Thursday, February 25, 2010

Le Giveaway of Le Creuset (it kind of rhymes)

Okay, it's about time for another giveaway.

Today is our second snow day. I live in an area where 8 inches of snow is just a blip on the radar, and it's business as usual. But the last couple of days I've been longing for some color against all this white, so how cool is it that for this giveaway, I have a set of Le Creuset Square Baking Dishes in a lovely spring like blue?

My mom has a yellow Le Creuset pot that I've been trying to snag for years. This stoneware is great because it's heavy, and it can be used in the oven, broiler or microwave. The giveaway includes one 5" and one 9" baking dish, which are good for side dishes or to roast veggies. Plus they're pretty.

To enter (required) please go to CSN Store's website, where they offer a range of items such as kids bedding, cookware, and fitness equipment, then leave me a comment.

For additional entries (please leave a separate comment for each), you may:

1. follow my blog (or say that you already do so)

2. post this giveaway on your blog, and let me know

3. tweet this giveaway, include in the tweet, and let me know

4. tell me what you would make with these dishes

Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents, and ends at midnight EST on March 12, 2010. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you're the winner!

Breaking in some new kicks

My favorite sport of the Winter Olympics is figure skating, loved it as a kid, and I couldn't get enough of the Nancy Kerrigan/Tanya Harding scandal. We had a Nancy/Tanya party in college to watch them face off at the Olympics. I made Mike watch Ice Castles the other night, I found the DVD in Target and had to buy it. Classic '70's flick! So I'm pumped for the ladies long program tonight. Can I just ask what is up with Lindsay Vonn??? That chick is an injury magnet.

I bought new running shoes this week. Our Fleet Feet moved to a new, larger location, so Luke and I went on Tuesday morning to check it out. I've been wearing Asics GT 2140's for five years, I have a bone spur on my left foot so my podiatrist recommended the style to deal with that issue, and the resulting plantar fasciitis. It never occurred to me to get anything different, so every spring I buy the new model.

The first thing the saleswoman did was measure me, I'm a size ten and she said "Huh. Your left foot is almost a size eleven." Wha wha whaaaaa? Then she videotaped me running on the treadmill in my Asics. I know that I over pronate, but holy cow, watching that tape, my ankles are turned in so much, I don't know how my feet haven't snapped right off my legs.

I tried on a few shoes, and it came down to Mizuno's and Nike Zoom. I haven't worn Nike since high school, so I wasn't sure about them, but they ended up being the most comfortable, and kept my feet centered and stable. I also have much more room for my toes, when I compare the two shoes, I can't get over how narrow the Asics are in the toe.

To test them out, I've done two quick, two miles runs in the Nike's on the treadmill, and last night the inside of my lower leg was sore, but I think it's because I haven't used that muscle much, and now the new shoes are forcing it to be used. I'm dying to see how they feel outside, but like most of the East Coast, we're having a snowstorm, for the first time this year the schools are closed.

This Saturday is the last group training run before next weekend's Shamrock Run, and I feel good about the hills. I was told we're having a Guinness toast after......'tis the season!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kelly is an Inspiration

Last week I wrote a post about Tricia, a blogger who I find inspirational. I'm excited about this next blogger profile, of my friend Kelly from My Life As A Trimommy.

I met Kelly at the library. Our youngest children were both babies at the time, and it turned out that we lived in the same neighborhood. Kelly is a mom of two boys, a wife, a flutist who teaches at a nearby college, and is also a Triathlete. I love to read Kelly's blog, she does so much with her life, that you can't help but get inspired to go out for a run, or to eat healthy. Plus she makes fantastic homemade bread. Kelly was happy to answer the questions I had for her, so read on!

What made you decide to become a Triathlete?

I don't think I ever decided. A good friend of mine encouraged me to try a triathlon a couple years after my first son was born. I trained all summer and at the end of the race the decision was made for me. I have been a triathlete ever since, and I love it!!

What kind of training plan do you follow, how did it come about?

This season I am training with a coach--Mary Eggers of Train-This Multisport. She plans all of my workouts for me once I send her my schedule for the week. My job is to just do them!! I love this because I am really busy, and it is just one less thing I have to worry about. Before this season I used online training plans from, which worked really well for me. They got me through my first sprint, my first olympic, and my first half-iron distance triathlons with great success.

What do you like best about the sport?

The best thing about triathlon is the community. At any given race you can race with professionals, elites, and age-groupers young and old, fast and not-so-fast, and everyone is cheering each other on and smiling and having a great time! I feel an instant connection to anyone who is a triathlete because I feel like they must be at least as crazy as me!

Of the three, swimming, biking, running, do you have a favorite?

During races my favorite discipline is swimming. I love swimming in open water, it feels so great to just glide through the water. For training, my favorite is running because it is so elemental--just me and my shoes (and my Garmin and my ipod...but I digress) out there in the beauty of God's world (unless I'm on a treadmill) running and running and running. It really makes me feel calm and powerful.

You're a musician, wife and mother, how do you balance everything along with your training and racing?

