Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Love

In my 7.5 years in the newspaper business, I have never had both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. It was either one or the other - or none.

Until this year.

I was off today as well as tomorrow. And I'm forever grateful (and glad to finally be in management) to have the day and be able to spend it with Mark. We slept in, opted to skip our run for a lazy breakfast and long walk with Denali. We hit up the Indian buffet and saw "True Grit." (Go see that by the way!) It was a day free of stress and full of quality time - what the holidays are all about - and I loved every second. So let's bring on some Friday love!

. Baking cookies and making candy was a big thing growing up. My mom would spend nearly every weekend of December - heck, November too - preparing the holiday goodies. There were traditional cut-out sugar cookies, spritz cookies, chocolate-covered cherries, buckeyes and (my favorite) chocolates filled with homemade caramel. As soon as I could turn the cookie press, I was helping out and those memories are some of my fondest. I tried to keep up the tradition when I moved out on my own but it was too much. Too much time and too much money. Don't get me wrong - I still make cookies. I just make fewer cookies, and I am more selective with the cookies I make. This year, I made Candy Cane Biscotti, Maple Snickerdoodles and Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies.

Candy Cane Biscotti Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies maplesnickerdoodles21

The favorite? Hands down, the Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies. They were the easiest to make and the best tasting. I may be biased, though; I think chai tea is the best beverage on the planet.

Fitness. Hello, yoga! I have to say that I am super excited about my upcoming 10-day yoga spree. I think I’m going to start it Monday so that I can take advantage of Mark’s winter break and, therefore, my reduced responsibilities when it comes to “make sure Denali doesn’t pee on the floor.” The classes that I more than likely will be taking: Slow Flow, Restorative Yoga, Kriya Yoga, All Levels Yoga and Deep Stretch Yoga. There was one class I really wanted to take that I can’t because of New Year’s Day schedule changes but se la vie. I’ve already discussed with Mark about getting a punch card specifically for that class if I enjoy this experience.

Life. Family, food, presents … need I say more. Oh, and no traveling over the holiday. HALLELUJIAH! Mark and I off to a Christmas Eve service so that we can enjoy a relaxing Christmas morning before to his parents.

Merry Christmas to everyone! What are you doing for the holidays?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Things Thursday

Pre-workout eats: Slice of whole-wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and sliced banana
Workout: Ran 4.27 miles; average pace, 9:11.

1. I learned something this morning: You do not need to wear a pair of sweat pants atop running tights when it's 30 degrees. You also don't need to wear a long-sleeve compression shirt, a half-zip and a fleece vest. You just don't. Unless you want to think for a good portion of your run that you are hot - and not in the let's get honked at sort of way.

2. For weeks, I've been running the boulevard-park loops thinking that it was the only "safe" place (aka free of snow) to run. Mark decided, though, that we needed a change and suggested the trail that winds around the college. It was sure to be clear, he said. And it was. Just one thing: The first 400 meters or so, which takes you along sidewalks in front of businesses, were not so clear. In fact, the path wasn't clear at all. I felt my ankles roll several times and found myself doing hurdles over snow mounds created from clearing parking lots. Yeah, make it safe for the drivers; pedestrians don't matter. Grrr!

3. Last night, my dream involved a friend making out with someone inside of an ottoman, driving through the hood of Phoenix with no address to plug into the GPS, ending up at a big arena and seeing a review starring Eddie Winslow (from "Family Matters"). Yeah ... no more Christmas cookies before bed for me.

What's the weirdest dream you've ever had?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sing a new song

Pre-workout eats: Slice of whole-wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and sliced banana
Workout: 40 minutes of yoga

Mark woke up singing "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas this morning because, apparently, he was a black belt in karate last night's dream.

I was singing "Boom Boom Pow" this morning as I made my toast because my husband can't keep things to himself.

I was singing "Boom Boom Pow" as I did yoga ... made my real breakfast ... as I was searching for a last-minute Christmas gift Old Navy before work. Crap, I'm still singing it.

It sort of makes me want to strangle Mark ... but then I might mess up his game of "Donkey Kong."

Of course there are worse songs he could get stuck in my head, especially at this time of year. By the way, does anyone wonder whether Grandpa was really behind Grandma's death and not a reindeer? I don't think a grieving widower would be content watching football. Just sayin ...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter's not so blue

Pre-workout eats: Slice of whole-wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and sliced banana
Workout: Ran 5 miles; average pace, 9:15.

I went rogue today. Seriously, off the charts wild.

I ran the boulevard-park route backward. I'm so crazy, I know.

Want to know why I did it? I went a little farther before turning to avoid getting hit by a car but that doesn't really matter. Wanna know why? Simply running the route in reverse, even a loopty-loop route, seemed to shake things up. Markers don't mean the same thing. Sites aren't the same at a different angle. Uphills aren't in the same places. It was kind of nice.

And, the bonus, I didn't cry. Not one single tear.

While I was running, and actually enjoying it, I couldn't but help to think of some ways to make things better. Like in the puppy and rainbow days of late spring and early fall.

