Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vermont weekend + running=maple syrup scented pain

Logan and I spent the past weekend at a small inn in Vermont. It was absolutely gorgeous-trees everywhere, cute (and terrifying to drive in) wooden bridges and lots of delicious cheese and wine. We booked a package deal where we got breakfast in bed, a couples massage, a dinner with yummy wine and a super nice room with a humongous jacuzzi bath tub. It was so crazy awesome and I indulged pretty much every meal...and between meals. We found this small country store where they served "maple creamie", sounds weird but imagine the most yummy pancakes on earth and then magically transform them into ice cream. So wrong but so good. On Sunday we even went to Simon Pearce-a restaurant I have wanted to go to since I read about it in this article: http://travel.yahoo.com/p-interests-37926475 Everything was insanely delicious (just picture this: dark chocolate mocha woopie pie with cheesecake mousse and poached cherries) and I think I have eaten enough cheese for cows to cower in my presence for months. I also have had enough wine to pickle my liver.
Creepy but cool wooden bridge. Yes, you drive through it...it feels like the Headless Horseman could come out any moment.

Quechee Gorge...we actually hiked down to the bottom but it was full of obnoxious teenagers. yuck.

All gussied for Simon Pearce

Pretty falls area

The delicious Simon Pearce. I am still trying to find out who I need to bribe (and where I can get money to actually bribe someone) to eat out on the deck overlooking the water.

Beautiful Vermont...so green and mountainous and full of delicious cheese and wine
Anyway, I had lots and lots of yummy food and drink. It was awesome. We got back Sunday night (briefly contemplated staying up to watch the DVRed episode of True Blood but eventually succumbed to my food coma) and got up refreshed Monday. I had an amazing run on Thursday so I felt good about running Monday. I started my run and felt a bit icky, I figured I was simply sweating out pure maple syrup and it would get better...it didn't. Ugh, it was hot, I was barely plodding along and I seriously contemplated laying down in the middle of the trail and having the police come get me. I ended up going for 4.5 miles...*shame face* in like an hour. It was bad-lots of walking and LOTS of bitching. It was the first time that I kind of got the fact that diet does matter. I am not sure if it was the food, the wine or the combo but man, it was a miserable hour. Run on the docket for tomorrow so I have hydrated, eaten normal food and I am really hoping for non-dying results.

PS. The cheese, wine, ice cream, maple syrup etc. were totally worth it :)

PPS. I saw this picture in the Plymouth, VT town message board. It made me laugh and Logan looked at me like I was crazy...he obviously doesn't appreciate my nerdiness :)
To join the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance? Decisions, decisions....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I am woman hear me roar...or watch me paint a deck

My dad was really handy to have around: broken window? he can fix it... leaky faucet? he can fix it...fall through the floor in the attic (actually happened...twice)? he can fix it.
Me? not so much. I have never really been handy although my dad did give me a tool set when I turned 21 which has actually come in handy a ton especially over the last year.

As a homeowner there is no option to call the landlord to fix it. When we moved to this house last June the deck was starting to show some wear and tear. I thought about painting it last year but it was such a busy summer getting settled in that it got pushed back. This winter was horrific (2nd most snowy winter in Connecticut history) so the multiple feet of snow took it's toll on the deck even more. I knew that I had to get the project done especially since I have tons of visitors coming this summer. So here is my (possibly inept and wrong) how to guide to re-staining your deck.
My deck before picture...as you can see it's starting to look a bit run down. The first step is, of course, clearing off all the furniture. I did this alone because my husband is crazy busy for another week so I felt like a beast. Now I had spoken to my neighbor about if I needed to rent a belt sander and he thought I could get away with just renting a power washer. I was so excited about that because I really hate sanding (I refinished my bedroom set and it required me to sand it multiple times) so I rented a power washer from a local store for only $36/all day. The power washer was really easy to use and only required access to a hose. I was shocked at how much paint came up with the washer but it also got tons of dirt and grime up.

After power washing, I sanded a few spots that had flaky paint. Next, the fun part, actually staining the deck. The previous homeowners painted the deck-a big no-no according to the guy at Home Depot. Apparently paint will just flake off and deteriorate no matter how many coats you put on. Since not all the paint came up we went with a stain that had a similar color so it wouldn't take tons of coats to cover it up. After talking it over with the Home Depot guy, we went with a Behr paint stain that is guaranteed to last for 10 years. Now I am not going lie, painting kind of sucked. The floor/stairs were fairly easy-first coat took about 2 hours to apply and only about 1-2 hours to dry (it was pretty hot outside) and I did the second coat the next day and it looks great. Now for the tough part: the railings...oh the railings...they took forever because the posts are so close together so it took forever to get all the sides done. The inner railings took about 4 hours and the outer parts plus all the showing supporting structure took almost 6 hours and my arms wanted to fall off by the end.
So 2 gallons of paint plus many woman hours and lots of soreness equals a complete project!

