Thursday, May 31, 2012

Advice from Hal

What a day! I'm actually surprised it's only 8:15 right now; it feels much later. The last days of school tend to feel even more hectic than usual because we teachers are dealing with finals, grades, cleaning up the classroom, checking out students, and wrapping things up for the school year. Perhaps that explains my desire to kick my feet up at the end of the day, rather than my usual bolt to the bedroom to change into my workout clothes.

After work I had a few errands to run at Target and Whole Foods, and I finally made it home around 5:15. Terry didn't get in until almost 6, so our run started later than we would have liked. We set out for a three-mile loop around our neighborhood as part of our half marathon plan.

Today I read a little more about Hal Higdon's training philosophy [note: Terry and I are actually following the Novice 1 training program, but the Novice 2 has some excellent points!], and I learned several fun facts that I want to incorporate into our training:

  • You should run at a conversational pace. If you struggle to keep up a conversation, you're working too hard and need to slow down.
  • In some cases, it's a good idea to run the first three-quarters of your run at an easy pace and then pick it up for the last quarter. On the other hand, if you notice your last quarter is slower than the rest of your run, you should slow down the beginning. 
  • Cross training can be extremely beneficial to runners, because it helps build muscles that support your running muscles. You can hike, walk, swim, bike, do yoga, or snowshoe. 
  • It's okay to take a walking break. 
  • You don't necessarily need to run every training run at your "race pace" in order to achieve your goal time. In fact, running this fast all the time could lead to injuries.
  • Rest days are crucial! (Not news, but a great reminder.)
I'm trying to focus a lot more of my attention and energy on the "other stuff" that comes with training for a race: stretching, strength training, resting sufficiently, and cross training. Oh, and foam rolling. Yes, let the pain begin continue. (My foam roller and I have a love-hate relationship. But you should see the way it treats me!)

After a shower, I threw together a quick dinner of chicken tacos, including tomatoes, avocado, red onion, shredded chicken with Terry's signature spice mix, cheddar cheese, corn tortillas, and sour cream. Since I had already cooked up the chicken earlier in the week (crock pot: chicken breasts + broth just covering the chicken --> cook on low for 6-8 hours), I just heated it up in a saucepan with a splash of broth and about a teaspoon of the spice mix. 

Easy and super fast! We also ate some leftover edamame and snap pea salad from my Lemonade excursion yesterday. Oh, and then I got a special treat from the nice people over at Chobani...

After meeting some of Chobani's awesome representatives at BLEND retreat earlier this month, they kindly offered to send me some of their delicious yogurt. I'm already excited to have it for breakfast tomorrow!

Since the night is young, I think we'll be making our annual donation to UCLA (fellow Bruins, have you donated recently?)  and then snuggling up to watch So You Think You Can Dance, my very favorite reality show. I used to dance in high school and college, and it's fun to relive the memories. Though I must say I'm not a huge fan of the bad auditions in the beginning weeks. Terry laughs because I fast forward through about half of the show, generally ignoring people's back stories and anyone at whom the judges are just going to laugh. I don't wait to be swayed by their biography! Just show me the money dance! But this season looks pretty good so far. Can't wait for Vegas week to get started!

Who else is thrilled that tomorrow is Friday? Any plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lemonade and WIAW

A pretty typical Wednesday with some pretty atypical eats. Luckily it was all delicious!

Check out all the other WIAW posts!

6:30 am - Breakfast
Scrambled eggs with a little bit of cheese; turkey bacon leftover from last night's burgers; blueberries; tea

12:15 pm - Lunch
A new salad recipe!
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas
  • shredded chicken
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 cups spinach
  • chopped red onion
  • chopped cucumber
  • fresh lemon juice + red wine vinegar + oregano
This salad was fantastic! I honestly wasn't too excited about it, because I didn't know how much I would like it. Turns out I had nothing to worry about!

3:00 pm - Banana

6:30 pm - Dinner
My coworker Eileen and I went to dinner together at the Pasadena location of Lemonade, a newish restaurant popping up all over the greater LA area. I am super excited about this restaurant. I may or may not have eaten there twice in the last three days. Don't judge me.

The decor is adorable.

The food is served cafeteria style and features about a dozen cold salads, sandwiches, fancier dishes like caprese stacks, braises, and soups. Plus desserts! And, of course, lemonade. 

