Monthly Archives: December 2011

Chlorine is More Powerful than Soap

FOOD

Not that I need much of a reason to cook, but holiday cooking is always so much fun.  Yesterday was mostly me in the kitchen (once the carnage of gift opening was done).

I made a few things for breakfast.  The first was an orange marmalade snack cake from My Sweet Vegan that came out very yummy.  Then I took the leftover rice and beans from Saturday night’s meal, mixed it with some tofu scramble, veggies, and vegan cheese and made breakfast burritos.

cake for breakfast!

it's very gooey and sticky

We don’t really eat lunch on holiday’s.  I generally put out a ton of snacks, and we graze all day until a big dinner around 730-8pm.  It’s funny; growing up, my parents always tried to do holiday dinners around 2pm, and then we’d graze all evening.

Anyway, I spent the majority of the day whipping up an Italian feast.  The vegan items included lentil and rice balls in a homemade tomato pomodoro sauce, fresh pasta, 3 loaves of Italian bread (which was 2 loaves too many), salad, and socca.  And red wine.  I will say – it rocked 🙂

rolling and cutting the pasta was a two person job! Even with the KitchenAid, it was really long. Here we are improvising where to hang them as we finished prepping the rest! Was also a convenient place to hang them while I pulled the rest of dinner together

lentil and rice balls! What my daughter affectionately calls LICE balls

bread

socca

Today for breakfast I had my leftover tofu parmesan on toasted Ezekiel bread for a yummy sandwich.  Lunch was some lentil soup and wheat thins, and for dinner, I made a chickpea pasta salad.  One of my favorite dishes when I was a kid was my mom’s tuna noodle salad.  I haven’t thought of it in years, but decided to make a chickpea version.

I made up a sauce of veganaise, sweetener, salt, and, dijon mustard, then added mashed chickpeas, sweet pickle relish, and some onion.  Then mixed in a box of cooked quinoa gluten-free pasta shells.  Overall, not too bad.  I wish I had some dulse, to give it that fishy taste.  So essentially – not a lot like tuna noodle salad, but still pretty darned good.

chickpea pasta salad

 

FITNESS

Yeah, yesterday was a rest day…unless bouncing around the kitchen all day counts 🙂

Today I went swimming!  I’ve been missing the pool a lot lately.  I’ve been happy that running is again pain-free, but it’s time to pick up the cross training again.  I plan to have quite a busy Tri season in 2012!

I did stop at Aquawear today.  I am on the lookout for a lap counter because I always lose track of how far I swim.  The only one they had was a big one that suction cups to the pool wall, and you hit it when you finish a lap.  I was looking more for the little tiny ones you wear on your pointer finger and hit with your thumb!

But that said, I did count my laps today since I was doing a specific workout, and I swam 1300 yds before hanging in the hot tub for 10 minutes.  Getting to listen to my new audio book while swimming was totally cool too.

Random thought…ever notice that despite a hot shower with plenty of soap, you still smell like pool?  Drives me crazy.

LIFE

Well, life has been pretty chill the past couple of days!  Yesterday involved getting up ridiculously early though.  We are NOT a family that wakes up early on purpose.  Ever.  Except my oldest child (who is 16), gets extremely excited for Christmas morning.  So what did she do?  Woke up at 530 AM, then woke her little sister, and sent R into my room to wake D and I up.  It was horrible!

After breakfast, I actually took a nap, which is something I rarely do.  It was the only way I was going to get through the marathon dinner cooking!

R has been funny though.  We got her an iPod touch – which does everything an iPhone does except make calls.  Anyway, she’s been texting D and I from every room in the house, using FaceTime to ask for a glass of milk, and watching Netflix (SpongeBob).  Not to mention tons of music.  She did a fairly awesome and funky rendition of Paint it Black from the Rolling Stones last night.

I also got her a headlamp for when we go camping this spring.  She’s been wearing it all day, and is currently in her room with it on, her light’s off, and playing a game.  Goofy, goofy child.

Movies, Jammies, and Santa’s with Parachutes

Not going to do my typical layout, just because it’s been a few days and everyone has better things to do this holiday weekend than ready my blog post 🙂

Food has mostly been leftovers, a dinner out with D last night, and a rice cooker dish that was totally inspired by JLGoesVegan’s Black-Eye’d Peas in the Rice Cooker.  I put in 1 cup of pinto beans, 1 cup of brown rice, 5 cups of water, 2 garlic cloves, a big squirt of siracha, and 2 tbsp of Earth Balance and set it for 6 hrs.  What came out was a very creamy and mildly spicy rice and bean dish; perfect for a quick Christmas Eve meal.

I’ve gone to two movies in the past 3 days.  On Friday I took M to see Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol.  It was a totally ass-kicking adrenaline rush.  Loved it.  Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but the man can make some great movies.  Last night, D took me to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I left with very mixed feelings about it.  First of all, I get it that they can’t replicate a book 100%.  The movie would be 20 hrs long if they tried, so things have to be omitted and/or glazed over.  I don’t mind that at all.  I do dislike it when fundamental portions of the story are changed though, and that happened twice, though I even understand why they had to do it that way.  What made me not love it is that if you hadn’t read the books (like my husband hadn’t), it could be hard to follow.  That said – Daniel Craig was great as the main male character and Rooney Mara totally embodied Lisbeth Salander exactly like I imagined her to be in the books.  I bet that when I watch it a year from now (more distanced from listening to the books), I’ll love it.