So here they are. A top 10 baker's dozen list of ways to beat the winter blues. And if I stole some of your ideas from my previous post, I'm sorry ... but only a little bit.

Kick winter blues to the curb

1. Abandon social politeness and laugh at the guy, with his bald head and bandanna headband, singing to himself and dancing in front of the soda machine at the pizza place. It's funny. Especially when he wiggles his butt on his way out to have a smoke.

2. Sign up for a new group exercise class or switch up your routine. I so signed up for that Groupon and am plotting which 10 days will be filled with yoga.

3. Exercise with people. Simply having Mark home to run with makes things less daunting, and I also feel more accountable when we plan to run the night before.

4. Put on some mascara. Swipe your lips with some gloss. A little effort into your appearance can make you feel 10 times better about yourself. Of course, this is coming from a gal who put on makeup for the first time in weeks yesterday.

5. When it comes to food, think about why you are eating what you're eating. There's been Panera shortbread cookies on the community table all. day. long. And they've been taunting me. I keep considering reaching out and grabbing one ... but why. I have snacks at my desk. I'm not hungry. I am not really craving anything sweet. So you know what? The cookies can stay there. Feeling more in control of what I'm doing does loads for my mood.

6. Use your clever and wit to glean information about your Christmas gifts from your husband. It's fun to try to break the men.

7. Find the humor in the little things. Like the company Christmas gift of a camp chair emblazoned with the logo. In two places.

8. Shift your focus from a workout schedule to just moving. You don't have to run M-W-F-Sa. You can run T-R-F-Su. You don't have to walk the dog (especially when the teacher husband is on winter break!). You can wake up with some sun salutations or squats or whatever gets you going.

9. Visit and plan exorbitant vacations that you'll never take because it's nice to dream. Paris ... in the spring? A weekend in Hawaii? A summer cruise in the Mediterranean? Yes. Yes. And YES!

10. Remind yourself that you're human. You make mistakes. You will miss workouts. You can't eat perfectly all of the time.

11. Treat yourself. Get that bagel with cream cheese you've been dreaming about. Make Monday a Starbucks day. Go back for seconds of Buffalo Chicken Pasta.

12. Plan dates with your girlfriends. You'll get out of the house, hopefully get something yummy to eat and catch up on your gossip. Plus, if your friends are pregnant like mine, you can rub a cute belly. That always makes me happy.

13. Call Grandma. She'll tell you that you don't have to be cranky - 9 times out of 10, it's a choice. And then you can listen to her talk about her crush (OK, I call it a crush) on the college-age lifeguard at water aerobics. Guaranteed to make you giggle!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Where buffalo roam

Sometimes when your feeling sucked into the murky waters of Monday, you need to spice it up.


Like, by making Buffalo Chicken Pasta.

I made this dish for dinner tonight and let me tell you, we all went back for seconds. And by we, I mean Mark and me. Denali isn't allowed to have anything too spicy or anything with garlic and onions. Stinks to be him sometimes!

Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Modified from Taste of Home

8 ounces penne (whole wheat or Ronzoni SmartTaste)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups milk (I used 1 percent)
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1 pound chicken breast, cooked and shredded
5 tablespoons Frank's Wing Sauce (more or less to taste - ours was just a bit hotter than in the middle)
Reduced fat bleu cheese, to taste

Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.

In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter into olive oil. Add celery, onion, carrot and garlic; cook until the vegetables are soft. Add flour, stirring to coat vegetables. Let "cook" for 30 seconds. Add milk, stirring well to prevent lumps. Bring mixture to boil; reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes until it begins to thicken. Stir in cream cheese until melted. Add wing sauce and chicken; heat through. Dump pasta into pan and toss to combine. Serve with sprinkle of bleu cheese.

Enjoy on TV trays while watching "Wheel of Fortune" and waiting for Pat Sajak to call.

Say it isn't so

Pre-workout eats: Golden Grahams with 1% milk and half a banana
Workout: 40 minutes yoga ("Body by Bethenny") and 15 minutes upper body with weights

It's Monday.

Need I say more?

Really, do I need to say more.

Do I need to tell you that winter running frustrates me so much that when I stopped to tie my shoe during yesterday's 4-miler that I cried? Full on tears, streaming down my frigid face. I think I scared Mark.

Do you want to know that I woke up at 5 a.m. STARVING and couldn't go back to sleep? I figured it would be better to drag at 3 p.m. than to toss and turn for an hour thinking about Golden Grahams.

What about that Groupon for a yoga studio is making me consider taking a running hiatus for a week, or at least cut back? The deal is for 10 straight days of yoga for $15. Considering it's about $12 a pop to go, that's an amazing deal.

Do you want to know that I'm using a previous Groupon buy to take Mark and I out to lunch, along with his sister? It's pizza. It's not healthy. Sort of like the past couple weeks.

Do you want to know that I've been a poor example for how to eat during the holidays? Yeah. I may need to go back to tracking to keep things in check.

Do you want to know that I love y'all for reading this far? Yeah. Cuz I do.

Who has good tips for beating the winter/Monday blahs?