not black for once) running pants that my friend Jen gave me (among other things) as a present for completing my first half marathon in September. I tucked some tissues into the waistband, since I still had a runny nose leftover from my cold. I had on my favorite socks (feetures) and a new playlist on my ipod. I met up with my sis in law Jeaninne, and we had enough time before our run to cheer on our Uncle Bill as he completed his 5k.
So we start out, I'm feeling good, I'm testing out my faster pace, I'm even snapping my fingers to a Black Eyed Peas song (Meet Me Halfway, a new running fave). There weren't any mile markers, but I've done this race before. It begins and ends at the high school, and it goes through fields, with one woodsy part. So I'm guessing that at mile three is where my problems started. I never got a stitch, none of my past injuries hurt, but my mouth was dry and I had to keep blowing my nose. I just started to feel tired. Really tired. I coughed a bit here and there, and my tissues were in shreds, so my black top started to look like slugs had walked across it (I'm not very good at snot rockets). I had eaten my usual pre-run meal of peanut butter toast, coffee and water, so that wasn't it. I kept pushing though. First I was thinking of how Boring the route was, then I was telling myself that this is Fun running on a Holiday!! Finally around mile five, I thought about walking, and I never walk. I thought, "how do you think you're going to possibly run a marathon next year if you have to walk.....in a 10K?!!" I looked at the time on my ipod, and realized I wasn't hitting my goal. *Side note, I have a sports watch, but I never wear it since I forgot how to use it. Which Mike reminded me of when I hinted about a Garmin for Christmas, so I need to figure it out. I grabbed some water at the water station, and started up the hill, with less than a mile to go.......and I walked. I was so mad at myself, but I walked for about thirty seconds, and I felt better, so I got moving again. My new goal was to make it under an hour.
I saw the turn that lead to the high school, and this dude had his car parked, with all the doors open, blasting heavy metal music, which for some reason cracked me up. I saw the finish, then looked away again, because for me, seeing the end always feels so close, yet so far, so I'd rather not know about it. I saw Mike and the kids at the side, with my brother in law and niece, so I gave them high fives, and finished in 1:00:28, and averaged a 9:45 pace. I missed my first goal, then missed my second, but not by much. I'm just chalking it up to a bad day, and I haven't had many of those lately, so I guess I was due.

We had a great dinner afterwards with the whole family, and we were happy that my Mother in Law just finished her chemo. She has a breather before her next round of treatment, so she's getting there. We brought the kids up to her house the next day, to go to a couple of Christmas Festivities in her town. The kids had fun at a candy cane hunt, they saw Santa and his Reindeer and did a Build a Bear type thing with Grandma. It was great to see her out and about, running into her friends and going out to lunch with us. For all my bitching about my crappy run, I just reminded myself once again, of how many things I have to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

You Never Forget Your First Time

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner! Get your mind out of the gutter.

Every year I want to make Thanksgiving Dinner. I look through my binder of recipes (it's white, from Staples, some are written, some are ripped out of magazines, some are photocopies of cookbook pages, with colored dividers separating them by type of meal), and watch the Food Network for new takes on stuffing or side dishes. We alternate families every year, this year we are staying in town and going to Mike's Aunt's house, otherwise we head to my Mom's. We're trying something new this year, and bringing a cheese fondue for an app, I'm still working on ideas for it.

So nine years ago we were going to Long Island for Thanksgiving, and my Mom tells us she's bailing on the family, and going to Paris with a friend for the Holiday. After panicked phone calls from my sisters and brother, I decided to take on the meal.
I still have all my notes from the planning of the day, I shopped and researched every possible way to make turkey. I hemmed and hawed about side dishes and desserts. We were living in Rochester at the time, my Turkey 10K was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so I was able to keep that in my schedule. My Dad decided to come to dinner since my Mom wasn't going to be there (they're divorced), one of my BFF's was coming, and after some trepidation, my Uncle and Grandfather decided to attend as well. My Uncle is funny, as the above photo shows, he never takes his coat off. Luke does this sometimes too, so I'm wondering if it's genetic.
The day arrived, Mike and I were up early after the obligatory visit to the bar the night before, to see everyone else who was in town. We decided to cook the bird upside down for the first half hour of cooking, then rotate it on one side for 15 minutes, then 15 minutes on the other side, then right side up for the remainder of the time. I read that this ensured a juicy bird. My mom made her famous Pilgrim Potato's before hand (mashed, mixed with cream cheese and sour cream, and baked) and she said we absolutely could NOT forget my Grandfather's creamed pearl onions. He has since passed on, but he loved those frozen onions by Bird's Eye.
We spent the morning cooking, cleaning, getting the apps out, setting the table, and enjoying each other's company. It's funny how you have to have the same things every year, for my sister it's onion dip and chips. So we had that, along with cheeses and crackers. And wine....and beer. The meal came together right on time, the turkey looked perfect if I do say so myself, and it tasted great. Mike made gravy from the drippings, and we had the following: sausage and onion stuffing, mashed butternut squash, green bean casserole, glazed baby carrots, corn souffle, mashed potato's along with the Pilgrim, cranberry sauce, and rolls.

