Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Carnival of Real Simple Meals

I get a lot of recipes and meal ideas from Cooking Light and Real Simple.  Sometimes I'll get an issue I'm crazy about and sometimes not so much.  Well, after a week of eating an apple at every meal because it was the only type of produce available to me (Mississippi Trip), I was excited to return home to a new Real Simple with tons of delicious, healthy meal ideas to try.  Here are the highlights from last week:

Dijon salmon cakes
 Okay, so mine didn't stay very cake-ey, but it was tasty nonetheless.  Next time I'd use more Dijon mustard and breadcrumbs to keep everything together.

Havarti-stuffed chicken
 We actually used a seasoned cheddar instead, and I topped each piece with a little extra cheese because I never feel like I can get very much stuffing inside a chicken breast.

Sweet and spicy beef stir fry

This one was actually from last month's edition, but I was still keen to make it because the sauce is just a jar of red pepper jelly.  So easy!

And the ultimate, no recipe-needed-simple-Saturday-post-long-run dinner: taco salad with celebratory beer.

I could probably eat this for dinner every night for a month and not get tired of it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Thanks for all the comments about my long run pacing.  I guess everyone fixates on some part of their training and worries if they're doing it right.  I'll just keep doing what I've been doing.  Plus I have a half marathon fitness testing race that should help me determine if my goal race pace is realistic or not.

I've been back for more than 10 days.  The statute of limitations for making excuses for not posting is up.  I don't think this is going to get that long, but I was sort of afraid it would, which has been my excuse for not posting up to this point.

So here goes...

Two Saturdays ago (July 11), 50 some kids and 12 leaders piled into 9 rented minivans and/or SUVs.  I drove a black Chrysler Town and Country.  We took two days to get to our site (kind of near Gulfport, MS), stopping the first night at a church in Memphis.

Sunday afternoon we had orientation and learned what group we would be in and what project we would work on.  Fortunately for my pale, pale skin I was placed in a group that was going to work on flooring inside a house.  Half of my group was from my church and half was from a church from Austin, MN.

The first thing I will say is that the organization that put together our trip, Next Step Ministries, seemed to have great rapport with the community we were serving.  This was the second (I think) summer NSM was working in this community, and every interaction I saw between the staff and residents was very positive.  It seemed to me that the residents felt like someone was finally helping them five years after Katrina came through and that the NSM staff was interested in engaging with residents to solve problems- not just showing up to "do some stuff for the residents".  Obviously I was only there for a week, but I got a very good vibe from the staff/resident interactions.

Our accommodations were what you would expect if you've ever been on a service trip.  We slept on the floor, we showered in a trailer, we ate whatever was on sale at Costco.  Those weren't my favorite parts, but it does give the whole experience a "summer camp" type feel.

My group really worked hard to finish our project.  We re-floored two bedrooms, a utility room, a bathroom, and a hallway in a house that hadn't been cleaned in... well... let's say they gave up when that whole Monica Lewenskiy thing went down.  The couple was elderly, and I'm sure they did the best they could, but it was pretty gross.

Important life lesson: Never put carpet in a bathroom.  That's all (mold, pee smell) I will say about that.

But we floored:

We sawed

We moved a lot of stored junk

Including this guy, which was cool, but not what we wanted to find stashed behind a full bookcase!

And interacted with the residents and their family (including pets)

Friday was supposed to be a beach day, but we got rained out.  Pretty sad because some of the kids had never seen the ocean before.  I think the MN group actually went back to the beach for a little while on Saturday because it was sunny.

As for us, Saturday we packed up and made the hard drive back to Madison.  It took 17 hours, which I think is pretty darn good for a 9-vehicle caravan of high-schoolers.

So it wasn't your typical vacation, but as with all the other trips I've done, I had a good time, and I'd definitely do another one.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week in Review - The Sweet and Spicy Edition

I guess it was the hot, rainy weather we've been having compared to last year's drier cooler temps, but the garden is just not producing the way it did last summer.  Our carrots didn't grow.  Our broccoli grew and bolted in one week.  The tomatoes look bedraggled.  Fortunately our butternut squash, pumpkin, peppers, and onions are doing well.  The pumpkin plant is humongous, and we even found one little green pumpkin hiding in there.  I guess each year in the garden is different, and you get what you get.  This year we got this:

Green peppers, sweet peppers (which, if you are in Madison and want some, just let me know), and one tiny head of broccoli.  Last year we had so much broccoli!  It's really kind of sad considering all the work we put in to it.  Oh well.  At least we'll have some zesty sandwiches.

