Saturday, August 21, 2010

fountain-head and ice bath adventures

See my booty?  It's the one in the middle.  Why is my booty in the air?  Because we ran 17 miles in some screaming Southern California heat (I had to specify SoCal heat because "screaming" heat here is only like 78...and yes I will complain because I ran 17 miles, thanks), and needed something cold and wet on our heads.  Around mile 15, this lovely fountain was screaming our names and so, without hesitation, we dunked.  I don't regret it.  I only regret not jumping in all the way.  Maybe next week.  And maybe next week I'll fix my hair so those tiny little wispy hairs around my face aren't sticking straight up in the air only to be discovered an hour later as I glance at my reflection on the car window.  Good or bad, I must have smelled so bad after 17 miles that no one came close enough to me to notice my messy fountain-head. 

In other wetness news, I finally ventured into the world of post-run ice bathing.  Quite the adventure, I'll say.  It took me 20 minutes just to figure out how to plug up the tub drain!  The proper method of ice-bathing, I've been told, is to sit in the tub when it's empty and then turn on the cold water and stay put until the bath is full of cold water, at which point you can start dumping ice all over your leggies.  Supposedly if you don't move your legs too much during this process, the icy coldness doesn't hurt quite so much.  As I soaked in some cold and dirty bath water, I realized I'd have to get up and turn off the water at some point.  So much for not moving, right?  In any case, I sucked it up, dumped in some ice, and tried to relax in preparation for some cold discomfort.

I love my dog, I really do, but he's got to learn that he doesn't need to rescue me from the icy cold water by eating the ice cubes out of the bath while I'm in it; and he doesn't need to warn me of the danger of frostbite by barking at me; and he certainly doesn't need to protect my skin complexion by licking the salt off of my face with his tongue!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

i wish...

i wish i could dance. like they do in the movies.  the kind of dancing that few people have talent enough to do.  the kind of dancing that took them years of hard work. and they did it because they had a dream.  i wish i had a dream.

Friday, July 9, 2010

sometimes you just need...

* ...a pep talk
* ...a day off
* ...some cough medicine
* ...a belly rub
* ...your ears cleaned
* ...a cookie for breakfast
* ...a plaid running skirt and a matching gym bag
* ...macaroni and cheese and chocolate milk
* arthroscopic shoulder MRI...or not
* ...a big wet kiss from a big fluffy pup
* ...a day at the beach especially when its cloudy
* ...a bath and your nails clipped
* ...some fresh basil that isn't wilted
* ...tea with milk
* ...a thermometer and some orange juice
* ...jammies at 3pm
* ...something pretty
* ...a pedicure and maybe a manicure too
* ...a neck and shoulder and that's it massage least those are the things we need over here (yes, the pooch was a large contributor to this list)

Happy Friday!!  Hope you have a lovely weekend!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

bring it (and don't judge me, please)!

Well I've officially lost count and don't know what practice number I'm on.  All I know is that it was 9 miles...NINE.  I don't know why they thought we'd skip 8 and go straight to 9.  Seemed like a horrible idea to me, but I'm obviously no expert, so I just did what coach told me to because following instructions is the easiest part of my day (I say this often, you'll see).

"Practice" started at 8am.  The world cup game (USA vs Ghana) started at 11am.  I did the math and realized that with the typical pre-run chat time, plus 2-ish hours of running, plus a mandatory refuel via Starbucks, I would not make it back home in time to watch the game if I stuck to the plan (ok, so I can follow instructions, but sometimes I interpret them my own way).  So, like a true soccer fan and a dedicated marathon-trainer, I dragged my booty out of bed at 4am...FOUR prep for a 6am...SIX to get back in time to catch coach's weekly rantings and the game.  (I needed two hours between breakfast and go-time, as I have the most sluggish digestive system known to any 28 27 year- old.)

I know you don't care what I ate for breakfast, but this is important because, well, it's funny.  We got our nutrition information, so I tried to plan out my fuel according to the instructions (see a theme here?).  I ate a couple of my homemade healthified peach muffins and drank the prescribed amount of water.  I also decided that a teensie bit of caffeine wouldn't hurt too bad, and that if I was going to try it, now would be the time since it's still early on. I made myself a cup of my every-day tea - Irish breakfast with a bit of honey and milk.  Then I went back to sleep for 45 minutes to let my tummy work on that.  Right before I left, I had my typical pre-run green juice and more of the prescribed H20, and set off on my journey.

As soon as I arrived at the glorious parking lot with the fancy fountain at Malaga Cove in PV, I realized I really ought to have used the potty (again) before I left the house.  I searched for the bathroom and found it locked, so I set off on my run hoping that it would somehow get "re-used" by my body and I wouldn't have to tinkle after awhile.  Well...less than a mile into the run, I realized I was wrong about that.  I wondered if running with a full bladder would feel like running with a water belt, and since people could do that, maybe I could too.  Again, I was wrong about that.  I made a split second decision, thankful for the woodsy area next to the road, and took care of matters, then jumped back onto the road like nothing unusual had just happened. must now be astonished that I did that AND that I admitted it.  Whatever.  It didn't phase me.  And I'm PROUD of it!  And then I had the best 9 mile run EVER.

In all seriousness, though, the route was amazing.  It circled around the PV Golf Course, the second half of which involved some really fun windy downhills (and peacocks running around), then went up the hell-ish Library Hill, then dumped out on PV drive for a bit more uphill trail running, and ended with the trek all the way back down the hill.  I finished almost 20 minutes faster than I'd planned.  I loved the route, I felt great, and I made it back home in time to cry over USA's loss to Ghana.