We had a nice prayer, and were quiet as we dove in. Until I looked at my Grandpa, and whispered "Pearl. Onions." My brother shot out of his chair, we heard the freezer door open, and the microwave turn on, so all was well.

After the meal people came in and out of the house, friends of mine, and of my siblings. Dessert was pumpkin and apple pie, fruit and my potato chip shortbread cookies that I make during the holidays. The weather was cool, with a bit of sun through the clouds. I felt so content that everyone had a great meal, was happy and relaxed. During dessert my Grandpa pulled out some vodka and sprinkled it over his fruit salad, and he said that it helped to bring out the flavor of the fruit. That still cracks me up.

Later on I spoke with my Step Mom, and she said "So how does it feel to be a grown up?" I was married and on my own, but what she said made sense, making your first holiday meal is a rite of passage of sorts. And I can't wait to do it again.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Want to try some Oikos Greek Yogurt?

I acquired a taste for All Things Greek after living in Astoria, Queens for four years....feta, olives, fresh fish and lamb, sauteed dandelion greens, potato with lemon, and yogurt. I'll get to Greece someday, but for now I get my fix by visiting my old stomping grounds when I see my family on Long Island.

If you've never tried greek yogurt, here is your chance thanks to Stonyfield Farms. Their Oikos yogurt is very dense, organic, and fat free (bonus!). My favorite flavor is Honey, but the plain is a great substitute for sour cream.

To enter to win an Oikos tote, 4 free 5.3 oz Oikos coupons, and 1 free 16 oz Oikos coupon, do any or all of the following (please leave me a comment for each):

1. Tell me what you love to cook (or eat!) during the holidays

2. Become a fan of Stonyfield Farm on facebook

3. follow me

Giveaway ends on November 31.....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I wonder if the ghosts like P!nk?

My kids are pretty good about sharing, and this week, they've shared their cold with me. We've been to the doctor twice already, and have to go back tomorrow for H1N1 shots. I guess it's better to be sick this week instead of next week, because of Thanksgiving and my Turkey 10K.

I did get outside for a run on Sunday before I started feeling lousy. It was 62 degrees, and it felt like summer so I went just over five miles with my new quicker pace. I listened to some great tunes, you've gotta love a playlist that has both the Notorious B.I.G. and Josh Groban....here is a snippet:

You Raise Me Up ~ Josh Groban
Just Dance ~ Lady Gaga (I love her)
Mo Money, Mo Problems ~ B.I.G and Puff Daddy
Please Don't Leave Me ~ P!nk
Relator - Pete Yorn & Scarlet Johannsen (what a great song!)
Lola ~ The Kinks
When Your Mind's Made Up ~ Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

I am still in dire need of some new tunes......any suggestions? what songs do you like to work out to?

And by the way, I have a new ghost story.

My sister A saw the ghosts again in her room last week! She had just gone to bed, but was having some trouble falling asleep. She started to have a feeling that something was in the room, so she rolled over, opened her eyes, and saw not one, not two, but three of the ghosts standing next to her bed looking at her. It was the dad (who I've seen) the mother (who my sister in law has seen) and the little boy (who A, and Luke, have seen). They were just staring at her, so she yelled out, and they went away. A is 25 years old, and she said she thought about going to my mom's room to sleep with her! She decided to stay where she was, but it got very cold in the room, even though she had warm blankets on, and she couldn't warm up.

My other sister M thinks we have a situation similar to the one in the Nicole Kidman movie, The Others. She thinks the ghosts haven't realized that they have left our world, and are confused about these people who keep showing up in their house. That actually makes sense to me, but who the heck knows? do do DO do......do do DO do

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I don't always pay attention, but I'm always thinking

I've been getting time outside these past few days because Mike had some local appointments, so it's been great. I did a five mile run on Thursday, testing out a faster pace, it was hard to know what it was exactly, since I wasn't on the treadmill and don't have a garmin (are you listening Santa?) Yesterday morning we hit the public market for some beautiful local produce, we came away with acorn and butternut squash, bibb lettuce, onions, garlic, turnips, shallots, avocado, red cabbage, carrots and parsnips. We came across a Bakery booth, and went a little carb crazy and bought a bunch of dinner rolls....jalapeno cheddar, multi grain, black olive and good old white...I intended to freeze some, but I think we might just end up eating them all. We roasted a bunch of garlic last night to make garlic and brie soup today, and later on I'm going to do a big batch of roasted root veg to eat with dinner during the week.

