Taking Stock

Before you go grocery shopping each week, you have to first take stock of what you have on hand. From there you can decide what you are going to cook for the week and what you need to buy at the grocery store. For me, what is on sale or what is fresh that week at the store often determines what I make.

There are certain things you just always have in your pantry. There are other things that you buy once a month and others that you buy every week. There's a way to go about it in an organized manner; sometimes I manage to do it better than other times.

Pantry Staples (Buy in bulk a few times a year and/or always have on hand)

*  Baking goods: Flour, Sugar, cocoa powder, splenda, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, chocolate chips

*  Oatmeal, raisins, flax seed, chia seeds

*  Dried items: Pasta, Rice, Dried Beans, Coffee

*   Canned items: Tomato Paste, chicken stock, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, evaporated milk

*  Spices, salt, pepper, peanut butter, honey, olive oil, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar

Fridge Staples:

* Mustard, ginger, shriracha, mayonaise, ranch dressing

* Almond butter, miso paste, tahini, sweet chili sauce, almond milk

Freezer Staples:

* Veggies: Frozen corn, edamame

* Meat: Chicken pieces, frozen shrimp

* Stuff I made in the past: pizza dough, sauces, muffins and mini meals (which will be talked about in more detail in a future meal planning post),

Monthly Buys:

* Steel cut oats, nuts, dried fruit,

* Yellow onions, potatoes, winter squash, Serrano or other peppers, garlic

* Coffee

Weekly Buys:

* Fresh fruit, vegetables

* Creamer, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese

Pioneer Woman's stock list.

Some of the items I bought this week: butternut squash, cantaloupe, celery, red cabbage, pumpkin, mango, plums, peaches, apples, pears, Brussels sprouts, chicken breasts (0.99/lb!!).

Every week I make a big batch of something and freeze several portions for weekly meals, as well as making things like salad fixings in advance so I can just grab and go during the week. I am going to talk about that more next week, but for now, I will leave you with one of my favorite easy meals that you can use in several different ways.

Crock Pot Whole Chicken

I know, a whole chicken is a little scary. However, recently they were .99 cents a pound and so I picked up a nice one (about 5 lbs) for a steal (you do the math).

(1) Buy a whole chicken.

(2) Once you get the chicken home, take the gizzards out of the inside and feed them to the cat.

(3) Mix together your favorite spices. I used salt, pepper, a bit of red pepper flakes and Old Bay seasoning. Rub them all over the chicken, both inside and out. Make sure you get the armpits and all the other orifices.

(4) Cut up an onion. Place it in the bottom of the crock. Put the spice rubbed chicken on top of it. 

(5) Set it on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours. When it's done, the juices should run clear and the arm should easily pull off the chicken. Yes, in my world, chickens have arms.

(6) Take the chicken out of the crock. ** Now comes the fun part!** Leave everything else in the crock. Remove the skin from the chicken. Throw it back in the crock. Remove all the chicken from the bones. Throw the bones back in the crock. Throw the bone carcass back in the pot.

(7) Put the chicken meat aside. Fill the crock up with water and leave it overnight, or for about 8 hours on low. The next day, strain the liquid into quart jars/containers. You now have stock!

So. To recap. You now have... three to five meals worth of chicken (depending on your family size) plus about 12 cups of stock (in my case)! All for around $5.00!

Happy meal planning! Go check out Jill and Laura's sites for this week's What's For Dinner linkup!

Do you have a cheap, go-to meal that you use over and over? Do you like to cook? Do you plan out your meals or just fly by the seat of your pants?


Do and Do Not (4): Running

Remember the Do and Do Not posts? I haven't done one of these in a while. After the last time I did one, I ended up going running without wearing underwear, and it was fun.  Let's see what this one brings about.

I do:

- Try to run at least 20 miles a week. Even on a busy week, I try to run at least 20 miles, for several reasons. It makes me feel so much better if I have run during the week. It keeps stress levels down, releases endorphins and just makes me an overall more relaxed and happy person. But also, I know that it has health benefits, so I try not to let myself get lazy and put it off, when I know deep down that it's doing me good!

- Run different routes. I am a creature of habit. However, when running, I love getting to know my neighborhood. I have a few parts of the loop from the house, the start and the end usually, which are generally the same, but not always! My loop changes and each day I get to know more and more of my surroundings! Also, I like to go out on the trails once or twice a week and each time, I find a new hidden gem in the forest!

