Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pecan-Covered Cheese Block‏

This weekend is FULL of festivities, so I’m trying to get a few things done ahead of time. Tomorrow I have work, then my last fitting for my Halloween costume, aka, going to my grandmother’s house to pick up my costume and make sure she didn’t leave any straight pins in it! Then I’m going to a housewarming party. I’m always looking for new easy recipes for such events. After doing some research I found two that I’ll be using this weekend (the other to be taken to a Halloween party on Saturday).

I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart website for a Pistachio-Covered Cheese Log. I made a few changes, mostly to the name. "Cheese Block" sounds a little more appetizing than "Cheese Log". Gross.

I might have already taste-tested this and it’s simple but delicious. Also, if I make it again I’ll use reduced fat/fat free cream cheese. I think there’s a enough flavor in the other ingredients and air whipped into it to all you to cut some fat!

Pecan-Covered Cheese Block‏

• 1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 cup grated muenster or a sharp, white cheese
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 cup pecan pieces
• Crackers, for serving, such as Wheat Thins

1. With an electric mixer beat cream cheese, cheddar, Dijon, and Worcestershire until well combined; season with salt and pepper (taste first, I found it needed a pinch of salt but a lot of pepper). Cover, and refrigerate until slightly firm, 1 to 2 hours.
2. Toast pecan pieces and then transfer to a plate; let cool.
3. Transfer cheese mixture to a piece of waxed paper and shape into a 6-inch-long log/brick. Cover with pecans. Wrap in a fresh piece of waxed paper; chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours (or up to 1 day). Serve with crackers.

On the road again

I’ve been doing a bit better about waking up feeling rested and not needing to crash in the middle of the day. Of course, this is in part due to two cups (mugs) of coffee every morning. I didn’t have milk yesterday and so I had to forgo the caffeine, and by 12:30 pm I was in full-on zombie mode. Luckily it was my conference period so truly for about two hours I was just spacing out. That’s really a horrible feeling, you know!? Such torture. You’re not comfortable enough to sleep or stay awake.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’m teaching, and I guess I’ve been keeping secrets (I love secrets). I’m subbing right now as I finish an alternative certification program. The more I’m in the classroom the more I realize this is such the right thing for me to be doing. I feel as though throughout my life I always come to forks in the road and choose to go left when I should go right. Usually the journey still has its memorable moments, and wonderful friends are always met, but about halfway I realize I should have gone a different route. This has happened many, many times. A few years ago I faced this fork, and chose to go to seminary rather than go into teaching. I can honestly say that from the very beginning I knew I had made the wrong decision. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning, and some of the professors, and the people I met, but from the very start I knew that my “ministry” would not take place in a church. So I pondered social work, and thankfully I lived with two social workers, because while they loved what they were doing I knew that wasn’t exactly what I wanted either.

And so two years later…nearly three really…I’m back where I started. But this time I know where I want to be (with friends and family and in the city) and where I’m going. And it’s such a good feeling. It’s a peace I haven’t felt for truly more than 3 years. I think the constant feeling of anxiety was part of my everyday life, and it only caused concerned when, say, I couldn’t sleep for days straight or I had massive panic attacks.

Throughout high school I had it in my head I was going to be a teacher, then my senior year I started having a lot of doubts and became very indecisive. This indecisiveness stayed with me through college (hello, I changed my major 13 times). All that to say, I have not felt doubt or anxiety to the level I had grew accustomed to during these last few months. I have only felt affirmation by being in the classroom, and encouragement from friends and family. Of course, my mother always new this is what I would end up doing (how do mothers always know?)

Post to come soon about my training for my first two back-to-back half marathons!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fridays are for...

Finishing the last few pages of the book on your nightstand.

"Anyhow, he gives large parties,” said Jordan, changing the subject with an urban distaste for the concrete. “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursdays are for...

Yummy Mexican candy.  Thanks, Nana.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesdays are for...

A stomach virus (boo) and  international shopping sprees (yay!)