My nutrition record (from what I can remember):

pre-run nutrition:
night before: pasta with peas and lots of water
4am: two healthy peach muffins, tea, 20 oz water
530am: green juice, 8 oz water

during-run nutrition:
first 3m: ~8oz water
mile 4.5: 1 shot block
last 4m: lemon-lime Heed (yuck!)...didn't finish
(by the way, I did not stick to the nutrition instructions here either...I was too full)

post-run nutrition:
immediately after: Recoverite (citrust)
breakfast: Starbucks spinach, egg white, feta wrap, and a chocolate banana smoothie and more water
lunch: afghan food from the farmer's market
I don't remember the rest of the day, but I'm sure there was dinner, and then an outing to the Edison which involved two half-glasses of tanq and tonic, some munchies, and some cupcakes.  I think I had half of a headache.  Not a full-blown one, but I certainly didn't feel 100%.

My next run will be solo again...10 miles.  Hope it's as good as my 9.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

summa-time and strawberries (part 1)

It's now officially summer and that means I can't walk 10 steps at the farmer's market without seeing beautiful bright red strawberries.  Irresistible, right?

Especially when they're as big as your palm!  Check this puppy out!

Since we're swimming with strawberries this time of year, we're trying to get creative with how to use know, other than just wash-and-eat...which happens too and is the reason we purchase double the berries we plan on using. 

Every Sunday I bake a batch of muffins for us to eat for breakfast in the car on the way to work.  What better summa-time muffin than a strawberry muffin?!?  Why are strawberry muffins not more popular?  I didn't really want to make plain old strawberry muffins, I wanted to spruce them up with something.  Wanna know what else abounds in the summa-time?  Basil.  And there we have it...strawberry basil muffins.  Don't freak out.  It's amazing.  You like strawberries and mint, right?  Well basil has that same fresh flavor that pairs so nicely with sweet sweet berries.  Trust me, it's good.

See the basil???

I used this blackberry muffin recipe as a model, but you'll see how much I change things up (and make them a wee bit healthier)

Strawberry Basil Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup 0% fat greek yogurt
1 tsp milk (sometimes I leave this out if I don't have milk)
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp melted butter
4 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz fresh strawberries, quartered
chopped basil (I didn't measure, but I used somewhere around 3tbsp I think)

Preheat the oven to 400deg.  Spray a regular 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

Sprinkle a spoonful of sugar over the strawberries, add basil, stir.  Set aside.  (I did not do this but I wish I had.  Macerating the berries brings out the natural sugars and juices which would mix nicely with the basil)

Combine dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt) in a medium bowl and set it aside.  Combine wet ingredients (except berries) in a separate bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring gently to combine.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  You want to stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Then add the strawberries.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups (I actually use 16 cups for smaller muffins...whatever you choose).  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops look slightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Let cool for a couple minutes before removing from the pan.



The boy chef wannabe got ahold of some berries as well and made something interesting.  Stay tuned for that...

Friday, June 25, 2010


I'm way behind on blogging.  I have 3 posts that I've started to write (meaning I've given them titles) and have failed to write about my last 2 weekends of marathon training.  The empty posts will just have to wait because I really don't feel like being 3 practices behind.

The last two weekend practices (#3 and #4) I ditched.  Yep ditched.  I'm antisocial.  Just kidding (or am I?)  Actually practice #3 I didn't completely ditch, I just didn't have the time to mess around with a shoe clinic, coach's comments, and a 6 mile run that would keep me out until noon.  I had things to do before I left for Denver and didn't want to bum around all morning.  So instead, I crawled out of bed at 5am, shoved some leftover muffin in my mouth and drove up the hill to meet my fantastic mentor Shannon in PV at 6am so we could get our run out of the way and then meet up the rest of the team at the shoe store for the clinic.  Seeeee...I'm not all bad for ditching...I had good intentions and still got my 6 miles in.  Actually it was a great run.  There's a lot less pressure when I'm just running with one person.  We kept a really comfortable pace and chatted the whole way and time flew.  Lovely.  And I didn't feel like a train wreck later in the day.  I have yet to figure out why...maybe because I kept my heart rate really low.  We met the rest of the team for shoe clinic, then I messed around with some shoes and had to drag myself away before buying another pair of running shoes.  I can't tell you how much I love buying running shoes and workout clothes.  It's a real problem.  I don't like fashion, you see, I like comfort.  This is why my work clothes are years old and I have a new lululemon tank almost monthly.  Problem.  Please fix me.

Anyways...I spent the next week in Denver with the family.  Maybe that's for another post.  There's too much to say but I somehow can't muster the energy to talk about it.  It's hard...least of all for me probably.

That being said, I was in Denver for practice #4 and missed it completely.  There was no chance in heck that I was going to run 7 miles in Denver without oxygen, so I opted to wait until Sunday when I'd be back in CA and could breathe in some smog-filled oxygen.   And so I did.  And hated it.  I hated the route actually.  Usually we run up in the hills on a nice soft train.  This route went down by the beach on the same road I used to run over and over when I lived in South Redondo.  Don't get me wrong, running by the beach is kinda awesome...for awhile.  But when you realize you're pounding concrete as hard as you can and there's no shade and no relief and no dolphins, it's not fun anymore.  I felt a headache coming on around mile 2.  Not saying I got a headache at mile 2, I just knew I would getting one later because of the insane amount of pressure in my head.  The headache came full force later in the day and couched me for my entire Saturday.  Please tell me why...I can't figure it out.  I know what you're gonna say, though.  Dehydration.  I had a water bottle in my hand, ok?  The only thing I can really think is that I was dehydrated from the air in Colorado and the plane ride the day before.  Let's hope so because I can't imagine another headache like that after tomorrow's 9er.