I’ve run the past 3 days and have been really happy about that!  My knee feels fine (thank goodness).  I did oversleep the group run today, but not sure many would have shown up for holiday weekend anyway.

I found out Friday morning that I’m going to a conference for work in Las Vegas in February!  After working out some details, we planned to have D come for the weekend, and we’d have a chance to get away together for the first time in almost forever.  However, by Friday night, the plans sort of changed, and due to a newly found out family trip he needs to take in March, we can’t swing Vegas in Feb and Utah in March, so he’s just doing the March trip.  It’s much more important, and we can always plan a getaway in a few years.

We have a very specific Christmas Eve tradition at my house (carried over from when I was a kid).  Two gifts are opened – everyone gets a new set of jammies (that they’re expected to wear that night, so everyone opens gifts in the morning in new jammies), and a family game.  Last year was bingo, this year is game called Table Topics.  They make several versions, and I picked up the Family version on Amazon.  We played it tonight, and I totally recommend it.  It’s not a game, per se, but a cube full of questions that everyone has to answer.  It really gets everyone talking – and laughing.  A couple of examples of the questions the 5 of us all had to answer…

1-what’s the funniest lunch room scene you remember?

2-what’s your earliest school memory?

3-if you could have one wild animal as a pet, which would it be?  (R said tiger, M said 30 ft cobra, A answered elephant, D was chimpanzee or gorilla, and mine was a penguin)

We spent about 45 minutes answering questions, but more importantly, telling each other stories about our lives.  There was a lot of laughing (like me mimicking a chimp doing sign language and flinging poo at D), and basically a good time.  I think I’m going to bring this out at dinner time….and girls night’s out!

As to not babble too much, I’ll just leave you with some pictures!

jammies and games (and gifts from family)

R's tray of goodies for Santa

her note

a Santa she created for him - think of the GI Joe dolls with parachutes you used to throw up in the air and watch glide down. It's like that, but made of paper.

R, D, and Bumble snuggling up on the couch

Now it’s time to shuffle everyone off to bed, so D and I can fill up the tree and get to bed ourselves!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Peppers of Pain

FOOD

Okay, first the fun news.  My eldest daughter has decided this week that she wants to be a vegetarian!  She’s always been the most prone to eat like I do, but apparently a movie at school this week was the final straw.  When you see baby animals being born, I guess the last thing you want to think about is the “life” they lead before they end up on your dinner plate.

So food I actually ate…

On Monday I made a Gardein Chickn Scallopini sandwich.  I pan-fried the chickn and put it on some toasted Ezekiel bread with the marinated kale salad from Sunday.  Super filling, quick, and yummy.

Yesterday was Taco Tuesday.  It was a simple fare of refried beans, veggies, and vegan sour cream.  I still had hard shells leftover from last week, so that was the clear choice.

Taco Tuesday!

About the veggies.  I was aiming for a basic fajita-style stir fry, so chopped up the veggies I had.  I was excited about a bag of peppers I found at the grocery on the discount cart.  They weren’t labeled as to the type of peppers they were, but based on how big they were and how much they resembled mild peppers I’ve picked up at the farmer’s market in the summer, I figured they were bell pepper-ish.

I was oh, so very wrong.  After chopping up the onion, I grabbed one of these peppers and started in.  When I finished, I popped a rather large chunk into my mouth, thinking it was a mild pepper.  One bite, and I spit it out without chewing or swallowing.  My entire mouth and nose immediately lit up like someone was hitting me with a blow torch.  D came into the kitchen to see what the yelling was about, and I grabbed his beer in an attempt to douse the flames.  After the pain ebbed, half my face (the lower half) was totally numb.

I scrubbed my hands multiple times, and tried not to touch anyone.  Two hours later, I went to take my contacts out and just about blinded myself.  I couldn’t open my eyes for 5 minutes, and tears were just streaming.  I was SO pissed.  Again, D game running into the upstairs bedroom to see what happened.  He grabbed eye drops, and as soon as I could open my eyes, we put them in (since beer would have been dumb).  It really just spread the fire around and was an incredibly BAD idea.  I immediately went to bed.

evil peppers of pain

Today was better, at least from the food-trying-to-kill-me perspective.  Breakfast was some simple rolled oats cooked in vanilla So Delicious coconut milk and topped with blueberries.  For lunch I met up with D at a restaurant at the mall.  I had the roasted veggie pizza without cheese.  It wasn’t great, but not horrible.  I also had a couple of onion rings 🙂

flatbread pizza that was only so-so. Yeah, and a beer too

basket of o-rings

Dinner was baked tofu parmesan from the Happy Herbivore cookbook.  Incredibly easy and amazingly tasty.  Served on some pasta with a yummy marinara sauce, and it was a delicious dinner.  D even braved a bite and liked it.

tofu cutlets, heading into the oven

dinner!

FITNESS

Just yoga this week after the knee debacle on Sunday.  It’s feeling tons better though, so I’m planning a run tomorrow if it stops raining.  If not, spin or swim.

