Monthly Archives: April 2011

I’m Still Here!

I haven’t given up on my blog – I’ve just been taking a temporary break.  Sometimes life just gets in the way.

Over the past few weeks I’ve traveled twice and work has been extra busy.  My husband has been sick and I think I’m battling whatever he had.  As a result, I think it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve had a good run.  I definitely don’t plan to give up on running, but just need a little time to get back into a routine.

That, and I’ll need a new iPod.  Running is just not the same without music.

Yup, my dog ate my iPod.

I’m off to finish watching coverage of the royal wedding.  I did not wake up early to watch it live, but I taped about 9 hours of coverage… on 2 channels 🙂

Have a great weekend!

Advertisements

My Weekend in the Kitchen

It’s been a busy weekend for my kitchen.  I had a charity event on Saturday that involved a cake walk, so I baked up a storm Friday night.  I probably would have been fine just making one batch of cupcakes, but I found a few recipes that sounded good, so I bought supplies to bake 4 different desserts.

I also bought a package of 101 cookie cutters.  I was looking for a stocking, but since it’s not Christmas time, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find one.  I thought the large package of cookie cutters would have something, but no – a reindeer, christmas tree, dreidel, snowman and gingerbread man, but no stocking.  Oh well, I’m sure these will come in handy some day!

My first project was White and Dark Hearted Brownies from Smitten Kitchen.  I saw these on her blog around Valentine’s Day and knew I would have to try them some day.  You start by baking a set of brownies with chocolate chips and a set of brownies with white chocolate chips.  You then take a heart shaped cookie cutter (this is where I would have liked to use a stocking) and cut hearts out of both the white and dark chocolate brownies, and then swap them.

I didn’t have my camera out yet, so this was taken with my iPhone.  These brownies were more difficult to make than I expected (and I made a huge mess!) but I love how they turned out.  Not only are they cute but they tasted amazing.  I will definitely hold onto this recipe to use again in the future.

My next recipe was Hungry Girl’s Red Velvet Insanity Cupcakes.  I followed the recipe exactly except for the frosting.  I took the easy way out and just used store bought cream cheese frosting.  I didn’t get to eat any of these, but the batter was delicious and HG has never done me wrong before when it comes to cupcakes 🙂  I doubled the recipe to make 24 cupcakes.

Don’t worry, I added the icing the next morning!  Up next were Hungry Girl’s coffee cake cupcakes.  I’ve made these once before, and they were a hit.  Instead of using ground up fiber one cereal for the topping I used panko crumbs.  I doubled this recipe too.

By the time I finished these it was after midnight and I was exhausted.  I went to bed without making the final batch of cupcakes, which were going to be yellow cakes with a strawberry jam and cream cheese filling.  One of my favorite recipes, but I’ll have to save the ingredients for another time!

I found my way back in the kitchen today.  Pat and I went to Costco this afternoon (one of my favorite places), and they had samples of granola, which they told us was made right there in the store.  Pat wanted to buy some, but after looking at the ingredients, I told him I could make it myself.  So I did!

I based my recipe on this one by Alton Brown.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Add to a bowl:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Spread the mix onto a baking pan and put it in the oven for 1 hour, 15 minutes.

I couldn’t help myself from stealing a little bit of the mix before it went into the oven 🙂  It came out nice and crispy.

And on top of all that, I still made us dinner tonight.  I was on a roll!  I decided to go with a standard meal for us – tofu, veggies and risotto.

I started with the veggies:  red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, onion and spinach, sautéed in olive oil, garlic powder and celery salt.

Tofu sautéed in olive oil, garlic, garlic powder and onion powder.

Parmesan risotto.

Mixed together for parmesan gooey goodness 🙂

I never get sick of this combination!

While I was busy in the kitchen, Pat was busy outside.  First he bought a new hibiscus plant for the outside of our house.  Our last one died in a freeze this winter, so it was time for a replacement.  And our new plant already had a beautiful bloom!

