Friday, December 31, 2010

Saying goodbye to 2010

Around the world, people tonight are celebrating the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. I've often gotten rather melancholy on New Year's Eve. It's been a really good year, and I'm sad to see it go.

In January, The Aussie and I went on a cruise and I met my some fantastic twitter friends, @FabShanneyPants, @FitInMyHeart and @JeepJenn. I had a great time on the cruise and am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet these amazing women.

February came in with some unexpected weather for Texas. 8 degrees in DFW. Really? The end of that month though, we broke ground on the community garden. Seeing this project move from a sermon at church, planning meetings (lots and lots of planning meetings), to having an actual garden has been amazing. To date, we've donated over 400 pounds of produce to a local food bank. I also got to meet to cool twitter friends, @Pinksugacupcake and @MsAnneK, when they stopped in Dallas on their cross country road trip.

March. Hmm. Other than running up to the garden to cover the tomato plants every time we had a freeze warning, I don't know what happened in March.

April. Ha! April 1st was the day I started C25K. My ambition was to run a 5K before my birthday. I never did make it through the program, but I'm still running.

May. Boy, the weather go hot quickly in May. Any traning was done when the sun wasn't up. On May 22nd I ran in the Run For The Retrievers 5K and met @Nicci_NiftyEats too. We celebrated The Aussie's birthday and our anniversary in May too. :)

June. Had a birthday. Headed to NYC for a couple of days to hang out with my sister and mom and to meet up with everyone at the office. I rode the carousel in Central Park. This is a birthday tradition that dates back to my early years working in NYC. My sister and I also had fun time at dinner with my twitter friend @PassionMD and his girlfriend @ctreacy. So glad I was able to meet up with them.

July. This was a busy month! We had a visit from the cutest couple on twitter, @amerrylife and @gatekepa. We went on vacation to Florida! By the seat of my pants, I finally finished @FitInMyHeart's birthday present. Yeah, you're right. Her birthday was in April... We went to Sea World for the day and had a fantastic time with her and @QTHouseofBeauty and the kids. There was plenty of splashing by dolphins and rays! Oh. And I signed up for a half marathon.

August. Running.
September. Running.
October. Running. Did the Firefly Run 5K.
November. Running.
December. Woo Hoo! Completed my first half marathon in under 3 hours. Oh yeah. And I signed up for another. Road trip. Saw family, celebrated Christmas, ate lots, ran little, road trip home.

This has been a very cool year. Here's hoping for an amazing year to come.

I wish all of you a prosperous, healthy and joyous 2011.



Monday, December 13, 2010

Shaking my head

*whisper whisper whisper* Did you hear what happened to Kyra? She just registered for another half marathon? Is she nuts? Don't know. She might be. *collective shaking of heads*

Yup. I signed up for another one. Hey, I've got some nice kicks, a shiny new Garmin from Santa (aka my wonderful-I-haven't-told-him-I'm-doing-this-yet husband), quite the collection of running shirts that need something to do, and a finisher's medal that's lonely.

In all seriousness, I think I need to have a goal. Running circles around my neighborhood isn't fun, so there has to be a purpose to all of this. Plus, as the magnet I picked up at the DWRM expo says, Running Is Cheaper Than Therapy. My plan is to be a lot more diligent with my training, doing the cross training as well as the running, and lots and lots of stretching. I've got more of a clue this time as to what I'm doing, so I'm looking forward to this. The adventure continues...

Monday, December 6, 2010


This spring I had the goal to run my first 5K before I turned 45 in June. I accomplished that goal, and set about looking for the next one. How strange. I kind of liked running. Whodathunkit? In July, someone I know IRL suggested doing the Half at White Rock in December. You know, that doesn't sound like a bad idea... Say what? If you told me a year or so ago that I, an overweight woman in her mid 40s would be running a half marathon, I would have politely (*snort*) asked what you were smoking and if you were nuts. Yeah. Well. Maybe not so nuts after all...and I have the aches, pains and YES!!! a finisher's medal to prove it.

Me, before the race. It's about 36 degrees out and I'm very cold. I'm also feeling rather anxious, hence the cheerful expression on my face. You can see the big ferris wheel on the Texas state fair grounds in the background, which is pretty neat.

This is the course map. The half runners didn't get to run around White Rock Lake, but other parts of the course were really beautiful. I was in the last corral, so I didn't actually start the race until it had been going about an hour. NOT FUN. Standing around in 36 degree weather with limited clothing on is not a good time. In fact, we had just started and were less than a mile in when we saw the elite half runners coming in. They were screamingly fast. Very impressive.