Final part of the project was bringing everything back up. It was raining but I was determined to get the project 100% completed so that's why everything looks so wet.

So that is my how to guide...it took two days and some hard work but the results are fabulous and I no longer have it hanging over my head. I know it's silly but doing something like this by myself (with some much appreciated help from my husband) was nice and kind of empowering.
Good luck with your own projects!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Committing to Happiness

I am huge book nerd. Seriously, I have many, many bookshelves in my house and they are stuffed to the gills with books ranging from serious and impressive (to be read with your nose in the air and with a stick shoved you know where), education ones (books from Masters degree and now my Ph.D. books!), chick lit (use to be slightly ashamed but now I embrace my pink covers), how to books/cookbooks (lots and lots and lots of cookbooks) and finally my newest section: improving life quality. Improving life quality has been a big thing for me this year. This year was my first time not working or going to school so I had a lot of free time on my hands. At first I used that time to sit around, watch tv and think about how bored and alone I am in Connecticut. Finally, I got sick of myself and the constant "poor me" mentality so I did something about it...I fell back on my favorite pastime for answers: books.
My first book was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
Yes, the writer is a rich white girl and thus has rich white girl problems but I still liked the book. I am all about to-do lists and the author used a ton of those. She wrote about making simple changes-for example, committing to make dinner 3 times a week, to reading a new book every month, to gardening every weekend, to taking a trip somewhere new once a month etc- basically focusing on what makes you happy and actually doing those things.

With my huge amount of free time I decided to try new things and so I turned to gardening. I am still really, really bad at gardening (I kind of hate it. The weeds just keep coming back over and over again!) Therefore, may I present the awesome beginners guide: Learn to Garden
I browsed through several gardening books before buying this one. I really liked it because it kept in mind that as a beginning you probably aren't too interested in working with really complicated, fussy plants. It also gave straight forward advice about yards, planting a flower meadow, trees, flowers, herbs etc.

As a stay-at-home wife (at least for 2 more months) I do almost all the cooking. I usually just throw things together and I tend to not cook with recipes. However, this year I focused on trying new recipes, baking new and unique things and cooking seasonally. I loved these:
Cooking Light: Cooking Through the Seasons
Logan and I gave up meat for Lent so Cooking Light: Vegetarian was a lifesaver!
and finally, when I was in desperate need of a cupcake (which is kind of everyday) I turned to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
and if cupcakes don't fit the bill, there is the culinary bible which gave me my favorite chewy chocolate gingersnap cookies (ridiculously delicious and the ones on the cover-they are that special) aka Martha Stewart Cookies

My newest hobby is running. Running and I have a love-hate relationship (it loves to make my body hurt really badly and I hate it with a fiery passion until I finish the run and feel awesome. Endorphins? I am still waiting for them to arrive). After running my first 5 miles the other day I started thinking about how far I want to take this...do I want to do a marathon? Hahahahaha....NO! 26 miles? huge no thank you. I am intrigued by the idea of a half marathon...13 miles seems much more do-able so I am thinking about training for one. I haven't made up my mind but to help me do that I ordered Half-Marathon by Jeff Galloway-guru of the run/walk method.
I don't know what it is about running but it makes me happy-the exhilarated and exhausted feeling when I reach my car (finally) when my run is done, the bright tomato red face that refuses to go away for hours and just the feeling that I did something that my body didn't want to do and survived. I may hate running but somehow it makes me happy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

10 Observations from my first 5 mile run

I did my first 5 mile run today!! I know plenty of people out there run 5 miles easily with their eyes closed and with only one leg  (those people are being ignored) but this is a definite first for me and I am tickled pink by it. Instead of a typical recap I decided to let y'all know my observations from my run today.

1. There are lots of creepy old ladies out there. Their smiles freak me out and I swear one looked like this today but with bright old lady red lipstick:
"Hello dearie...yes, in matter of fact, I will eat your soul"
2. If you drink quite a bit of water plus run more than your poor, tired, weak body is used to then the following is possible: throwing up. Bad news: you throw up, yuck. Good news: it tastes mainly like water. I was really really REALLY lucky that no one was around and I was in the woods portion of the trail, it was tres embarrassing.

