Bridget excited the Easter Bunny brought her a new watch!
Meg hamming it up with her Miami friend, Maggie.
Easter at our house was wonderful this year. Meg was able to make it home to spend the weekend with B and she even brought home her college friend, Maggie. What a wonderful weekend full of Easter goodness!
I know, right? How can toast be funny? Just check out this site where the artist makes masterpiece replicas out of toast. You can find Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothco, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Salvador Dali, to name a few. You have to check out Edvard Munch's The Scream. Amazing the creativity! I think Magritte's my fave, although Frida Kahlo is equally as funny.
This summer, my extended family will be spending a wonderful week in the beautiful, bucolic setting of Ireland. We spent a couple weeks visiting Ireland, England and Scotland over the holidays in 2002-2003 and it was an amazing experience. Meg even rode the Hogwarts Express (or what the Hogwarts Express was modeled on). This year, B will get to experience Dublin, Cork, Galway and anywhere else we stumble upon.
As you can see from these pictures, Ireland really is breathtaking to behold.
So I got on the scale today. Let me just tell you, processed food in the form of cookies and other little nuggest of craptastic tasting goodness catch up to you. I am 12 pounds over my half marathon weight. Now mind you, this is 12 pounds over my NORMAL half marathon weight. That number still doesn't make me slim...it just means I'm dragging less arse around.
So it's back to the basics. I completed my first weekday 3-mile run last night. For the rest of the week, I will pass on processed stuff. I am going to make a diligent effort to eliminate pasta and bread this week and stick to protein and vegetables.
I can't commit to full-blown workout sessions as my work life and family life have taken on a new meaning of busy. Plus, this weather in Cleveland has been anything but kind to the outdoorsy types. Instead, I will try to do leg lifts, calf raises, squats and lunges while I'm waiting for my coffee to brew in the morning. By my estimation, I should be able to squeeze in 20 leg lifts (10 per side), 20 calf rasies, 20 squats and 20 lunges before pouring my first cup.
It's a start. Care to join me in getting back to the basics?
While waiting for our table, I snapped this awesome picture of B in a phone booth while playing on the iPhone. I loved the irony of this picture! Kids her age will probably never search for a quarter to make a phone call. Amazing.
Thai Peanut Sauce- 1 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp sesame seeds. Marinate chicken breasts, tofu or a nice mix of veggies in sauce, bake. You can even add a little sriracha, if you need that added kick. Serve with rice or, if you feel daring and want something less boring than rice, try quinoa or orzo. Great, simple, yummy dinner - for the carnivore or the vegetarian.
And maybe this dinner will warm you up from all the mayhem caused by Mother Nature today. I mean, seriously, did we NEED more snow?!
My Saturday was supposed to consist of a long run while we had a brief moment of sunshine in Northern Ohio. Instead, I spent an exhausting day of housecleaning and decluttering. Can there be anything more necessary, yet utterly exhausting?!
I have a 6-year-old and a 19-year-old. I'm not sure which one requires my attention more (do you hear that, Megan!), but I always make sure that I pack a variety of fun activities for plane rides, long dinners, and being stuck in a hotel room. Here's a few of my favorite things:
Foldable map. Kids love looking at maps, especially colorful ones. Try to point out funny sounding town names and ask if you would fly there, take a bus or train, do they have bicycles, any question will do.
Deck of cards. No matter the age, there's always a suitable card game. You can play Go Fish or Old Maid for the younger ones and Poker, Blackjack, Rummy or Euchre for the older ones. Sometimes I even win (ok, not often, but sometimes).
Silly putty. Seriously, what kid or adult doesn't have fun with silly putty. Do you remember pressing it against newspaper and then reading it?
Crayons, markers (depending on the age), and foldable sheets of paper. I like to carry these in a large baggy so the markers and crayons don't mess up the rest of my purse by accidentally leaking. I recently bought white candy boxes from a local craft store. You can get 4 boxes for less than $2. While on a plane, kids can decorate the boxes with crayons, markers, and cheap stickers.
Pack something new they have to unwrap. It doesn't have to be expensive. Glitter markers will cost less than $5. It could be Pokemon cards, a new comb or brush for Barbie.
Bring a snack mix that they would normally never get at home. Make a holiday inspired snack mix - for Easter, you could pack an assortment of pastel Starbursts, jelly beans, reese cups. The idea is to make it special.
Download a new movie or TV show, but don't tell them. Make it a surprise so there's a reason to be excited AND be quiet!
