354. Random Thoughts Thursday

I could probably write  a separate post for everything here, and I probably should for content, but I don’t feel like it.  So instead I present you with a bunch of randomness currently on my mind.

Last weekend was quite the weekend for me.  It was full of all kinds of firsts.  I ran 16 miles for the first time (along with 14 and 15 miles along the way!) I shot a gun (multiple guns actually) for the first time ever, and I made homemade bagels for the first time. (FINALLY! I’ve only been talking about making homemade bagels for about 3 years now!) It was quite an impressive weekend really.

The boy owns guns and likes to go shoot them with his buddies. I have no interest in guns and even less interest in shooting them. Plus, I’m a disaster on my own; I don’t need to be a disaster with a deadly weapon in hand. But I know the boy likes guns, and I knew he would REALLY like it if I went shooting with him one day. So for Christmas I applied for my FOID card (Firearm Owners ID – It’s an Illinois thing. Illinois loves it some gun laws.) and gave the boy a copy of the application along with a note promising to take him shooting once I received my FOID. We finally picked a weekend and went. Honestly, I was surprised by how nervous, uncomfortable, and just plain scared I was to begin with. When we walked into the range, I would flinch or jump every time someone would fire a shot. I was on the verge of tears for at least the first 20 minutes simply because that’s how I most often react to the stress of nervousness/ being uncomfortable. Ultimately I had a good time. I would definitely go again but probably not anytime soon. Nik puts up with a lot of my ridiculousness (and my various kitchen experiments) so it was nice to do something that was really all for him.

I don’t know if I was feeling extra ballsy after my adventures with guns or if it was just fresh in my mind because I found a recipe when I was pulling recipes from old issues of Cooking Light and Vegetarian Times to add to my recipe binder, but I decided I was also going to make homemade bagels on Saturday.
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I used this recipe from the November 2011 issue of Cooking Light. I’m not sure why I waited so long to make my own bagels, but I’m glad I finally did this because these bagels were AWESOME! I stuck to the recipe pretty closely to make sure they came out right, but I did make a few minor changes:

  1. I left out the barley malt syrup because a) I didn’t have any and b) I didn’t feel like trying to track it down. The recipe says you can leave it out so I wasn’t worried.
  2. I brushed the bagels with egg yolk thinned with water. I also topped half of them with salt, minced onion, poppy seed and sesame seeds to make everything bagels.
  3. I only made 11. I had 6 that were about 3.5 oz and 5 that were about 4.5 oz. I could have cut down all the 4.5 oz bagels to make a 12th bagel, but I was too lazy.
  4. I baked for almost twice the suggested time. I cooked them until golden brown on top and hallow sounding.

I totally rocked my February Challenge, and I feel like a rock star for it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for some time now, you know how good I am at failing at my fitness challenges.  Last month, I killed.  I blew my goal of 175 activity points (which I increased about a week into the challenge from the original 150 points) out of the water clocking in at 212 activity points for the month.  I tracked 26 out of 29 complete days.  I did fall short on my fitness class goal only attending 4 out of 5 classes.  However, that was a scheduling failure rather than me blowing things off.  There are a pretty limited number of classes I can actually attend to begin with since I don’t get home until about 6 in the evening. When you account for my Weight Watchers meetings on Tuesdays, my darts league on Wednesdays, and my training runs on Mondays and Thursdays, I’m left with Friday, Saturday and Sunday for classes.  There aren’t any evening classes on Friday and I run on either Saturday or Sunday.  That leaves me one day a week to do classes and since there were only 4 weeks in February, well…getting to 5 classes wasn’t really realistic with marathon training taking top priority.  What’s important is that I didn’t fall short of the goal simply because I was being lazy.  So because I feel like my challenge was a huge success despite that, I’ve decided to go ahead and reward my successes.   I’ve deviated from my original reward plan though and ordered How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (the reward for my bonus weight loss goal) instead of the fitbook.  There is a method to my madness though kids.

