Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekly Blah Blah Blah

Monday: Le Rest Day. (That's French for rest day. It means I'm fancy.)
Tuesday: Cycled 4 Miles, Ran 7 Miles, 100 push-ups
Wednesday: Cycle 4 Miles, Ran 6 Miles
Thursday: Cycled 20 Miles, Ran 1 Mile, 100 push-ups
Friday: Cycled 4 Miles, Ran 5 Miles, 10 minute ab workout
Saturday: Ran 12 Miles, Walked 2 Miles
Sunday: Ran 4.2 Miles

Totals: 35.2 miles of running, 32 miles of biking, 200 push-ups, 10 minutes of abs, 2 miles walking

Slight improvement over last week with strength training. Still not lifting anything heavier than a diet coke can, but I did at least force myself to stop and do sets of 15-20 push-ups on a couple days this week and do an ab video on YouTube. In my house, we call that success.

This week I'm doing something pretty unusual for me. There's a race - and Tim is planning on running. It's a local 5k and 10k. But instead of running...I'm volunteering? I've never volunteered for a race before, and that just isn't right. It will be a little different, but I'm excited to be cheering and supporting instead of being the attention hog (aka - everyday life).

On other news...this is the weather this week. My little kiddie pool is calling my name!



Unfortunately, that means running needs to be done before sunrise to avoid heatstroke. GUESS WHAT?! It's the season of runners complaining about the weather! I think we probably have until October for general bitterness and anger over the heat, then 2-3 weeks of pleasant fall weather. Of course, then we can start complaining en masse about the winter.

One person in my family is definitely loving the sun and heat:


He just runs around finding the tiniest spots of sunlight to set up camp. I joke about turning into a crazy cat lady, but I think it might be official now. Tim wants to rescue every animal in the world, but I typically stop him because I'm heartless. That's what he tells me, anyway. But last week we went to the local shelter and might be picking up a little kitten tomorrow after talking with the vet. If it's 3-2 in the house, I think the cats have won.

Are you a bitter weather complainer?
Add me to the club. I really don't like the cold for anything other than running, but I guess I'll get used to it eventually. But I'll still complain about it.

Have you ever volunteered at a race before?
I haven't and that seems a little odd, considering I have run 10+ races so far. I like having the excitement without any of the anxiety, too!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Don't Be Vain Like Me

Tim has been having shin splints this week pretty badly so we couldn't stick to our long trail run weekend ritual. (BOO) Instead, I made plans to meet my friend Julie and run 12 miles. Somehow I thought - yeah, 9:30 sounds like a great time to start a long run. For the record, it's not. Not at the end of April and not in Georgia. It was over 70 at the start and we ended at noon, 80 degrees and the sun overhead.

The run itself was fine, we took it easy because of the heat and added in walk breaks when necessary. The problem was that my vanity stood in the way of one thing - the hat. I don't have a running hat or visor, but I found this less than awesome, doesn't fit well, totally random hat somewhere and grabbed it.


Typically I could care less what I look like when I run. But for some reason...I hated this hat. I refused to run with it. What did I get? Sweat in my eyes the whole run, that sexy squinty thing going on with my eyes the whole time and a sunburned nose. Next purchase: a hat.

Even though my run was a little bit of a disaster by some standards (slower than I was aiming for and the Garmin ran out at 11.73 of my run) I still ended up having a nice time chatting with a friend and catching up. Oh, and planning about 14 more races. Anyone planning on running Savannah R&R this November?

Not what you want to see on a long run...

To make up for the lackluster run I ordered my new favorite drink from Panera - acai berry tea. By itself it is kind of weird but if you load it up with multiple packets of sugar and 8 wedges of lemon, it's really amazing! Plus I love that the glass you get is roughly 843 ounces of liquid.



This morning I figured I would take it nice and easy with a group run to recover. Except the ladies I typically would run with wanted to do 2.5 miles and I was itching to do a little more. I ran with another group instead and ending up literally chasing them up some very steep hills. I wanted to walk so badly but I couldn't lose sight of them or I would be lost, since it was in a neighborhood I wasn't familiar with. Kind of nice to have that extra push though!

Do you wear hats/sunglasses/visors when you run in the sun? Any recommendations?
I absolutely cannot wear sunglasses - way too much bouncing around on my face. I really hate hats in general but I think I just need to get over that and stop being a baby. 

Other that water, what's the best drink to have after a hot run?
I always drink water/nuun during and after my runs, but when it's really hot for some reason I really crave something different after my run. Iced tea and slurpies top the list!
 

Friday, April 27, 2012

SHOCKING NEWS ABOUT CHOCOLATE!

I can remember one of the first times I ever had Nutella. My stepdad is German and he brought it into my life when I was about ten. For that I will forever be grateful. We were taught that it should be spread on white crusty rolls or thick rye bread - but only on top of a thick layer of salted butter. I figured my mom must be in love with the guy if she was letting us eat chocolate and buttered bread for breakfast, but as a kid I knew better than to bring that up. Just eat the Nutella and smile.

