Happy Memorial Day!

Hi friends!  Sorry I didn’t post yesterday—I was actually VERY busy with blog stuff, just not writing.  I have taken the plunge to self-hosted, registered me a fancy domain and such, and am in the process of getting the new site up, running, and pretty.  I’m hoping it’ll be live within the next week or so.  Whee!

Here is what I did yesterday.

I attempted to make “chocolate chip bread” in my bread maker.  Epic fail.  It burned and the yeast never activated.  Into the trash it went.

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I took a quick break from bread baking for a run.  And holy hell, it was a hot, hilly, and awful one.

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The good news is my shoes feel good (but don’t they always, the first few runs?).  The bad news is that I chalked this one, also, up in the fail category.  I ran a mile and a half (in 88 degree heat) and then started to feel my chest constricting/asthma acting up, and walked home.  Tim snapped the photo above upon my return home.  I am NOT a creature of heat.  But, I suppose they all can’t be good runs, you know?

I then baked a more successful loaf of bread—challah this time.

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Buttery and eggy and yum.

This afternoon, I decided to avenge yesterday’s bad run, and ran 2 miles in 19:20ish.  It was still hot, so I didn’t want to stay out too long, and I’m kind of getting back in the swing of things still.  I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  It was a good time for being a hilly run!  Unfortunately, once I took my shoes off, my right leg just seized up on the inside from my foot to my ankle and up my shin.  I suspect it’s because of the orthotics—I didn’t wear them yesterday, just to get a feel for my new shoes, and put them in today.  Anything with a lot of arch support tends to do that to me.  Luckily, I iced and it’s feeling much better.  But…gah.  Why can’t this be easy?

Today, Tim and I bought a grill!

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We prepared delicious burgers and grilled mushroom skewers. 

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YUM.  The beef we’ve been eating lately is local and delicious.  I also had a little fruit salad on the side!  Since getting back from vacation, Tim and I have consumed almost an entire pound of strawberries, a whole pineapple and a whole cantaloupe.

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Oh, and Fat Tire.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE beer?  All summer long I crave beer.  I can’t drink a LOT of it in one sitting, but…beer is good.

I also wanted to give my new KitchenAid a whirl, so I made Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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They are packed and ready to be sent in to work with Tim tomorrow!

Verdict on the KitchenAid?  I predict many, many happy hours spent together.  But is it just me, or is making red velvet cake 10,000 times messier than making other kinds of cake?  It looked like a massacre in the kitchen when I was done!  And my iPhone is coated in powdered sugar from the icing.  Whoops.

Anyway, this week will yet again be a little crazy—tomorrow is a normal workday, but Wednesday I fly out to Fort Lauderdale until Sunday.  Onward and upward!

What’s your favorite kitchen appliance?

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We’re ba-ack!

From the honeymoon, that is.

It was lovely.  Honestly, this post will probably be pretty light on text, because, well, we didn’t DO much.  And it was glorious. 

Since we love driving and road trips, and saving money, we decided to road trip it to and from the honeymoon cruise.  So…Kansas City to New Orleans.  A 14 hour drive, if you were to do it straight through.  But that’s no fun.

We left early on Friday morning and drove through the day until we arrived in Memphis just in time for dinner.  It was when we sat down here I realized, “Ahh, vacation!” for the first time.

We went to Bosco’s, a brewery/pub type place.  Tim relaxed with a beer.

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The beer was awesome.  The food (we got individual pizzas) was just so-so. 

 

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We stayed the night in northern Mississippi, and drove from there to New Orleans (about 6 more hours) on Saturday morning.  Our cruise was on the Carnival Triumph to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.

Embarkation was kind of a clusterfuck, frankly.  We sat in traffic to get parking at the Port of New Orleans for at least an hour.  Once we parked, it was long line after long line after long line in the heat to get everything checked in and secured and whatnot.  I get that it’s necessary and all, but it was a pretty big buzzkill.  We also got a notice that because of the oil spill, we’d be leaving at 9 pm rather than 4 pm, which would have been nice to know beforehand so we didn’t have to get up at the asscrack of dawn to get there on time.  But, alas.

Eventually we made it through and got on the boat and took  pictures.  New Orleans!

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After all the travel hectic-ness, I needed a drink.

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With an umbrella, naturally. 

One of the nice things about Carnival was their beverage policy.  Although the cruise did not include the cost of soda or alcohol, they allow each guest to carry on (not check) a 12 pack of soda and a bottle of wine (not hard liquor).  We each carried on soda, so we didn’t pay for that all week, and a bottle of wine, which contributed to two fun, boozy nights.  We did end up buying a few mixed drinks, but the prices were reasonable (about $5 for an Absolut vodka/tonic, about $7 for a fancy mixed drink or top shelf booze) and the drinks were STRONG. 