The reason I went ahead and ordered the cookbook instead of the fitbook is because I’m following Michelle’s lead and going for a Meatless March.  Back in September 2010, I made the decision to stop eating animals.  I never proclaimed myself a vegetarian because I expected to eat meat again, and I have.  Lately though, I’ve been wanting to get back to a primarily meatless diet.  This seemed like a great way to do it!

I signed up for my fifth half marathon yesterday.  The Rock n Roll race series was offering a Leap Day discount of $29 off any race.  I’m usually able to pass up a deal, but that’s a really great discount.  I decided to snap it up and registered for the Chicago Rock n Roll half marathon on July 22nd.  I was hesitant to sign up since I hate running in the heat.  (Really, I just hate the heat.)  But it was hard to pass up such a deal, especially when it would be an encore performance, and a chance to kick ass, of my very first half marathon.

Last week I decided to impulse buy a cast iron skillet, a cast iron grill pan and The New Rules of Lifting for Women off Amazon.  I haven’t used the skillet yet, but I’m a fan of the other two items thus far.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Have a happy Thursday!

347. Missions Accomplished

Yesterday I mentioned one of my February goals is to cross 5 items of my Mission 101 lists; however, I haven’t given you many updates on some of the goals I’ve recently knocked off the list. Since December I’ve crossed 4items off my list, reached a major milestone in completing another goals, made definitely progress toward other goals and revised a few goals as well.

The first weekend of December, Nik and I took a road trip some place I’ve never been before.  We decided to take a long weekend, and I suggested a mini vacation down to St. Louis for a Blackhawks vs. Blues hockey game.  The game was awesome – at least a third of the people there were Chicago fans – and I had a blast going on the trip with Nik.  But I think I’ve decided that road trips just really aren’t my thing.  I’m like a baby or little kid.  As soon as you put me in the car, I pass out.  Being asleep for most of the trip kind of takes the fun out of a road trip no?

I also sent out holiday cards this year, er, last year.  Every year since I graduated college, I’ve intended to send out holiday cards, but I never managed to actually do it.  I bought stamps first figuring if I bought the stamps then I had no excuse not to buy and send cards.  One of my mom’s friends makes handmade cards so I bought a bunch of cards from her and sent them to my family and friends.

And since my holiday spirit seems to be at an all-time high, I also participated in a gift “tree” of sorts.  Back in September my company did a service project that involved painting the lockers in a local community elementary school that is struggle to be kept open in the face of dropping enrollment.  Part of that process is to make the school aesthetically pleasing.  It needs to look like a place you want to send your kids to school.  For Christmas this year, my company decided to do a Secret Santa project for the kids in the school with the goal of getting a gift for all 119 students.  The school is in a very low-income area so for some of the kids, these would be the only gifts they get this year.  I picked two students – a boy and a girl both ages 5 – 6 – and got them each a game and a book.  (Yeah, I’m that jerk who gave educational gifts.)

Another item I tackled in December was to knit myself a scarf.  I took up knitting back in college, but somewhere along the way, I fell off the needles.  I’ve wanted to get back into it, but I just never did.  I mean, I only knew the knit stitch and I’d never attempted anything more difficult than a scarf. And frankly, you can only knit so many scarves before a) your bored and b) you have more scarves than you or your friends know what to do with.  Then for my birthday, Laura sent me a little Mission 101 jump start kit which included two knitting books.  Since then I’ve reading the book and messing around learning different stitches.  A couple weeks ago, a woman I regularly talk with on the train and bus brought me a set of circular needles.  I suddenly had everything I needed.  I just finished a horizontally knitted scarf.  It was the same basic knit stitch of all the scarves I’ve made in the past, but for this scarf I used the circular needles and each row is the length of the scarf rather than the width of the scarf.  I’m very excited about it!  I’ll definitely be posting a picture when I actually wear it.  (I only had one skein of yarn so I made it pretty thin making it more of a fashion scarf then a “for warmth” scarf.)