He also planted new grass in our backyard and cleaned up the bushes on the side of our house.  And while he was at it he cleaned my car 🙂  We took my car through the car wash this morning, but the tires were still very black.  Pat scrubbed and scrubbed until they looked brand new!

The dirty rags…

I have the best hubby in the world 🙂

What did you do this weekend?

My Weekend in Virginia

It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend for me, but it was so much fun!  I was lucky enough to be sent to the Washington DC area for work last week.  I got into town around lunch time on Thursday and was ushered straight into meetings, but had a little bit of time for sight-seeing in the evening.

We first drove by the Washington Monument.  They said that you’re not allowed to go up it in the stairs, you have to take the elevator.  I think that would be fun to do some day!  Unfortunately, I did not get to take my new camera with me to DC because my camera bag has not arrived yet, and I didn’t want to take any risks.  So I was stuck with my iPhone camera and Nikon Coolpix.

When we drove by the Willard Hotel, our tour guide told us that this is where the term “lobbyist” originated.  According to the story, Ulysses S. Grant was known to go to this hotel for a drink.  As people found out that he would frequent the hotel, they began to show up and wait in the lobby, hoping for a chance to talk to him about their issues.

We also got to walk to the White House for a few pictures.

We also took a group picture in front of the White House.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the guy who took our picture is the new White House press secretary, Jay Carney!  He just walked up and offered to help with our picture.

We were in town just in time for the cherry blossom festival.  The trees were absolutely beautiful!

After dinner we headed to the Lincoln Memorial.  It was my first time there, and it was so awesome to see it at night.

It was majestic!  The spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous speech was marked on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial.

After work on Friday, I took advantage of being so close to a friend who lives in Virginia, and took a train to Charlottesville.  It was my first time there, but after being a long time reader of Kath Eats, I was very excited to visit!

When I got into town, we went directly to dinner at Horse & Hound Gastropub.

I ordered chickpea patties, which came with summer squash and some kind of clear noodle.  I was expecting stronger flavors, but it was still very good.  It’s not pictured, but dessert was excellent.  We ordered a brownie/cookie with ice cream.  It was warm and gooey.  We ate it too fast for a picture!

After dinner we walked around downtown Charlottesville.  It was a cute area of town.  We stopped at the Downtown Grille for a drink. 

I ordered a fruity rum martini.  It said it came with a tropical foam… which tasted like pure alcohol.  Neither of us were able to finish our drinks, but they were pretty good.  It’s always so much fun to catch up with a good friend.

After dinner we drove through a little bit of the UVA campus.  We stopped at Edgar Allan Poe’s dorm room.  It was cool to see, and fun to imagine him living in that building.  The rooms around his dorm room are actually still used as dorms, but his room has been sealed off with a glass door.

Saturday morning we had big plans.  After making a stop by Bodo’s Bagels for breakfast and coffee on the go, we headed off to pick up another friend for a big day of shopping.  This friend lives in a gorgeous house in the middle of nowhere, but her backyard is amazing.  I kind of love the idea of living in the middle of these mountains.  It would be so peaceful.

After picking up the friend, we drove almost an hour to a J. Crew sample sale at one of their distribution centers.  I had no idea what we were getting into.  When we first arrived, there was an extremely long line.  We decided to first go to a different J. Crew sale, and come back a little later.  When we got back to the sample sale, the line was a little bit shorter, so we decided to wait.  It took a little over an hour to make it into the store.

I have never experienced anything quite like this sale.  When we walked in, they handed us a price sheet and a white garbage bag that was almost as tall as I am.  And then it was a free for all.  There were rows and rows of boxes, and there was no order to it at all.  Men’s clothes, women’s clothes, children’s clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc, all mixed in together.  This picture shows just one of the two rooms.

