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Family Night

April 24, 2010

For me, Friday night is family night.  They are always a low-key night to catch up with my gram and other relatives.  Last night was no exception.  It was extra special because my aunt and cousin joined us for dinner.  I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, so we had lots to chat about.

Gram and I decided to give them a taste of our favorite pizza at Bob and Timmy’s.  Our table started with salad.

Then we agreed to split the “Pizza III.”  It was the first pizza I tried at Bob and Timmy’s and it’s still my favorite – parmesan and romano chesse, garlic and olive oil, and sun-dried tomatoes. Last night we kicked it up a notch by ordering a side of pomodoro sauce.

I dipped my slices into the sauce and felt like I was eating cheesy, garlicky breadsticks.  Amazing!  I love sauce-less pizza, but a good sauce can really make a slice!  This was a good sauce.

On the way home from dinner, we drove by Sandy’s. Sandy’s is a tiny little ice cream stand on Main Street in my gram’s small town.  It’s within walking distance from her house, so it’s become a traditional to get a cone from Sandy’s on summer nights.  What? ! It’s not summer yet?! Well, it was for us!  In keeping with tradition, we stopped for a cold, creamy cone of…

…soft serve!  Soft-serve ice cream is completely under-rated.  Maybe it’s not hand-churned or homemade, but it’s damn good!  I get super excited about soft-serve in the summer.  I licked my kiddie twist with chocolate jimmies – yes, jimmies – until the last drop!  Then I licked my lips.  Then I licked my hands.  Then…it was just that enjoyable!  My obligatory cone at Sandy’s was a good one!

It was such a relaxing night.  I got a great eight hour snooze and now I’m gearing up for my last long run before the half!  A solo run…I’m on my way!

Trust In Hal

April 23, 2010

Today is my last real vacation day.  Boo.  I always think of Friday as the end of vacation because I have every weekend off.  Sometimes I dwell on it and ruin those last couple days.  Not this time!  I plan to maximize the vacation hours I have left and enjoy every second!

I woke up later than usual this morning and I was hungry!  I made a filling and delicious Friday breakfast.  Pancakes!

Blueberry Oat-Flax Cakes.

  • a little less than 1/3 c. quick-cooking oats
  • 1 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 c. liquid egg whites
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. frozen blueberries

I just cooked these up on the griddle and voila! Breakfast was served.  I topped my ‘cakes with some Barney Butter and SF maple syrup.  They were so good.  Every time I make pancakes, I vow to do so more often…gotta get on that! The protein from the egg whites really amps up the nutritional value of this meal and powers me through ’til lunch.

And hold me it did!  I went out with momma to run some Friday morning errands and enjoy a nice little lunch.  We hit up Borders, Marshall’s, Old Navy…all the local hot spots!  Look what I scored a deal on at Marshall’s!

$4.99 each! Yep, I said $4.99!  I always check the gourmet food section in Home Goods, Marshall’s, or TJ Maxx.  I’ve discovered some great items at super low prices.  These jars normally go for $9 at Whole Foods.  I took of lick of each when I got home…just making sure they’re still good! Finger-lickin’ good!

Mom and I went for our traditional Panera lunch this afternoon.  I wanted to be more interesting, but I was just craving my favorite “you pick two” combo: classic cafe salad, tomato-basil panini, and an apple.

The apple made it’s way into my purse.  I think it’ll be the perfect match for my new almond butter this afternoon!

***

All week I’ve had marathon thoughts running through my brain.  I am super excited and nervous about running a marathon!  I’m so glad that training doesn’t begin until June.  I really need some time to digest and determine how I will properly train for this major event.  One thing I know for sure is this – I am in the hands of Hal.  Hal Higdon, that is!  I based my half-marathon training on his wisdom and plan to do the same for the marathon.  I really like his approach to running and can’t wait to learn more from this expert.

I’ve got my reading material for the next few months.  Can’t wait to dig in!

What’s your favorite thing to do on a day off? I love lunch dates and lazy afternoons…a mani/pedi doesn’t hurt either!

