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THE BEST THING I ATE ON THANKSGIVING


Even though Thanksgiving was a bit of a rough day for me, especially with regard to cooking and my confidence in myself as a cook, I did come away from the day with one thing that I was definitely proud of: my Thanksgiving loaf.

Unfortunately most of my family didn’t try it because they classified it as a dish specifically for vegetarians. However, the two people who did eat it with me both told me that they really liked it, and I believe them. I believe them because I also really liked it. I had two helpings of it on Thanksgiving and I continued to eat it for the next four days after that (until I ran out of leftovers. Major sad face).

When I cook I have a tenancy to adjust the recipe as I go depending on how it tastes, looks, feels, smells, new ideas I get, etc. I think that flexibility like this is really important in cooking but it can also cause problems when you’re trying to create a recipe to share with people. Often I will start by adding one teaspoon of a spice, but then add a little more, and a little more, until it tastes just right. Crap. How much more did I add? Just one more teaspoon, or was it enough to equal an entire tablespoon?

I also have a problem lately with remembering to take pictures of the dishes that I make. This isn’t a huge deal, but most people want to see a picture of a recipe before they make it, myself included. I often don’t think of these things until I’m eating the finished product, dreaming of writing a post to share with you guys.

I had the same problem with the delicious loaf that I made on Thanksgiving. Well, I did remember to take a picture of it, but the picture didn’t really impress me.

Once I realize that I don’t have the exact measurements for a recipe or I don’t have pretty pictures to show you, I’m usually really disappointed because who knows when I’m going to get around to making it again. Luckily, this is a dish I loved so much that I was happy to make it again less than one week later.

I got the original inspiration for this recipe from here and here, and I made a few small changes to my recipe when I made it for the second time.

Savory Tempeh Loaf – serves 6

1 small onion, diced
1 large leek, white and light green parts diced
2 large carrots, diced
1.5 cups celery, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried thyme (rubbed between your fingers), or 4 tablespoons fresh
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried
1 small bunch fresh parsley, or 3 teaspoons dried
2 teaspoons dried sage, or 3 tablespoons fresh
2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup cooked brown or wild rice, warm (or ½ cup uncooked rice and 2 cups water or vegetable broth)
1 cup fine bread crumbs (4 pieces of cold, dry toast, blended into crumbs)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 flax egg: 2.5 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 1/2 cup warm water, mixed in bowl
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. If your rice is not yet cooked, combine rice and water in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let cook for 40 minutes without removing the lid.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.

3. Place a steamer basket in a pot and fill with enough water to just come up to the bottom of the basket. Cover with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, add the chopped tempeh and cover. Steam for about 10 minutes, remove from steamer basket and allow to cool.

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4. Sauté onion, carrots, leeks and celery on medium-high heat until soft, about 15 minutes. If vegetables begin to stick, add a little bit of water or broth to the skillet. Stir in garlic, paprika and dry herbs (if you’re using fresh, wait to add them). Let cook a few more minutes.

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8 cloves of garlic is a lot to mince with a garlic press so I tossed them into my mini food processor and chopped them all that way.

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5. Crumble the tempeh into the skillet and add soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reserve one cup of the mixture and transfer the rest to a large bowl.

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6. Take the one cup of tempeh/vegetable mix and puree in food processor and then add it to the bowl with the rest of the mixture. This will help it all stick together better when you form it into a loaf.

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7. Add warm rice, bread crumbs, toasted pecans, flax egg, and chopped fresh herbs (if using) to the bowl and mix thoroughly. The better it’s mixed together, the better it will hold together while baking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

8. Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and pack it down very firmly using the back of a spoon. Cover the top of the loaf pan with foil. Bake for 45 minutes covered, then remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Loosen the sides of the loaf with a butter knife, place a large plate or platter over the loaf pan, and flip over. The loaf should slide out nicely.

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NOTE: The first time I made this I used fresh basil and fresh parsley, but the second time I made it I used all dried herbs. I highly recommend using the fresh basil and parsley if you can! 

I am also sharing this recipe on Healthy Vegan Fridays! 

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WEDDING: THE DRESS


We ordered my wedding dress last night!!!

I am so incredibly excited about this, though what bride isn’t when she finally orders her dress?

Ross and I got engaged on May 11th and had our venue booked by May 24th. Once that was done I immediately set a date to go dress shopping in June! I’ve been dress shopping with a few brides in the past so I knew that when I went I wanted to have lots of people with me! I invited all five of my bridesmaids, my sister in law, Lisa, Aunt Sandy (my pseudo mom), and Ross’s mom, Debbie. Lynn wasn’t able to make it because she happened to be celebrating her one year wedding anniversary that day! So exciting.

We started the day off with lunch and Sandy surprised me with little bottles of champagne for us to enjoy while shopping, a personalized mini wine bottle carrier/cooler, and some flowers for my bouquet for the day.

Before this day actually arrived there was a lot of pre-planning that took place. We originally made appointments for me at David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo, the two big-box bridal stores in town. I got on their websites and selected the dresses that I liked the best, emailed all my bridesmaids, and had them vote for their favorites. Then a couple of days before the appointments we changed our minds completely.

I don’t remember exactly how the idea came about but Sandy and I decided that I could get a really good deal on a more expensive wedding dress by buying it from a used wedding dress site. Women sell their wedding dresses for all kinds of reasons – the wedding was cancelled, she fell in love with another dress, or she just doesn’t see the point in keeping it forever. I even have a friend who sold her dress for half price on one of these sites because she called off her wedding. Sad for her, but great new for the girl who got a half price wedding dress that had never been worn. We were hoping for a story like that for me.

I got online and started looking at dresses that I really, really liked (I wasn’t crazy about any of the ones I’d picked out from David’s or Alfred’s) and then looked to see what bridal salons in Austin sold that designer. I quickly realized that 95% of the dresses I was looking at were all the same designer – Maggie Sottero. I cancelled the other appointments and made a new one for Signature Bridal Salon.

When we first arrived I was given 10 tags to put on dresses that I wanted to try on and someone from the store would pull them for me. It didn’t take very long before all my tags were gone!

Once I started trying dresses on everyone else kept picking out even more dresses for me to try. I must have tried on at least 20 different dresses. That may not sound like a lot of dresses, but do you know how long it takes to get in and out of a wedding dress? That shit ain’t easy.

A few days earlier Sandy and I bought the shoe’s I’ll be wearing for the wedding so we brought those along to try on with the dresses. I hope they don’t kill me the day of the wedding.

Here are some of the dresses I tried on that day (none of these are the one I bought, so don’t get too excited!).

About half-way through the processes I started to get tired and my poor bridesmaids were surely starting to get a little bored watching me parade around. So we all decided that I would take a break and THEY would try on dresses!

Hannah held up a hanger for us to Photoshop Lynn into the picture but we never go around to that. Lisa decided to try that dress on instead so she could get in on the action too.

I enjoyed sitting there drinking champagne while they all tried on dresses but I still had a pile of my own dresses that I needed to get through.

This dress reminded me of that one that Angelina Jolie wore. You know the one I’m talking about?

So I posed like her.

I kind of liked this next dress, probably because it was so damn comfortable.

Then they suggested that I get married in it. No thanks, definitely not my style.

By the end of the day I had had quite a bit of champagne and was beginning to really enjoy myself! There’s also a video of my twirling in this dress, but I use free WordPress so I can’t upload it for you. Sorry.

When I finished trying on dresses I had it narrowed down to one favorite dress and three others that I would be okay with. The favorite was the very first dress that I tried on, and then I tried it on again at the end just to be sure. We left the store and Sandy and I got to work trying to find these dresses used.

