Monday, April 30, 2012


 Time to get Down and DIRTY!
There's nothing like a little dirty running!
The first lil hill where people already start to walk
This past weekend Gary, his siblings and I ran a 5k dirty run. It wasn't Tough Mudder, that's just a little too intense for this chica. We did runamuck last year with his sister(Jess) and her boyfriend(Chris).  This year his brother(Eric) joined.  Last year, it was nice and warm and apparently hadn't rained a lot so the "water" area that we ran through was just pure mud. Gary lost his shoe because it got sucked off his foot, found it and then kept going, but lost his sock. So....he spent the rest of the race running without a sock. Silly. I got stuck in so deep that I had to be pulled out, by Chris.  You basically had to crawl through the mud because walking was virtually impossible.  I have to say that my arms were so tired after that race. 
 The last obstacle before.......
Enter this year, 2012.....turned out to be the best day ever a cold and basically sunless day. YES! We didn't have any cute "outfits." I had been too busy to create anything. We ended up cutting up some t-shirts right before-totally awesome- DO IT.  I promise, if we EVER do it this race again, we will have better looking costumes! Some people are SO creative. Last year there were peeps and bunny peeps and brides and cows. Pretty funny, I still don't really want to be running in anything extra that might slow me down and make it difficult to do the obstacles. Anyway we were supposed to get there earlier since 
they didn't have any pre-packet pickup. Actually it was pretty easy to get all our stuff.  Then we stood around and we were cold. We watched people come over the the last obstacle and jump into the cold watery mud pit.  I saw Mario and Luigi and a bunch of male "wrestlers" complete with the teeny bottoms.....interesting.....lots of self confidence there. 

Trying not to look chilly
They called us for a "warm up" of dancing. Usually we wouldn't participate, well I would have, but the rest of the clan wouldn't. However, because it was so cold- everyone did it!! 

Start time was at 1:30......we were off. There were a few lil hills. After the first one people were walking.  There were several obstacles, crawling through tubes, over fences, under barbed wire, over a rock climbing wall, balance beams, spider webbed bungee cords, stepping through tires, going through hanging tires and of course the water. Last year it was pure mud crawling through on hands and knees. This year we were up to our waists in Warm COLD water.  At one point we had to do a short swim through the water.  Jess, Gary, Eric and I all ended up getting in a bit of a mud fight before the end.  There was no way not to get wet and then we kept running. My hands were freezing by the end. I had wanted to pull my hair up before we hit the mud/water pit, but I couldn't feel my little fingers.
We got clean by showering under some cold showers. Actually I think it was warmer than the lake lady parts have never been so cold!Jess and I splashed and tackled each other and of course the brothers had themselves some fun.
At least we look like we participated this year!

No Diva here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who's looking forward to the Olympics?!

July 27 Opening Ceremonies- Can they top Beijing?!
While watching the NHL playoffs today I saw a commercial for the 30 Greatest Olympic Moments.

I love the Olympics. I am amazed by the talent that these athletes have and how young some of them are.  They start training so young it's incredible.  My all time favorite ice skater was Kristi Yamaguchi, who also won Dancing with the Stars:-) I was also a huge fan of the 1996 US female gymnast team.  The one with Kerri Strug, Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes, Dominique Moceanu, Amanda Borden, Jaycie Phelps and Amy Chow, the one where Kerri Strug lands her vault and sticks it on ONE foot! ( I couldn't do that if you paid me a million dollars and I had two good feet!) Determination, courage, strength and perseverance are several words that come to mind when I think about that team. 

 I watched the 30 moments and I have to say that Kerri Strug's routine and her accomplishment literally brought tears to my eyes.  The phrase "Never Give Up" comes to mind.

So did this video of Derrick Redmond at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.  Perseverance is a word that comes to mind. I have never pulled a hamstring before, but I have strained it and it's painful. I can only imagine the disappointment you would feel after training your whole life for this event and then to pull your hamstring in the semi-finals, but he gets up! He keeps going and refuses help, again this is where I start to get teary eyed. Then his father comes to help him cross the finish line!

I think Usain Bolt is incredible in track too, he is ridiculously fast and I look forward to seeing him compete this year. I was a little saddened that he broke Michael Johnson's 12 year record, since he was one of my favorites too.  

