Category Archives: Holidays

Easter Dinner Success!

Living in NYC and away from our family can be tough sometimes when it comes to planning for holidays. We understandably can’t make it home for every holiday. We try to go upstate as much as possible, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. When Hubby and I started signing up for 2012 NYRR races this year, we completely forgot to check what weekend Easter was going to on. So, we signed up for the Scotland run and didn’t realize it was on Easter weekend until a few weeks before it. We decided that maybe this year we would spend Easter weekend in NYC. Sometimes it’s also nice not to have travel on a holiday weekend with all the masses and crazy drivers.

This meant that the domestic and traditional side of me decided I needed to plan a nice holiday dinner. Yes, it was only the two of us. Yes, there was no particular need to go all out. But my inner Betty Crocker had some plans of her own.

After church and some spring cleaning on Sunday, I set to work to make a respectable Easter dinner. I decided earlier in the week to make ham – note that I’d never made it before. If you’ve made ham then clearly you know this was the easiest part of my meal. I don’t know what I was expecting or why I had built up in my head that this was going to be an undertaking, but it was not. I bought a ham at the store, took the plastic wrapping off, added 1/2 cup of water to a pan, put the ham on the pan, covered it with foil, and cooked it in the oven for an hour. Boom – ham done. Simple as that. I even bought a pre-cut ham, which made the whole process even easier.  

Next up on my list was scalloped potatoes. This was kind of a process. I would say my prep time took about 30 minutes for all the slicing and dicing of the potatoes and onions. Here is the recipe:

Au Gratin Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.

The end result? A total success! This recipe made a LOT of potatoes. We’ve pretty much been eating them all week. Along with the potatoes, I baked some asparagus. I placed the asparagus in glass pan, covered it with butter, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and onion powder, then put some foil over the pan and popped it in the over for about 30 mins. And here’s my plate:

I also threw together a tossed salad for us and enjoyed some wine. And we even used our diningroom and ate at a proper table. I know that probably sounds weird to a lot of people, but I feel like most NYCers will get it. I think that a lot of city people, with small spaces, tend to eat in their livingroom areas for the most part. A lot of NYC apts don’t even have a diningroom. And although we have one, we RARELY use it and I don’t really know why. I mean, it looks really nice and inviting, right….

So we had a very proper Easter dinner in the diningroom and everything. How fancy. And lastly we had some delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

How was your Easter? Did you travel to visit family? Stay at home? Host a dinner?

And now we’re into the next week already, which is Week 12 of marathon training. This is a cut back week for me and I’m really liking it so far. I ran 6 miles on Monday night and then managed to drag myself out of bed on Tuesday morning for a quick 4 miles. I’m hoping the rainy drizzle will end by later today so I can squeeze in 7 miles after work.

It’s so strange for me to think that last year at this time I was getting ready for the Boston Marathon. It does NOT feel like it was a full year ago. What an amazing race. Of course, with the new, ridiculously hard standards, I’ll never make it back there again. So I will just relish the memories!

Who out there is running the Boston Marathon this year? Good luck to all you runners!!

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Week 11, 20 Mile Run, Scotland Run and Veggie Casserole

Wow – that might be my longest, most boring title ever. But it’s a pretty accurate depiction of my past few weeks.  There’s been a lot going on over the past two weeks and I’m going to try to cram it all in this post. Hubby and I just finished up week 11 of marathon training and it was a tough one.  Here is a snapshot of the planned week vs. the actual week for running (err slightly different):

 

So I ended up hitting 40 miles, but it was NOT exactly the way I had planned it. The top white row is what I actually ran: 4 miles on Monday, 8 on Tuesday, 5 on Thursday, 3 on Friday and 20 on Saturday. But that was not at all how I planned the week out. Oh well – in my mind all that matters is the total weekly mileage and the long run. 

Speaking of Saturday’s 20 mile run…

Scotland Run & 20 Miler

I headed over to Central Park for the Scotland Run (10k) a little bit earlier than normal so I could squeeze in about 4 miles before the start of the race. Then I found my corral and a few seconds later Bill found me and we started the race together. There were more than 11,000 people signed up for the race, but I think only about 7,500 finished the race. Either way – it was a lot of people which equaled a lot of weaving around. Awesome.