We looked.

And we looked.

And we looked some more.

We found lots of Maggie Sottero dresses for sale by bride online, but they either weren’t the style I wanted, still too expensive, too big to be altered, too short for me, etc. Fast forward to October and I STILL do not have a dress.

At this point Sandy and I decided to make a list of the dresses we kept seeing for sale over and over, go back to the store and have me try those on to see if I liked any of them.

I ended up trying on about six dresses that day and walked away with two that I loved. One of them was the same favorite from the first time I tried on dresses, and the other one was a dress that is almost identical to that one but fits slightly different. The salon didn’t have that dress when I was there the first time but I really loved it! It’s basically a more comfortable version of my original favorite. Win!

Sandy and I left that day with a much smaller list than we’d started with, but that smaller list didn’t make things much easier for us. We were still having a hard time finding the dress that I wanted. Both dresses are still fairly new so my guess is that brides just aren’t selling those styles yet. I’m sure in a year they’ll be scattered all over these websites but that doesn’t help me now.

We continued to look and ended up finding the original favorite in a retail size 14. I knew I tried on a retail size 10 in the store and it was too big but I wasn’t sure exactly what size I’d need. Wedding dress sizes and real dress sizes are not the same.

I made an appointment to go back to the bridal salon and I laid it all out for the owner. I told her that we were looking for my dress online used, not having a lot of luck, I needed to know if a size 14 could be altered down to fit me and still look good, and if not then there was a good chance we were going to buy a dress from her store and sell it back ourselves after the wedding. I was nervous about admitting all of this to her but at that point I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose. I was desperate to get a dress soon! My wedding was in less than six months and from what I hear that’s not a lot of time for ordering wedding dresses.

Considering I’d just told her I was trying to avoid purchasing a dress from her, she was so incredibly nice and helpful! I tried on the two favorites again, which she only had in a size 10, and also tried on a size 14 in a different dress that’s a similar style. She showed me how the dress would need to be altered in order to fit me and how that would change the look of the dress. No bueno.

I left that day and told Sandy how much it would cost to have the used dress altered and that it would likely not look as good on me. We decided we’d keep looking for a used dress closer to my size until Thanksgiving, and if we didn’t find one by then we’d (and by we I mean she) would just buy it new and sell it through one of those sites after the wedding. She asked me if I’m okay with that and I honestly am. I would much rather have the dress I LOVE for one day, captured forever in pictures, than have a dress I’m luke warm about but get to keep for the rest of my life. What am I going to do with it after the wedding? Try it on again in 20 years only to discover that I’ve gained weight or that my body has changed since having kids and it no longer fits me? That doesn’t really sound like something I’m in to.

Thanksgiving came and went and we still didn’t find one of those styles in my size. We came really close once but when Sandy contacted the seller with an offer it turned out she’d sold the dress the day before! Darn.

So last night we ventured back to Signature Bridal Salon for them to take my measurements and place an order for a brand new dress. When we got there they started out by giving us some bad news.

Dresses being ordered now are not expected to arrive until April 25th. That’s five days AFTER my wedding. Damn it.

We could put a rush on it and have it by April 13th, though. Um… that’s still not that much time. What if it needs to be altered?

There is a dress in the style I want that’s in production for another bride right now. Her wedding is farther out than mine so there’s a really good chance we can get that dress and she will take the one that I order. Wedding dress places steal dresses from each other like that all the time to suit brides with looming wedding dates and apparently it’s no problem at all. This dress will arrive mid-December. That’s what I’m talking about! Yeah!!

According to my measurements they want to put me in a size 6 dress. The one in production is a size 8, so that one could possibly work, but realistically it might have to be altered, which is fine because we’ll have plenty of time for that!

While we were filling out all the forms and whatnot (and by we I mean Sandy), another woman working at the salon decided to contact the designer again, just to make sure we can get that dress and that there’s no better options.

Thank goodness she called (actually, I believe she contacted them via g-chat. Phone calls are so last season). The designer’s manufacturer just received an order that day that they’re about to start production on and it’s a size 6. This dress will be ready mid- to late-January and because it’s a 6 there’s a chance that I won’t need it altered at all!

YAY!!!!! 

So we went ahead and ordered that one and then went over to Mandola’s for some celebratory Italian food and wine! I can’t wait for it to get here so I can try it on again!! : )

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WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU RUN?


First off, here’s the breakdown of my training from last week!

Sunday
Easy – 5 miles @ 11:56 pace

Monday
Fartlek – 1 mile warm up, 10×1:00 with 1:00 jog between, 1 mile cool down (4 miles total with avg. pace of 10:36)

Gym – Power workout with Lynn

Tuesday
OFF from running

Wednesday
Tempo – 1 mile warm up, 3 miles @ 8:43 pace, 1 mile cool down

Thursday
Turkey Trot – 1 mile walk to the race, 6 miles at 12:26 pace (this replaced the easy run I had scheduled for the day)

Friday
Long – 13 miles @ 11:48 pace

Saturday
OFF from running

TOTAL MILES33 miles

I can’t believe I’ve already completed four weeks of my marathon training. Only 12 more weeks to go! Eeeek! And less than two weeks before my half-marathon! Aaaahhhh!

Last night while I was doing my tempo run I found myself wishing that I could record my thoughts while I’m running. I seriously think about everything imaginable while I’m running.

Back when I was doing my super slooooow, ridiculously easy runs during my Zone 2 training, I seemed to enjoy every run, my thoughts we always pleasant, and I wrote a lot of blogs in my head while running. I was always nice and relaxed when I started my run, and still nice and relaxed when I finished my run.

My weekday runs are a lot less relaxed these days. Ever since the time changed I feel like I am racing the clock so that I do as little running in the dark as possible. I get home between 5:10-5:20, change, and rush out the door, always thinking that the sooner I finish this run the sooner I can go home and relax. Ideally, I’d like to come home and have a small snack, read my book for a while, and head out about an hour later.

Now that it’s always dark for the second half of my runs three days a week, my thoughts towards the end of each run are something like, “What was that in the bushes? I hope someone doesn’t jump out and grab me. Gosh, I’d really hate to be raped. How do you tell your loved ones that you were raped? Would I ever get the guts to tell them, or would I miserably keep it to myself forever? I wonder if I could outrun them… Ugh, probably not. This tempo run is really taking it out of me. Maybe I could fight them off. I’m strong!”

When my run takes place completely during the daylight hours I have a lot more freedom with my thoughts. During my long run on Friday morning I found myself thinking a lot about myself, what I want out of life, my opinion of myself, my self worth, etc. All of those introspective thoughts were laced with thoughts of anger from the day before, and it really made for a not-so-pleasant run.

My easy run on Sunday was much better. It was beautiful outside, I felt like I was just going for a nice stroll, and I was happy to get out and stretch my legs. I had plans later in the day to get together with my bridesmaids for some DIY wedding decoration action, so I thought a lot about how I seriously have the best bridesmaids ever, how awesome Ross is, and how fun out wedding is going to be.

Last night’s tempo run was much harder than my previous two runs and I find that I have a difficult time concentrating on anything for too long when I’m running hard. I seem to only have the ability to focus on a mental topic for approximately 15-30 seconds before thoughts of, “Oh my God… UGH,” interrupt me and send my thoughts flying in a different direction.

