Thursday, November 13, 2014

More Birthday Running…

I think that almost everyone I know has a birthday in November! There is no better way to celebrate a birthday, in my opinion, than to wake up early and meet your friends for a run.

Last Thursday was Sarah’s birthday.
Me, Ro, Cornelia, Anne, Britney, Lauren and Sarah.

Today it is Rochelle’s birthday.
Again with my mad photography skills! Me, Anne, Rochelle and Britney! We had a hard time finding enough for this group selfie, we parked in a spot that has very little light at the crack of dawn.

It was a bit chilly.
The air temperature was 7 or 8 degrees colder than Tuesday, but the winds were only about 13 mph instead of 25 mph. It felt colder today. It was not an easy run. My legs felt cold and heavy. It was nice to not feel like a wind gust was going to blow us off the I-35 overpass though.

We ran, what I assume will be, our cold weather route. Only run east and west, that’s how we beat the cold weather her in Oklahoma.

How about a little #tbt?
Rochelle and I ran on her birthday last year. I don’t think it was quite as chilly last year!

Happy Birthday, Rochelle!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WIAW Two Weeks In A Row…

I am managing to do a WIAW post two weeks in a row this time! AND I actually have some food that I ate, and I thought I would throw out a soup recipe that I am loving because it is Freaking Freezing here today! Seriously, it was almost 80 degrees on Monday and it was 22 degrees when I got to work this morning. It’s like Mother Nature is bipolar!

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to make macaroons. I made up a batch of dark chocolate ones with chocolate ganache filling and realized I had NO IDEA what they were supposed to taste like. Don’t get me wrong, I think they tasted fabulous, but I also think that chocolate ganache would make cardboard edible.

After a little research I found Dana’s Bakery and ordered a dozen macaroons for taste testing.
These were good, but I wasn’t a big fan of the sweet potato. (Crazy, I know!) I can’t wait to do a little more experimenting with macaroons.

On the advice of my sister, Josh and I started reading a book called The Fast Diet. If you aren’t familiar with it, you fast two days a week, and on the fast days you consume 500 calories (600 for men). While I am not done reading the book, I am fascinated with the science and the benefits to things like cholesterol. I inherited high cholesterol and I am willing to work hard to lower my bad cholesterol if it means I don’t have to be on medication the rest of my life.
This is one of my 500-ish calorie meals, veggie soup with a grilled cheese. This happens to be one of my favorite meals of all time. Soup and grilled cheese.
I was in the mood for sliders the other day, so I whipped up a batch of sweet potato/quinoa/navy bean burgers. Perfect with a little pickle and tomato.

One of my favorite things right now is being able to just grab homemade soup, or beans, or orzo pasta right out of the freezer and throwing it in my lunch in the morning.
This is my favorite soup right now, and I am about due to make another pot to throw in the freezer. It’s so easy and so tasty.

Sweet Potato, Barley and Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Sauté onion, carrot, celery, red pepper in a little olive oil. Add some garlic and chopped sweet potatoes. Sauté a few minutes more and then throw in veggie stock (I usually do two 4 cup boxes). Bring to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes are nice and soft. Add either navy beans or chick peas (I usually do a couple of cans.) and then blend until smooth. Simmer a little longer and then add a cup or so of barley. Once the barley is cooked, add some roasted cauliflower.

I like to simmer it a while longer, because who doesn’t love the smell of homemade soup simmering on the stove? I divide it between individual sized Tupperware containers and throw them in the freezer. I either pop one in the fridge the night before I want it, or just throw it in with my lunch in the morning and microwave it when I’m ready. Couldn’t be simpler!

So there you have it, I’ve had some good eats this week! I thought I would leave you with Rocky, looks like he was laying down when he was eating his dinner the other day.
It’s a rough life!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Whole Lot of Not Running…

I can’t believe it is Monday again. It feels like the weekend just flew by! I don’t feel like I sat down at all this weekend. Well, sat down in my own house. We were on the go the entire time!

Friday night’s trip to the grocery store, followed by dinner at Chuy’s with the family left me not feeling so well on Saturday morning. I actually crawled back into bed rather than head out to the east side hills for my Saturday morning run. Crazy, right? It’s like I don’t even know who I am anymore.

It was nice to just not run though. I might regret the decision in two weeks when I am on the hills in Tulsa, but oh well. You only live once, and it’s less fun if you feel like you have to do it.
That brought my weekly mileage to 6. I don’t know when the last time I ran six miles in an entire week was. I might want to get back on the ball this week. I know I am not racing Tulsa, or planning on any kind of a spectacular PR, but I still am going to log the 13.1.