In the afternoon I was able to get out for a bike ride. Both kids are sick and crabby, Eliza is on antibiotics, so she was on the couch watching a movie and Mike played with Luke. I'm trying to soak up as much fall weather as I can, I rode for about an hour, and I was thinking how in a few weeks everything is going to be covered in ice and snow. And since I don't pay attention to things in general, at one point I drove right off the road and into a small ditch. No biggie, but once I got going again, this dog came running out of his house and bugged me out a bit. I hate when dogs come at me during a run or a ride, because you don't know if there is an electric fence or not. I was a little nervous about passing him on my way home, but the dog's owner was outside with him at that point, so it was okay.

I've been thinking about an article that was in the NY Times a few weeks ago. Basically it's about fast runners vs. slow runners, and how if you take a long time to finish a marathon, you didn't really run it. I can understand both views. If you're an elite runner, there are races like Boston, that you need a qualifying time for, which weeds out the slower runners. But if someone trains and is able to run the whole distance, and get a finishers medal, I think that means they ran it! There were a bunch of interesting articles about the marathon, including one about the heritage of the American winner Meb Keflezighi, so check 'em out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mole, as in chocolate

I'm trying to think about what I've been eating lately, mostly comfort type foods since the weather has gotten cooler. I created a profile on foodbuzz, which is a fun community, I feel like it's Facebook for Foodies. I've started following some great food blogs, it's amazing how many people take the time to make creative, fabulous looking food.

Last night I made Chicken Mole, which is one of the five ways that I make chicken. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a Mexican dish, with chocolate as a base, and a bunch of spices. There are several ingredients, again it's a combo of different recipes that I've tweaked to my liking. This is a great time of year for it, as it simmers away, the whole house smells like the Holiday season. I serve it over brown rice, with a side of something green, last night it was sauteed spinach, but I also like it with broccoli. You can get another meal of the leftovers by putting it in whole wheat tortillas, with a bit of sour cream and cheddar cheese. Ole!

Chicken Mole

one medium onion, chopped (I always use Vidalia's)
2 cloves garlic, minced
one bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I actually add a bit more, because I like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth (I like the organic kind with no sodium or MSG)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1.5 ounces of bittersweet, dark chocolate
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
olive oil
1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
3 cups of cooked brown rice

In a large skillet, heat olive oil in a pan, and brown chicken, then set chicken aside.

In the same pan, cook the onions and garlic until soft (you may have to deglaze the pan with wine or stock before adding the onions).

Add the stock and sauce, as well as the bay leaf, pepper, cayenne, paprika, clove, cinnamon, anise, sugar, almonds, and sesame seeds.

If you like, transfer sauce to a blender and puree until a thick paste. This is the traditional method, I skip this step, because I like the consistency of the almonds and onions.

Return sauce to pan, add the chocolate and cocoa powder, along with chicken. Bring to a boil, and simmer on very low heat about 15 minutes.

Serve over rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sportsfans, here's the latest

I'm feeling much better today, and I wanted to thank everyone who commented on my last post. I truly appreciate all your encouraging words.

The funk started lifting after I got all that garbage off my chest. I spent today giving thanks to our Veterans, including my Dad, who is a Vietnam Vet, my two Grandfather's who are WWII Vets, and my cousin and friends who have served in Iraq. The kids didn't have school, so we spent a few hours at the mall stimulating the economy, then time at the playground, where I had one eye on Luke, and the other on Eliza.....good thing I dressed them in red so I could find them in the crowd. I channeled June Cleaver, and got the grocery shopping done, the house picked up, and now I sit with a glass of vino, getting ready to veg out in front of Top Chef.

Oh, and another thing......I registered for my Thanksgiving Day 10k.....and....I threw my name into the lottery for the 2010 NYC Marathon. Huh?!?! Yup. I did.

The chances are verrrry slim that my name is picked, but I figured, what the heck. My very good friend Jennifer has been really motivating me on the marathon front, and she entered the lottery herself.

I figured that if I don't get in (the names are drawn in March), I have a few other tricks up my sleeve. So, stay tuned.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fighting a Funk

Warning: bitching and moaning ahead.

I feel like I'm in a funk. My motivation running wise has been good. But in all other areas of my life, I'm in a rut. I can't even find a way to express exactly how I'm feeling in this post.

This weekend we took a quick trip to Long Island for my niece's christening. I was dreading the drive (ten hours of driving in two days) but really wanted to see my family and friends. Mike has been driving 900 miles a week for work, and he wasn't too keen on another drive, but he was a good sport about it, and we had a great time. Today I'm faced with the confusion I always feel after a trip to NY, I still miss living there, but I also love living here.