During my harder runs I think about my pace a lot. Really, I start to doubt myself (I’ve been good at that lately). I start to think about how I’m not a fast enough runner, I’m not working hard enough during my tempo runs and speed work, I’m never going to be able to maintain a decent pace during my half-marathon or marathon, I’m going to disappoint myself and everyone around me with my finishing times, I’d really rather be at home right now cooking and watching trash TV (my version of trash TV is Sister Wives and Breaking Amish. I’m weird…), I should be running faster on my easy runs, no, I should be running slower on my easy runs, I should just be running more in general, I’m crazy for wanting to run a marathon, I hope one day to run an ultra-marathon, etc. They really bounce all over the place, from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Ross gets to hear most of these thoughts spoken out loud at the end of the day, and he’s usually really good at putting things in perspective for me. He reminds me that, yes, it is  good to have a goal for my races. However, I’ve never run a race longer than 6.2 miles. This means that I’m not entirely sure what my race pace should be for my half-marathon yet, and especially not for my marathon. I can guess, but that’s all. I shouldn’t beat myself up about wanting to be a better runner for races I’ve never run before. The fact that I’m running these races at all automatically makes me a better runner than I used to be, no matter what my pace is.

I try really hard to remind myself of that but it’s not always easy. I tend to get wrapped up reading other running blogs and comparing myself to them (women who have been running and racing FOR YEARS). It’s crazy, but I can’t help myself. For some reason the thought of running a marathon slower than 4:23 scares the crap out of me, like it somehow will mean that I’m not a good runner. I know this isn’t true! Yet I can’t help but think it sometimes, especially when I’m huffing and puffing on a tempo run, feeling like I’m crawling along at a snails pace (even though I’m not).

So, my goal for the next two weeks is to keep things in perspective, and not beat myself up it I don’t meet whatever arbitrary goal I set for myself for the half-marathon. Wish me luck!

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Confessions of a Real Life Blogger


Okay, I have a confession. My Thanksgiving was not as great as I led you to believe in my last post. Before I wrote up my post on Thursday evening I had read a few other bloggers’ posts about how incredibly great their day was, blathering on and on with so much happiness and joy that I felt like that’s what I needed to do, too. So I tried.

When Friday rolled around and I was still in a funk from Thursday I decided maybe I should stop pretending it was a great day and just be honest. I considered not sharing my real feelings about Thanksgiving on here because I want this blog to be positive and motivational for people to read, but I also want it to be real. I don’t want to pretend that I don’t have bad days and that I don’t have things that I struggle with. So after thinking about it for a couple of days I’ve decided to let you in on my true feelings about this year’s Thanksgiving.

Wednesday was a great day. Really great, actually. I got off work early, spent the day cooking in my parents giant kitchen (mostly by myself, which is kind of how I prefer it), had some great conversations with my parents, enjoyed some wine, got to talk to my grandma’s sister, which made me cry (she sounds a lot like my grandma, who died in 2008), got to spend some time with Ross when I got home… It was just a really great day.

So I had high hopes for Thursday. Wednesday was wonderful and I LOVE Thanksgiving, so surely it was going to be great. I was starting the day by running a race with one of my bridesmaids, so that would pave the way for a wonderful day, right? Well, maybe it would have if I wasn’t constantly thinking about how my family was probably all already at my parents house, waiting for me, annoyed that I was running on Thanksgiving and messing with our Thanksgiving tradition.

I did enjoy a lot of the run but it would have been great if I could have relaxed more. It also would have been great if I could have stuck around and chatted with Lyndsey a little after the race was over, but I was so focused on hurrying to my parents house that as soon as we crossed the finish line I gave Lyndsey a quick hug, snapped a picture, and continued running until I got to my car parked a mile away.

As soon as I got to my parents house Sandy and I started arguing about something. I think it was about the stuffing, which I didn’t even make. She made a vegetarian version of her classic stuffing, tasted it, and didn’t like it very much. I was arguing with her and defending the stuffing even though she’s the one that made it and I hadn’t even tasted it yet. Sometimes I can be a little crazy.

After I showered I headed straight to the kitchen and got to cooking some more. Even though I spent something like five hours cooking the day before, I still had quite a bit to do before the big meal which was scheduled to take place at 2:30. I needed to make the mashed potatoes and gravy, finish up the Thanksgiving loaf, and the Wild Rice and Butternut Squash Pilaf dishes.

I really wish that cooking on Thursday was as fun and relaxing as it had been on Wednesday, but that just was not the case. Sandy was stressed out for various reasons (which I understand and sympathize with) and criticized my cooking every step of the way. I am always nervous when I cook for my family so this just added to the pressure I was already feeling.

The mashed potatoes didn’t turn out well because we decided at the last minute that we needed to make some more. The second batched ended up being under cooked and didn’t blend well with the first batch so the final dish was kind of crappy. The rice dish was way more lemony than I wanted it to be, I didn’t like the gravy recipe that I ended up using, I forgot to make the cranberry sauce, I didn’t get to see any of the parade or dog show, and I was just really tired and stressed out by the time we sat down to eat.

After the meal the men helped clean up for a few minutes but it wasn’t long before they headed to the living room to relax and watch football, leaving the brunt of the clean-up to Sandy and I who had also done most of the cooking. I had gotten up at 7:30 that morning, walked a mile to the race and then ran six more, cooked for several hours, and the only time I’d sat down up to that point was in the car to and from the race and while we were eating. I was tired. And grumpy. And feeling really insecure about my cooking.

Then came time for dessert. The pumpkin pie I made wasn’t that great (which was really a reflection of the recipe I used, not on my cooking skills) but I thought the apple pie I made was awesome. Apparently no one else thought it was great though. They were disappointed that it was a lattice-top crust, annoyed I hadn’t peeled the apples first, and not excited about the caramel sauce that went with the pie. Honestly, Ross and I really liked the pie so it was even more annoying to hear comments about how next year I should just make “a real apple pie” like I usually do. Danny and Lisa both told me they liked the Thanksgiving loaf I made, but those were the only positive comments I remember hearing about my cooking all day.

Ross and I talked about it for a while on our way home and I tried not to be too negative about it all, but I was having some serious doubts about my cooking skills and I couldn’t help but feeling that I didn’t not enjoy Thanksgiving this year.

Friday morning Ross had to get up and work but I had the day off. Unfortunately, that didn’t mean that I got to sleep in and lounge around. I had 13 miles I was scheduled to run that day and I also promised Sandy I’d come back over to her house and help decorate her tree. It’s a tradition of ours so I wanted to do it, but at the same time I was not excited that I had to get up earlier than I wanted and that my whole day seemed dedicated to things I had to do rather than just relaxing and enjoying my day off.

I am happy to report that I ran all 13 miles and at the pace I wanted. I am not happy to report that I was grumpy for almost the entire run (which took me two hours and 33 minutes to complete. That’s a lot of grumpy alone time). I should have been enjoying the time to myself, soaking up the beautiful day, been happy that I’m able to run 13 miles, proud of myself for getting out and being active on my day off, looking forward to decorating my parents’ tree later in the day, and excited that I got to see this beautiful tree while I was running.

However, I just couldn’t stop thinking about Thanksgiving day. The whole time I was running I questioned whether or not I’m really a good cook or if I’m just fooling myself. I was angry that my family and I don’t get along better and angry that they can be so critical of me sometimes. All of these thoughts led to me thinking about how I don’t like my job and wondering if I’ll ever be able to afford culinary school and get a job that I really love. I contemplated all of the debt that I have and how it’s affecting not just me but Ross as well, and is going to continue to affect us for the next 5-8 years. I childishly thought about how unfair it is that Ross gets to go to work everyday doing what he loves and that I might be stuck working a job I don’t care about for the next decade because it pays well and the benefits are fantastic.