3. When rinsing out your mouth do not under any circumstances accidentally spit out your gum. I was so sad when I saw it on the ground...for a millisecond I considered rinsing it off and putting it back in my mouth *shame face* I didn't (probably because I knew I would need that water crazy bad by the end of the run) but totally considered it.

4. For the love of God bring some gosh darn tissues!!!

5. When you see two baby raccoons on the trail, you may want to give up your life of running (and having a normal house) and take them with you to love and cherish. No I didn't take this picture, I can barely fit my keys in my tiny running pouch, let alone a camera.
"I can haz cuddle?" Yes, yes you can.
6. When you are almost done with your run do not stumble on a high school running track because you will loose your senses and add another mile to original run total (I was only planning on doing 4 miles today...oh how plans change) and then your body will be very, very angry with you for the rest of the day.

7. It is smart to bring two bottles of water with you-one for your run, and one to keep in the car for after your run. By the way, I recently bought this water bottle for runs and I love it. I can stash my keys and phone (must have because I have an irrational fear of being kidnapped) in it.
You slip your hand through strap so you don't have to grasp a bottle through your entire run
 I love my new water bottle but I wish it was just about a million times bigger. I go through a lot of water, course this may be why #2 happened....anyway, I am empty by the time I am done so it would be great to have another bottle once I finally drag my weak, untoned, ass to the car.

8. When your running route takes you by the same boys playing baseball multiple times they will assume that you want a piece of their hot action and yell to ask you if you like what you see. The answer must always be no because statutory rape? not a good thing.

9. There is magical power in the song Riverdance. Starts of slow but gets fast at around the 2:15 mark and for some reason my legs must keep up. It's weird.

10. Running is oddly addictive. Yes, I managed to find creepy ladies, convince teenage boys I want their bodies AND throw up but it was kind of awesome and I can't wait to do it all over again-luckily I will have this opportunity again and again and again...*sigh* I imagine the novelty will wear off and I will go back to hating running which is my usual feeling while I am actually doing the running.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What to do?

I'll warn you before you start reading: this is a bit of a downer :( Sorry, I promise I'll be more upbeat on the next posting-I'll probably recap my long run scheduled for tomorrow and how could that not be exciting and full of exuberance?

Tomorrow is Father's Day. I've had two fathers in my life: one biological who passed away when I was 3 and one who was my dad, not biological but he was there and loved me through the many, many soccer games, piano recitals, and silly high school dances and he passed away 1 1/2 years ago. Now that he is gone I have no idea what to do with myself on Fathers Day. On most important days (birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines Day etc) I first call my mom to make sure she is coping alright but then I have to ask myself if I am alright and I don't know the answer to that question. On almost any day I am great but it's the little things that get me: not knowing what to do when a car problem happens and automatically thinking to call my dad, looking through wedding photos are realizing that an important face is missing, and I know it's silly, but not having anyone to call or buy a card for on Father's Day. Tomorrow Logan is on call so I am alone. The only thing I have planned is doing my long run which maybe that's for the best-no better way to outrun sadness then to limp along a trail at a glacial pace.
Miss him :(  but he would probably tell me to quit whining and run faster          

Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Monster Attacks...and it's delicious

I tried my first Green Monster. No, it's not a type of jello shot, pesto eggs, or green popsicle but instead it's a spinach smoothie. Let that sink in...a SPINACH smoothie. Yeah, I was equally horrified and disgusted but I talked myself into trying it (HA! take that inner fatty!). The girl who created it--check out her website here--writes about healthy living and with the help of other readers, has created tons and tons of recipes for many kinds of Green Monsters. I tried the virgin monster because I was still very wary of the idea of shoving over 2 cups of spinach in my breakfast...bleh!
I woke up this morning (after having dreams about the most delicious chocolate cookies that were made into sandwiches with layers of buttercream icing...oh man, I was sad to wake up). I went to the freezer and found this:
Why is there a banana in my freezer?
Ladies, this is what happens when you leave your husband alone for 2 weeks. Apparently the banana was going bad and he thought I could use it for banana bread so he froze it for me. Weird. Anyway, so a virgin green monster needs ice, spinach, a banana, and soy milk (or any kind of milk you want to use). The recipe also has an optional addition of flax seeds but I have no flax seeds. First you layer the spinach, then banana and finally the milk and blend for a good minute. I blended mine for a while because I wanted to pulverize the spinach into submission.
Before spinach is beaten into submission
After the beating, don't let the fluorescent green color scare you off
After you have blended your ingredients, add the ice and blend once more and pour it into your fanciest glass and TaDa! Green Monster has landed.
My Rainforest Cafe fancy glass, the bottom use to light up but sadly it does no longer
Now I fully expected this to taste not just bad but really, really bad. I took my first sip and big shocker: it tastes like a banana smoothie. Seriously! I drank that sucker down in like 3 minutes. However, I will admit that the last sip was mainly foam and it tasted a bit spinach-y. I can't believe that it is 9 in the morning and I have had over 2 cups of spinach already. Another big plus is that the smoothie has only 180 calories, give or take depending on type of milk and the size of the banana--did anyone else giggle about the size of banana? no? just me? okay then-- plus I feel super full. To please my inner fatty, next time I think I'll try one of the chocolate or chocolate/peanut butter versions also I think it would be really easy to just toss in whatever fruit you have on hand. Click here for all sorts of Green Monster Recipes!
Logan has a big doctor graduation thing tonight so I must go gussy myself up.
Off to Gussy,