I've been hearing lots of good things about the barre method and, as luck would have it, a new studio opened a short 10-minute drive away. Best of all, they had a Lucky Leprechaun special - 3 classes for $33. Nice savings combined with a good workout. I'll be taking my first class this weekend and expect to be hobbling around the following day! Can't wait to burn some of that inner thigh jiggle that has found its way to me from all that wonderful holiday food. Burn baby burn!
For my birthday, my youngest daughter (with Greg's help, of course) bought me the Flip Belt. I recently had the opportunity to wear it during the St. Malachi 5-mile race and I am happy to report that I loved it!
I was a bit worried at first. I've tried different water bottle styles during half and full marathon training and I keep going back to my 2005 model that doesn't ride or slip. I was concerned that the Flip Belt would slip or bunch up or, worse yet, slide up until it looked like it became one with my bra's underwire. Fortunately, it stayed put, was incredibly comfortable, and even a bit stylish. And no, it did not look like a modern day fannypack - thank goodness!
Mine is dark gray, which blends in nicely with all running clothes. It fit my iPhone and ID. I didn't carry my keys, but it will be nice to use when traveling as it will also easily fit my hotel key. The picture shows that it fits gels, money, keys, ID and your phone. One of the things I did like is that my phone didn't act like it was going to fall below my knees. The support in the Fuel Belt kept my iPhone from bouncing or sagging. I give this new fitness item an A!
Anyone who was out today braving the cold and sleet knows this was a tough race. Phew! Waiting for the race to begin was perhaps the coldest I've ever been. As we toed the line at the start, and realizing how frozen my hands and feet were at this point, it was all I could do to actually run with the pack and not run back to me car.
The first mile I had poor footing, navigating through a thick crowd all while trying not to slip and fall in the slippery slush as we headed over the Detroit-Superior Bridge. Mile 2 brought a little relief from sliding, but was equally challenging in that I was now faced with potholes and puddles. As we rounded the Rock Hall at mile 3, feeling started coming back in my hands and feet. Thank goodness, but then the slipperiest part of the course between miles 3 and 4 resulted in a slower than expected pace. As I rounded the corner and headed back over the Bridge, I knew I made the right choice to start and finish the race.
Great finish line amenity was the Irish stew compliments of Earth Fare, which did wonders to warm me up. Mmmmm!
We were freezing!
What a great way to begin the St. Patrick's Day weekend! Thank you, Kim, for joining me on this cold CLE morning and for my pumpkin for waiting on me at the finish line!
Since starting this wonderful 50-state adventure, I have found it wise to belong to loyalty programs - hotel, car, air. I've noticed many subtle and some significant changes to my United Airlines program since buying Continetal, but was surprised to read about more changes by hotels, airlines, car rentals and others in this latest CNBC article.
Lastly, I came across Skift, which fancies itself as a travel news site that will definitely find me as a repeat reader. Good graphics, well organized, smartly written, insider information.
Navigating through the aisles at Dick's Sporting Goods, I realized that I was just three days away from my first real race of the year, the St. Malachi 5-Miler. Here it was - March. Three months into 2013 and am I ready to run 5 miles? Yikes! Packet pick up made it all the more real. As Jens Voight so famously reminds himself, so will I - "Shut Up Legs!"
As we arrived at our hotel and looked overhead, we saw swimmers in the glass bottom pool. It was then that I knew Greg made a perfect choice when booking the Westin downtown - location and amenities were spot on.
Our first adventure was to find a little restaurant Greg had visited before, DaEmma, which had a limited menu written nightly on a chalkboard. You can imagine our disappointment when we found it was closed. Not to be deterred, we walked around a bit, went down an alley that Greg "had a feeling about", and stumbled across a quaint little place, Boccata. Amazing choice.
We shared a bottle of french wine and had the most wonderful pleasure of being told the story of the wine's origin and type of wine we were drinking. We shared four small plates - smoky paprika tomato soup, burrata cheese with mushrooms and bread, veal with lentils and parmesan shavings, and scallops with a grapefruit infused risotto. Wow! Boccato's exceeded our expectations. Old world charm, warm fire, post and beam ceiling, menu delivered in the pages of a book and the check was a bookmarker. Simply spectacular dining.
Ventured over to a late night spot playing the best mashups. A couple more drinks to top off our evening along with great old school music and we were two happy tourists.
Saturday morning would be filled with little activities as we wandered this beautiful city. Our morning began with a quick trip to Difference cafe for what has been described as a perfect non-touristy place to get a great cup of coffee. With cup in hand, we made our way into the subway with Mont Royal as our first destination for bagels, which apparently is a big deal here. I ordered the Omertà, which I found fitting in light of the recent cycling doping scandals. Full from breakfast, we tried to burn some of our morning food by wandering around this very eclectic part of Montreal.