I'll attempt to remember what I consumed almost three weeks ago...

#3 (6 miles grrrrreat)

pre-run nutrition:
the night before: maybe this is when I had salmon and cannelini beans with jen?
the morning of: blackberry muffin?

during: one bottle of water

post-run nutrition:
immediately after: coconut water and some puffins and water
breakfast: ?

#4 (7 miles with headache)

pre-run nutrition:
the night before: whole wheat pasta with mushrooms and peas and parm (yum, by the way) and a red velvet cupcake that boy made for me for my return-to-LA surprise!
immediately before: green juice and puffins and water
during: one bottle of water

post-run nutrition:
immediately after: coconut water (watered down), bottle of water
breakfast: sprouted grain english muffin with egg and cheese
...then i ate everything I could find for the rest of the day because headaches make me want to eat my face off

Friday, June 11, 2010

happy friiiiiiday!

Dear blog,

Thanks for helping me remember what I'm supposed to do today:

* nice long bike ride
* catch up blogs
* update training log
* fundraising email
* call mom
* buy dog food
* buy replacement water bottle for long runs
* send out facebook messages about fundraising
* update budget
* curse blogger for being difficult today
* begin packing for Denver (requires packing list!)
* laundry
* bake muffins for boy's breakfast
* yoga?
* prepare fundraising materials to take to Denver

That's all I can remember now. Thanks!


...still getting to know you (second practice)

I forgot my camera again for second practice.  Don't feel bad, I also forgot my heart rate monitor and my new running shoes; I was wearing a super old pair of expired running shoes turned dog walk shoes with gigantic holes in the toes.  My mentor said, "...that's OK, you'll be needing holy shoes for this run."

Coach talked for an extraordinarily ridiculous amount of time before we set off for our run.  Fundraising tips and necessary information.  Her favorite fundraising tip is "Be Relentless"...(I hope you know what's coming to you! Donate now and I won't bug you).

We start off every run with some dynamic stretching exercise...aka we do funny looking moves in the grassy area and make fools out of ourselves.  We kick our own butts, do some lunges, and some weird hip opener thingies.  We look ridiculous.  I wonder if it's really good for us, or more for coach's entertainment.  Perhaps both.  

We were on for 4 the hills.  Not toooo bad.  I consider myself lucky that I'm best friends with the PV Hills from my triathlon season three years ago.  I knew exactly what to expect.  I started off really slow.  Like way back of the pack slow.  I ended up passing a bunch of people along the way, and found myself running with one of the mentors, also one of only two guys on the team.  We chatted, mostly to prove we were both running at "conversational pace."  I was actually surprised at how easy conversation was while I was running. I generally prefer to run alone, so having someone to talk to seems weird, but at least I knew I was pacing myself appropriately!

The 4 miles seemed easy, especially the downhill.  Like I said, I've mastered the down...gravity really helps.  Sometimes it seems like my scientific background is giving me the advantage on the downs.  I saw people slowing down and walking.  Do they not understand how much less work they have to do going down because of our friend gravity?   Unfortunately for me, the downhill on this run is followed by about a half a mile of slightly uphill to finish out the run.  Down to up is a hard transition because you're used to the turnover of the downhill, and trying to maintain that when the slope goes positive, whips your breath right away and makes that last little bit really dreadful.

Stretch, water, coconut water, and then I took off to finish my Saturday much like the previous Saturday.  Starbucks and the farmer's market.

Once again, a record of my intake is here so I can check back and see what I did.

pre-run nutrition:
the night before:  happy hour at fraiche, lots of good stuff
the morning of: some puffins and glass of watered down green juice

post-run nutrition:
immediately after: 24 oz water, then 2 servings of coconut water
breakfast: Starbucks chocolate & banana smoothie and spinach, feta, egg white wrap
lunch/snack: delicious Afghan food from the farmer's market, beet salad with avocado and peas
dinner: strawberry polenta with scallops

drank a bunch of water throughout the day.

I think I prevented this week's headache somehow.  I could feel it coming so I stuffed myself with food and water.  Something made my tummy funny post-run (which is better than during the run!) so I'll watch out for that in the future.

Tanks for listening!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

getting to know you (first practice)

FYI, the material in this post occurred in the past. I waited to post it to make sure my website would be up when you read it.

Today was my first day of practice with the South Bay Team in Training marathon team.  It was the third practice for everyone else.  I showed up to run in a bright pink tank top (my most comfortable one).  Everyone else was wearing their white Team in Training shirts.  I'm pretty sure I stuck out luck a sore thumb in my fluorescent top.  The team manager made me change into one of the white team shirts...short sleeves.  Darn it!  Apparently they have to be able to identify us all or something while we're out running.  As if my hot pink wasn't identifiable! Oh well, such is life.

Practice started off with a lot of chit chat.  OK, announcements actually, and they were quite important.  Our coach, Gail, is awesome.  Just awesome.  I'd actually met her before, three years ago when I was becoming a mentor for triathlon team and she was then a mentor for the marathon team.  She has a great personality, is super chatty, and kind of entertaining to listen to (she has four kids and her PTA and mini-van stories are hysterical). 