The negative thoughts just kept coming. I bounced back and forth between being angry and being sad, and I even cried a little. The most upsetting thought of all for me was the thought that maybe I’m really not a good cook. Maybe I’m really not cut out for this and it’s silly of me to dream of being a chef one day.

Ross called me just as I was finishing up my run and I immediately and definitively told him that I am NOT cooking for Christmas. If there isn’t anything vegan to eat then I just won’t be eating. I’d rather go hungry than spend another holiday feeling as crappy and insecure as I had the day before. He sympathized with me, told me that I really am a good cook, and also told me there was a good chance I’ll change my mind between now and Christmas because I love too cook and I love to eat. At this point I’m still leaning towards not wanting to cook for my family, but we’ll see…

Luckily, this is where the negativity ends. Towards the end of my run I saw some coyotes just walking around by a wooded area in my neighborhood, which really excited me for some reason. I thought I had seen a coyote a couple of weeks ago while running but I wasn’t sure, and this confirmed it!

Once I got home from my run the negative thoughts slowly started to be replaced with positive ones. I was really proud of myself for having just run 13 miles. That’s the farthest I’ve ever run at once! My feet were really tired and I kind of wanted to take a nap, but other than that I felt great! It also got me excited about the half marathon that I have coming up in two weeks, though I am also a little terrified (more on that later).

Once I had showered and eaten after my run I headed over to my parents’ house around 1:00 and had a GREAT time helping to decorate their house/tree!

Saturday the negativity I had been feeling early in the day Friday was all but gone. Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving my family goes to the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm to pick out and cut down our Christmas tree. They have a little petting zoo there with A PIG and some other cool animals, and after we cut down our trees we stop at a Mexican restaurant and stuff ourselves silly before we go home to begin decorating.

It was such a great day! After we got everything all decorated Ross went to play poker with some friends while I went Christmas shopping. Now that we had our tree up I HAD to buy presents to put under it! I love Christmas shopping and wrapping presents so I was in heaven Saturday night.

Even though Thanksgiving was a crappy day for me I’m happy that I got to spend so much time with my family this past week. Thursday was really the only bad day  and one out of four isn’t so bad, right? Here’s to hoping that Christmas is a happy, stress-free day for everyone! : )

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The Crazy that is my Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s all about cooking good food and hanging out with family all day! I acknowledge the things that I’m thankful for all year round, so Thanksgiving kind of reminds me of Valentine’s Day in that respect.

I was lucky enough to get off work at noon yesterday so I was able to start my cooking early. Thank goodness I did because otherwise there is no way that I would have gotten it all cooked!

This year we did Thanksgiving with my family at my parents’ house so I decided it made the most sense to cook everything over there rather than try to transport it all. It was great cooking at their house because they have a huge kitchen with a skylight and it makes cooking so much more enjoyable!

First I donned my apron because I am a very messy cook, then I set all my ingredients out. I started by cooking the butternut squash and wild rice for the Wild Rice and Butternut Squash Pilaf.

Then I got to chopping the apples for my apple pie! Making the pie was my favorite part. I made a deep dish apple pie and it took 5 apples, thinly sliced. I decided not to peel them (sheer laziness) so we’ll see how it turns out. Once I got started with the pie I decided that I wanted to make it a caramel apple pie instead of the classic apple pie that I always make.

I finished with the apples and the caramel sauce and got started on the crust. And since I was already diverting from my normal pie recipe I decided to make a lattice-top crust for the pie. This was my first time making a lattice-top and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be!

I hope it tastes as good as it looks! After I was finished with the apple pie I made two mini blueberry pies for Ross and three mini pumpkin pies for me. No, I don’t need three pumpkin pies to myself, but that’s what the recipe made so that’s what I ended up with.

After I finished cooking for the evening Sandy and I poured ourselves some wine and and enjoyed some crackers and hummus. It was really nice getting to just sit and chat together.

This morning I got up and met Lyndsey and her cousin at The Long Center for the 22nd Annual Turkey Trot in Austin. There were 23,000 people there today!! It was INSANE and awesome.  I wish there had been some kind of suggestion that people who were walking should keep to the right or something to make it easier for those who were running, but it was still a lot of fun!

It was a 5-mile race and I’m really glad that I got to run with Lyndsey. The course was SUPER hilly and we finished 6 minutes faster than she ran her 5-mile practice run two weeks ago. Way to go Lyndsey!!

I’m still not sure if I’ll run it again, though. I loved how many people were out on Thanksgiving morning being active, but honestly the race kind of stressed me out. While I was running I kept thinking about what time we’d finish and what time I’d get back to my parents house to finish cooking.

I’ve done something active on Thanksgiving for the past several years, whether it’s go for a run or go to the gym, and I really love it. The Turkey Trot didn’t start until 9:30 though, and there were so many people that it was a good 15 minutes after the official start before we crossed the start line. It took us just over an hour to run the race, then I still had to run another mile back to my car. It was around 11:15 when I got back to my parents house and by the time I’d finished showering I’d missed the whole parade! So I’m not sure if I’ll run it again next year or just run on my own a little earlier in the morning.

We did see a couple of crashes during the race that were kind of scary. One woman was running with a stroller and the front wheel locked up and the whole thing just suddenly tipped over! Luckily the little girl inside didn’t get hurt at all, she was just really scared. Later on we saw a man trip over a stick in the road and he went down hard, with a tumble and a roll and his phone went flying. Luckily he didn’t seem to be hurt either.

Unfortunately there was another crash today that did end with some injuries, and even a few fatalities. Apparently the fog in Beaumont, Texas was really bad this morning and it caused a chain reaction pile-up crash that involved over 100 vehicles, landed 50 or so people in the hospital, and killed two others. Very sad. You can check out the stories and see pictures here and here.

When I got back to my parents’ house after the race I made the deviled eggs, which I did not eat this year…

Some vegan gravy…

My Thanksgiving Loaf…

The food was finally all ready and we sat down to eat around 2:30.

Starting at the top and going clockwise, I had mashed potatoes (later I added gravy); sweet potatoes with a little maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg; a multigrain roll; wild rice and butternut squash pilaf; stuffing; Thanksgiving loaf; grilled veggies in the middle; and more rolls on the side. I completely stuffed myself!

The Thanksgiving loaf turned out great but I want to make a few changes to the recipe before I share it with you. The wild rice pilaf was okay but it called for lemon juice and lemon zest which kind of over powered the recipe. I’ll eat the leftovers, but it was definitely not my favorite dish. I also completely forgot to make the cranberry sauce. Womp womp.

So here’s the breakdown of my last two days:

  • Worked from 7:30-12:00 yesterday
  • Cooked from 1:00-4:00
  • Went for a tempo run (five miles total)
  • Cooked some more from 6:00-8:00
  • Walked a mile to the race this morning, ran five miles, and then ran the mile back to my car because I was worried about time
  • Cooked from 11:30-2:30
  • Spent 20 minutes stuffing my face to the point of being uncomfortable
  • Cleaned the kitchen with a little help from the guys, but it wasn’t long before they gave up to go watch football
  • Sat on my ass trying to write this blog while also laughing at my nephews from 3:30-5:30

Then… DESSERT TIME!!