Josh and I headed to my first OU home game in a couple of years. I can’t even remember when the last time I sat down in Memorial Stadium was.
We were hoping to see a good game, but what we saw was a lot of disappointment. I hate to leave early, but in the third quarter when we had had enough we headed over to meet some friends that were tailgating. Best. Decision. Ever.
Rochelle’s sister Shaundra was in town for the weekend, she got to tailgate and she gets to head back to Arizona before it gets crazy cold around here tomorrow.
The cold wasn’t bothering Avery at all on Saturday. I don’t know how kids can run around in no coat and no shoes when I am bundled up in a coat, scarf and boots!
11 am kick-off makes for a very early bed time for me. I was up and ready for some baking at 7 am yesterday. On the menu, a birthday cake. Sarah said she loves all things sugar related and said I could experiment with her birthday cake, so I made her a funfetti cake. The whipped frosting was amazing! And who doesn’t love sprinkles?
Rochelle’s birthday is on Thursday so there will be more birthday celebrating coming up this weekend. How is it that everyone I know seems to have been born in November?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

End Of The Year Plan…

This year of running has been much different that 2013, some good, some bad. If you had asked me in January if I would be running two marathons in 2014 I probably would have laughed at you. But now the year is starting to wind down, and my family is getting very irritated by the Target Christmas commercials that are ALREADY on tv.

So with the holidays just around the corner, I thought I would take a minute and see what’s next. Because as a runner, there is always a next, right?

Well, first of all, what is NOT next is another marathon. It will be a while before I jump into another 26.2, and I have let all my friends know that if they pick another marathon PLEASE let it have a half marathon. I don’t want to even consider a 3 hour training run for a long time.

So what is happening next is Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, where I will be running the half. I am mostly running this for nostalgia, this will be my fifth year in a row. It was my first half, and while it hasn’t always been a great race (read: it was below freezing last year), I love this race.

We go up, hang out with the in-laws, and I go run a little with my friends and then we go home and get ready for Thanksgiving. Sounds like a great weekend to me.

What kind of expectations do I have? None. Last year I was coming off injuries, surgeries and accidents. This year I am coming off about six months of pretty horrible running. I am in search of my love of running so I will lace up, hopefully not have to bundle up too much, and go run for the fun of it. Plus the medals this year do this little spinny thing like my first medal in 2010. I do have a couple of friends that are running the marathon, so there might be some marathon stalking after I cross the finish line.

After that there will be the Turkey Day 5k. The inaugural race was last year and it was so much fun.
Plus I didn’t have to drive All The Way to OKC, it was practically in my front yard. Need I mention that they gave us long sleeved cotton race shirts, and Christmas ornaments?

Then there is talk of some of my friends running a marathon in December. If that happens I would definitely up for going with them to run the half, but we will see how that turns out.

Running for the fun of it, seems like such a novel ideal. I am hoping to get my head on straight so I can set some goals for 2015.

One of my favorite things about running is birthday runs! I love that my friends love to get up on their birthdays and log some miles as the start of their special day! We celebrated one yesterday, in fact.
My friend Sarah turned one year better. (Not older!) We had to take pictures!

When I posted this on Instagram, I managed to cut most of my fact off.
I have mad photography skills. Anne’s son Pace said “I can see Becky’s eye!”

Finally, I posted that I didn’t have a copy of the pictures we took after we finished Chicago. Almost immediately my friend Lauren texted me the pictures.
What a great shot of Chicago in the background! Notice that they all have on their comfy clothes and look well rested, while I look horrific. Oh well!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Royal Icing Transfers…

I was recently making sugar cookies for a friend’s daughter’s birthday party. The party was at Hey U Hayrides, so the western theme called for horseshoe cookies.

I don’t own a horseshoe cookie cutter, and I had some ideas for the cookies that didn’t really call for one. I decided to make my own royal icing transfers. I had made some previously to use as cupcake toppers.


I thought they worked well with the sports theme I had been using.

So now horseshoes. I will first say that even though I was really happy with how these turned out, I really should have made them the day before.

First I found a horseshoe design that I liked (thank you Google). I was going for simple. I placed the design under a piece of wax paper and with my brown royal icing I piped out the boarders.


After the boarders set for a while, I filled them in with thinned royal icing.