My first mile was understandably tough because of the amount of people around me. I ran it in about 7:53. I tried to pick it up on mile two and managed to push it a little bit despite the rolling hills, running mile 1-2 around 7:25.  I ran mile 2-3 in 7:19. Mile 3-4 was especially tough because of Harlem Hill. It was a rough climb up that hill and my legs were feeling pretty tired after my somewhat high-mileage past weeks. Finally reaching the top of that hill felt amazing. Then miles 4-5 and 5-6 were just okay. My overall splits were:

After I finished and found Bill, we stuck around for the raffle drawing. I don’t normally do this when I have to run more mileage, but last weekend when we stuck around after the Colon Cancer Challenge, we won theater tickets! Nice. Unfortunately, this week the crowd was much bigger and we didn’t win a darn thing. After that, we dragged ourselves back onto the Central Park outer loop to run 10 more miles. Ohh yeah – it does sound like fun doesn’t it? And…it…was…tough. Taking that long break did not help and the last 10 miles of my 20 mile run were pretty painful. I made the mistake of eating too much post-race food and had a stomach ache pretty much the whole time. All in all, it was kind of a grueling 20 mile run, but at the same, a pretty good race. I actually ran a personal best 10k time – the official NYRR time was: 47:40.

So that was yesterday and Hubby and I spent the rest of the day recovering. He ran 18 miles in total and had a high mileage week as well. And now today is Easter and I am in full on Easter dinner mode. I am making my first official Easter dinner at home and I feel super grown up. But that will be my next post.

For now, I will leave you with a delicious recipe that I made last Sunday – a veggie casserole that supplied me with lots of lunch leftovers.

Veggie Casserole

It was modified from this recipe: Zucchini Herb Casserole
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zucchini-herb-casserole/detail.aspx
Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  •  1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 cup of green peppers
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  •  2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped or canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Directions
Combine the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a shallow 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the zucchini, green onions, and garlic 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with garlic salt, basil, paprika, and oregano. Mix in the cooked rice, tomatoes, and 1 cup cheese. Continue to cook and stir until heated through. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

——

If you are looking for an easy, filling meal to help fuel your training, you should definitely give this one a shot. And that’s all for week 11 of marathon training. I can’t believe I’m already at my 20 milers. I have a scale back week this week which means a lovely easy 12 mile run next weekend, which I am VERY much looking forward to. And then it’s on to the next 20 miler. 🙂

What about you – are you a fan of marathon training plans that scale back in mileage every few weeks? I follow Hal Higdon’s plans and love that he gives those little breaks. I find my body always needs it.

Kennebunkport, Maine Vacation Recap

I can’t believe it’s already September. I feel like Hubby and I just got back from our Maine vacation, but in reality, we got back on August 22. We stayed in Kennebunkport, ME from August 18 – 22 in this adorable Bed and Breakfast called Bufflehead Cove. Our room was really cute and had a balcony, a Queen bed (ahh the luxury!), a full bathroom and a Jacuzzi tub. The B&B was situated right on the river and we got to enjoy our breakfast each morning on the front porch watching people kayak and paddleboard on by.


And let me just say that the breakfast each morning was AMAZING!! Seriously delicious, homemade and usually most ingredients were all-natural. I missed taking a picture of the first morning’s spread, but here are the other days:

Mmm yummy. I am getting hungry just thinking about our breakfasts there. But enough about the B&B food, we did get out and explore the area quite a bit. Our first day there, we arrived in the late afternoon, checked in and then headed into the town of Kennebunkport. Our B&B was just outside. We walked around the cute little town exploring and relaxing and then we headed to dinner at Arundel Wharf. It was a gorgeous night, right on the water, so it was just perfect. We enjoyed our meal on the deck and sipped on some white wine and beer. We called it an early night because we had plans to head to a few nearby towns the next day.

On Friday, we devoured our delicious breakfast, which was served everyday between 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. and hung out with our buddy Loqui the cat while we ate. He reminded me of our Murphy, only not quite as large and in charge.