Even at the age of ten I knew that Nutella was not a healthy food. It was delicious, creamy, rich and eaten on special occasions. That's not to say I don't eat it - I do. But in moderation and as a treat. Like spread on warm, just from the oven croissants after a long run....



So I have to admit that the recent class action lawsuit against Nutella seems kind of ridiculous to me. The makers of Nutella, Ferrero, settled for three million dollars. Anyone who purchased Nutella between 2008-2012 can jump on the bandwagon and make up to $20 for being "misled" by the advertising.

So here's my question: Is it the responsibility of individuals and parents to READ THE LABELS of food to determine if it is a healthy breakfast food, or do companies have a responsibility to be clear about the nutritional benefits (or lack thereof) in their items?

Source

What are your thoughts on this? Should people really benefit from the unclear advertising of Nutella?
I fully support the idea that Nutella should have to change their advertising to be clear that - guess what - melted chocolate isn't super healthy. Shocking. But awarding the customers? Meh. Not sold.

More importantly, how delicious is Nutella? Favorite way to eat it?
Off a spoon is good enough for me. But when there's a little bit left in the bottom of the jar, I like to dump in some coconut flakes and crushed almonds and then mix it all up. HEAVEN.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crap You'll Never Need

Lately I've seen quite a few blog posts about all the best running gear, the fuel beloved by blogger x and the new tank top that is to die for.

Cool, except I don't care. No, that's not true. Not entirely true, anyway. I get that people want to share their favorites, but sometimes it's not all that relevant because people are so individual. Those tank tops I love? They probably wouldn't even cover up your chesticles. The gummy chews I can't have a long run without? Maybe they give you chronic diarrhea. You just don't know. So instead, I present to you.... all the crap you absolutely should never buy. Ever.

The Ab-Hancer: In fairness I'm 99% positive that this is a joke, but still. I get it if crunches are too much, but don't use this to separate the fat in your stomach into ab-shaped segments. Too far. 

Source

Source
The Slender Shaper: From what I can tell this is a vibrating diaper. You put it on over your butt, it's incredibly bulky and expensive and then it shakes. I had no idea you could just make random stuff and say you're an inventor. This is priced at $120! (And then S&H, obvs.)

Source
My SWIH: You know the product is going to be bad when the name isn't even a word. SWIH stands for "So What, It's Hot!" which convinces me that Paris Hilton was somehow involved in the marketing process. It's a headband with a hole in the back for your...full water bottle. Because that's not awkward at all.

Source
And since this post is all random, all the time...I figured I would throw this video in there too. This is for everyone who just doesn't get the appeal of a relay race. Enjoy.





Anything to contribute here? Any "Seen on TV" style products you would like to ridicule?
I'm going to be honest and say I'm a sucker. About half of these things I see on TV I think are interesting, even if I never buy them.

 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Teenage Angst & Nuun Hoorays

Something weird happened today. The time was 2pm - one hour before nuun was set to announce their winners for the Hood to Coast Relay teams. I kept working like I had been all day. But my clock was broken! Not just the one on my computer, but the one on the oven. The clock on my phone. All of them. Seriously, they must have been broken because time was moving at a glacial pace.

I swear that the hour moved by so slowly. My poor computer hasn't had to hit refresh so often since that time I entered the lottery and wanted to check the winning number. (Spoiler: I didn't win the $100 billion. Next time.) 3PM finally rolled around, and with it the combination Twitter/Facebook/blog craziness that was "WOOO NUUN!" I'm not hating - I contributed to the brouhaha.

Long story short (sorry, not actually that short!): I made the team! I'm an official member of team AFTER nuun DELIGHT! (Kara - this wasn't even my suggestion. Nuun's brilliant call.)


I have to say that while I am so happy to have been picked for what I'm sure will be an incredible experience, I feel a little guilty. I often get like this. Of all the people that got picked, I know I'm not the fastest. The funniest. The biggest blogger. The most motivated. Etc, etc. And somehow it feels a little wrong to be OMG SO EXCITED when people I like and respect aren't able to get all giddy and happy with me.

Feel free to hit the X at the top of the screen if you want to leave it at that. Because I'm about to get deep. As deep as I get, anyway. I often feel guilty for succeeding. Or for doing well. This is something I really, really struggle with. I'm allowed to celebrate when something goes well! In school I was a little bit of an over achiever, and I was made fun of A LOT for that.

I wasn't a "cute nerd" that is super trendy today.  I was just a straight up dork. I started high school when I was 12 and moved away to college in a new country when I was 16. I wasn't as mature as those around me, but I could keep up with the work. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that brains + lack of maturity = uncool outcast. I used to hide my test results from people and pretend I did poorly. Or lie about my age in college so no one would realize that no, not only could I not legally have that beer, but I also couldn't vote. Or drive. Or play on a sports team without faxing the forms to my parents to sign.

I went back in time today and felt all those feeling again. So here I am, saying....I'm happy! While I'm disappointed that in order for people to be picked there also had to be people that weren't picked, I'm still proud. And that's how you can tell I'm no longer a teenager.