My house is a mess. I pride myself on keeping my house clean and in order, but lately I honestly couldn't care what it looks like, the disorder matches my mood. It's a struggle to put the laundry away after it's done, right now I have dirty dishes in the sink, and there they will stay because I don't feel like emptying the dishwasher. The kids' toys have made their way out of the TV room, and are scattered in every other room of the house. None of the beds are made, I have overdue library books. I don't have the desire or energy to do anything, and the venti non fat vanilla latte from Starbucks isn't doing what I hoped it would.

I'm tired of worrying about money. Mike made it through the re org at his company, he was the only rep in the Northeast region who made it through all the cuts. Believe me, he and I know how lucky he is to have his job, but he's miserable. And he still worries about his mom's illness.

I don't feel like I'm being the best mother either. Eliza is in that terrible 3's stage, she is so headstrong I feel like all I do is yell at her. It's lunchtime and she's still in her pajama's, I don't feel like fighting with her. Luke is being a sweetheart as usual, he's doing great in school and surprises me every day with the things that come out of his mouth.

I'm annoyed with the kid's pediatrician, I call every week to get the kids' flu shot's scheduled, and they still don't have the seasonal shot, much less the H1N1.

And I want to know why I haven't been able to get into my hotmail account for the past five days.

I hate to bitch, because I really don't have anything to bitch about. My children are healthy, Mike is working, we have a house and cars and food. So I'll stop now.

On a lighter note, I found out I don't know how to tie shoes. Mike and I were talking with my sister about teaching Luke to tie shoes, and apparently I do an extra step when tying. I make bunny ears, but do the "loop, swoop and pull" as well. I guess you do one or the other, but not both. Yup, I'm 37 and can't tie my shoes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Is it my age? Or my ambition?

I've started a new strategy this week running wise. With the amount of traveling that Mike is doing for work, I realized the treadmill is going to be my BFF sooner than I had hoped. It's a decent set up, the treadmill is in the basement, in front of the TV, facing the sliding glass doors so I can see what's going on in the backyard. But I still get bored, so to keep it interesting I play with the incline and the speed as the mood strikes me.

My next race is a 10k on Thanksgiving. So this week I'm doing four mile runs as often as I can, as quickly as I can. When I was training for my 15k and half marathon, I made it a habit of finding a decent pace, without pushing myself too hard, and sticking with it for the duration of the run. I know I can do six miles no sweat (well, with sweat), so I think if I do some speed work, I might pull a quicker time in my 10K.

Yesterday after my four mile run, I came upstairs, and iced my hamstring, right shin, and left arch. They ache from time to time, so I ice to prevent re-injuring these areas. Which has me wondering, is this because of my age (late 30's, gasp) or because I'm doing too much? I don't think it's overuse, I stretch and take rest days, and do a sit up from time to time. But is this how I'm going to be for the rest of my life? I want to be like my Dad, and still run when I'm in my 60's, but will these aches be a part of it?

I think this is why I'm afraid to take the next step and commit to running a full marathon. I can just see myself getting injured, and be out of the running game....for good. I think I'm up for the challenge mentally, but physically, am I just fooling myself?

This photo is from my first Turkey Trot, nine years ago. This dude came up next to me near the end and asked me to sprint with him, so I did. Which was a fun way to finish it off.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just Like a Tatoo

I don't have a tatoo, but it's something I've thought of getting since college. I was in school during the days of grunge, plaid flannel shirts, clunky boots, Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain. And tatoos. Everyone had one, or was getting one, and the night of graduation I decided to get one. Because I find easy ways to injure myself, I was running through the living room barefoot, and managed to step on a pencil with one foot, and stab my other foot into the pointy pencil end. It left a mark, (not lead, graphite) on the side of my foot. I figured if I was going to look at a dot for the rest of my life, it may as well be a tatoo.

I wanted to get a half moon, something I was into at the time, but then heard that was kind of a dark symbol, so I opted for a daisy, cheerful and pretty. I made it to the tatoo parlor, and sat there for over an hour, then chickened out. I went back a couple of years later with a friend, she got a sunflower, I chickened out and watched.

Now it seems people get tat's for a reason, to honor someone, or to mark a milestone. After Luke was born I understood why people tatoo their kids faces or name on their arms. My brother has a few, one is of an American Indian head (which, after a few drinks, I've been known to pinch the lips and make it "talk" to us). He also has a Celtic cross, which is what I think I would get, with the first initials of Mike, Luke, Eliza and myself.

I've also seen tats of marathon runners, to commemorate their races, which I think is really cool too. I must still want one, since I keep thinking about it. So I'm curious fellow bloggers, do you have one? What is it? Why did you get it?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Marathon Memories, and some other things

How great was the NYC Marathon yesterday? What a finish, for both the men and women, it's so cool that an American, Meb Keflezighi, came in first after 27 years! I love Marathon day, it's such a great time of year for it. The first time I went I was 11, my Dad was living in Brooklyn at the time, so we stood in his neighborhood and watched everyone go by. Years later, when Mike and I were living in Queens, we would snag a spot right where the race turned onto the 59th street Bridge. I would scream like crazy, and give high fives to my friends who were running. The year I was pregnant I had to watch from the couch, because I was on bed rest. But the photo below was a year later, Luke's first year as a spectator.

