Saturday, June 28, 2014

portable hoarding

I saw a quote that purses are just pretty bags that allow us to be portable hoarders, and thought, "not me". After all, I was the woman who, several years ago after a bike accident that wrecked my shoulder, was unable to carry a large purse so pared it down to the essentials: I got a cute small bag that fit a really small aluminum wallet (driver's license, credit cards, some cash), my keys, phone, and a lipstick. 

Over the years that little bag grew into a bigger one, and while I really like my usual one, I decided to change purses last night. This of course meant changing over my stuff, and that's when I discovered that I could be on Let's Make a Deal. I have turned into a portable hoarder:

omg. i had to stand pretty far back to get all this in the shot

granola bars X 3 - all different kinds. Srsly.

the altoids tin holds a bunch of floss picks

emery boards X 3
lipsticks X 8 (HUH???)
hand lotion
nail clippers

moist towelettes
Shout wipes 
lint roller sheets
notebook (for inspiration!)
pens X 3

Ventolin inhaler
bag-o-drugs:  aspirin, Aleve, Advil (pretty much have the pain relief covered), Imodium, pepto bismol, Tums - 3 partially used rolls (digestive upsets anyone?), Dramamine, bandaids, throat lozenges

fan left over from Erin's and Tim's outdoor August wedding 
hearing aid case with extra batteries

ESSENTIALS (although I might argue that ALL of the above are essential)
phone (that I used to take the picture)

I'd like to say that I went back to my little Coach bag with the bare essentials, but I'd be lying. I did organize things - the purse I changed to has more pockets! And I did whittle the essential lipsticks down to two plus a lip gloss. I figured I really didn't need the lint roller sheets or the moist towelettes, and I put the granola bars back in the pantry, but sure as shit - I'm going to be needing that stuff.

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home sweet home

I am a firm believer in shopping in my hometown. If I'm on vacation, I will avoid chain stores if we have them in Omaha, preferring that my tax dollars support the local economy. Unless, of course, it (that top, those jeans, those shoes, etc.) is just so cute and I just have to have it right now. Which happens. Pretty often, actually, but you get the idea.

A friend at work and I were talking about running, and she told me about this little store in Omaha, Red Dirt Running, which has been open for about two years. She has a friend who runs a ton of races, and totally swears by this store. The last time Erin was home, she showed me her raggedy old running shoes and I took her to this shop. Poor Erin had been getting stability shoes (as recommended by the shoe guy at Scheels), and was really hoping to get something cuter. We walked in, and the first thing they had Erin do was stand on some pad that showed which parts of her feet were in contact with the ground, and also the pressure distribution. Then they put her in some shoes and had her run on a treadmill for about 15 seconds, never looking at her running form the entire time. She got off the treadmill, and they played the video of her from about the knees down (from the back), showing her stride, which part of her foot hit first (mid foot), etc. Apparently she has a very efficient stride. Then they made their recommendation, which was basically a neutral shoe - so she had her choice of cute ones! She tried on several pairs and bought the ones that felt the best, which just so happened to be on sale. (I never have that luck). After we left, she compared the price she paid with the same shoes on-line, and it was pretty much the same or even less than what she found. And the best part? In her words, the staff at the store was "non-judgey". They talked about the fact that she had just done Lincoln, was training for Des Moines - runner stuff.

I felt the same when I bought my new running shoes at the same store last week. Erin had such a good experience that I thought I'd give them a try as well. Maybe because I'm such a non-runner, but I kinda feel like an impostor around real athletes, despite having completed three half-marathons. No one has ever said, surely you're not a runner, but really, you don't look at me and think "endurance athlete". I've mentioned this before, but you think "Bet she likes dessert".

the napkin at Amy's and Dennis' the other week - seems appropriate here

I was treated like a runner at that store. I did the standing-on-the-pad test, which reminded me of the time I bought a new saddle for my bike. The cute 19-year-old kid at the bike shop asked me if I'd ever been fitted for a bike seat, and I said no, but it sounds awkward. (I basically had to sit on this memory foam pad for a few minutes, then he measured the distance between my sit bones to fit me properly. Not at all gynecological.) Wow, talk about off-topic. Anyway, then I did the treadmill, looked at my stride, and found out my heel strikes first. Dammit. I thought I had fixed that. And I also found out I pronate on my right foot, which I knew. I had been wearing inserts which I thought helped the pronation. Apparently I was wrong. Inserts help raise the arch, not prevent the rolling. So while Erin had been buying the stability shoes, I was the one who had needed them all along. Visions of my grandma's ground-grippers flashed through my head, but this is what I ended up with:

pretty cute! and bright!