Daily Training
XT: Trying not to lose my lunch

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesdays are for...

DVRd, and then watched mostly on FF to skip the 1 1/2 hours of crying.  I just have to see the weigh in and the update of the person who gets kicked off at the end.  These people are amazing!

Daily Training
XT: P90X Yoga, push up challenge
Run: 1 mi

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mondays are for...


Daily Training
XT: Muscle Blast, Spin
Run: 1 mi

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Finding balance...

Um, where have I been? This last week was insane in the membrane. Waking up at 5:45 am, passing out by 8:30 pm, only to wake up again at 10 pm a bit wired and having to force myself to sleep. This was my sleep routine every day this week. On top of that I wore horrible (yet beautiful) shoes on Monday and could barely make it out to my car at the end of the day. My feet ached all week.

Confession: I did not run Wed or Thurs. Excuses, excuses, I’m sad I broke my plan to run 30 consecutive days, but I can say those were much needed days of rest.

Excuse for not running Wednesday:

I SAW U2!!!!!!!!! A total surprise. In the middle of the day I received an email from my aunt who wanted to know if I’d be interested in seeing U2 that night. Um, hello! YES! After a v. full and tough day with kindergarteners I jumped in my car and drove straight home to change. This quick-change also included a short rest on my bed. I truly almost couldn’t get up, and I was falling asleep trying to drive over to meet my aunt. I was just so worn out. But we are talking about U2 and I was not about to miss it! Muse went on first and they were phenomenal! I had only heard one of their songs before, but they are so my favorites now! I came home and downloaded the set list from the concert. They’re like Ozma/The Killers with a little Freddie Mercury thrown in. Then U2 came on…

I mean, they’re iconic. I can’t believe I saw them. Bono has so much energy! They all do! And he has some pretty interesting stage moves…and big stacked shoes. And The Edge—beanie, flannel, black tank, paint splattered fashion jeans. They played lots off the new album, but threw in some classics: Mysterious Ways, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Sunday Bloody Sunday, One, Where the Streets Have No Name, and With or Without You.

They also sang Walk On, which was written as a tribute to Burmese elected Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest on and off since 1990 (14 years of house arrest). She won the election in 1990, but the military junta refused to honor the results of the democratic election. The few times that she has been released from house arrest she has remained in Burma, knowing that if she were ever to leave she would not be allowed to return. Though she is separated from her husband and children (who live in the UK), she is committed to the Burmese and fighting for their democratic movement. Needless to say I cried at the concert.

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you've got they can't deny it
Can’t sell it, can’t buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

And I may cry again…

Thursday I was feeling ill. My throat was hurting and I was pulling in a zero on my energy level. I chose to just stay in and rest.

After a long day at work on Friday I came home ready to run, and run I did! I was only supposed to run 2 miles but I ran a great, fast, and steady 4 miles, then took the daschund for a mile walk as a cool down. I felt like I could have run forever, which is always such a great feeling!

And last night saw Where The Wild Things Are. I loved it! I cried little monster tears at the end (What is up with me and crying this week?!) Spike Jonze did a phenomenal job. I’m going to go see it again next weekend.

OK, I think I’m back on track with my life. I’m busy studying, figuring out my Halloween costume, and enjoying our fabulous weather here in Houston! I love cool temps and sunshine.  I'm also trying to find a balance between these long, exhausting days of work, running, and just being healthy in general (aka, trying to avoid swine flu).  I'm ready for a new week :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rain + Pan Dulce

The past two days have been rainy, gloomy, and super steamy. It would be one thing if it looked like this and you opened the door and smelled smoke from fireplaces. Instead, you're forced to walk through the heavy wet air.

Regardless of the temperature, rainy days are always meant for eating a bit of pan dulce and sipping on coffee, tea, or hot chocolate (preferably Mexican hot chocolate!) After church we grabbed a taco at our favorite taqueria and also bought a few sweet treats: some crumbly sugar cookies and mini sweet breads. If you've never ventured into a Mexican bakery, also known as a panaderia, you should! Don't be intimidated. At most stores you simply grab a large tray and some tongs and go shelf to shelf picking out whatever you want. And don't be afraid to pile those treats high, because more than likely it will only cost between $5-$10. We bought 4 of the breads pictured above, and 6 cookies for $3!