Odds and ends that stick out in my mind from the race: the really cute black lab puppy I saw at about .25 mile in (yes, there is a dog theme here!); the historic houses on Swiss, between miles 1 and 2, were beautiful; the BRIGHT BLUE Bentley that I saw somewhere just after mile marker 3 (I didn't know they made them in that color); the wait in line for the first port-a-potty stop took waaay longer than I wanted; the gorgeous golden retriever that I got a high five from around mile 4; being thankful for the hill down McKinney as we headed onto Turtle Creek; how beautiful the Turtle Creek, mile 5, area is; how disgusting the energy gel that rhymes with eeww is (IMO only); how beautiful the Lakeside area is and how impressive their holiday decorations are; running for a little while with the friends from church around miles 5.5; seeing their family cheering us on Lakeside around mile 6; getting a call from my husband when I was nearing mile 7 - he was trying to figure how to get through the street closures to come see me; the neon yellow sign held by a guy at mile 8 who totally reminded me of @damanlovett saying "congratulations total stranger"; seeing my husband just before mile marker 10 and getting a hug and kiss from him (I also got to leave my purple hoodie with him since I'd really warmed up); the cute yellow lab around mile 11 who'd just gotten to say hi, along with his mom, to a family member running. He sooo wanted to join in and run too!; seeing other runners along the route getting hugs and kisses from their family members; seeing a police officer get out of his car to check on a man who was crouched over by a telephone pole near mile 12. The man did look a bit wobbly, but he was just trying to stretch out his legs and he was okay; the sheer number of people stretching their legs in the last few miles (including me); the bands that were playing along the way - very interesting musical selections some of them were playing; seeing the marathoners, still so full of energy and speed where the courses met back up again. They were so impressive; the crowds cheering and other runners who'd already finished clapping and cheering us on, saying "you're doing great runners, keep it up, you're almost there"; being acknowleged as a runner by these amazing athletes just because I showed up to try and do this race; CROSSING THE FINISH LINE!! My chip time was 2:58:28; making it into the automobile building, covered in my mylar wrap, and being handed my Finisher's Medal. I have worked so hard for this medal. I started to cry a bit when I got the medal. Heck, I'm tearing up writing this, remembering how it felt; Getting a huge hug from my husband after the race, hearing him tell me how proud he is of me; meeting up with Mary, Syble and Ben afterwards; the LONG walk back to the car; my husband handing me a bouquet of roses - 13 long stemmed roses and 1 short rose for my 13.1 miles.

I sent text messages to both @FitInMyHeart and @damanlovett to let them know I'd finished. They, along with @DareToBecome, @whiskyd, @foodiemcbody (who also ran her first half yesterday!!!), @KCLAnderson, @MizFitOnline, @tidbits_of_tara and so, so many more, have been so full of encouragement. It means a lot to me that there are so many supportive people out there in twitterland. You guys rock!

I'm about to cross the finish line in this picture. I'm just behind the person in bright red in the middle. If you look closely, you can see a tiny bit of hot pink in there!

We've all got our bling on!

Now on to more adventures in running! The story continues...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quinoa "Rice" Pudding

I mentioned this morning on Twitter that the quinoa "rice" pudding I made for breakfast was actually quite good. I've been looking for easy pre-run breakfast ideas, and I like pudding, so I figured a pudding that's reasonably good for you is worth a shot. Since a few of you asked for the recipe, I am happy to oblige. I thought I found the recipe on Epicurious, but I haven't located it again. Anyhoo, I played with the recipe, which called for whole milk, and came up with the following:

Quinoa "Rice" Pudding

1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 cup of quinoa - rinsed VERY well

Combine the milk, coconut milk, vanilla bean, maple syrup and salt in a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring the liquid to a hard simmer, not quite at a boil. Add in the quinoa and the cinnamon. Stirring frequently, cook for 30 minutes. (I lost track of time and cooked it for 40 and it was fine) Once thickened, remove from the heat and let cool. You can top with berries, dried fruit, nuts, whatever you like. I heated mine back up in the microwave and topped it with more cinnamon. It was lovely.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Thanksgiving menu is set...

After some hemming and hawing on adding extra sides and which appetizers to have, I've finalized the menu for Thanksgiving dinner. Some things are traditional, some aren't. For example, I roast a chicken, not a turkey. When there's just a few people, there's no need to have a 10 pound turkey. Besides, The Aussie doesn't care for roast turkey. The skin doesn't get crispy enough. Other things, like the Pepperidge Farms stuffing and green bean casserole are old school, and I totally love them.

baked brie in puff pastry
shrimp cocktail

roast chicken
crispy roast potatoes
roast butternut squash with cranberries
giblet gravy
green bean casserole
cranberry relish

creme brulee and coffee

I've never made baked brie or creme brulee before. And I've only ever made soup with butternut squash, so this should be fun! And Yay! We have a cold front coming in, so I'll be able to have a fire in the fireplace! These 70-80 degree days in November are getting old. ;)

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with laughter, great food, and good times with friends and family.



Saturday, November 20, 2010

One of those days...

I try to be a positive person, I really do. Today, I'm finding it hard.

1. I was supposed to do at least 10 miles today on my long run. My hamstring is bothering me so much I only made it 4.23. Much of that was walking. Oh yeah. White Rock is in 2 weeks. At this point, I'm praying just to finish. Hopefully I can do that, even if I have to walk most of the way. I know it's shallow, but I'd really like a finisher's medal.