(These photos were from our Monday adventure to Lemonade.)

Tonight I ate four salads:
  • broccoli with champagne vinaigrette and ricotta
  • snap peas and edamame 
  • arugula with strawberries, blue cheese, and balsamic
  • sweet potatoes with pistachio
I also ordered a seriously scrumptious and refreshing blueberry mint lemonade.

Eileen's meal: sweet potatoes and chicken bisque

What a cute idea for a restaurant! Terry and I can't wait to go back and try more of their selection--like the truffle mac n' cheese!

9:30 pm - Dessert
Chocolate milkshakes! (<--new recipe from earlier today!)

Not a bad day! I threw some yoga in there with my cheerleaders, which was a blast. We couldn't get the video to work, so I just made up a little routine, and they were totally into it. We had fun trying all the balances, and we found out that some girls were pretty awesome at yoga!

Have you tried any delicious restaurants lately? What are some must-try places?

Still Missing and Chocolate Milkshakes

Yesterday, I was craving burgers. Today I wanted a chocolate milkshake. Apparently I'm from the fifties.

To make my milkshake healthier, I subbed bananas for ice cream and ended up with a sugar-free chocolate delight!

Chocolate Milkshake
Serves 2

  • 1 1/2 bananas (frozen)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Handful of chocolate chips (optional but awesome)

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend. Pour into two glasses. Add straws. Enjoy.

Scout was just mad we wouldn't give him a straw.

We loved it! You can taste the banana, but it's subtle and works perfectly with the cocoa. A delicious summer treat to help beat the heat!

[Insert clever transition here.] <--Sometimes I write notes like this to myself in hopes that when I revise I'll come up with something awesome. You can see that this tactic works extremely well.

I once again participated in Julie's online book club on Peanut Butter Fingers. Well, sorta. Okay, not really at all. See, this month's book selection was Still Missing, a novel about a kidnapping that was far too disturbing for me to read. I read the first chapter, knowing that it would be a rough book, and I couldn't get through it. But my awesome husband, an avid reader himself, agreed to take one for the team. He read the book while in Belize last week and decided that it was a very good idea for me not to read it. Especially while he was away from home and my only guardian was this guy:

Where's the trouble? Lemme at 'em!

The answers below are summaries of Terry's responses, written from his point of view. I came up with the questions based on Terry's description of the novel and the points he thought were most interesting.

[Warning: Spoilers!]


What were your first impressions of the two main characters, Annie and the kidnapper, and how did those impressions change throughout the novel, if at all? Annie didn't come off well, but we meet her in her present-time therapy session after she's been through so much. In the flashbacks she seemed pretty nice. For the kidnapper, it's pretty obvious who he is since you know it's a kidnapping book, and you suspect him immediately.

He does a good job of making you intrigued about his character, and he gets under your skin. He doesn't grow much, but Annie does learn more about him. She sees his human side but not enough to change our view of him. The scenes where Annie reads to him are conflicting because it's hard to see how she could possibly enjoy the conversations, but obviously Stockholm syndrome is a real thing that many victims experience.

Annie changes a lot throughout the novel, and some changes are for the worse, but her development is understandable given the circumstances and she remains a likable character. You always root for her and give her the benefit of the doubt, despite her foul mouth and unsettling actions.

Everyone said this book is disturbing, graphic, and difficult to read. Do you agree? If so, what was so horrible about the descriptions? I agree, especially regarding the first half when she is in captivity. The rape scenes and not knowing the kidnapper's next move were always graphic and unsettling. I never had to stop reading, but I'm glad you didn't read it.

What did you think about the way the plot turned into more of solving a mystery about who set up the kidnapping?
I thought the fact that the time lines (therapy and outside experiences) met up was particularly interesting. It kept me invested in the story to see the investigation unfold in present time.

What were your thoughts about the frame of the novel (the psychiatrist sessions)? How did it improve or detract from the book?
I thought it was frustrating to never meet the therapist. I suspect that the reader was intended to be the therapist, which broke the barrier. I also felt that the way Annie spoke to the therapist was unrealistic--no one speaks in narrative that way.

Would you recommend the novel, and why or why not?
I would recommend it for a thriller/suspense fan because it certainly kept me intrigued, but the reader should be prepared for the disturbing nature of the novel.