- Carry my phone with me when I run. This is for a few reasons. One, I use the camera. Two, I use it for music. Three, if I need it, I have a phone. I have only used the phone once or twice, and usually on an incoming call. I have never (knock, knock) had to use it for an emergency. In case you are wondering, in case of emergency, I also wear a Road ID, carry my bus pass and have my emergency five.

I have a lot of gear

- Wear a sweatband on my wrist (it is also handy for wiping your nose and mouth). This has been a more useful thing than I ever would have thought. I not only use it to wipe moisture in all it's forms from my body, but I also use it to hold my half eaten Gus (see below for clarification).

I do not:

- Like Gu. I know you all know this, since I talk about it a lot. However, I need to clarify. I never BUY Gu, but I have several different flavors that I have gotten as race swag and have been trying them all, just to see if I would find one that I like. I have found some that are not as bad: the Roctane Chocolate Raspberry for instance. However, like I stated above, I prefer to eat a quarter of it at a time, over the course of maybe a half an hour or an hour. One I really don't like? The Power Bar Strawberry Banana Gel. It made me want to hurl.


- Wear compression socks. I am not saying I don't like to, I just have never tried it. Tell me folks, what's all the fuss about?

- Wear running skirts. Or skirts in general. I hate my legs. I am a pants wearer. I only wear running shorts because I would die of heat exhaustion if I didn't, but I wouldn't mind if they were longer. Whatever, it's about function not fashion.

- Foam roll. I know, I know. I should do it. Misszippy recently linked to this article, which talks about whether or not stretching is actually good for you or not. If you go through some of the comments, he does endorse foam rolling, just not unnatural stretches. Personally, I have been lucky to not be injured and I feel great after long runs, so I have never gotten into the habit.

- Take ice baths. I tried it once, and didn't notice a difference, so decided not to subject myself to the pain and anguish. I would rather do a drink-wine-and-wear-warm-wool-socks-and-pajama-while-watching-Greys Anatomy recovery period. It sounds much more enticing.

Do you do any of these things? Are there any things you do that you think I should try? How do you feel about running skirts?

Don't forget to stop by Jills for more Fitness Friday posts!


Wine and Love (7)

Remember Wine & Love? Nora used to host this, but she has since stopped doing it. However, she is getting married soon and so I though I would honor her by doing her old meme! Congrats Nora! I am sure as I write this she is running around like a chicken with her head cut off, trying to get all those last minute organizational things done!

In case you forgot, because it has been a while, this is where you recap what has been going on in your life that makes you whine/need a glass of wine vs what you love!


* Dogs, or perhaps I should say dog owners. I am not afraid of getting hit by a car, but I am worried that my running accident will involve a dog. People don't watch what their dogs are doing!

* Lack of sleep. It's my own fault. I have chosen to hang out with friends, read, or eat instead of sleeping. But sometimes it hits me hard in the middle of the day.

* People at work who talk about how busy they always are, but then I catch them doing Sudoku at their desk.

* The animal who is eating my zucchinis. Get your grubby paws (and teeth) off of my salad!! I can't figure out what it is..squirrel? Mouse?

nibble nibble

* Omaha Steaks. I bought my brother some as a Christmas gift last year, and now they keep calling me and sending me crap and emailing me. Go away! Stop calling me! Grrr. 


* Evening runs! They have been cool and great and even though it's been dark much of the time, I am not hating it! 

* I went to a Giants game on Tuesday night. I was just sitting there minding my own business when 4 of my cousins and my Aunt and Uncle showed up unexpectedly. None of us knew that the other would be there! In a stadium of 45 thousand people, that's quite a coincidence!

* Chocolate Zucchini Muffins! The last time I made them, I added carrots too! Yum!

* Tomatoes! From the vine.

* Foggy mornings that burn off into sunny, crisp days.

* New running friends.

* My brother and his running. He puts his Garmin stats online, so I have been stalking him quietly. He is up to a 10k and is doing it in under an hour! I am so proud of him!

What's making you whine? What do you love? Have you ever unexpectedly bumped into a friend in a strange place?


Chocolate Zucchini

I like to bake. I don't always follow directions.  I recently had some extra zucchinis from the garden and I was feeling like something chocolatey but not too sweet, so I found a recipe for these Oil Free Zucchini Muffins. But of course, I like to add stuff and delete stuff and mess things up a bit. The recipe was adapted from here. It specifically said not to use whole wheat flour.

But I wanted to.

(PS she did say you could use whole wheat pastry flour if you want to, but that you shouldn't use regular whole wheat flour.) I also use Splenda® rather than sugar most of the time, but you can use agave syrup or maple syrup or sugar if you like. Also, in the end, she was right, the whole wheat flour made the batter a little gummy, so I added a bit of applesauce just for fun.