I got outside for a long run yesterday morning, and thought of my friend BW running the marathon at the same time as me....until I started to have some stomach issues, (too many pumpkin seeds?) and had to run home to my bathroom after only three miles. In my mad dash through the garage, I spotted my bike, so instead of going back out to run, I went out on the bike for about 45 minutes. I always forget about my bike, I want to get a trainer for it so I can use it inside this winter.

On a side note....not sure if you read my Ghost post. But this is really weird. We have a television in our room, and during the night on Thursday, it turned on and off five times in a row. The channel was turned to Bravo and that goofy guy Andy was doing his late night talk show. I grabbed the remote, and turned it on, and saw goofy Andy. So it couldn't have been a dream.

THEN, last night, we had a fire in the fireplace, and all of a sudden, one of the glass panes in the fireplace door shattered! As if someone hit it. The fire had only been lit for an hour so I don't think extreme heat did it. Yikes!

Final note, I wish I made the latte pictured in my last post! It was from my friend Jen's bridal shower brunch. Although I can make a mean foam for cappuchino, thanks to my waitressing days....I can also balance a tray full of martinis and walk down a full flight of stairs. Unless it's New Years Eve.....because that night I was rushing around, and I dropped a full tray of filled champagne glasses as I fell down the stairs. You should have seen that bruise.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Get Active is finished, but I'll stay active

I don't know what time it is, it's seven, but I think it used to be eight, I'm going to be doing this all day due to the time change. In any case, we let the kids stay up later than normal last night, because of all the Halloween fun, and Mike thought they might sleep later today because of it. Luke is still slumbering away, but Eliza's been up since 6:30, so I have her in front of Nick Junior.

My eight week long Get Active Challenge ended on Friday. For me, it was fun to chart my progress as I trained for my half marathon. I wanted to get in more strength training, and I did drop the ball on that. However I've kept up my long stretching sessions, which I think has kept my hamstring issues at bay. I hope everyone who committed to getting active these two months is able to keep it up, these Holiday months can wreck havoc on the bod!

I am still doing Kelly's nutrition challenge, with a weekly goal of 18 points. I tend to hover around 15, it's the weekends that do me in. I'm good about my sugar and junk food during the week, but I've been having some weeknight wine (gasp!). I'm still drinking my daily smoothie made with Amazing Grass, if I don't get them in for breakfast, I have it in the afternoon, so I'm definitely hitting my fruit and veggie quota. I've started freezing the banana's for the smoothies, which make them nice and cold and creamy.

On the running front, I've been doing great. After last Sunday's 5k, I fit in a six, a four and a two mile run. I agree with The Happy Runner , how running is more relaxing when you aren't training for something. I have a slight anxious feeling when I have a race coming up, making sure I stay on schedule, and hit the required miles each run. I have a 10k on Thanksgiving Day, but I know I can do it, so my runs this past week have felt more free. By the way, my time for the Halloween 5k was 33:36. I think I have a better chance of a faster time on Thanksgiving, the course is pretty much flat roads and some easy inclines, so that should help.

Off to make some coffee.....which is one vice I definitely won't be giving up!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Amazing Grass Winner and....Happy Halloween!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Amazing Grass Superfood Kidz giveaway! According to Random.org, the winner is number 26......Clueless Mama!

We're wrapping up Halloween, it was a pretty mellow day due to the weather, but I got in two quick miles on the treadmill. It cleared up by trick or treat time, and now the kids are sacked out on the floor after their allotted two treats.

Now I'm off to raid their candy.......

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Did the Ghost follow us home?

The house I grew up in has a ghost. The house is over 100 years old, and my mom still lives there, she bought the house 32 years ago. I feel like it's a good ghost, otherwise I think we would have been out of there a loooong time ago.

I have seen the ghost, so has my sisters, and believe it or not, Luke saw it last summer. It makes it's presence known in many ways, the microwave will turn on and off by itself, windows will slowly close, and one time a chair that rotates, slowly turned one complete turn. My grandfather got bugged out once, because he heard someone walking down the upstairs hallway, and he was alone at the time.

We believe that a farming family lived in our house, we have very old photos that the previous owners passed to my Mom when she bought the house. In the photos you can see the original house, with rolling hills in the background, where houses now stands. Those of us who have seen the ghost, have seen it in the same room.