So I had been wearing the wrong type of shoe, the wrong size, and didn't need those inserts. It really does pay to go to a dedicated running store instead of the shoe section at a sporting goods store. And because I'm wearing the proper shoes now, my right knee doesn't hurt nearly as bad and my toes don't hurt at all, despite going down a half size. Granted, that might be the difference between Asics and Adidas, but I'm hoping that the black toenails that I always thought were a badge of honor might be a thing of the past.

And just to make it a family affair, Dwight also got some new running shoes, so we have three testimonials. If you are in need of running shoes, please try this store!

I tried another new-to-me store after hearing about it from some friends. What really got me to Natural Grocers was Mary Lu telling me that kombucha was a dollar less than Whole Foods. Srsly. 

Kombucha (or as I saw it referred to as "someone jizzed in my tea") is an expensive habit at $3.65 a bottle, so if I can save a buck a time, sign me up. I had been seeing ads for Natural Grocers in the paper, in a circular by the comics on Sunday. To be honest, the ad made it look a little like a second-hand shop, kinda like the cut-out bin at a the record store. (I know, dating myself). I was so pleasantly surprised when I walked in and found a real little grocery store with all organic produce, grass-fed beef, and name-brand products - and for less than Whole Paycheck. I know it's not a local store, but it is just so less corporate than WF. And a whole lot less crowded. (I just checked locations, and it looks like Missouri is as far east as the chain is located. If you live in the western half of the US, though, you may be in luck!)

And while I'm on the Buy Local topic, our favorite little Ethiopian restaurant in town likes us back:

This was the note from our waitress the last time we were at Lalibela (4422 Cass). Chelsie always chats with us, and the cook/owner makes sure our dinner is okay. They think it's cool because we drive "all the way" from west Omaha - like it's a deal. Well, it is about a 25-minute drive, but the food is so worth it. She made a point to tell us last time that they have people come from Lincoln because they love the food! (And check out that total! They don't have a liquor license any more, otherwise there would be beer on that tab, trust me.) Mmmm... now I'm hungry for Ethiopian food....

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Friday, June 27, 2014


Occasionally Dwight will be reading the paper and find something that looks good and will rip out the recipe for me. (One time he told me he doesn't know why he does this, since I never make anything he suggests. I had to laugh since I have recipes that I've ripped out of magazines that date back 30 YEARS that I have never made). Anyway, one he found last week called for lamb, which I have never bought in my life. To humor him, I told him to just put it on my desk, fully intending to file it with all the others. But then I was at the farmer's market last Saturday at Village Pointe, and there was a lamb guy there! I chatted with him a bit, and he said all the lamb comes from their family farm (which totally made me think I'd be eating someone's 4-H project). I told him I had never bought lamb, and haven't really eaten it all that much. He said most people who don't like lamb have only had mutton, including lamb in middle-eastern restaurants - it's just highly spiced mutton. So I trusted him and bought a pound of ground lamb for $9. Not inexpensive, so I really hoped I would like the recipe.

So I made the lamb burgers last night, and I have to say that the meal was pretty darn yummy. Except I still felt like I was eating Snowball.

 Here's the recipe, though, in case you want some deliciousness:

Grilled Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers With Garlic Sauce, from the Omaha World Herald
Serves 4

1 medium zucchini, 10-12 ounces
kosher salt
1.5 T EVOO
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1.5 tsp minced garlic, divided
2 tsp grated lemon zest, divided
ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb
1 T finely chopped fresh oregano
olive oil cooking spray
4 pita bread halves
grated carrots and chopped cucumbers, to serve

Use a food processor or box grater to coarsely grate the zucchini. Transfer the grated zucchini to a strainer. Toss with 1/2 tsp salt and let it drain over the sink for 15 minutes. When it is done draining, working with a small handful at a time, squeeze out the zucchini to get rid of as much liquid as possible.

While the zucchini is draining, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until golden brown. Add the squeezed zucchini and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and let it cool to room temp.

Heat a grill to medium. (I just used the same skillet).

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the yogurt, 1/2 tsp of the garlic, 1 tsp of the lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. (I also squeezed in some lemon juice, and added an entire chopped cucumber to the sauce, rather than serve the cuke separately. I like tzatziki.)