Here is a montage of what we did pretty much the entire trip.

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Read and laze.  Yes, I got sunburned.  I swear to you, it was accidental—no joke, Tim and I used an entire spray can of SPF 30 the first day on the boat and we both got burned anyway.  I’d brought two cans, but the aerosol thingamajig was not working in the second one, and the store on the boat was closed, so we spent our second day in the shade!

Our first port was Progreso, Mexico.  We didn’t get off the boat for very long—we just browsed around a duty-free shopping area near the dock.  Nothing too exciting. 

Progreso is not the most scenic.

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The second port was Cozumel, which I don’t have any pictures of.  We did debark that day and take a snorkeling tour, which was fantastic.  I’d never snorkeled before, but it was so much fun!   Definitely the highlight of the trip.

A few random photos inside the boat.   The lobby:

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The barstools that made us crave Reese’s:

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Our stateroom:

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Assorted towel creatures:

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And the ONE picture we got together on the whole honeymoon:

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My impatient debarkation face:

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All in all, we enjoyed cruising.  While we decided we’d probably both go on a cruise again, we’d probably not go with Carnival.  Here are the pros and cons, in my opinion.

Pros:

  • Service was great.  Our stateroom steward and dining room waitress were both very nice and helpful, and all the other Carnival employees were perfectly attentive and polite.  They were really a highlight of the trip—anything we needed or wanted, they would get it for us.
  • The boat was very clean and well-staffed. 
  • Cozumel was a beautiful port.  We didn’t see enough of Progreso to judge it fairly!
  • The drinks we ordered at the various bars were all really good and made strong.
  • I really liked the breakfasts on board, especially in the main dining room!  The omelets I had were great, and I liked generally that the portion sizes were fairly small so you didn’t overeat too much.
  • We really loved the excursion we booked in Cozumel through Carnival.
  • They show movies outdoors at night, and we really enjoyed (re)watching the most recent Harry Potter movie with a bottle of wine on our last night!

Cons:

  • My biggest issue was the food.  We agreed that the Lido deck (buffet style area) was about one click up from college dorm food, and the main dining room was maybe two clicks up.  We had a few things that we really liked (Tim had lamb he said was great, I had a few good pasta and fruit dishes), but everything else was pretty unremarkable or just kind of bad.  But, we recognize you get what you pay for, and we were on a budget. 
  • There was one show we wanted to see the entire cruise—a comedian—and the lounge was packed, standing room only, when we showed up 20 minutes early.
  • SMOKING.  It seemed like everyone on the boat had a cigarette dangling from their mouth or fingers the whole time.  It was really annoying.  If there were non-smoking areas on the boat, they weren’t enforced.
  • I did not like being constantly hounded by photographers to take cheesy posed photos.  We said “no thanks” every time, but it was a little annoying after awhile.

Anyway, just my opinion, take it with a grain of salt!

After we debarked, we set out to explore New Orleans for the day, mostly with our stomachs.  Our first stop was for beignets and coffee at the iconic Cafe du Monde.

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We split an order of beignets and whoa, they were good.  (But, you know, it’s pretty hard to screw up fried dough coated in sugar.)

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We walked around the French Quarter for awhile.  It was HOT!

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You guys, I have a confession to make.  Our second gastronomic adventure of the day MIGHT be my #1 highlight of the entire honeymoon.  (Um, except spending lots of time with my husband.  Right.  Tim > ham sandwich.)

For lunch, we visited the John Besh (who is kind of a total hottie, and OMG did I just say hottie?) restaurant Luke.  (There is a dotty thing over the U, but I am too tired to figure that one out.)  I am 99% certain this was the best meal of my life.

I ordered the Croque Madame.  In normal terms, a ham sandwich with Emmentaler cheese and a fried egg on top.  With French fries.

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You guys, I cannot even explain this sandwich.  It was out of control good.  Everything.  The egg, the ham, the bread, the cheese…to die for.  I mashed up the yolk so the whole sandwich was nice and eggy and ate it with a knife and fork.  It was obvious the ham was not just HAM, but…god, I don’t know.  Made from a golden pig, or something. 

Tim liked it, too.  He got cochon au lait, which was basically some kind of pulled pork and ham sandwich with cherry mustard, Emmentaler cheese and cornichons.  I tried a little and it was also from the same gilded pig that made my sandwich.

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We spent the afternoon exploring the garden district (no pictures, because I was driving) and then set out for our final gigantic decadent meal of the day at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA.

