Thursday, February 26, 2015

Life Lately

Do you ever have days like this? Seriously. If it weren't for the wine and being able to eat ice cream for dinner if I wanted to, I'd really consider trading in my adult card. If that was possible!

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing catastrophic or earth shattering about today that is making me complain. Or this week even. Just annoying things. 

- I had to move out of my office into a cubicle. 1st cubicle was laughably small, and after some begging I was allowed to move into a larger cubicle. Silver lining? Although this cubicle has a faulty overhead light, so it's a little dark at the moment. 

- Our temperatures are frigidly cold again, with windchills that are just insulting. I know I live in the North Pole, but it just makes life slightly unbearable when having to deal with the horrible, horrible cold. 

- This morning I have a case of the dropsies. Butterfingers. I cannot hold on to anything. Things I have dropped this morning include: liquid scrambled egg, broccoli, a pot lid, and my travel coffee mug. Full of coffee. Thankfully the lid was closed so only a small amount leaked out. But seriously. What is up with me? 

Thankfully, this weekend we're off on a mini-vacation, all due to the generosity of my brother-in-law. As a Christmas gift, he paid for our family (9 of us) to stay in a Sea Villa at the Lutsen Resort on the North Shore. 

The main lodge

The villas are like townhouses, so they have full kitchens and living rooms. Also, there are activities like skiing, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing that are complementary to the guests. 

Sea Villa & view of Lake Superior

Since I am not all that experienced when it comes to winter sports (read: no experience whatsoever), we're going to take it easy and try our hands at cross-country skiing. I figured that was easier than downhill skiing, and would probably be less likely at resulting in a broken bone.

*knocks on wood*

There is also an indoor pool just for the Sea Villa residents, so we will definitely be taking advantage of that. Supposedly there are nightly bonfires on the beach, too. I'm really curious about that. It sounds fun (they even include the makings for s'mores!), but I'm not sure how that will pan out with the temperature being around 10 degrees. I don't see myself lasting very long.

Maybe we'll just stay inside by our own fire in the wood stove, and enjoy adult beverages and cookies from inside.

We're leaving work a bit early to head up there tomorrow afternoon. It can't come soon enough!

Do you go on winter vacations? If so, do you go somewhere tropical or snowy? 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Training for Tuesday: My Training Plan

I'm once again joining Tracy and Alyssa for their Training for Tuesday link-up.


This month, I'm taking a hard look at my training plan. I'm still tweaking it here and there, so comments or suggestions are always welcome. I'm also still thinking about signing up for the training program through RunnersConnect that I talked about last month. If I do that, then this whole plan will likely go out the window. Which I'm ok with. 

But here's what I have so far:

Sorry it's so small!

As you can see, I'm still in the "base training" zone, which I will comfortable continue until the end of March. That's me being cautious about our weather. Who knows how long we'll have subzero temps for? 

So I'll officially start training for my half the first week of April. Week 1 of Marathon Training is actually a taper week before the half marathon in June, so maybe that's cheating? Anyway, I think this is an acceptable amount of time to prep me before the Detroit Marathon. 

I based most of the Marathon Training Plan off of Hal Higdon's Novice plan. He doesn't really specify workouts in his plans, so I'll likely do fartleks or speed work on Tuesdays, Fridays are hill work outs. Thursdays are "easy" pace days - maybe half marathon pace? Still deciding on that. 

One thing I'm worried about is mentally burning out with such a long time to prep. But I know some things for sure:

1. I don't want to run a marathon in summer heat, so bumping up the time table is not an option.
2. I don't want to train during our winter (aka all on a treadmill), so doing a spring marathon is out for now. 
3. If the timetable were shorter, I would probably be freaking out. 

So...weeks and months of training is where I am at. 

What do you think of my training plan? What are you training for?

Come link up and tell us about it! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Favorites: Contigo Water Bottle

Hello and Happy Friday!

Since it's freezing cold here and across the country, with no end in sight, I'm trying to think happy thoughts. Like that I have nothing to do this weekend but laundry and cleaning, so I don't have to go anywhere in the cold. I can stay home in sweats all weekend long, and that's perfectly fine.