I was on my feet all day and wore some gorgeous, yet impractical, patent leather plum wedges. I barely made it to my car after work! I went straight to the gym to do my short run and felt.every.step. I'm about to soak the tootsies for a bit and then indulge in some Gossip Girl before bed :)

I was recently given a copy of P90X by a friend. I'm a bit nervous, seeing as how when he handed it to me he told me he threw up after the first 30 minutes. What?! I'm going to give it go tonight, but if it's out of control I'm stopping--it's not worth losing my pan dulce over!

Daily Training
Run: 2 mi
Previewed P90X

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall & funnel cake fun

I woke up early for my first long run of my half training. I usually have to get up before the sun to ensure some cooler temps, however this morning I remembered it was going to be “cold” all day and so I slept in. Got up and going around 10 a.m. and did my 6 mi in 59 degree temps! I made the mistake of not eating a little something before I left, and I didn’t drive out and leave my water bottle at my halfway point so I had to carry it more than I wanted to. I have no idea why that water bottle kills me and my arm, but it does and it drains me of energy. I wasn't feeling stellar until mile 4, and then I was only motivated by the opportunity to eat oatmeal!  I finished my run, jumped in the shower, ate some oatmeal and then went right back to bed. It was a good morning :)

This afternoon I went to our community’s Fall Back Festival, and you know what street festivals mean—funnel cake! I shared one with my little mom and we sat on the curb and chatted and people-watched. At one point in time, Sylvan Beach was considered a resort area. However, several hurricanes and decades of serious erosion took a toll on the beach. The city was fortunate enough to be included in a beach revitalization grant and there is tons of sand being dumped out there right now. On top of that there are many building projects taking place "downtown". I am all about community development, and I’m excited to see the how these projects will impact the community.

Here’s a picture of the original entrance to Sylvan Beach, taken a million years ago…

And here is a picture from today! Someone built this little replica. I thought it was so cute!

Daily Training
Run: 6 mi
TAL: Switched at Birth

Friday, October 9, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside!

It’s 61 degrees!!!!!!!!

I think all of Houston has been on pins and needles this week to see if the rumors were true: a cold front?!?!?! A few days ago it was 100 degrees, and tonight it’s 61!. Around 10:30 this morning I was getting ready when the lights started flickering. At first I thought, oh great, someone forgot to pay the electric. I checked to see if it was raining since I hadn’t heard thunder. As I was looked out the window I saw a clear view in front of me, and a split second later the skies just opened and dumped rain on us! It was the craziest thing. Then a moment later the rain went from flowing straight down to flying sideways. It was so windy. This lasted about 20 minutes and then settled into a constant rain flow. It’s been like this for 10 hours and the temps just keep dropping. Cold autumn weather for a few days!

I’ve been browsing a lot of beauty blogs this week (why have I been ignoring them???), and on Temptalia they have a weekly survey. Here are their Q's and my A's:

What was the last eyeshadow you bought?
Maybelline Stylish Smokes in Natural Smokes (love it! have it in Velvet Crush too)

What was the last eyeshadow you wore?
Amaretto by Laura Mercier (the brown color)

What was the last eyeshadow you finished?
Tempting by MAC

And I've decided to mention which This American Life podcast I listen to during a long run/workout (those that last at least an hour)

Daily Training
XT: Elliptical
TAL: The Book That Changed Your Life
Run: 1 mi

"Ah, push it" ~Salt-N-Pepa

For the running folks: How do you do your tempo run? I had a 5 mi tempo run on the schedule today, including a “warm-up/cool down and 3 mi @ 10:50” (that’s what my training plan from RW said) . I usually just go out and run an easy 5 mi when I see this, but I did some research and basically came to the conclusion that there are a million variations of the tempo run. I need feedback.