2. The person who invited me to go running with her early this morning never called to confirm. No call yesterday. No call today. Disappointed.

3. Friends from down the street are in the midst of a divorce. Today's the day they're moving out. I ran past the moving van at the end of my run. Very sad. I'm going to miss them. Even their five kids.

4. Situation at my husband's office is so stressful. Co-worker and he are supposed to share information on the IT projects they're both working on. Co-worker has refused to "share knowledge" pretty much since he started there. Co-worker is on vacation and husband didn't know what stage other guy's project was at and he got in trouble for it. Doesn't that just figure.

Yeah. Today's shaping up to be a really great day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Turkey, it's not just for Thanksgiving anymore

I stumbled across a recipe for turkey meatballs recently that sounded interesting. I tweaked the recipe that was there a little bit. Sorry, I can't recall where I first saw it, otherwise I'd give you credit for your adaptation of the Bon Appetit recipe. Since turkey is supposed to be really healthy for you, whether you're a runner or not, I figured I'd give them a try since I'm training for White Rock and I need all the help I can get. I'm glad that I did. They're really good.

Turkey Pesto Meatballs

2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (used Merzetta's Puttanesca and Porchini Mushroom)
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (about 3 slices of bread)
1/2 cup pesto
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder (yes, I know, there's already garlic in the pesto. But I like more)
1/2 t fennel seeds

Pour one jar of your sauce into a large pan. Set over low heat while you make the meatballs.

In a large bowl, mix all of the other ingredients together wo that the pesto, breadcrumbs and eggs are well incorporated into the ground turkey. Wet your hands and form meatballs. They should be about the size of a golf ball. You can use a small ice cream scoop to make the meatballs if you want a really consistent size. Place the meatballs in a single layer in the pan and pour the second jar evenly over the meatballs. Over medium-low heat, bring the pan to a simmer and let them cook for about 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. I lightly stirred the sauce over the meatballs a couple of times during the cooking process.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil for your spaghetti. Cook your spaghetti to however you like. I'm not an al dente type, so my spaghetti cooked for about 9+ minutes. Drain the spaghetti and serve with the meatballs.

I have to tell you, these meatballs are really good cold too. Right straight out of the refrigerator. Sitting down is optional, but a fork is mighty useful.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A New Challenge

Everyone knows that the holidays can be especially challenging when you're trying to eat healthy and move your butt. Co-workers bringing in cookies they've baked, leftover Halloween candy, companies sending corporate gifts designed to tempt you and fatten you up, office parties, neighborhood parties, family gatherings .... it goes on and on. *pass the eggnog, would you please?*

I was psyched to see that Amanda from twitter has posted a new challenge: The Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. How can you not love a challenge with a name like that? You earn points for all types of working out and eating all your fruits and veggies. These are things, along with drinking enough water, that we try to do anyway, so it's a win-win challenge. On the plus side, Santa will know you're on the Good List this year for eating all your veggies. You don't want to disappoint Santa, do you?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

They keep me going...

I was never much of a gardener. I grew up around gardens, my father's vegetable garden and my mother's multitude of flower beds. To me, it was a chore. I had to weed. I had to pick green beans and zucchini. Heaven forbid. I was lucky enough to have access to fresh vegetables like those my father grew. He had an amazing vegetable garden. One that I wish I had. The carrots and beets in the picture above came from seed. Last February. Go figure. I planted them then, they got harvested today. And I have to tell you, I had wire domes covering the carrots to keep the bunnies out of them. I'd find bunny pellets surrounding the domes, any greens growing outside the domes sheared down. (I think the bunnies were practicing their telekenesis skills on those domes) These are the little carrots that could... I'm not a great gardener, but at least I'm trying.

Last year, the pastor of my church gave a sermon about how great it would be if we could use some of the property owned by the church to start a community garden that would help feed those in need. Some days I don't know what I was thinking, going to those first planning meetings, but I'm so proud of where we've come. To date, we've harvested almost 400 pounds of produce that was donated to a local food pantry and to the church's food share program. We're growing organic produce for the hungry and for our families, and that really makes it all worthwhile. And yes, organic, local, fresh produce is good for you and tastes like nothing other. Would I have stepped up, knowing what would be required of me to see this project come to fruition? I don't know. But I did. The garden, and all it stands for, helps keep me going.

This second picture is of another thing that helps keep me going. In the first few months of our first year here in TX we adopted a wonderful Puppygirl. She had a REALLY awful first few years of her life. She's slow to trust, spooks easily, and is very skittish around strangers and cameras. I can rarely get a decent picture of her. The only reason I got this picture of her today is because she was wondering what I was carrying in the colander (see above) when I came in from outside. I had the camera in one hand and *snap* I got a picture of her with a smile on her face. Her smile is something few people outside of her family and comfortable friends group will ever see. I have to be honest. She is one of the loves of my life. She is an amazing, sweet, loving girl. (So is Shortstuff, my Sous Chef, next to her, don't get me wrong. She's our meet and greet committee who loves nearly everyone.) I love my furry kids. They make my heart smile.

