Thursday, April 17, 2014

three thanks, april 17 2014


I am linking up with Emily at The Swallow Flies and Aly at Here Comes Happiness! for their weekly blog party: Three Thanks.



Without further adieu, here are my three thanks today:

ONE.  I am thankful for FaceTime. Because this:



I really didn't like FaceTime prior to last December 16. I mean, who wants to look at someone when you're talking to them on the phone? It's awkward, and have you ever seen yourself in the top right-hand screen?! When I'm on the phone, I'm usually cooking, cleaning, or just sitting on the patio with a glass of wine, and I don't want to have to hold the phone out in front of me at that perfect angle so I don't look like I have a double chin. And I don't want to be judged if I'm in still in my nightie at 10 a.m.  Or 2:30 p.m.

But then Brody was born, and FaceTime is the greatest invention ever!!! We talk to this little guy at least once a week. We get to see him, and he us. The changes in the past four months have been incredible, and being that they're 700 miles away, it's pretty cool to get to see him as he grows up.


TWO.  I am thankful for knitting.

Dishtowel made by my knitting guru, when we used to meet on Tuesdays. It's Wednesdays now. New towel needed?!


My knitting group grew out of a group of golfing girlfriends who wanted an excuse to get together during the off-season and drink wine. Several of them knew how to knit, but some of us didn't. I learned though.

Yep. I can knit baby hats!

I hate to sit and watch TV or a movie without doing something (don't want it to feel like a total waste of time), so when my hands are busy with needles I feel useful. It amazes me how basically tying knots in a length of yarn can make fabric. And some of that yarn - omg it feels so good! I have knit with cashmere, bamboo, silk, yarn made with seaweed, merino wool, angora...  Sometimes I go to our local yarn shop, Personal Threads, and just wander around and touch the yarn.

[Several years ago I told Alex that I was knitting him a winter scarf, and when he said he really didn't need one, I pulled out the "Jesus wore clothes that his mom knit." I was raised Catholic - I know how the guilt works! The one I made was a beautiful grey reversible cable knit out of a cashmere-silk blend that was positively yummy.]

THREE. I am thankful for my job. I really really really like what I do, but I am very thankful to work for such an amazing company. I know Hot Mama is a retail store, but it is so much more than that. It was started by Megan Tamte, who was so excited to shop for new clothes after the birth of her first child, and ended up being totally frustrated because none of the clerks understood the needs of new moms. She couldn't push her stroller around the store, she had a limited amount of time, and no one was listening to what she really wanted. So she created the store that had all that!

 Omaha Hot Mama at Regency

The company believes that making moms look and feel beautiful empowers them to be their best for their families and their communities. It reminds me of a quote from the book Three Cups of Tea by the (now discredited) Greg Mortenson. He was talking about the Middle East, and he said that if you really want to change a culture to empower women, you start with educating girls. Okay, now that I see that in print I don't know why the two are related, except that I feel that the mom who feels good about herself is the mom who has the power to change the world. And I am stealing directly from the Hot Mama manifesto, which is printed on the back of every tag in the store.




If you've ever shopped at a Hot Mama, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't - run to your nearest boutique or shop online at shopmama.com. The stylists will take time to get to know you, what clothes you feel comfortable in, and will be honest about how something looks. They will build a relationship with you. And for me, those girls get me out of my comfort zone by having me try on fun new jewelry or - gasp - skinny jeans. And I tell you, I love my AG Primas! 

So that's it for today, but I can't close without saying Happy Birthday to Aly, my favorite daughter-in-law! I'm so happy you were born!!


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

woefully unprepared

So what I'm wondering is how much the half marathon I'm running in two-and-a-half weeks (eek!!!) is going to hurt. Both of the other races of that distance that I've done have been in October, giving me all summer to prepare. And while we haven't had the snow that much of the country has, it's been plenty cold. Need more excuses? The windchill is way below zero. My ovary is broken. My knee hurts. I hate running on the treadmill. I'm too tired. I haven't fueled properly. I haven't been sleeping well. I have the black lung - for six weeks. And yada yada yada... With no one to blame but myself. I have some long runs in, but nowhere near enough miles to feel comfortable. I guess we'll see...

What I'm going to do is two shorter runs (4 miles) this week, with a long run (10-12 miles) this weekend, then two more 4-milers next week with 6-8 on the weekend, then a week of tapering, then thirteenpointfreakinone.