Taco Thursday

April 23, 2010

We had another family friendly meal tonight!  As the head chef, I’m always pleased when I can make a dish to satisfy a crowd.  It’s even better when that dish doesn’t require hours in the kitchen.

Enter Taco Thursday! Last week’s fajitas were a hit, so why mess with a good thing?!

I made chicken tacos tonight.  I didn’t take a picture of the meat.  It was a pretty standard pan of chicken breast in taco seasoning.  I used simple seasoning packets from the store.  These pre-made packets tend to have high sodium levels, so I opted for the “reduced sodium” version.  There was still plenty of flavor!

I also set up a spread of taco fixings and went with a “make your own” approach to the meal.

See those chips in the background?  Incredible! This bag was on fiyah! If you like a little heat, pick up a bag of these.  You won’t be sorry!

Go ahead and get a closer look.  Remember this bag next time you are at the store.

Tacos are good…taco salad is better!  I piled all of the taco goodness onto a big serving of veggies and called it dinner.

  • mixed greens
  • cukes
  • red peppers
  • green peppers
  • corn
  • chicken taco mix
  • crushed Red Hot Blue Corn Chips
  • salsa
  • shredded Mexican cheese

It was perfectly nutritious and delicious meal, if I do say so myself!  Looks like everyone else agreed…no leftovers! Guess I’ll be back in the kitchen before you know it…

In the meantime, relaxation!

Thrifty in the City

April 22, 2010

Mom and I went into Providence for lunch and browsing this afternoon.  It was the perfect afternoon for being outside in the city.  We made our way to the East Side to enjoy the cute boutiques and great people watching.

I was super excited to hunt for finds at Second Time Around.  I was in the mood for bargain shopping and this was just the spot.  They had a great selection of new spring and summer clothing.  I held myself back, but I managed to walk out with a couple of deals!

Fun colors for springtime!  I always feel like I hit the jackpot when I score deals like this.

The East Side had so many great lunch options, we had trouble deciding what to eat.  On the recommendation of a friend, we popped into Antonio’s Pizza.  They had pretty much every topping imaginable, sold by the slice.  I was in pizza paradise! The slices looked big and filling, so I ordered a single piece of Baked Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza.

Yum, yum!  I loved my topping selection, but the crispy crust made this slice.  It was like an upgraded version of Sbarro’s.  What can I say?  I like pizza!

The sun was still shining after lunch, so we took advantage.  We found a cute little table to sit and enjoy some afternoon snacks.  I sipped a large green tea, while mom savored some fruity frozen yogurt.

That guy is just jealous that he doesn’t have tea!

I snuck a taste of my mom’s snack…and it was tasty!  Now I’m kicking myself for not ordering my own.  I just wasn’t hungry at the time.  Instead, I nibbled on a snack mix at home.

It was perfect for a snack-y girl like me!  We had to hunker down for a bit as some thunderstorms rolled through, but the sun is shining again!  I’m off to enjoy!

What Not To Wear

April 22, 2010

Morning!  I just came in from a five miler.  See what I wore?  It was wrong.  All wrong!  Last night I watched the weather. Running has turned me into quite the weather watcher! Anyway, I watched and saw rain.  I had myself all prepared to hit the treadmill today.

Imagine my surprise when I awoke to bright blue skies and sunshine!  I flipped on the TV and saw the same forecast – clouds, fog, rain.  Hmm…I figured if I got my act in gear I’d be able to beat the rain.  The corner of the TV screen said 47*.  I pulled on the above running outfit and hit the road.

Yuck!  It was hot!  If it was 47* out there, then pigs were flying above me!  47*, my foot!  Ugh!  It was a totally uncomfortable 5 miles.  I felt like I was working extra hard every step of the way….and not a drop of rain in sight!

***

I may have been ill-prepared in the clothing department, but I did eat a good pre-run breakfast.

This was just a classic peanut butter sandwich, smeared between two slices of yoga bread.  On the side, I had the last of my cantaloupe.  Good as usual.