When the zucchini mixture has cooled, add the lamb, oregano, the remaining 1 tsp of lemon zest, the remaining 1 tsp of garlic, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Mix well, then shape into 4 patties, each about 1/2 inch think. Spray the burgers lightly with cooking spray, then grill  until medium-rare, 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve each burger in a pita half, topped with the garlic sauce, carrots, and cucumber.

ta-da! served with baby carrots and roasted brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic vinegar 

Recipe notes:
- as mentioned, I just cooked the burgers in the skillet on the stovetop, not on the grill
- as also mentioned, I added a chopped up cucumber to the sauce instead of serving it separately
- I was fully intending to shred the carrot into nice strips, but someone (Dwight) had eaten all the full-size carrots instead of the baby ones. I wasn't going to shred those little guys, and in the process, my fingers
- we had the burgers on pitas, but they really didn't need a bun of any kind. If you really want one, a sandwich thin would work just fine
- crumbled feta would be nice to sprinkle on top

After a nice 2-mile walk this morning right before the latest bout of drenching rain, I made a real breakfast: bacon, eggs, toast with butter, and grapes. And cran-orange juice. And coffee. I know it looks like a big farmer breakfast, but it kept me full until after work. And hey, we're Nebraskans.

Yesterday's breakfast was a bit healthier: MaryLu's protein waffles, berries, and coffee. It also kept me full for hours. Hmmm... Maybe lots of protein is the key....

Still trying to figure it all out,

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

showing up. again.

We were in Chicago this past weekend for a funeral. The world lost one of the good ones. Pete was six years younger than I am, but I don't know anyone who crammed more joy and living into those way-too-short 53 years. As happens when faced with mortality, it caused some reflection on my part.

I completed a half-marathon one month ago (recap here), and today I started Week 1, Day 1 of Couch-to-5K (C25K). While my race time was a PR, I feel I kinda half-assed the training. I did the usual relax-for-a-few-days after the race, and then started right back in with the "running" (walking). Since I'm not training for a race right now, though, things have been a bit casual. Hence the start of a new regimen. And I gotta tell you, today's workout was tough. Not natural childbirth tough, but almost as sweaty.

I haven't been feeling the best lately, not because I'm sick or anything, but because I don't think I've been taking very good care of me. So back to the personal reflection I mentioned in the first paragraph. I figured out what I needed to feel my best, and I actually wrote them down. And as part of the Showing Up in the title, here they are:

health goals (if you look by the "L" in goals, you'll see a big old sweat drop from my workout)
These are all pretty self-explanatory, with maybe the exception of meditation. As someone who is familiar on a first-name basis with anxiety and depression, I feel the healthiest when I meditate, if only for 5-10 minutes. I do it in my sanctuary, as Dwight calls it, which is actually Alex's old bedroom. I took down the dinosaur posters, painted it a deep brown, took out the bed, got a couch, filled the bookshelves with knitting and calligraphy books, moved a desk in, and have all my treasures, not the least of which are pictures of my family. If I'm in there, incense is burning, and I really feel a sense of ease when I enter that room. Meditation, along with #4, will help my mental state.

I know I've talked about water intake before. I don't know how much I have to talk about it to actually consume enough - I think this might be it!

C25K will help with my 10,000 steps. I was so excited when the kids gave me my Jawbone for Mother's Day, but it is not all that easy to get 10,000 steps in each day. For example, it's 7 pm now, and I have 7,802 steps in. I worked out, went to work (which is not a sitting down job), worked in the garden when I got home, and I still need 2200 steps. If you think you're getting all those steps in, unless you're walking or running about five miles, I bet you're not.

#6: eat real food. You know those five pounds of winter weight? Still here. And I don't care about the weight per se, you are so much more than a number on the scale, yada yada yada. I just don't feel good. I feel better when I weigh a bit less, and it certainly is easier to run then. While Emily did really well on the Whole30, I don't want to go to that extreme. I'm going to cut down on processed food. If I want cookies, I can have them, but only if I make them myself out of real ingredients. Now if only those crackers that I bough at Costco yesterday will stop calling to me from the pantry.

This is part two of the New and Improved Cathy, things to do just for me:

I know there are more, but I'm keeping this on the bulletin board by my desk and will add to them as time goes on. Except for #2 (which I'd like to have done by their anniversary in August), the items are not ones I can really check off. They are just ongoing projects that I love to do and usually end up on Facebook instead of doing them.

Here's to a healthy life!
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

first-world problems

So I'm sitting on the porch on a beautiful May evening writing this on my (new-to-me) laptop. That's right, I have my very own laptop - the last person in my family to own one. (Also the last person in my family to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B, so I guess no sharing dirty needles for me. But I digress). Dwight had not one but two MacBook Pros, one that he loves and uses all the time, and a secondhand one that he was using for movies - all the ones we had taped from years and years and years of old movies on TV. He's editing them all to remove commercials and making them so we can play them on our Apple TV. I know - it's all magic to me too. So guess which computer I got? Yup, the second-hand one. But seriously, what do I really need? It's fine for blogging on the front porch and syncing my phone.