Oil-Free Chocolate Zucchini Walnut Muffins

Yield: 20 - 24 muffins


1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water)
2 cups zucchini
1 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
2 tsp  lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat (pastry) flour (or all-purpose)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Splenda® (or sugar)
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 - 1 cup applesauce (depending on moisture level. I added this at the end)

- Mix flax and water together and set aside to thicken. Mix almond milk and lemon together and set aside to curdle.

- Mix all dry ingredients together.

- Mix all wet ingredients, including flax egg and almond milk together, then add in chocolate chips and nuts. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry.

- Put 1/4 cup of batter into each section of a greased muffin tin using a 1/4 measuring cup.

- Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Muffins are done when toothpick comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack in the tin before taking them out of the tin and letting them cool completely.

- Try not to eat three of them right away like I did.

- Take them to work and give them away before you eat all 24 of them. 

- Get strange looks when you use the word "chocolate" and the word "zucchini" in the same sentence.

Now, since I am on the subject of recipes and food, I want to talk about something exciting coming up. My friends Jill and Laura are starting a new feature called What's for Dinner, which is a weekly collection of posts (and a link up) about menu planning. It's purpose is to encourage each other and to hold each other accountable as we purposefully plan out regular, weekly meal menus. These posts will be on Sundays and I am looking forward to participating, because I love planning out my weekly meals, but can always use tips from those more experienced and better at it than I am.

So, if you feel like doing a post about YOUR meal plan, or you want to post a recipe or get recipe ideas for fall, or if you want to check out how other people are organizing their eating, how they have time to do it with a busy schedule, or how they stay healthy with so many other things going on, sign up, or just go and check up their link up on Sundays!

Where do you get your recipe inspiration? Do you plan out your meals for the week in advance? What is your favorite kind of muffin?


Change of Pace

Before the Santa Rosa Marathon, I was feeling a little unmotivated to run. I think it was due to several factors. I had some things going on in my personal life and it was affecting my running. I was pretty busy and I was having a hard time juggling life and running.

So I decided that after the marathon, I would take a break. I would lower my weekly mileage; I would take time to read, relax, hang out with friend, and do yoga. The day after the marathon, I found a Groupon for Bikram yoga in a studio near my house. I was getting a great start on my new plan!

But then...

...thanks to Fitfluential, of which I am an ambassador, I got an entry into the Nike Womens Marathon, which you may have heard of? It's in San Francisco. It's got hills. It's 26.2 miles long. 

So I decided to try a new tactic.

That Sunday, I met up with a runner I found on Meetup. She had posted that she was going to be doing her last 22 mile run before her marathon on the 23rd. I thought it wouldn't hurt me to try it. 4 girls, including me, ended up running together. We all ran at about the same pace. It was great. First of all, it was a route I had never run before, so it was nice to have a change up in that aspect. Second, it was nice to have company for three hours. It was a little nerve wracking at first. It's a little weird, meeting up with people you don't know, and putting yourself in a position where you have to spend the next three hours together. You could totally hate each other. They could run too fast or too slow. They could be mean or horrible.

But we didn't hate each other. They didn't run too slow. And they weren't mean or horrible, not in the least.

I am not a convert. I am not going to start running with someone every time. I like to run when I want to, as fast or as slow as I want to. I don't want to drive somewhere to go running after work. I am picky about that. However, it is nice once a week or once every two weeks, to have someone to while away a few hours together, someone to socialize with that doesn't involve work or food or booze.

PM run around Lake Merrit

I met up with one of the girls again this weekend. We ran 20 miles around Oakland. We started at 6 in the morning. By 9 a.m, we were done. It was perfect. It's nice to have someone to motivate you to keep going, to get up early, and to keep up the pace (we ran it at an 8:30).

Something even better? Is that she and one of the other girls got into Boston. We are planning a get together where we can talk Boston and details and where we can get excited and giddy and be running nerds together. I can't wait.

So far this training cycle (all 5 weeks of it) is going well!

What's the closest together you have ever run two marathons? Have you ever joined a social group online? Have you ever had a blind date or a time when you met up with people you had never hung out with before?


What an Endeavour!

Last Thursday, I got a phone call from my Mom. She is a big space buff, from things like this:


To things like this:


In case you are not familiar with either of those, the top one is the Mars Rover, which was sent to Mars to search for and characterize rocks and soils that hold clues to past evidence of water on Mars... the bottom is Quark, a Ferengi on the Starship Enterprise.

