Friday, April 29, 2011

Running on empty

For some insane reason, I decided to ride my bike to work yesterday. The weather man said we had rain showers, thunderstorms and cold temperatures on the way. But I wanted to ride my bike.

It seemed like a good idea, until around 1 p.m. when it began raining, hard. Shortly after 6, I managed to scoot out of the office and on to meet the running group. Somehow, the skies cleared a bit and there was even a bit of sun peaking out as I finished four miles of easy running.

And finally, I layered up again and made the 30 minute commute home. Slowly, but surely my hands got colder despite my cycling gloves and I could feel my blood sugar tanking. I resisted pedaling hard for fear I might use up too much energy all at once.

I walked in the door and devoured chips and salsa while standing in my bike shoes with my backpack and helmet still on. A growling tummy sometimes demands it.

And about .5 seconds later, it was decided that we would not be cooking, but instead head to one of our favorite establishments, The Bier Stein for some stellar sandwiches and beer.

This place gets insanely packed on Thursday and Friday nights so the closest thing to a table we could find was a bench facing the front door. I'm not one to complain, though. We had a place for our rears and our laps for a table.

^My new "boat shoes" that the manfriend picked out last weekend at DSW. I'm in love with them.

The manfriend was kind of annoyed that these people had the nerve to just walk in and grab a table from a group who was finishing up when we had clearly been waiting around for something for a while. I didn't mind. The bench was cozy and the beer was good (we both had the Laurelwood Tree Hugger Porter).

We finally snagged two bar stools just in time to finish the last sips of our pints. I wish I had snapped a photo of our sandwiches. If you ever eat at The Bier Stein, you have to get The Gouddhist (a grilled sandwich on ciabatta bread with pesto, garlic aioli, tomatoes, turkey and smoked gouda). It's outta this world! And their raspberry vinaigrette...mmm.

The Royal Wedding, running, lunch with a special guy, a trip to lululemon and dinner with girlfriends are on my list for this Friday. What about you?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Savvy sweet with a side of veggies

When I saw Savvy Julie's post on these apple cinnamon donut muffins, I wanted one pronto. I'll be honest, I wanted a donut, but I've yet to track down one of those Wilton donut pans in Eugene (get with it Bed, Bath and Beyond!).

I decided to take a little twist on these muffins and cook up some apple chunks and mix them into the batter. I sauteed them in a little butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. I always like having something real inside a muffin besides the usual flour and sugar.

These adorable spring Wilton muffin papers had me head over heels. Found them on sale at my grocery store a few weeks ago.

I highly recommend adding the olive oil + cinnamon/sugar topping. I opted not to fill these muffins with spiced apple butter or some kind of jam, but it would have definitely added a little sweetness.

These are not super sweet and taste great warm with a little almond butter on top and a cold glass of milk. I froze about half the batch so we can heat them up some day in the future. But honestly, I'm still aching to make some real donuts.

In the midst of all the baking I did last weekend, I made sure to balance all that sweetness out with some fresh veggies and my Saturday market goods (greens and walnut fig goat cheese).

After all of my baking this weekend and Easter brunch + candy on top of that, Monday was a total detox day for me. That meant no junk food, a beefy salad for lunch and crockpot chili for dinner. I almost feel back in balance.

Did anyone watch The Voice last night? One of my already favorite singers, Javier Colon was on. Just pop over to listen to his voice. He's going to go somewhere with his music career.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Perfect Spring Day 5K

I'll preface this with saying I'm sorry to all of you who are experiencing snow right now. That is some kind of cruel joke Mother Nature is playing on your cities. I suppose I should quit my whining about some wind and rain, eh?

Well, Saturday was down right perfect here. The manfriend and I both woke up early to get our respective exercising on. I don't even know what sleeping in feels like anymore. I opted to head to a power yoga class at Lifeforce Fitness while the manfriend went insane rode 100 miles on his bike.

With temps promised to be in the 60s on Saturday, I rode my bike to class. It was glorious. I reveled in what a Saturday should feel like...luxurious, relaxing and productive, not crazy and exhausting.

We're pretty lucky to have this paved 13 mile loop that goes around the Willamette river that you can bike, walk or run on year round.

After yoga (where I finally met Lindsey!), it was just too nice to ride home and be cooped up indoors. All I wanted to do was mosey around town. So being Saturday and all, I headed straight for the farmer's market where I grabbed fresh greens, goat cheese and bread, while trying not to whack people with my bike.