My favorite part of the "pre-practice chat" was Mission Moment.  During Mission Moment, participants stand up and talk about why they are busting their butts early on a Saturday morning to run around while fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  The Mission Captain spoke today.  Her story started much like mine - she originally got started with TNT just for the heck of it, to get some training and participate in an endurance event (in her case, the Boston Marathon) while raising money for a good cause.  A few years later, her husband was diagnosed with colon cancer.  Although LLS does not directly support colon cancer, she felt comforted from her experiences with TNT and LLS, with the knowledge that there are people out there really trying to make a difference.  She cried as she told us her husband did not survive.  She continues, in his honor, to help support cancer research.

I will say, it gives me a funny feeling in my tummy to hear how much of the mission moment talk deals with honoring those that have not survived their battles with cancer. I know I'm doing this to honor and support those that have survived and will survive.  Since I can't be right there with my family through all of their battles, I'm doing this for them so they know they will always be in my thoughts.  I can't wait for my opportunity to share my Mission Moment.  I'll tell them about my sweet nephew who is just learning to talk.  I'll cry. Maybe they will too.  But there's nothing like starting off a long run with some serious reflection on life and appreciation for what we have.

Today we ran 3 miles in the beautiful hills of Palos Verdes.  I trained here for my triathlons and the marathon I did on my own.  Being back there, running in the hills, makes me really happy.  It's peaceful and comforting, in a knee-pain and blister kind of way.  I didn't actually get blisters this time, I'm sure, but one day I'm sure my feet will hate me.  They'll get over it. They always do.  I love running in the hills for the very reason that what goes up must come down.  Running downhill along the trails is incredibly liberating.  Gravity mostly pulls you down, you just have to keep your feet moving.  It's almost like gliding.  A lot of people slow themselves down going downhill...I just let myself fly.  It was the best 3 miles I've run in a long time.

After practice, I treated myself to a quick and healthy-ish breakfast and iced tea from Starbucks, and a trip to the farmer's market.  This may become my new Saturday routine!  Although, I'll definitely need to attack the farmer's market with a plan next time so as not to get completely overwhelmed by things that I'm "sure" I'll be "needing" this whole raw milk...yeah...

The following information is really for my own personal records, but feel free to read on.  I warn you, though, it's not particularly interesting. 

Nutrition for endurance training has always been really difficult for me, so I'm keeping track for myself to see what works and what doesn't. 

pre-run nutrition:
the night before:  chicken mcnuggets (bad call)
the morning of: 6oz green juice watered-down with 2oz water; 6ish oz cold water

post-run nutrition:
immediately after: 24oz water
maybe 30 minutes after: starbucks spinach and feta egg white wrap; iced green tea
lunchtime: whole wheat tortilla with shredded light three cheese blend, taco bell sauce, fresh tomato slices; water
after lunchtime: smoothie with frozen banana, frozen peaches, peanut butter, almond milk, yogurt, 5 dark kisses; more water
after after lunchtime (seriously, I've been starving all day): half of a cappuccino, half of a North End sandwich, and half of a North End egg roll; more water
dinner: tasting menu at animal!

I've had a headache and been starving all day. Clearly my food/water consumption will need some work as I go along, especially considering this was only a measly three mile run.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

go team!


I joined Team in Training...again!! 

You see, about three and a half years ago, I was new to Southern California, didn't know my way around town except to work and home, and had no friends besides "work friends."  I couldn't stand going to the local 24-hour fitness, which is more like a meat-market than a gym, and running on the Hermosa Beach strand started to destroy my legs after awhile.  I got flyer after flyer from Team in Training, and noticed they had a triathlon program.  I was intrigued and intimidated, but I signed up anyway to give myself an opportunity to something I'd never do on my own, meet some new people, and do something good for the world.  I finished two seasons with Team in Training, raised over $3000 dollars for cancer research, helped mentor other participants, and finished 4 triathlons all in one year.  To be honest, it was a really great experience.  I made friends, discovered my favorite place in California to run and bike, and surprised myself at what I could accomplish.

Then work got in the way, I improved my social life, and that was it for me for endurance events.  I promised myself I wouldn't do any more endurance activity that required me to eat whist exercising (stomach aches plagued me that entire year!)

So...two weeks ago, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  The next day, I signed up with Team in Training again.  I wasn't really thinking about the endurance event, I was thinking about raising funds and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I was thinking about any possible thing I could do to help my family from thousands of miles away.  This was it.  So...marathon training, here I come...again. 

By the sister and brother-in-law have a sweet two-year-old son, Marty.  He was named after my dad.  He's walking and talking now.  He has no idea what's about to hit him. 

This is the link to my fundraising website:

Even if you can't donate at this time, please forward this on to as many people as you can to help me spread the word!

Friday, June 4, 2010

happy friday!

Today IS a happy friday. Why? I don't know...because I said so. I woke up cranky, actually. That'll happen when you plan to sleep in and some needy pup decides he needs to get you up before 7am only to turn around and sneak himself into your spot on the bed. But now I've decided I'm pretty stoked about today. Here's why:

* It's the end of a relative successful week! Boss was out of town, so I was doing my job AND his. I felt like I was playing a doubles tennis game by myself...taking shots from lots of different directions. I think I knocked them all down least no one is currently upset about anything. Maybe I didn't get a lot of MY work done, but that'll happen. Overall I declare this to be a successful boss-less week.