Also, I am totally loving my new water bottle. I'm usually not one to rave about something so simple, but this is a pretty great product.

The Contigo Autoseal Grace Water Bottle.

My last water bottle was lost at the wedding I was in, and I decided that even if I found it that it was officially the germy bottle from when I was sick. So I needed a new one. I am super picky about my water bottles because I don't like a straw or the sports bottle type pop-top. I also want a BIG bottle so I have a better chance at getting my daily H2O requirement. 

Did you know that the whole "8 glasses a day" is just not true? Now the recommendation is half your weight in ounces. So a 130lb woman should be drinking 65 ounces of water a day, on average. Of course it could be more if you're working out, sweating a lot, breastfeeding (probably not an issue for the guys!) or something similar. That's just a base line to follow. 

This bottle is great because it's 32 ounces, so I only need to drink 2 of these a day. Easy peasy. It's not even 9am and I've already had 24 ounces! I love that it has clear markings too, so I can see where I am for the day.

The best part is the "autoseal" button:

I usually carry my water bottle in my purse, and am forever getting water all over my purse. You'd think I would have learned by now. This button opens the mouth piece, and really is water tight. I held it upside down with it closed and not a drop escaped! 

It's also really easy to function at 5am when I'm on the treadmill and not quite awake yet. Easy is good. 

At $15, it's probably a little more expensive that what I would normally pay for a water bottle, but so far I'm really happy with it. It's all about the little things!

Do you drink enough water every day? What's in your cup this morning?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Day the Blender Died

In my recent cooking endeavors, I've been pretty consistent in picking good recipes and making good food. There haven't been too many recipes where I've thought "eh, could probably take this out of the rotation." But there have been some that were putzy or not quite what I was thinking it would be.

Or some recipes where I've just messed up. Enter: Skinnytaste Silky Edamame Soup. (The link is to the Love & Olive Oil blog where she makes & reviews this soup). Edamame is the fancy name for soy beans, and they are ridiculously high in protein. Win!

I thought it sounded interesting because:
              A) I'm always looking for good soup recipes
              B) It's vegan, sounded easy, and only 173 calories per serving.
              C) Uses something we don't typically eat - I'm always up for something new.

I credit my newness in the kitchen and general lack of broad knowledge when it comes to cooking for why this recipe failed so badly.

You see, the recipe calls for "shelled edamame". In my head, that means edamame left in the shells. Apparently, it means exactly the opposite.

So I happily got this going on Monday night, cooked up the edamame in their shells, and then dumped them in my blender to blend them into silky perfection. Things were going well! Until my blender started making some interesting noises.

You see, edamame are like sugar snap peas, in that they have a little zipper like-hair type thing that keeps the shell together.

These little strings are like plastic, and apparently indestructible. So as my blender is "whirrrrrrr-ing", the little seam thingies started wrapping around the blades at the bottom, causing it to work harder and harder, until finally the soup was "blended"...

and the blender was smoking. Uh oh. 

I immediately unplugged the blender, which thankfully averted any kind of kitchen fire. But when I dumped the "soup" back into the pot on the stove, I found all the little string things at the bottom of the blender. Unfortunately, some of these did get chopped up into tiny pieces and made it into the soup. I tried straining it, but getting every last piece was pretty hard. Trav and I both tried a spoonful, but it was like eating soup with bits of plastic...not so tasty.

The soup ended up in the garbage. We had PB&J sandwiches for dinner. Fail.

At least it looked pretty?

I'm going to try it again this weekend, making it correctly this time. Also, with the help of my new friend which should arrive on Thursday. Thanks Amazon!

Have you eaten edamame? Would you have known to take them out of the shells?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day: Food

Trav and I don't go all out on Valentine's Day, mainly because our anniversary is in 3 weeks and it gets a bit redundant. So we don't go anywhere, typically. Plus, trying to go out in a small town on Valentine's Day is a little insane.

I do like to dress up my kiddo though, because she's still young enough to let me. This is her fake smile because I made her take a picture before I'd give her any of her Valentine's candy. Bribery at it's best!

"Cheese! Let's get this over with!"

