Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Munchies

Seriously, how yummy is this? Mini Pop Tarts-Brilliant and Super Easy! Basically, just buy pre-made pie crust, popsicle sticks, and fresh fruit (you dice it up). But if you want the exact recipe and directions, check it out here. The recipe uses cherries, but I think I might be creative and try raspberries and strawberries...or maybe even blackberries, when they're in season.

Better yet - make these seasonal. For Easter, drizzle pastel marshmallow cream over them. For 4th of July, blueberries and strawberries would please. Halloween would be so fun and you could add Halloween-shaped sprinkles to them. So many ideas and fun to be had!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Make It Miami

Friday was a full day of Miami University activities. Karen, you'd be proud! Meg has finally committed to Miami, which just kills these two Ohio University graduates. But since Meg grew up on the OU campus, it's understandable why she'd want to try her hand at a different college.

Our first visit to Miami during her junior year was a bust. Meg wasn't AT ALL INTERESTED in attending Miami. She disliked the small town feel and she hated that they only had two coffee shops. Forget the fact that, where we live, we only have two coffee shops and it works just fine, thank you very much. After several other college visits, as well as an additional trip to see Miami again, she knew that Miami was for her. Friday only sealed the deal (and required Mom to make that whopping deposit).

I have to admit, Miami University did a great job of entertaining the parents and introducing us to the campus. The most fun of the day for my girls was eating in the dining halls. Meg was excited that they had healthy food (tilapia, brown rice and veggies) as well as unhealthy food (cupcakes, cookies, ice cream). Just look at how happy they looked!

All in all, it was a good day. I still can't believe this day is here, where my little girl is big enough to go away to college!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Travel and Races

As I told the Mr. yesterday, I have the "itch" to travel for a race. I don't know if it's the combination of not checking off any states for the past couple of months or the fact that I can't stand how high the airfares have become, but I have the itch to run elsewhere. So as a happy compromise, I registered for two Columbus races.

I know, that's not REALLY traveling. But with a 5-year-old, oh yes it is traveling! Anything over 30 minutes constitutes a trip!

And off we shall go next week for a race that starts and finishes at COSI. I'm excited because I get in a race (a short one), and I can take the girls somewhere fun. Best of all, it's ok to wear my running clothes because I will have just completed a race. And who doesn't love not having to shower and get cleaned up to go somewhere?! Bonus!

Oh, did I mention that when you sign up for the two races - a 5k and a 10k - you get a Brooks Running Jacket and a tech tee. Awesome! And, there's more. Jeni's Ice Cream is one of the sponsors so I'm pretty darn excited to try out their stuff, which I've heard so many good things about!

Can't wait!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Running Items

The running is getting more consistent. For three weeks now, I have managed to get in at least 3 runs each week. The mileage isn't off the charts, but at least I'm being consistent and injury-free.

Two new items that I included in my run this week were my new CW-X bra. Love love love it! I never knew a uniboob could actually feel so comfortable. I bought it in black as I thought it might be good when tri season makes it way to Northern Ohio.

Second item I loved this week was my new sunglasses. Husband bought me a pair of Tifosi sunglasses with interchangeable lenses after I oooh'd and ahhh'd over Karen's last fall. I couldn't believe how comfortable they were on the run yesterday - no slipping or fogging - and it was a hot day!

This week, I should be in double digits for running and I can't wait!

