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!

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265. Teach a Man to Fish

Remember that old saying, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for like.”

I absolutely hate that cliche actually.  Maybe it’s because I come from a family that lives to terrorize the local fishermen on our lake.  However, as I was making dinner Monday evening, the old saying came to mind.  I may hate to fish, but I do love to cook.

Honestly, I’ve always kind of taken for granted the ability to cook.  My mom is a Family and Consumer Science teacher.  I grew up learning to cook.  I have a distinct memory of the first apron my mom made me (She also taught sewing for a while.)  I remember making some sort of stained-glass Jell-o in a park

district cooking class.  I remember hating cooking because I hated having to clean up after myself.  (Okay, I still hate cleaning up after myself.)  I remember cooking for myself in college because I was used to eating home cooked dinners.  I remember falling in love with cooking about a year ago.

Tonight I made this for dinner…

Girl Can Do Mac n Cheese

I haven’t been grocery shopping yet this week.  I had no idea what to make for dinner this evening.  I wasn’t even sure I had enough to to actually consturct a legitimate meal.  It’s amazing what you can do with 1/4 of a bag of noddles, 1 cup of frozen mixed veggies, some shredded cheese (I kid you not, I had 4 diference bags of shredded cheese all with les than 1/4 cup left.), some milk, and a little skill in the kitchen.

(Apparently some form of mac n cheese is also my go-to throw it together dish.)

Cooking is such a valuable skill.  It’s a shame more people don’t learn how to do it.  It’s a shame my mom’s class is thought to be a “blow-off” class by so many students.  It’s a shame people rely on pre-made meals and convenience foods.

258. The Runs that Dreams are Made of

You know those days where everything seems to fall perfectly into place?  I love those days.  Nothing makes me happier.  Yesterday was totally one of those days.

It started with a pretty fantastic work day.  I was busy enough that the day flew by, but not so busy I was overwhelmed.  I won a few small victories which made my life much easier.

I was armed with my new I ❤ Trader Joe’s Cookbook and the new issue of “Cooking Light” for my commute home.  That’s some quality reading material right there!

Where the day really started to kick ass though was once I got home.  I backed off on my training for the last week because my knees were bothering me.  I’m pretty confident it was nothing more than stress from “too much, too soon,” but I didn’t want to push it into the injury zone.  Yesterday I needed to get in my (minimum) 30 minute weekday run.  Since I didn’t do much running last week, I decided to try and get to 4 miles which would be between 40 and 50 minutes of run/ walk intervals.

Even after making the decision to go and knock out 40 – 50 minutes, I still had to force myself to get dressed and out the door.  It was chilly and wet out.  It was a little drizzly, and there was a chance for actual rain while I was out.  I don’t have a good running jacket for wet spring weather.  The jacket I have is more winter oriented.  I pretty much have to be naked underneath it once the mercury creeps above freezing or I get too warm while running.  I gave serious consideration to blowing off the run last night in favor of doing it today, but I decided to don a singlet under my running jacket and get going.

I could not be happier that I did!  That run that I wasn’t in the mood for ended up being one of the best runs I’ve had in month – possibly ever!  This was the kind of run runners live for.  I felt amazing physically and mentally.  I had no knee pain, and while my legs were a bit fatigued by the end, it was a good feeling.  I was 110% in the game mentally.  I was coming up to the 4 mile mark and decided I was feeling so good I wanted to keep going.  I hit 4.5 and started rounding my way back home.  I ended up knocking out 5 miles in just under an hour.  Even as I was approaching my house, I still felt great.  Mentally I wanted to keep going – try and get to mile six, but I decided to call it at 5 miles.  I hadn’t planned on running that far so I didn’t bring water, and I was starting to get hungry for dinner.  I also didn’t want to push my body too far and end up with hurting knees in the morning.  I felt so accomplished and encouraged.

I have to be honest; the knee pain was really starting to discourage me.  Taking even more time off from my training was starting to make me feel like I was once again going to be under-trained when my half rolled around.  Last night’s run totally revived me.  (It also reminded me that I need to get my ass back in gear when it comes to strength training.  I’ve been slacking on legs, and I could totally tell last night especially toward the end of my run.) 

As if my fabulous run wasn’t enough dinner made the night just as amazing!  After an conversation about omega-3’s with my BFF Laura, I decided I need more fish in my life – specifically salmon.  The problem is somewhere along the line, I stopped liking salmon.  I used to like it – especially salmon patties – then one day I just didn’t.  I don’t know if I was burned out on it, or I didn’t like the way more mom started preparing it and that ruined it for me as a whole.  In any case, I decided to give it another shot.

Thanks to an old issue of Women’s Health I was reading at the car dealership last weekend, I decided salmon burgers were the place to start.  I bought some fresh salmon at Trader Joe’s this weekend, and last night, I food processored my way to fresh salmon patties.

Now, I’m not saying I love salmon again, but if I had to start over somewhere this was the place to start!  I served the salmon patties on pretzel rolls from Trader Joe’s along-side these delicious parmesan crusted asparagus spears from How Sweet It Is.  All I can say is I’m pretty damn excited for leftover!

229. Things I Love: vol. 1

I’ve never done a “things I love” post before, but there’s so much I’m loving right now that the time has come.

  1. My new kitten Sergeant Peppers

    Sgt Pepper
    Sgt. Peppers came to me from my friend’s sister who works as a vet tech.  She’s two months old (Today is her birthday actually!), and she is absolutely precious.  I brought her home yesterday.  (Her collar is too big so she managed to get one leg through it!)

  2. My BFF Laura.  I’m sure there’s probably a lot of people who would find it odd that one of my best friends in the entire world is a girl who lives 950 miles away and whom I’ve never actually met in person.  It is what it is though, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  She’s always there for me.  She’s constantly inspiring me, and I can’t wait until October when I finally get to meet her in real life!
  3. The fact that my CoreFusion DVDs are on their way.  I took a complimentary CoreFusion class at the Chicago Exhale Spa during HLS 2010.  I didn’t love the instructor or the fact that it was about 85 degrees in the room, but I enjoyed the class itself.  Plus Rachel always raves about CoreFusion, and she’s hard to ignore.
  4. Amazon Prime.  I’ve never been a big Amazon shopper for two reasons: 1) I’m cheap as hell when it comes to paying for shipping and 2) Amazon’s free super saver shipping is so slow it hurts. (and I’m super impatient.)
    I did the trial membership in December when I ordered Christmas presents for Laura and the boy.  I determined then I would do a lot more shopping on Amazon that way.  I debated it for a few days and decided to bite the bullet.  Of course the LivingSocial $20 Amazon gift card or $10 and my decision to buy CoreFusion helped push this decision along.