And here’s some stats on my hot and sweaty run…

Total Distance: 5.0 m

  • Mile 1 – 8:23/mi
  • Mile 2 – 8:48/mi
  • Mile 3 – 8:55/mi
  • Mile 4 – 8:33/mi
  • Mile 5 – 8:46/mi

Average Pace: 8:41/mi

Total Time: 43:28

When I got home, I was actually pretty happy.  It wasn’t so bad after all!  I ran strong and learned a lesson in dressing properly.

I took my time stretching and foam rolling, then I promptly made a post-run snack.

I chose Greek yogurt.  It has the carbs and protein I need after a tough workout.  With a little jam and granola, plain Greek yogurt is amped up to greatness!  It will definitely keep me satisfied until lunchtime.

The sun still shining.  I feel like I need to get out there and take advantage before the rain rolls in.

It’s Thursday already?!  Why, yes!  Happy Thursday!

Small Plates, Big Tastes

April 21, 2010

I met my friend and her niece for lunch today.  We decided to hit up Providence Place and started at The Cheesecake Factory.  I love the food at “Cheesecake,” but it is definitely not for the faint of heart.  They serve everything in super-human portions, enough to feed a growing giant!  They offer some healthy options in the “weight management” section of the menu.  Weight management?! Something about labeling healthy food as “weight management” just seems a little off to me.  Some of us just want enjoy fresh, wholesome food.  Ah well, it’s good to have options!

I started with my favorite bread.  The bread I so affectionately call “the brown bread.”  I could eat an entire loaf, but I stuck to one piece, smeared with some butter.

I had a great time snapping photos at lunch and giving my friend’s niece a glimpse of blogging in action!  She’s such a smart girl and a loyal follower of the blog – you rock, Alexandra!

I got excited when I cracked open the menu this afternoon.  I found the “Small Plates and Snacks” section!  It had some great choices, but I knew what I wanted right away.  You know I love my greens!  I had to start with the “little house salad with vinaigrette.”

I felt like Goldilocks…the was just right! The salad was a nice size with a lovely blend of dark, leafy greens and fresh, ripe tomatoes.  I drizzled the balsamic dressing on top to add another layer of flavor.  Yum!

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good pizza, so the “pizzettes” on the menu caught my eye.  I ordered a margherita pizzette.

Again…just right! This serving of pizza was perfectly doughy, tomato-y, and cheesy.  I loved the fresh basil sprinkled over the top, too.  My friend and her niece got different pizzas and salads, which all looked delicious as well.  Lunch at The Cheesecake Factory is definitely the way to fuel for shopping!  What an enjoyable midday meal!

***

My ladies’ lunch kept me full and satisfied for quite awhile.  It powered me through an afternoon of mall-walking and dog-walking.  By the time I was hungry for dinner, I had no ambition to cook.  I made use of some leftovers and cobbled together a pretty tasty dinner.  Simple, but full of flavor!

My dinner consisted of baked chicken, a baked sweet potato, and some fresh raw veggies.  What can I say – it worked!  I have this eccentric little habit of saving the best for last. Tonight I ate my dinner in the following order:

  1. Veggies.
  2. Chicken.
  3. Sweet potato.

I love me some sweet ‘taters!  Just a sprinkle of cinnamon and I’m in sweet potato heaven.  Everyone once in awhile I rebel and try to eat around the plate, if you will.  It just doesn’t work.  I don’t know what it is, but every meal is more satisfying when I save my favorite thing for the end.

Do you have any odd eating habits? It’s okay…we all have our quirks!

Yoga Love

April 21, 2010

A cheery yoga theme has carried me through this morning.  It started early with the most divine breakfast sandwich!  I took inspiration from Caitlin’s breakfast post for a Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich. I added the wholesome goodness of my very favorite yoga bread! Just look at each slice oozing with sweet cranberry goodness!  I made this on the griddle and added fresh cantaloupe chunks on the side.  Breakfast was eaten in bed…the glory of vacation days!

With happy thoughts from breakfast – yes, good food really makes me happy – I went to pick up Melissa for some hot yoga.  I’ve been going to Raffa Yoga for awhile, but this was Melissa’s first time.  I was super excited to share my yoga love with someone new…and I think she liked it!