28975_861971051100_15908788_46920072_3742017_n 28975_861971240720_15908788_46920075_3395408_nMy meal was just okay.  Tim raved about his, though, and we both loved dessert there.

On Friday, we drove through to Tim’s parents’ house in southern MO, stayed there for the night, and drove the last few hours home this morning.  It feels good to be back, although I’m flying to Fort Lauderdale for work Wednesday through Sunday!

In other news, I went to my favorite running store today and bought the running shoes I hope will solve my problems—neutral, wide width, half size larger New Balances.  They feel like clouds on my feet.  Cross your fingers that these will be “the one.”

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Can you believe marathon training starts officially in a WEEK?  Not me.  I’ve missed regular running and racing with all the wedding mania that’s been going on the last two months!  I’m working on finding and registering for some races in June and July to keep me occupied—we’ll see how it goes!

Did I miss anything big?  What happened in the blog world last week?

Gone honeymoonin’

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See you in a week!

Salty, sweet, and carbs

I…am not posting pictures of most of what I ate today.  The “must have salt and sweet and carbs” PMS monster took over.  I put a huge dent in a bag of community pita chips at work.  There was a mid-afternoon Tootsie Pop.  It wasn’t pretty.

After work was better.  I decided, in the spirit of “To run faster, you have to run faster” to, well, run fast.  Two miles, fast.  17:36.  Average pace?  8:48!  I felt incredible.  It was hard, but not awful.  I just KNOW I can check off my goal of a 26:59 5K this year sometime.  I can feel it!

Unfortunately, it feels like this.

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Blisters.  Again.  On Monday, my feet were pristine—I got a pedicure the morning of the wedding, and God bless that Lisa, she took a cheese grater to them and they looked almost normal, save for the black toenail.

On my way home, I was counting the minutes until I could walk in the door and rip my shoes off.  I literally felt like my feet were being squeezed, HARD.  I don’t feel like my shoes are too small lengthwise, per se—but I feel almost like they’re too small from top to bottom, if that makes sense.  I think the orthotics take up a lot of room in the shoe and my foot feels kind of compressed.  Sigh.  As soon as I can, I’m paying a visit to the running store.  Again.  Ugh.

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There’s nothing like it when you’re feeling gross.  Obviously, this was totally healthy, because it was Annie’s mac n’ cheese and a whole wheat bun.  Right? 

One more work day until the honeymoon!  I’m dying here.  So. Excited.

Administrative note: Once I get our CD of professional pictures, I’m going to do full recaps of the wedding day!  Our photographer said we’d have them within a month of the wedding.

What foods do you lack self-control around?  For me, it’s chips of any kind—I’ll take a handful here and there until they’re gone, which is why I don’t buy them!  But when they show up at work…watch out.

Need for speed

Hummus craving?  Satisfied.

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Love it.  Although garlicky hummus breath is an issue.

I also had my usual spinach/balsamic combo, some cantaloupe (although it was hard and flavorless and I’m probably just going to dump the rest), and yogurt with granola.

Work today was CRAZY.  I wasn’t feeling the gym.  But I knew I should.

I decided that not feeling like going + blistering from the orthotics meant that I should keep today’s workout short.  I decided to run two miles.  After a mile, I decided to run much faster than I usually do and cranked the treadmill up to an 8:30 pace.  And…I felt fine.  It was hard, but not un-maintainably so.  In fact, I sped up and finished at a 7:50 pace!  All in all, I ran my second mile in 8:22, a new personal record for me.

While I was running so fast, (aside from biting my tongue REALLY HARD OW) I was thinking about fear.  I think I stick with “comfortable” numbers on the treadmill because I’m afraid of failing.  I know I can run a 9:50 mile, and I’ll do it well.  An 8:00 mile?  Scary.  I don’t know if I can do that.  I think my asthma is a factor here—I’m afraid that if I push hard, something bad will happen (although, realistically, I know my limits and would stop before that happened.)

I think the fact that I’m punching in a specific speed on a treadmill is holding me back.  Unfortunately, treadmill running is my best option for running most of the time.  I wonder how fast I’d be if I just found a flat surface and ran, you know?  So, from here on out…I’m going to run faster.  As Kath once wrote, “To run faster, you have to RUN FASTER.”  (Or something like that.) 

Even though I ran fast, and for less time than yesterday, my feet still blistered.  I’m beginning to accept that blistering just might be my normal (though I’m still going to try a wider shoe and see what happens).  Eff. 

In other news, we had our first kitchen fire today.

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Tim put it out quickly.  (He set a paper towel on a hot burner.) But our house is smelling a little smoky.  Oops.