The flowers at the market and on the street corners are beautiful right now. It has me lusting after the days when I'll have these things growing in my own yard.

After a little baking project, I laced up for the King Estate 5K and even slathered on my first sunblock of the season (besides my daily facial spf).

The winery is about 20 minutes out of town and has the most gorgeous views and some delicious wine. About 400 runners showed up to race as well as lots of families and friends. The set up is great because who wouldn't want to support friends and family when the race is held at a winery? Brilliant!

The course started by their pavilion on the lower portion and headed through the gravel maintenance roads and up two HUGE hills up and around the main estate.

The two major hills lasted about two minutes each and then there were about 5-6 more rollers and lots of gravel. This was by FAR the hardest 5K I'd ever run. Generally, 5K's are known to be flat and fast, but not in wine country!

I finished with a time of 24:35. Not bad considering the terrain!

After a little cool down jog, it was time for a glass of vino.

The kids race was adorable. Just a little sprint around the building.

And don't worry, it's totally normal to let the sheep mow your lawn. I guess it's economical!

For $5, this was a STEAL of a race. It was in partnership with the Eugene Marathon so the event was well organized and a lot of fun. I'm always on the lookout for the perfect "bang for your buck" kind of race that includes the right combination of a great race course, unique qualities and extra goodies.

Final Stats:
Time: 24:35
Pace: 7:55
Overall Place: 31/379
Div Place: 3/54

What's your most memorable event/race you've participated in? For me, it's hard to beat the Country Music 1/2 Marathon. There are so many fun bands along the course, people having brunch on their lawn while watching cheering you on and a free music concert afterward.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The jury's still out

The truth is, I bought Trader Joe's sunflower butter just to try this recipe. Jenna knows her butter and flour, that's for sure.

But last night, I wanted to make a quick dessert before we headed off to the Banff Film Festival so I turned to Tina's chocolate sunflower butter cookies and added in the chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

Tina has some great recipes that are usually "healthed up" so I figured it would be a great choice and I can make Jenna's recipe soon. The thing is, I'm not so sure I like the taste or the crunch of the chocolate covered sunflower seeds in the cookie.

Oh well, at least they look adorable. They'd be PERFECT for an Easter celebration if you loved their taste. Has anyone else tried sunflower seeds in their cookies? I think mini colored m&m's would be tastier.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend so far. We were lucky enough to get a sunny day of 60 degree temps. I didn't want the day to end because tomorrow is sure to bring..RAIN!

I'll have a 5K recap and more baking shenanigans coming soon. My kitchen has been churning things out like you wouldn't believe in the past 48 hrs. Don't worry, some of it is tucked safely in the freezer so we aren't tempted to consume every.last.morsel.

If you're celebrating Easter tomorrow, enjoy! My family always gets together for brunch and a mini service. My gramps is a semi-retired minister who is still up for a little preachin' now and then. As I've said before, I love holidays. My favorite parts of Easter are: the fun pastel colors, getting dressed up and good food with the family.

Does anyone else have a grandparent who still works part or full time?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Pancake Friday!

Does anyone else kick off the weekend with an extra special breakfast before work? Pancakes are often my go to for Friday mornings.

Guess which toppings are mine vs. the manfriend's...

In an effort to pump up the protein, I mixed up a separate batch to the manfriend's all Trader Joe's buttermilk pancake mix.

My pumped up pancake recipe: 1/3 TJ's buttermilk pancake mix, 1/3 cup oats, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 scoop protein powder, 1 egg, 1 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 T chia seed/flax seed mix.

Before the pancakes, I kicked off the day with a little strength in the form of a circuit workout a la Fitnessista to get these arms rockin'! What I really like about the Bridal Bootcamp 2010 workout is that it mixes in 3 sets of 5 minute cardio blasts in the middle. That cardio paired with weight lifting really helps burn the fat!

I opted to set up the bike trainer and spin away during the cardio blasts. It was a lot of fun and my arms were pretty sore on these supersets!

In the next few months, I'll feature more arm and ab focused workouts in the attempt to get toned for one of my best friend's weddings (and summer in general). But don't worry, I'll still be doing plenty of running. After all, Michelle and I (and a whole slew of my local running crew) got accepted into the McKenzie River Trail Run in Sept - 31 miles of trail!

And with that, enjoy your Friday! I'm running the King Estate 5k tomorrow afternoon. I can already taste that complimentary glass of wine. Any fun Friday or weekend plans on your books?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stand up for YOU

In life, there are moments I find myself retreating like a child. I don't know why it happens, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm important.