Instead of going out, I opted to make us dinner. But, because it's my day too, I wanted to make something easy. I decided on Skinnytaste's Italian (chicken) Sausage with Peppers and Onions, with a side of roasted parmesan broccoli. This recipe cooks up really quick. Skinnytaste recommends cooking the peppers and onions first, but I threw the sausage in at the same time because that just makes sense.

Served on a low calorie whole wheat bun with a slice of Havarti cheese (1/3 of a slice because we only had one left!), this sandwich comes in around 250 calories. Way healthier than a Philly Cheesesteak, and just as good in my opinion. The grocery store only had hot italian sausages, so it had a little kick to it. But we like it spicy in the Scofield house. ;o)

There was also some chocolate and mushy cards involved with our Valentine's Day, but I'll spare you the details.

Back to the food.

I decided to make these on Sunday to spoil my family a little. Also, because I like cookies.

Peanut Butter Compost Cookies from Heart Beet Kitchen.

I don't really do "difficult" in the kitchen, so I loved that these came together fast with a few ingredients. They're mostly peanut butter, brown sugar, chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped pecans, and some Chex Mix because...why not? They're basically "whatever I have in my pantry and need to use up cookies". Best right out of the oven, but tasty a few hours later, too. 

We tested them out after lunch on Sunday. Let me tell you, there was pure silence as we ate these cookies. No words could be heard because we were all enjoying our cookies too much. They totally satisfy that peanut butter-chocolate craving that I always have. Always. 

In the midst of hearing about everyone's Valentine's Day, I figured I'd give you a break from the mushy. You're welcome.

Did you have a good weekend? What's the best thing you ate this weekend? 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Blogging for Books: Bonita Avenue

I stumbled upon this website after reading a few reviews from some other bloggers. Blogging for Books is just like it sounds - they send you a book, you read it, and then you review it on your blog. It's sponsored by The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random  House.

They offer a number of print books and ebooks. The print books are a bit limited, so you really have to jump on it if there's one that piques your interest.

The first book I've chosen to review is Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda. This fictional debut novel is based on a seemingly perfect suburban family living in the Netherlands. From the fly jacket:

"A riveting portrait of a family in crisis and the ways that even the smallest twists of fate can forever change our lives, Bonita Avenue is an incendiary, unpredictable debut about relationships torn asunder by lies, and minds destroyed by madness. "

My first thought after a few pages was "oh, this is set in the Netherlands? No wonder I can't pronounce half the names or towns." So off to Google I go to look up the Dutch towns on a map. I like to have a vision of where we are in a novel - it helps me "see" the action better.

Buwalda changes narrators each chapter, flip flopping from Siem Sigerius, to his daughter Joni, to Joni's boyfriend Aaron. This can be confusing at times. I'm on the fence about this writing technique because while it can be confusing, I feel like you also get a deeper look at each character. But it also dilutes the "main character" feeling. I felt like this book would be about Siem and his family, but it's about so much more that Siem takes a step back as the main character even though most of the story surrounds him.

I am not a fan of Buwalda's writing in this book. The story telling gets to be a bit much, because everything reminds the current narrator of another time or instance, and they delve into that so far that the reader sort of loses track of where we actually are in the present. Or even which present is the present? Then there are flashbacks within flashbacks that truly lost me. I just felt like there could have been some more editing that would have shortened things up a bit, but you wouldn't have lost any of the story.

Then there's the whole pornography topic. Boy, did that take me for surprise. Ultimately, the pornography is where everything starts to come unglued and the characters begin to unravel. Joni & Aaron's actions in their partnership show how something seemingly innocent (well ok, not innocent) that they thought they could keep secret can really lead to destruction. Psychological and physical. How moralistic of Buwalda.

The very end felt drawn out as Siem deals with his own moral guideposts. Without giving too much away here, he has to make some decisions that no parent ever plans on making. His struggle is palpable, but as a reader I just felt like yelling "get on with it already!" Then the book suddenly ends, with absolutely no resolution for the characters or the reader.

To say that I disliked this novel would be putting it mildly. But, that's why we read new things, right? Trying something new never hurt anyone. Except maybe the characters in this book.

If you'd like more info on the book, or would like to purchase it, check out the Random House website. For more info on the author, go here.