She is also a fan of the NASA image of the day site, which features images like this:

So, back to her call. She called me to tell me that the Space Shuttle Endeavour would be going over the Bay Area around 9 am on Friday. I have to admit, I did not know that, and when I looked it up online, it was supposed to go over my house around 8:30. Of course, I would be at work, so I would not be able to see it.


But on Friday, as I was working, I heard a shout, and I looked over to see....The Endeavour! I work in a skyscraper and we are pretty high up, so we had a nice view of the shuttle going past the Golden Gate bridge and around the bay. It took a full circle around the bay, and therefore around our building. Everyone was running from window to window trying to see it.

First of all, it was huge. I tried to get a photo with my iPhone but it doesn't show it very well, but it was pretty darn close to us, pretty close to the ground and pretty darn cool! Here are a few (bad) photos! I circled it so you can see it a little bit. Also, if you look really close at the third photo, you can see people on all of the rooftops!

Did anyone else see the Endeavour? Is anyone else a Star Trek buff? What interesting hobbies/likes do your parents have?


The Giant Race

What's better than running in San Francisco on a cool summer morning? Doing it with thousands of your closest friends and Giants fans!! I have to admit, as much as I don't like bigger races, it was fun to see everyone running around in their orange and black, although I wonder if they are really fans, or just like to dress up. It doesn't matter; it made me feel all warm and tingly inside.

I think I mentioned that I lined up right at the start this time, and when I say right at the start, I mean front and center, second row back, right behind the really fast people. So I didn't have to pass anyone! And this, my friends, made a big race into an enjoyable one. If there are 20 people or 20,000 people behind me, I don't care! It makes the race so much better. I may have pissed off a few fast people who had to pass me, but so be it.

I ran this race with a friend of mine who runs about 10 miles a week. When he asked me what my pace was going to be, I said that I just wanted to PR, which meant I wanted to get below a 1:37. He said that he had been training at a 1:35, but wanted to beat that by a bit. This is why you shouldn't run with guys. His slow pace, his pace he runs on his one 10 mile jaunt a week, is faster than my speedy, feel like puking pace! But, we decided we would start off together and if he needed to go on ahead, he would. This would put us at about a 7:15 pace according to the Cool Running pace calculator.

Instead of doing the usual recap, I am going to do a few Good, Bad, Uglies.

The Good: Mile 1
The Bad: Mile 13
The Ugly: Mile 3.4 / Mile 9.3 (Van Ness Hill / Fort Mason Hill)

The Good: Having a partner who is faster than me kept me going.
The Bad: It was a little bit too fast for me.
The Ugly: Doing a hilly trail run the day before a race is not a good idea. My legs were like lead!

The Good: The run started and ended in the ballpark.
The Bad: The run went right through Fisherman's Wharf
The Ugly: The course went over two hills.

The Good: Brunch afterward at Grub.
The Bad: The reason we needed to eat was because there was no swag food.
The Ugly: There were beers, but they cost 9 dollars.

Here is a cliff note recap: The race was good; the course was beautiful; it was mostly flat except for 2 hills; we got to see the golden gate bridge and lots of people wearing orange. There were plenty of water stops, but no Gu/fuel except for power bars. By the time we finished, which was not super late, there was no food left. We were told there had been tons, but the 5k people ate it all. Race director fail! My legs hurt and we wavered between a 7:08 and a 7:40 pace the entire time. My friend ended up hurting his knee so I ended up going ahead of him. The race ended on the field where we got to walk around and pretend to be ball players (that part was really cool!)

Final time: 1:36:35 (7:22 pace)
This was a new PR by 42 seconds!

Verdict? If you want a Matt Cain Bobble-head and a half of a banana, you should run this race. However, if you just want to run in the city and go to AT&T park, call me, we can do both without paying $100 to do so!

Have you ever run a race that went through a stadium of some sort? Do you get annoyed when you pay a lot for a race and don't get good swag? Would you rather run with someone faster than you or slower than you?

Don't forget to stop by Jill's for some Friday fitness inspiration!


Bean Town, Here I Come

 After running Santa Rosa on August 26th, I went straight to the BAA website and did this:

Then I waited impatiently for September 14th to come.... On the 14th I went to work early so I could make sure to be ready for the 7 am opening time (that's 10 am ET). I was afraid it would fill up before I could register. I was afraid I would miss the time and it would be too late. I rushed to work and got there at 6:59 and it wouldn't let me register. Then it was 7 straight up and still...no reregistration! Finally, it worked....but... it was not a confirmation of acceptance, only a confirmation of attempt.