Well, I have an amazing husband who really supports me in everything I do. I definitely could not do it without him. I have also learned that balance is elusive, for me anyway. Usually if I'm doing one or two things really well, I feel like I am failing in another area, and if you can find any mother who doesn't feel this way, introduce me to her so I can figure out her secret!! So, my balance is slowly coming to me by realizing that it's okay to not be perfect, it's okay for my house to be messy (all the time), it's okay to miss a workout, it's okay to sometimes not want to be around my kids (honesty...right here), and it's definitely okay to eat chocolate every day.

What is Team Trakkers?

Team Trakkers is my main sponsor for the 2010 season. TrakkersGPS is a real time GPS tracking device that can be used for racing and training. My family that can't come to every race I'm in can watch me online in real time while I'm killing it in the swim, bike, run!! It tracks my speed, heart rate, pace, location and more. It's way cool!!

Do you have an off season? What keeps you motivated throughout the year?

I took some time off of running in the fall due to a foot injury, although I still swam and biked. I took two or three weeks last year where I didn't do anything I didn't want to, and didn't plan any workouts. If I felt like running, I did. If I felt like swimming, I did. If I felt like doing nothing, I did nothing. Honestly, I'm not sure what keeps me motivated most...knowing what races I have coming up or my skinny jeans.

What is some of your favorite gear, are you loyal to a certain brand? Do all triathletes name their bikes?

I love the clearance rack at Target...seriously, who can beat a sports bra for $8.97 that's cute to boot?? One of my sponsors this year through Team Trakkers is Saucony, and I am totally loving my new Xodus trail shoes. They are water-resistant which has been great with all of the snow we've been getting. I'm looking forward to getting them muddy!! I'm also a big fan of running skirts...that's pretty much all I wear for running when it's warm outside.

I'm not sure if all triathletes name their bikes, but when I got my first of my beautiful yellow Cervelo tri-bike, I just knew her name was Buttercup.

You do some barefoot running as a part of your rehab from a foot injury, how has that worked for you?

Barefoot running has totally changed the way I run. I am now a forefoot striker which is much better for my foot mechanically speaking. The hardest thing about the transition has been my super-tight calves and achilles. I have had to be really on top of stretching since I've switched. Lately, I try to get at least one short (30-40 min) run a week in my Vibrams on the treadmill.

What is your food philosophy?

I try to eat real food and avoid processed foods as much as possible. If it's fake I don't want it in my body. I try not to eat very much sugar at all. I have a little daily nutrition challenge I try to meet: 4 veggies a day, 3 fruits a day, no splurging or overeating, and lots of water. If I can I try to make it instead of pulling it out of a box. I also really try to treat what I eat as fuel for my training. I don't want to spend all this time training, then throw it down the drain by eating terrible foods.

What foods do you always have on hand, take us through a typical day of eating for you.

I like to start the day with either oatmeal w/ fruit and egg whites or a green smoothie which is frozen fruit, plain greek yogurt and raw spinach. I love sneaking veggies into breakfast, so a lot of times I'll put sweet potatoes in my oats, or add a bit of avocado into my smoothie. I almost always have coffee with cream too. For lunch I'll have a salad, eggs, or leftovers. For dinner I usually try to make some kind of lean meat or fish and lots of vegetables. For snacks I turn to celery, carrots, or apples with nut butter (I make my own in my food processor) or greek yogurt or Larabars.

What are your future goals?

My goal, as always, is to continue trying to reach my full potential as a mother, wife, flutist and triathlete. I definitely see myself competing in an Ironman at some point in the next few years, and I am looking forward to becoming a USAT certified triathlon coach in May.

and finally:

salty or sweet? sweet

George Clooney or Brad Pitt? Brad Pitt

Early Bird or Night Owl? Night Owl

Boxers or Briefs? I actually like boxer I allowed to say that?

Vampires or Werewolves? Vampires

Dogs or Cats? Dogs

and finally....

Reality Television, yes, or no? Let's just say I have watched every season of Survivor

Thanks Kelly, I think you rock!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blini and Bonuses make me happy

Since my family was visiting us this past week, Mike and I decided to wait until Saturday to celebrate Valentine's Day. We do the same thing every year, get the kids to bed, open a bottle of champagne, and have caviar and blini. It's much more fun than going out in the cold for an overpriced dinner.

Mike does a great deal of driving for his job, he averages 900 miles a week. So when the weekend comes, I try to avoid work talk, which is pretty much unavoidable. Although this past Friday ended on a great note, we found out what our tax refund is going to be, and Mike is finally getting a decent bonus for all his hard work. And because of that, Mike said he wanted to get a new TV for the living room, and I can finally get......a Garmin!!! So if anyone has any suggestions for me as I start shopping for one, let me know.

Now back to our meal, Mike went to Wegman's for the caviar, and brought home some other surprises. We started off with brie stuffed dates, with a drizzle of balsamic syrup. They were very rich, I could only eat one. Mike uses Ina Garten's recipe for blini, they always come out great, he made a shamrock shaped one just for kicks. I love caviar, and we paired it with creme fraiche, which I could eat like ice cream. We also had a few king crab legs, they were so sweet that you didn't even need butter. Of course there was chocolate for dessert, I ate them before I took a picture (big surprise), they were the perfect portion, about the size of a tall shot glass. We shared one in chocolate, the other coffee. Well, I kind of shared.