Virgin Green Monster
  • 2 cups organic spinach
  • 1-1.25 cups milk (your choice of cow’s milk, soy, hemp, almond, rice, etc)
  • 1 tablespoon flax (optional)
  • 1 banana
  • ice
Place the ingredients into the blender in the following order: 1) Flax, 2) spinach, 3) banana, 4) milk. The reason for this order is so the heavier ingredients weigh down the flax and spinach and keep it from flying up around the blender and sticking to the side. Blend everything on the highest setting for 1 minute or so. Finally, add ice and blend on the ice setting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fighting my inner fatty

Against my better judgment (and my inner fatty) I went running today. Instead of hanging around the neighborhood I went to a local park-it's huge and has tons of trails that wind around a lot through woods, fields (corn fields randomly-if it was darker and creepier I would have totally been scared of Children of the Corn happening), and typical park stuff. I ended up running for about 50 minutes which is a long time for me, I am slowly working my time up as I would like to be able to run for around 1.5 hours eventually. I am toying with the idea of training for a half marathon but then I realized that I should probably focus on simply not dying while running a 5k for now.
I went running in a fantastic OU shirt today and I figured people were watching me run by them because they recognized the greatness that is OU, not because they were simply wondering how someone could actually be jogging at that slow of a pace.
Boomer Sooner! (I swear I really did go run after I took this)
Pretty uneventful run but definitely hit some mental blocks. At many points my mind was saying "what the hell are you doing? You jogged for like 10 minutes, you're done! Lets go home and eat some chocolate." and "You look ridiculous running and you're crazy slow...look I think a turtle just passed you!" What can I say? my inner fatty is a mega-bitch. I think that is the hardest part of running, fighting the mental battle to keep going even when your mind is telling you to stop. I loved the feeling once I was done that I had run for almost an hour-that's a whole episode of Gilmore Girls without commercials!-and I lived. In fact, within a few minutes (and lots and lots of air conditioning) I was fine, a bit sweaty and red faced, but fine. Maybe I really could survive a half marathon (with lots and lots and lots of training).

PS. My mind was also saying this during my run:
MUST remember them next time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Running outside is hard

Just got back from decent run. At the end I ran into a bunch of my neighbors (I have really nice, sociable neighbors) and their dogs freaked out and fought each other over who got to smell me. I hope that doesn't mean I smell like ground beef after a run. It was my first time using my new Garmin 305 aka my new favorite toy. I got it last night and spent a good hour playing with the features. Sure, it looks like an 80s calculator for your wrist but it tracks my exact distance, speed, time, heart rate etc. I also really like how I can design runs or courses online and upload them. You can even run against a certain pace or a previous run and little running figures depict how far ahead/behind/equal distance you are comparatively. Another handy feature is that it has a GPS which is really helpful considering I don't know my area incredibly well and there is a good chance I'll get lost at some point. I swear I am not getting a free Garmin for all this positive stuff, although if they want to send me one I'm totally on board :)