What makes your heart smile and keeps you going?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Way to go Rangers!

I don't actually follow baseball, but I'm very happy that the Rangers won the title last night. (I was never a Yankees fan when I lived/worked in NY. I prefered the Mets.) A lot of my friends are huge Rangers fans, and I'm sure there will be a few AL Champions shirts worn to church tomorrow. From what I've observed since moving to Texas, Texans take their religion and their sports very seriously.

In that light, the following prayer was written in the comments section on a FB friend's post last night after the win by a man named Tony Mc. I don't know where he read it, but I thought I'd pass it along to you.

Our Rangers, who art in Texas, winners be thy name. The Yanks will come, they will be done, in New York as they will be in Texas. Give us this week a series win, and forgive us our bullpen loss, as we cause losses upon their bullpen. Lead us not into the off-season, but deliver us a championship title. For the Rangers are the swingdom, the claw, and the antlers, forever and ever. Play ball.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My second 5K

What a great day! I did my second 5K tonight. Thank you to The Aussie for heading to Plano with me and sitting around while I played. Tonight's race was the Firefly Run, benefitting Children's Medical Center in Dallas. It was a night race, with participants wearing LEDs. I finished in 36:21:43. A five+ minute improvement over my first 5K in May. I was hoping for a sub 35 since my training runs have been going well, but stupid me forgot to bring her iPod. So I'm actually quite pleased that I did as well as I did with NO music.

This was the inaugural year for the Firefly Run. Some things, like starting 15 minutes late, could be better. But what was great? There was toilet paper in the port-a-potty.

It's the little things that count. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Soup is on... fall flavors edition

My Dad had an amazing vegetable garden, so I grew up eating lots and lots of vegetables. There are very few I don't like. (Sorry eggplant and lima beans) Winter squashes weren't part of the mix though, which is a shame. They're really good. I had a butternut squash sitting on my counter, begging to be turned into curried butternut squash soup. Who was I to tell it no?

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 T curry powder
1 T olive oil
4 cups of low sodium chicken stock
1 t garlic powder
salt to taste
yogurt to garnish (optional)

In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and stir. Since I'm going to use my stick blender to puree this, rough chop is fine for the onion. Cook until transluscent, about 3 minutes.

Add in the curry powder and stir. Cook for 1 minute to let the curry spices bloom.

Add in your butternut squash, garlic powder and chicken stock. You can make this soup with sweet potato too. My guess is that pumpkin would be fantastic as well, but I haven't made that yet.

Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft and the soup is hot. This is the soup after 30 minutes. If you don't have a stick blender, you could use a potato masher to mush the squash. Or if you want a chunky soup, you can serve as is.

Add salt to taste. I added a dollop (don't you just love that word?) of low fat sour cream to my soup. And lunch is served. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thankful, and other mixed thoughts

Often on Wednesdays I like to do Wordless Wednesday, but there are words today that need to be used. Thankful. Grateful. And Hateful.

I'll explain the Hateful first. Hateful is for the hackers that hacked three of my email accounts, including the email account linked to this blog, causing my blog to be suspended. I was in tears when I tried to access my blog Monday morning, only to be met with a screen saying that the blog has been removed and that the name is not available for use. I might not be a daily, big numbers blogger, but I love my blog.

Thankful and grateful is me, because I have access back to my accounts and my blog. And I'm very thankful and grateful for you, the people who stop by, read what I'm up to, and leave encouraging comments.

Monday, September 27, 2010


It looks like my first attempts at canning have been successful. So far I've canned 7 half pints of strawberry preserves and 6 half pints of pepper jelly. The pepper jelly has apricot, red onion, jalapenos and anaheim peppers and is so pretty. In the future, I need to carefully write down the exact amount of ingredients I need though. Instead of 3/4 of a pound of jalapenos, I ended up buying 3 pounds. Oops. We're not much on salsa (I know, and I live in Texas, right?) but I guess I'm going to end up making some anyway. And canning it. For presents. For everyone. (I can leave jars of salsa on the front steps of neighbors I don't know, can't I?)

Next up: cardamom plum jam, nectarine jam and spiced apple butter from Canning For A New Generation by Lisana Krissoff

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The fail post

Well I was going to do a post on a pesto shrimp recipe that I cooked tonight for dinner, but it was a total fail. When the quinoa spaghetti box says "don't overcook" they really do mean it. It breaks apart into mushy spaghetti. And the shrimp? It was a bit past it's prime when I de-thawed it. So, the kitchen smelled a bit like pesto and iodine/bleach. It wasn't the best dinner.

So, I'll give you a picture of the basil that I made the pesto from. (I made 3 cups of pesto for the freezer and leftover for dinner) Believe it or not, I just thinned out the basil. I still have boatloads more. Anyone want some?