Although I received this book to review from Blogging for Books, all thoughts and opinions are completely my own. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Circle Link-Up: Letters to Our Past

I'm once again joining Kiki over at In It's Time for a fun link-up. February's Circle Link-up topic is "writing letters to our past self".

Don't you sometimes wish that you could repeat some parts of life with the knowledge you have now as an adult? It may have saved you from some embarrassment or heart ache, but really though: who are we without our past experiences? For those experiences are what really build our character. So, I thought this would be a fun little walk down memory lane.

Dear Past Self,
          Don't worry about what others are doing. Focus on you, your goals, and being the best little person you can be. Also, you are rocking that harem costume.

That's me, front row 2nd from left.

Dear Past Self,
          Put your foot down when it comes to wearing clothes that look like drapery or table cloths. Stay true to your own style.

Really? Who's idea was this dress? 

Dear Past Self,
         Get a little crazy every now and then. It'll be fun and you'll make some memories. Or you'll completely forget about it, but some dear friend will have taken photos of it as proof. Either way. Live it up!

Ride 'em Cowgirl!

Dear Past Self, 
         Try new things. Don't be shy. You'll never know if you don't try. Like being the high school mascot: one game will be enough for you to know that this isn't your gig, but at least you look cute in pigtail braids.

Goooo Chiefs!

Dear Past Self,
         Remember those awesome friends you have in high school are pretty awesome, but don't be afraid to make new ones once you start to part ways. It's good to hold on to these relationships (and I totally miss these girls!), but you're all going different places in the world and sometimes you can't go together. Remember how I told you to worry about yourself and be your own person? That was good advice. Keep listening to it!

If you could write a letter to your past self, what would you say? Join up in the Circle and tell us about it!


Monday, February 9, 2015

Stomach Flu and Weddings

Those two things don't really go together, do they? I tend to think not. But that is basically how my weekend went.

The stomach flu ravaged it's way through our house over the past week. First it started on Super Bowl Sunday with Emily. Except for her, it was a one-and-done type thing, and she was back to her normal self by mid-morning. So we chalked it up to random kiddo-sickness and carried on with our day. Invited people over, cooked food for them, you know the drill. So naive were we....

Very early Wednesday morning I awoke to the sound of Travis being sick in the bathroom. Wonderful. A full 24 hours later, he was pretty much back to his normal self.

So I, of course, naturally thought that I would not get sick. I eat healthy, I exercise. I will not get sick.

Thursday night: cue sickness.

Oh lordy, it was rough. We're talking every 15 minutes, let's just sleep on the bathroom floor, I think I might not make it out alive kind of sickness.

The best part? I had to be in a wedding on Saturday. Wonderful! I thought I could rally Friday night for the rehearsal dinner, but ended up making the call that it was better to stay at home rather than risk everyone else getting sick.

So after a little sleep on Friday night, I woke up at 7 to be at the church at 9 for the pre-wedding getting ready routine. Thankfully, this included a lot of sitting and vegging. Also, the bride was amazing and so kind about my "condition". I was still feeling like warmed over dog doodoo, but was determined to make it through and support her on her day.

The bride's sister-in-law did our hair, and bless her, made me look human. I was truly impressed. The whole day went off without a hitch, despite a couple other people being sick and not being able to make it as well. Overall, it was a beautiful wedding, and the bride and groom were just perfect. Happy, fun, relaxed, and just all about enjoying the day. What could be better?

I snapped this pic at the reception. Sadly I didn't get many other photos throughout the day, which would have been fun.

Just us bridesmaids and a snowflake.

Unfortunately I had to cut the evening short around 8pm, but the bride was so understanding and had no problem with me leaving early. I am so thankful that she wasn't a bridezilla! But I don't think I'd be friends with that type of girl to begin with...

I fully expected to be back to my A game by now, but life has different plans for me. Most of my Sunday was spent on the couch or in my bed, as I could not shake the exhausted feeling. I'm at work today, but basically just as a place holder. There is not a whole lot of actual function going on in my little department. Good thing I don't have much going on anyway.