And speaking of fueling, while our house is full of healthy food, all I really want are dark chocolate sea salt caramels. I need to get this figured out - and fast! I've been trying to eat a good breakfast and then a semi-good lunch at work (usually a Special K protein drink, granola bar, some nuts, and carrot and/or celery sticks), but I am pretty darn hungry come dinner, which usually goes like this:



I am giving Emily's Whole30 more and more thought, since she is rarely hungry and sleeps really well. That last point alone might sell me on the program! It will have to be after the half, though - one thing I'm not going to mess with is fueling for the race. I may not have the running part figured out, but I sure have the eating part down.

While my hours at work aren't conducive to sitting down and having a real lunch, you know what results I do have? Muscles. I lift lots and lots of boxes and carry armfuls of clothes. I look up our expected UPS deliveries each day, and the total weight is included. I had a 218-pound day recently! And do you have any idea how heavy ten pairs of jeans are? Now if you ignore the flabby lunch-lady triceps, check out these biceps:



Some breakfasts:  Emily swears by scrambled eggs and blueberries, prepared just like it sounds. I made it the other day and it was - okay. I think I'd rather have scrambled eggs with a side of blueberries instead of them all mixed in and warm, but it did keep me full.


This was so yummy: bagel thin with a thin layer of light cream cheese and some smoked salmon (thank you, Costco!) with a side of berries. Mmmmm.... I'm thinking about tomorrow's breakfast already.


Time to go plop down and watch The Voice. Have an equally fun night!

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Monday, March 31, 2014

why do we do it?

My sisters just got to spend  a quick (less than 24 hours) day with the Michigan branch of the family. They spent the time kissing Brody, playing with Ella, drinking wine, and visiting with Aly and Alex. I would be a little more envious if I hadn't just seen Brody a few weeks ago, and if Aly wasn't flying back to Nebraska tomorrow. I do miss having spring break with my teacher sisters, though - darn job.

But anyway, I was visiting with Aly late this afternoon, and she said that Gail asked her why she was training for a half-marathon (she and Emmy are doing the Chicago Rock-n-Roll Half in July) when her body hurts. We talked about it a bit, and everyone has their own reasons. You'll need to follow their blogs, Here Comes Happiness and The Swallow Flies to learn about their journeys, but it really made me stop and think. Seriously. Or srsly:

couldn't help it. i haven't posted this guy in awhile and he cracks me up!

All kidding aside, my body is orthopaedically a wreck - although it has been fixed and put back together a number of times. For a 58-year-old I'm, well, okay. I was always an athletic kid; one of the first picked for teams in elementary school, and I was pretty fast. Then puberty hit, and back then, girls couldn't play organized sports. My school had a basketball team that started in my junior or senior year in high school, but by then I had a job (and was fat). But in the past several years, I have done things that I just didn't know I could. Half-marathon? Cathy Harder from Aberdeen? 

How can I explain to someone the excitement of being at a race, much less being in one? I get tears in my eyes when I am just a spectator! The old grandpa in his Dockers at last year's race, the grandma in her jeans. Well, then there are the Kenyans, but also everyone in between. (Where I am for the time being, before I get to be that little old grandma who is inspiring everyone.) 

Having a goal keeps me accountable. I would be too easy for me to just think - and read this in a whiny voice - "I don't feel like working out today." It would be really easy to just take a nap. But I know if I don't put in the time, I will pay for it. Big time.

Take this weekend, for example. I had a 10-miler scheduled, so went out and hit the trail. It ended up being 10.16 thankyouverymuch, and the last two miles were pretty much awful. I came home and told Dwight that I think I broke an ovary because every step I took it felt like something was stabbing me in my lower left abdomen. Dr. Dwight thought it was a groin pull and his treatment involved taking advil. Me, not him. (Although sometimes I think he wants to: I told him there wasn't much running at the end except when I came upon people who were walking slower than I was. I told him I had to jog around them so they wouldn't think I was eavesdropping on their conversations or stalking them. He just paused, looked at me, and said, "What goes on in your head?" I told him he just didn't want to know.)

So getting into my car was pretty hilarious. First of all, after I do more than three miles or so, my right knee doesn't like to bend. I opened up the car, grabbed my right thigh to lift my leg into the car, then realized omg my broken ovary won't let me pull my left leg into the car. I kinda sat on my hip and rolled in, all the while laughing hysterically at myself (if it didn't hurt so much). But a little ice, a lot of advil, some rest, and I'm ready to go again. 

All this doesn't answer Gail's question to Aly. I guess the short answer is because - right now - I can.

