February 27, 2012

The Princess Half Marathon

I can’t believe I actually did it. Considering everything that has happened since signing up for the race in October, I’m still slightly unsure that was me crossing the finish line.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I, the non-athlete, have had a few spurts of dedicated exercise throughout the past year. Some were specifically dedicated to running, but life took some serious turns in December and I was never able to complete my training as planned. I found myself working two jobs and struggling to find time to eat breakfast and dinner, let alone run or write. Everything was going to calm down soon, but the time when everything would shift gears coincided with the weekend of a race for which I’d already registered.

I seriously considered bailing. When I told people why I was headed to Florida in a few short days, friends and family fell into two camps. Some said, “There’s no way you can do this. You haven’t trained, you’re going to hurt yourself. You just aren’t capable of completing 13+ miles.” Others said, “Eh, you’ll be fine. You’ll be surprised what you’re capable of if you don’t give up. Just do it, you’ll really be okay.” Most of the people who thought I’d be okay never saw me run. Trust me, it isn’t pretty.

Until I got to Florida, I didn’t have time to weigh my options. I accepted everyone’s opinions (usually with a smile), stored them in a little piece of my brain, and carried on. There were more immediate issues at hand that needed my attention than $150+ in non-refundable fees.

And then it was here: Race Weekend. read more »

January 8, 2012

Memory Lane: Chard and Beans

I’m back home in my cozy New York apartment after six hours in a cramped airplane middle seat with no TV.  So much for choosing the airline with personal TVs that puts “You Above All.”  On the bright side, the lack of DirecTV gave me some time to take a few naps, do some puzzles, and clean up my computer’s hard drive. Wow, that sounds super cool. Really though, it needed to be done. I haven’t organized anything on my computer in years. I found pictures of old dishes I considered writing about, task lists I wrote on some of my busiest of days, screenshots from various research endeavors, old papers from school, and snapshots from special occasions. It turned out to be a fun trip down memory lane, looking back in the kitchen of my old apartment and visits to places around the world.  After a weekend full of sharing old stories with my family out in California, and now again simply looking at some old computer files, I’m reminded that stories don’t always have to be shiny and new to be exciting.

So, for a series of ten posts, I’m going to take a step back into 2010 and 2011.  Whether it’s from trips I’ve taken, restaurants we’ve tried, or some food we cooked up in the kitchen, I’ll share some of my fondest food memories not-yet-shared from the past year and a half. To kick it off, I’m starting with my absolute top go-to recipe.  One that I almost can’t believe has never made it’s way on here, but I sort of can because, after all, this is not purely a recipe blog.

Memory Lane #1: A Recipe  – Chard and Beans

The photos below are from my first week in the new apartment.  If you look in the background you’ll see our entryway mirror still on the ground, not yet hung up on the wall.  I’m sure I made this dish because between our repainting, rearranging, and redecorating, it was so easy to whip up and the beans make it a really satisfying meal.

My first attempt at this recipe happened when we got Swiss chard in our CSA pickups last winter.   I found a recipe online, and modified it a bit because (1) I’m personally not a great fan of garbanzo beans and (2) I didn’t have any green onions at the time.  The aromatic lemony sauce that forms from wilted greens, shallots, tomatoes, and lemons is one that I adore, and I can easily eat this dish every week.

First up, put a couple of drops of olive oil in a pan with a diced shallot or two and some halved little tomatoes.  I only use 2 or 3 grams of oil, but you can use more if you like. I’ve used a whole tomato and diced that instead of the little ones too – either way works.

Let that cook for five minutes or so until it becomes fragrant and the shallots are turning translucent.

read more »

January 6, 2012

Goodbye, Grandpa

I’m writing this post from 35,923 feet up in the air, zooming above the clouds on my way out to California.

airplane map

I need to learn a better way to share this information with people in conversation.  Whenever I’m telling someone face-to-face that I’m heading to the airport, I’m inevitably met with an excited, “Ooo, have fun! Where are you going?” Problem is, it’s not always a pleasure trip.

read more »

January 1, 2012

A New Year

I don’t think New Year’s resolutions are terrible.  I think the way a lot of people go about them sets themselves up for failure and that’s the problem.  Resolutions should be a result of reflection of what you really want out of this year, and out of your life as a whole.

One of my goals since the summer of 2010 was to become a healthier, fitter version of myself.  I’ve had ebbs and flows of commitment to this goal, so really January 1st is as good a time as any to remind myself that this is something I want.  It’s not something other people want for me, or something I feel pressured to do by others.  It’s something I really want. 2011 was full of changes for me, from recommitting myself to spending my time well and taking big steps in changing my life to lead one that leaves me feeling more fulfilled and happy in the days to come. It wasn’t born out of a date on the calendar, but a feeling inside that time was slipping away from me and I wasn’t doing things that make me happy or the world a better place to live. So, it’s time to re-acknowledge these things.  I don’t want to set goals of numbers and figures, but ideas.

1. Focus on health.  Not in a way that’s boring or tedious, but in a way that reminds me of the good flavors of wholesome real food and the intrinsic energy I feel when I move more.  On this quiet, winter morning when all I could think of were pancakes, I shifted my thoughts to sweet, delicious fruit, which always gives me pep. I could always have the pancakes later if I still want them, but once I had the clementines, the pancakes became a distant thought.

2. Drink more water.  An item under the category of health really, but worth recognizing on its own.  When I drink more water, I eat better and feel better.  Lately I’ve been sliding back to more iced teas and hot cocoas and less water.  I want to remember that the sugary teas and cocoas are a treat, and not a daily one at that.

3. Appreciate myself for who I am.  Sometimes I beat myself up over little things, or replay events trying to fix them. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t help. I’m sure there are things I can do better in the future, so I’d rather focus on that than reliving what’s done.

4. Spend time doing good things.  Not everything has to be world-changing, but I do like having an impact.  If the things I spend my time doing are a vapid time suck, they’re pretty pointless.

and most importantly

5. Wake up each day grateful that I have the next 24 hours ahead of me to do things that are exciting and good. Be appreciative of this time and don’t let it go without gratitude.

I keep writing and rewriting what I want to say about this point, but I’m having trouble putting it down in words. Maybe I can come back to it, because I can’t seem to do it justice.

Here’s to you, readers and friends.  Here’s to a happy, healthy new year.

Clementines on a plate

 

December 20, 2011

More of Life’s Surprises (and some Peanut Butter Truffles)

It’s been a wild few weeks over in this household. Christmas shopping is thankfully done, presents wrapped, holiday arrangements are made, new jobs started… Oh, had I not mentioned that yet?

Crazy as it may seem, I had the perfect job come knocking on my door at precisely the right moment.  If you’ve been following along with me for the past six months, you may have picked up that I’ve been doing a bunch of freelance work for some great non-profit organizations while I figured out what I want to do for the next five years of my life.  (Thinking beyond five years is just plain silly at this point.  Really, did you know you’d be where you are five years ago?)

And finally, I found it.

read more »