In other news, I registered for my guaranteed spot for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on June 20th. So if you could send some healthy vibes my way so that I could get back on track with my running (we're going on day 5 of inactivity here), I would really appreciate it.

I'm in!

Have you had the stomach flu recently? How do you bounce back to your exercise routine after being sick? 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Happy February!

I'm so excited that we're now in February, simply for the reason that January is over. Not to hate on January, but it's such a depressing month. The excitement of Christmas and New Year's is over, but it's still cold and snowy. It's just kind of a bleak month.

Does anyone else feel this way? Bueller?

But now we're in February, and there's things to look forward to!
- a good friend is getting married this weekend, and I'm one of her bridesmaids!
- Valentine's Day! Not really super exciting, but fun to celebrate anyway.
- our anniversary is only a month away!

I also like to do a little decorating for Valentine's Day just to make the house feel a little more festive. You are probably not surprised by that, am I right?

Since I shared with you my holiday decorations, I thought I'd invite you back in to see what's up for V Day. I don't go all out like I do for Christmas, but just add a few things here and there.

For the front door, a pretty yarn wrapped heart with some pink felt "flowers":

In our living room, I have this shelf with some knicknacks I bought this little heart just because I thought it was cute and added a little pop. 

We have a small "room" that connects our mudroom, spare bathroom, kitchen, and basement door. It's really just a space to get to other spaces. But it needs a little love too, so I have this little heart trio hanging in there. It gets swapped out with different things all year long. 

Lastly, this sparkly heart hanging on our back door. Just the right amount of pizazz!

I also have a small Shepard's hook in our front yard that I hang seasonal flags on. We have one for Valentine's Day, but at the time I taking these photos, it was about -5 degrees outside. Sorry, but I decided to skip taking that picture. Use your imagination, k?

Welcome February!

Do you decorate for all the holidays? Do you get really into Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX

So, the Super Bowl just happened, for those of you not in the know. I consider myself to be a bit of a football fan (i.e.: I play fantasy football every year, and no I don't let my husband pick my team or move my players around every week), so normally I'm kind of excited for the big game.

This year was just kind of "eh". I'm not a huge Seahawks or Patriots fan, and ever since Percy Harvin left the Vikings I feel like I really have no team to root for. If the Packers had made it all the way, that would have been nice. It is what it is.

I decided to host a little get together anyway, and just focus on making good food. Easy enough. We did the usual office board as well, so that at least gave us a reason to watch the game.

I don't care who wins, so long as I make a little money! Each square was $5, which is kind of high-roller if you ask me. Normally we do $2 squares and I run the board. This year another guy opted to do it. Saved me the headache!

If you're not sure how this works, basically you're looking for the winning score at the end of each quarter. So if the score would have been Seahawks 7-Patriots 3 at the end of the 1st or 3rd quarter, I would have won $50. The payouts for the half and final score were $100 and $300, respectively. Sadly, I didn't win a dime this year. There's $30 in the toilet! I'm not a very lucky person, so I should know better than to gamble. It never pays!

Anyway, we invited my in-laws over, as well as my sister-in-law and her boyfriend. We had chips, booze, and these amazing dishes from the Reluctant Entertainer. If you've not heard of this blog, seriously check it out. She posts some really great recipes!

Whole lotta yum right here.

On the left is Balela Salad, a Mediterranean salad with black beans, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, and just a hint of jalapenos. It can be served by itself as a side salad or main dish if you're vegan, or as an appetizer with chips. We served it as a side with chips to the dish on the right: Pulled Pork with Black Bean Cornbread Topping

Uhm. OMG, y'all. This brings out my little southern heart like no other! Roasted in the oven for 2 hours, the meat was so tender and juicy. Some of the BBQ sauce had caramelized a bit on the edges, and the cornbread topping provided the perfect balance of sweet to the BBQ tang of the pork. It makes a lot, but I will definitely halve it down and make it again for the 3 of us. So yum!

We also had some really tasty chocolate chip/peanut butter cookie bars that my mother-in-law made. I actually had two. Whoops! They were crunchy and creamy and just full of peanut butter goodness. 

So that was how we "celebrated" the Super Bowl. Good food, good friends, good times!

Did you go to a Super Bowl Party? Who were you rooting for?