Stay tuned for Julie's next book club selection! She'll be posting the choices in the next couple of days, and you can be part of the vote! Visit her blog here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Classic Burgers

So, this happened today:

More on that later. I'm not sure about you, but I think it's much more difficult going back to work after a long weekend. I had four days away from teaching, and it was a bit of a struggle to get back into the swing of things this morning. Still, my students helped me power through, and I found myself in the midst of a rather productive day. Grading, copying, prepping--check, check, and check!

After some traffic, errands, and chores, Terry and I set out for a run. We officially kick-started our half-marathon training today! We're signed up for the Disneyland Half-Marathon on September 2nd, and we decided on a three-month training plan. We trained halfway to a half-marathon before, but we ended up having to cancel the race because we were on our cruise (darn!). So we're officially off and running. (<--Please forgive the pun.) Today was nice and light: two miles at a conversational pace, and I also did about 45 minutes of yoga. All the stretching felt incredible on my sore muscles from water skiing.

Today I got the craving for a classic burger. You've seen my fancier burgers, like my caprese burgers or my feta-stuffed Greek burgers. But tonight was all about the all-American turkey burger. I wanted cheese and bacon and fries on the side. I wanted it so badly that I didn't care when our cheese looked like this:

You mean it's supposed to be all one color? And that color isn't green?

The heart stomach wants what it wants. Sometimes simple is best.

Our burgers included:

  • ground turkey
  • turkey bacon
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • tomato
  • spinach
  • red onion
  • BBQ sauce (for Terry)
And we ate a few sweet potato fries on the side. Oh, and Terry dipped an onion in BBQ sauce. Not ok. 

"It's a healthy onion ring."

Then we watched the latest episode of Mad Men, which was fantastic! For other fans out there: How did the episode change your opinion of Joan? And what do you think about Peggy's story? The previews for next week already have me so excited!

And now I'm cuddled up watching "The Jubilee Queen with Katie Couric" on ABC. I'm healthily obsessed with the royal family. I may or may not have woken up at 4:30 am to watch the Royal Wedding last year. Terry and I wanted to dress as William and Kate for Halloween (but didn't have anywhere to go...). When we went to London for our honeymoon, we bought a "God Bless the Queen" pillow that now sits proudly on our couch. It's not weird, right? Any other royalphiles out there?

Scout won't admit it, but he has a major crush on Kate Middleton.

What's your favorite "classic" food?

How much mold is too much?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Cocktails

I mentioned the other day how I feel that Memorial Day at the delta really kicks off the summer, but let’s be honest: that first cocktail in the sun, relaxing with friends and family is what it’s really all about. And even in a healthy life filled with nutritious foods and intense workouts, there is certainly room for splurges!

I enjoyed these two cocktails this weekend, and I really love their refreshing, summery flavors. Delta slammers are particularly tasty, but be warned: your guests (or you!) will want more than one!

Delta Slammers
  • 10 ounces orange juice
  • 10 ounces pineapple juice
  • 7 ounces dark rum (Bacardi)
  • 4 ounces coconut rum
  • 1.5 ounces apricot brandy

Measure all ingredients in a large pitcher and stir or shake. Serve over lots of ice and garnish with an orange or pineapple slice. It’s great to make a big batch (triple the recipe) at the beginning of the weekend to enjoy over a few days—if it lasts that long!

  • ½ lemon, with rind, cut into two or three slices
  • 14 mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 shots Bacardi light rum
  • Ice
  • Club soda

Add the lemon slices, mint leaves, sugar, and rum to a glass. Then muddle everything up by stirring and gently mashing the mint and lemon. Fill the cup with ice, then pour club soda to the top of the cup. Garnish with lemon slices or mint leaves.

The lemonito is particularly refreshing and evokes that involuntary “ahhhh” sound. Don’t be ashamed; embrace it, and love your summer.

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

Awhile back, Terry got invited to go on a dive trip to Belize with the company who has been training him. Originally, we thought we could figure out a way for me to join him on the trip, but between work and timing, it just wasn’t going to happen. But my parents offered to visit for a few nights and then drive me back up for some waterskiing. You can read about their visit here and here.

Thursday night, my parents and I zoomed out of inched our way out of LA and stopped for a quick dinner in Arvin, which is about one-quarter of the way up to the Bay Area. Can you believe my mother had never eaten Chipotle before this fateful night? Well, I convinced her she would be able to create a healthy salad, and she loved it! We were off to a good start.