Michael Phelps is pretty buck too, yup buck! LOL, his accomplishments at the 2008 Olympics were incredible. I remember watching the mens 4x100 free relay and getting so worried (when I get nervous I get really cold-werid right?)I was literally standing up cheering.  Actually, re-watching the video also caused me to cheer, it was so exciting. Even as a sprinter, 4x100 relays do not give you a lot of time to make-up for lost time, or a lot of room to gain on the leaders.  That was quite an intense relay. I like relays too because it is team effort compared to individual.
I do have to admit that while I am glad that Team USA won all around best female gymnast, I do wish that it was won by cute little Shawn Johnson and not Nastia.

Too bad we don't know all the official teams until July 1.  It's also a shame that the men's soccer team didn't make it, but at least the women are in. Rooting for Abby Wombach and Hope Solo!

Will you be watching the Olympics this summer?

What are you especially looking forward to?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Date Night!

Every so often Gary and I have a "date night." Usually it's on him to plan, he spends more time on the computer so he has time to figure out a nice restaurant.  A typical date night consists of dinner and a movie.  We don't go to the movies often because it is so expensive....hmmm maybe I should get a part-time job at a movie movies...We don't usually dress up when we go out to dinner, but for date night we spruce it up a little instead of looking like the bums we usually do. I know, don't we look fancy?!

Gary made a reservation downtown at The Hamilton, which apparently also has live entertainment.  The restaurant is part of the Clyde's chain, another restaurant we enjoy.  The menu looked good, not that Gary would choose a restaurant that didn't have good food options. They bring you your own water bottle and some hearty, crusty bread. We got the lettuce wraps to start. He got a Manhattan and I got my favorite, a mojito.  

For dinner, he decided to splurge on the filet mignion, the 8oz! Crazy, but that at least allowed me to have a generous bite. It came on a bed of mashed potatoes and garlic sauteed spinach.  I decided to go for the open faced BBQ brisket, for some reason I've been craving good BBQ.  It came with mac n' cheese, coleslaw and onion straws and texas toast.  What I didn't realize was that it was going to come all piled on top of the texas toast (they even cut the crusts off the toast). It was a little messy, but supper yummy. I couldn't even finish it all. I was also trying to save room for dessert. Overall, I'd give The Hamilton an A.

We opted to pass up dessert there and head to Georgetown to see what sweets we might encounter there. Of course it was raining when we left and we were metroing and walking. Luckily I threw an umbrella in my purse, just in case. There were many others who were not so lucky.  We ended up going in a few stores in Georgetown to avoid the rain.  

Dessert ended up being cupcakes at the famous LA originated Sprinkles. Y'all know I love a good cupcake and I was not disappointed. I did not get my traditional red velvet. I go s'mores which had a graham cracker bottom(a fun surprise), a chocolate cake with chocolate in the middle and was topped with marshmallow frosting. It was sooo gooey and delicious! Gary got a peanut butter chocolate- and then we shared a black and white, which was ok). Cool thing about Sprinkles is that they donate all the extra cupcakes to a local food bank. Sprinkles gets a A-

We then headed to the theater to see 21 Jump Street.  I never saw the original so I have no idea how it compares. I'm pretty sure that it is quite different than the original with Johnny Depp. It was pretty funny. we don't usually see a lot of comedies in the theater, we would rather see action movies simply because the effects seem so much "better."  I do, however enjoy seeing comedies in theaters because everyone around you is laughing equally hard, or harder! It definitely had funny parts, but also a lot of cursing. Overall, for a comedy I give it a B.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stepping it up!

 Hobby of the day: Working it

I haven't done step class in ages.  I was taking pole on Monday nights and didn't have the time to double up, plus the classes were a few hours apart.  There are tons of regulars at step...I wish I had someone to go with.  Nevertheless, back I went. Ran 1 mile and did weights before class. I almost can do what she's doing.....almost