LIFE

The nice thing about the week before the holiday’s is that it’s pretty light on the meeting front.  That’s a good thing, because I didn’t feel well for a good portion of this week, and most of my meetings I could do online.

All the Christmas shopping is done (really, I was mostly done a few weeks ago, but had some last-minute little things to get).

Sadly, there isn’t much else to report beyond that!  I’ve gotten a lot done this week in preparations of being off next week.  The kids’ last day of school was today, so they’re off until after the holiday’s too.  We were originally planning to go to FL next week, but decided to wait.  Both my older kids want to do fairly insanely expensive things this summer (Art university summer program for A and away camp for M), so D and I decided to forgo the December vacation to at least partially fund those adventures.  D’s going to save his vacation days, and I imagine my week will be filled with local discoveries and lots of cooking!

I did get a lovely holiday flower arrangement from my CIO today.  The kids are tickled because it lights up.

with flash...

and without to show the little village light up!

Oh, and D is taking me to the movies Friday night to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I’m totally excited because I’ve loved the books.  I’m about halfway through the third one, and with the reviews being so good on the movie too, I’m really looking forward to it.  I’m sure I’ll give a mini movie review on Saturday 😉

THIS IS SPARTA!!!

Actually, it’s my 300th blog post.  And if you’ve seen the movie 300, you’ll get my title.  If not…well….watch the movie!

FOOD

I love weekends devoted to cooking.  Yesterday was all about baking (and gifting tins of baked fun), and today was down and dirty cooking.

For lunch, I made the totally awesome Happy Herbivore Tortilla Soup (from her cookbook).  I crushed some tortilla chips and sprinkled those and some diced avocado on it.  I loved it so much, I’m actually gifting a mason jar full to a friend at work who eats gluten-free veggie, since this will be perfect for her.

this had a really nice mild heat to it since I used a hot chili powder (yes...the Xmas spice kit strikes again!) instead of normal chili powder.

I also made a kale, cabbage, red bell pepper, spring onion, cucumber salad topped with Oh She Glow’s Lightened Up Lemon Tahini Dressing.  It’s been marinating all day, so I  know it’ll be awesome for dinner tonight and leftovers tomorrow.  I’m making a big batch of brown basmati rice right now, and I can see adding some to the salad to make it a little more hearty for lunch tomorrow.

my hearty salad, good for a few days. One of the best things about kale is it gets better when it sits in a dressing for a while. So sturdy, it's good for a couple of days!

We’re about out of bread, so I baked up a loaf of wheat agave bread (veganizing a wheat honey loaf recipe in the recipe book that came with my bread machine).  We go through a loaf of bread every 2 days or so between lunches and breakfast, so I’m anticipating another loaf on Tuesday.  I love making lunches for my family with food that I’ve made myself.  While buying a loaf may be easier (and I think my husband prefers), it still makes me happy to give them things I’ve made.

I know I used a flash, sorry....no good lighting in that part of the kitchen

I also made a recipe from my Indian cookbook for a vindaloo.  It’s cooking now on the stove, along with a double batch of rice in the rice cooker.

I also decided another soup was in order (I love soups….probably the only thing I like about winter is my soup consumption going up).  I whipped up a batch of red curry soup from the Post Punk Kitchen’s site.  I LOVE this soup…probably my favorite.  Only sub was using green kale, not purple.

ready to pack into mason jars to grab and go throughout the week!

I’ve also spent an hour or so dicing and slicing up veggies for snacks and lunches for the week.  A prepared veggie is a happy veggie.

FITNESS

Today’s fitness report is about when a great idea goes badly.  Horribly, horribly badly.

I’ve really wanted to watch the Librarian movie series (with Noah Wyle) for some time.  It was on earlier in the year on TV, and I forgot to record them, so I put them in my queue in Netflix.  D doesn’t have any interest in watching them, so his plan was to burn them and put them on my iPad to watch at my discretion, and to ship them back as quickly as possible in order for him to obtain movies he DOES want to watch.

So my plan today was to put my bike and trainer in the green room, pop the movie into my computer as loud as I could (since my trainer makes some noise), and spend the duration of the movie (92 minutes) doing an interval cycling workout.  At first, I was going to use a yoga timer to trigger me to switch between a high intensity spin to a recovery spin, but decided a much less scientific approach was best; switch between the two at each scene change.  Bloody Brilliant.

That is, until I twisted my knee.  Yep.  Only I can twist my knee on a stationary bike.  I had done a 10 minute warm up at a steady speed, but not much resistance.  Then I pumped it up through the first scene, and went back and forth like that for 20 minutes.  I was in a recovery scene, when I sat up straight, reached my right hand around my body to grip my seat and pop my back….and ended up with a shooting pain in my right knee.

LIFE

Last night, D and I went to AC and JC’s house for some board game fun.  They introduced us to a game called The Settlers of Catan when we were on a weekend vacation a little over a year ago, but we never played.

After some snacks/appetizers and a couple of drinks, we set to playing.  I immediately wanted the rule book so I could read it and try to understand (I do better learning by reading than someone explaining something to me).  Anyway….after being mocked that my educational background would mean that I would produce a color coded project and implementation plan in the very near future – we got to playing.