Hopped back on the Metro toward Little Italy for the Montreal version of the west side market. Bought a neat little cookbook in French - a souvenier, if you will, from our trip. I like the challenge of translating while cooking. The market was full of baked goods, delicious looking fruits, meats, cheeses, and spices. We enjoyed a delicious cookie while wandering in and out of little stands and stumbled onto a spice shop where we walked away with smoky paprika, cumin and this new spice Zataar, which we sampled in the store. They sprinkled it on popcorn, which gave us the idea to try it on fries when we get home. I'll use the paprika to recreate the amazing tomato soup we had last night. The smoky flavor really made a simple dish like tomato soup come alive.
Later in the afternoon we ventured out to Saint Catherine Ouest, a Mecca for shopping. Before heading there, I had to try this highly recommended coffee shop for a latte. From a blog I had read about coffee places in Montreal, the Pikolo Espresso Bar was noted as full of passion and respect for the latte drink. Seriously? After my first sip, I would have to agree it was worth the trip. The place had a cool, industrial vibe to it and I found watching the barista pretty make a pour the drinks as an art form.
Saint Catherine's was an incredibly long stretch of commercialization. The only positive was that I was able to get in my steps and Nike fuel points from all the walking (7.5 miles for the day at this point). Greg and I grumbled for a while because we guestimated we had walked more than 7 miles at that point based on the number of steps registered as well as our incredibly tired, aching feet. But the darn Fuel Band had yet to make goal. Are you kidding me? At our next stop (a bar for wine, of course), Greg researched and found out the Nike Fuel Band has an accelerometer that registers wrist activity to take into account sports like basketball. The article he read stated that you gained more points for eating a pizza than walking up a set of stairs. Ok, we felt a little better then. Since I had walked all day with my hands in my pockets due to the cold, it made sense that I had a low points total since I had no wrist movement.
To cap off our last night in Montreal, we found a wonderful pizza joint where the food almost rivaled the kick ass tunes spun by the DJ. I couldn't believe how each song was better than the last and bled right into the next. I could have sat there all evening with a glass of whatever and just chilled and people watched. A late night walk around Notre Dame Cathedral made the trip even better. Thank you, Montreal, for a wonderful weekend!
No butter, no flour, no white sugar - and yet, they are delicious!
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I prefer creamy honey roasted; plain or crunchy may be used; do not use natural or homemade peanut butter - see below)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semi-sweet, dark, or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips may be substituted)
To the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-combined and the sugar is fully incorporated and is mixture is no longer gritty or granular, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape down the bowl as necessary. (Note regarding peanut butter - although natural peanut butter or homemade peanut butter may work, I recommend using storebought peanut butter like Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan or similar so that cookies bake up thicker and spread less. Using natural or homemade peanut butter tends to result in thinner and flatter cookies that are prone to spreading while baking)
Add the baking soda and beat to incorporate. Add the chocolate and beat to just incorporate; don't overmix or the nice chocolate chunks will break down. Transfer dough to airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 5 days, before baking.
Preheat oven to 350F, line 2 baking sheets with Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mats, parchment, or spray with cooking spray; set aside. Using a 2-inch cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons of dough or about 1.60 to 1.75 ounces by weight), form dough mounds and place on prepared baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart (8 to 10 per tray). If chocolate is falling out of dough since there is an abundance, roll ball between palms to encourage it to stay in the dough. Slightly flatten the mounds before baking so they don't stay too domed and puffed while baking, just don't over-flatten.
Bake for 8 to10 minutes, until edges are set and tops are barely set, even if slightly underbaked in the center. Watch them very closely after 7 minutes and I recommend not baking longer than ten minutes.
I have been making an effort to spend more time practicing yoga. I enjoy the mental and physical benefits of spending as little as 10 minutes or, if I'm lucky, one hour just being in the moment and appreciating what the body can do. At the end of each practice, the instructor ends with "Namaste". Not to look like an idiot, I, of course, bow and repeat it as well. But what does it mean?
According to Yoga Journal, nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Put together, it means I bow to you. The word derives from Sanskit 'namaskar', a deeply spiritual greeting. It is a form of gratitude and deep respect and is also considered a form of meditation.
I came across this on Pinterest, however, the link to the original site said it no longer existed so I can't give proper credit. I thought it was kind of cool because, while we've been racing through our 50 states challenge, we've managed to hit 18 of the 20!
I raced in New Orleans and spent the weekend there with Greg.