I woke up one night, and looked over at the window, and saw a man standing, looking out of it, wearing a dark suit with a white shirt. My first thought was, "oh, that's the ghost." then rolled over and went back to sleep. My sister M had a similar experience, she felt like it was being a sort of guardian angel to her.

My sister A woke up early a few months ago, in the same room, to get ready for an early flight. The light was dim, and she looked over from her bed, and saw a boy, in the same type of clothing, looking at her. He reached over to touch her face, then he disappeared. Her first thought was "oh, it's the ghost."

Luke and Mike were sleeping in this same room on a past visit. During the night, Luke woke up Mike and said that there was a boy in there.

M said "oh really? is he nice?"
L said "yeah, he was right there"
M said "really buddy?"
L said "yeah, we were talking"
M said "okay, let's go to sleep"

at that point, when Mike realized Luke was talking to the ghost, he was comfortable with it.

We've been in our house for four years, and I love it, I've been comfortable here since day one. But sometimes I get a ghost feeling. Whenever I'm in the shower, I hear someone walking around, and it's not my kids. On her last visit, my sister A said she felt like there is a ghost here too, so now we're wondering where it might have come from. So we'll have to wait and see if we get any more signs.

I'm having a terrible time with my pumpkins this year, as the photo shows. The squirrels have gotten three of them already, even though I've doused them with windex! Didn't even get a chance to carve them, back to the patch we go.


Hello rain. It's dark and nasty out, however my street looks kind of cool, with the bright orange leaves against the grey skies. I got up today at six, and now that it's nine o'clock, I feel like I've already got my to do list finished.

There are a few day's left of Breast Cancer Awareness Month....and here is a giveaway that Mel, over at Tall Mom on the Run is having. It's a Brooks for Her Jacket, Brooks created this collection to help support the fight against breast cancer. For each BFH piece purchased from March through December 2009, Brooks will donate 6.25% of the suggested retail price to three organizations that research and support those affected by breast cancer. Very cool giveaway, and very cool blog.

There are a few day's left of my Amazing Grass Giveaway, which ends 10/31!

Finally, Tanya at the Grab Bag gave me an award, the Heartfelt Award! Tanya posts some great looking recipes, I can't wait to try her Tandoori Chicken....thanks Tanya!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm in the mood for a little greek.

I have a hankering for something salty for dinner, so I'm heading to the store for the fixings for Mediterranean Pasta with chicken. I don't think of myself as a big chicken person, I love fish, and a good rib eye, but it's not my go to protein. I have about five recipes for chicken that I really like, and this is a good one. It reminds me of the four years we lived in Astoria, which is a big Greek neighborhood in Queens. I miss black squid ink pasta and shrimp, I can't find that anywhere but Astoria. And I never knew there were multiple varieties of feta, the deli carried 6 different kinds! Don't even get me started on the olives......drool.

I saw Tyler Florence make this pasta on the food network years ago, and I've tweaked it to my liking....I think you'll like it too.

Mediterranean Pasta
One pound of skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
One cup of sun dried tomatoes, sliced (I get the oil free ones that come in a foil pouch)
1/4 pound kalamata olives, pitted and sliced, some into halves and some into quarters
8 ounces of feta cheese (I get it in a brick, and crumble it myself)
one, 8.5 ounce can of artichoke hearts in water, drained, and quartered
3 cloves of garlic, minced.
1/2 cup of milk (you can use heavy cream if you want to splurge a bit)
1/4 cup fresh basil (I pick the leaves, stack them, roll them like a cigar, then slice into strips)
3/4 of a pound of small pasta, like mini penne
salt and pepper, olive oil

I boil the water, and cook the pasta at the same time that I'm making the sauce.

1.Heat oil in a large skillet, and brown the chicken (or grill it ahead of time and slice it)
2. Add the garlic and tomatoes to chicken, saute about 2 minutes
3. Add basil, artichoke, olives and feta, saute another 2 - 3 minutes, then add the milk/cream.
4. turn heat to low, and cook through another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain pasta, and pour sauce over pasta, stir and serve. Yum.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bruegger's Halloween 5K

Today was the Halloween 5k at Beaver Lake, it's a nature center not too far from my house. I didn't have any grand plans for it, I wanted to try and run a quicker pace than normal, but I felt like there were a few things that were throwing a minor glitch in my plans.

I wondered how crowded the trail would get, it is tight when just two people are on it, so I knew it wouldn't be fast going with a few hundred runners there all at the same time. I've also been dealing with a sore throat and cough this week, not too bad, but enough to be annoying. My friend Insomnia has been hanging around this week too, Friday night I slept a total of 3 hours.

We had a good group running, my sis in law Jeannine (who I do all my races with), my friend Sheila, Mike's Aunt Carol, and her husband Bill (who ran the Boilermaker with us this past summer). J's daughter did the kids Fun Run, which was cute. Some of the kids wore costumes, one kid was decked out as Lance Armstrong, with a bike attached to his legs.