Here is the recipe for the blini, the recipe calls for a stick of butter, but you can get away with using a 1/4 of a stick:

1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 extra large egg
1 stick of clarified butter *we didn't clarify it this time, and only used 1/4 stick

Combine flours, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, milk and 1 tablespoon butter. Then whisk into flour.
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan, when hot, drop batter in the skillet, one tablespoon at a time.
Once bubbles form at the top of the blini (about 2 minutes), flip over and cook one more minute. Wipe the pan down with a paper towel, and repeat the process.

Top with whatever you like, Ina pairs them with smoked salmon and creme fraiche in her Barefoot in Paris Cookbook, one of my faves.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gorgeous Sunshine

I've added some more bling to my sidebar, thanks to Susan at Family Formula who gave me the Gorgeous blogger award, and to Tara at Colorado Runner and AJH at Age Groups Rock who gave me the Sunshine Award! Thanks chickies!

For the gorgeous award, I'm supposed to list six things about myself. I've gotten some new followers recently, so I thought I would just write about why I started this blog.....

I used to work in advertising sales for a newspaper in NYC, and I loved it. It was nice to be living back where I grew up, with my family and friends around me. I worked with great people, and I surprised myself at how successful I was at sales. I've always been active, I played field hockey in high school, was a cheerleader, and love tennis and riding my bike. You can read the story of how I became a runner here.

After Luke was born, I went back to work, and something changed in me. I didn't have the drive I once had, I was 32 and wanted to take a break and raise my son. So when he was a year old, Mike and I moved upstate, to his hometown. We bought a house that we had only seen on the internet, an ice storm prevented us from driving up for the open house, we knew if we didn't bid on it we would lose it. We saw it for the first time after the closing! I absolutely love my house and neighborhood, it worked out so well I truly think it was meant to be.

After I had Eliza, and as she grew, I started to feel a little unsettled. It's hard being a stay at home mom, and it's hard to adjust from running around to meetings and having a big social life, to days where the highlight might be to play in the basement instead of the family room. I would remind myself that I would go back to work at some point, and that I was lucky to be with the kids during these formative years.

When Eliza was five months old, I started training for the Boilermaker 15k. I was so happy to get back into running. Fast forward a year and a half later, and I developed tendonitis in my hamstring. That sidelined me for a good seven months, I had to go to physical therapy, and I gained weight. Which sucked.

I love to cook, and I love to eat. Always have, I thought about going to culinary school and still think about opening a restaurant. I love everything about food, shopping for it, reading about it, cooking for others, going out to eat. I plan my days around it. That can be a dangerous thing, so I try to find balance in what I eat and drink. I eat fruit and veggies, but I also eat cookies. I drink milk in smoothies, water when I'm thirsty, and wine or beer or a dirty martini when I want it. I'm a meat eater, but never order steak when I'm out because I think Mike grills them the best. I'm happy to eat vegetarian meals, which I do often. My mantra is Balance. I can't be extreme in one direction or the other, because it would drive me nuts.

Now I'm vigilant about stretching before and after runs, and icing my hamstring. I've run the Boilermaker three times, have a half marathon under my belt, and have my marathon plan set. I'm getting closer and closer to my "wedding weight" which is my ideal size, but I'm getting stronger overall. I still struggle at times with motherhood, but I think everyone does. I still miss my family and friends and NYC, but I'm grateful for where I am now. I started my blog as an outlet for all that goes on in my head on a daily basis. Like the top of my blog reads, I'm just trying to figure it all out.

Back to the awards, I'm going to pass these both along to these blog friends of mine, and I know some of you have received them, but I'm doing it anyway:
Susan at Family Formula
Nicole at Wanna Be WAHM
Girl with the Flour in her Hair at Peeling an Orange with a Screwdriver
Katie at Fit to Wed
Blue Violet at Nut in a Nutshell

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Marathon Musings

I loved reading all of the comments on my Tricia post.....I have some more profiles in mind so stay tuned!

It always amazes me how you can have one great run, and the very next can be lousy. My Mom is here for a visit this week, so I was able to get outside today for a run. It was snowing steadily, but 33 degrees, so I layered up and started looking for my gloves. I figured they were in my Jeep, which is a disgraceful mess. Found one, and was digging around, wasting time, then I looked down and realized I was holding both gloves. Typical me.

The snow was deeper than I thought, and I had to keep stopping to dig out the snow that was packed under my Yak Trax, which got old fast. I've given up using my ipod for outdoor runs, I took Mike's ipod shuffle. Listened to the Beastie Boys for a while, but lost steam when a bunch of mellow songs came on. I'm all for the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, but not when I'm running. After a while I felt like I was just shuffling through the snow, so I switched to the road, but got nervous again about cars sliding into me, so I went back on the trail. It was frustrating, but I ended up doing five miles.

This was such a contrast to my run last Saturday, I met up with the Lake Effect group. I ran with a couple new friends, who run about a 10 minute mile, so we had a great pace going. It was windy at first, but we got right into it, and nailed the scary hill. It was one of those runs where I could have kept going and going, but we headed back, after what I thought was four miles...turned out we did 5.8! I think I'm getting used to this chatting while running thing, it was a fun run.