The first game (which was abbreviated so D and I could learn the rules) was fun.  The second full-fledged game…wasn’t as much.  It’s not that it wasn’t fun, it was that the placement of my settlements in concert with the dice that were being rolled meant, I couldn’t do squat.  My goal went from learning and trying to win, to trying to keep JC from winning.  Then trying to keep my husband from winning.  In the end (nearly 2 hrs later), I think AC threw the game to allow JC to win just to make it stop.  Meanwhile, I played (and won) a game of solitaire on my phone.

We left just before 1am, and had a really fun time.

D let me sleep in until I woke up this morning, which was just after 10am.  After meal planning for the week, I got busy in the kitchen, so all in all, it’s been a fantastic day (not counting the knee).

Also, the kids got around to building their gingerbread house today (from St. Nick’s on the 6th).  They spent a good portion of the afternoon putting it together and decorating.

a front view. They cut out the door so you can see inside

this is the second year where they removed part of the roof in order to decorate and model the inside. What you can't see is a tree, people, and gifts they made out of the gingerbread house stuff

Oh, and I took pictures of Kiko in his new aquarium.  It’s huge!

floating log, lily pad, heater, and grass. He's been swimming around and climbing on everything like crazy since moving in yesterday

sitting on top of his water heater. Can't say that I blame him!

 

 

More People Should Roast Radishes

FOOD

Wow, so it’s been a few days since my last post, so I’m not going to narrate every little thing I ate (like I normally do).  Let’s just say it involved a LOT of tofu/potato taco leftovers 🙂

taco leftovers in soft corn tortillas this time

I think the highlight of my culinary conquests this week was discovering that roasted radishes rock.  My minimal exposure to radishes was isolated to the twice yearly veggie trays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) where it sat along other things I disliked, like raw mushrooms and raw carrots.  I stuck to the cherry tomatoes, spring onions, and celery sticks 🙂

Anyway, I figure that radishes are starchy things like potatoes, and since they’ve been one of my project foods this year, finding a way to enjoy them was on my list.  It didn’t hurt that the Asian market had them ridiculously cheap this past weekend.

So I sliced off the ends, quartered them, tossed them in olive oil and sea salt, and roasted them for about 25 minutes.  The results?  Fantastic!  They were sort of sweet, but also similar to a roasted potato.  The 25 minutes wasn’t long enough, though, and only the smaller pieces seemed cooked through.  Next time I’ll roast them for 30-40 minutes.  But there WILL be a next time.  They were really good.

 

righteous roasted radishes (say THAT three times fast)

 

Today has been pretty boring on the food front.  Ezekiel toast with sunflower seed butter for breakfast, a hummus and veggie trader joe wrap after my run, and a baked potato and a Gardein Chickn Scallopini for a very late lunch (around 3pm).  I’m planning a light salad for dinner since D and I are going to our friends’ house (AC and JC) for appetizers, board games, and catching up.

pre run meal this morning!

This afternoon has also been spent baking my little head off.  I’ve been waiting for the baking groove to hit, and apparently today was the day.  I made a batch of the root beer float cupcakes, a lemon bundt cake, and tons of chocolate chip cookies.

root beer float cupcakes, waiting for the chocolate ganache to cool so I can top with frosting

lemon bundt cake cooling before I can pop it out and top with the lemon sauce

and of course the universally pleasing chocolate chip cookies!

FITNESS

I ran Wednesday afternoon and Friday afternoon in my neighborhood.  This morning I went for a group run at First Landing State Park.  There were quite a lot of people, and it was a nice crisp morning.

I did right about 5 1/2 miles, and it all felt really good.  Until I got into the warmth at the store for post run coffee, bananas, and bagels…and started coughing.  I felt pretty lousy earlier this week (which is a big reason I hadn’t blogged), and thought I was finally feeling normal.  The coughing caught me by surprise, and hope it isn’t a sign of something coming.

I will say that I’m totally stoked about Tri training ramping up.  I’m part of a new tri club now (new to me anyway), and am very excited.

LIFE

It’s been a busy week, but a lot of it has been me being at home.  I mentioned not feeling well, and have been trying to deal with that.

Aside from all that, I did manage to get my work done and attend a few social events:

Wine Wednesday with the girls.  D dropped me off and picked me up, which he usually does, so I can enjoy a couple of glasses and not worry about driving.

Thursday was two events.  The first was our team’s holiday party at Wild Wing Cafe, and then it was off to the T3 (Thirsty Third Thursday) Tri Club social down at the beach.

Yesterday I needed rest, and was asleep by 830!  But today was the group run, which I consider social – especially since I haven’t run with a group in nearly a year.  I forgot how nice it can be to be running with 50 other people!  You know at least someone is your pace!  There was also a 50k race going on down there this morning, and seeing the racers was fun too.

Over the past few days, we’ve been building Kiko (our turtle) a new habitat.  We’ve gone from a 10 gallon tank to a 40 gallon one designed especially for turtles.  And a new filter, grass, floating logs, and even a lily pad.  He’s gotten so big, that he’s definitely outgrown what we had for him.  To be frank; I wanted to release him back to the lagoon that D “rescued” him from last year (he had been washed ashore during a Nor’Easter in November 2010), but I’ve been outvoted.  Apparently turtles hibernate, and he’d likely not survive the winter, so in my house he stays.  In a new and improved habitat.