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Jig and a Jog

On a whim, Megan and I registered for the first annual St. Patrick's Day Jig and a Jog 5k race. The race started at the local park across from Sullivan's, a wonderful Irish pub in Lakewood. We didn't expect much for our $20 registration fee, but was wowed with all we did receive! We got a pretty good-looking long-sleeve cotton tee that I would actually wear out. Post-race, they served bottled water, Rice Krispie treats, Nutrigrain bars, bagels and apples AS WELL AS pancakes with strawberries, powdered sugar and whipped cream. Amazing! The course was non-eventful as most 5k's are, but we were happy to squeeze in a little run while spending the morning together. We passed on the free food and instead brought back green bagels from Brueggers to Bridget and Greg and enjoyed the start of a very good St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm a Big Girl Now

I had promised Bridget last year that, when she turned 5, she could get her ears pierced. Just my luck, my daughter has a steel-trap memory. So off we went to Claire's. And my gosh the prices have increased since Meg was five! Yeah, I know...13 years HAVE passed since then...but $54? Anyway, she was over-the-top excited, was such a brave little girl, never cried (winced, yes), and off we went to celebrate with frozen yogurt. A good day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Bed, A Brewery and Baseball

We just returned from a fantastic weekend in Cooperstown, New York. If you've never visited this quaint little town, you really must add it to your to-do list. It's a long 7-hour drive from Northern Ohio, but packed with fun!

A blogger and his wife, from one of the running blogs I regularly read, had returned from the Bed and Brews weekend. I checked into it and decided it would make the perfect Christmas present for my husband. I checked with his parents to watch the kids and booked the March weekend. What a great decision!

During our drive Friday, we stopped in Findlay Lake for lunch at a new little find tucked away. Great line-up of draft beers and a pretty decent fish sandwich (it was Friday, after all). We made it just in time Friday to check in to the hotel and grab dinner at Alex and Ika's for what may be the best Sangria I've ever had. In the Sangria, they put Brandy and Port "drunken blueberries." They were so yummy that Greg and I were fishing them out of glasses to make sure we got every last drop! Our dinner was outstanding - potato and leek soup with arugula salad. Wanting to see more of the town, we found another little bar in the basement and enjoyed a beer while watching the rest of the Syracuse game. This would be our only TV time this weekend! Shocking, I know.

I cannot say enough good things about The Inn at Cooperstown. The owners were welcoming. The rooms were wonderful, albeit without television! The breakfast was so yummy and the location was perfect. Situated on Chestnut Street, you are just a short walk of 100 yards to downtown Main Street and slightly more than 100 yards in the other direction to the lake. Perfect. And best of all, as part of our package we had a gigantic bottle of the Ommegang special reserve brew with two chalices. Wow!
Inside our room. You can see the giant bottle near the window. Wow!

With no TV, Greg entertained me with a round of shadow puppets!

Woke up early for breakfast in the lobby. Cooperstown was blanketed in snow, so what else would you think about doing in freezing cold weather but run! I gave Greg a little free time and I set out for a half hour run to scout out the town on foot. Saturday was designated as free time by the Inn to explore the town. We set off to first visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. We had little expectation here, but were pleasantly surprised. We easily spent 3 hours wandering around the exhibits and reading all the history. I highly recommend visiting this National museum as it was both educational and enjoyable. I enjoyed seeing the display on the Big Red Machine as growing up in Southern Ohio, I was a big Cincinnati Red fan (and funny enough, my girlfriend dated Johnny Bench in the late 80s-oh yes, he was MUCH older, but it was Johnny Bench!).

We had lunch in the local diner, which was cool and, of course, I had a hot dog while there. What else would you eat after taking a baseball tour?! Greg stopped in the Cooperstown Bat Company and had a bat engraved. He almost never picks up something for himself while traveling, so this was pretty awesome that he found something he wanted to take home. Afterwards, we checked out an Antique store that had so much crap in the front yard, I HAD TO CHECK IT OUT! It was actually colder inside the store than outside, but that didn't stop me from making a purchase. I found the neatest copper cowbell to hang in the kitchen - perfect for announcing dinner! With all this activity, it was time for a short nap before heading out for our Ommegang Brewery tour and dinner.