What was your high school experience like? Super cool? Super jock? Super hide-in-the-lockers at lunchtime?
I was lucky to go to a really small Christian high school where there weren't really cliques. I got along with most people because they had no choice but to hang out with me. One year there were 5 kids in my entire grade! But teenagers are still stupid and I got made fun of for my grades and my age. Luckily I had a lot of friends from different groups so I was pretty happy. 

Do you get embarrassed about success or revel in it?
Normally I'm excited and want to share it with Tim and my family, but beyond that I get a little embarrassed about the attention. 

P.S. - Didn't get a chance to see my nuun entry! Check it out here!




Monday, April 23, 2012

I'm Allowed to Brag a Little, Right?

First up - the boasts. I had a good week of workouts, if I do say so myself!

Monday: REST DAY!
Tuesday: Cycled 4 Miles, Ran 7 Miles, Walked 1.5 Miles
Wednesday: Cycled 4 Miles, Ran 6.5 Miles
Thursday: Walked 4 Miles, 45 Minutes of Yoga
Friday: 13.1 Mile Trail Run
Saturday: Cycled 4 Miles, Ran 6.5 Miles
Sunday: 4.2 Mile Run, 45 Minutes of Yoga

Total: 37.3 miles of running, 5.5 miles of walking, 12 miles of biking, 90 minutes of yoga

Excuses: Time and mileage wise I'm really happy with this week. Except...that dang strength training proved elusive once again. I can't even blame lack of time or energy for this one - I CHOOSE not to do it. Could I sneak in push-ups in commercial breaks? Yep. Could I do 10 minutes of ab work instead of running an extra mile? Sure. Do I? Nope. Working on that....

Boasts: Tim found this picture of me on the local running club website yesterday. Most race pictures I just assume will be bad, or funny. I don't take it seriously because at a race I'm not posing - I'm running. But this picture was taken at the finish of the Eton Four Miler last year and I absolutely love it. I think I was at my fastest, running-wise, and this race was a highlight for me (and I was 4th woman overall!)


Excuses: Lest you fear that my ego grow too large thanks to the photo above, I'll provide you with a photo that is the polar opposite. I sent this to Britt a couple of weeks ago who put it in her "Embracing the Fug" post ....and it was a good fit. I promise I didn't stop to walk at the Publix Half Marathon and pick my nose, but it would seem otherwise, wouldn't it?


Exact same outfit, very different races and VERY different pictures. It's amazing how picking your nose ( or looking like it, anyway) can ruin a photo.

Got anything you want to brag about? Any great race photos?
Although those bad race photos are always hysterical, there's no reason not to be proud of the good ones too. If you have any GREAT photos from a race, a run, a workout that you want to boast about, send them to me at gourmetrunnerblog@gmail.com and I'll feature them in an upcoming post!

Any tips on how to sneak in strength training?
I always say I'll add it on to the end of a run...but that doesn't happen.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It Feels Good Not to be Crazy

After Friday's trail run I was pretty much dead to the world. All I could handle was lazing around and then thinking about my next meal. Since the prospect of even cooking was beyond me we had a mini barbecue outside. Our grill may be 12 inches across but that works for me!



My parents bought us this grill when they came to visit last October and we hadn't used it since they left, so it was definitely time to break it out. I marinated some chicken breasts in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper before skewering them along with cherry tomatoes, green peppers and onions.


This was such a fun way to mix it up a little. Nothing fancy, but the smell of campfire smoke, some loud music blaring from the car, fresh corn on the cob and a tipple or two made for a really nice evening. Tim had a ready made frozen pina colada that you just stick in the freezer, and I have to say it was pretty amazing.


I pretended I was classy and had a glass of wine from a $6 bottle instead. Since I drank it out of a glass that looks like a medieval goblet, I can call it fancy.


Since I didn't get any actual work done on Friday, it all got pushed to Saturday. I did manage to squeeze in 15 minutes on the bike and a 6.5 mile run. This morning was another bright and early group run - and Tim came along! We did the 4.2 mile loop and he got to see what it's like to run with fast people. I think he liked it.

The group meets at a local Panera and then we all run a loop and meet back for breakfast. For the second week in a row, I ordered oatmeal. I always feel so guilty ordering stuff in a restaurant/cafe that I can make at home for 1/4 the price, but....I don't care. It's good oatmeal. It's covered in delicious stuff that I don't have at home (like strawberries, pecans and a cinnamon sugar topping) and is pretty much the reason I woke up at 5:45 this morning.

Source
I think the best thing about a group run is not the motivation, the conversation or even the food rewards at the end. It's the fact that for a few minutes, you don't feel crazy. Most people I talk to about running either think I'm delusional or just plain don't care. But when I chat to a guy getting ready for a half ironman or discuss the Stumpjump 50k with a guy who has already run it twice... I feed oddly sane. And that just might be worth the 5:45 am wake-up call.

Do you barbecue often? Also, who calls it "grilling out"? It that a regional thing?
I'm such a stereotypical female and leave the barbecue to the men. Really helping the feminist movement with that one! I do love it though, and I actually really enjoy the charcoal smoke smell. When we got to Georgia everyone called it grilling out but I've never heard that before!

Would you order oatmeal for breakfast or pasta for dinner in a restaurant?
These are the two things I typically avoid ordering out since they are so cheap to make at home. If I go out to eat I would much rather eat something I can't make at home! 