After breakfast, we drove to the town of Ogunquit and took a nice long walk on the Marginal Way (a long walkway above and along the beach)


and then we drove to York and saw the Nubble Lighthouse.

After our long day excursion, we headed back to the B&B, showered and then had dinner in town at Bandaloop. It was a little bit of a different place, but totally delicious. On Saturday morning it was another busy day after breakfast. We took a schooner ride from Kennebunkport out for about two hours on the water and got to see the Bush estate (it is gigantic). The weather was amazing, sunny with a slight breeze, and our trip was fabulous.

After we got back from our boat ride, we headed to Cape Porpoise for a nice relaxing lunch on the dock outside the Chowder House. There was a pretty decent view of a nearby lighthouse from the Pier. And again, we had such a gorgeous day.

So after exploring Cape Porpoise, we headed to Goose Rocks Beach and chilled there for a little while. The water was a little bit colder than I like, but it was nice to spend some time walking around and hanging out.

After hitting up the beach, it was getting close to dinner so we showered back at the B&B and then headed back into Kennebunkport. We had reservations at Mabel’s, which is supposedly a Bush favorite. I don’t know what I was expecting, but a tiny little shack wasn’t what I envisioned. Mabel’s is completely unassuming and small. We made reservations for outdoor seats and we were almost sitting in the road!

But I completely loved the place. The food was delicious and reasonably priced. My only hang-up was having to drink my beer from a Patriot’s glass. But other than that, Mabel’s gets an A in my book. Here is my dinner from Mabel’s…

The next day (Sunday) was our last day in Maine. We decided to head to Portland for the day and stopped at Orchard Beach to visit one of Hubby’s friend’s along the way. After our morning get-together, we made it to Portland and explored a bit, had some lunch and hung out.

As the afternoon turned into evening, we drove to Kittery to have dinner with one of Hubby’s co-workers. And I got to watch Hubby learn how to properly eat a full lobster, with the bib and all. These instructions helped, as did his friend’s coaching.

Hubby did a pretty decent job. We finished off our night with some ice-cream and headed back to Bufflehead Cove for our final night of our mini vacation.

We thoroughly enjoyed our last breakfast on Monday before we loaded our stuff into the car and headed home.

So what was my overall Maine experience? It was fabulous! We had such a good time, explored some really beautiful areas, ate a ton of great seafood and managed to run into a bunch of people we knew. Seriously, Maine is some sort of hot spot. On top of the people that we actually planned to get together with, we also ran into a neighbor from Hubby’s parent’s neighborhood in upstate NY, another co-workers at Hubby’s company, and a girl I went to college with. It really felt like such a small world in Kennebunkport, ME. And I loved it!!

To Do Tuesday

I like “To Do” lists in a really sick way. I finish every night at work by making a list for the next day. And the few times that I don’t do this, I find myself hopelessly lost the next morning. It’s probably a little OCD and weird, but it’s one of those quirks I just don’t want to fight.

So my Tuesday To Do list at work was kind of out of control because Wednesday is my last day of work before a few days off for vacation. Then my at home To Do list includes packing, making dinner, cleaning up, blogging, etc.

Then there is the creation of the Maine sightseeing and suggestions list I’ve been compiling slowly. I plan to dedicate some serious time to that tomorrow.

All in all, my list making has gotten a little out of control.

I did get back some sanity yesterday when I managed to squeeze in a quick 5 mile run in between the bouts of rain. There is nothing like a solid 45 minutes of just you and your thoughts to help get everything straightened out.

After my run, I made us a pretty decent dinner of pork chops, brown rice and a green bean and mushroom mixture. It was what I like to think of as a “man’s meal.” Well more so if I replaced the rice with potatoes. It would be a meat and potatoes meal by anyone’s standards.

20110816-075130.jpg

I headed to bed fairly early Monday night after our manly dinner and watching The Bachelor Pad (so bad I know, totally negates the dinner manliness).

Then Tuesday (today) was a frenzied dash to the almost finish as I get closer to vacation time. It feels like I was trying to scramble to get everything done today when I technically have tomorrow as well. As usual, I did not make it out for an early morning run, but I have high (delusional) hopes to squeeze in a run on Wednesday morning. I just finished up making dinner for hubby and me…

20110816-075653.jpg

Spaghetti with mushroom sauce with grape tomatoes.