Then I went to class. The guy who leads the class has tons of energy.  I always wonder how instructors plan their "lessons." Do they rehearse at home? Do they have a notebook? If you are a trainer, how do you plan?  I've gone to a few spin classes where instructors have had "cheat" sheets.  I also wonder where the instructors channel their energy, not only to do the workout, but to inspire and motivate us lazy bums.
It's three days later and apparently I haven't been using my calf muscles enough, which is weird because with running I thought I was..... I always enjoy having a little pain(that's the masochist in me talking- JK) because then I feel that I am working "new" muscles and toning them.  Those steppers are intense so many of them add extra flair in there, more spins, steps over,! I'm just trying to hang in there with the best of them.  I am a "perfectionist," sometimes and I like to be able to get it immediately and feel dumb when I can't. I don't like to stand out, well at least not in a fitness class when there are mirrors all around.  
Yesterday, G and I went to the gym. We did weights first and then headed to the treadmill.  For some reason it was warmer in there than usual. We started going and man, have you just had one of those days? It was a bad throat was sore and I was super stuffed up- thank you allergies.  My calves were also not very forgiving after putting them through step. This is why I need a roller. 

Enter the present:  It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool.  Since it's Thursday we have our walking club at work.  We walked about 2 miles complete with great conversation and a few laughs and a lot of sarcasm.  It's nice to bond with co-workers, especially when work sometimes drains your life. Can I get a "What, What!"   I knew I needed to run today because I haven't run outside since we went to Jamaica, but instead I came home and took a lil nap first.  Besides, I had to wait anyway until Gary came home first before he left for second work. Some days we only see each other for 2 hours, I'm sure some people have it a lot worse.  I draaaged my butt of that couch and headed out for my run.  My mapmyrun app just recently was updated and now it tells me how many miles I've gone, my average minutes per mile, as well as how long I have been running.  That's an upgrade in my mind! I ended up running my best mile pace. I was also sporting my new PRO Compression Socks. I can't say that they are "the" reason I ran my best, but they did certainly help my sore calves from step.  Plus I know that everyone I ran past was secretly jealous and coveting a pair....(I have a great imagination!) I also think that the treadmill is helping me to improve my pace.

** Apparently PRO Compression is doing the sock of the month right now: Marathon Compression Sock in Baby Blue. The price is $30 plus free shipping. SCORE! Use coupon code: SOM412 at checkout

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy 95th Gran!

I wish you had that honor of knowing my grandmother. I hope that I can be a percentage of what she is and what my mother is. 
Not the best picture- and she refuses to smile
This past weekend, my grandmother celebrated her 95th year of life!
  She is an amazing woman, you would think so too if you met/knew her.  There are many things that amaze me about her, she still plays piano and plays frequently at her retirement home.  She was up at the sunrise service playing the piano on Easter morning. Me, I was in bed when the sun came up. She still knits, even though she has no great grandchildren, she has made blankets and sweaters and hats for those "future" babies. She even knits for the nurses that take care of my grandfather.  

I trekked up to my mother's house in PA.  Honestly it isn't that far, 2.5 hours give or take. I just hate driving, maybe it's not so much the driving, but the fact that driving puts me to SLEEP. Dangerous combination driving and sleepiness.  Ask Gary, I typically fall asleep within minutes of being in the car- hopefully when we have children someday they will do the same.  Thankfully my mother drove  up to good old Lancaster- ahhh Amish country.

My mother being the hostess with the mostess (I aim to be her) arranged for a nice dinner with family and friends.  She brought appetizers, shrimp, punch, cheese and crackers. She made the party favors and the centerpiece.  Everything coordinated(of course), but that's my mom.  Honestly she should consider being an event planner especially for people on a budget.  She's so artistic in every sort of way! I will be her sidekick!

My beautiful cupcakes-I thought they looked my radiant displayed on the glasses.
My dinner- Yummers! Melt in your mouth meat- sorry if you are a vegetarian, but you will note that there are potatoes and beans.

My grandparents live in what I think is a DELUXE retirement home.  This is where I would like to retire someday.....haha.....they redo the interior every 10 years or so, out with the old and in with the new....the furniture, not the elderly. They also get their apartments redone, pretty neat.  There are tons of different "units" you can live in, apartments, condos, town homes, etc... They get their meals and health care(good health care).  They have a coffee shop, library, salon, wonderful new outdoor area complete with fire pits and grill.  There are tons of activities both in house and out of house, in country and out.  
 Left the hall to one of the dining rooms. Right, grand entrance.

Fire Pit- note my awesomely tan legs- thank you Jamaica. On the right, grill and dining area

***I hope that if I live to be 95 years young my grandchildren will come and celebrate my life.  Love you Gran! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pasta my favorite carb!