R is totally coming down with something.  She started getting snuffly yesterday at school, and today she’s a drippy mess.  We busted out the neti pot, but I think it’ll take several days for that to work.  Hopefully it will before anything nasty takes hold in her sinuses.

So that’s it.  Going to finish up my baking frenzy, and then get dressed for later!

Booze and Blenders

FOOD

Today is Tuesday, so that means Taco Tuesday (or some variant on Mexican food).  In preparation for that, I pressed some tofu over the weekend, and cubed it up last night.  I whipped up a marinade of beer (yum!), 1-2 tsp of every Mexican spice I had (thanks to AC and my awesome Mexican spice kit for my bday!), some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, jalapenos, and minced garlic, and popped the tofu cubes in it to soak overnight.

After work tonight, I peeled and cubed up some Yukon gold potatoes, and started stir frying them in a nonstick pan.  When they were about halfway cooked, I tossed the tofu and marinade in the skillet and let it cook until everything was done, about 15 more minutes.

I went with hard taco shells tonight.  Not typical, but wanted something crunchy for a change!  I layered up the tacos with the filling, diced onion, diced tomato, hot sauce, lettuce, and cilantro.  Served with a rice cooker batch of brown spanish rice (brown rice, canned tomatoes, and canned chilis), it was a total Taco Tuesday success!

to die for tacos!

FITNESS

Another killer at-home spin class yesterday and some yoga!  I dreamed of hitting the pool though….

Today was getting so pissed off that only a really hard run would do.  So that’s what I did.  Worked out all my angst on the pavement instead of someone’s face.

I found that my Y has a Women-On-Weights class starting in Jan.  It’s designed to get women into free weights.  It’s my biggest weakness, and maybe if I do a class, I’ll actually feel like I need to go.  There are a few options – two that are evening classes, and two that are morning.  Like 5am type morning.  Not my favorite, but maybe it’ll accomplish two of my goals; 1- strength training.  Will just make me a better triathlete I know…but still.  BORING.  and 2 – becoming a morning person.  If I actually pay and sign up…I may be more likely to go.

I haven’t committed…but I’m seriously thinking about it.

LIFE

The past few days have been mostly good.  Work, cooking, working out, finishing Xmas shopping…things like that.  I’ve also been getting a ton of sleep, which is very cool.  This whole week is very busy, but that’s not a bad thing.  A last-minute push before the holiday’s start!

So on Sunday I was thinking about planning a spring family camping trip.  For those who know me, that’s a really big deal.  I’m not really a big fan of getting nature on me, and my idea of roughing it is a hotel without a bar.  But still…I made a big move and rented a rustic cabin the weekend before my birthday, and D, the kids, and I had a blast.  I also slept in a tent in my backyard with my girls (the morning I learned that birds get noisy obscenely early).  That counts right?  Now I’m convinced I can pee in the woods, not have a TV (or bar), and still have fun for a few days.

So…I post on FB that I’m thinking of going camping, but have no clue what to do.  What do my friends suggest??  Vodka.  Beer.  Ice to keep the beer cold.  And an extension cord for my blender (I have a tendency to travel with my Vitamix so I don’t have to be forced to live without smoothies.  Or margaritas).  No mention of pillows, blankets, board games, or food!  Booze.  And Blenders.  I LOVE my friends 🙂

 

I Just Don’t Recover Like I Used To! (but I WON the ugly sweater contest)

FOOD

I finally had my oatmeal!  Breakfast on Friday was some steel cut Irish oats with blueberries and vanilla coconut milk.  I also sprinkled the vanilla sugar blend from Penzy’s on it.  It was quite tasty actually…I love it when the blueberries start exploding in the hot oatmeal.  Sort of like a blueberry muffin on a spoon!

For the life of me, I can’t remember what I had for lunch.  How sad is that, since it was just yesterday??

Dinner was a quick veggie burger before heading out.  Nothing frilly (though I did put pickles on it!).

Today was leftovers!  One of the things I love about vegan food…leftovers last longer.  I ate the rest of the red Thai curry quinoa and chickpeas for my breakfast/lunch (I slept in, and ate my first meal around noon).

I had a baked potato for lunch/dinner around 4.  I don’t think I could ever get sick of those!

FITNESS

I went for a run yesterday before going out as planned.  It was windy and starting to get chilly, and after going for my warm up around my block, I passed my house and nearly walked back in.  I wasn’t feeling the run AT ALL, and the wind was just icky.

But…I knew I would get disappointed in myself if I did, so I kept going.  The run ended up being really great.

It helps that the book I’m listening to is really good.  It the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I really liked.  This one is The Girl Who Played with Fire.  I will say, they are nothing at all like I thought they’d be.  I thought they’d be some sappy books and nothing at all along the lines of things I love to read.  After seeing the movie preview for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (with Daniel Craig – one of my favorites!), I was so surprised to find it about murder, intrigue, etc.  Anyway, I highly recommend them.

LIFE

Last night was the ugly sweater party!  D brought the sweater home after work, and I got all decked out for the night.  The swinging ornaments on the sweater was driving my cat nuts.

I paired the ugly sweater with a black skirt, black tights, and 4 in red heels.  At least something had to look cute.  And off I went!

