Friday, October 26, 2012

State 47 Here We Come!

The airfares are always more affordable in October, which is when I usually pile on as many races. Last year, my family and I tackled 5 events during October (2-5ks, 1-10k, half marathon, metric century ride). And this weekend, we will tackle another race - a 5k in Seattle, Washington. This is also a tradition for Bridget and me. For the last 3 years, she and I have been running a Halloween race together with the help of the jogging stroller. But this year, Bridget will be tackling her first Kids Dash and SHE will be the one checking off our 47th state!

Our first costume was Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy. Last year we were both witches. And this year, we are vampires - complete with the teeth!

So I will leave you with a few fun facts about our next state of Washington:

1. Seattle is home to the first revolving restaurant, 1961.

2. Washington state produces more apples than any other state in the union.

3. Washington state has more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states combined.

4. Everett is the site of the world's largest building, Boeing's final assembly plant

5. The highest point in Washington is Mount Rainier. It was named after Peter Rainier, a British soldier who fought against the Americans in the Revolutionary War.

6. The Governor Albert D. Rosellini Bridge at Evergreen Point is the longest floating bridge in the world. The bridge connects Seattle and Medina across Lake Washington.

7. Washington is the birthplace of both Jimi Hendrix (Seattle) and Bing Crosby (Tacoma).

8. The oldest operating gas station in the United States is in Zillah.

9. The world's first soft-serve ice cream machine was located in an Olympia Dairy Queen.

10. Spokane was the smallest city in size to host a World's Fair. - 1974

11. By the turn of the 20th century, Aberdeen had the distinction of being "the roughest town west of the Mississippi" because of excessive gambling, violence, extreme drug use and prostitution (the city remained off-limits to military personnel into the early 1980s).

12. The percentage of non-religious people in Washington is the highest of any state, and church membership is among the lowest of all states.

We are so excited about visiting Pike Place Market, the space needle, visiting the waterfront to trick or treat and just enjoying the drizzle of Seattle!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How Easy Is This?

I came across this from Pinterest (I know, who doesn't use Pinterest?!) and love how easy it is to make. Simply take an old sweater, make a cut, sew back the edges, sew in a ribbon. And look what a beautiful holiday sweater you have!

Easy peasy, right?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fun in Fargo

Well, that was short (that's what she said!).

My flight schedule from Cleveland to Denver to Fargo was unbelievably lucky. Normally, I find United frustrating, but everything worked out perfectly THIS TIME. I was originally supposed to have a 2.5 hour layover in Denver, which would be ok since they have a New Belgium Brewery bar/restaurant near my gate. I could kick back, have a Shift beer, relax....on second thought, probably not the best thing to do the night before a race. My plane from Cleveland arrived a little early and the earlier flight from Denver to Fargo (which my sister-in-law was on) was delayed. With Kim's help delaying the gate attendant and my clumsy run from B33 to B89, I was able to make the earlier connection and be the last person boarding the plane!

Let me tell you, Fargo is a sleepy little town. It's experiencing massive growth due to the natural gas and oil industries, but at 8:00 p.m. no one was to be found. Fortunately, we found an Old Chicago Pizza place near our hotel, had a pretty darn good pizza, a really good pint and relaxed before checking in.

Race Morning. Kim is the perfect race partner. Totally relaxed, loves a good breakfast, and doesn't get stressed out about races. Heck, she hadn't made up her mind whether she was running the half marathon or the 10k until the start line! She went with the 10k, as did I, and with her help I was able to shave almost 30 seconds off my previous 10k and earn a PR at 1:02:38 according to the official results! Woohoo! I have to admit that I wished I was better shape because I really believe I could have hit the one hour mark if I had more than one training run each week. But I'm happy with the effort I had.

The race itself was terribly boring and uneventful. It was advertised as going through some of Fargo's newer neighborhoods and I was a bit excited about seeing more of Fargo. I was thinking like Tremont, Ohio City, Gordon Arts like we have here. Nope, NEWER neighborhoods meant NEW HOMES not yet finished. We literally snaked in and out of new developments on a concrete trail.

The finish line was funny because they passed out bottled water and beef sticks. Beef sticks! You can imagine the smell at the finish line! I love a good beef jerky so I held on to mine and shared it with Jameson (my black lab) when I got home. We finished inside the Scheels Hockey Arena, which was cool. In the vendor area, they served peanuts with candy corn in cups, hot chicken noodle soup, oatmeal cookies, apples and bananas. Pretty nice finish treats.

We stopped at the Smiling Moose for a great little brunch, dashed back to the hotel to quickly pack and clean up, then off to the airport to head home.

Thanks, Kim, for your motivating during the race and for helping me check off our 46th state!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fargo, Here I Come!

Last week, Fargo was hit by an early snow storm bringing 4 inches of snow! I'm scheduled to run a 10k race in Fargo with my sister-in-law, Kim, and I'm hoping it doesn't look like the picture above!