Friday, April 20, 2012

Falling in Love on the Trail

*Warning: This post might make you puke a little bit in your mouth. I apologize in advance.

Since Tim works on Saturday mornings and Sunday mornings are now 7am group run days, we decided to push our long trail runs each week to Fridays. I'll just work on Saturdays instead of Fridays - the joys of working from home on your own schedule. Today we ran the Amadahy Trail around Carter's Lake, which is only a 30 minute drive from home. Each loop is 3.7 miles, so we did 3 loops and then an out and back at the end to make it a full 13.1 miles.


Channeling my inner Vanna White

This was the longest run of Tim's life - and it happened to be on a trail. I could absolutely not be any prouder of him. I have to admit, I'm pretty loved up now. Smitten. Here are some reasons you can tell you're in love on a trail run:

#1: You can run behind someone for 13.1 miles (2 hours, 42 minutes) and still think their butt looks cute at the end of the run.

#2: You give away your last Honey Stinger chew. But then get the chocolate chippiest bite of his Clif Bar in return.

#3: He doesn't laugh when you fall on your ass on the trail but are more concerned with stopping your Garmin than checking for blood.

#4: He humors you when you try to explain how easy a 50k will be. "It's just this much....and then another half marathon....and then an easy 5 miles. Nothing!"

#5: He understands that after a long run and then lunch it's important to stop by Walgreens and buy up the Easter candy remnants. 18 cents for a pack of Peeps? Don't mind if I do.

#6: Even when exhausted after the longest run of his life, he will pose for the blog. Yep, that's a good man right there.



I think I finally got into my "sweet spot" on the trails today. I struggle with long runs on trails because I try to run too fast. I have to remember that hopping over fallen trees, water crossings and dealing with some serious elevation gains slows me down. Today I focused on finding a pace where I could just keep going for a while and it felt amazing. Here's the elevation chart for the run:


I tried to maximize it so the hills looked more intense but no such luck. I'm not sure how accurate my Garmin is with elevation on trails (or ever, to be honest). I think for this run it was pretty accurate but sometimes on a trail run the elevation gain will be 50 feet, or 3,000 feet on a easy neighborhood run. What's up with that?


See those shorts I'm wearing in the first picture? Those are my Aspaeris Pivot Shorts (I got them for free a few months ago to review). Although I do really love them and think they help my hip a lot, they're $60 at full price which is a little steep for me. From today until April 30th you can use the code APS4me to get 50% off - not a bad deal! I'm deciding whether I want a navy pair or a bright red pair. They also offer white, but....white spandex shorts and I just don't get along all that well.


How accurate is your Garmin/GPS watch when it comes to distance/elevation?
For the most part it's pretty accurate with distance I think, even on trails. Elevation is all over the place though. Sometimes it's way less and sometimes way more. I end up ignoring it most of the time, honestly.

What's a typical price for you to pay for running shirts/shorts?
I definitely look for deals at places like Nike Outlet. I honestly can't imagine spending more than $30 for shorts or a running shirt. Maybe for a long sleeve or tights, but that's it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Worst Kind of Blog Post

Want to know a pet peeve I have when reading blogs? Disclaimers. Not the good or necessary kind (I got this combination garlic chopper/running shoe FREE from company xyz!) but the kind that goes at the top of a blog post. You know what I mean. These ones:

  • Sorry I haven't posted! I have been super busy with work. 
  • I had a great weekend and took NO PICTURES!
  • I really couldn't think of anything to say for this post...
  • Wow, has it really been a week since I posted? I have nothing going on!

When I read a variation on the above, it's like a blinking light in my head goes off and tells me to press that little red x at the top of the screen. Seriously. You might as well just post in big bold letters at the top of the page DON'T READ THIS-NOTHING TO SAY.

Keep in mind - I don't mind if you forget to post for a few days. I don't post everyday and I could care less if anyone else does. But if you skip a day - don't worry about it! If you don't have pictures, who cares? Unless you happen to blog for a living (and I read very few blogs who actually do that) then you have nothing to apologize about.

And if you have absolutely nothing to say? Don't blog. I won't mind. In fact, I'll be more excited to read your blog if it's been a few days. I know you'll be saving up the good stuff to share.

Do you feel an obligation to post/comment/read blogs on a regular basis?
I really used to, and if a day went by without a post I would almost feel guilty. I've actually been posting less and less lately (maybe 5 times a week?) and that seems to be easier for me to handle. 

Be honest - do you skip a blog post without pictures?
I would never skip a blog post just because there were no pictures, although overall I do think they help me get to know the writer better. What's that? You have to have a picture in this post? Fine - here:

Just try to find something cuter than that.
 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Running, Biking and Adventure Races

At first I thought it was a fluke. A few weeks back I did a faux-triathlon (ugh, fine. I biked, ran and showered) and for some reason the 5k I ran AFTER biking an hour was way faster than normal. Lately my runs have been feeling slow, but on Sunday night I decided to test the theory once again.