But no. Several hours later, I got this:

So, unless I lied about my qualifying time, which I didn't, then I am in! Hurray! Who else is going!? Let's have lunch!

This is exciting for me, because, as you probably know, my family hails from Massachusetts, and so it will be a weekend of fun and family and running and fun! Also, I have been to Boston several times, but never in this capacity, so it will be a fun change for me in that aspect!

Have you ever had to wait for something you really wanted? Who else is running Boston 2013? Have you ever been to Boston?


Making a Dollar Out of Fifteen Cents*

A while back, Lisa did a post for her Mid-month Money Manifesto about saving money and what things that she likes to splurge on. I liked the idea, since I am a money saver, and often times people in my life have tried to convince me to have fun NOW instead of always saving money for later. I usually save it for later, but there are a few things that I find worth splurging on.

How I Splurge:

- Travel (I actually travel pretty inexpensively, but I do it for extended periods of time) 

Boracay, Philippines

- Lunch out once a week
- Races
- Brunch with friends on the weekends (we have a list we are trying to tackle)

Pancakes at La Note

- Fresh fruit and vegetables from the farmers market/market
- Boots (although I still get them at places like DSW)
- Camera Stuff
- Giant's games
- Some running gear
- Fancy creamer
- Gifts for other people

How I Save: 

- Generic toiletries (thanks to Up and Up)
- Taking the casual carpool instead of the bus
- Generic paper goods etc (ziplock, paper towels, dryer sheets) 
- Bringing my lunch at least 4 days a week

Pre-made veggie bags for lunches

- Cooking/eating at home
- Buying in bulk (bulk aisle about once a month / Costco about once every 3 months)

Costco trip
- Discount running shoes (I always wait for a coupon/deal and then buy a couple pairs)
- Couponing in general
- Thrift store shopping (for clothes / common household items)
- Borrowing books from the library (My no book buying challenge is still going strong!)
- Not driving
- Growing my own veggies
- Making coffee at home

*refers to a Tupac song and/or a Master P song. I think they are referencing drugs, but I am not. 

How do you save? What do you splurge on?


Are You an Olympian?

Yesterday was the Giant Race, which is a half marathon in San Francisco that starts and ends in AT&T park. Before I started, I was googling stuff about the race and noticed something exciting, Brett Gotcher, US Olympic Alternate for the Men's marathon, would be running this race. He is from Watsonville, which is near Santa Cruz, so it was exciting to hear that he would be running a local race! I checked out his photos online so I would recognize him if I saw him.

As we were waiting for the race to start, I saw him, warming up right next to the "Leadoff Hitter" pace sign (under 8 minutes/mi).

I went up to him and said, "Are you Brett Gotcher, the Olympian?"

The guy looked at me funny and said that he wasn't but that he would love it if he were.

Oops. I kind of mumbled something about how he was blond and he looked fast so I just assumed he was the Olympian (what makes someone look "fast" you ask? Short shorts and a running singlet. And flowing blond hair. I guess).

Then we lined up at the start line. I got right in the front. If there is anything I have learned over the past several races, it's that I hate having to pass a bunch of people at the start. So now I get as close to the front as I can. In this case, it was the second "row" of people.

They started the announcements and one of the things they said was that Brett was here and There He Was! The real Brett Gotcher. The funniest part is that the guy I had mistaken for Brett was standing right behind me, so we had a laugh about the case of mistaken identity.

This is the end.

As soon as the event photos are online, I am going to post a side by side, because I swear these guys look very similar!

Here is a video of the start, where you can see Brett (blonde guy, orange shirt, black shorts) and me (blonde girl, white hat, orange shirt, black shorts). What? Is that confusing? No really, I am at about 11-12 seconds. Brett is around the 7 second mark.  So technically, I was only 4 seconds behind Brett!! It's a bit of a blurry video but I thank the person who took it!

Have you ever mistakenly talked to someone who you thought was someone else? Where do you line up: at the start/in the proper corral/anywhere/you don't care?


12 in 2012 Update (2)

Almost a year ago, Jill said, "Why don't we do 12 half marathons next year? Wouldn't that be fun?" I had just finished my first marathon and was in the dead zone, where you are not sure what you are going to do with yourself now that you are not doing marathon training. So, naturally, I said, "Count me in!" 

In the last post I did about my first 4 months of 12 in 2012, I mentioned how when I signed up for this challenge, I didn't realize how much it would consume me and shape me and define me. This still holds true. In fact, now it is shaping and defining others in my life. I mentioned it before but now it is more set in stone; my brother has been asking my running advice, and earlier this week, we signed up for a 10k and a half marathon together! He is a beginning runner who can run a few miles without stopping, and I am looking forward to his progress. I am so proud of him and am excited to be a part of his journey! I even got him running stuff for his birthday. Do you know how exciting it is to have someone to buy running stuff for (besides myself)?