The evening started at MP’s house.  D had offered to pick us all up and bring everyone home, so we decided that I’d cart everyone from the house to the bar in the super-mom-mobile, and then when we were done, D would come, leave his car in the lot, and use the van to take everyone home.  That way, he didn’t have to take me to MP’s house, then come get us and take us bar hopping.

MP, who organized the event, wanted to start the evening off with karaoke, so after some googling, picked a place called Blarney Stone.  None of us had ever been there, but who cares, right?  Wow, the place ended up being a total dive.  We hung out and each got a drink, but decided we may leave after MP’s sister arrived (who drove down from PA to party with us!).  People watching fun, and I’m pretty positive half the girls who were there were “working girls”.  Trying to get pictures was challenging, as I didn’t want to get beat up or anything.

Because we thought we were going to leave, I stopped after one beer, and switched to diet coke, as I’d be the one taking everyone to the next bar.  Well, we ended up staying until 1230 am dancing and singing (not me….but some of the girls did.  I took video, but they’d shoot me if I put it up here – especially DS!).  Anyway….I pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to drink, so texted D at home that he could go to bed, and I’d safely get everyone back.  At least the most I spent all night was $4!  Can’t beat that 🙂

We then went to a second bar with a live band (country…eww…) and actually got the first insults of the night.  From the lead singer.  From what I hear, he’s a pretty big diva/jerk, but it was pretty ugly the things he said.  On mic.  Oh well, poo on him for not appreciating anything fun!

Oh…and I won.  Mainly because I was the only one who didn’t bring “back up clothes” and was the last one wearing an ugly sweater at the end of the night!  I got a bag full of candles, suckers, and Pez.

I got home just before 3am, and went to bed.  I woke around 1030, and haven’t been out of my jammies since.  I’ve been WIPED all day, which is funny since it’s only related to staying up late, and not like I was hung over or anything.  I guess I just don’t bounce back like I used to!

Most of the day has been spent doing laundry.  Our dryer died about a week ago (yes, second one in a few months…last one died, and we bought this “gently used” one on Craigslist).  D…with the power of Google…figured out what was wrong and ordered the part to fix it.  $30 later, he had it fully operational!  I’m now caught up on a weeks worth of wash…which is a LOT for a family of 5.

So that’s about it.  I have a feeling I’ll be going to be pretty darned early tonight.  But it was worth it!

dancing

before heading out

A Full Dance Card

FOOD

I couldn’t very well have perfectly good Indian food just sitting in the fridge, so of course I had to have that for breakfast the other morning.  The chana masala was all eaten Monday night, but there was plenty of dahl and rice for me to nosh on!

Lunch was a baked potato, and some hummus and raw crackers.  Not very inventive, but I was in a hurry.

I skipped dinner Wednesday because I had the most epic headache, and went to bed around 730.  I had actually started a blog post, but couldn’t see anymore, then was too busy yesterday to do one.  Sorry about that!

I really wanted oatmeal for breakfast yesterday, but by the time I went to make it, I realized I was out of normal oats.  I have Irish oats, but I didn’t have the time required to make it before going to work…so I had a Tofurky sausage and a baked potato.  It was a fair trade 🙂

For lunch I had a baked tofu sammich that I had made the night before by marinating pressed tofu slices in an Asian based marinade from the Candle Cafe cookbook, and a mason jar full of raw avocado soup.  Everything was just fantastic.

For dinner, we actually went out (been trying to reduce that).  It was R’s choice after her winter concert at school.  She picked Carrabbas!  While it was a late night (got home just before 10), it was fantastic.

pre-dinner salad

my usual dish when we go there. Fresh pasta with a yummy garlic tomato basil sauce.

FITNESS

Massive storms were supposed to roll in Tuesday night/Wednesday, so I was already planning to not have a run day Wednesday.  My plan was to hit up a spin class at my YMCA after work.  Unfortunately, my Y was closed all day Wed to have new workout equipment installed!

And while the rains never game, it was nasty and windy, so I decided to bust out my bike trainer, and do my own class at home!  My trainer came with a workout DVD, so I set my bike up in front of my computer in the green room (walls are green, hence the name…also the only room w carpet), popped in the DVD, and rode my butt off for 50 minutes.

The DVD was really cool – it was a race team who led me through a 15 minute warm up, and then it was film of a race they participated it.  The way the cameras were set up, it made me feel like I was racing too.  The bottom of the screen showed what your effort should be, as well as a timer.  The entire workout was HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training, so I’d be at an effort of 9 for a minute, then an effort of 6 for 3, etc.  This went on for the duration of the race, which was 40 minutes.  Then there’s a cool down too.  The entire concept of a workout like this was just so cool.  And it was tough.  My legs were pretty trashed, and I was a dripping fool when it was over.  I now want to beef up my cycling DVD collection!!

Yesterday was a rest day, and today I plan to run before going out tonight.

LIFE

I can’t get over how busy life seems to be getting.  I’m looking at my calendar, and I have so much going on!  I’m not complaining at all, but I’m looking forward to Saturday night, where I think I have nothing at all planned!

Last night was R’s winter concert at school.  All the third grade classes (there are 11 of them!) performed various songs for an hour.  It was very cute.  I took some pictures of her before we left, and she has this very intense look on her face and posed smile.  Sorry about that!  I think she was both very nervous and excited.