I quickly figured out how this works, and I began to pick up anything that I “might” want and stuff it into my garbage bag.  The bag got so heavy, I was literally dragging it around the store.  After almost two hours of sorting through the boxes (and not even making it through half of the boxes), we were running low on time.  I had a flight to catch out of Charlottesville that evening!  We began to quickly try items on over our clothes.  I sorted out what I actually wanted to buy, and tossed the rest back into the boxes.

I found some amazing deals.  I had only packed a small carry on, so I literally carried my white garbage bag of purchased items (along with my purse) through the airport as my second personal item.  I was nervous about doing this, but no one stopped me at the airport, so it worked!

I took pictures of some of the items once I got back home.  One of the best deals I found was these booties.  My friend actually spot them in both of our sizes.  They were originally $250, had been marked down to $50, and I bought them for $30.

I bought this headband for $1.  It’s not something I would normally wear, but for the price, I thought I would go for it!

Another great deal was this blazer.  I was told that these can retail up to $400 (it’s from the J. Crew Collection), and I bought it for $25.

I really loved these shorts.  I don’t wear shorts very often, even in the summer, but I will definitely wear these!

I love the pattern on this cardigan.

I bought 3 necklaces.  They’re all very similar, but just a little different.  I love any jewelry with pearls!

Not pictured were 2 dresses, 2 skirts, 3 pairs of jeans ($15 each for $100 jeans!), 4 more cardigans (each $8), and another blazer.  I might have gone overboard, but the prices were so good!  I don’t think I will see J. Crew this cheap ever again.  I was also a nice wife and bought a few shirts for the husband 🙂

I think we spent about 2.5 hours actually in the store, but we could have spent much longer if it wasn’t for my flight.  After rushing through the checkout, we were on our way to the airport.  My flight was delayed, so  I got there in plenty of time!  It was such a fun weekend, but after traveling by air, car, bus, taxi and train (over the three days), I was very much ready to be back at home with my husband and dog.

Do you have any travel plans this summer?

Back to Running… with a PR!

I can’t believe I’ve gone more than a week without a run.  I almost didn’t run tonight.  After work I ran a few errands.  I was planning on cooking when I got home, but the weather was so beautiful, I got the itch to run instead.  I realized it’s likely to be Sunday before I’ll get to run again (it’s going to be a busy week/end!), so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity tonight.

When I set off for my run I didn’t have any specific goals in mind.  After running a half marathon, and then not running at all for a week and two days, I decided to take it as I went and just see how I felt.  If I wanted to run 1 mile, that was fine, if I wanted to do more, that would be fine too.  At any pace.

My first mile went by quickly.  I knew I was running too fast, but I didn’t care because it felt good.  When my Garmin beeped at one mile it read 8:51, but I didn’t slow down.  I kept it up until about 1.5 miles.  At this point I was getting tired.  And then I got elbowed in the shoulder.  I was running on a narrow section of the running path and people were blocking the entire way.  I started to go around a tall guy, and someone coming in the opposite direction wasn’t looking and started to run into my path.  As a result, I got too close to the tall guy and got a sharp elbow in my shoulder.

My shoulder hurt and I was tired, so I started to walk.  I walked for about 30 seconds before I decided that I should at least be able to make it to 3 miles without walking.  So I picked up my pace, and the next thing I knew, my Garmin beeped the second mile – and it was faster than my first!

This is the point at which I decided I would try for a 5k PR.  My previous PR was 28:50, so it definitely seemed within my reach.  I slowed down a little bit during the third mile, but when I hit 2.5 miles, I realized that I would just have to hold a 10:00 pace to finish in 28:00.  So I went for it!

I started to feel a little sick to my stomach at 2.9 miles, but told myself to get over it – I just had to keep moving for two more minutes!  And I finished strong at 27:32.  A PR by more than a minute!  My splits:

  • Mile 1:  8:51
  • Mile 2:  850
  • Mile 3:  9:01
  • Mile 3.1:  (8:31 pace)
  • Total:  27:32  (8:53 average pace)

I thought I would be rusty after going so long without a run, but it was like I had saved up my energy over the past week just for this run.  It also helped that I had an awesome playlist on my iPod.  I didn’t add any new music, but the random songs that played kept me moving.  I ran more to the music than to the pace on my Garmin.