I won't find out about the NYC Marathon until the end of March, so I decided on a backup plan. If I don't make it into NY, I decided I'll run the Rochester Full Marathon in September. I ran the half last year. Rochester is special to me, I lived there for five years, and go back often to visit friends. The Half was so much fun, I feel like I almost have to do the full. I can start a 26 week training plan in March, to be ready by fall. So that's that! My first full marathon will either be in Rochester, NY in September or I'll follow in my Dad's footsteps and run NYC in November. Whoo hoo!

I haven't posted many pictured of myself lately, so here I am before today's run. I look a little crabby, but I was dealing with flash issues.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tricia is an Inspriation

I'm a sucker for an US Weekly, or People magazine issue that features "How They Did It" stories. Weight loss, running a marathon, getting healthy, I eat it up (no pun intended). I love to read how the person succeeded in their goal. I really try to eat right and exercise, but I still need constant motivation to stay on track.

When I started this blog, I didn't realize how many fun, inspiring people I would "meet" in the blogosphere. I've decided to feature some of these virtual friends on my blog, so that you can see why I enjoy reading their blogs so much. I'm excited to feature Tricia from Endurance Isn't Only Physical, as the very first. Tricia is a wife and mother of a young son, who has physically transformed herself over the past year. Tricia lost over 122 pounds,
through hard work, determination, and good old diet and exercise. Tricia graciously answered the questions I had for her, so read on to hear her story:

You wrote that you didn't have an "a ha" moment that caused you to lose weight, but why did you choose January 5, 2009 to change your lifestyle?

Well, I always say I didn't have an "a ha" moment because it wasn't one specific moment. It was several things that all combined together finally convinced me it was time. My son is the most important thing in my life, once he started walking and running it became apparent that I wasn't going to be able to keep up with him. I wanted to be a good mother, and a good example. Also right about the time my son turned a year old we had family pictures taken. I was so excited until I got the pictures back. I was ashamed of how I looked and I refused to get any of the pictures printed. I started looking around my house and realized there weren't any pictures of me. And finally, I went to the doctor and he wanted to put me on medicine for high blood pressure. I was only 26. I asked the doctor to give me 3 months to get the numbers lower by losing weight. He was skeptical, but agreed. That was in December, but it took me until January to buckle down. It was supposed to be part of a New Years Resolution, but I didn't get around to eating healthy or working out until January 5th. That was the last time I said "enough is enough". I refer to that as the day I saved my life.

Who was your support system during this time?
I am blessed with a very supportive family. My husband has been there each day, cheering me on and joining in on eating right and working out. My parents and sisters live in a different state, but they were also super supportive. I would call each day and report my successes. You would think they would get tired of hearing "I walked 6 miles today," or "I love a pound since yesterday", but they never did. Instead they encouraged me and even let me know that I was inspiring them to get healthy.

What was the first thing that you did? Did you join a weight loss company, or do it on your own?
I have now lost 122 pounds and I'm proud to say I did it on my own. Over the last 10 years I tried ever fad diet out there without long term success. I knew this time had to be different. I wanted it to truly be a lifestyle change, so to me that meant doing something sustainable. The first thing I did was commit to it for 21 days. I had heard that it takes 21 days to make a habit. I promised myself that I would walk everyday for 21 days, and I would eat healthy every day for 21 days. After those 21 days were over I would reevaluate. If I wasn't happy with the results then I gave myself permission to stop. That may seem silly, but in the beginning that's what kept me going. "Its just 21 days, give it a shot." Well, in those 21 days I lost 20 pounds. Of course I was happy with the results, but by that point it wasn't just about the number on the scale. I was already seeing a HUGE increase in my fitness level. I went from hardly being able to walk a mile, to walking 6-10 miles every day in the first 3 weeks. I no longer looked forward to when I could stop, but instead looked forward to what I could do next.

Did you have a set weight loss number?
My initial goal was to lose 100 pounds in a year and then reevaluate a "goal weight". Starting at 278, that would put me at 178 by January of 2010. Well, I hit 178lbs in September of 2009. It took me under 9 months to lose 100 pounds. By January 2010 I had lost an additional 20 pounds and have continued to lose, just slowly. Today I weigh 156 (I'm 5'8'') and I no longer have a goal to lose weight, instead I am focusing on fitness and lifestyle goals. If more weight comes off along the way then that's just a bonus.

This was a year long process, how did you motivate yourself to keep going?
I tried to break it down into small goals, like one workout at a time or one healthy meal at a time. And then repeat that process. Its easy to do anything "once" and those "just one times" add on each other and before you know it you've strung together a week of being healthy. I'd be lying to say I wasn't motivated by the numbers. Each time I got on that scale and the number was lower I would get an instant boost. Nobody wants to eat pizza when they've just lost 3 pounds.

You have a young son, where do you find the time to fit in your workouts?
I'm a stay at home mother, so I had to work around my sons schedule. Sometimes that means working out when he naps, but more often that meant putting him in the jogging stroller and going for a walk (and later on a run). I'd pick a scenic route that he would enjoy and off we would go. Now when I'm working on strength training he does it with me. I love that my son comes up to me and says, "Can we work out Mommy?" He loves it!