So, in the meantime, I'll leave you with some fun facts about my 46th state!

1. The town of Rugby is the geographical center of North America. A rock obelisk about 15 feet tall, flanked by poles flying the United States and Canadian flags marks the location.

2. Milk is the official state beverage. I think I might have to have a glass before I leave!

3. This name Roughrider State originated in a state-supported tourism promotion of the 1960s and 70s. It refers to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry that Theodore Roosevelt organized to fight in the Spanish-American War.

4. North Dakota grows more sunflowers than any other state.

5. Lawrence Welk left his home in Strasburg on his birthday in 1924 to pursue his musical career. On July 2, 1955, he made his debut on national television. The Lawrence Welk Show was produced for 26 years and today reruns of the popular program air weekly throughout the United States and foreign countries.

6. Kenmare is the Goose Capital of North Dakota. Kenmare is the hunting haven of the north with an annual snow goose count being over 400,000 birds.

7. Flickertail refers to the Richardson ground squirrels which are abundant in North Dakota. The animal flicks or jerks its tail in a characteristic manner while running or just before entering its burrow.

I'll only be in Fargo for 24 hours and tackling a 10k. A short trip for a short race!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Daytripping and Daydreaming

Every once in awhile I enjoy looking at beautiful pictures of beautiful places. Here are a few of my favorite daydreaming destinations.

Carpet of Flowers in Brussels, Belgium - what an amazing sight of colors!

St. Petersburg, Russia - look at the ornate architecture.

I was in Paris in 2006, but I was pregnant and the temps were in the high 90s/low 100s. I think I would love it so much more in the Fall or Winter. Beautiful city, amazing wine, incredible coffee, antiques,!

The Walking Bridge in Prague. This city has always fascinated me - food, culture and its people. A must see on my life itinerary.

Where do your day dreams take you?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Baked Parmesan Artichoke - Yum!

1 whole artichoke, rinsed thoroughly
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon oregano
1 clove garlic, minced


1. Trim artichoke stem and about 3/4 - 1 inch off the tip of the artichoke.

2. Use scissors to snip thorned tips from the end of the leaves.

3. Place artichoke facing up in a steamer basket over 2" boiling water. Steam for 20 minutes.

4. Remove artichoke from steamer, let artichoke cool to room temperature, and preheat oven to 350* F.

5. Place artichoke, facing up, in a shallow dish. Fill dish with chicken broth until there is approximately 1/2 inch of liquid. Place bay leaf in the chicken broth.

6. In a small bowl, combine parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, oregano and garlic; mix to combine. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over the artichoke, making sure to get some in between the leaves.

7. Cover with a foil tent. Bake for 45 minutes.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Outstanding Weekend in the CLE

So many fun memories this weekend. It was Megan's first weekend home from college. To say we were excited to see her would be an understatement. To say she was excited would also be a huge understatement. She and Bridget had some great sister time together (translation: slept in and watched TV), then the girls met Greg and I for lunch.

The Friday night activity rocked! Like...really. We bought the family package for rock climbing in Peninsula. Bridget was like a spider monkey climbing the wall and hardly took a break...which explains her falling asleep in my lap at Winking Lizard BEFORE her food came! Greg quickly took to the more intermediate walls as he has climbed before. And Megan and I enjoyed learning how to belay. Surprisingly, I quickly picked up knot tying. I think we'll make this a "family date night" with some regularity.

Saturday was another awesome day starting with a visit to the West Side Market for fruits, veggies and meats, and Meg got her favorite apple fritter to take back to school. Brunch was around the corner at the Tremont Tap House. Greg ordered the mussels and fries, which would normally seem gross to me. It was freaking amazing. The fries were soaking in a beer broth with fresh bacon and crumbled bleu cheese. Yum!

Cleveland has such a kick ass culinary scene. Dinner was Meg's choice so she chose Momocho (so she could take back a container of their salsa verde). We had a chance to tell Eric Williams how wonderful his restaurant is, as well as how awesome he's been to do so much for Cleveland chefs. Two funny moments in the car on the ride back home. First was listening to Bridget and Megan singing at the top of their lungs to Taylor Swifts, "We Are Never Getting Back Together." Listening to the laugh and try to outdo each other made my heart warm. Second amazing thing was when Bridget asked Megan if she was still seeing Danny. Meg said No. Bridget responded, "Let me make this clear. You are way better than Danny!" What? Did I just hear my 5-year-old give out sage advice?! We all laughed a lot over that comment!

Sunday, I was able to squeeze in an easy 7-mile run while Greg, Bridget and Megan attended the Browns game. And how great was it that they got to see a WINNING game?!

Wonderful (and very full) weekend, but wish I had my pumpkin home longer!