Here’s the verdict on the desserts:

  • Blueberry pies – Ross loved them and ate them both in one sitting.
  • Apple pie – great! Next time I’ll put more caramel/liquid in the pie while baking it and I won’t not make the lattice-top crust. It was really pretty but the crust is my favorite part of the pie so I prefer a full-coverage top. Also, I should have peeled the apples; it just makes it easier to eat. It still tasted great though.
  • Pumpkin pies – they were alright. I would have preferred a regular pie crust to the almond/pecan/date crust that the recipe called for and the pumpkin fulling could have been sweeter. Still tasty though.

Honestly, as much as my family drives me crazy sometimes I really do enjoy spending time with them. For some reason Sandy and I get along best when it’s just the two of us, but I still love hanging out with them all.

And because it is Thanksgiving, here’s what I’m thankful for today.

  • I am thankful for all of the volunteers who made the Turkey Trot possible this morning.
  • I am thankful for my small family who all live in the same city.
  • I’m thankful for the job I have, which allowed me to have two and a half days off completely paid.
  • I am thankful for the strong body I have, and legs that carry me far.
  • I’m thankful that we had enough food to eat this holiday, and the rest of the year as well.
  • I’m thankful for my parents who own their own computer business, so I can leave this crappy laptop here with them and they can work their magic on it for me.
  • I’m thankful that Mike and Sandy took me in and raised me as their own child, because they certainly didn’t have to.
  • I’m thankful for my amazing fiance who makes me feel loved and supported every single day.
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The Holidays are Here!!


I can’t believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving!! I am so excited! : )

Today I get off work at noon and I’m heading over to my parents house to get to cooking! It took me forever to make up my mind about what I wanted to make, but here’s what made the cut:

  • Classic apple pie
  • 2 personal sized blueberry pies for Ross
  • 2 personal sized pumpkin pies for me (Lisa is making non-vegan pumpkin desserts for everyone else)
  • Vegan gravy from this recipe
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Wild Rice and Butternut Squash dish from this recipe
  • Thanksgiving loaf. I took inspiration from the recipe for this holiday nut loaf and this country meat loaf, made a few additions that I thought would be good, and ended up with an entirely new recipe. If it turns out well then I’ll share it with y’all after Thanksgiving!

In the morning I am running the Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot with Lyndsey (5 miles), then heading back over to my parents house to celebrate what is quite possibly my favorite holiday. I’ll try and remember to take lots of pictures of the cooking process today, the race tomorrow, and anything else that seems picture worthy!

 

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Wedding: Now that I have a ring…


I don’t think I’m the only woman who will admit to the fact that she started planning her wedding long before there was a ring on her finger. I couldn’t help myself.

I always had ideas for my wedding, starting as a young girl. I believe I declared at one point that I wanted to be married while standing on a glass stage, with lots of beautiful fish swimming below us.

Not quite what I imagined, but close.

Seriously?? I must have seen that in some ridiculous movie or magazine or something. It wasn’t something that I actually wanted for myself, rather it was something pretty that I felt like I was supposed to want. Girls are supposed to want huge, elaborate, gorgeous weddings, right?

As I got older my tastes started to change, but they were still based on what I felt like I was supposed to want, not what I really wanted. As a teenager church was a very important part of my life, so I thought that I had to get married in a church. I thought that because I was Presbyterian and every Presbyterian wedding I’d ever been to had an organist that I also had to have organ music at my wedding.

I remember the first time I realized that I didn’t really like the sound of organs and the thought of walking down the aisle to organ music made me wince. I got really nervous. I was nervous that someone was going to find out that I was a bad Presbyterian and tell me that I was wrong for wanting something different from the norm. It was several years before I had to courage to tell my parents that I didn’t want organ music in my wedding ceremony. They were completely fine with it because that was a ridiculous thing for me to be nervous about.

After Ross and I had been dating a while I realized that we would be getting married outside. I didn’t know when we were going to get married or where, but I knew that it would be outside. We both love the outdoors and when the thought occurred to me it just felt so right. Even though I knew that would be what Ross and I wanted for our wedding I was still scared to admit to it. Was I really considering not getting married in a church? If someone would have suggested that to me when I was 16 I would have laughed in their face.

This is actually the church I went to in high school, where I thought I would be getting married. See all those organ pipes?

Despite all of the random ideas that I had and swore I would adhere to while growing up, my real pre-engagement wedding planning didn’t start until our friends, Nick and Amanda, got engaged. Nick and Ross have been friends for years, were roommates most of that time, and used to work together at Target. Amanda was his girlfriend and the office manager at the law firm I used to work for. It was at their 4th of July party in 2009 that Ross and I really hit it off, and Ross and I like to take credit for the conception of their daughter (it’s a long story and not perverted at all). So when they got engaged in November 2011 I got to hear all the details of the wedding planning process.

This is also right around when Pinterest was getting really popular. Amanda and I would spend hours on there, messaging each other back and forth about ideas. I crated a Dropbox folder for me to save all of these ideas, so that when I finally did get engaged I wouldn’t have forgotten all about them. I also started a folder called “Ideas for Life” that has ideas for how to set up my kids rooms, themes for birthday parties, etc.

Ridiculous? Maybe.

Once Ross and I finally got engaged I was so happy that we could finally sit down and I could show him all the ideas I had for our wedding! We had already talked about getting married outside, and he was completely on board with the idea. Actually, he really liked the idea of getting married on the beach. I, however, hate that idea. Just thinking about all that wind and humidity, and the sand and salt water… Ugh. No thank you.

Luckily Ross liked most of the ideas that I showed to him, and kept telling me that I could have whatever I wanted. What a doll!

We knew that the first thing we would have to decide on was the venue. You can’t pick a date until you have a venue because the venue you fall in love with my not be available that day. What a pain in the ass. He and I spent hours looking at different venues online. We made all kinds of lists and considered things like price, capacity, whether we had to use a specific caterer, if the venue provided chairs, etc.

We eventually got it narrowed down to three choices: Texas Old Town in Kyle, TerrAdorna in Manor, and Red Ridge in Smithville. I made appointments to go and tour each facility  starting with Texas Old Town. As soon as we started walking around and getting information, I knew that was where we were getting married. I went ahead and put down the deposit and cancelled the other tours I had scheduled for the day.

The only Saturday that Texas Old Town had available was April 20th, so I called Ross and told him that we’re getting married on 4/20! Here are some pictures of the venue.

The ceremony will be outside and the reception will be across the dirt road (behind the imaginary photographer) inside a beautiful building.

I seriously fell in love with this place as soon as I got there! It was a couple of weeks before I was able to go back with Ross so he could see it, but he absolutely loved it too! It just feels like us and it’s honestly exactly what I imagined in my head when we first started talking about venues.

Now that we had a date and a venue picked out, the next thing on the list was the WEDDING DRESS!

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How to be a Fit Vegan in Shreveport


What a weekend! Ross and I went to Shreveport to celebrate one of our friend’s 30th birthdays and we had a great time! Going in to this trip I was a bit nervous though, for a few different reasons.

1. I’ve never gambled before.

2. I’m broke and have no money to gamble, even if I did know how. What was I going to spend the weekend doing?

3. I’m vegan.

4. I had two runs I had to get in over the weekend.

Since I was so nervous about the trip I decided to make a plan before I left. I determined that I probably wasn’t going to gamble at all. I knew it could be fun, but I was taking very little money with me ($127 to be exact) and that had to cover my portion of the gas, my meals, and anything fun that I wanted to do over the weekend. Ross is a sweetheart and said he’d give me money if I needed it, but I hate asking for money. So my plan was to spend as little as I could get away with.