Have you heard of the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge? I came across this site a few months ago, but just bookmarked it and didn’t think about it again. In the weightlifting/step class I go to at the gym (SET) we always take a minute to do as many push ups as possible. Now, push ups have never been my forte. Last year I took part in a boot camp and when I did push ups I would always start out in the modified position. I could do tons of modified push ups, but couldn’t do a single standard one! My cutie trainer was very good about calling me out and letting me know he knew I could do a few standard push ups. He told me to always start out doing standards until I can’t take it, and the finish out with modified push ups. So, I still use that same approach in SET.

Now, I don’t do the best standard pushups, but I’m hoping my form will get better the more I do them. You do a few sets of push ups 3 days a week for six weeks, and hopefully at the end you can do 100 of them. I’ll be happy if I can half that! Know that you can also follow this plan doing modified push ups.

There’s also a 200 sit ups and 200 squats challenge on the site too! I think I’ll pass for now…

Daily Training
XT: Pushups Challenge, Wk 1 Day 1
Run: 5 mi
TAL: Frenemies

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mail Day!

Highlights from the day:

Went on a walk around noon to pick up some pinecones for a project. Wandered too far with the daschund, was attacked by hoards of mosquitoes, and we both nearly died of heat exhaustion. Apparently the heat index was 100 F. Came home and laid on the floor under the fan with a wet towel on my head. Daschund did the same.

Received my second postcard, this time from BPS member Melissa in Washington! Mailed my “sizzling hot” postcard to Leah in London!

Thank you, M!

Hope you're well, L!

Ran 1 mi and went to SET (Strength Endurance Training), where there were tons of new people.

Came home and watched my DVRd epi of today’s Oprah after reading this morning that this amazing blogger/momma was going to be on! She and her husband were in a terrible plane crash but survived. I cried three times while reading her blog, especially reading this post. Their life is a love story, and it’s just getting more and more beautiful each day.

Daily Training
XT: S.E.T.@24
Run: 1 mi

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


This weekend I attended The Original Greek Festival here in Houston.  Despite the rain which forced us to huddle around a tiny table inside the tent we still enjoyed some delicious food and drink!  While my friends opted for souvlaki (meat on a stick) I hit up the spanakopita and dolmade stand. The spanakopita was out of this world, perhaps the best I've ever had. I'm usually not a fan of dolmades, but like oatmeal I'm always willing to give them a second chance. They were definitely the best I've had, but the dolmade is still going to have to win me over. As for the was good and plentiful :)

To continue on with all things Greek, I finally shelled out some Washingtons for Greek yogurt!  I can understand why people love it.  I really can't believe it's fat free!  And the amount of protein is amazing.  However, at $1 a 1/2 cup I have been savoring each bite.  Luckily I have a few coupons, which will drop it down to a price comparable to Rachel's, and I'm fine paying that much.  I've had it with honey and also with my cocoa/cinnamon mix.

Went for a 2 mi run today at the gym.  I felt silly driving out to the gym to run and my little green heart was dying a little, but it was 91 degrees outside.  Remember how I said I was going to run every day to see the change in seasons?  Texas is not cooperating with me.  It's not supposed to "cool" down until Saturday when Canada sends us a cold front.  I'll have to make sure to wake up early for my run or else I will be running in the muggy heat...and will probably pass out...and be carried off by wild dogs...or cows since I run past a pasture full of them.

On BTT where I'm logging my runs there's a place to enter the temperature.  I'm going to start logging the temps so I can see how crazy the weather in October really is here in Houston!  This is what we've had so far:

We were lucky it was cool on Saturday for the race, but 71?  More like 78.  With the exception of Saturday and today the rest of those days I ran at night, so yeah  it's still pretty warm here.  My friends in CA and NY are living it up in the 60s and low 70s.  Whatever.