It was cool out, but thankfully not raining, and the sun worked it's way out by the time we made it to the start. Note to self, a surefire way to get the sun to come out, is to leave your sunglasses at home. I was trying out a new pair of Drymax running socks, which I just won in a giveaway from Marcia at Mission Possible. I was psyched, I received 6 different pairs, including some for tennis and hiking, which look nice with my Birkenstocks (what can I say, I'm a fashionista). We wore timing chips, but didn't cross over an activation pad when we started, only at the end, so I'm not sure how our time will be figured out. We all were waiting in a small field, then the gun just went off. Think of a crowd people running along, then coming to a complete stop at the trail head, where we had to funnel down to get onto the trail.

I go to Beaver Lake when I have time to run somewhere other than in my neighborhood, when I bring the kids they love to check out the frog pond, and the exhibits inside the building. There are a bunch of trails of different distances, I also go in the winter for cross country skiing. For the 5k, we ran the Lake Loop, which has boardwalks in some spots, and today they were wet and covered with leaves. Jeannine told me to be careful before we started, with my track record of clumsiness, if someone was going to fall, it would be me. I had a good pace, but at times I felt like it was a video game, trying to pass people while keeping an eye on the ground. I did stumble once on a root, but no biggie. Near the end of mile two, I heard a big rustle of leaves sliding, but I don't think whoever did it wiped out.

It was a quick run, but crowded, and I coughed a few times. After a while I gave up trying to weave around people, and ran next to a guy dressed as Elvis. At the mile 3 marker there were pumpkins lining the trail, with funky carvings, like the Yankees logo. At the end I was happy to see Mike and the kids, then don't usually make it to my runs, so it was great to give them high fives.

The clock said my time was 33 minutes, I think. Not happy with that if it's the case, but I didn't have the best conditions for something quicker. I still had a great time, and love my new shirt. It's long sleeved for once, and I think it makes me look a bit busty. Which isn't a bad thing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One more week of Get Active.....

There is one week left of my little "Get Active" challenge. I hope my blog friends who took this on have been able to fit some exercise into your days. I know that Alicia has been working out a few times a week. But I have to give major props to Janie, she has lost 18 pounds! Go Janie!

I received two more awards, from Susan at Susan Fobes' Family Formula....the Loyalty Blog (for a second time) and the Kreative Blogger Award. Susan is a teacher whose blog focuses on her family, and focusing on the writer within her. Thanks Susan!!!

For the Kreative Blogger, I have to list 7 things about myself that you might not know. Hmmmmmmm.

1. I have a big family, four sisters, one brother, 27 first cousins, 6 nieces, 1 nephew, multiple aunts and uncles, and.....my parents have been divorced for 30 years.

2. I also have a big group of friends, which are also my family. A cluster in Rochester, and several across the country, but my core is back home in NY, we call ourselves the Fab Six. We have been friends for about 24 years, and although I don't get to see them as often as we would all like, when we get together, we always pick right up where we left off.

3. I'm Catholic, and I pray every day. I get so much out of going to church, it is comforting and it's the one place that never changes. I sometimes get emotional during certain prayers or hymns, it is a place where I can just BE.

4. I obviously love to run, but I also love tennis (played in high school), riding my bike, and if I could play field hockey again (high school) I would. Sometimes in the fall I smell the air and I am right back on the field with my hockey stick.

5. I love movies. Name an actor and I'll ramble off every movie they've been in. I watch pretty much everything, but there are just a few that have made an impression - in no particular order - Urban Cowboy, Places in the Heart, Steel Magnolias, American Beauty, Clueless, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Paper Moon, Almost Famous, Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, Tootsie, Marty, Bridget Jones Diary, Once and Goodfellas.

6. October, November and December are my favorite months of the year, October for the fall weather, November for Thanksgiving (which I love juuuust a bit more than Christmas) and obviously, December for Christmas (and for what J&R call, 25 nights of drinking).

7. There was a three week period where I saw Bono in the flesh three different times, and not in concert. Once after a flight home from Ireland (where I told him I thought he was "just the greatest"), once at a work party, and once on the street. I kept telling everyone he was stalking me.

This will only take a minute

It is still Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this is from an email I received this week:

The Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act is a bill which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about
eliminating the 'drive-through mastectomy' where women are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their web page with a petition drive to show your support. If you decide to sign it, you need not give more than your name and zip code.

Here is another photo from the Breast Cancer walk we all did earlier in the month.....we wore shirts honoring my mother in law and her sister, and I'm too busy yapping to pay attention to the photographer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just another bit of inspiration

I think that running might be in my genes. I've written about how my dad is my health and fitness inspiration, but I have another one, my cousin, who is a marathon runner.