As usual, the instructors guided us and challenged us through an empowering 90 minutes of practice.  Every instructor I have had teaches differently, but they are all so supportive of each yogi in class.  I feel like the class is being taught with my needs in mind.  My body feels cleansed and new.  Thank you, yoga!

I snacked on an apple and some trail mix-granola when I got home.  I’m also drinking plenty of water.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Lunch is just around the corner, so I better get moving!  I made plans to meet a friend this afternoon and I don’t want to keep people waiting!

After the Run

April 21, 2010

It’s always fun to relax and enjoy the day after a long run.  My day’s been filled with plenty of good eats, stretching, and bonding time with Lucy.

I only ate a light lunch after the run, so I snacked on giant yogurt bowl this afternoon.

  • 1 container of plain Chobani
  • 1/2 banana
  • cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/3 c. Fiber One

All mixed up!

I had a doctor’s appointment late this afternoon.  That always means lots of time sitting in uncomfortable waiting room chairs – yuck!  I knew my appetite…with a side of cranky…would probably kick in while waiting, so I grabbed a pear as I walked out the door.

This little guy looked much better than he tasted.  It definitely needed more time to ripen.  I’ll stick to crunchy apples.  I like pears to be a bit on the soft side.  I ate it anyway and it did keep me feeling good until I got out of my appointment at 6.

Good news!  I got a clean bill of health.  Doc gave me to go ahead for marathon training and was pleased with my progress. I’m super anxious about going to the doctor, so this really made my day!

Dinner time and nothing was planned…oops!  Gram saved the day.  I high-tailed it to her house for a well-rounded meal.  She’s so good to me.  She always has a well-stocked kitchen and she’s a great dinner companion – what a combo!

Meals at Grammy’s always start with a fresh, green salad.  I think it’s my favorite part.  I can always count on her to have plenty of fresh veggies on hand.  Tonight was no different.  I drizzled some Italian dressing over my crispy, refreshing starter.

For dinner, I made a plate with a stuffed pepper, half a baked potato, and some corn.  Everything tasted so good.  Gram’s home cooking!  I stayed awhile and enjoyed a cup of tea before heading home.

All day my sweet tooth has been in over drive.  It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for desserts!  I couldn’t help myself tonight.  I stopped at a nearby market, known for their homemade prepared foods, and bought a slice of carrot cake to share with mama!

Perfection!  Sometimes you just need dessert.  I don’t mean guiltless substitutes.  I mean dessert!  Most night’s I enjoy fro-yo, fruit, yogurt, or a piece of dark chocolate.  Tonight I just needed the real thing.  I hadn’t savored a gourmet dessert in a long time and this cake was the answer to my prayers!

Three days of running means it’s high time for some yoga.  I hope I make it to class in the morning.  Time to settle in.

G’night, my dears!

Long and Strong

April 20, 2010

Since I had so many fun many fun things to do over the weekend, I juggled my training schedule and planned a long run for this morning.  Melissa came to my neck of the woods and we squeezed in our last training run together.  If I plan to run a marathon, I know I need to treat my body properly each time I run.

I started long run preparation with a yummy dinner last night.

I filled my bowl with whole wheat spaghetti, roasted vegetables – eggplant, zucchini, and red peppers – marinara sauce, and shredded mozzarella.  It was a perfect pre-run dinner.  I also munched on some unpictured fresh fruit for dessert.  After eating out so often over the past few days, I always enjoy coming home to a fresh, healthy meal.

Fueling continued when I woke up this morning.  My stomach was grumbling so I made an extra filling bowl of oats.

I tweaked my oatmeal recipe because my body doesn’t tolerate dairy too well and the milk hasn’t been agreeing with me lately.  I plan to stock up on almond milk, but in the meantime, I went with this recipe:

  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. skim milk
  • 1 banana
  • cinnamon
  • raisins
  • Toppings: a big scoop of PB and some white chocolate chips

This was tasty, but I didn’t feel really satisfied after eating it.  I just felt hungry this morning and I knew I couldn’t set out on a long run with hunger pangs.  Our run was planned for later morning – 10:45-ish – so I ate a solid mid-morning snack around 10.

Half a Clif bar was just what I needed.  These bars always give me the energy I need for runs and my body finally felt content!