Some breakfasts:

2 scrambled eggs, half an avocado, berries, and salsa

2 hardboiled eggs, a carrot cake vitatop, and an orange
 An actual lunch:

chicken sandwich, carrot sticks, and cucumber kimchi

My hours at work have changed this past month; instead of going in at noon, I go in at 11:00. I was okay eating lunch at 11 when I had to be in at noon, but I just can't eat lunch at 10. I'm trying to figure it out. At first I brought a sandwich and some yogurt, but I am busy with my hands all the time so can't really take a break to sit down. After some trial and error, what I figured out was to eat a pretty substantial breakfast and take something portable and non-sticky for lunch. Not an apple. But carrot sticks and sugar snap peas work well, along with a (don't judge me now) Special K chocolate mocha protein shake. I tell you, it is 190 calories of deliciousness.

A snack:

green monster: 8 oz almond-coconut milk, handfuls of spinach, scoop of  vanilla protein powder, about a teaspoon of chi seeds, a banana, and a glob of plain fat-free yogurt

Some dinners:

taco night: sour cream (actually nonfat yogurt), vegetarian refried beans, lettuce, cheese, salsa, diced avocado, tomatoes, taco meat with jalapenos, and some taco sauce. for some reason i just love this stuff. i think it reminds me of taco john's, which was a popular spot in high school


blackened shrimp, roasted sweet potato wedges, and brussels sprouts sauteed with shallots

Time to go spend some quality TV-watching time with my husband.
TTFN!

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

random randomness

Here are a few things that aren't enough to make an entire post about in themselves, so they're getting all mushed together.

I follow Pope Francis on Instagram - and he actually posts! Well, probably his minions do it, but I love this guy!



A bad habit I'm trying to break: I leave my shoes scattered all over the house, and then can't find the pair I want. I picked these up the other day - from Uggs to flipflops to slippers to running shoes and a few pairs in between. Golf sandals, flats, tall boots:  you get the picture. The only thing I'm allowing myself to leave out is a pair of flipflops by the front door so I can run out and check the mail. And maybe my slippers by the couch. 

what a slob

Yummy food:

dwight stopped by the asian grocery yesterday

LOVE these!
 
another find at the asian grocery. omg


Lunch and my favorite lunch bag:

yogurt with granola, water, kombucha, carrots and snap peas (notice the blue ice in the lid?)


packed and ready to go

My game plan today, since the weather is supposed to be nice this afternoon, is to get a long run in (planning on 10 miles). This may be the last spring race that I do; who knew winter would be such a difficult season to train in?!?!

We're going to Oak Hills tonight for Burgers-n-Brews - I'm planning on sitting if I do all that running.

And I'll leave you with this text photo Dwight and  I got yesterday, with the message that "someone loves his nana and papa!" Melts my heart!!!



Happy Saturday!
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Friday, March 28, 2014

three thanks - what else, a day late

Two of my most favorite blogs, The Swallow Flies (written by Emily) and Here Comes Happiness (written by Aly) have invited their readers to join them on Thursdays in writing about three things we are thankful for. And since I'm related to both of them, count me in. Only on Friday this week. And I'm being very specific - three things I was (am) incredibly thankful for yesterday.


#1. This guy:

tough-guy bouncer at erin's prom

Dwight would have to be #1 on my gratitude list on any day, any time. Without him, everything else that I love and hold dear in this life would be meaningless - or nonexistent. Take today, for example: I needed to go to Costco after work, so got home a little later than usual, about 4:00. He met me at the door with a gin and tonic. Now, day drinking is not a good lifestyle choice, but every now and then having a cocktail with my husband in the middle of rainy afternoon is just what is needed. No TV or other distractions (unless you count a cat on my lap), just sitting and visiting and laughing and catching up. And then, after dinner, he went to the Dairy Queen and came home with a small peanut butter cup blizzard for me. See - thankful!!!

#2. My hairdresser, Troy.
I warned you - I was being specific. Yesterday was cut and color day. I was getting ready to head to One Drake Place, and Dwight said "Didn't you just get your hair colored? I thought you did that twice a year." Seriously, so clueless, and obviously unobservant. I told him I have to go every six weeks, and he (Mr. Natural) said, "You don't have to go." I was telling Aly this on my way to get my hair done, and she said that yes, I do have to go - for my self-esteem. Always the counselor, and always the truth!

[The only pictures I have of Troy are back in his drag queen days, but you have seen enough of me to know what a good job he does!]