In the morning, I ran 4.25 miles outside. Later that night I biked 12 miles in 45 minutes. I immediately got off the bike and hopped onto the treadmill and ran an 8:15 mile. The fact that it was faster than normal (way faster, let's be honest) wasn't even the shocking part. It felt better. I had better form, no hip pain and my breathing was under control.



Okay, so twice it happened. Still a theory, right? Today I cycled at medium resistance for 15 minutes (4 miles) and then started running.  Result - 7 miles at a 9:09 pace and no hip pain. Needless to say I will never be running again unless I've biked first.



I really don't get it. At all. I searched the web for a while trying to find someone who found the same thing to be true and found this blog. The author has a theory about cadence - i.e. if your legs are used to moving at a certain speed on the bike they will just continue to do so on a run. That still leaves the lack of hip pain more confusing than ever. The only thing I can think of is perhaps my form is very different off the bike.

So...runners, bikers, those of you who train 18 hours a week for triathlons...do you have any input on this? Am I crazy? Is it a placebo effect? I mentioned this on Daily Mile and got reactions from these ladies about doing triathlons. All I have to say about that is....one day I will learn to ride a bike.

Not today. But one day.

Anyway, whether or not I eventually figure out how to pedal those mysterious two wheeled devices, I do think it would be really fun to try a race not entirely about running. A gym chain nearby offers  indoor triathlons that are organized by time (10 minute swim, 30 minutes spin, 20 minutes on a treadmill) which kind of seem like a great fit for me. I'm also trying to wrangle someone into doing this one with me:  The Riverbend Adventure Challenge.

Source

 Four people in each team have to:

-Make it to the top of a climbing wall underneath Walnut Bridge in Chattanooga
-Get on stand up paddleboards and head to a little island nearby
-Run ~2 miles on trails around the island
-Paddle back to the beach/finish

How fun does that sound? Its $50 per person ($200 for a team of 4) so not a terrible deal either. If I can wrangle Tim on board then we just need to find a super fast couple to round out our team. Or maybe a super slow couple so we can look more buff and intense? To be determined.

Have you ever competed in a non-running race of any kind?
In middle school/high school I paddled outrigger canoes in Hawaii and we had races, but that was many years ago. In recent years...nothing!

Anyone want to throw out any theories on the biking/running phenomenon?
Possibilities include the phase of the moon, my former life as a pro triathlete or an allergic reaction to jelly beans. Go crazy, I will accept all possible theories. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekly Recap & Barbecue Chicken Pizza

This whole week my workouts have felt a little off. Thanks to my digestive issues I have been purposely taking it slow for a while...and it has caught up with me. I feel like my running is harder than normal and I am putting in quite a lot of effort for a slower pace. That being said...I know how to fix that.

Run more.
Run faster.

So simple, yet so effective. This week's workouts:

Monday: Rest day.
Tuesday: Ran 6 miles.
Wednesday: Ran 6 miles.
Thursday: Ran 8 miles, 20 minutes of strength.
Friday: Cycled 18 miles.
Saturday: Ran 10 miles, 45 minutes of yoga.
Sunday: 4.25 mile group run, 45 minutes of spin, 1 fast TM mile

Total Mileage: 35 running, 30 biking

I'm starting to feel like a weekend warrior with exercise! Since I set my own schedule, there's really no reason for me to cram it in on the weekends, but I still do.


Goals for next week: Work out and stuff. That's it. And have one long trail run with Tim of 12+ miles. And maybe make some more of this pizza.



Last night I celebrated the end of the weekend by making a barbecue chicken pizza from scratch. Ish. I feel bad saying "from scratch" because it's not like I was out there harvesting wheat, you know? I just bought a bag of pizza mix and added in water. But I still got to make dough and let it rise...



...stretch it into a pizza base and bake it....



...top it with tomato sauce, mozzarella, baked chicken (baked beforehand for 40 minutes at 350 in a mixture of olive oil, S&P and barbecue sauce) and diced tomatoes....



...and then bake and eat. Delicioso!

Do you tend to work out more on the weekend or during the week?
I prefer to take my rest days during the week (today is mine!) because I just feel like I have more time to workout during the weekend. Although a lazy Sunday of doing absolutely nothing is pretty nice every once in a while.

Do you make pizza or buy it? Favorite restaurant/frozen pizza?
I usually make it myself - either the dough like this (one bag = 50 cents) or I buy a base and just top it with whatever I want.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Long Runs and Hipster Bingo

Saturday might just have been the perfect day. Tim and I were up before 6 in order to get up to Chattanooga and have a long run there in the morning. 10 miles - check. We both worked for a few hours (Tim - actual work. Me-"work" on my laptop) and then went to the Chattanooga 4 Bridges Arts Festival in the afternoon. I tried to make myself presentable since there were people there with eyes and noses, but a baby wipe shower in a bathroom stall was all I could manage. Sorry, Chattanooga Residents.

Let's pretend this is a "shower"

There were probably a good 60 or 70 artists at the event and it was definitely pretty interesting. It should come as no surprise that my favorite pieces all came from the same artist who used food in each piece along with tiny little figurines. The setups were adorable - little people skiing down twist cone ice creams, for example. I bought a little print of one called "The Grape Escape" to hang up in the kitchen and I love it.