We loaded up on the trolley at promptly 6:15pm for our Ommegang Brewery Tour. I loved the trolley ride - what a perfect touch. The tour was absolutely fantastic, but the evening would just keep getting better! After the tour, we gathered into one of their large gathering rooms and sampled 6 different brews from Ommegang - the Witte, the BPA, Rare Vos, Abbey Ale, Hennepin, and their newest, just released brew, the Art of Darkness. After enjoying the samples along with some yummy cheeses, meats and grapes, we assembled in to the dining area for the spectacle of food that would later greet us.

Each course was perfectly paired with an Ommegang brew. I was initially worried that I would scrunch my nose at some of the offerings or would feel too bloated to enjoy the food AND beer. I was wrong. Thank goodness I was wrong because this may have been the best evening for beer and it would have been an injustice to have missed any of this!

Greg enjoying a sampling of the special Art of Darkness.

The first course was the shrimp corn fritter followed by a muligatawny soup. Outstanding. The salad was offset by caramelized almonds, gorgonzola cheese and pears. I also loved that the salad was served with the Witte, which may have been my favorite pairing - light and crisp. The main course was beef cubes in a prune sauce (hard to believe, but the prune sauce was delicious!), brussel sprouts leaves, and a slice of layered sweet potato casserole. Dessert was a dark chocolate cupcake, cut in half and served with dark chocolate ice cream wonderfully paired with Three Philosopher's, which has a hint of Cherry Lambic in it. Mmmmmm!

We waddled out of dinner into the gift shop to grab the special edition of Art of Darkness, a bottle of Seduction porter, and their special maple syrup. Rode the trolley back listening to some pretty funny stories from the other couples, then enjoyed a nightcap in the lobby with other Inn guests who weren't quite ready to call it a night.

Had to leave super early Sunday morning so we could get back for Meg's swim banquet, but what a wonderful weekend with the husband!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Race on the Horizon

I needed a race to plan toward. I just felt like I had no purpose. Yeah, going out for a run without pressure is great and all, but it's also nice to have an end game. Since airfare has been so outrageously priced lately, I haven't planned any out of state races, which has been a bummer since I just have 8 states remaining! So local it is!

Northern Ohio is full of fantastic running events. Everything from the LULA 5k to the Burning River 100-mile trail race is done right! After hearing such great reviews about the Akron Marathon, as well as missing the marathon distance, I took advantage of their early registration rate. Best of all, every tenth person to register gets an Akron marathon hat. Guess who was the tenth registrant? This girl!

So let the training begin...slowly. I ran in 27 degree weather on Monday, then was greeted with 57 degrees Wednesday. I'm finding my groove while I'm working on my base and strength training for the next two months before increasing the mileage. Maybe this time, I'll actually get it right!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Privilege of Voting

My 18-year-old had the privilege of voting in her first election this past Tuesday. It was a very exciting time for her! I remember the first time I voted. My father was one of the County Commissioners at the time. He drug me out of the house in my hot rollers (oh yeah, you remember those with the metal clips and steaming hot, hard rollers?!). I remember thinking I'd be devastated if someone saw me looking like this, instead of realizing what a privilege it was to have the right to vote.

So yay, Megan! Never take it for granted and always remember to vote!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bridget's 5th Birthday Celebration

This past weekend marked my little one's fifth birthday! I remember bringing her home in a snow storm, so it was no surprise to be celebrating her birthday with snow flurries.

Friday, her actual birthday, she picked her restaurant for her birthday dinner. In classic style, she selected the Screaming Rooster for it's Skee Ball. She even told Greg, "Daddy, you better bring ALL your quarters!" Thanks, Grandpa, for celebrating with us!

Bridget in her new birthday outfit - such a girly girl!

Saturday, in the freezing cold and horrible wind, we visited the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for their Platypus Day Celebration. They had a father/daughter dance contest and my father/daughter duo took home a prize of a one year membership to the Cleveland Natural History Museum! Way to celebrate her birthday weekend!

After this picture, Bridget spent the rest of the day watching the Phineas and Ferb marathon on Disney.