On to running and other workout considerations:
M - 5mi easy recovery from long run last Sunday
T - Strength training
W - 8mi with 2x(800,600,600) at 5-10k pace (Interval paces were: 7:40, 7:23, 7:22, 7:47, 7:41, 7:45 min/mile)
R - 8mi with 40 min marathon tempo (run at 8:48 min/mile average pace), yoga
F - Strength training
S - 18mi with miles 9-12 at marathon tempo (did all of them in the 8:50-9:00 min/mile range) in 2:53:00 (9:37 min/mile overall average)
Su - 5mi easy recovery.  Yoga

I'm feeling good about my training overall.  The next two weeks will also be high mileage, and then I'll cut back for two weeks- the first will be recovery, the second will be for a 1/2 marathon fitness testing race.

The only thing that concerns me is how slow my long runs are.  My goal marathon time is 3:50, which is an 8:48 min/mile average pace.  Do you think that- based on the speed I'm doing my long runs- 3:50 is too aggressive of a goal?  I know you're supposed to do long runs slower than your goal pace, but is 45 sec/mile too slow?  Should I try to speed up my long runs?  I usually finish faster than I start, which I know is good...  Any advice would be welcome!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming

After a week of being gone and a week of just plain neglect, I'm back to blogging on at least a semi-regular basis.  It's not that there hasn't been anything worth mentioning going on- it's just that I haven't wanted to or felt like I could commit the time to posting in the early morning before work.  So what have I been up to?

I got back from Mississippi last Saturday night late and spent Sunday knocking out a hot, poorly fueled 13 mile run, doing laundry, and otherwise playing catch up.

Wednesday Daniel and I went with a coworker, her boyfriend, and two of her friends to see a Beatles tribute band play with the Madison Symphony Orchestra at the Concert on the Square.   We had a potluck picnic dinner and enjoyed what might have been the only reasonably cool weather in the country.

Friday was a big day in personal grooming for me.  I got a hair cut - pretty much the same as before but with a little bit of bangs for interest

And had my feet scrubbed with steel wool and toes painted a delightful summery purple

Man, I have some big foot veins.  

After my post-work salon time, Daniel and I went out to dinner at Taqueria Guadelajara.  Daniel got a taco and a gordita and I got a vegetarian huarache and attempted to order the cactus side dish.  What I got was something akin to green bean salad.  Not sure if that's cactus or not.  Daniel's gordita was very similar to the tacos we bought at the mercado in Juarez (yes, of the three times I've been out of the US one was to the murder capital of the world).  They had Tamarind Jarritos, which I've always wanted to try, but I wasn't in a soda mood.  Sadly they did not have Manzana Lift

It's been a good week getting back into working out- I'll save more of that for my week in review post tomorrow- but I hit my first 18-miler this morning at a 9:37 min/mile average pace.  I started out a little slow but picked it up through the middle and end of the run.  Next week will be the first 20 of the training cycle.  Gulp!

The only bad part of the run is that it was super humid and my CamelBak got in a fight with my actual back and the CamelBak won.

Those three spots caused me to wash my hair with my head upside down this morning because standing with my back to the shower water hurt so bad it's illegal to use as an interrogation device.  So I'll have to either wear a shirt with sleeves or fashion some kind of padding between me and my water backpack so it doesn't try to erode my shoulder blade again next week.

And that's about it.  In real life (as opposed to when this will be posted) it's 8:51pm, and I have a detective novel set in Botswana (the best kind!) waiting for me.  It's good to be back, and I look forward to continuing to catch up with what's going on with all of you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'm back from Mississippi, but I'm still trying to catch up on life and get back to my normal schedule.  I had a great trip, and I can't wait to post some pictures that I took and that *hopefully* others have posted or will post on Facebook.  So look forward to a big MS trip post plus a cooking post highlighting some recipes from the latest Real Simple.  After a week of dining on Lucky Charms and Chewy Bars, it has been good to see some vegetables again!    

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On our way

We're headed out to Mississippi today.  We'll spend tonight in Memphis and then continue on and return next Saturday.  A 17-miler (3 minutes faster than last week, woot!) yesterday should keep me at peace during the long car ride today.  See you next week!