This challenge is two thirds of the way over! I can't believe it. Here is the recap for the second third of the challenge.
Races 1 - 4: January - April

05.12.12 -- Cinderella Trail Run  (#5) This race, as you may remember, was one of my first trail races. It was held only a couple miles from my house and was on trails that I run often. It was a great race through the redwoods and I loved every minute of it. Plus it made me feel strong, since I finished in just over a 10 min/mi pace on some pretty gnarly hills. Time: 2:10:29 (10:16/mi) PR/1st in age group

06.03.12 -- See Jane Run Half Marathon  (#6) I busted my butt during this race. Luckily it was, as they say, "fast and flat" but it was on a bike path and it was a little narrow at times. Also, there were too many people who were running slower but were still lined up in front of me at the start. After this race, I promised I would only do smaller races. Time: 1:37:17 (7:26/mi) PR

07.28.12 -- Bad Bass Half Marathon  (#7) I barely squeaked a race out in July. This was an awesome trail race which just happened to be on the start of the same course that I did the 50k on. Also, it was overcast the whole time and we got It's-It's at the end. I really enjoyed this race. Time: 1:58:39 (8:55/mi)

08.04.12 -- Wounded Warrior Virtual Half (#8) This run was put on by Suz and I did it around my neighborhood, which is a fun course with the first 3 miles going uphill, then some flat, then some down, then some flat and a (horrible) uphill at the very end. It's a great way to get to know the neighborhood better and see all the little places you don't notice otherwise. Time: 1:51:35 (8:25/mi)

So, what's in store for the next 4 months? Well, I signed up for my September race back in March, not knowing if I would even be around. I am excited that I am around and am not flying in from somewhere in the Midwest for the weekend and flying back after the race. The October run is the one my brother and I will be doing together. After that, things are still up in the air.

September 16: The Giant Race
October 21: Cloverdale Harvest Half

How has your racing year been so far? How are you doing on any challenges that you have taken on for 2012? Have you ever been someone's motivating factor? (PS: Jill is mine! Thanks Jill!)


The Sign Says...

You know that I love to take photos, and as a spreadsheet making, hoarding organizer, put it in a box and check it off kind of person, I like to collect sets of things, especially photos. I take photos of trails, trees, flowers, roads, houses, animals and everything in between. One of the things I take the most photos of (besides running paths, trails and vistas) is signs. I take photos of them everywhere. Sometimes it's fun to interpret pictures that are not accommodated by words; sometimes the language barrier makes the sign have a different meaning; sometimes the grammar makes the sign amusing. I like them all!

Genuine Irony is cheap these days. Fresh Ideas are not.

Sign on Muni: Information Gladly Given but Safety Requires Avoiding Unnecessary Conversation

I need these folders

At the tire shop: things we found in tires

Seen when I was paddle boarding

Before you can eat it, it will clean your kitchen

Maybe the quotes should be around the word "dump"

This house does not have a back door

Seen in a bathroom near the running trail

As seen in New Orleans

See also signs from: More USA, Vietnam, Even More USA, Thailand, Chinese, South America.

What makes a sign funny to you? What's the funniest sign you have seen? Does bad grammar on signs make you cringe/laugh/whip out your camera?


Tried It

Lately I have been trying a lot of new fitness related items. Here are some of the ones I have tried and what I have thought about them. 

Waxelene: This is described as an "eco-friendly alternative to petroleum jelly. It has the same protective, waterproofing, moisturizing and soothing properties that doctors love, but contains no petroleum or hydrogenated oils." I tried it as an alternate to Body Glide. I don't chafe very often, except when I wear a tank top. Then I chafe under my arm. So I smeared it on for my last long run and...no chafe. Sweet. It can also be used for chapped lips or dry skin as well as several other uses. I love the idea that it's all natural and only has 4 ingredients. I don't like that it comes in a heavy glass jar which doesn't bode well for my already overfull running bag! 

Cool Off: These are little individually wrapped cooling towelettes. I really like them! They give me a minty fresh feeling! The only thing is, the first time, I used them on my face and it was burning a little! I would stick to body use only. They fit great into my purse and running bag. I have tried other wipes and they are basically just baby wipes with a different name. These are much more refreshing than a baby wipe! 