* I joined Team in Training. I'm getting ready to fund-raise and I'm getting ready to train in the lovely hills of Palos Verdes for a race in the lovely hills of San Francisco in the lovely month of October. I knocked out my first week of training with two barre (stretch/strength classes), two decent base training runs, and a super awesome spin class. And I'm still walking! And I get to run in the hills tomorrow, treat myself to a post-run breakfast, and then spend hours at the farmers market gawking at the produce and strategizing my purchases. Maybe I'll remember my camera so you get a good picture of how truly amazing and overwhelming this farmer's market truly is.

* We're going We went to happy hour tonight at Fraiche in Culver City. I am I was stoked because I'ved wanted to try it for awhile and happy hour is was like the perfect opportunity to do so. They have a pretty sweet happy hour menu, and an even sweeter bar menu with moules frites and cheese fondue (two of my favorite things!) and interesting cocktails and these yummy meatball gougere sliders. (I actually wrote this at work earlier, but couldn't post it until now because blogger is blocked at work I didn't have the opportunity...hence the scratch marks).
Gin, fresh strawberries, vanilla infusion, lemon...YUM

Meatball sliders in gougere
(gougere is the pastry part of a cream puff, but savory)

Cheese fondue with apples and bread

Look how cheesy!

Arancini (risotto balls)

Moules frites (mussels & fries)

See?  Isn't that a happy friday? 

Tell me about YOUR happy friday...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

tres leches

This post has very little to do with tres leches, but it kinda all stems from a really hysterical story that I feel I really need to share with you.

We went to dinner on Saturday night at Animal restaurant in Los Angeles.  This was one of those restaurants that was featured on Food Network because some celebrity chef (Duff Goldman, Ace of Cakes) decided that something at the restaurant (bacon chocolate crunch bar) was the "best thing he ever ate (with bacon).  Of course, we had to try this bacon chocolate crunchy's the best!  So off we went to animal for dinner and dessert. 

Dinners out these days usually involves sharing lots of small plates.  We had grilled spanick mackerel with fava bean salad and bagna cauda (really yummy); rabbit loin with country ham, hericot vert, and spetzel (holy cow amazing yum...spetzel is my new favorite food); duck confit with apricot, marcona almonds (which are seriously far superior to any other almond), dates, and arugula (also yummy), lamb meatballs (super moist but not spectacular) with gold rice, green garbanzos, and creme fraiche (also holy cow amazing yum...hold the meatballs); foie gras (cause we don't go anywhere without trying the foie) with biscuit, maple sausage gravy (pretty good, quite heavy); and quail fry with grits, chard, slab bacon, and maple jus (fantastically yummy, especially the grits which are my other favorite food and had an amazingly delicious smoky flavor that was certainly artificial but made me jump and squeal a bit with joy when I tasted it).  All of it was delicious and I apologize for not having any photographs.  I left my camera at home since I'm still too shy to take pictures at restaurants.  I did notice at least 3 other people at the restaurant photographing their food, though.  Oh well. Use your imagination.  We lack imagination these days.

Anyways, dessert obviously needed to involve the chocolate bacon crunchy thingy, but gosh I'd just had bacon and wanted something sweet in between so as not to overwhelm my mouth with bacon.  The chef-wanna-be boy suggested that we get the tres leches with dulce de leche.  I was slightly surprised when he suggested that because he's never mentioned a liking for tres leches cake.  When we got our tres leches, we took a few bites, went to heaven (it was that good), and then he said "I was kinda expecting cheese, but this is amazing."  Baaaahahaha! He apparently did not know, when he ordered, that tres leches cake is a hugely famous and delicious cake, not to be confused with triple cream cheese that we are also obsessed with quite fond of.  I tease him because he's not that great with culinary vocabulary and he often mixes up his words.  I wish I could think of another example right now, but maybe another time.  Oh and by the way, the chocolate bacon crunchy thing was not the best thing I ever ate with bacon....DUFF. 

Anyway...what sparked his interest in the tres leches dessert was actually the dulce de leche part.  If you recall, we ate at his restaurant awhile ago, and they served us cheese with dulce de leche.  He has apparently since developed a bit of a fascination/obsession with dulce de leche.  Following our trip to Animal, he proclaimed that he will be making some dulce de leche, but savory, and serving it with scallops.  I did tell him that dulce means sweet, but he didn't care.  He made it happen.

Just to experiment, he took a can of sweetened condensed milk (typically used do make dulce de leche), and a can of evaporated milk (not really used to make dulce de leche...he thinks outside the box), put them unopened in a giant pot of boiling water, and let them sit there while he waxed his car and did some other stuff (3ish hours). 

The sweetened condensed milk did exactly what we expected, and gave us a most delicious dulce de leche.  The evaporated milk was really interesting, though.  It had a deep caramel flavor, but it wasn't sweet at all.  And it really didn't thicken as we expected it would, so it was pretty runny.  He tried to reduce it down to thicken it, but the pot boiled over.  Then he tried to whip it thicker, and he ended up with a foam.  "Oh my gosh you made a foam!"  I proclaimed, and reminded him that we always get foam on our food at fancy restaurants.

So now that we have dulce de leche and not-so-dulche de leche, the obvious thing to do is cook up some scallops. And wild mushrooms.  Right?  Right.

And here we have it:

Seared Scallops with Wild Mushrooms and Dulce de Leche

PS.  We don't really recipe here...unless I'm baking, but even then I make stuff up.  SO I don't have a recipe for this, but that's kinda the point.  Experimenting in the kitchen is super fun and you get crazy weird delicious things that you never thought you'd dulce de leche and scallops!  But IF you leave me a comment requesting a recipe, I would be happy to write one up for you.  But it's going to cost you a comment.