The next part of my plan was to take as much food with me as I could. Ross and I eat pretty healthy when we’re at home but we’re more lenient when we’re out of town. Still, I knew that it might be difficult for me to find vegan food options (healthy or not), so rather than fret about it once we arrived I just made sure that I was prepared. I also knew that the more food I brought with me, the less food I would buy when we got there. I already shared all the food I packed in my post on Friday, so I won’t list it again here.

The final part of my plan involved my running. I needed to get in 11.5 miles on Saturday and another 5 on Sunday. I HATE just running aimlessly, turning down random roads, hoping to cover enough ground to get in all my miles. When I run like this I always think I’ve covered more distance than I really have so my run seems to just draaaaag on and on.

A couple of days before we left I googled running trails in Shreveport. I was willing to drive to a good running trail (if there was one) to make sure that I got in my runs. I was giddy when I discovered that there was a 6-mile running trail that was walking distance from our hotel. That would be perfect – run 5.75 miles one way, turn around and come back. WIN!

I wanted to feel good going into the trip on Friday so I had a nice kale salad for lunch, went for a 5+ mile run when I got home from work around 12:30, then had a giant kale+fruit smoothie before we hit the road. While I was on my run I captured a picture of the only tree in Austin that is changing colors for the fall. Can you even see it? I really miss living up north.

At 3:00 we hit the road. Five of us carpooled in a little SUV and I was lucky enough to get to sit in the back middle seat the whole way there. We really did have a great time on the drive there and if my butt didn’t hurt so bad I never would have guessed we’d been in the car almost 6 hours! Of course I snacked waaaaaay too much while we were in the car but part of that is because we didn’t stop anywhere for dinner, we just stopped at a gas station around 6:00 pm. I did buy a V8 for the road, though! I like to buy those on road trips because it gives me something to drink that’s not water or soda and I actually feel good for drinking it. That offsets all the pretzels and crackers I ate, right?

We arrived at our hotel around 8:45, got checked in, and then headed straight to the casino located in our hotel. The hotel was completely decorated for Christmas, which I loved!! I wish I’d gotten some better pictures!

Ross gave me a quick tour and then we all headed over to a blackjack table. I didn’t play but Ross ended up winning $100 in the first 30 minutes!

Around 10:15 we decided that we were all hungry since we didn’t eat a real dinner so we popped into one of the many restaurants in our hotel. The only real option for me was oatmeal and fresh fruit. That’s not my ideal dinner, but it’s healthy and I like oatmeal so I was happy to order it.

After “dinner” I headed back up to our hotel room so I could try and get some sleep. My plan was to get up around 7:00 so I could go out for my long run and still have plenty of time to do other things. I knew that it was going to take me 2:20 to 2:30 to run 11.5 miles, so I wanted to get it done early in the day. My friend Amanda had plans to be at the hotel spa from 10:00-12:30 the next day and I was thinking about joining her for a massage.

My feet had been hurting me ever since we arrived and I knew it was because I had some blisters on my toes. The day before my 5K race a couple of weeks ago I developed two blisters, one on the inside of my big toe and one on the inside of the toe next to it, and they were rubbing each other. I know it’s not my new shoes that caused the blisters because I didn’t get the new shoes until after the 5K, when I already had the blisters.

Since then the blisters have healed but every few days a new one will pop up in the same general area. They’re not too bad and luckily they don’t always hurt while I’m running. I think I’m getting them because of the way I land on my feet when I run. I’m working on fixing that and hoping that I get some calluses to prevent my feet from blistering (sexy, right?).

Anyway, I got back to the hotel room and my feet really hurt. I took off my shoes and saw that I had a HUGE blister on the inside/bottom of my big toe. It was big enough and in the perfect spot so that when I walked it rubbed on the toe next to it and also on the ground. It hurt with every step that I took.

I know there are runners out there who have run through a lot worse than some blisters, so I went down to the front desk to get some band-aids and still planned to do my run in the morning, though I was not excited about it.

Ross got back to the hotel room around 4:30 and I woke up to talk to him for a bit. He was really excited because he was up like $350 and everyone else seemed to be losing money. I showed him the blister on my toe and his response was, “Oh, damn. That’s pretty bad. Are you sure you can run tomorrow?” That put all kinds of doubts in my head and I started to reason that I could skip my run tomorrow and make up the miles by doing this or that, or spend an equal amount of time on the elliptical… Not good. Finally, I put my foot down and said that I was running no matter what, I just may be really grumpy afterwards.

My alarm went off at 7:00 and it was so dark and cozy in our hotel room. Ross was cute and warm sleeping next to me, but I knew I needed to get up and run. I rolled over and checked the weather on my phone to see if I needed to wear shorts or bundle up a bit more. It was 32 degrees outside! I laid there for a second and assessed the situation. I was still really tired and it was literally freezing outside. Did I need to get up right then and go running? Why couldn’t I go later in the day? I didn’t have anything planned until dinner, and it wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t meet up with Amanda at the spa. I didn’t have an appointment so I could go at any time.

Decision made. I reset my alarm for 10:00 and rolled back over. When my alarm went off again I was much more rested and the temperature was up to 59 degrees. That sounded like a much better deal to me. I got up and ate a homemade blueberry muffin and a banana, and let my food settle for about an hour before I headed out to run.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to get to the running trail from the hotel, so I stopped at the front desk to ask for directions.

Me: Can you tell me how to get to the running trail from here?

Concierge No. 1: Uh… I’m not really sure…

Concierge No. 2: Yes ma’am, you go out this door here, turn left on the sidewalk, and the sidewalk just turns into the running trail after a while. [Turns to his co-worker] How do you not know that? 

I walked out the door, turned left, and sure enough the sidewalk just turns into the running trail after about 0.3 miles. Once I got to the trail I realized that it was a really good idea that I waited to do my run. They were just tearing down from a half-marathon that had taken place that morning and if I’d gone for my run earlier I would have ended up right in the middle of it.

There were still a few of the race mile markers up when I started and I saw a few people lingering in the area with race bibs on. It actually made me jealous that I didn’t know about the race before we got there or I totally would have tried to sign up! It’s probably better this way anyway. I have a half-marathon scheduled three weeks from now and I’ll be much more prepared for it.

The trail I was running on was really pretty. The Red River was to my left, and there was a pretty busy street to my right, but there was a lot of grassy area between me and the road so it didn’t really bother me. There were also lots of trees and it was just really peaceful. I did get honked at 4 times during potions of the run where the trail was a little closer to the road, which I did not appreciate, but I just ignored it.

As I was running I also noticed that there were mile markers on the trail every 1/4 of a mile. This was nice because it gave me little progress reports as I ran without having to check the RunKeeper app on my phone.

I was so happy when I started running because my feet didn’t hurt at all! It wasn’t until mile 7 that they started to bother me, and even then it wasn’t bad. I finished all 11.5 miles with a smile on my face and even ran the second half faster than the first half!

Mile 1: 12:02 (I always run the first mile faster than the rest. I need to work on that)
Mile 2: 12:50
Mile 3: 12:32
Mile 4: 12:41
Mile 5: 12:50
Mile 6: 13:17 (I always run the middle mile the slowest, not on purpose. At this point I decided that I wanted to speed up and finish the second half of my run faster than the first half)
Mile 7: 12:41
Mile 8: 12:23
Mile 9: 12:25
Mile 10:  12:01
Mile 11: 11:11
Mile 11.5: 5:08 (avg. pace of 10:17)

I was exhausted when I got done running but I was so happy, and so proud of myself for getting out there and running on our weekend vacation! I headed back to the hotel, ate some recovery pudding from Thrive, and then made an appointment for a 25 minute massage. It was only $50 and I figured I deserved it. I texted Ross and told him about it so he’d know where I was and he texted back telling me to change it to a 50 minute massage and he’d pay for it. What a sweetheart! : )

That was my first massage ever and I was really nervous about it. I’m very ticklish and I didn’t want that to get in the way and annoy the poor woman giving me the massage. Luckily it didn’t tickle at all and it was GLORIOUS! My only regret is that I didn’t ask her to spend more time on my neck/shoulders because I’m really tight in that area.