TopricinA homeopathic cream that provides pain relief by improving circulation and attracting and stimulating the body's healing chemistry at the site of pain. I was sent three different kinds -- Regular, Junior and Foot Therapy. I tried the regular one on my sore calf a few weeks ago and it seemed to help. It also doesn't smell like a hospital, like some of the other sports creams do, which is a definite plus! 

Celcius: I don't normally like energy drinks. They have a certain taste to them that is just wrong. However, Celicius is quite good. I received four kinds: Raspberry Acai Green Tea, Strawberry Kiwi, Sparkling Orange and Outrageous Orange. Of the four, the Raspberry Acai Green Tea was my favorite. It was a little sweet, but definitely did not have the nasty taste that some of the other energy drinks have. It is supposed to do several things: boost metabolism, improve endurance and provide lasting energy. It contains caffeine in the form of green tea extract and guarana and it really does give you a nice energy kick! 

I love getting to try new things, as I am really kind of one of those people who once I find what I like I stick to it. So it is nice to have friends who use something different, or to get a sample from somewhere, because you never know when you are going to find your new favorite thing! 

Do you try new things or do you stick with the tried and true? Do you chafe a lot when you run? What is your favorite energy drink?

Disclaimer: I was given these products for free in return to an honest review. All opinions are my own. 


The Old Ball Game

This last week has been very fun filled and was gone in a flash! I thought that when August was over, things would slow down, but that hasn't been the case so far. I am having a hard time lately juggling fun, family, friends, work, running (I am not counting that in the fun category, even though it is) and necessary things like grocery shopping and errands and chores (and eating. Who has time to eat as much as I do?). But that doesn't mean I am not doing some of each of those categories anyway!

I found an old end table on the street and did a quasi DIY project. 
My version of DIY: paint it white. Voila. 
Note the other half finished painting project next to it. That is done now too.

I went to A's vs Red Sox game (with my friend, who is a Sox fan). 
I am still a Giants fan but it was fun. 
Do you like this guy's "shirt"? 

Running, running, running...
This is the French Trail I talked about before. 
Total this week: 52 miles.

I harvested. 
This week: round zucchini, scallop squash,tiny tomatoes. 

I went to the Giants game. 
We saw a double rainbow. It was awesome. 
The Giants lost. It was not awesome. 

I went for a long run and then ate this.
Okay, I am joking, kind of.
I did make carrot cake with butter cream frosting.
So, maybe I only ate half of this.
I will eat the other half tomorrow.

These ladies came over to help me make (and eat) the carrot cake. 
While we waited for it to bake, we went to visit the goat next door. 

I packed my lunch for today. 
White bean chicken chili, edamame, carrots/celery and hummus, 
grapes, plum, salad. 
I am very hungry. Every day. All the time.
(not pictured: craisins, almonds, and the 5 cups of coffee I will also have before lunch)

How was your weekend? Do you pack your lunch the night before / the morning of / not at all? Have you ever seen a shirt as sweet as that guy's shirt?


Glass Boys

Glass Boys by Nicole Lundrigan

Set in a small town in Newfoundland, this story starts with two young brothers. When one is killed accidentally by a neighbor, the remaining brother, Lewis, tries to put the incident behind him, but he can't help in blaming the man who killed his brother. As he gets older, he keeps a close eye on the man and his family and their lives end up becoming entwined more than Lewis could ever realize.

Full of small town strife, sibling rivalry, hatred and love, this book really causes the reader to become involved in the character's lives. She creates people that you know and ones that you don't want to know. Her characters are real, although they are not necessarily all likeable.

This book reminded me of the small town that I grew up in. There is the sheriff, who knows what everyone is up to and is involved in everyone's lives. There is the shopkeeper, the bad boy, and the farmer. I know these people. I remember times at the river like they have and boys like these boys.

However, this book has a dark side that I have not been privy to in my home town (and don't really want to be privy to). There are some mean people and some sickos and you spend a good part of the book wishing they would just go away. However, they don't. Not all of them.

I would recommend this book. It was an intriguing read and it was kind of disturbing at times but it never kept me from continuing to see what would happen next.

I gave it three stars on Goodreads.

Check out other reviews of this book here:   Chaos is a Friend of Mine --   Read React Review --  Comfort Books --  Cmash Loves to Read  --  Booksellers without Borders NY  --  Leafing Through Life  -- Pieces of Fate  --  My Life in Not So Many Words --   I'd Rather Be At The Beach 

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Have you ever experienced small town living? If you don't like one of the main characters in a book, can you still enjoy the book? Would you be able to forgive the person who hurt/killed one of your family members?