Hobby of the day: Cooking 
P.S. This does not include the tortellini in the freezer
I heart pasta! Truth!  I loved being in Italy, pasta all the time, pizza, cheese, bread.....mmmm....and I didn't gain a metabolism, not really, but LOTS of walking!! Plus hot days = no weight gain. If I tried that here, the lbs would be packed on.

The other night I wanted to make a pasta that was little more springy and maybe a little more healthy.  I didn't however use whole weight pasta- shame on me I know.  It's better for you, but it just doesn't seem to be able to absorb the flavors like white four pasta. Maybe that's just my opinion.  

Usually when I cook I use, penne or angel hair pasta (my favorite). This time I decided to cook linguini.  You know, the thicker flatter pasta, not to be mixed up with lasagna noodles :-).  I wasn't sure what  I wanted to mix into it.  I wish Gary like seafood. I would have so many more possibilities. He might just have to suck it up one of these days.  Sometimes I can wiggle in shrimp. 
I bought sun dried tomatoes.  I wish I had purchased them in oil to give the pasta a little more moisture.  
  • I chopped up 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • Sauteed up 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic in 2 tablespoons of EVOO
  • Then I added about a 1/4 cup of chopped parsley- it's what I had on hand, I would have added basil if we had enough of it(next time)
  • I also added about 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes for some heat

--I also made some garlic bread- Gary's request. No, I didn't make the bread from scratch.  I went a little LC(low class) and used hot dog buns. Added butter and some garlic with a sprinkle of salt (we didn't have garlic salt- add improvisation) and topped with, what else?! MORE cheese!  I'm telling you we are a cheese family!

Boiled my linguini in salted water for 8-11 minutes, until al dente
Then tossed in linguini to my saute mix - I had planned on adding some lemon zest since I thought it would go nicely with my parsley, but forgot (again, next time)
Added some freshly ground black pepper and of course had a nice big block of Parmesan cheese to be grated on top.

I loved the color with the green specks mixed in with the red of the sun dried tomato. Gary enjoyed it which = success.  I didn't mind the parsley, but I think basil would work so much better.
Note: I applied waaay more cheese than necessary, but I didn't take a picture of that because it wasn't esthetically pleasing, but it was taste wise:-)

This little one knows where to hang out during dinner- she's waiting for me to drop some goodies- "As if!"  She was waiting under Gary, but someone eats a lot faster than yours truly. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sweet Confections!

Hobby of the day: Baking

I have decided that I am going to attempt to work through both the Martha Stewart Cupcake Cookbook as well as the Cookie Cookbook. However, I will NOT be doing it everyday. I have neither the time, nor the energy, or the money for that matter.  Thankfully both Gary and I are teachers and have students who would love to consume goodies, as well as co-workers.  Unfortunately, the summer is coming, good thing, I have more time, bad thing, who will eat them?! 
Thus begins my challenge. My goal: to bake 2-4 times a month.

I made these sweet treats for my grandmother's birthday this past weekend.  She can't really have chocolate, so..... I made Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes, pg. 26 in the cupcake cookbook.  I topped them with a vanilla butter cream recipe that I got from here.

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks- room temperature
2 cups buttermilk- room temperature (** if you can't find buttermilk you can make your own, crazy I know it's really simple 1 cup of milk to 1 tablespoon lemon juice of white vinegar)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line standard muffin tins with cupcake liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
I heart my kitchen aid
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Reduce speed to medium.  Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.
I love my cookie/cupcake scoop
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes (I did 18 and it was fine, I also forgot to rotate- I did less time because I like my cupcakes to stay moist) Transfer to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupakes onto racks and let cook completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

On to the icing: For Christmas my mom gave me a great icing tip set, most of which I have yet to use.  I wanted to make the tops of the cupcakes extra special, go that extra mile. Enter Youtube......

It took me probably 1-2 hours to make the roses.  I had never ever made icing roses before, so it took me awhile to perfect them. Then transfer them to the cupcake and add the leaves. I tried to make my leaves like the guy on the video, but then I discovered I had leaf icing tips. I still can't figure out how to get my leaves to be fully pointy, but practice makes perfect/  

My grandmother has always had a green thumb. So I made, her own edible garden.  I really wanted to make more than roses, but when all was said and done, with coloring and filling bags and finding the right tips.... I didn't have the time or energy.  Until the next time....
First Successful Rose!

Grandma's Garden

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