Friday, July 9, 2010

In the bag

Yesterday Sarah at the SHU Box did a neat post about what she carries around all day as an endocrine fellow.  I thought it was fun to get a glimpse into the daily life of another blogger, and thought I'd do the same for myself today.  I have an office and a desk so I included a little of that in addition to the bag I carry back and forth to work.  Here's Chelsea's essential tools for life and work:

The top of my desk, featuring the computer, the phone (where I get calls for everyone other than me), a tennis ball for massaging computer shoulder, standard office stuff like tape and pens, my daily log book (on the left), my calculator, and scratch paper (very very important).

I try to keep a little summary of what I do every day in my log book.  What I did, where things are saved, etc.

I have a mountain of "oops" print outs and use the back for scratch work.

Then the essentials drawer- deodorant, almonds, make-up, toothbrush... it's all in here.

I also have a bunch of informational stuff pinned to my bulletin board.   For example, units and reference ranges for lab values that maybe one day I'll remember (no, probably not).

And now for my actual bag.  Never buy a light colored backpack.  Those stains never wash out.

 And the contents.  Not too much because I'm able to leave so much at work.  I've got my purse (easier to keep the contents in there and just transfer the whole thing), my lunch bag (which usually goes in the fridge when I get to work), an umbrella, random pens and pencils, and of course, my planner.

 So there you have it.  I think it would be neat to see other people do the same thing (hint, hint).  Hope you have a great Friday.  I'm off to do a long run because I'm leaving for Mississippi tomorrow morning.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Everybody Likes Great Recipe Websites

I found Everybody Likes Sandwiches through Jess's blog, and have been in love with the uncomplicated yet interesting recipes therein.  I've been trying to get more vegetable variety going on in my diet, so I decided to try the lemon, parmesan and chickpea cabbage salad.  Lettuce I eat, cabbage not so much usually.  I made a couple substitutions- I swapped the lemon dressing for some TJ's Goddess I had on hand, I swapped white beans for chickpeas, and I threw in some cashews as this was going to be the main event for lunch.

The verdict?  Delicious and filling.  Gourmet even served out of Tupperware with ancient tomato stains.

If you like to cook and eat, check out ELS.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Getting an MS in Baking- Dutch Baby

Cooking through these recipes, it is not hard to understand how the before picture in this article happened:

Butter.  Lots of butter.  Too much butter.  You don't want to know how much.

Anyway, this is another muffin method recipe.  It was different from the ones I'd made before in that the batter came together very loosely.

I'm not sure exactly why this was a muffin method recipe except- I guess- that you don't beat the batter into submission with a stand mixer.

Note to my cardiologist- stop reading here.

Those are pieces of bacon in the batter.  The batter goes into a skillet filled with melted butter.

And into the oven for 20 minutes.  Except that after 20 min there was still a lot of liquid on the top.  We let it cook some  more and finally decided to pour off the extra liquid (aka butter juice) and eat it as it was.

Here's half of it.  You can see it started to puff up on the outside- it's supposed to be like a popover, but it got bogged down in the middle and couldn't pop up correctly.  I don't think I made a mistake following the recipe.  It still tasted really really good- especially with the maple syrup we brought back from Canada- but no poof.  I guess I can look online to see if I can find a correction to the recipe.  Otherwise "way less butter" will be my first liner note in the cookbook.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Years' Resolutions- 6 Month's Later

We're at half way mark of 2010 (well, a little past, but not procrastinating was not one of my new years' resolutions), and it's time to review and see how things have been going.  There are some resolutions I've thought about a lot, but in all honesty, I couldn't name all 10 of them off the top of my head right now.  (Click here for the original post.)

1. Put things away- YES!  Sometimes the clothes get piled up but for the most part I've kept on top of the clutter.  I used to say I'm clean but not neat, but I think I'm getting neater.  YAY!

2. Focus at work - This has been pretty good.  It's better when I have a pressing task or something that really
interests me and less when I'm doing something dull that takes a long time to run (QC- blech).  One thing that has helped is listening to music.

3. Push myself beyond my comfort zone- I think this has been going well, too.  I've been happy with the progress I've made making hard workouts truly hard and easy workouts easy.  I never thought I'd be at a point where I only did cardio 5 days a week, but I think it works really well for me.  And diet wise, I've recently kicked my mid-day caffeine habit (and have been more or less off diet soda), which if you know me you know is a big deal.

4. Be more social- I'm an introvert, so I think I'm about as social is I'd ever want to be right now.  I would like to have people over more, but during the summer it's hard with travel schedules, etc.

5. Take more pictures- Eh, kinda sorta.  Daniel says he thinks I take a lot of pictures, but I feel like I don't compared to many of the blogs that I read.