C ran the Duke City Marathon, in Albuquerque this past weekend. She ran a personal best, which was good enough to qualify her for the 2010 Boston Marathon. Her time was also good enough that she finished 3rd overall in the women's division. Not in her age group, but 3rd overall, this was her 13th marathon and she has two more planned.

I told her about my half marathon and how I was trying to decide what to do next, and she said to be warned, that marathons are addicting. I'm really impressed, because she also works full time and has a one year old.

I actually have a fun run coming up this weekend, it's a 5k at a local nature center, with some family members and a friend from college. It's a loop around a lake, and the way the leaves are looking, it should be a pretty run.

Don't forget to enter the Amazing Grass Giveaway.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mike makes a mean pot pie

Don't let the oysters fool you, I'll get to the pot pie in a minute! This weekend we made a trip home to Long Island for an annual Oyster Fest in Oyster Bay. We look forward to this all year, and I've been going since I was a kid. Long gone are the party atmosphere days, where you could walk around with a beer while you sampled all the lovely seafood. Now it's more family oriented, which is good since I have one, so the kids had a ball on the rides and got their hot dog and cotton candy fix.

Back to the Oysters. I love them raw, Mike waited on the line for 25 minutes to get a few plates, but of course it was worth it. I squirted them with fresh lemon, and a bit of cocktail sauce. They were cold, and so clean tasting, I was done in a few minutes. Next up were fried Oysters, this line was much shorter, I still inhaled them. The batter was crunchy, but light, and full of black pepper, you could smell it in the air as they cooked. Again all they needed was a bit of cocktail sauce. It's not even 10 o'clock and I could go for some right now.

Last week Mike made one of his fall specialties, Chicken Pot Pie. We had grilled chicken thighs the other night, and had a ton left over, so Mike chopped it up to make the pie. Sometimes he substitutes lobster for the chicken for a special dinner. This time instead of a biscuit crust, he used corn bread, which added a sweetness that worked with the salty inside.

Here is the recipe, he usually doubles it so we have one pie to eat, another for the freezer:

3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped carrot
2 cups diced potato
2 cups frozen baby peas
1 can of Nibblets Corn
3 cups of chicken stock - we use organic, or MSG free Swansons
1 cup of milk
butter, salt and pepper, flour, Bisquick or corn muffin mix

Heat oven to 375, grease a medium sized baking pan with butter

In a saute pan, melt 6 tablespoons (I know, it sounds like a lot) of butter and sautee the onion and carrot, after about 5 minutes stir in 6 tablespoons of flour, until it turns a light brown. Pour in stock, stir and bring to a boil, cook about 10 minutes until it thickens. Then add milk, and cook about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat, mix in chicken, peas corn and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, pour into baking dish.

If you're doing a biscuit top, mix 2 1/4 cups of Bisquick and 2/3 cup milk, and pour over the top of the chicken mixture, and make little slits in the crust so steam escapes. For the corn bread topping, we used a box of Jiffy, followed the directions for corn bread and poured that over the top.

Bake 35 - 40 minutes until bubbly, and crust is browned. Let it sit about five minutes before chowing down.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mellow Much?

I planned on getting outside this afternoon for a run, but I just wasn't into it. It's a grey, cold, wet day, and it took until noon to get up in the 40's, and I'm tired.

I love to sleep, I'm just not very good at it. My insomnia is acting up again, the past two nights have been horrible, I was up last night watching Baby Mamma at two in the morning wondering when I was going to fall asleep. Of course once I did get to sleep Eliza was up early asking for her Sleeping Beauty Barbie. I had to get up anyway, we had a field trip to the apple and pumpkin farm, so I needed to dig out the winter coats and boots. This weather is nuts, I haven't even had a chance to buy Eliza a coat, I put her in one that was her cousins', and way too big for her.
Mike went to the farm with us, and after lunch, we miraculously got Eliza to sleep, so I got my gear together to run. I reeeaaallly wanted to sit on the couch, but I knew I would feel better once I got out the door, so I forced myself out.

My ipod matched my mood, I had it on random, and it came up with what I think of as mellow music with a running groove. I listened to the lyrics, and thought about things, it's so true that running is a great form of therapy. I haven't posted a playlist in a while, so I thought I would share what I heard today.......

New Slang ~ The Shins
Breathe Me ~ Sia
Runaway Train ~ Soul Asylum
You Are The Sunshine of My Life ~ Stevie Wonder
Hunger Strike ~ Temple of the Dog
What's Up - 4 Non Blondes
Anyone Else But You ~ Michael Cera & Ellen Page
One ~ U2 and Mary J. Blige
Lightning Crashes ~ Live
So What ~ Pink (not mellow, I sprinted for this one)
South Side ~ Gwen Stefani & Moby
Nothing Compares 2 U....Sinead O'Connor