And the running update: I walked for 1 mile with the dogs this morning, dropped them home, and went for my run. I made it 4 miles, but I swear that multiple body parts were complaining. My countdown to the half marathon is 2 months and 9 days. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dog Toys Update...

Well the dog toys didn't go over as well as I'd hoped. The braided tug toys sold out, and two of the squeaky toys sold, which I'm very happy about. I got a thank you email, complete with this picture, from the doggie parents who bought the big squeaky toy. Their girl is very happy, and is carrying her toy around the house, wagging her tail. So those of us who buy stuffed toys have to clean up debris fields after our dogs play with toys. They're having fun, which the whole point of giving dogs toys.

In other news, the dog cookies were a HUGE hit. I made 8 dozen peanut butter cookies and 6 dozen turkey egg and cheese cookies. Sold out, with requests today at church for the recipes. I am baking another batch of the turkey egg and cheese cookies for my girls, as they're a huge hit at home too. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dog toys!

I couldn't resist posting a picture of the dog toys I made for my church's upcoming fundraising event. I'll also be making dog cookies. We have so many dog-parents that they sell out at our bake sales. :)

All hope abandon, ye who enter here...

In an attempt to make amends to my tastebuds for the recent black bean brownies episode, and in honor of MizFit and Talk Like A Pirate Day, I be bakin' a decadent favorite for the crew!


Here's your cast of scallywags, I mean ingredients:

* 1 yellow cake mix (can be made with gluten free cake mix. My neighbor is gluten intollerant, so that's how I make it when I bring it over for dessert)
* 4 eggs
* 1/2 stick butter (or half cup oil if you're dairy free)
* 1 package instant vanilla pudding
* 1/2 cup of rum (I like dark rum, but feel free to use whatever kind you like or may have on hand)
* 2/3 cup water
* 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine all ingredients, except chopped pecans if you're using them, in a large mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer for 4 minutes, until there are no lumps.

Grease and flour a bundt pan. If you're using the nuts, sprinkle them in the bundt pan. Pour batter in to pan. Bake for 50 minutes.

Viola. A baked rum cake. Now this is where it gets fun. Time to make the glaze.


1/4 cup rum
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter

Combine in sauce pan. Slowly bring to a boil, and let boil for 3 minutes.

Pour the glaze on to the cake while it's still in the pan and is warm. So Miz, this 'tis for you, a slice o' cake with a wee bit o' grog in it. Enjoy!

Yum. Well you didn't expect me not to taste it and make sure it was good enough for other people to eat, did you? I would never be that thoughtless... ;-)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I remember

I had to think a while about what I wanted to write about 9/11, if anything. I worked in New York City for 18 years. The week between finals and graduation I spent interviewing in NYC. I moved to the city immediately after graduation. We moved to Texas almost 5 years ago, but this city will always hold a special place in my heart. We love that city, and we loved those buildings. I went to the observation deck on a church trip in junior high school. We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary at Windows On The World. What I remember about that night was that the portions were tiny, the dinner was expensive, my feet were killing me because I wore new sandals and the view was breathtaking.

It was pure and utter chance that my husband and I weren't in town on 9/11. We were on a rare vacation, driving through Texas and Florida. That day we were in a small motel in Tampa, with plans to drive up to Atlanta that day to visit a friend. We woke up, turned on the Today Show, and saw that a plane had hit one of the towers. They were still reporting that they thought it was a small commuter plane. My husband worked near the towers, and he immediately called in to his office to find out how every one was. He was on the phone with his colleagues, watching the television, when he saw the second plane coming he started screaming at them to get away from the windows. His co-workers said that the plane flew so close to their building that the building shook.

We joined other guests in the lobby restaurant for a very somber breakfast. Everyone was glued to the television. We watched with horror when the third plane hit the Pentagon. We cried at the horrific, staggering loss of life. We reassured our family, friends, and business associates who called us that we were okay, that we were, amazingly enough, not in town.

Last night I woke up at 3.15 am. My husband was still up, watching one of the programs on 9/11. Nine years later and he is still deeply affected by that day. Nine years later and I still picture when I looked out the motel door to the car and saw him collapsed on the ground, sobbing. I remember our first sight of the trails of smoke rising from lower Manhattan. I remember the burning smell in the city for weeks afterwards. I remember the hundreds of pictures of missing people posted at the New Jersey Waterways ferry terminal and Port Authority. I remember how my husband had to get police escort to lower Manhattan to get our car out of the parking garage where we'd stored it while we were away. I remember seeing the soldiers and police armed with rifles at the bridge and tunnel crossings. I remember freaking out one month later because there was a forbidden truck on the lower level of the GWB when it was bumper to bumper traffic and a police car with its sirens blasting was pushing through traffic behind us. I remember thinking it was going to happen again, that day, any day.