I also recently hit the half-way mark of reading 101 books.  This is pretty impressive considering I didn’t REALLY start this goal until sometimes in the middle of 2011.

I’ve also updated a few of my goals.  In an ideal world, I would complete all 101 goals as originally written, but this isn’t an ideal world.  Circumstances change.  Priorities change.  Relationships change. Desires and interests change.   So here are my “replacement goals:”

#4 Finish a marathon

#23 Figure out what I want to be when I grow up

#36 Volunteer at a race

#37 Go hiking or biking in a National Park

346. Goals, Goals, Goals: February 5 Challenge

I didn’t set any specific January goals; I just chose my verb for the year. (It’s dare in case you don’t remember.)  However, this month it’s back to goals, goals, goals.   I’m going back to a numbers based challenge like my December to Remember, but on a slightly smaller scale.  I’m also focusing on my verb by picking goals that require me to push myself a little bit.  And of course I’ve got myself a clever challenge name.

February 5 Challenge

This month’s challenge revolves around the number 5 because my ultimate goal for February is to be down 5 pounds.  However, losing 5 pounds is not actually one of my goals.  It’s so of a bonus goal.  The hope is that reaching my 5 goals for the month will get my to the 5 pound mark.  I’ll be tracking this month’s goals on Laura’s group tracking sheet (BOTD February Challenge Tracker) so be sure to check that often.

The Goals

  1. Earn 150 activity points
  2. Track 25 complete days
  3. Complete 5 items on my Mission 101 list
  4. Attend 5 group fitness classes
  5. Do 5 strength training sessions

The Reward

If I reach all 5 goals, I’m going to buy a Fitbook.  I love the concept, and people who have them seem to love them.  I’ve been tossing around the idea of getting one, but I’ve yet to commit to buying one.  I’ve always got a zillion tracking options so I don’t really need the Fitbook, but I love the idea of them especially for tracking workouts.  Mostly, I probably just want to play around with it.

If I reach my goal of 5 pounds lost I’m going to buy How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.  I’ve had this cookbook on my wish list or a while, but I always talk myself out of it because Do I really need another cookbook?   However, I’ve been doing a great job of making recipes from my cookbooks over the last two month so another cookbook is totally in order!

306. Basil-licious

Lamest.subject.ever.  Sorry.

I recently got to cross another item off my Mission 101 list.  This was a very small item, but it was a pretty epic item, in my opinion.

You see, I have this dream of one day having a successful garden.  Yes, vision of fresh from the garden cucumbers dance in my head.  I have dreams of a garden like Julie’s.  I don’t think the boy knows this yet, but when I move into his place, my plan is adios hostas (my least favorite plant ever), hellooooo beautiful garden. There’s just one problem.

I am terrible at growing things.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I could kill a cactus with minimal effort.  Back in my last semester of college, my roommate Emily and I (okay, mostly Emily) had a window box full of basil.  We had so much basil we were giving it away.  That seemed easy enough.  Since then I’ve tried to grow basil on three separate occasions, and I have killed basil on three separate occasions.  Last year, I attempted a small container garden on my balcony.  I tried to grow raspberries, zuchinni, and lettuce.  The lettuce grew, but it tasted awful – bitter and meh.  The zuchinni and raspberries started strong, but I never actually got anything off of them before I managed to kill them.  The raspberry bush may still be half alive.  I decided to start small with the goal of keeping a single basil plant alive for at least 1 month.

So when I bought some basil from Target and discovered it included the root system, I decided to try my luck.  Lo and behold, I was actually successful!  I actually managed to keep the little guy alive for over a full month.  Maybe there is hope for me yet!

Funny thing, I wrote this post about two weeks ago.  When I finally got around to taking pictures of my beloved, living basil plant, he was looking a little worse for wear.  I still haven’t quite been able to revive him.  Here’s what he’s currently looks like.