Running is your passion, are you a treadmill runner, or do you run outdoors?
Outside, outside, outside, outside. :) I seriously avoid the treadmill at all costs.

Do you try and run every day, what kind of mileage do you do?
When I first started I was running everyday, but low miles. Once I got the miles up over 3 a day I cut back on the number of days I ran and increased the distance. I average 25 miles a week now, with a long run on Sundays and shorter runs on Tues/Wed/Friday.

If you run to music, what is on your ipod?
Lately I have been listening to audio books on the longer runs. "Eat,Pray,Love" is a favorite to run to. I've noticed I run slower to books though, so I'll only listen for about 20 minutes and then I'll go without music and just talk to my husband, then I'll listen to a book for awhile longer and finally finish out the run with some upbeat music. You can find anything from Black Eyed Peas, The Fray, Cold Play, Lady GaGa, AC/DC, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith and more on my ipod. Its such a crazy mix, but I love all kinds of music.

I know you plan to run a half marathon, but as you recover from your stress fracture, what new fitness goals have you set for yourself?
Yes, I was training for a half marathon when I got a stress fracture in my ankle. While that heals I have really been focusing on getting comfortable with strength training. I'm working on getting Michelle Obama arms. :) Once I'm released by the doctor to run again I'm going to slowly train for a full marathon. I'm planning on running Rock 'N Roll San Antonio in November.

What food items do you always have in your fridge or cabinets? Take us through a typical day of eating for you.
My day usually starts with a cup of hot green tea. I don't like to eat right away, so I'm usually up an hour or so before I eat breakfast. My favorite breakfast is a small whole wheat bagel with laughing cow cheese and an apple. Mid morning I'll snack on fruit or nuts. For lunch I often eat leftovers from the night before. Today I had a bowl of spaghetti squash with diced tomato's. In the afternoon I like an apple with all natural peanut butter. For dinner we're having grilled shrimp, baked squash and zucchini and a sweet potato. I end each day with a square of super dark chocolate. Yum! Of course there are some days where I don't want to cook. In that case, I'm a huge fan of the Morning Star Farms black bean patties and steam in a bag veggies. So simple. Staples in my house are the laughing cow cheese wedges, fresh Brussels sprouts (my favorite veggie!), all natural peanut butter, apples,100 calorie popcorn bags, black bean patties, Newmans Own Organic Chocolate, Steam in a bag veggies, and Arnolds Sandwich Thins.

When faced with a tempting food option, how do you tackle it?
Well, first I ask myself if I really want it. So often we eat things out of habit, not desire. If I do actually want it, I usually allow myself to have it. The key to my weight loss success has been moderation. I allow myself to eat what I want but in a small portion. My family teases me about my two bites of cake, but in all honesty usually we just want that taste. The first few bites are always the best anyway, so I just skip the rest.

I'm pretty loyal to brands, I have a favorite sock, running shoe, and pants that I go back to again and again. What are your running favorites?
For shoes I like my Mizuno Waves. Lately I've been loving my Oiselle Running roga shorts, my favorite running shirt is a Brooks tech tshirt, and my socks are Bridgedale Speed Divas. I almost always run in a hat, my Under Armour running hat is my favorite. I wear an iFitness sportbelt to hold my ipod and chapstick.

Just a few more questions, they're easy:

salty or sweet? sweet (although I would give up sweets forever in favor of my true weakness---bread)

George Clooney or Brad Pitt? George Clooney

Beyonce or Lady Gaga? Lady Gaga

Early Bird or Night Owl? Night Owl

Boxers or Briefs? Boxers

Dogs or cats? Dogs

and finally...

Reality TV, yes, or no? Yes, although I'm going to admit I'm probably the only one that's never seen a single episode of The Bachelor, or Jersey Shore.

Thank you Tricia! I think you truly rock.

Friday, February 12, 2010

crock pot love

I have family coming to town this week. I'm excited to see them, but I automatically start thinking of what we're going to eat. I tend to plan our activities around food. My sis and brother in law love Mexican, so tomorrow I'm making enchilada's and Sunday we'll barbeque something. My sis lives in an apartment, so she likes to take advantage of our grill while she's here. My Mom will arrive after they leave, we've made reservations for dinner on Fat Tuesday, steaks all around.
I can't believe Ash Wednesday is upon us. I haven't given much thought to what I'm giving up this year for Lent. Usually it's chocolate, although one year I gave up beer, which was particularly difficult on St. Patrick's Day. My Mom gives up listening to the radio, hmmm, maybe I should give up the ipod for my outdoor runs, since it turns off anyway!
My sister recently bought a crock pot, so while she's here I'm going to give her some recipes for it. I remembered I made beef stew a few weeks ago, I ate it for four meals in a row. It's a cross between Ina Garten's Beef Bourguignon, and Tyler Florence's Ultimate Stew. Speaking of Bourg, I finally saw Julie and Julia last weekend, and loved it. The Julie segments take place in Long Island City, which kept reminding me of Astoria.
Here is the beef stew recipe, it's better the next day, which gives you a chance to skim off any fat that had accumulated overnight:
one bottle of burgundy wine
3 pounds of beef chuck, cut in cubes
one pound of carrots, cut in half, then into chunks
two large vidalia onion, cut into quarters
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
8 potato's, peeled and cut into quarters
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 1/2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups flour
olive oil
kosher salt
ground pepper
Pat the beef with a paper towel, season it with salt and pepper, then toss in the flour to coat.
Shake off the excess in a strainer, so that it's lightly coated.
In a large pan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil, and 3 tablespoons of butter, add the beef in small batches to brown, then set the beef inside a heavy stockpot or crock pot.
De glaze the pan with about a cup of wine, then scrape up all the beef bits. Add a tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of pepper, the carrots, garlic, and onion, stir and cook about 8 minutes.
Add this to the beef, along with the rest of the wine, beef stock, bay leaf, thyme, potato and mushrooms.
Bring to a boil, cover, set to simmer for 2 - 3 hours until vegetables are tender. Get a hunk of bread and dive in.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh Erika, I've missed you