I remember.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Well that was different

Last night we had a friend, The Alpha, over for dinner. He's stuck in town waiting for his and his wife's house to sell. She's already relocated to Arkansas with their furbabies, so a few of us from church are making sure he has a decent meal every once in a while. (I'm not being sexist, I'm sure he's a fine cook, he just has to keep the house spotless and can't mess up the kitchen.) Company for dinner tends to equal DESSERT for me. Those bake and serve brownies are fantastic. Fattening, but fantastic.

So today I thought I'd try baking black bean brownies. I'd heard of them, but never tried them. Here goes.

1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 T vegetable oil
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 t backing powder
1 t vanilla
3/4 c sugar (I used Splenda)
1 t instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8x8 baking pan

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.

The verdict: I'm not sure. Maybe I was too heavy handed on the coffee crystals, maybe it's because I used Splenda instead of sugar and they have that Splenda aftertaste. Maybe it's because I wanted something more like the brownies I had last night. They were easy to make, out of things I have in my pantry, and they're full of fiber. Other versions of the recipe have you using lots of butter and melting unsweetened chocolate. Maybe I'll give them a try. I wanted something really good to bring to the church auction next weekend that a friend, who's both celiac and can't eat anything with casein in it, could enjoy. Maybe she'd like these. I guess I'll have to bring her some on Sunday and find out!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless (kind of) Wednesday

July 23rd

September 8th (today)

September 8th (today)

Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes

Let me start out with my disclaimer: I made these cupcakes for an event at my church. No, they are in no way, shape or form, diet cupcakes. I can't help it if they didn't eat enough of them there and a bunch of them followed me home. The Aussie certainly didn't mind that. He was eating cupcakes without frosting, spread with butter, like they were muffins. The other morning I did make muffins and he was so excited. "Are they the kind you made the other week?" he asked. "Those were cupcakes. I'm making muffins" I replied. Talk about a dejected look. I believe there was a "harrumph" in there somewhere as he sulked away.

These cupcakes are a combination of the golden cupcakes and the lemon cupcakes recipes from the book Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.

Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes

1/2 pound unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs (room temperature), separated
1 t vanilla extract
3 cups AP flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c milk
2 T lemon zest (from one lemon)
2 T fresh lemon juice or 1 1/2 t lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Insert cupcake liners in pan. I did one batch of mini-cupcakes and the rest were regular sized cupcakes.

2. In a large bowl (this bowl needs to be bigger than the dry ingredients bowl), cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the yolks of the 4 eggs and beat well. Add in the vanilla. Mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flower, baking powder and salt.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, alternating with the milk. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Mix well.

5. With clean beaters, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. With rubber spatula, fold the egg whites in to the batter.

6. Fill the cupcake liners to 3/4 full. Bake 11-13 minutes for mini-cupcakes or 20-25 minutes for large cupcakes (or use the toothpick test). Cool the cupcakes and frost.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 t lemon extract
2 T milk

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Gradually add in the confectioner's sugar, mixing at medium speed, alternating with the milk. Lastly, add in the lemon extract, making sure it's mixed well through the frosting.

Frost your little cupcakes and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

I love when new readers find there way to my blog. And when they arrive with a present, it's even lovlier. :) A new reader, Brigitte, from Poophees World, has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you so very much!
As part of this award, I have to tell you 7 things about myself, so here goes.

1. I have a watermelon growing in my bed at the community garden.
2. I'm hooked on the True Blood series and the Sookie Stackhouse books.
3. My guilty pleasure is ready trashy romance books (note: the Sookie Stackhouse books don't fall in to the trashy category).
4. I have signed up to run a half marathon in Dallas this December.
5. I love to cook.
6. I'm too much of a mush to watch sad programs on Animal Planet, and the Sarah McLachlan ads and the ones with David Duchovny doing the voice-over just get me. (My two furbabies are rescues and I love them to bits)
7. I went to school in D.C., and some of my twitter pals are alums of the same school.

Now, I get to nominate new bloggers for this award!

I'm Superfantastic
Run Like A Mother
Life Is Not Always Black And White
14 Months To 50
Gazelles on Crack
Learning To Be Less
Good Times Van
Living In A Girl's World
Fat Daddy Rants
Well-Rounded Woman
Physicalee Fit
A couple of these blogs I've followed for a while, like I'm Superfantastic (Lori just ran her first half this weekend!), but most I've just discovered. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I am enjoying reading their stories and hearing about their journeys.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back on schedule

I had a disasterous week and a half battling computer viruses the last part of August. I was so depressed about the thought that I'd possibly destroyed my computer because I clicked on a link to a friend's blog through Facebook that I didn't even want to run. Thanks to my wonderful husband, the computer is doing much better, as is my frame of mind.

So I'm getting back on my training schedule. There are 14 weeks to the White Rock marathon. I'm re-starting my Hal Higdon half marathon training. Today's schedule is a 4 mile run. I walked for a mile with the dogs and then did a 3.56 mile run in 40 minutes and 19 seconds. It was a beautiful, sunny 75 degrees with 37% humidity.