6. Stay in touch- Not so great.  No gold star for this one.

7. Music- Yes.  I'm still taking piano lessons and really like my teacher.  I hope to be annoying everyone with
wrong notes in Christmas songs this year.

8. Waste less time- Um, we still have the internet so this is not perfect, but not having TV (and I was never a big TV watcher) definitely keeps me busier.

9. Read real books- This was such a stupid resolution.  Give me murder mysteries.  I want murder mysteries!

10. Do a better job on the blog.  I think so.  I post most every day.  I'm better with the pictures.  I like my layout and color scheme more.  Good stuff.

Not perfect, but pretty good all things considered.  Hopefully the rest of the year be more of the same.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week in Review - We're in the Jungle Edition

I haven't posted much about the garden recently.  Part of that is because it had been neglected a bit, and needed some TLC, which was performed last Sunday afternoon when I still had a lot of travel delay related aggression I needed to work out with a garden implement.  Three wheelbarrows full of weeds later, I'd rid it of the major offenders

and we finished the main part of the clean up job today.

We're a little behind the rest of the country in the growing season, so we are just beginning to see the first of our summer crop.

 Leeetle teeny baby bell pepper:

Sweet pepper:

Hot pepper: 

Otherwise, the pumpkin is the clear winner, having taken over it's row and most of another.  I'm excited to see what we get in the end.

So on to the main event- the week in review.  I decided to switch from doing this on Sunday to on Monday because my workout log runs M-S so it makes tabulations just a little easier.

M- 16 miles in ???  My GPS died.  Thank goodness for MapMyRun.
T- Strength and yoga
W- 7.5 mi with 2x15 min at marathon tempo.  Hit both at 8:46 +/- 15 sec.
R- 7.5 mi with 2x(800,600,400,200m) at 5-10k pace.  Hit all these except the first in the 7:20-7:40 range.  Yoga
F- Strength
S- 17 mi in 2:42 (9:29 min/mile pace).  I felt strong the whole way.  I think I'm actually starting to like long runs.
U- 5 mi easy.  Yoga.

Bringing the grand totals to:
53 miles run (artificially inflated because of the 2 long runs that happened to fall in the same week)
2 x strength training
2 x yoga

Good stuff.  No comments.  No complaints.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

Happy 4th of July, all.  Have you seen the Google July 4th/Rube Goldberg logo?  It's pretty cute.

I have a lot going on today- 5mi run, making a Dutch baby for breakfast from I'm Just Here for More Food, going to church, working in the garden, piano, yoga, catching up on my blog, making sweet potato peanut stew from Eat Drink and be Vegan, and walking over to see fireworks.  It'll be a late night and an early morning but totally worth it.

Hope you all have a great day.  Good luck to anyone racing!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday in the Park.

I think it was the 3rd of July.  It was actually the 4th of July last year so I'm 99% confident that I used this lame post starter last year, too.

I don't have much to say, but I wanted to try to get back in the swing of posting every day (for the next week at least until I leave for MS) so I'm going to blather for a few minutes while I drink the rest of my coffee and let my Camelbak bladder thaw*.

I got to spend more than 10 minutes with Daniel yesterday evening, which was nice.  He's teaching at a HS academic summer camp right now so from Sunday evening - Friday afternoon we get to see each other for about 5 min in the morning and 5 in the evening.  We went down to State St. for sushi and walked around a bit.  For all the complaining I do about the winter, the summer makes up for it.  High's in the low 80s?  All summer?  I'll take it!

Today is about running and getting various chores done.  I have 17 miles on tap, which is probably the farthest I will have run in more than two years.  My 16 on Monday went really well (no side stitches, yay) so I'm hoping for more of the same today.  I just have to take it slow and easy and try to enjoy the weather and my music.  Then there's piano, yoga, garden, a Target trip, etc. etc. and hopefully a little time for vegging with my new Runners World that came in the mail yesterday.

Hope you all have a good Saturday!    

* I keep it in the freezer between uses so nothing starts growing in there.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Back in the groove

Which for me is defined as cooking my first real meal since I got back to town.  I haven't been eating out- more like grabbing random proteins and vegetables hanging out in the fridge and combining them in ways that don't seem that unpalatable.

Last night I made palak soyabina panira from Eat, Drink and be Vegan.  This is a vegan knock off of palak paneer (Is this the same as saag paneer?  It seems like it).  I didn't have the right ratio of spinach to tomato sauce so I didn't get that nice green color you get in a restaurant.  The tofu was a decent stand in for paneer cheese, but it was just a little off.  Same with the spicing.  If I'd never had palak paneer in a restaurant, I would have liked it, but as I prepared it, this dish was in the uncanny valley of Indian food.