And now it’s time to try to finish packing. I am going to soak up this short vacation to Maine like nothing else. It’s almost here…are you sick of me saying that yet?!

I am going to attempt to post my book review of “The Hunger Games” before we leave tomorrow night though. Add another “to do” to the list! Have you read it?!

Tell me where you’ve traveled to this summer. Anywhere fabulous you would recommend?

Well Hello There 2011

I honestly can’t believe it’s 2011 already. The 2010 year literally flew by. I’ve decided to really think hard about my 2011 resolutions before I put them down in print. So those resolutions will be coming a little bit late.

My New Years Eve wasn’t as exciting as expected. Hubby and I were toying with the idea of going to Times Square since it was a balmy 45 degrees outside. However, the cold and congestion that Hubby had been dealing with for the past few days finally made its way to me and the thought of standing outside for hours with a million people – being trapped inside barriers became more terrifying than appealing. So we ended up lying low and I coughed my way into 2011. Thanks for going with the flow Hubby and welcoming 2011 in a low-key way with your sick wife.

I’ve been promising a book review, so here it is. My book review of Ultramarathon Man – Confessions of An All-Night Runner.

Ultramarathon Man
Confessions of An All-Night Runner

By: Dean Karnazes

At a work happy hour earlier in December, a few of us were talking running and running books, and several people told me to read this book. They were pretty persistent, so I decided to check it out.

I was not disappointed. This book was both interesting and inspiring. It’s a non-fiction book by and about Dean Karnazes. Dean was a runner in high school, but then abruptly stopped running altogether for years. On his 30th birthday, he takes a hard look at his life and tries to figure out what is missing. After a night of drinking and celebration, he puts on a pair of old sneakers and heads out for a run…a really long run.

And from there he just does not stop. The man runs and runs and runs. He starts by running about 5 miles a day and then hears about a 100 mile race. He sets his sights on that goal and trains like a maniac.

The reader tags along on his journey for adventure and excitement. As a runner, you’ll want to be running alongside Dean. His stories will fill you with awe and inspiration. After reading about Dean’s 50-100 mile jaunts, I felt like a pretty big wimp complaining about having to run 30-40 miles a week for marathon training.

Dean is not a complainer – he is a doer. He sets his goal and he doesn’t let anything stand in his way.  And just when the reader thinks that he has tackled his biggest challenge, Dean will find a more intense and insane challenge. It’s what he lives for.

I’m pretty sure I read this book in 2-3 days. I just couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know what he would conquer next and I wanted to absorb some of his strength through the pages. I then passed the book along to my running friend and she flew through it in 2 days as well. It’s good and it just may renew some of your vigor and drive to run and train harder than you ever have before. Because if Dean can run 100 miles, surely I can run a measly 26, right?

—–

Hope you all had a great NYE and start to 2011! What are some of your New Year goals?

The number 11 is my lucky number, so I’m hoping this year is a lucky one for us. 🙂 Last year wasn’t awful, but we did have some major ups and downs – so I’d really love to have a great 2011. How was your 2010?

Hello – Is Anyone Still There?

Hello blog world – is anyone still reading? I know – I’ve been away so long. Things have gotten so hectic, as I’m sure you all are feeling as well. The holidays have hit like a ton of bricks and work hasn’t exactly been a piece of cake either. Oh and did I forget to mention that 2011 BOSTON MARATHON TRAINING HAS BEGUN!!

Yup – it started on Monday and so far so good. I banged out a great almost 6 mile run on Monday morning before work and have hit the treadmill on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m going to try to make tomorrow an early morning run, but you know how I am with those. 😦

For those of you interested, here is the link to my training plan. I’d say it’s a middle-of-the-road plan. It’s not a beginner approach, but it is by no means as aggressive as some I’ve seen. I plan to run 600 miles between now and April 18th, 2011. My highest mileage week will be 45 miles and my longest run will be 22 miles. So game on!!