I got a lot of mileage out of Dwight's comment, and when I was telling it to Troy, he just said, "Oh Honey. We'll just keep doing the color."  I asked him what my real hair color would be now, and he said pretty much all white in the front and kind of ashy blonde in the back. Maybe I'll go natural someday, but that's not how I see myself right now. Plus, I kind of like getting new color every six weeks. I walked into work after getting done yesterday, and one of the stylists said, "Ooooh Cathy - sexy and sassy!" (Also thankful for my co-workers!)

#3. Rain.
The forecast for yesterday was a light drizzle in the morning, and then temps in the mid-50's the rest of the day. However, it was pouring and 37 degrees when I was on my way home from Costco in the late afternoon - which made my wearing sandals a bad choice. (But I looked cute). Unlike most of the country, we have been so dry here. Our driveway guy comes to plow whenever we have more than two inches, and he was only here twice this winter. Needless to say, we needed the moisture. With all the rain, plus the 60's and 70's forecast for this weekend will make our gardens look like this pretty soon:




Here's to warm and sunny days!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

indian, korean, and some "running"


As I mentioned in my last post, we were invited for an Indian dinner with some friends. I knew it would be wonderful, but I had no idea just how wonderful. First of all, Karla and Sam set the tone with their beautiful table:




Even their back yard is beautiful and peaceful:

I can just imagine looking out at this while drinking tea in my bathrobe

I don't even know where to start with the food. I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

appetizers
and what to drink? beer beer and more beer

cauliflower, something with chickpeas and tomatoes

dal, something with baby eggplants

more dal(?), saag paneer (with tofu instead of the paneer)

two kinds of rice and ?????

grilled lamb

i tried to take just a little of everything, but my plate was still full

and some of us even had authentic clothes from india

There were four couples, and everyone contributed something. I brought what our family calls Indian cauliflower, but what Madhur Jaffrey calls Cauliflower With Fennel and Mustard Seeds, or baghari phool gobi.

Many, many years ago, I spent the day at a friend's house learning how to cook Indian food. It was so long ago that our little kids were playing Star Trek under the table and the girls were pissed because the boys made them stay in the cargo bay. Anyway, Manju had this book that I tried to find but couldn't anywhere. Fast forward a few years, and when I was going through my mom's cookbooks after she died, what did I find but:

there is a revised version out, but i love this original


doesn't look like much, but it is a taste sensation


You might want to make this, so here is the recipe for Cauliflower With Fennel and Mustard Seeds:

Ingredients:
1 large or 1.5 medium cauliflower heads
7 T vegetable oil (I use about 4)
2 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 T whole black mustard seeds (you will probably need to go to a specialty store for these)
1 T very finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
about 1 tsp salt
4 T water

Cut the cauliflower into delicate flowerets that are no longer than 2 inches, no wider at the head than an inch and about 1/3 inch thick.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. (I go about medium-high). When hot, put in the fennel and mustard seeds. It will take a few minutes, but when the mustard seeds begin to pop, put in the garlic. Stir and fry until the garlic pieces are lightly browned. Add the turmeric and cayenne. Stir once and quickly put in the cauliflower, salt, and about 1/4 cup of water. Stir and cook on medium (med-hi) heat for 6-7 minutes or until cauliflower is just done. It should retain its crispness and there should be no liquid left. If the water evaporates before the cauliflower is done, add a little more.

This recipe serves 6, is delicious reheated the next day, and keeps in the fridge for several days - if you can keep it around that long.

Everyone left the party with leftovers, and all I had to do was make some basmati rice for Sunday dinner. Oh, and whip up another batch of the cauliflower since it was all gone:


even better the next day

Tonight's dinner was something that Emily has been talking about for awhile: Korean short ribs. (Click on her name to take you to the blog post where she discusses it and can get you to the recipe.) All I can say is OMG. Once I found out (from the butcher at the third store that I went to) that short ribs were beef, the directions were pretty simple. I put it all in the crockpot this morning, and it smelled heavenly when I got home from work. They were fall-off-the-bone-melt-in-your-mouth. I am looking forward to leftovers.

literally fell off the bone. if your dog wants these, let me know!

short ribs minus the bones

with some roasted mini-peppers and leftover basmati rice. so much for paleo


And now the running (walking really pretty fast):  After my trips around Zorinsky last Friday afternoon,  I spent Saturday recovering and then headed out on Sunday. What a difference a few days make: I went from capris to long pants, from a tank with a pullover to a tee with a pullover and a jacket and gloves. I wiped my nose on every inch of my sleeves and collar, and had a stripe down my leg from a mis-timed snot rocket. Running is so sexy. But getting a long run and a short run in over the weekend sure feels good.

TTFN!

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