Then I waited for as long as I possibly could stand it. I knew if they weren’t completely dry I would be in trouble when I tried taking them off the wax paper. So I waited, and I even got my heater out to help them along a little bit.


After they were dry I got out my gold glitter and a tiny paint brush to doll them up a little bit. After rolling them off the wax paper, and letting out a huge sigh of relief, I piped and flooded my square scalloped edge cookies. I let the icing sit for a few minutes and then I just popped the horseshoes down on them and let them dry overnight.


I was quite impressed with myself. Not bad for someone as un-crafty as myself. It’s amazing what you can learn on the internet. I like that if I need something like this again I can plan in advance to have the hard part done. What a time saver!

I wonder what I will do next.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Non-Running Part of Chicago…

Even though the running part of Chicago wasn’t fabulous, it was a really good weekend. I have said it before, but I love Chicago. It really is my favorite city. I did like that it was much warmer this time than it was for Christmas last year.

We flew out early on Friday morning, so we got to Chicago pretty early.


We dropped our bags off at our hotel, headed out for lunch and then hit up the race expo.


The expo was huge! Very efficient packet pick up and we shopped around a little bit.


And had our picture taken in front of a giant pink bra.

On Saturday morning we headed out for a shake out run right by the home of Josh’s favorite football team.


I hate the the stadium looks like a space ship landed on top of it.


We got to meet Bart Yasso…


And Deena Kastor.  How cool is that? We ran an easy two miles and headed back to the hotel to relax.


We did wander the city a little bit. Rochelle and I headed to the Navy Pier. I had to take a picture of the Ferris wheel from Divergent! I sent that one to the teenagers and got no response. I guess they weren’t impressed.

We opted for take out and dinner in our hotel room and called it an early night.

After the race on Sunday we headed back to our hotel to rest up a little before we ventured out for food. We headed to Giordano’s for deep dish pizza. It was right by the Sears (Willis) tower.



I was so glad that Jordan came and hung out with the crazy runners.


We ended the evening with drinks at the top of the John Hancock building. The drink was fabulous and the view was amazing!

We had a later flight on Monday so we got up, grabbed breakfast and headed to the bean, or as it’s formerly known Cloud Gate. I am surprised I’ve never been there before.


After we hit up Lululemon, got rained on and road the train again we headed to the Art Institute. With our race bibs/medals/registration info we got in for free.


We saw some beautiful art, and a whole lot of runners hobbling up and down the stairs. I’d like to go back when my legs aren’t killing me because there was plenty we didn’t get to see.

It really was a great trip, and I can’t wait to go back to Chicago.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WIAW, Doesn’t Look Like Much…

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I haven’t done a WIAW post in ages, so I thought I would see what I have been taking pictures of lately.

This might be a sad post.


My new favorite thing is having plenty of rice/beans/soup in the freezer for fast healthy meals! I went crazy a few weeks ago and made this vegetable orzo. I love being able to grab one out of my freezer and popping it in my lunch.


I have been baking so many sugar cookies lately that I haven’t been baking much for my family. Clearly my daughters are a little tired of sugar cookies, I am going to have to start feeding my extras to others. So we have had Oreos around the house on occasion. Feels a bit like child abuse to me, but until there are more hours in the day sometimes we have to make sacrifices! Cookies and wine? Sounds like a winning combination to me.


This is the one picture of food I ate in Chicago. We ate at Rick Bayless’ restaurant Frontera Grill for lunch on Friday. I cannot tell you how happy I was that Lauren thought far enough in advance to get us a reservation. I had wild mushroom quesadilla with black beans and a salad. It was pretty amazing. I would definitely go back.


This technically is a food picture, because Rochelle is eating part of the pizza we had for dinner Friday night in Chicago. We discovered Vapiano on the same block as our hotel and we ended up eating there on Friday night at got take out on Saturday night. I ate pizza three times while we were in Chicago. On Sunday night we ate at Giordano’s, so I got Chicago deep dish after two nights of thin crust. The deep dish was amazing, but I was too tired to take a picture of it.


After dinner at Giordano’s we went to the John Hancock building. We knew the observation deck was closed, but for about the same price we could head up to the bar for a drink and see the sights. A martini with chocolate? Yes please. It was the perfect dessert after a very long day.

Plus there was the view. Amazing!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chicago Marathon Recap…

It’s been a few weeks, so I need to get my recap of the actual race done. More on the trip to Chicago (later this week, I hope!) because the weekend was FANTASTIC!

The racing, not so much.