Currently: September

Current Book - Looking for Alaska by John Green

Current Hot Celebrity - Mila Kunis. I think she's adorable.

Current Drink - Coffee. Way too much of it. 

Current Excitement - I went to the A's/Redsox game the other day, got to watch the batting practice on the field, got to sit in row 5 above the A's dugout and got a photo with one of the players! It was so cool. I mean, hey, I am still a true Giant's fan, but I will take a photo with any of the players! 

Current fashion trend - Boots. I wear these all the time. Now I need black -- I want these.

Current Favorite Blog/Website - www.runningintheusa.com -- If you haven't used this site yet to find races, you should! Also, ultrasignups for Ultras.
Current Garden Item - I have zucchinis! 4 different kinds. Here are three of them. 
Current Love - The short work week! 

Current Food - I made a whole chicken in the crock the other day and it's delicious! It was so easy. Just put an onion in and then rub the chicken with spices and leave it for 5 hours. When you come back, voila, chicken! I even made stock with it as well!

Currently Pondering - Fires in CA near my Parents. Supposedly they are out finally.

Current Indulgence - Popcorn, and lots of it! I have been a popcorn eating machine! Today's favorite way to eat it? With butter and nutritional yeast. And lots and lots of salt. 

Current Mood - Hungry. Is that a mood? 

Current New Find - French Trail. It's a beautiful, redwood filled trail that is just the right amount of ups and downs. You can also easily do a shorter or longer loop (anywhere from about 3 miles to 8), so it's good for all levels of runner/hiker!

Current Outfit -  
Pardon me. I did not comb my hair that day.
Current Peeve - I had to remind three runners at the SR Marathon who were blocking the whole path that it was "hard to pass them when they were running three abreast". Those were my exact words. After I said, "on your left" about 6 times and they didn't get over so I had to run around through the bushes to pass. I had some more choice words, but I kept it cool and remained polite. 
Current Song - Till I Collapse by Eminem. It makes me run faster! Also I think about the first part of the song when I feel like giving up/slowing down: 
'Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that s*** out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse. 

Current Triumph - My brother has started running! He emailed me and said he would like to do a half marathon together. Hurray! I am so excited! Speaking of my brother, today is his birthday! Happy Birthday Bro!
Current TV Show - Parenthood. I am sad to say that I am caught up now. When does the new season start!? I need me some Braverman! And what about Grey's? Do they all die?

Current Wish-List - A tiger tail, an entry in the Boston Marathon, more hours in a day, extra motivation. 

Currently Delaying - Running. But I sure do end up getting a lot of other things done on my to do list when I am procrastinating running! 

Do you have any good crock pot recipes? What website do you use to find races? What's on your current wish list?


In Running News

Happy Labor Day! I hope you get today off and are enjoying it! I have finally gotten some errands done that have been on my To Do list for ages! This weekend I also participated in the Mommy Run Fast Labor Day Virtual 5 and 10 mile race. Laura, of MRF, is a Texas runner, spin teacher and mom who has some great recipes! I especially love, and have made several times, her Garbanzo Brownies and her Apple Oat Cookies. You can find all of her recipes here.

On Saturday, I ran the 10 miler. I did two loops around the lake, which is a little over 3 miles. That, coupled with the 1.5 miles each way from my house to the lake equaled out to a nice round 10. I procrastinated this run and did not do it until about noon, but luckily the day was not too hot. However, the lake was crowded with people, which reminded me that I need to go earlier if that is where my route is. I finished this run with a time of 1:22:45, which is an 8:17 average. After the race, I went to a baseball game and ate nachos and beer. Post race carb loading is the best!

On Sunday, I ran the 5 miler. I went with a friend to the lake, walked around once with her for a warmup, then ran around once and then ran back home to complete 5 miles. I finished in 41:31, which is, you guessed it, an 8:17 average. You can't get much more consistent than that! I did not take any photos either day, which is too bad, because it was beautiful out!

Also, I found out my registration date for Boston. It's September 14th! Here's hoping that there are not already 25,000 people in line ahead of me. You probably already know how they do the registration, but in case you don't, they let people who qualified by 20 minutes or more go first, on the 10th. Then, those who met the standards by 10 minutes or more go on the 12th. Then on the 14th, anyone who met the standards by 5 minutes or more (me!) get a chance. If you qualified by :01 - 4:59, you get to register on the 17th. However, if all the slots are filled by your registration date, you don't get in. So, keep your fingers crossed for me that there were not a lot of really fast people this year.

Last but not least, the winner of the book giveaway is... Steph The Book Worm. Thanks everyone for participating! Steph, email me your address so I can send the book your way!