So what have I been up to lately? Well, our gas is still broken, so no baking really to speak of. I’m currently reading two books. I know – I’m usually not the type. Well, I was already into Little Bee, but then I picked up Ultramarathon Man – Confessions of a Midnight Runner, for some running inspiration and the first 5 pages pulled me right in. I’m thinking one will be a commuting book and one will be a before bedtime book.

In running news – I have been running even pre-training! Hurray. It hasn’t been a lot, but it’s been better than nothing. My friend Lauren came down to visit two weekends in a row and we raced both weekends. Here we are running the Joe Kleinerman 10k…

We ran the 10k in 50:13. And then the next weekend, we ran the Jingle Bell Jog with our friend Rachael in Prospect Park and we were very festive…


Like the socks?! NYRR provided us with the jingle bells for our shoes, so we just took it to the next level. We ran this 4 mile race in 31:59. P.S. – I am officially qualified for the NYC Marathon in 2011 through the NYRR 9 +1 program (run 9 NYRR races and volunteer at 1)!

And then, I also experienced Santacon for the first time ever…


Hundreds of drunken Santas and elves running around NYC – definitely interesting. Unfortunately, we missed the “reindeer games” that happened in Central Park – we showed up just after things ended, but I can only imagine. And no – we were not dressed up, we simply wanted to see what this Santacon was all about.

All in all, it’s been a very busy past few weeks. I apologize for the lack of posting and commenting. Although my posts may be sporadic right now, hopefully I will get back into a routine after the holidays. Hope all is well with everyone and you are enjoying the holiday season. I’ve got to find the time to check in on the blogosphere to see what’s new!

So tell me – what’s new with you (if anyone is still reading). How are your holidays going?!

A Short Thanksgiving Hiatus

I’m back! I was gone for a while there. Almost a week. And I’m not going to do a giant Thanksgiving recap because, frankly, I’m past that, I’m not motivated to and I didn’t even take many pictures. I just enjoyed my time with my in-laws fully, ate a lot, ran some and relaxed. I hope you all did the same!

Ok fine – here’s one dessert shot…

I made the white cake for Hubby’s b-day. It was a bit drier than I wanted. I guess I’ll just have to make another one soon! (Whenever I have my oven back that is).

Over the holiday, we also attended my 10 year high school reunion and Hubby’s 15 year high school reunion. Both were more fun than I expected, thankfully. Here’s a photo of me with a bunch of the girls from my elementary school. Oh yeah – we go way back.

It was fun to catch up a bit with everyone. I felt like most people looked the same.

Oh – and I totally forgot to brag about the fact that I got a Personal Record in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a tradition for my friend Lauren and I to run it every year. And for so long, I’ve been wanting to break 24 minutes. I did it. I ran the 5k in 23:36!! Woohoo!

Other than that, not too much new. I did just want to end this post by sharing some information about Lung Cancer. A friend of mine sent me this email yesterday and it really touched me and made me want to get involved. Please read the article (link below) and sign the petition!!

“Friends & family,
As you probably know by now, life threw us a curve ball this year with a lung cancer diagnosis. I’m not one to send mass emails unless it’s for a worthy cause, and I feel this falls in that category.
 
Did you know that cancer incidence among women who’ve never smoked (i.e., yours truly) is one of the fastest growing of all cancers, and no one really knows why?
 
Did you know that more women die every year from lung cancer than from breast cancer?
 
Did you know that November is lung cancer awareness month? (I didn’t.) There are no ribbons or NFL teams wearing a color to raise awareness for this kind of cancer. It’s a quiet cancer. And one that isn’t going away.
 
Every year over the last decade, I’ve enthusiastically supported the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, raising thousands of dollars for this highly supported cause by asking for donations from friends and families like you.

This year, I am asking you for something different. Please take a few minutes to read the article linked below, and sign the petition. And then pass it on. We have to change the way lung cancer is talked about. By talking about it. More awareness = more dollars for research = more of a chance for a cure.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rob-densen/lung-cancer-kills-so-does_b_786081.html
 
Thanks for reading. (And I BEG you, if you smoke, get the help you need to stop.)
 
Dismounting my soapbox now!
Lots of love & gratitude,
R