Monday, October 8, 2012

West Side Market 100th Celebration

For braving the cold and the rain, we were treated to some of the best food and drink Ohio City had to offer! Ever since we moved to Cleveland 9 years ago, we spend nearly every Saturday morning at the WSM picking up fresh pork from Dionne's, fabulously strong coffee from Urban Roasters, fresh pasta and pierogies, an occasional cupcake or brownie from Cake, while never missing a single aisle. We also believe in supporting the Ohio City independent restaurants like Bar Cento, Market Garden Brewery, GLBC, Flying Fig and Old Angle. Ohio City is a wonderful food community and makes us proud to be a part of this great town!

Friday, October 5, 2012

This Weekend's Craft Project with Bridget

Should be spooky good fun!

UPDATE: This project was so much fun! You will need at least 1-1/2 yards of flannel material. We experimented with cutting strips the right size for little 5-year-old fingers to tie. Wreath took about 3 hours and I was surprised my how focused Bridget kept while tying about a hundred strips. Great fun project for Halloween!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

CVNP Fall Running Series

I signed up for the CVNP Fall Running Series simply to provide me with a safe opportunity to run trails in a group setting while enjoying all the Autumn colors. Tuesday night was the first night of the series and what a blast! We ran 3 very challenging, yet scenic, miles starting and finishing at the Octagon Shelter. Can't wait till next week!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

South Dakota - We Love You

We arrived very late Friday night in Rapid City.  After a good night's sleep, we were ready to tackle the City.  We had a delicious breakfast at Tally's followed by the Great Pumpkin Festival, featuring The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown playing at the local cinema. Rapid City is also referred to as the "City of Presidents" as we saw from bronze presidential statues on every corner in the downtown area. Very neat and unique. This was a fun picture of Greg posing with Ronald Reagan!

The afternoon was spent at Mt. Rushmore.  I love this picture of the Bridget and the four presidents. 

Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch at Buglin Bulls in Custer City, which did not disappoint.  Greg had the Elk Poop Stout and we laughed several times during the day over the name! After an exhausting day of travel and sightseeing, we checked out the casual  Ale House - awesome place with one of the best craft beer lists.  Bridget fell asleep in my lap while Greg and I ate her pizza. Bad parents!

Sunday was Race morning. The Race started at the Crazy Horse Monument. Just simply  awe inspiring. Greg and B drove me to the course and got to see me at the start and then at mile 3. I always love the chance to stop and kiss my girls (even tho my oldest couldn't make this trip). The race start included Native American chanting as well as beating drums.  So special. The first 3 miles were run around Crazy Horse, which was horribly hilly! We had to tackle this hill twice!

We looped around to the Mickleson Trail, a rails-to-trails route spanning 152 miles from Deadwood to Edgemont. The trail course traversed from Crazy Horse and finished in Hill City. I was treated to amazing scenery including breathtaking yellow aspen trees, a family of horses that came to the edge of the trail to say hello, and a cow wading in the creek that had to endure me asking him how he was doing ("how are you doing, buddy? you having a good day?") 

I finished  my 21st half marathon in a very slow 2:38, which accurately accounted for my lack of training as well as my multiple stops to take pictures, talk to a cow, and a 2-3 minute stop to pet a random cat that had the best purr.  I loved this race.  Post finish, Bridget and I enjoyed some watermelon and orange slices before heading off for our Jewel Cave tour. 

Jewel Cave is the second longest cave in the world; Mammoth Cave is the longest. The tour was incredible and our guide, Dorothy, had been working at the cave since 1981. We are a lucky nation that values our National Parks.

We then made a spontaneous stop at Prairie Berry Winery to sample their famous Red Ass Rhubarb Wine (I'm a sucker for billboards and who could resist a wine called "Red Ass Rubarb"?!) And let me tell you it was delish!  So we shipped a bottle of their Rhubarb wine and 3 additional bottles back home. Can't wait!

We capped off our last night with a Chuckwagon Dinner where Dances with Wolves was filmed. So cool to knock around the site, watching the tin smith make dinner plates and Bridget got a lesson in rope making. 

Dinner was "authentic" cowboy fare served on a tin plate with lemonade in a tin cup. We had BBQ beef, baked beans, chunky applesauce, biscuit and spice cake. Afterwards, we enjoyed country music with bits of comedy inserted like the old Hee Haw show. Great evening!

All in all, South Dakota was a wonderful trip. We truly marveled at the amazing hospitality. Seriously, the moment we landed at the airport, EVERY SINGLE PERSON was friendly.  The Avis rep was super, and our vehicle was parked less than 100 feet outside the door. The Hilton Garden Inn desk clerk was another incredible example of good customer service.  Everywhere we went, even a convenience store, asked how we were doing and commented on what a great day it was. We were blown away. The race expo was small and orderly (which I prefer) with good schwag (I never get tired of free Chapstick). The race management and execution was without complaint.  

Another  memorable family trip! And 5 more states to go!!