Sunday, to cap off her birthday weekend, we enjoyed a birthday party at our local Recreation Center pool with her preschool friends. So much fun! We started with a limbo contest led by Megan and Taylor, had a table for coloring their goody bags complete with goldfish and swedish fish and fish tattoos (thanks, Aunt Angie, for helping us manage the chaos!), and then we cut the Aloha-themed cake. Next, it was pool time!

What a wonderful weekend! Happy Birthday, Bridget!

Monday, March 5, 2012

30 Days of Biking Begins April 1

Tonight, Century Cycles posted about the 30 Days of Biking. I remembered reading about this last year, but was late to the party. So this time, I signed up right away and committed to riding my bike every day in April.

Go check out the challenge. It's not strenuous and could include a half mile ride around the block. This is the description on their page:

30 Days of Biking, whose third year begins April 1, 2012, has one rule: Bike somewhere every day for 30 days—around the block, 20 miles to work, whatever suits you—then share your adventures online. We advocate daily bicycling because we believe it enriches lives and preserves the Earth. A worldwide, thousands-strong community of joyful cyclists has been forming around that idea since April 2010—and will further amass in 2012. We ride our bikes every day!

Karen, this could be your perfect challenge for April!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Barcelona Fun in February

This was the second trip to Spain for everyone except Bridget (her first international trip), but our first to Barcelona. What a great, family-friendly town!

Let's begin with the longest flight EVER! Fortunately, our coach seats had a little bit of legroom and free movies. How on earth can you be expected to entertain yourself for 8+ hours without TV?! I got my Ryan Gosling-George Clooney fix by watching the Ides of March. And I gotta admit, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti stole the show! Really great scene between Paul Giamatti and Ryan Gosling that I didn't see coming. This was Bridget's first flight exceeding 5 hours, and she was a trooper!

We left Saturday afternoon, had a short layover in Newark, then arrived Sunday morning in Barcelona. Our hotel was outstanding and would highly recommend the Grand Central or anyone traveling to Barcelona. Knocked around the area close to hotel, enjoyed a much-needed pastry and cafe con leche. Had a long nap to make up for the fact that we had no idea what time to sleep.

Beautiful old church near our hotel.

Best part of our first day in Barcelona was the Flamenco show and tapas dinner at night. Spectacular!

She was an amazing and passionate dancer!

Monday started with a late breakfast at hotel. Because we were jet-lagged, we nearly missed the complimentary breakfast as it ended at 11am and we arrived at a fashionably-late 10:50am! After fueling up on fresh fruits and pastries, we headed out in search of La Boqueria on Las Ramblas. The market is like the Westside Market, but on a grander scale. So worth the visit!

The grand entrance to the chaos!

The inside was filled with thousands of people shopping for fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, fresh herbs and little shops.

Jamon was hanging on every corner shop in La Boqueria.

We snaked in and out of neat little shops, logging in 5 miles! I know this to be true because I activated our Cyclemeter app just to see how much we might have walked. And we were hoping that all the walking to somehow negate all the chorizo, cheese, pastries and cafe con leche (with whole milk) that we would be consuming!

You can see the amazing design elements of the buildings in Barcelona.

We also soon became big fans of the afternoon siesta! What a great way to recharge with a nap. Feeling refreshed, we wandered around for a bit before finding a quaint little tapas bar where the three of us shared a lovely bottle of Rioja while leisurely sharing small plates with each other.

Early Tuesday, Greg headed to his conference while we went to the Aquarium. When traveling with kids, it always helps to do fun kid stuff. No 5-year-old enjoys shopping all day! We did realize that we've become aquarium snobs as we've visited about 10 different aquariums while traveling to knock out 50 states. Our "fish" demands, I suppose, are quite high! But we did have great fun for a couple hours here.

Love this picture of my girls on this trip!

Here fishy, fishy!

Shopping near hotel proved quite expensive, resulting in a dress (Zara) and purse (Shana) for Megan, a full outfit for Bridget (Benetton) and a scarf (Mango) for me. For lunch, we broke down and found someplease where Bridget would eat.