Grand Canyon was a family trip with all four of us (no racing-shocking!).
The family visited Yellowstone the weekend Greg and I ran the Dirty Dash.
Greg and I visited Nashville while I was being interviewed by Vanderbilt.
Megan and I took a girls trip back in 2001 and spent a couple days in San Diego.
Meg and I visited Niagara Fallsin 2001 and I even saved Meg's sweatshirt because she wore it everywhere!
All of us have visited Boston for various trips and reasons and would go back there in a heartbeat! I ran a race in Cambridge - it was my first time to wear a costume as well.
Washington, D.C. How can you not love our nation's capitol. I ran the Marine Corp marathon there and we've taken numerous family trips.
New York City. We celebrated Meg's 11th birthday there and definitely need to introduce Bridget to this amazing city.
Las Vegas. Oh yeah, I've been there. And strangely enough, so has Meg and Bridget. We have a modern definition of family trips obviously. And yeah, I ran a race there, too.
Mount Rushmore was awe-inspiring. We visited this site while in South Dakota to run a race.
Chicago has been our most visited city. Greg and I used to take weekend trips there when dating. He now finds himself on work trips there often. He competed in his first triathlon in Chicago, so it's also been a race destination for this family.
Orlando is magical. I hate Florida in general, but love Disney World. What's not to love? I ran the Princess Half Marathon there and, if you ask Megan, it was one of our favorite family vacations. Bridget keeps asking to go back and I would gladly do it!
We have yet to visit the Wisconsin Dells. I'll have to google why this place is so special.
Daytona Beach? Really? Daytona Beach made this list, but San Francisco did not? I have not been to Daytona Beach and I'm not sure I'm even interested. No, not interested.
Portland - I'm assuming this one is Maine and the other one is for Oregon. I've been to both and prefer Portland, Oregon. AMAZING city. You definitely must go there. Best donuts, fantastic coffee, wonderful vibe, great food, and maybe one of the best race experiences I have had to date.
We recently visited Seattle in October and I loved it. Except for the long plane ride, I would enjoy going back and visiting again. Can't say enough nice things about this city.
Austin was awesome. Greg and I enjoyed a weekend of debauchery at the Austin City Limits festival a few years ago. We are huge Black Keys fans and Dan Auerbach was playing solo there. It was also the year of excessive raining so it was a mudfest. We left our shoes in the hotel. No way were we bringing those yucky things home. And Torchy's Tacos - a must visit site if you ever go to Austin.
Portland - see number 16 above.
Miami was the location of one of my birthdays and where I got my tattoo. We had great food, wonderful drinks, lots of dancing and truly enjoyed ourselves in a land where it's so fun being an adult.
So many wonderful cities and/or destinations were left off this Road Trip list, but it's nice to know that we've hit the major ones. And we look forward to wandering around this amazing nation of ours to find some more places to kick back, unwind, and enjoy.
For the past two weekends, I have been working on organizing the attic and basement. Two areas that are neglected. Two areas where all the "I-don't-know-where-it-goes" or "I-don't-want-to-get-rid-of-it-yet" things go. Do you have spaces like this? I certainly do.
I came across this site and liked the concept. Each month she targets one room in her house and puts together a list of tasks for that particular room. Simple enough.
Health lunches are challenging for me. Lately, I've been eating McDougall's soups, low in sodium, but taste outstanding. Sometimes, if I'm thinking ahead, I'll fix a turkey sandwich with spinach leaves and pack a yogurt. When I came across a link on Eating Well for health lunches, of course I clicked. I love this egg salad idea and turning your lunch into a fiesta of flavors.
How yummy looking is this? Just spoon some egg salad into a lettuce leaves, add a couple pieces of cocktail bread along with crunchy veggies. Toss your bananas and blueberries in yogurt to prevent the bananas from going bad. Add in a few little chocolate chips and almonds or pistachios for "dessert" and you have a wonderfully satisfying, healthy (and meatless!) lunch.
The birthday girl requested a small party with her girlfriends at Malley's. They have this neat carousel that spins very slowly and it's like a little private ice cream party. Bridget and five friends all wore their princess tiaras, made personalized bracelets, enjoyed ice cream "clowns", and spent an hour simply giggling. It was wonderful.
Six wonderful, unbelievable years with my little doodlebug. Love you, sweetheart.
Pictures to be posted tomorrow, but it was a wonderful birthday for my youngest! The day started with breakfast at her place of choice, a birthday party at Malley's Carousel, a short rest period, then dinner at Noodlecat. So much fun for such a little lady!