We actually had to get me one because since I upgraded the iOS on my phone, it wouldn't sync with the version of iTunes that we had on our desktop Mac. So rather than upgrade iTunes, which Dwight for some reason did not want to do (he told me why but I wasn't really listening), we had to get me a computer. That's right - so I could sync my phone. #firstworldproblem. Sometimes I wonder about that guy, but not for long. After all, I got a computer!!! It was tough for a few weeks being unable to switch up my playlists on my phone, but I'm back in business. So send any good running tunes my way!

And speaking of technology, we have a few other firsts. I swear that we are the last family in America, but for Christmas, Dwight gave me - are you ready for this - a cordless phone!!! Really. We were attached to the wall by a 10-foot cord whenever we used our land line. And yes, we still have a land line. I didn't even know how to use a cordless phone - if I was at someone's house and the phone rang, I couldn't answer it because I didn't know what to do. When I started at Hot Mama, I needed a lesson on how to use the phone. I'm sure my poor manager was wondering about this Luddite that was her new inventory specialist. I was okay with the computer, but the phone?!?!?

Now don't be jealous, but we got ourselves a refrigerator with an icemaker last week. That's right, no more twisting cubes out of the trays for us. Movin' on up, I tell you. Actually, the reason we had to get a new fridge after only six years is because our GE Profile-stainless french doors-bottom freezer-everything-I-wanted broke.

look closely at the freezer temp. not even close to zero. and the fridge was gasping for breath

While of course the 25-year-old POS sitting in our garage is working just fine. We went with a Samsung that has the same features (plus the aforementioned icemaker!) and actually has a bit more space. Because, you know, two people need so much fridge space. #firstworldproblem

We sound like we live in the Stone Age, but we don't really. We have had a home computer (what they were called!) since 1985, and we got one of the first CD players. I remember going to work and telling people we had gotten one, and when one of the guys asked what it was, I said "Well, it's something to play music on. The CD is like a little record album, and I'm pretty sure it involves a laser". My kids don't call me TechnoCathy for nothin'.

And how about the laser disc player? You remember those. Oh, you don't? Didn't think so. They were going to be the next big thing after VCRs - until DVDs came along. Oops. Missed on that one. Having to get up in the middle of the movie and turn the disc over was a pain. #firstworldproblem. But our kids could help their teachers work the classroom laser disc players since they were the only ones who knew what one was. Sorry, guys. But is has given you ammunition to use for years to come.

Just another day in the 'burbs. TTFN
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

do they know their mama or what?!

Even though all the kids (minus Tim) were home a weekend ago, I was feeling a tiny bit sorry for myself on Mother's Day because not only did I have no kids, but Dwight was in Bismarck visiting his mom. Until I opened my gift, that is, and actually said out loud, "Oh no they didn't!" And at that very moment (6:45 am) Alex called to wish me a HMD and emphasized that the gift was from all five of them. So thank you to Emmy, Alex, Aly, Erin, and Tim!

And what, might you ask, did they give me? Only something I've been wanting for over a year but just couldn't justify in my head buying for myself. I've done research, read reviews, and asked friends who had different versions of the same toy. When I was showing the girls at work, one of them was surprised that I didn't have one already - that's how well my kids know me.

It looks like a nice black bracelet, doesn't it? You know, something unobtrusive that will go with anything?

I don't know whose arm and hand they used to model it - some old lady,  apparently

But no - it's EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED!!!

a Jawbone UP24!!!!

I have been intrigued with fitness trackers for a while now. I even wore a pedometer when I started working at the museum since I was on my feet all the time - I figured I'd be w-a-y over the recommended daily 10,000 steps. Well, no. Unless I was playing golf (I walk when I play instead of riding a cart), I didn't come close.

I thought it might be different now since I'm putting in more pavement miles, and my job is still anything but sedentary. Yesterday was my first full day of wearing it. I ran 1.8 miles before work (our neighborhood perimeter), worked all day, and when I was leaving Hot Mama I was only a little over 5000 steps. Srsly.

I ended up with a total of 6,463 steps yesterday. It would have been more because by god give me a goal and I will reach it, but Dwight got home from NoDak and we needed to have a cocktail (or two) and sit and visit and catch up on the past five days. That really cut into my activity. Too bad it doesn't track how many times I lift my hand to take a drink!