I'm pretty disappointed that we went to an art event that featured organic food and a musical performer called Pork Chop and forgot to bring along my Hipster Bingo cards. Serious bummer because I think a lot of the bases were covered there yesterday.

Source
Anyway, now that I have told you guys about hipster bingo I'll probably never play it. Way too mainstream now.

When we got home we watched the Iron Lady about the political life of Margaret Thatcher. I really enjoyed it because although I guess I'm technically half English, that part of history was before my time and I don't know much about it.

Oh! And I did yoga. How could I forget? Honestly, I don't know why I stopped practicing yoga. Also, I don't know why we have to say "practicing yoga." It sounds a little pretentious, doesn't it? I'm not a yogi and I didn't even go to a class. I did a 45 minute video at home alone and I didn't even wear Lululemon.

Are you an artist/art enthusiast?
No and no. I can appreciate art but beyond stick figures I'm out of my element. The only art I really know anything about is really classic European paintings - all thanks to a intro art class in college. 

As far as long runs are concerned, would you rather run alone, in a group or with a partner?
It really depends. I think short runs with a partner or group really push me, but sometimes on long runs I like to zone out a little. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Make Your House Smell Like a Hippie

My little sister is turning the big 2-3 in a few weeks and thanks to the mail system to Hong Kong (read: will take 2 weeks minimum to arrive) and I decided to get a head start and grab her birthday present today. I went to a local outlet mall in the afternoon because the idea of going there on a weekend is traumatic. I ended up with a few serious questions:

#1: Why do stolen frozen yogurt spoons make food taste better?


I can't help it. They're fun. They're cheap. They're one of the few things I can steal and not feel guilty. May as well, right? Otherwise they go in the trash, so no guilt.

#2: What, exactly, does dragon's blood smell like?


Tim and I were thinking about getting some incense and were browsing through some of the varieties. I smelled Dragon's Blood and I wasn't impressed. Kind of like Indian food? I don't think Daenerys Targaryen would be impressed.

#3: How many people read this sign and don't realize the pun?


They had another one that said "clothes quarters." While I think it's cute, I can't help but think some people are going to read it and think, "oh! I've been spelling it wrong for years!"

Do you ever take extra things from stores/restaurants/hotels?
I'm such a sucker for this stuff. Hotel pens, shampoo containers, ketchup packets, all that stuff. I want to say that 75% of the time it gets shoved in a drawer or thrown away, but I'm so cheap I can't turn it down.

Have you ever had incense or use it today?
I'm meh about it. Sometimes it's great and sometimes it makes your house smell like a hippie. 




Thursday, April 12, 2012

That's Just Awkward for Everyone

If I could get a round of applause for finishing my taxes last night, I would really appreciate it. I'm just really proud that I wasn't on the phone begging for an extension. I don't think "My dog ate my 1099 forms" works with the IRS, does it? While filling everything out I came across my absolute favorite question of the day. Read this:


The question is innocent enough - "Do You Have Children?" My problem lies in the important little addition below that: "If you're not sure..."

WHAT? People of America, if you are filling out your tax returns and "aren't sure" whether you have kids, you have serious problems. Does that happen often enough that Turbo Tax really needs to put a little disclaimer? REALLY?

Source

Awkward questions like that remind me of the ONE time I tried to give blood, back when I was in college. I'm petrified of needles but I decided I would deal with the anxiety to be a good person. (Yeah, I don't know what got into me either) Well, it turns out they don't really like my blood after all. Harumph. Being born in Africa makes them super suspicious. This was the exchange:

"So you were born in Africa?"
"Yes, and lived there until I was 5."
"Ok. Did you ever have sex in exchange for money while you were there?"
"I LEFT WHEN I WAS FIVE."
"Please answer the question."
"No, I didn't have sex for money when I was a toddler in Africa."
"Great, thanks. Did you ever have sex in exchange for drugs?"

After several super fun questions like that, they rejected my blood after all. (Spending too much time in England - fear of Mad Cow Disease.) I have to admit I was partially relieved and now I have a built-in excuse every time someone asks me to donate blood. I WOULD, but they won't take it. 


Are you one of the over-achievers who finishes their taxes months early or do you leave it to the last second?
Well, not the absolute last second, but let's just say I like to procrastinate. A lot.

Have you ever given blood?
I haven't, no. But - just because I joked about it here doesn't mean I don't realize how important it is! Thanks if you have.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

100 Things To Eat Before You Die (But Don't Die)

I apologize if there are geriatric readers who don't appreciate a death reference in the title. Maybe I should rephrase it? Fine. Here are 100 things to eat before you turn 100! Perfect.

I've seen this list floating around online and I keep looking at it and trying to see how many of these 100 foods I have eaten. Rest assured, I have not. I tried to trace the list back to the source and I'm not sure where it began, honestly. It seems to be most popular HERE on Facebook so I'll link it up and feel good about not stealing content. Done. Anyway - here's the list. I've marked the ones I HAVE eaten in blue.