Milhouse ran and hid.

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It’s comforting to know our animals would save us in a disaster.

Two more work days until the honeymoon!  And two questions:

1. How do you conquer your fears?

2.  Runners: how do you figure out your comfortable pace and stick with it?

Hummus on the brain

Happy Monday!  These are iPhone photos—I forgot my camera, sorry.  But, I have to say, the quality has VASTLY improved over my old phone.

Lunch.  Unpictured spinach, canteloupe/pineapple, yogurt:

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And some homemade wheat bread with a little homemade PB:

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Since the wedding…I confess, I’ve been lacking in the exercise motivation department.  I truly have been busy trying to get our lives back in order, but I decided today I needed to make a triumphant return to the gym.  I KNOW I like working out once I’m there, but getting there is half the battle—especially after work.

So I employed a little external motivation.  I wore two pieces of meaningful workout gear.

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Silly, maybe, but sometimes you literally need the reason you’re hauling your butt to the gym plastered across your forehead (and boobs).

In other news, I am pretty sure Bondi Bands are the best thing ever.  Mine held my new short hair back perfectly for my entire workout, and it wasn’t ugly!

photo(8)The new ‘do doesn’t cover my neck at all, so no need for any kind of pony/pigtail.  Reason #43253 why I love this haircut.

Anyway.  I went to the gym and decided I wanted to do three miles of run/walk intervals.  (Yes, I can still run three miles.  I wanted to walk in an attempt to break my custom orthotics in gently.)  I did a 5 minutes-5 minutes walk-run split and finished in about 35 minutes.

BUT GUESS WHAT.  My feet are blistering again.  In the arches.  Yup.  Custom orthotics?  Not impressed.  I am going to go to the running store and get a new pair of WIDE running shoes and hope for the best—the only shoes I didn’t blister in were wides (unfortunately they also gave me horrible shin splints because they were a stability shoe).  I am going to buy WIDE, NEUTRAL shoes, preferably New Balances because of the big toe box, and cross my fingers.

The good news is that I had no ankle, shin, hip, or knee pain, so at least the orthotics are keeping things properly aligned.

In other news, I have had hummus on the brain.  I had to make a special trip to Target after work today.

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Holy delicious.   I now want to bathe in hummus.  And black beans. 

Another rave?  The Lucy shorts I bought this weekend are fabulous.  Comfy, don’t ride, a big-thighed-girl’s dream.   Well worth the price thus far!

Anyway, I’m off.  Have a fabulous night!

New toys

Today I’m pretty sure we used every new wedding gadget we’ve gotten.  Tim made delicious waffles in the waffle iron for breakfast, and I used the bread machine, crockpot and food processor with great success today. 

Meet Super Delicious Salsa Slow Cooker Chicken.

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Ugly, yes.  Delicious, yes.

I basically cobbled this together from various recipes I’d found online.  I dumped the following into the crockpot:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small bag frozen corn
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 brick reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. salsa (We used Pace Mild salsa, blended smooth in the Magic Bullet with a small container of Chipotle hot salsa—our favorite!  We are anti chunk.)

Then…you just let it peace out in the crockpot on low for about six hours, and serve over some brown rice.

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Southpaw was stalking Tim’s plate.  Super good and filling, and there’s enough leftovers for dinner tomorrow!

I also made this beauty today:

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We’ll call this…honey mixed nut butter.  Unless anyone else has a more creative idea.  Again, an easy recipe. 

Into the food processor went:

  • 1/4 c. salted peanuts
  • 1/4 c. macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 c. almonds
  • 1/4 c. pecans
  • 1/4 c. hazelnuts
  • 1 T. honey

Blend until smooth.  Easy peasy and delicious.

The nut butter will go on this:

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The loaf of honey wheat bread in the bread machine.  This will probably go in with Tim to work.  But I’m considering keeping it.  Hee.

Also today:  I did about 10 loads of laundry, vacuumed the entire house, cleaned the bathroom, and got the guest bedroom in a state where I WOULDN’T be embarrassed for people to see it.  Our house is finally starting to look like normal again.  I love it so.

And Tim did this!

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Wall mount wine rack!  (He also took my car for an oil change and returned a duplicate gift.  God bless him.)

I am currently decompressing with this.

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Operation Break In Orthotics has not gone as well as I’d planned.  Mainly because it’s been POURING here.  I’ve tried.  I’m going to do my best to drag my lazy butt to the gym tomorrow after work and hopefully break them in with some run-walk intervals for awhile. 

Four days until we leave for the honeymoon!  I can’t wait!