Favorite song in my running mix: Solar Midnight by Lupe Fiasco. What are your favorite running songs?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Is this what I have to look forward to? (TMI warning)

I'll say upfront, this has been a difficult post to write. I don't usually give up much of myself and what I think in my posts.

This summer I turned 45. In many ways I don't feel older than in my 20s or 30s. Sure my joints creak more than they used to and the metabolism has definitely slowed down, but I don't feel particularly old. This spring, however, my body decided to tell me differently. This is a TMI warning, so if you don't want whining or PMS bitching, turn back now.

I had a melt-down last night. It was a melt-down that was a few months in the making. The Aussie hadn't known what had been eating at me, at least anything more than normal. I have melt-downs every so often, and usually they smack him upside the head. This melt-down's origins began back in May. In June, before my trip to NYC to meet up with her and my mother, I mentioned to my older sister that I'd started getting TOM twice a month. "That's how it starts," she said. How what starts?? I thought, stress? extra exercise? It wouldn't be the first time in my history that my system got out of whack (thanks senior year in college). I wasn't thinking it was "THAT." That. Peri-menopause. This was so not right. So not what I wanted to hear. Granted, the likelihood of our having a child at this point was slim-to-none, but it hadn't been because of fertility issues on my part. We still had dreams of having a child. Dreams that have been hard put to rest and have resulted in a lot of tears and hopes being washed down the drain. But they haven't been totally been put to rest, hence part of the melt-down. (Those of you who complain about your children being annoyances and wishing that you had more time to yourself, think of the rest of us who haven't been blessed with children. Imagine your lives without them. And now go give them a hug, even if they think you're nuts.)

So I looked more stuff up online. Symptoms described by a medical type website are as follows:

changes in cycle - check (it was bad enough once a month, now I have to get it twice a month, with in-between break through to deal with too?)
hot flashes/night sweats - check (to be fair, I've always been a nuclear furnace at night, so this is nothing new)
PMS - check (hide the chocolate, kettle chips and frying pans)
unexplained weight gain - THIS IS SO NOT GOING TO HAPPEN

anger - check (fly off the broom handle anyone?)
anxiety - check (again, nothing terribly un-normal)
depression/irritability - check (what are you looking at??)
difficulty concentrating - what?
stress - Hello, I worked in NYC for almost 20 years. What's stress?
mood swings - Yeah, just ask my husband and the pork roast that got tossed back in the freezer last night. The pork roast, not my husband. He's not in the freezer.

This website quotes an unknown Dr. Northrup as follows: "Menopause is an uparalleled time to turn your life around and create a firm foundation for the most fulfilling, healthy, joy-filled years of life."

WTF?? I have to survive the "peri" part first, and I don't find ANYTHING fulfilling and joy-filled about it. I've been on the journey to lose weight and become more healthy for a little over a year now. Granted, for the last 6 months I've been losing and re-gaining the same 5 pounds of weight, but at least I've lost the 20 I gained after I moved to Texas. I've gotten on a training schedule, I've really started tracking what I'm eating, I'm going to do a half marathon in December. And now to deal with PMS, cramps from hell, water retention, bloating, cravings and becoming an uncontrollable, flaming, psychotic bitch twice a month on top of it?

Is it too much to ask for life to go back to normal?

Friday, August 13, 2010


I need to get my head out of... well you know what I mean. It's time to refocus, stop whining and JUST DO IT. No one said this would be easy. I have to train hard and work for the mileage, and I will. And on the way I'll earn that finisher's medal too. I'll also earn the 13.1 tattoo that I'm thinking of getting. ;)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's a struggle

I don't want to say that I'm not a runner, so don't expect great things from my running, but dammit, I'm working hard to become one. Today's training plan is 3.5 miles and strength training. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't really started strength training yet. Though, walking with two dogs, 65 and 35 pounds, that like to pull at their leashes, can be considered strength training in my book. When I woke up this morning at 5.45 I opened the door to let the dogs out and a blast of hot humid air hit me in the face. Curious, I turned on the tv and clicked over to the weather channel and the weatherbug widgit. It was 88 degrees and 58% humidity in my town. Yuck. So I decided that I would do my run at the rec center during my lunch hour, and went back to bed. Fast forward a number of hours later and I'm on a treadmill, listening to my iPod. I do a 3 minute warm-up and start running. I'm running at a pretty good pace for me, and I push on to 10 minutes of running. Walk break for a minute, and I plan to do 5 minutes running before the next walk break. I made it 3. Run a little, walk a little.... I made it to 2.41 miles according to my nike+. I was done done done. It's a struggle to get past 2 miles most days. Those are the hardest miles. I'm really looking forward to cooler weather so that it isn't such a struggle to train.

Is this cool or what?