Tonight I have an ugly sweater party a girlfriend is throwing.  The point is to wear your ugliest holiday sweater, and then we’re going bar hopping.  At some point, bar patrons vote to determine which of us has the ugliest sweater.  I myself do not have any holiday sweaters, and I went around looking for one yesterday.  3 thrift stores, Macy’s, JC Penny, Sears, Ross, and TJ Maxx (D going to the last two), and nothing.  There’s clearly a run on ugly holiday sweaters.  Thankfully, one of D’s co-workers has a pretty nasty holiday sweater that she’s bringing to him today for me to wear.  I saw pictures.  There are ornaments hanging from it.  I should win for sure!

Tomorrow is gymnastics and a birthday party for R to attend.  D is taking M out to the movies, so at least tomorrow night will be peaceful with just me and my girls.  Perhaps a Sorry! rematch is in order from my devastating loss last weekend.

Next week is more and more parties.  I had to decline 2 of them because they overlapped with other’s!  We’re having our 2nd annual pre-holiday girls wine night on Wednesday at Carrabbas, my team celebration Thursday evening, and then the Tri club social Thursday night.  Then Saturday there’s another wine party, and AT and I are still trying to find an evening to get together before the holidays – and before she has her baby girl in the next 3 1/2 weeks!

So as hectic as it is, I can’t complain with my dance card being full with awesome things like this!

No, St. Nick’s Isn’t a Holiday My Family Made Up

FOOD

I did end up making an Indian feast last night!  Didn’t make the naan as predicted (though R was very sad about that).  I did make chickpea chana masala and red lentil dahl – both VERY yummy recipes (seriously…chickpeas are my favorite and this was incredible) from vegweb.com, and a big batch of basmati rice.  My basmati rice is simple, but very flavorful:

2 cups rinsed white basmati rice, 4 cups of water, 1 cinnamon stick, 6 cardamom pods, and 3 cloves of garlic (leave them whole).  Pop into the rice cooker on the white rice setting.  YUM.

My entire omni family loved dinner last night.  At least they don’t argure about meatless-Monday’s.  VICTORY IS MINE.

chana masala and dahl over rice!

FITNESS

Today was a run and a yoga day.  I’m in total heaven!

First of all…my Garmin WORKED!  I have more data about my 4 mile run today than I’ve had in months.  Oh, Garmin, how I’ve missed you!

So I obviously ran today.  The weather called for major rains, and I wanted to run before they hit, so I went in the morning.  I’m not a fan of morning runs though.  I feel stronger at night and my runs after dark are always better than the ones before my day starts.

This evening, though, I did a yogatoday.com video at home.  It was the one for lower back pain that I downloaded last summer.  My back has actually felt great, but I noticed today it was a bit sore.  I’m guessing it’s due to the number of hours I’ve spent in front of my PC either working, researching, or writing.  It’s been more than normal this past week, and I haven’t been doing a good job of my regular yoga stretching.

LIFE

I went to bed last night around 8 pm.  It was stellar.  I popped in some ear plugs, and didn’t move until my alarm went off this morning.  And I needed it so very badly.  It’s amazing to me how I can stay up for 48 hrs in a row for a go-live if I know I need to…but when I can’t sleep on accident (hello, insomnia), I’m like the walking dead the next day.

For those who aren’t from Milwaukee, WI (or Poland or Ireland or Germany), you may not know that today is St. Nick’s day.  Growing up, we always put our Xmas wish list into the stockings on the night of Dec. 5th.  St. Nick came, took our lists, and left a small present and some goodies in our stockings.  (I’m pretty sure it was how my mom justified being able to ‘communicate’ with santa without knowing his address so we could demand an in-person visit).  Over the years, that has turned into my family (being my husband and kids) putting up our Xmas decorations always on St. Nick’s eve.  So last night, D brought everything out, and we hung stockings and put up the tree.  The kids did the decorating, and sometime overnight (oh, about 530 this morning), St. Nick put a gift in each stocking, some snacky treats (my kids don’t like candy…so it was more like chex mix and rice krispie bars), and a ginger bread house they all build in their stockings.

When I first got married, D accused me of creating this holiday to justify getting more presents.  He obviously gets it now, but I think it’s funny how my kids don’t realize that – since we don’t live in Milwaukee, Poland, Ireland, nor Germany – that they’re the only kids in VA who celebrate St. Nick’s day.  Good for them.  More presents.

So enjoy what’s left of your St. Nick’s day.  And if you didn’t get a present, I’m sorry 🙂  Start your own Milwaukee/Polish/Irish/German tradition!!!

can you find the bad kitty in the picture?? Once a year, Bumble turns into the "tree destroyer" and "ornament anhilator". She's a beast with a Xmas tree.

Holiday Vampires!

FOOD

I’ve been so bad.  I haven’t taken pictures of any food for days!  Probably because pictures of baked potatoes gets old after a while 🙂

In all seriousness though, I just haven’t really taken many pictures.  My food has all been great as usual; salads, tofu, lentils, lots of chickpeas…and baked potatoes before every run!

I did try making a gluten-free cinnamon coffee cake Sunday morning.  It failed.  Just like every stinking gluten-free thing I try to bake.  Ugh.  I’m starting to get a complex…

I did make up a dish in the rice cooker last night that came out so yummy, I thought I’d share.  It’s another one of those dishes where any complimentary spice combo would work.  I went with a Middle Eastern flavor with the Baharat spice blend from last year’s Xmas kit.  It has a nice heat to it, and if you can get or order some (click on the link, and it’ll take you to where mine came from), it’s quite yummy, and I’m having fun cooking with middle eastern and asian flavors.