Monday, May 31, 2010

the missing chunk

...and finally I'm going to tell you why I declared the entire month of May to be Heart Month.

On May 9th 2000 my dad passed away.  He had heart disease and it went undetected because he was otherwise quite healthy.  I was a senior in high school, getting ready to graduate and go off to college.  I went to an in-state school, about an hour from home, because dad promised he'd take me out to lunch when he was in town for work.  I don't ever regret going (to University of Colorado, by the way), even though I never got to have lunch with dad.

I remember that day really clearly.  I had a graduation event at the Denver Natural History Museum.  The top graduates were invited to the museum for a special ceremony, including a short filming of us "throwing our caps".  There were three people from my school, including myself.  My mom was meeting dad and me at the museum since she was coming straight from work.  She was running late and I had to run off with the other graduates.  I told dad I loved him before I went. Ironically that's the last thing I said to him. 

We did our photography session outside, and then filed back into the Museum for the rest of the ceremony.  There was some delay in seating us, and we overheard that someone's grandfather had collapsed.  I stood with my friend and her dad while I searched the room for my family.  Her dad said to her, "see? aren't you glad your dad takes care of himself?"  Seconds later, my name was called over the loudspeaker.  My eyes bulged in disbelief.  I immediately turned away from my friend and her dad and walked like a zombie until I found my mom.  She was crying and shaking. I'd never seen anything like it.  She said "daddy's sick." Hardly.  Sick implies time...duration....hope.  The trip to the hospital was a blur.  Some lady from the museum volunteered to drive us there and she tried to comfort me along the way.

Once we got to the hospital, they led us to the room with soft chairs and tissue boxes.  We sat and waited.  I don't know how long.  At some point the doctor walked in and gave us his best "...we did the best we could, but unfortunately..." speach.  I stopped breathing and fell to my knees before I cried.  The next few minutes were filled with hustle and bustle and phone calls.  A really nice old nurse sat with me and rubbed my back.  It helped...sorta.  I remember nothing else.  In fact the only thing I could think about for days...or maybe weeks...was what I remembered happening before we left the house.

Rewind to earlier that day.  Dad and I were hanging out at home waiting until we had to leave for the Museum.  He went to lay down for a bit; he had a bit of heartburn, he thought; heartburn was quite typical for dad.  Whenever my parents were sick, I always wanted to take care of them. I brought dad a glass of water and a piece of toast.  As I was preparing his get-well snack, I glanced at the bottle of Bayer...a little longer than normal.  You always hear that if someone takes Bayer, it could save them from a heart attack.  I had no reason, at the time, to think he needed Bayer.  The thought quickly passed and I brought dad his snack; he didn't need Bayer for heartburn.  But what if I thought for half a second more and actually brought him that Bayer?  Would he still be here?

Anyways, after ten years, I consider my life to be mostly normal.  But there will always be this giant chunk missing from my heart (metaphorically, of course).  Dad never saw me graduate high school, or college, or grad school, or get my first job, or threaten my first boyfriend.  I can't make funny faces at him across the dinner table anymore, or sneak out of the dining room early to snuggle on the couch and watch TV.  I didn't have a dad to help me move my heavy stuff into my dorm, or teach me how to use my computer.  I won't have a dad to walk me down the aisle whenever I get married.  I hate museums now.  All of them.  I'll go in and look around if I have to, but it doesn't take long until I feel pressure from everywhere and want to start sprinting towards the exit. 

So in honor of dad, I pay extra attention to my heart, especially during the month of May...

Love you, daddy!

(Dad served in the military for awhile when he was younger.  They put a flag over his casket at his funeral.  Ive kept his flag and some pictures of him on my bookshelf for the past 10 years.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

i heart...

...rain far-away family mini family (the boy and the dog) far-away friends
...brazilian cheese bread
...the mountains pillow
...learning french
...baking chocolate chip cookies
...tasting menus
...running downhill
...saturday morning spin class
...cupcakes showers
...flip flops
...hazelnut gelato, nutella ice cream, red velvet ice cream
...snow season true luv skis
...fat tire
...santa barbara dog beach
...stray tennis balls on the side of the road balls in my living room
...long weekends
...purple sometimes and usually pink
...when YOU leave me a comment about what YOU heart...

Friday, May 28, 2010

eat your heart out

For the past few years, I've been somewhat obsessed with "heart healthy" foods (especially dark chocolate and red wine, but that's for another time).  I was thrilled when we came up with this delicious, heart-healthy meal that's perfect for welcoming summertime.

Salmon and tilapia ceviche in endive leaves lined with smashed avocado.  Can you say Omega 3?  Loads of it.  This is super easy to make, too!  And requires NO cooking!  You make true ceviche by marinating tiny pieces of fish in tons of lemon and lime juice, and the citrus cooks the fish for you overnight in the refrigerator.  I have to say, salmon tastes much much better when it's cooked this way; it doesn't get dry like it does in the oven or stovetop.  Creamy avocado is the perfect accompaniment to the citrusy fish, and crispy endive cups are a perfectly healthy substitute (and much tastier, in my opinion) for chips.

We had our ceviche with bowls of cool homemade gazpacho soup, which is typically made with tomato, cucumber, and green pepper. Ours also had watermelon in it.  Vegetables are great for your heart too, I'm sure of it. Tomatoes have lycopene...I'm sure that means something.

Doesn't this look delicious? I could eat it every week.  And my heart would love me for it!

Comment or email me if you want the recipe...I know you do!