1. Abalone
2. Absinthe
3. Alligator 
4. Baba Ghanoush
5. Bagel & Lox
6. Baklava
7. BBQ Ribs
8. Bellini
9. Birds Nest Soup (Really popular in Hong Kong but EXPENSIVE!)
10. Biscuits & Gravy
11. Black Pudding
12. Black Truffle
13. Borscht
14. Calamari
15. Carp
16. Caviar
17. Cheese Fondue
18. Chicken & Waffles
19. Chicken Tikka Masala
20. Chile Rellenos
21. Chitlins
22. Churros
23. Clam Chowder 
24. Cognac
25. Crab Cakes
26. Crickets (but I have had grasshoppers!)
27. Currywurst
28. Dandelion Wine
29. Dulce De Leche
30. Durian (I can't think if I have eaten this but I have sure SMELLED the nasty stuff before!)
31. Eel
32. Eggs Benedict
33. Fish Tacos
34. Foie Gras
35. Fresh Spring Rolls
36. Fried Catfish
37. Fried Green Tomatoes 
38. Fried Plantain (I can't remember, so I'll say no for this one. I hate bananas, so probably not)
39. Frito Pie (What is this?)
40. Frogs' Legs
41. Fugu
42. Funnel Cake
43. Gazpacho
44. Goat
45. Goat's Milk 
46. Goulash
47. Gumbo
48. Haggis
49. Head Cheese
50. Heirloom Tomatoes
51. Honeycomb
52. Hostess Fruit Pie 
53. Huevos Rancheros
54. Jerk Chicken
55. Kangaroo ( I had a novelty kangaroo jerky once)
56. Key Lime Pie
57. Kobe Beef
58. Lassi
59. Lobster
60. Mimosa 
61. Moon Pie
62. Morel Mushrooms
63. Nettle Tea
64. Octopus
65. Oxtail Soup
66. Paella
67. Paneer
68. Pastrami on Rye
69. Pavlova
70. Phaal
71. Philly Cheese Steak
72. Pho
73. Pineapple & Cottage Cheese
74. Pistachio Ice Cream
75. Po' Boy
76. Pocky
77. Polenta
78. Prickly Pear
79. Rabbit Stew
80. Raw Oysters
81. Root Beer Float
82. S'mores
83. Sauerkraut
84. Sea Urchin
85. Shark
86. Snail
87. Snake 
88. Soft Shell Crab
89. Som Tam
90. Spaetzle 
91. Spam
92. Squirrel (family rule - you shoot it, you eat it)
93. Steak Tartare
94. Sweet Potato Fries
95. Sweetbreads
96. Tom Yum
97. Umeboshi
98. Venison
99. Wasabi Peas
100. Zucchini Flowers
 
I really like how the list is pretty international. However, there seems to be nothing from Africa? Maybe goat? Seems like a pretty big continent to leave out, but whatever. There are also a couple of things I have never even heard of  on this list: Phaal, Fugu and Frito Pie. I have this feeling that anything with the name Frito in it is an American invention. Must Google. 
 
Reading through this list brought back some funny memories (ahem, eating snake) but one that stood out what when my mom and stepdad got married when I was about...10? My stepdad is German and we were out in rural Germany for their honeymoon. Yes, they brought three young children on their honeymoon. Anyway, he bought a rabbit and skinned it to make rabbit stew. We were all fine with it until he put the skin on his hand like a puppet and gave it a voice. Not kidding:
"Hi! I'm mister rabbit and you are going to eat me for dinner. Yay!"
 
Needless to say I was not a fan. And I'm pretty sure we all burst into tears and refused to eat. Good times, good times.
 
How many of those things on the list have you eaten? Which ones would you NEVER eat?
I've eaten 73/100. I think I will forever skip sweetbreads, haggis, crickets and durian. Thanks.
 
What would top your list of things to eat before you die?
Too stereotypical if I say frozen yogurt? Tough. It's amazing. Also, the beef wellington I made over Christmas. 
 

  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dealing With Holiday Depression

I sometimes wonder if people who have met me in real life are surprised by the contrast between my blog persona and my actual personality. Perhaps the biggest revelation is that on days where I don't post, it's not always because I'm having such a freaking awesomely amazing time that I can't get away from the action and find my computer.

Want to know what it would be like if I actually posted how I felt on those bad days?

Hey guys. Slept in this morning. No reason - just didn't feel like getting out of bed. Couldn't be bothered to make breakfast, but got hungry after an hour and ate 1/2 pound of chocolate. Started watching Shahs of Sunset. Surprisingly entertaining, but felt brain cells dying so cracked open a book. Read nonstop for 7 hours while eating. I am always impressed by my ability to eat and read at the same time. Skills. 

Unfortunately, I'm afraid those kind of posts aren't super entertaining, so I avoid them. But I'm about to get real on your asses, people. I have a really hard time with birthdays, holidays...celebrations in general. I build them up in my mind and look forward to them for a long time and when they arrive, they don't always meet my expectations. 

Easter was one of those days. I am used to having family on holidays, so without them I get sad. Although Tim is fantastic and does a lot to cheer me up, I still feel really down at times. Maybe some of you will read this and think I need to get a grip because my life is freaking easy. Well, I agree. But when you struggle with depression it's hard to wrap your mind around that.