Once I got done being pampered I headed back to the room to eat a little more food (granola and yogurt, crackers and hummus) and got ready to meet up with everyone else. Unfortunately, just as I was ready to start having some casino fun everyone else was ready to take a break until dinner. They’d all been gambling all day and wanted some time to relax (and not lose more money) before dinner. Ross was really happy because his winning streak continued, so at that point he was up about $450!

For dinner we went to a really nice steakhouse. I was smart enough to call ahead and request that the chef make a special vegan dish for me, so when everyone else was getting their steak I got a huge plate of seasoned grilled vegetables. I had mushrooms, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green beans, and red bell peppers. I didn’t eat the bell peppers (because I hate peppers) but everything else was fantastic! I am so glad that I called ahead so I didn’t get stuck ordering a bunch of side dishes.

After dinner we headed to a casino that was about five minutes from our hotel. I did end up playing some slots at that point just so I could say that I had done something, and I lost $30 in about 5 minutes. It really wasn’t that fun. I told Ross that I want to learn to play black jack before we go again, so that we can play together and hopefully I’ll have more fun (and win!).

Sunday I got up at 8:00 so I could head back out to the trail and get in my 5-mile easy run. It was beautiful outside again and I felt so good for getting out and being active! After my run we met up with everyone else for a buffet brunch. I was pleasantly surprised that there were quite a few vegan options there, which made me really happy! I had some marinated cherry tomatoes and mushrooms, roasted rosemary potatoes, bread sticks, tomato soup (that wasn’t very good), oatmeal, and some rice with soy sauce. It wasn’t the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten, but I was happy that there were option for me and that I didn’t have to resort to french fries or something like that.

After brunch we hit the road. I can honestly say that the five and a half hour drive back to Austin was the worst part of the trip for me. I was really looking forward to the drive back because we all had such a good time on the drive there, but we got in the car right at 12:00 which is just when the football games were starting. We listened to football games on the radio and the other four people in the car talked about football THE WHOLE WAY HOME. I tried to nap but I couldn’t get comfortable since I was sitting in the back middle seat again. Luckily we stopped at a gas station around 2:00 and they had those travel pillows that go around your neck. I bought one of those and a V8 and my trip got a lot better!

Overall, I really had a lot of fun on the trip. We have a great group of friends who we always enjoy hanging out with, I got in all the training runs I had scheduled, I didn’t have any trouble finding vegan food to eat, I got home with $12 in my purse, and Ross won $450!

Here’s a breakdown of what all my runs looked like this past week:

Sunday
OFF from running (normal off day is Tuesday; switched because of the chili cook-off)

Monday
Strength run – 1 mile warm up, 1 mile @ 8:34 pace, 1/2 mile jog, 2 miles @ 9:05 pace, 1/2 mile jog, 1 mile @ 8:57 pace, 1/2 mile cool down. Total miles = 6.5 on the treadmill
Gym – power workout with Lynn

Tuesday
Easy – 5 miles @ 12:31 pace with 2×20 second sprints to finish

Wednesday
Strength run – 1 mile warm up, 2 miles @ 8:23 pace, 1/2 mile jog, 2 miles @ 9:11 pace, 1.1 mile cool down. Total miles = 6.1

Thursday
OFF from running
Gym – power workout with Lynn

Friday
Easy – 5.36 miles @ 12:50 pace, finish with 6×15 second sprints

Saturday
Long run – 11.5 easy miles @ 12:21 pace

TOTAL MILES34.46

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Going Out of Town – Trying to Eat Healthy


First off, let me share something exciting with you! I read lots (and lots) of blogs; some about food, some about running, some about raising kids, some about all three, and some that are totally random and pointless (have you discovered Suri’s Burn Book yet?). One of my favorite running blogs is Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal. I love reading her blog because she hasn’t always been a runner and she hasn’t always been fast. She’s got three kids now and still finds time to train for and kick-ass in marathons. I need some of that dedication!

If you check our her blog today you will see a picture of ME! Dorothy was recently on the cover of Women’s Running magazine, which I subscribe too, so I took a picture of me holding her issue and she threw it up on her blog! I squealed when I saw it this morning! I feel like I just got a shout-out from a celebrity. : )

Check it out HERE.

So, this weekend Ross and I are heading to Shreveport with some friends to celebrate his best man’s 30th birthday (Happy Birthday Nick!).

Going out of town once I made the switch to a plant-based diet used to stress me out, but over the last year I’ve realized it’s not as scary as I used to think. It does take a little planning and forethought, but it’s not terrible and is still totally worth it to me.

Ross and I already take food with us everywhere we go. Seriously, everywhere. If we’re spending the day with my family at their house we pack our own snacks to take with us because we both have a fear of being hungry. It is better to eat small meals/snacks every 2-3 hours than it is to just eat 3 big meals a day, and we are diligent about making sure that happens. Some people may say that we’re a little nuts.

I’m going to be honest, not all of the food we’re taking on this trip is stellar health food. However, the indulgent choices we make are generally few and far between (at least that’s what we try for) and tend to still not be “bad” choices. Here’s what we’ve got in our food bag for the trip so far.

  • One bunch of bananas
  • Lots of apples
  • Four homemade, healthy blueberry muffins from this recipe
  • Three snack size zip-lock bags of those peanut butter filled pretzels (this is my indulgent choice)
  • A bag of salt water taffy (this is Ross’s indulgent choice)
  • Six zip-lock bags of a salty snack mix (pretzels, mini bread sticks, etc.), like a healthier version of Chex Mix. It’s a six hour drive there and a six hour drive back!
  • Hemp Granola from the bulk bins at Sprouts, with some slivered almonds, raw pumpkin sees, and raisins added to it
  • Soy yogurt to mix with the granola. This will be good for breakfast or a post-run snack (yes, I’m planning to run in Shreveport)
  • One serving of recovery pudding from Thrive (this is for after my long run on Saturday)
  • Kashi cereal bars for Ross
  • Honey Stinger gel for my long run. I’ve never used these before but I need some kind of fuel for running 11.5 miles, and this is what we had in the pantry
  • Sun dried tomato hummus
  • Sesame flat bread crackers
  • Almond milk and Stevia for the hotel room coffee!

I think that’s it… We’re only going to be gone for 2 days and it’s not like we’re going to be staying in the middle of no where, so this may be a bit of overkill. However, I’ve found that it’s much better to be over prepared than under prepared. I also get grumpy when I’m hungry and don’t have any food options, so we try to avoid that at all costs.

I’m also trying not to spend too much money on the trip, which is another reason that I want to bring food with me. The hotel room does have a fridge but not a microwave, so that limits what I can bring. I had originally hoped to bring some leftovers with me so I could get in some real, healthy meals, but no luck.

Austin is hosting the Formula 1 races this weekend and things are going to be CRAAA-ZY here. That’s part of the reason that we chose this particular weekend to head out of town. My plan is to leave the office around noon today (and hopefully not hit too much traffic), head home and get in the 5-mile run I have scheduled for today, finish up some last minute packing and then hit the road!