Daily Training
Run: 2 mi on treadmill

“L: I want you to want me, need me, love me.” -Oatmeal

I have a strange attraction to oatmeal. I’m not talking about oatmeal in general, though I do love all things oats, but a hot bowl of the stuff. I love that it’s comforting and filling, that it sticks with you all day. I love that especially during fall you start seeing commercials of people running in from the cold outdoors and are greeted with a steaming bowl of oats.

However, I hate the way oatmeal tastes. Well, not tastes, but its consistency. I actually prefer to pour cold milk over it and have it that way. Every year or so I try to give it another chance, and not even a single spoonful can ever be swallowed.

But here I am again, trying to figure out how to become an oatmealer.

After a lot of research, I found this website. This girl loves her some oatmeal. After looking through a few dozen of her posts she restored my determination. Kath has some of the most fun add-ins! I’m all about accessorizing. Unfortch since I’m still new at this I only had a few of Kath’s staples: peanut butter and honey.

I knew that I needed the oats to be on the dry side. I mixed ½ c oats with 1/3 c milk and a pinch of salt and threw it in the microwave. The oats had absorbed all of the liquid and were just barely softened. I know it isn’t the traditional soupy/creamy oatmeal, but I loved it!!!!!! Finally a consistency that I can enjoy. To be honest, the PB didn’t really do much for me. I’m going to add a cinnamon/cocoa powder/sugar mixture to it tomorrow and see how that goes. Next week I’ll go look for some fun toppings that were featured on the blog. How do you like your oatmeal???

In other news, today was day one of my 15 week half marathon training! On top of that I’m still trying to run every day this month, but I’m realizing the importance of taking time off to rest. I decided that on my XT/Rest days I will ONLY run 1 mi. I’m not allowing myself to run more. This is a little difficult because I feel silly running for 10 mins. To not look like a complete lame-o at the gym today I ran a mile and then walked on huge incline for another ½ mile. Tomorrow I’m scheduled to do a 2 mi run. I need to not be impatient because I have 6 miles ahead of me on Saturday and my weekday mileage will start getting up there soon enough! I’m also going to start adding my training logs at the end of each post.

Each yummy image borrowed from Kath Eats Real Food.

Daily Training
XT: Muscle Blast & Crunch @24
Run: 1.5 mi

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Soup Season

In this month’s issue of Fitness they have a section on soup recipes. I love soup. I usually make a pot and eat it the whole week...or in a few days if I eat it for lunch and dinner. You can find all of the recipes here. I tried the White Bean Chili and felt it was very bland. Despite cooking the meat with the onion and garlic it really had no taste. You definitely need to experiment and add some spices. And on the issue of spices, isn’t that a trademark of chili? This soup (and that’s what it was, soup and not chili) didn’t thicken and really needed to be kicked up a notch on the spicy side.

The next soup I tried was the Cannellini and Cabbage. I’m a fan of cabbage soups, and while there isn’t a whole lot to this recipe, I felt that the flavor was there. I’m usually not big on thyme, but this was the perfect amount of earthiness. A very simple soup, but still very comforting! Veggie friendly (use veggie stock or bouillon instead of chicken), and really cheap to make!  I think I spent less than $5 buying the canned goods and veggies.

Cannellini and Cabbage Soup
Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage (I used a bit more, and added more water and boullion to cover)
2 carrots, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced (I used lots of garlic powder, though I think real garlic would have been better)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cans (14 ounces each) low-sodium chicken broth (I used veggie boullion)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over high heat. Add cabbage, carrots, garlic, thyme, and pepper; cook 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Stir in broth, undrained tomatoes, water, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 8 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Mash half the beans with a fork. Add all the beans to the pot. Heat through and serve.

Cals: 164 calories
Fat: 4
Carbs: 30
Fiber: 9
Protein: 11

Saturday, October 3, 2009

“I've got all my life to live , I've got all my love to give and I'll survive.”