So today I figured I'd get a 3-mile run in before work, which really upped my number of steps. By the time I left work today, I was around 8,000. So I came home and mowed (double-cut!), and look where I was when I finished:

go me!!!

One of the reasons I resisted buying myself one was because I knew it would tell me to get off my ass and get moving and I knew that I needed to do that. Maybe it's my science background, but seeing those numbers is a real motivator! But for someone who is fairly active, like I am most days, it's a real eye-opener to see how I really need to make a conscious effort to get those steps in. I can't imagine if I was a sedentary person. Get up and move, people!

Another thing this little toy does is track how I sleep, which is pretty crappy most of the time, I think. It goes by movement, with the more movement being the lighter sleep and the less movement being the deeper, with deeper being the most restful. Duh. It turns out I am in sound sleep and light sleep almost the same amount of time, with longer stretches of deep sleep earlier in the night. I'll have to track this for awhile and report back. Just something else to think about for now.

Okay, enough with the "fitness", let's move onto food:

A favorite new snack:

you can get these guys at Target

just like licorice! only they're made of fruit!

A favorite old snack:

I used to like Sabra hummus best until my friend Kathy turned me on to Trader Joe's, but we were out so I had to settle

My Mother's Day breakfast (that I had to cook myself, wah-wah):

sauteed mushroom omelet, berries, bacon


reuben made betta from the Abs Diet cookbook, and a salad of cukes and grape tomatoes tossed with really good balsamic vinegar and drizzled with olive oil

Dinner tonight was so random. I was hungry for steak and we just happened to have some in our freezer (that I had thawed in anticipation). I was going to bake sweet potatoes and roast some cauliflower, but ended up roasting sweet potato rounds and making Indian cauliflower. Random, but delicious!

And that's it for now - have a good night!

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

showing up

I ran into my friend MaryLu at Costco the other day and she asked how my race went. I told her slow and ugly, but she said, "You showed up". Which I guess emphasizes the subtitle of this little blog, paraphrasing Woody Allen: 80% of life (success) is just showing up. So once again, here I am, just showing up.

And yes, she is THE MaryLu of MaryLu's protein pancakes/waffles:

I made the waffle this morning because I knew I'd be working in the gardens all day and would need to be sustained for awhile. And then it started raining. Dammit. It's supposed to clear up later so keep your fingers crossed. I have TONS of stuff to do before I even think of planting this year's annuals - dividing, transplanting, moving pots, putting up my bottle tree. I'm just really glad I mowed and dug up some dead bushes yesterday. At least I feel somewhat productive, especially if it doesn't dry up and I'm forced to take a nap!

We took our fence down earlier this spring. Or rather, Dwight took it down after his hand was forced by a huge windstorm that knocked down a section due to rotting posts. I guess 25 years was pretty good to get from the fence. I hated it at first since I'm so used to being out back and feeling somewhat secluded and now I feel everyone can watch this sweaty woman working in the yard. Dwight really likes the way it looks, and - now don't tell him - I might be getting used to it and yes, it looks nice. Or will when our next-door-neighbor kid gets home from college to dig out the remaining fence posts for us. I have no danger of Dwight actually reading this since as I've mentioned before, he has never read my blog. I'm not even sure he knows the URL.

A yummy breakfast from yesterday was two eggs scrambled with a link of chicken Italian sausage, topped with salsa and half an avocado, and some berries on the side. That also kept me full for quite awhile - there is something to that whole protein-is-filling thing, I guess.

Oooh, nice depth of field. Did you get a new camera?! Or take a class?!

I saw this recipe on a page I follow on Facebook, MindBodyGreen, for a filling (is there a theme here?) and energizing drink. Or as the post is titled, The Perfect Tonic to Manage Weight and Boost Energy. (Author: Nathalie Chantal de Ahna)
The ingredients:

The recipe:
1/2 cup purified water (I just used Brita-filtered water)
1/2 cup coconut water
1 T chia seeds
2 T fruit juice (I used pineapple)
juice of half a lime

In a blender, soak the chia seeds in coconut water and water for 15 minutes. Add the fruit juice and lime juice and blend briefly. Drink immediately.

I made it and it was pretty tasty. I would for sure use COLD ingredients or blend it with ice next time. My liquids were out of the pantry, but they will be refrigerated in the future. At least the coconut water, which tastes vaguely like coconut-flavored sweat to me, tasted better. If you've ever used chia seeds, you know they expand and get slimy when mixed with liquid, so be prepared for that adventure. It's also probably why this drink is filling. I'll have to keep you posed on the energy benefits. But in the meantime, I may have to go take that nap.

Have a great weekend!

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