I’m going to have a green smoothie and some leftover chili before we leave and will probably eat too many snacks in the car. I don’t really have high hopes for dinner tonight, so I’m not going to fee too bad about it. I think the plan is to stop somewhere quick for dinner on our way there and I fear it’s going to be McDonald’s or Wendy’s or something. Yuck.

I do plan on running both Saturday and Sunday (11.5 miles and 5 miles) so wish me luck with that! It should take me about 2 hours and 20 minutes to run the 11.5 miles. Luckily there’s a running trail not too far from the hotel we’re staying at so I’m hoping I’ll be able to find it without too much trouble. I am nervous about running there because I don’t know how it’s going to work with the other things we have planned and I’ve also never to Shreveport. It’s weird to run in a new city all by yourself, but I’m determined to do it.

I probably won’t post anything this weekend (the hotel charges for internet access) but I will give you a full recap of the weekend when I return, as well as all my running stats for this past week!

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Can I talk about my wedding for a second?


I started this blog as a way to motivate and encourage others to lead healthy, active lives because I don’t want people to think that eating healthy and working out is scary, difficult, or overwhelming. I hope that I’m accomplishing that, and I don’t want this blog to divert away from that too much.

However, I do want this blog to also be a place where I can share about what’s going on with me and my life. I can’t help it, I’m a sharer.

I got engaged back in May but didn’t start this blog until September. There wasn’t a whole lot going on with wedding planning when I first started the blog so I had no real reason to talk about it. As we’re getting closer to the big day (157 days to go!) there’s going to be more wedding related stuff happening in my life and I want to share that with you! I also want a way to document it all so I can look back in a few years, get all sappy and emotional, and cry.

Anytime I post about the wedding I will start the title of the post with the word wedding, so if you have no interest reading about engagements, wedding planning, dress shopping, etc. then you can easily skip over that post.

So, let’s begin with the engagement. Actually, I should back up a bit further. I talk a little about how Ross and I met in my About Me page so I’ll just give you the highlights here. We met when I was 18 through mutual friends but didn’t think about each other as anything but acquaintances until we got to talking at a 4th of July party in 2009. I was actually living in a different city at the time as a live-in nanny and had come back to Austin just for the party, but that gig didn’t work out and I moved back to Austin not too long after.

After talking on the phone/texting for a few days Ross asked me if I’d like to go on an official date. I said that sounded great and he suggested dinner and a movie. Honestly, I thought that was a bit cliché so I suggested he come up with something more original. On July 17th we ended up going to dinner at a tapas bar, headed over to a dueling piano bar for a couple of drinks, and then ended the night at Mozart’s coffee shop. (I don’t remember what he ordered, but I remember that I got a chocolate milkshake. I was still in the process of getting healthy/losing weight so I hadn’t had anything like that in several months. I felt a little guilty drinking it, but in a good kind of way.)

We sat outside the coffee shop on their large deck just talking until an employee finally came over and told us they were closing and that we needed to leave (this was around 2:00am). He drove my back to my parents house (I had JUST moved back to Austin), walked me to the door, and if I remember correctly I did not let him kiss me. First kisses are scary and make me nervous!

Fast forward a few months and Christmas is approaching. We had only been dating about four and a half months but I still had several friends ask me if I thought Ross was going to get me a ring for Christmas and propose. At that time I had no doubts about whether or not Ross and I would spend the rest of our lives together, but NO, I did not think he was going to propose any time soon.

Once the question had been asked of me once it seemed like everyone was asking, “When are you and Ross going to get engaged?” This went on and on, and my family even joined in with the questioning.

Fast forward two and a half years. I’m standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus that takes me to work every morning when I get a text from Sandy.

Sandy: Did you post that to Ross’s Facebook page or did he?

Me: I don’t know what you’re talking about but I do know that it wasn’t me. I don’t log into Ross’s Facebook page ever, so anything posted must have been by him.

Sandy: Well, have you seen it? What do you think? What does it mean?

Me: No, I haven’t seen it. Hold on.

Still standing at the bus stop, I log into Facebook (thank goodness for smart phones) and see that at around 3:00 that morning Ross had “liked” a picture/link to a 1 carat diamond engagement ring.

That’s weird… I went to bed before Ross did the night before so I don’t know exactly what time he came to bed, but surely it wasn’t after 3:00. Also, Ross doesn’t do things on Facebook. He doesn’t post on people’s walls, he doesn’t RSVP to events, he doesn’t upload pictures, and he certainly doesn’t “like” things. In my gut I didn’t feel like it was Ross that “liked” that ring, but I couldn’t think of another logical explanation for it, either.

I tell all of this to Sandy and when I get to work and relay the story to my office manager, who is also friends with Ross and engaged to his best friend (now they’re married! It was also at their 4th of July party that Ross and I hit it off). Through some help from Amanda and some commenting back and forth on Facebook we find out that, yes, Ross did like the picture/link. He had fallen asleep watching basketball and when he woke up he decided to browse engagement rings on his iPhone. He must have accidentally clicked the icon that made him “like” the ring on Facebook.

So this fueled the fire even more regarding questions of when we were getting engaged.

Fast forward two months. I’m at home on a Friday night cooking dinner. I know that Ross gets off at 7:00 so he should be home around 7:15, so I planned for dinner to be finished cooking around then so we could eat right away.

7:15 and Ross isn’t home yet…

7:30 and Ross isn’t home yet…

7:45 and Ross finally arrives. I’m annoyed because he’s late, dinner is ready, I’m hungry, and he didn’t let me know he was going to be late. I’m not mad because I know that clients often want to talk to him after their sessions (he’s a personal trainer) but I am annoyed.

He apologizes and confirms that someone wanted to talk to him at the end of the day. After we finish eating he suggests that we go to Mozart’s coffee shop to get some coffee. We’re big coffee drinkers and we like to get out of the house on Friday nights for a change of scenery, so this sounded like a good idea to me (and didn’t strike me as weird at all that we were going to the place of our first date. We’ve been there several times since then).

We get there and order (he gets a mocha and I get an almond milk latte and a vegan cookie). Once we sit down I am a bit distracted by my phone. I have a funeral to go to the next day and am texting with a friend to coordinate riding together. Once I finally get that all squared away, I put my phone down and apologize. Ross tells me that’s ok and then the conversation goes like this:

Ross: So, three years is a long time (referencing how long we’ve been together).

Me: Yeah, but we still have a long way to go. But I guess you’re right, three years is a long time.

Ross: Well, I’d like it to be a lot longer.

[Ross gets up, walks to my side of the table, and gets down on one knee. He pulls out a little black box and opens it up.]

Ross: Chasity, will you spend the rest of your life with me?

Me:

[Silence. I look down at the ring in the box, then back at him, then down at the ring.]

Me: Ummm… Is this for real?

Ross: [pauses, looking slightly annoyed] Yes, this is for real…

Me: ABSOLUTELY!!

[Ross and I hug and kiss.]

Ross: Ok, but I can’t put the ring on your finger right now.

Me: Why the hell not??

Ross: We’re sitting too close to the water. I don’t want to drop it!

We immediately head for higher ground so he can put that thing on my finger!

Then we started calling people to tell them the news. It turns out that my parents already knew because Ross had driven over to their place when he got off work to ask their permission (which is why he was late coming home). My parents then told Danny and Lisa, which kind of upset me that I wasn’t the one to tell them. Oh Well.

We immediately left Mozart’s and headed over to Hannah’s house so I could tell her and show off my ring, and we both cried a little. It was perfect! : )