So for the past several runs I have been using a treadmill at my gym and today was my 2nd run outside. I have discovered the following:
     1. I must bring tissues. I don't know if it was allergies/cooler weather/etc but my nose was running like crazy-if only my legs would run that fast!-and I had no way to wipe it other than with my hand-grossness.
     2. Running outside is WAY harder than a treadmill!! I can't emphasize that enough: there are hills, dogs, people, cars, holes in the ground and all sorts of crazy stuff. I  felt guilty because my endurance is better on a treadmill so I consoled myself with the fact that running outside is harder, not sure if that is true but we'll go with it.
     3. Proper running shoes and socks are fantastic! My old shoes died a few days ago so I invested in some new ones today. I tried on a ton of pairs but my new ones have tons of support. I usually go with New Balance but didn't love any so I went with Ryka Revive 2 this time, specifically these:
I have to have non-white shoes because white shoes make my feet look like huge hobbit feet. Seriously, ginormous!
      3 cont. When I bought the shoes I went ahead and picked up some proper running socks. I have always used cotton and always gotten wicked blisters so I was mighty tempted when a running friend told me about synthetic socks for running. The salesman plus Runner's World recommended Experia socks:
The store I was at had a deal going where you buy one you get one 1/2 price so I picked up a couple pairs. So far I really like them, they fit a bit tighter than normal socks but the extra padding is really nice and after a semi-long run today there no blisters yay! I'll have to wait and see if they hold up and the multiple recommendations ring true.
     4. Last but certainly not least: MUST USE INHALER! I was running on this really flowery trail in the woods (crazy pretty) but all of a sudden my asthma started really acting up. It use to be way worse when I was a kid so I don't freak out during attacks but I really wished I had my inhaler on me because it made the last bit of the run kind of painful.
One of my favorite parts about running is discovering new things in your local area. Today I found a new trail that weaves through the woods and a bunch of wildflower fields. It was absolutely breathtaking. I will definitely run it again but the path is a bit wild so knowing my luck (and my extreme intolerance) I will probably get poison ivy. The semi-overgrown nature makes for a slow run because it's hard to actually see the path plus it's much more hilly.

On non-running notes, I was making coffee this morning and I spotted one of my favorite birds at my feeder: a Baltimore Oriole!! I always loved spotting these back in Oklahoma and my mom, aunt and I would almost always see them each year during our lake vacation so it was so neat to see one here. I didn't want to scare him away so I took a picture from inside my kitchen:

I love how brightly colored they are! I tweeted (not sure if that is an actual verb) the Connecticut Audubon Society and they replied that I most likely have a mated pair nesting somewhere in the trees in my backyard. How exciting! I love seeing new and unique birds at my feeders, makes sitting outside that much more enjoyable :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I know, I know, I know...I have been a very naughty blogger. The past few months have been so busy with me jumping back and forth between Connecticut and Oklahoma, getting ready to start a Ph.D. thus stress eating lots of chocolate and sun dried tomato hummus may have been involved...just kidding!....oh wait that actually happened :( and getting my house/garden in shape for summer visitors (seriously, I have 6 different guests heading this way this summer). Moral of the story is that I have lots to do but not very much motivation so this is the result:
I got back from Tulsa a few days ago and I have resolved to actually get stuff done course as I write this I'm sitting eating cereal and watching the entire Firefly series. Have you watched Firefly before? It's a great cross between a Western and Science Fiction. It got canceled way before it's time and I pretty much love anything by Joss Whedon who brought us the brilliance that is Buffy. Besides, Firefly provides lots of this:
Oh Nathan Fillion why don't you come be my 2nd husband? I make really delicious desserts and I have two very adorable cats.

Anyway, so I am finally settled back into my house so that means it is time to start working out again. I actually managed to run a few times in Tulsa (I didn't die so I count it as a win) but as I am trying (and mostly failing) at becoming a runner/slow jogger, I am trying to make myself run on a regular basis. I did my first CT outdoor run a few days ago with a pedometer I picked up at Target and after running for 30 minutes it told me I traveled a distance of .2 miles...I may be slow but not THAT slow. I have heard great things about Garmin GPS sport watches and have been debating buying one for months. A fellow blogger-who is super hilarious and you should totally go read her blog this very second, http://www.runningoffthereeses.com, recommended the Garmin 305. It tracks distance, pace and you can track all of your runs on the computer. I also like that it works for cycling as well. I don't bike very often but I may if I lose my fear of falling onto hard surfaces. I have this big scar on my knee from my last fall and I am a bit gun shy.
Not the most beautiful thing in the world but does the job
The price dropped to $128 so I snapped it up and it should be here Monday (yay! new toy!). I figure if I spend that much money on a watch I darn well better get my butt outside and run.
I would post a recipe for the yummy, marriage proposal inducing (from one of Logan's co-docs...a lady co-doc), strawberry pecan cake with cream cheese icing but I am too entranced by my future 2nd husband so perhaps the next post, which I promise won't be in three months...maybe three days.
Moral of the story:
I'm back bitches!
PS. As I finished this entry, a tween Zac Efron showed his pretty face on a Firefly episode and I had to share it with y'all:
"One day I'll spontaneously break into song about basketballs and big dreams"