Yeah, that looks scary.  More like car accident delight!  Oh well.

In other news, I feel like I'm finally catching up on life!  It also helps that I finally made some real progress on a difficult project at work and that I had two good runs.

My first was 2x15 minutes at marathon tempo, which I did at 8:32 min/mile and 8:46 min/mile.  At first I was annoyed that I went so slow, but actually I was right on for marathon tempo pace 8:45 +/- 10 sec.  The pace better not feel too fast if I'm going to hang on to it for 26.6 miles.  The second run was 2x(800, 600, 400, 200) at 5-10k pace.  I hit all of these intervals in the 7:30s (except the first, which is aaaaalllways slow), which is right on target.  Today I'm in the gym and tomorrow is 17 miles.

I'm excited that it's Friday, and I'm looking forward to going out to dinner tonight, getting ready for the Mississippi trip, relaxing, doing a long run in cooler, less humid weather, and watching fireworks.

What are your Fourth of July plans?  Are you taking Monday off?  I'm not.  We can float holidays that fall on weekends, so I'm going to take it the next week when we are in Mississippi.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Travel Gone Wild

It's 7/1- the halfway point for 2010- and I definitely plan to do a resolution post, but I'm saving that for the weekend when I will *hopefully* have a little more time to be reflective (I'm also planning blog catch up time- sorry I'm behind on reading/comments!).

Everyone who travels has his/her own horror story.  This one isn't that bad, but because I haven't done too much traveling in my life, it definitely  made an impression on me.

We start with Thursday night at the hotel.  I was asleep early when I heard a strange static-y noise and a voice came over the room intercom (that I didn't know we had) saying to leave for the designated area (wherever that was) and that the elevators weren't working.  I read enough scary books that the first thought I had was that someone was trying to lure me out of my room to ax murder me.  But there were other people out in the hall, so I grabbed my jacket, key, shoes, phone and wallet (thinking, "I hope I don't die in a fire because I went back for my phone") and joined the human train walking down stairs and out of the hotel.  It was only 10:30 pm, but because I has been asleep for 1.5 hours, it could have been 2am.  So hung out outside, the fire department came, we got the all clear, and went back in.  I was all settled back in bed ready to sleep again when the all clear announcements started on the intercom.  After 20 minutes worth of being startled every 2, they decided that we'd been cleared enough and the announcements stopped.

We got a letter under our doors the next morning saying there'd been a small fire over the workout room and it was closed the entire next day.  I didn't feel comfortable running outside by myself, so sadly I had to skip working on Friday.

Then Saturday we flew back from Seattle to Minneapolis no problem.  There was a tight connection and the weather was crummy but we made it to our gate in time.  And sat.  And waited.  Our original plane couldn't land so they brought a smaller one out of the hanger.  It was 10pm, and they offered to bump some people to the next morning's early flight.  We should have taken it.  They kept saying they wanted to board the plane but the "ramp" couldn't come down.  And then we were going to board but we didn't have flight attendants.  Then we got flight attendants.  We got boarding passes, we boarded the plane, I closed my eyes to take a little nap, and... they cancelled the flight because we didn't have enough fuel.  It was 1:30am.

So we got off the plane and in line to get new tickets and hotel reservations.  Everyone in my party got booked on the 1:30 flight except me (Thanks, ticket guy).  We took the shuttle to the hotel and crashed at about 2:30am.  I got up at 7:30 to try to work out and try to restore some sanity to my schedule.  I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when the light went out.  I went out in the room.  The alarm clock was off, too.  And then I heard a bunch of people talking in the hall.  The whole hotel had lost power.

Now I was up early and couldn't work out.  I went out and took a short walk and went back in to try to get my flight changed to 1:30.  No openings.  I went down and had breakfast.  The hotel generator started working and  the lights came back on.   I went back upstairs and dressed to work out.  While I us up there, a coworker slipped a note under my door that she'd called and I was now on the 1:30 flight.  YAY!  I went back down and did a hard, sweaty hour on the elliptical.  I went back up to get a quick shower but- the final argh!- the part of the electricity that came on was not the part that made hot water for the hotel.  So I had a freezing 1/2 shower, got my stuff together, and left for the airport.

Whew.  I'm glad I don't have to do that again any time soon.