In other news, my betta fish finally has a name:  Tofu.  And the Namaste cookies were a hit at work 🙂

Namaste Cookies

I decided to taste test the Namaste cookies and practice taking a few pictures with my camera this evening.  I have so much to learn – I really need to find time to take a photography class!  These cookies were part of the giveaway I won from Sunny State of Mind.

The cookie mix instructions called for 2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil and 2 tbsp water.

I also added some chocolate chips and sweetened coconut.  I’ve been loving my Samoas (or Carmel Delights) lately, so I was craving the chocolate/coconut combination.

Isn’t the cookie dough the best part of making cookies?  These went into the oven for about 12 minutes and came out moist and chewy, just the way I like my chocolate chip (coconut) cookies.

These gluten-free cookies were pretty good, but there was something about the after taste that I didn’t love.  My favorite chocolate chip cookies are the Nestle recipe that comes out chewy and buttery.  I think these cookies were missing that buttery taste.  Pat, however, loved these.  I’ll take the rest to work tomorrow – that will be the ultimate test!  What is your favorite chocolate chip cookie?

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Bailey 🙂

Food, Fish & Photography

I’ve been thinking about buying a new camera for a few months now.  Ever since I played with Pat’s brother’s DSLR over Christmas break, it’s been on my mind.  I replaced my point and shoot camera about a year and a half ago, but photography is something I’ve always been interested in, and with DSLRs dropping in price, I thought it might be time to invest.  Since Christmas, I’ve done quite a bit of thinking, quite a bit of research, and a little bit of saving up for my DSLR 🙂

I settled on the Canon EOS Rebel T2i.  The T3i was just recently released, and from what I could tell, there weren’t significant differences between the models (at least not to justify the $100 – $200 difference in my opinion), so I decided to go with the T2i and look for a deal.  For those who are interested, the camera kit was cheaper at Target than it was on Amazon.  I rarely find that to be the case!  I was also able to pay for almost half of the camera in gift cards, which made this deal even sweeter.

I am loving the new camera.  I couldn’t wait to get it home and out of its case.  I’ve been (slowly) making my way through the user’s manual, and looking for guidance online.  My first picture with the camera was not very pretty.

Even Bailey looks confused.  I slowly figured it out, and my pictures became a little less blurry after I set the lens to “auto focus”…

I’m not sure what I did, but my pictures finally started to look a little better.  At this point, Bailey was tired of posing for pictures.  Or maybe she was tired of terrorizing our house (do you see how she pulls blankets and pillows off our couch?).  I’m learning pretty quickly that this camera is going to require a lot of practice as I explore various settings.

In other news, I’ve adopted a fish.  More like, I was gifted a fish… but either way, I am now the proud owner of a tiny red beta fish.

I’ve only owned fish once before – they were also a gift.  I gave them away after about two weeks.  I think this female is very pretty though.  I don’t think you can see in the photo, but she has a deep blue stripe across her.  Now that I’m officially attached, my fish needs a name.  Any suggestions?  I could also use any tips for taking care of beta fish.  I’m a “fish out of water” right now, hahaha.

Finally, I never announced, but I won a giveaway from Kimberly at Sunny State of Mind!  Kim is my soon-to-be cousin (in-law?)… she is marrying Pat’s cousin this summer and I can’t wait for their wedding!  Kim eats a gluten-free diet, and she was giving away gluten-free products from Namaste.

Although I don’t have any sensitivity to gluten (that I’ve noticed), I’m excited to try these products out.  I’ve never made my own pizza crust before!

My blog has been light on running posts lately, since I’ve been recovering from the half, but I’m planning on getting back into the swing of things this week.  This is my promise to you and myself – more running posts and hopefully more photos 🙂

Do you own a beta fish or DSLR?  I could use tips and/or advice for both!