Crissie’s Persian Rice Cooker Quinoa

Ingredients:

*1 cup rinsed quinoa

*2 cups water

*1 cup coconut milk (I used the So Delicious plain coconut milk from the cooler section of the grocery, but canned would work too)

*1 cup chickpeas (I had a lot left over from my pressure cooker the other day, but a canned of drained and rinsed chickpeas would do well too)

*2 tbsp Baharat spice blend

*1 tsp salt

Directions:

Throw it all into the rice cooker and cook on the white rice setting (if your cooker distinguishes between them).  You could also cook it stove top.  Just bring everything to a low boil in a sauce pan, cover, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes.

See what I mean about the versatility?  Go Caribbean with some Jerk season, or Italian with an Italian blend.  A combo of Ginger and Curry would be awesome too.  For that matter – switch the quinoa for rice!  Make it Mexican with cumin and chipotle powder and black beans instead of chickpeas.  I tend to love dishes that only need a minor change to make a big difference.  Life is less boring that way!

I still haven’t gone grocery shopping, so it’s looking like tonight will be some Indian dishes like red lentil Dahl and chick pea Chana masala.  And rice.  And perhaps naan if I’m not feeling too lazy (though it’s not looking good just now).

FITNESS

It’s been all running for me the past few days.  The weather has been amazing (high 60’s and sunny), so I couldn’t exactly stay inside.  Considering it’s December, I have to take advantage of days like that when I can!

My runs all weekend were fueled by potatoes.  Just saying.  Perhaps a banana too (though not together, because even I think that would be gross).

I’ve been missing my Garmin Forerunner 405.  It started acting really wonky last spring (beeps incessantly while charging and doesn’t display the HR correctly), and I finally gave up using it last June.  I’ve been using the Nike GPS on my phone, but it’s just not as cool or comprehensive.  Don’t get me wrong – for a free iPhone app, it rocks.  But it’s not the same data overload my forerunner gave me.  And my Forerunner tracked my cycling too, which my Nike app doesn’t.  After seeing them wickedly marked down for Black Friday (no, I didn’t get a new one), I decided to try to resurrect it.

I plugged it in last night to fully charge it (away from ear shot), and today did a firmware update.  It was still doing the dumb beeping, so I did a reset and cleared all the history from it.  Then I learned how to turn off sounds!  So…either it’s going to work and still beep and I won’t care, or it won’t work.  Not sure yet, but when I go for a run tomorrow, I’ll tell you!

LIFE

The past few days have been phenomenally busy; though I didn’t actually GO anywhere!

Friday evening, we all sat around and watched TV, it was rather nice.  At one point, D and I were debating the finer points of mental healthcare in the US, when M interrupted us to say “it’s okay girls, you’re both pretty” to get the debate to stop.  We almost died laughing.  He’s pretty hilarious.

Saturday morning I woke up and pretty much immediately started cleaning.  It took me until 6pm, but I went through, sorted, scrubbed, organized, and purged every room downstairs.  I had boxes for donation, boxes for recycling, and boxes for eBay!  I was a cleaning fool, and it felt great.

To be honest, D and I have been toying with the idea of building a house in a year or so, and I was struck with the urge to get rid of things that just sit around being useless.

Saturday night, my husband took A, M, and A’s boyfriend to dinner and then a dubstep concert.  It’s a type of techno music.  That meant R and I were home alone for a girls night.  I made up a quick and easy dinner, and we snuggled in to watch the Harry Potter marathon on ABC.  Then we played (and I lost) a game of Sorry! and headed up to my room, where we fell asleep in my bed watching Psych around 10pm.  It was awesome.  D and the kids got home around 2am.

Sunday I had the house mostly to myself.  As late as D and the older kids were out, they weren’t moving much before noon.  R and I had breakfast and watched cartoons.  Then I went for a run, then spent all day finishing the wash, wrapping presents, and balancing the home budget (making some changes for savings in case we really do build a house).

D ran errands and then he made dinner!  I think buying him that Weber charcoal grill back in Oct is the best gift ever!

Today has been rough (been up since 1am), but at least I had a 1/2 day off.  A had a dentist appt, then we went to the post and the Goodwill drop off.  Then we drove through our neighborhood looking for a picture to demonstrate the Crazy Wreath People.  She shot one, which doesn’t even do the full house justice.  You can’t see all the wreaths on the side!

18 total on this house. I think VA is full of crazy wreath people because they feel to make up for the lack of other things that mark Christmas as a winter holiday. Like snow.

We also found a house full of holiday vampires.  What is a holiday vampire??  It’s those crazy blow up dolls (okay, not dolls, but blow up santas, snow men, etc).  This one house had about 30 of them.  My daughter called them holiday vampires because they apparently only rise at night.  During the day, they’re “sleeping” and deflated on the lawn.  Looking even more tacky than when they rise at dusk.

the side of the house...

a close up of the light up reindeer family

...and...the front of the house. Full of Holiday Vampires waiting for the dark to rise from the dead.