We made it to my parents’ house in Fremont around 12:30 am and tried to sleep a little before a fairly early morning. Dad made me a delicious breakfast and then we were off to the delta for the weekend. Pops and I stopped to pick up our boat and Mom drove a separate car up for me to take to the airport upon my departure, since they would be staying a night later than I.

Friday was windy and cold, unfortunately, but I was excited to see the addition my parents are building for their little vacation home up there. The one-bedroom house now has another big room attached, much better for guests and for the six of us (me, Terry, Mom, Dad, Chris, and Ashley) to sleep. Plus dogs. Plus any other guests we want to bring up! We’re all excited to have more space, and it’ll be finished in just a few weeks!

Friday afternoon Mom and I took a quick jog around the island and then spent the day relaxing before Chris and Ashley and the dogs arrived. “The boys” (Achilles and Tango) love the delta, so it’s fun to have their energy around us. Friday night we ate a pasta dinner, which you can check out here.

Saturday morning brought more wind and two more visitors: Matt and Amy. Matt and his brother, Nick, and my brother and I all grew up together, and our parents are all best friends. The Johnsons have a house next to ours at the delta, and we’ve grown up water skiing, wake boarding, kneeboarding, and playing together. Now that we all have our significant others, we still hang out (and Nick and his wife Jocelyn live in LA, so we still see each other quite often!). It’s such a blessing to have this incredible “extended family,” and we still cherish the time we spend at the delta together.

Once Matt and Amy arrived, I got to lead a boot camp foreveryone, and then we spent the day lovin’ life out on the island. I indulged too much on junk food and drinks, but it was nice to relax so completely. I even napped two of the days!

This morning we finally had good weather! Diane led us all on a delta frolicking workout, which I alluded to yesterday but didn’t fully understand until I experienced it. What is frolicking, you ask? Well, please allow me to show you.

Along with frolicking, we each took turns choosing an exercise for everyone to do, including but not limited to jogging, skipping, walking, sprinting, jumping on one foot, running up and down some hills, inchworms, arm circles, and lots more! It was about 3 miles round trip, and we had a blast challenging each other with fun exercises!

After our fun workout, we all devoured a delicious brunch of egg casserole, fruit, potatoes, and champagne.

Then, since the wind had died down, my mom and I each got a ski run in for the first time this season. The water was still super choppy, but it felt good to be back behind the boat!

That's me!

Other highlights of the weekend:
Dad's hat

Our little neighborhood

Achilles in his little pool

Paddle boarding

Several families of geese!

With babies!

 I hope your Memorial Day is peaceful and fun and that you take a moment to remember why this day is so special.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Real Beginning of Summer

For a lot of people, Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. It's a great time for that first barbecue or first trip to the beach. 
Or for that first summer cocktail!

For years, my family has been coming up to the delta on Memorial Day weekend to kick off the summer. My parents have a little vacation house right next door to our close family friends, and we spend the days water skiing, wake boarding, chatting, rafting, drinking, eating, and relaxing. Since Terry and I live in LA now, we aren't able to come up to the delta as often as we'd like, but we try to make it happen at least a few times every year. 

This time around, I'm up here with my parents, my brother and his fiancee, my parents' friends Dan and Diane, and their son Matt and his girlfriend Amy. This morning, I led a boot camp for everyone that looked a little something like this:

We ended up skipping the 45-second round, because we all felt pretty exhausted. I really liked the combination of exercises, though, and my heart rate was through the roof from all the jumping. I will certainly be trying this exercise again in its entirety, even though I got a great sweat from just the 20-minute version!

And of course after the boot camp we had to do a photo shoot where everyone chose a favorite workout pose.

Please excuse Tango's booty

I love Dan's Warrior 3 pose here

Amy didn't get the memo we were taking a picture, and Mom jumped too late

And of course my brother's "star fish" jump is amazing

So that's the group I'm working with here. It went extremely well. By the way, these four photos were shot by my friend-basically-brother-because-we-grew-up-together-since-age-5 Matt. He's an incredible photographer, writer, and all-around Renaissance man. You can check out more of his amazing shots here.

There's much more to fill you in on about our weekend here, but it's late and I have much to look forward to tomorrow: apparently frolicking will be involved. I don't know yet what that means, but I'll be sure to let you know!