Neat row of bicyles spotted during our walk.

Up to this point, she was existing off of the applesauce and shredded wheat cereal I had packed. She is not an adventurous eater. So we lunched at the Hard Rock Cafe, where she had Mac n cheese, which she thanked me over and over for with kisses! Now that we were fueled up, we found the wonderful shopping along the Passeig de Gracia.

One of the Gaudi-style buildings along the Passeig de Gracia.

Bridget was exhausted from all the shopping and fell asleep while meg and I enjoyed a late afternoon cafe con leche.

How beautiful is this work of art?!

Another great work of art - an LV purse as the "cherry on top"! *swoon*

Met up with Greg outside Burberry then headed back to the hotel for an early evening rest period. We walked at least 6-7 miles today and earned that rest period! Found another neat little place around the corner from our hotel...that turned out to have a big gay and lesbian following, but an excellent sangria con cava!

As part of the Paella, Megan enjoyed eating this little fellow!

Finished off the evening with a bottle of Tempranillo on the rooftop.

Enjoying the evening at the rooftop bar of our hotel.

This would be our last full day in Barcelona si we wanted to see as much as possible. Greg headed out for his conference and, after studying the metro system, the girls and I headed out to take the train to Parc Guell. Parc Guell was designed by Gaudi and was supposed to be a must-see when visiting Barcelona. We had no idea what we were getting into! But my conservative estimate has our trek coming in at around 5 miles! Fortunately, Bridget was in the stroller. Unfortunately, Megan wore her trendy boots! Ouch!

The entrance to Parc Guell.

View from the top of Parc Guell, which really was incredible.

Great story while wandering around Parc Guell. First, we had no idea how long of a walk it would be to the top. After awhile, I was "committed" to seeing this walk through. Bridget was starting to fall asleep in the stroller. Meg was whining. We reach the top, and decide to take the "alternate" route down because it was more concrete and less pebbles (hard for pushing the stroller). Turned out the "alternate" route down took us behind a school and toward a neighborhood. Not the direction we needed to go! We ran into this lady walking her dog that held her hand up and said, "No!" She only spoke Spanish. Crap! Megan, who has had 4 years of Spanish, had to do the talking/interpreting. I'm snickering loudly from a combination of exhaustion and hearing Megan saying No Arriba! Abaho! She sounded like Dora and Diego at this point!

After making our way to the bottom finally, we rewarded ourselves with jamon con queso sandwiches and icy cold water! A foot massage would have worked wonders, if available!

Consulting my Metro cheat-sheet, we headed over to visit La Sagrada Familia and let B burn off some steam at the playground across from the church. Took the train back to Passeig de Gracia and I got a trench from Zara and a Burberry scarf for my birthday! Tapas and beer then walked back to our hotel. Phew we were tired! A long, exhausting, but fun last day in Spain!

La Sagrada Familia was breathtaking and so overwhelming in size.

This girl can never get enough playtime!

Time to get some sleep, get up early and head back to the states! What a wonderful trip!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mojo Update

So my daughter had heard enough of my whining about not running...and she knew the incredible stress I've been under at work. Thank you, Megan. She ordered me to our local Rec Center, telling me that I was to leave work early and meet her on the treadmill no later than 4:30. I did. It was the biggest slogfest of a 2-mile run, but it brought the biggest smile to my face. I guess I just needed the right running partner :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mojo, Where Are You?

My excuses have been many. Injured? Check. Traveling? Check. Busy due to horrible work demands? Check. No clean running clothes? Check (I know this is lame because I've worn the same running shirt more than once - don't hate, you've done it, too!). The excuses continue to mount. I've had 3...maybe 4 good runs since January. And now it's March. March? How can it be March and my mileage is only tipping in at...hmmm...lemme see if I can calculate this right...16 miles.

Running mojo, where are you?