What's your favorite heart healthy meal?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

the visitor

We have a visitor.  He greeted me by pooping on the floor, peeing on the couch, and knocking over the dog food and the trash can.

In case you were wondering, labbies and beagles do not make the best of friends. 

It's clear who's top dog here, though.  With the slightest nudge, my sweet wuss of a lab stepped aside while the little guy stole his water.  At least we don't have to worry about them fighting over who's the alpha dog.  My pup will gladly roll over to anyone and anything.

And walking these two is a nightmare.  Beagle takes off in whatever direction he wants, lab follows.  Lab cannot be more than 5 inches from beagle's butt.  I figured out that in order to ensure forward motion, beagle had to walk in the front, with lab directly behind beagle's butt.

My lab pup is dyyying to play and continues to chase after and lunge at poor visiting beagle, who really just wants to be left alone.  The barking and whining will not stop.  I really can't wait till these two get used to eachother...otherwise it's going to be a long weekend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

be still, my heart

Check out my new heart rate monitor!! 

(Jen, if you're reading this, I looked all over for the green one so as not to copy you in every aspect of my life, but they are no longer making the green one and this model was significantly cheaper than any other model on Amazon.  And it's pink.  Thanks for understanding.)

I was SO excited when my heart rate monitor showed up on my doorstep!  I've had grand plans for this sucker - aerobic base training.


Aerobic base training is basically where you train your heart to get efficient at pumping blood and oxygen throughout your body by moving at a snail's pace.  Ok, not really, but it is essential to keep your heart rate relatively low to effectively train your heart.  It is also boring. Very very boring.  BUT the idea here is that aerobic training is the most effective for fat burn AND helps prevent burnout, which I am so incredibly prone to (not fat burn...fat...and burnout).'s to my new heart rate monitor and aerobic base training!

I've used it three times now to run around my neighborhood.  Mind you, I'm not in the best shape of my life and haven't really been running much lately, and spinning doesn't necessarily train you to be more efficient at running, SO these first few trips were interesting.  I honestly don't know if my heart was confused or if my monitor was confused, but something went horribly wrong on my second run - my heart rate dropped to like 63 mid-run....yeah right!...and I noticed some ridiculous lag in the time it took to report that I was, indeed, huffing and puffing.  I have to say, I was quite disappointed in my heart toy; I'm a scientist, I want my tools to be reliable - timely and accurate.  I later realized that my sportsbra was tucked into the chest strap and that may have been a likely the cause of my issues - wardrobe malfunction - it'll get you every time.  We'll see how my next few 'round-the-neighborhood adventures go.

Do you have any heart rate training tips to share?

heart month

I hereby declare May to be heart month.  I made this decision upon the exciting arrival of my new heart rate monitor, and the super heart-healthy meal we made ourselves.  I suppose I could have made it heart week, as both of those events took place last week, BUT there's one important event that I've missed that's incredibly important in declaring the entire month of May to be heart month.

More to come!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

wake up call

The dog woke me up this morning at 6am.  SIX!  On Saturday!

I've noticed this pattern recently with the pooch's choice for wake up time.  It seems that on the weekends, when I would otherwise be able to sleep in, my dear sweet pup wants to wake up early.  And play.  And let me tell you, he is relentless.  Ok, I get it, he's an early riser, and that's fine.  I'm a morning person too.  But the weird part is that he likes to sleep in during the week.  So when I have to crawl out of bed on Monday morning to go to work, I wake up to a crappy alarm and have to un-cuddle myself from the dog, who inevitably has his head (or more) resting on some part of me.  It's painful!  Could you resist this face?

(Ok, so maybe this is a bad example since this shot was taken as he was caught destroying my down comforter, but STILL, you get the point)

In never really made sense to me why he had to get up super early on the weekends but not during the week when I could really use that early morning nudge to wake up.

But then I got to thinking - maybe he's right.  Maybe he's been right all along!

I mean...don't you walk in to work on Monday mornig exclaiming that your weekend just wasn't long enough?  Well maybe if you'd gotten your butt out of bed before noon, as my pooch would say, you'd have had more time on the weekends to have fun!  Weekends are free time (for the most part) to do whatever you want!  Why, oh, why would we want to sleep the weekend away just so we can kill ourselves at work the next week?   And why am I in such a rush to get to work and sit at a desk all day long?  So I can get out earlier?  And do what?  It's still a 9-hour work day, and no matter how you slice it, I still don't have enough time for any real adventure at the end of the day.  So why not get up early and get the most out of my weekends? 

I'm pretty sure that's just what my brilliant dog has been trying to tell me this whole time.  Thanks for the wake up call, pup!  Oh, and you want to go for a walk too?  OK...since we have time!

Happy Saturday!  I hope you make the most of it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Can we please talk about the kind of day I had today?

Yeah, that kind.

I was innocently walking my dog around the neighborhood and felt a snap on my shoulder.  Thinking it was my bra strap, I put my hand on my shoulder to check on it.  Handful of crap, I realized that a bird had pooped on my shoulder.  ON MY SHOULDER!  That bird is so freaking lucky that crap didn't land on my head!

Monday, May 17, 2010

if only...

If only every Monday started like this...

...went something like this...

...and ended like this:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

i'll snicker your doodle


So...the boy started this thing where he takes a word or a couple of words that come up in conversation, and he fits them into the phrase, "I'll (blank) your (blank)", to make it sound really funny or inappropriate. For example,

"I'd like a snickerdoodle."
"I'll snicker your doodle."