I realized after reading comments on my last post, that I didn't write what I thought about the Yak Trax! If you aren't familiar with them, they are made of stretchy rubber, with small metal coils that make a criss cross pattern on the bottom of your running shoe. The springs grip the snow as you run, and the day I went, there was enough snow for the springs to sink into, so I felt level as I ran. I didn't slip or fall once, and at one point I was aware of a patch of ice under my feet, but it wasn't an issue.

Later that night, there were parts of my feet that felt a bit sore, and when I woke up the next day my legs and left arch were tired. I think some of my muscles got more of a workout than others, while they dealt with having that weird surface under my feet.
Today I was in dire need of some stretching, so I got out my pulse yoga dvd. But then I decided to see if there was anything good on the Sportskool channel, and there was! My absolute favorite yoga for runners workout was listed, by Erika Schnicke. They change the classes pretty often, but I haven't found a yoga workout that I like as much as this one. It was great to go through the poses and see how much progress I've made. I do Standing Forward Bend when I stretch before and after a run, and I was psyched that I can put my forehead to my knees, just like Erika.
I've got a huge caffeine buzz right now, which is good because I need to clean my house before my family visits this weekend. I made a trip to Starbucks, which I don't do often, but I had to go to the bank and it just happens to be next door. I usually get a venti non-fat vanilla latte, but today I went for a skinny cinnamon dolce latte, sugar free with skim milk. The house is going to be sparkling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yakkity Yak

Yesterday Luke had school in the morning again, and Eliza had preschool at the same time. So after the drop offs, I realized I had two and half hours...alone!!! I thought of going out to cross country ski, because I haven't gone at all this year. But then I spied my Yak Traxs sitting alone in the closet, and decided to take them out for an inaugural run.

The temps were in the high 20's, and there was a good amount of snow covering the roads and trails in my neighborhood. It was nice to not have to rush out for a run, then feel pressure to run home to the kids, I just relaxed and went with the flow. I had a spring in my step (pun intended), and my ipod lasted for a staggering eight songs before the cold turned it off (in the middle of Temple of the Dog). I chose a six mile loop that includes several different types of hills. I'm starting to do more inclines in my runs, to prep for two very hilly races I have coming up, the Shamrock Run four miler, and the Mountain Goat ten miler.

I had to go onto the road for one part of the run, when a car turned onto the street going a bit too fast, and started fishtailing toward me. I was all set to hop into the woods, but they got control and stayed away. It's a good thing Mike doesn't read my blog, otherwise my days of running in the snow would be over.

I made it home in 58 minutes. Then I threw together a bit of summer in a glass, a smoothie made with Amazing Grass, Chia seeds, banana, strawberries, and milk. I also had a bunch of water with lemon. I had a dream the other night that I worked out with Jackie Warner, which my friend Jen did for real. According to Jackie, if you add lemon to water, it helps burn calories. I wish she would do another season of Workout.

Speaking of television, I'm not really loving the new season of Lost. Spoiler alert....I'm not digging how they're alternating between the two realities. I want to know what Juliet meant when she said "it worked." I bummed she got killed off, poor Sawyer, love him.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I've decided it's genetics

I realized that whenever I do a recap of a run, there is always a sentence about how I missed out on looking at my surroundings, because I was too busy looking at the ground. This is so I don't trip and fall. I'm always stumbling, and I usually have a couple of bruises somewhere on my body, so there is a definite risk in falling. I don't think its me, I think I only have my family genes to blame. Just to give you an idea of my clumsiness:

I once fell off a bike, that was not in motion, and gashed open my leg. Still have the scar.

I've stapled my finger twice. Twice.

I once dropped a razor in the shower, and cut open my toe.

I was walking down a hill to make the school bus, slipped in my gold penny loafers, and ripped open my green stirrup pants, and knee. It was the late '80's, hence the color combo.

Once at a high school football game, I was getting off the school bus with the rest of the band (flute, in case you're wondering), and I fell down the stairs. I sat the entire game with my foot up on a base drum, covered with a bag of ice.

I had a pocket knife close on my pinkie during a camping trip. Still have the scar.