Well Race for the Cure is complete! I spent way too much time last night working on my fab t-shirt, only to discover today that only survivors are supposed to wear pink. Oops! Please share the pink love. Anyway, loved my shirt regardless, though next year I will be investing in some of that stuff that you can print on and then iron on. I had the great idea to paint my shirt…but long story short it took way too long and involved too many steps. This morning I wanted to write the names of my donors on the back, but with no time to spare I took a sharpie to it and had to tell my OCD to take a time out.

My shirt said, “I’m running for survivors: Aunt Alice, Cousin Karen, Am’s Aunt Joan.” My friend Amber donated in honor of her aunt and I was very excited to add her to my shirt!

This morning I woke up and ate some breakfast and drank a bit of coffee. I’ve read that drinking a little bit of coffee can give you an added boost, and I’ve tried it before and it worked. We were in the car by 6:40 am, and the start time wasn’t until 8:20am. As soon as we got downtown the traffic was completely backed up at the exit. We could see down below the overpass and there were THOUSANDS of people! Luckily we found parking quickly and shuffled into the park. I knew it was going to be a large turnout, but seriously it was insane! Over 30,000 people were registered and who knows how many more just showed up. It was great to see everyone decked out, to read the names of their loved ones, and to check out all the funny costumes! Apparently Houston’s turnout is the largest nationwide and the top fundraiser, raising over $3,000,000. The best part about Race for the Cure is that about 85% stays within that area for education, screening and treatment programs for people in that community.

We made our way to the staging area. My friend and I were running, but my sweet mom was walking. At an event like this there are so many walkers, I was nervous for her. The runners started first and the walkers started about 30 minutes after. At around mi 2.5 I heard my mom yell my name. She was walking on one side of the street and I was running back on the other side. I can’t believe she found me!

Can you see me?

I knew that the starting line was going to be crazy, and it was. I really wanted to have a time in the 30s, but also knew I didn’t want to over exert myself dodging people. Well, I was zigzagging all over the place. There were walkers in the mix, non-competitive runners, people who were already walking from the get-go (no judgment, truly, they were probably on a walk/run schedule). I made it to mi 1 in a little under 10 mins. I felt good, but was nervous about keeping up that pace. As we turned down a residential road it was so exciting to see that people had decorated the balconies of their apartments with pink ribbon balloons, signs, and even a huge ribbon that draped all the way down the side of the building. There were even local musicians, like a lone guy and his guitar or the small band set up around mi 2, who just stood on the side of the road and played for us. It was great!

At mi 2 I was feeling ok, I had gotten into a rhythm and made it to the marker in a little over 10 mins. I knew that if I want to be in the 30’s I was going to have to keep the pace. At one point you dip down on an underpass (score), but have to crawl back out of there. Then, what had been a relatively flat race suddenly had a constant incline. It wasn’t too bad, but I was freaking out a little on the inside because I could feel myself struggling to keep my stride long and my pace up. I picked up my pace a bit and then suddenly saw the 3 mi marker ahead. I told myself I was going to sprint to the very end, but as I ran past the marker everyone ahead of me had stopped. I didn’t know if we were finished or if people were confused. They were giving out water ahead and between the volunteers and the people cheering it was very congested. I was still confused (what happened to the .1 mi?), but figured there was nothing I could do about it now. I found my friends and then waited on my moms.
Team Borrego

Running Buddy Races for the Cure, too

Let me tell you, when I crossed the finish line there were people still lining up to walk. When we left an hour and a half later, people were still walking, like, at the starting line! There were that many people. I couldn’t believe it.

The only thing I was a little upset about is that there were no recycling bins for the tons of water bottles and yogurt they were handing out. There really wasn’t any other food, so recycling bins were more in need than regular trash bins. I’m going to send a letter into the race organizers. As I’m doing more races I’m noticing that this is a problem. The events are great, and I’m glad more people than ever before are participating in runs, but we have to take a little responsibility with the logistics of disposing of plastic water bottles.

Ok, I-Love-Earth rant is over. On to the good news…

I have a new 5K PR of 00:30:54! I barely made it, I’m so happy!!!! I’m realizing it’s a lot harder to shave off minutes/seconds, and so you got to celebrate each personal record.