See?  It's actually quite hilarious.  He uses this at nearly every opportunity, some are funnier than others.  I've picked it up too, but my contributions are always both perfectly timed, and magnitudes funnier than the typical i'll blank your blank.  Snickerdoodle was my masterpiece and I'm quite proud.

Why did this come up, you ask?  Well I'm getting to that, since that was the point of this post anyway, not blanking your blank.

I offered to bake cookies for my work friend for her last day of work (sad!), and she requested snickerdoodles.  I'd never actually heard of anyone requesting a snickerdoodle cookie, I thought people just stumbed upon them and ate them.  "Do you know how to make those?" she asked. I know how to make a cookie?  Do I know how to follow a recipe?  Yes.  Do I have incredible superhuman cookie talent?  Yes.  I think I can handle a snickerdoodle.  And, by the way, I'll snicker YOUR doodle!

My mom made snickerdoodles for us all the time when we were growing up.  I have her recipe but I decided not to use it because it's a Colorado recipe.  Everyone knows that you have to alter a recipe for high altitude when you live in Colorado.  Growing up, I mastered the technique of altering a recipe to bake at high altitude.  And then I moved to California.  The problem is, I'm not backwards compatible with high altitude recipes.  In other words, I can't take Mom's Colorado snickerdoodle recipe and bake stellar snickerdoodles in California.  Thank goodness for Google.

As I figured, there's really only one snickerdoodle recipe (as opposed to chocolate chip cookies, which people do some crazy things to), with really only one slight variation:  full cup of butter vs 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening.  I didn't have shortening, so I went with the all butter version, which wouldn't have been my first choice, but incredible cookie makers have to roll with the punches.  Here's the recipe in case you'd like to copy me.  I recommend it:

Snickerdoodle Recipe

Here's why:

Gorgeous!  Actually...the one in the front isn't gorgeous at all and I question my photographic talent here, but LOOK at the beauty right behind it.  Have you ever seen a prettier snickerdoodle?   I doubt it.

And YES, stop doubting me, they taste just as good as they look.  Better, actually.  It's very important to test them at the appropriate time, though.  Which brings me to my next announcement: 

(drum roll, please)

I am going to start a cookie baking series right here on my blog so I can preach to you about the important of such concepts as test cookies and cookie scoops and melted vs. softened butter vs shortening, etc etc.  Exciting, right?

If you have any cookie topics you'd like me to blog about or questions you'd like me to answer, please feel free to post a comment or email me!

the royal treament

And finally I get a chance to sit down and tell you about the dinner.  It's been over a week and the shock has almost worn off, but it's still worth telling the story and showing off my incredible iphone photography skills.  Get ready...

So...last Friday, the boy took me to dinner at the restaurant where he works on the weekends as an apprentice (in preparation for culinary school).  Every weekend he comes home with a weird story about shelling fava beans, or peeling cipollini onions, or burning his arms on some huge tray (if you're lucky, one day he'll share his blog with you and you can read all the gory details).  In any case, I was really excited to see where all his blood, sweat, and tears end up.

It was a little bit funny at first because he parked in the employee parking lot and acted totally cool. The valet guy apparently didn't recognize him and started giving him a hard time. 

"That's employee parking only."
"Yeah, I work here."
"I've never seen you before."
"OK, talk to the chefs."
(We walk in to the restaurant anyway).

The waitress also didn't recognize him initially, but then came back to the table a few minutes later, apologizing profusely for not recognizing him until she was notified that he worked there.  And it's a good thing...for a split second I started to question where he really spent his weekends!  It's also funny, because from that point on, I no longer doubted that he worked there, but doubted that he was really only a 'prep guy', because we were certainly given the royal treatment...and it was fantastic!

We asked if the chefs could just decide what to feed us, thinking we'd end up with an appetizer, a couple of entrees, and a dessert or two.  Well...chef's choice turned out to actually be a multi-course tasting menu (I love tasting menus, by the way, but that's for another post), and the chefs themselves brought most of our food out for us.  Yeah...special treatment.

In an effort to not bore you with every last detail, I'll just show you my awesome iphone pictures.  I unfortunately don't have pictures of everything because I was embarrassed that I was photographing food.


Wine.  2 Flights, 3 Whites, 3 Reds (Cab Sav, to be specific). 

Bread.  And butter. AND olive oil.  Who does that?

Really awesome orange polka dot water glass.  Where can I buy these?


There was some crudo (not pictured).

Peas and carrots.  But not just 'peas and carrots'...'chef peas and carrots', which means creamy carrot soup and English pea agnolotti.  It's unfortunate that I only have half of this photographed (and with a crappy iphone camera) because it's my new favorite food.  I've dreamt about it every night for the past week.

Scallops with risotto and seared ahi.  Yum and Yum.

And then there was meat.  Pork belly with bbq beans (not pictured) and foie gras with strawberries and rhubarb.

Whoops! Too slow.  Lack of foie:

Finally...Colorado lamb, also not pictured (I was too full at this point).

And by finally, I mean we were done with our main dishes.

Dessert involved a cheese plate, some weird chocolate cake and popcorn gelato concoction with way too much ganache, and a weirder lemon meringue tart-ish with spicy red pepper gelato.  Oh, sad dessert (except the awesome cheese plate)!

Don't ever forget the post-meal cappuccino!  Foamy-licious!

Pretty awesome, huh?  I thought so.  Especially when the bill came and we realized that they gave us a ridiculous discount because the boy works there.  I'm ok with VIP treatment any day!

Thanks for reading! (PS...I wrote a review of the restaurant in my other blog, so if you want more detail, you can read it there).