I haven’t talked a whole lot about my training this summer, but in a word it was awful. I was really run down after OKC, and I don’t think I had enough time to recover from that before I jumped into (trying to) training for Chicago. You really should not sign up for your next marathon BEFORE you run the one you are training for. Lesson learned.

You might think that I am saying I wish I hadn’t gone to Chicago, but I am not saying that at all. I don’t regret a single mile, no matter how horrible they might have been. After last years injury (sprained ankle), accident (bike), surgery (appendix), I am so happy that I have been able to make it through the miles I have. You regret the miles you don’t run, not the miles you do.

So I headed into 26.2 #4 with very low expectations. I think I might have been a little delusional, really. It is not possible to slog through your training miles and expect to show up on race day and be able to run.

We were all in separate corrals for the race so it was pretty lonely at the start. It was probably over an hour between the time I left my friends and the race actually started. I took one horrible picture by the fountain though.
Pretty awful, right? I had just dropped off my gear bag and was heading over to my corral. This race is so big, you can’t even see the people that are starting before you, it was just a huge mass of runners.

After an eternity we were off. I love Chicago, really, I think the city was fantastic, and this was a great way to see it all. I was fine for about the first 12 miles or so. My walk breaks in the water stops started getting a little bit longer but I still felt like I was doing ok. The crowds were amazing, I think that has to be what it feels like to be an elite runner, there were some parts of the course that had so many people it was just a wall of sound.

Somewhere between miles 13 and 15 it all just fell apart for me. I can’t even point to one specific thing that happened, it was not like I hit a wall it was like the wall fell on top of me. It just got harder and harder to keep running. Around mile 17 I got stung by a bee on my left shoulder. That was painful, but I think the fact that my whole body hurt so bad by that point it didn’t hurt as bad as it could have. For the rest of the race whenever I was walking and I would try to stand up straight and put my shoulders back I had a very sharp pain in my left shoulder. Turns out the stinger was still in there and I didn’t realize it until I got home and Josh removed it for me on Monday.

I kept trying to tell myself that my family didn’t care how long it took me to finish, but then I would think that my friends were all going to be waiting for me at the finish line and I felt awful that it was taking me so long. It is a long time to be inside your head when it all feels impossible. The last six miles were probably the hardest six miles of my life. I would run a little and then I would walk and I would cry and then I would run a little more. I drank a beer. This seems to be something I am doing a lot during my marathoning in 2014.

I did make it to the finish line, they gave me my medal and another beer. Almost immediately after crossing the finish line my wonderful MIL texted me and told me that I was amazing and they were all proud of me. (More tears.) I managed to make it to the gear tent and hobble to where Carrie, Lauren and Rochelle were waiting for me. (More tears.)
Since we didn’t get any pre-race pictures we got a post race shot, but apparently it was not taken with my phone. That’s okay, they are all changed and had massages while they were waiting for me and I looked absolutely awful.
I set a PR for my worst marathon performance to date, but I am so glad I went. I love Chicago and I am hoping to be back there one day at the starting line feeling much stronger than I was this time.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Little Shenanigans...

I feel like I have been baking non-stop lately! That is not complaining at all, but I have been super busy. I thought I would take a break from running and show off some of the cookies I have been baking up...

There have been lots of football cookies, including OSU (gasp!), WVU and Arkansas. I will be sad to see football season go.

I love cupcakes, and I especially love cupcake sugar cookies!

Sometimes the design I have in my head doesn't actually translate in reality, and the cookies I made before these roses are definitely in that category. Multiple cookie cutters to get the shape I wanted made these not the easiest cookies I have made, but they sure turned out cute.

Custom cookies for a shower. I was so happy with how these turned out. I always say I am not very artistic, but I was amazed that I could take an invitation and get parts of it to translate into a cookie. Not the easiest to make, but the end product was one I was very happy with.

The horse shoes on these cookies were royal icing transfers that I made myself. Another pat myself on the back moment. I had to make them a little shimmery with gold edible dust, they were for a little girl's birthday party after all.

October is breast cancer awareness month, and I was super excited when my older sister asked me to make cookies to go along with her Halloween costume. Here theme was "Fight Like a Girl" and she gave out these individually wrapped goodies.

Lastly, for today, it is always someone's birthday, right? These were last minute cookies done for a birthday. I am a big fan of sugar cookies to celebrate birthdays. Okay, to celebrate any day, really.
So that's just a bit of what has been happening in my kitchen lately. I am hoping to find more time to blog about all the shenanigans. (I really love the word Shenanigans!)