I was trolling through blogs early this morning and came across this video of Lennie Kravitz crashing a concert in New Orleans. The kids performing are from the VOP Choir, a praise choir and band from a baptist church in Lewisville TX, right in my neck of the woods. These kids must have been stunned to have Lennie Kravitz show up while they were performing his song Fly Away. They can say they've jammed with Lennie Kravitz!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Accomplishment and Challenges

My friend Jeep Jenn wrote a guest post today over at Journey of Hearts. Something she said really rang true with me today. Actually, a few things she said did, but this in particular:

“When you accomplish something that’s a challenge, change your view of yourself!”

My view of myself is changing, or at least starting to change. Outside, I still view myself as a somewhat frumpy, heading towards middle-age, overweight woman. Funny, pictures of me show that too. On the inside, though, I'm viewing myself as something more. I'm viewing myself as someone who's becoming a runner, someone who's setting goals and is pushing herself towards accomplishing them. Jenn also says “Try something that you’ve always wanted to do, something that SCARES you!” I'm scaring myself these days by training for a half marathon. I can't say it's something I've always wanted to do. In fact, before this year it isn't something I ever had thought about doing at all. The Aussie pointed out last week on the way home from the airport that 13.1 miles is roughly the distance from our house to DFW. Say what? Am I nuts? Yes, probably. But I have a lot of friends in the jar of mixed nuts to keep me company!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Broiled Salmon Teriyaki

Last night I made my quick and easy salmon teriyaki. This is part "from the store" and part "home-made" teriyaki. The home-made part is a soy-kaffir lime syrup from Ming Tsai's Simply Ming cookbook. I make up a batch of the soy-kaffir lime syrup and keep it in the fridge for this recipe.

Soy-Kaffir Lime Syrup
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups low sodium soy sauce
2 cups kecap manis (a thick soy sauce)
1 cup fresh lime juice
8 kaffir lime leaves, crushed

Ming Tsai says you can use 2 cups soy sauce plus 2 cups brown sugar to replace kecap manis if you can't find that, and the zest of a large lime to replace the kaffir lime leaves. If you have an Asian market near you or an international section in your supermarket you should be able to at least find the kecap manis.

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the sugar, soy sauce, kecap manis, lime juice and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, uncovered, being careful not to boil. Reduce the liquid by about half or until syrupy, 30-45 minutes. Strain syrup and let cool.

The "from the store" part of the recipe is two Kikkoman sauces from their Takumi Collection: Spicy Miso and Original. I love these sauces.

Broiled Salmon Teriyaki (serves 4)

4-6 ounce salmon fillets
1T soy-kaffir lime syrup
1T Kikkoman Takumi Spicy Miso Teriyaki Sauce
1T Kikkoman Takumi Original Teriyaki Sauce
Olive Oil

In small bowl, mix together the soy-kaffir lime syrup, spicy miso teriyaki and original teriyaki.
Preheat broiler. Salt and pepper both sides of salmon fillets and lightly brush with olive oil. This will help prevent sticking. I broil bottom side (skin side if your fillet has skin) of salmon first, so place fillet with bottom side facing up. Broil for 3 minutes. Remove from oven and flip fillets over. Return to oven and broil for 4 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon sauce evenly over the fillets. Return to oven and broil for an 2 minutes. If you like your salmon less done, you can reduce broiling time number 2. We like a nice crunchy layer on the top of our salmon, so I find these timings work for me. Serving idea: brown rice and garlic broccoli.

What I'm Eating...

I'm toying with the idea of jumping on the "take a picture of everything I eat" bandwagon. We can blame the influx of new food bloggers on Mary!

Breakfast sandwich: 1 "everything" bagel thin, 1 1/2 hard boiled eggs (the doggies got the other 1/2), 1 slice of fat free cheese and 1 t butter; Iced decaf coffee with unsweetened vanilla almond breeze; water.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blueberry Muffins

My fridge is full of all sorts of fruit, including 2 big containers of blueberries. What better thing to do than make muffins. This is my adaptation of the "Best Blueberry Muffins" recipe in the book Muffins by Elizabeth Alston.

Blueberriest Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

1/4 c butter, softened
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c Splenda
1/2 c egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
1 t vanilla
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 1/2 blueberries (1/2 c mashed with a fork)
1 c all purpose flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c milk

Heat oven to 375 F. Spray muffin tin, including area between cups, with cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, beat butter until creamy.

Add in applesauce and continue to beat for 30 seconds.

Add in Splenda and beat until creamy. Since I used apple sauce for half of the butter, it won't be that creamy.

Beat in eggbeaters, or eggs if you're using them.

Beat in vanilla, baking powder, and salt.

Mix in the half cup of mashed blueberries.

With a spatula, fold in half of the flour...

And half of the milk...

And the second half of the flour...
And the rest of the milk
And then fold in the 2 cups of whole blueberries

These are seriously full of blueberries

Spoon into the muffin tins

And bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden on top. Let cool before removing from tin.

I was out of white whole wheat flour, so I used regular whole wheat flour. It's like I added wheat germ to the recipe and it has extra crunch. They're totally delicious!