Depressing Post? Here's a picture of a cat in a laundry basket. I dare you not to smile.

There are plenty of ways people deal with depression in their own style. Some people eat (GUILTY!), some people drink (guilty) some people exercise (less guilty) and some people claim that getting dressed and leaving the house is a step in the right direction (easier said than done). One of the ways I deal with it is reading. Escapist literature helps me to focus on anything else besides my own life and whatever is getting me down.

Oddly enough, the books I choose are typically horrible depressing. Perhaps something about them reminds me that life could always be worse? That might explain my affinity for Thomas Hardy. Today I tackled two books that are personal favorites but never get old.



The first was Grass Soup, by Zhang Xianliang, which is a biographical account of a rightist sent to a Chinese labor reform camp in 1958. It's an incredibly honest piece about human nature in the depths of starvation and illness. Plus, even when I feel crappy I have to admit my house is no gulag, and that always makes me feel better.



Next up was something depressing but witty - Candide, by Voltaire. The best way I can think to describe it as intelligent internet trolling from the eighteenth century. Voltaire makes fun of popular philosophy and religion of his time in a hysterical but thought provoking way. Although at the root of the story is the obliteration of optimism, he still manages to keep readers smirking.

If all else fails and I'm still having a bad day, I play with cats. Love love love.


Do you think your blog/Facebook statuses/Twitter updates accurately describes your moods?
While I'm not lying on social media, I just avoid it when I'm having a rough time. I'd rather avoid it entirely them try to be happy through it.

What's the last book you read? Your favorite? The next one on your to-read list?
Favorite is probably A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or Far From the Madding Crowd. Next up - I just ordered the Makioka Sisters online. I've read it but not in several years so I can't wait to re-read it.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Virtual Trail Races and Ice Baths

It's official. Saturday = trail run day. I love the new tradition Tim and I have. I don't have the same long run anxiety when I know it's just going to be a chance to hang out somewhere scenic. Today we ran at the Amadahy Trail around Carter's Lake. It's really convenient - less than thirty minutes from home which is basically just down the road for our rural location.

We planned on doing the 3.8 mile loop 3 times but Tim was having shoe/blister trouble and to be honest...I was happy to cut it short. So we made it two loops (7.6 miles) in 1:34. Still strange to be working so hard and see a 12 minute mile pace! Once we got home I added 3.1 miles on the treadmill to up the mileage a little and use it for the Jelly Bean Virtual Race!



So...funny story. Notice how Tim's head is missing in the picture? Don't blame my bad photography skills. A few days ago he was buzzing his hair and accidentally shaved a certain portion of the head, um...basically bald. So I had to help him even it out and now he's embarrassed about his lack of hair. I keep telling him it makes him look super tough but I don't think he's buying it.

Obviously the best way to recover after a tough trail run is to take an ice bath. Problem is, they are just a little bit miserable and Tim and I don't fit in our little tub together. Solution = buy an inflatable pool and fill with well water. That was SO COLD!


It's not warm enough to stay in for longer than about ten minutes but it was still a nice change from the tub. Come summer though...you're invited to my kiddie pool in the yard for pina coladas. It's like a trip to the beach for people who can't afford a trip to the beach. Awesome.

Anyone else participating in the Jelly Bean Virtual Race?
If you're not, you should. You can bike, walk, run...whatever. The prizes are pretty fantastic too (read: Visa giftcards and iPod shuffles!)

If you say something nice about really short hair I will be your best friend.
Seriously. Something like bald is beautiful, or buzz cuts aren't just for soldiers. Make Tim feel better. Thanks.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How to Make Science Fun. Really, Really Fun.

Hypothesis: Cadbury Mini Eggs bought in the UK will be superior in taste, texture and smell to their lowly American counterparts.



Experiment: Taste testing done with one bag of UK purchased Cadbury Mini Eggs and one bag bought from Wal Mart in Georgia. Participants will taste both varieties without bias and compare the exterior shell, overall crunch, taste, creaminess factor and aroma upon opening bag.




Observation/Data Collection: Through extensive sampling, participants were able to note the following:

-While the main ingredient in American bags is sugar, in English bags the main ingredient is milk


-UK shells are thinner and have a less sweet taste
-Color variations are evident. English bags lack blue and instead have a purple egg variety.
-UK mini eggs have a freckled appearance rather than a solid color shell


 -US mini eggs are definitely sweeter and creamier. The UK version has a stronger cocoa taste.

Conclusion: They are both freaking delicious. Participants struggled to avoid consuming both bags in mere minutes. Further testing may be required. American version was sweeter and more like candy than chocolate, but in no way inferior to the English version.



Are you a mini egg fan? ARE YOU HUMAN?
Yes to both. Such a fan. My grandma sent the English variety so we had to do an extensive taste test to compare both versions.

Do you have any traditional Easter candies, meals or desserts you plan on making this weekend?
We will definitely make Easter nests (shredded wheat, chocolate and mini eggs) like we have done the last few years. Other than that - nothing in particular!

P.S. I do still run, by the way. When I'm not too busy eating chocolate. Last night was 6.5 miles on the TM. Tonight I'm going for 8. Wish me luck.