In college I:

1. slipped on some ice coming out of class, then fell down the stairs. I had a bruise the size of my roommate's head.
2. tripped on a hill, and sprained my ankle. Back at the dorm, they called the EMT's since I couldn't walk. Per school policy, they strapped me to a chair-like contraption and carried me down four flights of stairs, in full view of everyone. Dork.
3. at a party, I went down a staircase too quickly, and broke my ankle. Mike and I were dating. We got a ride to the ER, and he went in to get a wheelchair for me, and proceeded to wipe out into the sliding glass doors. One fell and glass shattered all around him. Jinx?
4. walked into the living room of my apartment, and broke my toe on the couch.

One New Year's Eve, I was waiting tables. I fell down the stairs (shocker) carrying a full tray of champagne filled glasses. I had a bruise on my thigh the size of my head, and I think I did some deep tissue damage, that sucker didn't go away for weeks.

Another night, coming home from waitressing, I wiped out on black ice, and the entire contents of my purse scattered in slow motion across the dark parking lot. I called out to a non-existent friend that I would "be right there" in case someone was in the bushes waiting to kill me.

I was coming out of a bathroom in a bar in New Orleans, and I slipped on a weird step, and.....broke my ankle.

My sister A has a problem with doors. She walked into a plate glass door because she thought it was open, there was a perfect rectangle on the glass where her forehead hit. Another time she walked into a screen door, then kept walking, and broke the entire door out of the frame, just like the Hulk.

I could go on, but I won't. I think I have my parents to blame for all of this. My dad once put his hand through a window while trying to open it, fell and broke his wrist while going down a flight of stairs, then broke his collarbone falling off his bike while training for a triathlon. My mom broke her ankle, walking into a room.

I don't know. I hope L&E get Mike's genes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I ran like it was a summer weekend

I'm wrapping up a great week running wise, as well as cross training. I logged 19.75 miles, I'm still friends with my resistance band, and Mike and I have been tossing the medicine ball back and forth while we make dinner. It's been chilly, but I made it outside twice this weekend for runs.

Saturday I met Jeannine with the Lake Effect crew, and we pounded out 6.5 miles in a hilly neighborhood, in preparation for the Shamrock Run. It was about 18 degrees out, but it felt colder. About a mile in, we finished up a long, steep hill, which everyone dreads, and my ipod turned off, AGAIN! This time it was in the middle of a T.I./Justin Timberlake song, which really pissed me off. I must be getting used to not running with music, after a few minutes I just got into a good pace and stayed with it, and we ended up doing the scary hill a second time. After we headed inside for coffee, my ipod suddenly turned back on, so I think the cold weather is messing with it.

Today was the Chilly Chili 5k, in Cazenovia. The temperature got colder the closer we got to the race start, I think it was about 15 degrees, and a light snow was falling. We had group of 7 family members running, and walking, and I ran into some Lake Effect friends. The biggest surprise was seeing my college roommate!

I lined up in the 8-10 minute group, I didn't want to have a repeat of the last 5k I ran and get caught behind some slower runners. My 12 year old nephew was with me, but when the gun went off, that was the last I saw of him, he ran it in 26 minutes, speedy boy! The course went through the village, which was pretty, then looped around a residential area. I was warned about the steep hill at the end of mile one, but I nailed it. I wanted to look around more, but there were some patches of ice, and with the snow falling, I kept my head down. With my history of broken legs, the last thing I need is to fall and hurt myself.

The race went by quickly, I kept pace with a woman about my age. She told me that she was trying to keep up with me, which I thought was funny, I said I was trying to keep up with her! I finished in about 31 minutes, which was fine with me, I didn't have a goal for this one.

There was a beer tasting and chili cook off at the finish, but by the time we got everyone over there, most of the chili was gone, but I did try some beer. We have a pot of chili on the stove for the Superbowl anyway, and beer. Which I am going to help myself to right now. Go Saints!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

change happens

We're up a bit earlier than usual today, and it's giving me an idea of what my mornings will be like next year. Luke goes to kindergarten in the afternoon, we're probably the last school district in the county that doesn't have full day yet. Today the school is having an outdoor winter Olympics, games in the snow, so he's going in the morning with everyone else. Sounds like fun to me, I want to go play games!

I'm winding up the week with mixed feelings. On the running front, I'm doing well so far for February, I've logged seven miles, and I plan to run on the treadmill after I post this. I have a six mile run planned for Saturday with the running group, and on Sunday I have a 5K. So I'm on my way to making up for miles lost in January.

I found out this week that my Mom is putting her house on the market after living there for 32 years. Yes, the haunted house. My siblings and I are bummed, it's the house where everything has happened for us, and now its time for a big change. My mom is looking at a condo in a 55+ community, which is what she needs, she's alone quite a bit. But I'm so sad to say goodbye to where I grew up, when we moved upstate, I always knew I could go back to visit, get my dose of NYC and the beach. I knew the sale would happen eventually, so I'm going to let myself be a bit sad, but also know that it's best for my Mom.

This is a photo of Eliza getting ready for beach day at school, note the snow outside the window. I love it when they have theme days at school, I'm already looking forward to being the room mom for St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Newman's Own Organics, Take One

When I received the package from Newman's Own Organics to do a review, Mike said "oh it's organic, so we can eat all we want, right?" I reminded him that we're trying to be about "balance" in our diet, including snacks, so this was a great area to start.