Melissa and I hit the road as scheduled and pushed ourselves through a hilly, windy long run.  The weather was really weird.  It went from warm and sunny to breezy and overcast.  It even started to shower on us at one point!  I’d run parts of this “out and back” course before, but I definitely didn’t realize how many hills and gradual inclines we would face.  Regardless, we forged on and completed a solid run!

Total Distance: 11.64 m

  • Mile 1 – 8:40/mi
  • Mile 2 – 9:30/mi
  • Mile 3 – 9:16/mi
  • Mile 4 – 9:18/mi
  • Mile 5 – 9:16/mi
  • Mile 6 – 9:46/mi
  • Mile 7 – 9:28/mi
  • Mile 8 – 9:25/mi
  • Mile 9 – 9:24/mi
  • Mile 10 – 9:24/mi
  • Mile 11 – 9:44/mi
  • 0.64 m – 9:50/mi

Average Pace: 9:24/mi

Total Time: 1:49:32

I will admit, I felt the pressure mounting as I worked through this run.  It was my third consecutive day of running and I didn’t feel my strongest.  The whole time I ran I thought about my running goals.  I know I can run the half-marathon.  In fact, I can’t wait for race day!  I just don’t wait to put so much pressure on myself that I lose sight of the big picture – the accomplishment that is running 13.1 miles!  I also have 26.2 miles looming over me.  Again, I know this is a completely achievable goal.  I want to let go and love running.  I want to push myself without pressuring myself.  This may be the toughest thing for a perfectionist like me to do…one step at a time!

I just refueled with a PBJ and a clementine.

Long runs seem to suppress my appetite a bit.  I have a lot of calories to make up for, so I know I’ll need to have a bigger afternoon snack to supplement.  No complaints!  I love food!

The Boston Marathon

April 19, 2010

Today I experienced my first Boston Marathon.  Mom and I were up and out early, ready to enjoy the day.

It was a brisk spring day in Boston – perfect for running a marathon!  We met Melissa and Jared at their apartment and then walked to the finish line.  It was amazing to cheer on the elite runners as they blazed past us on Boylston Street.  I was so excited to see Ryan Hall – the 4th place finisher!

Go Ryan! After the initial wave crossed the finish, we made our way to Comm. Ave. to experience the race from a different angle.

It was fascinating to watch each and every runner.  Everyone has their own form and approach to the race.  The hum of the crowd’s cheers rippled through the city as each marathoner ran past.  We continued to walking, watching, and cheering until lunch time.

Jared led us to UBURGER where we enjoyed a quick and tasty meal.  I ordered the chicken sandwich topped with grilled onions, grilled peppers, and salsa.

The salsa made the bun a little soggy, but the taste was all good!  I also shared some fries with my mom.

After warming up and filling up, we headed back out into the streets for more cheering and excitement.  This was actually the best part of the day.  I felt so inspired by every runner that crossed the finish line because I could identify with their hard work.  Everyone cheered loudly!  I was utterly impressed by the runner’s because most of them still seemed so strong in that final mile.

As the race came to an end, we all walked away with similar sentiments.  It was truly inspiring and empowering.  We made our way to Red Mango to reflect with some fro-yo.

This was an extremely powerful day for me.  It marked a turning point.  It made me feel ready to take on a challenge I never thought possible.

It’s Official!

I am registered to run in the Amica Marathon!  I have alluded to my marathon aspirations a number of times.  I feel mentally and physically prepared to take this giant leap.  After a weekend of lengthy discussions and soul-searching, Melissa and I decided to tackle this endeavor together.

26.2 or bust!

Training will begin in June and I have already enlisted the support of my family and friends.  I know I will need everyone behind me as I dedicate myself to this goal.

Lucy promised to take long walks with me on cross-training days…thanks, girl!  I knew I could count on you!

Seriously, though, this is major!  I know it is.  It may seem like the marathon hype got to me this weekend and I registered on a whim, but this is actually something I have considered for some time.  I feel like distance running is my niche and I need to push myself through this challenge at least once.  I have the time and energy to put into such a time-consuming training regimen and I am excited to begin!

Happy Marathon Monday!