I wrote a bit about Newman's Own in an earlier post, they are about "great tasting food that happens to be organic", products we loved as kids, but better. Everything they use in their line is organic, including Palm Fruit Oil, which has no trans fats, is not hydrogenated, and is used in Europe as an alternative to partially hydrogenated oils. If you aren't familiar with hydrogenated oils, they are added to processed foods to prolong their shelf life. They cause a myriad of problems to health, and have been called the "silent killer" because it damages the body over time.
Let's get to the good stuff, I'll start with the organic mints, which includes peppermint, wintergreen, cinnamon, and ginger flavors, in rolls, and tins. Mike brought some to a business meeting to see what people would say (he didn't mention my blog review), and I passed some around to the crew when we saw Wicked. We noticed right off that there was no chemical taste, it was a pure, sweet flavor. The cinnamon had a nice heat, and the ginger was actually spicy! The roll candy did not have a hole in the middle, but they didn't last very long once you popped them in your mouth. The tin mints on the other hand were interesting, they had a rough surface, unlike other tin mints, which made me think that they weren't as processed, which is a good thing. Overall, thumbs up on the mints.

Now onto the cookies, oh the cookies made us happy: first up, Newman -O's sandwich cookies, in ginger/cream and chocolate/chocolate cream. The ginger cookies were crisp, like ginger snaps, and the cream was really creamy. I loved the chocolate chocolate, it reminded me of dessert. Again, there was no chemical taste, unlike other sandwich cookies, which to me have a kind of waxy texture to their cream.

Next, we tried Hermits, soft cookies made with raisins and molasses, in cinnamon, and ginger. I have to say I was surprised at the variety of ginger cookies in the line, I don't often see ginger as a main ingredient in other brands. These reminded me of oatmeal bars, soft, with crystallized sugar sprinkled on top. Both had a nice smell, although I preferred the cinnamon, as did Eliza.

Last up for cookies (although I have more cookies to write about in my next post) were Champion Chip Cookies, in chocolate chip, and chocolate chocolate chip. They came in a bag, and I liked how they had a tape on the package, so you could reseal after opening. These cookies are on the small side, Mike thought they tasted like his Aunt's cookies, and that's saying something. The chocolate chips were the best part, I thought the cookies could use a few more of those. The chocolate chocolate cookies were a bit dry, but still had a great chocolate flavor.
I'll switch gears to one more product for this post, the Soy Crisps, in Lightly Salted, and Barbecue. I'm not a fan of rice cakes, they don't fill me up, so I don't see the point. But these crisps are made from rice and soy, and have seven grams of protein in a serving. They were surprisingly filling, I've been snacking on them in that hungry time between feeding the kids and having my dinner with Mike. I liked the Lightly Salted better, the BBQ flavor was a little sweet.

So far, I'm really happy with the Newman's Own Organics. I honestly can say that everything has a cleaner taste, you can tell the ingredients are a high quality. Stay tuned for part two of my Newman's review, where I tackle dried fruit, pretzels, more cookies, and.....I don't think I can stand it, their line of organic chocolate bars.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tweet Tweet

Well, I decided that blogging, facebook, foodbuzz and two email addresses weren't enough, so I joined the world of Twitter. I'm still figuring it out, so far I've found the real Twitter accounts of Demi Moore, John Mayer, and Sara Snow. Sadly no Nigella Lawson. So this should be fun. I've gone through and followed as many of you blog friends who Tweet (or is is Twit?) so let me know if I missed you.

You can follow me by clicking on my Twitter bird on my sidebar, and I wanted to say thank you to my blog friend Sophia's Mom at Wannabe Blog Design for the button!

Monday, February 1, 2010

accountability time

January went by so fast. I like how February first is a Monday, which I always think is the real start of the week. Day one of a new month, with a new set of goals.

I'm behind on my 1,000 miles in 2010 challenge. To be fair, I planned on keeping my runs to one or two a week, so I could really focus on other parts of my bod. Plus I got sick. I logged 31 miles, but I have gotten better at planks, and I can do the Sun Salutation pose like a champ. It's weird how on some of the exercises on Wii Fit, I'm a four star rock star, but others I'm a one star fitness newbie. I'll keep at it this month, and run as often as I can, I have a 5k this Sunday, the Chilly Chili. Any race that ends in a chili cook off is my kind of run. I've got to try and get out for some cross coutry skiing too, I haven't gone yet this year. Oh, and ice skating never happened yesterday, we didn't have time to make it to open skate. So we settled for a walk at Beaver Lake instead, which was great.

On the food front, I lost two pounds, not five like I hoped, but hey it's still a loss. And I fell off the chocolate bandwagon a few times, those Newman's Organics are hard to resist (more on that later).

On the parenting front, all of a sudden Luke is asking us the "hard" questions. He's been curious about death, who dies, if kids die, and if he's going to die. The weird thing is I think it's coming from Michael Jackson of all places. Mike sat him down and was straight forward with him about it, but in a sensitive way. I guess it's better to be honest about it, while it's a lousy topic, I don't want him to be confused about it.

Then it was my turn. Yesterday Luke asked me "how the heck do babies get out of the mommy's belly anyway?" and I said "who wants cake?!"