In the midst of a stressful situation, I recently thought to myself, would I normally stand for an abusive relationship, friendship or work environment? The truth is, I wouldn't. So why was I backing down and not standing up for the person screaming inside?

It reminded me of an awful day in sixth grade. One of my "friends" walked up to the lunch table where we were all sitting and asked what everyone eats after school for a snack. And then she shot this look at me and words I'll never forget, "well, we know Lauren gets enough to eat." I didn't say a thing (and neither did anyone else) even though she made me feel like sh*t.

The truth was, I came home after school and ate while I was doing homework (or watching Oprah). On top of that I wasn't moving enough. And socially, I was trying to fit in with the popular crowd while slowly learning my best friends would be the cool nerds in the band (yep, cool and band in the same sentence).

From that day on, I vowed to never live up to her belief in me. I begged my dad buy a gym membership for the family and I started gradually running laps around the track and lifting weights at the gym. Before long, I became impressively strong and dedicated to getting my body into its best shape.

I can honestly say that I could now crush her in any physical activity. I rarely think of this moment anymore, but to this day am impressed at how I turned a mortifying situation into an aspect of my life that is far and away my favorite. The journey of becoming healthy both mentally and physically isn't always easy or direct, but I'm so glad I chose that path, even if it was inspired out of negativity.

So when someone brings you down, stand up for yourself and then prove to them that you can rise above it.

A few other thought provoking blog posts you might enjoy:
Oh She Glows: 5 things that helped me beat the obsession
Dietician on the Run: A Healthy Reality Check
Faith, Fitness, Fun: Topless at the Gym (it's not what you think)
and Self-Love Reflection: Perseverance

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Winning happens.

I rarely win ANYTHING (okay I won a pair of jeans once), so when I received an email from Fitsugar saying I had WON $100 gift certificate from New Balance, I was pretty shocked!

All I had done was posted one of my favorite snack recipes (pumpkin greek yogurt) during their Get Fit for 2011 Challenge.

Is anyone else a part of the Fitsugar community?
If fitness/health articles and tips aren't up your alley, they also have several other communities focused on fashion, beauty, home, money, technology. Occasionally, I find myself clicking over to the other communities, but let's be honest, health is my first love.

The point is, it pays to contribute to the communities you receive great content from and appreciate, especially when there's spandex involved. What's the best thing you've ever won or received free of charge?

P.S. - Congratulations to all you amazing Boston Marathoners out there who were doing some winning of your own yesterday. So proud of you. I dream of being there someday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chocolate Crinkles

One of my favorite childhood bakeries makes THE BEST chocolate "crackles" ever. My obsession started early and I"m actually surprised that I hadn't tried to make them before yesterday! If you're ever in Corvallis, OR, you NEED New Morning Bakery in your life. Trust me on this.

I googled recipes and ended up choosing this one from Joy of Baking because it didn't contain too much butter or sugar. As much as I bake, I'm trying to be a wee bit more conscious about how much these recipes call for and choosing one over the other if it sounds equally as enticing.

These chocolatey snowballs of goodness went into the oven like this (about the size of a donut hole)...

and came out like this! They were just slightly larger with most of the powdered sugar absorbed. Not what I was expecting at all.

However, before I judged them by appearance, I popped one in my mouth to taste test. While they are small, they taste great! Just slightly sweet, chocolatey and moist.

I'm not sure if their miniature size was due to fact that I did something funky or that I used 1 real egg and 1 "flax egg." Perhaps that's how they were supposed to be?

I highly suggest repowdering sugar all over these babies. While I was a bit disappointed these didn't have the crackle effect that I love so much, they turned out. And the small size is most likely a blessing in disguise. After all, I won't feel so guilty for having three in a row.

And because this weekend wasn't sinful enough already...

If you haven't made Jessica's Baked Parmesan Spaghetti, you need to. It's a very simple recipe and if you're capable of making spaghetti, trust me, you can do this! And even if you don't have parmesan and fresh basil, you should still make it. I did.

Recommendation: workout approximately 2 hours for each recipe shown above.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Was it THAT bad?

I hope you're enjoying your Sunday so far! I have hopes that it won't pour ALL day like it did yesterday. Ugh! Luckily, I squeezed in 6 miles in the morning before the rain really started coming down.

My mom sent me a few photos she took last weekend at the Peterson Ridge Rumble and I thought a few of them were worth posting here, mainly because I look in serious pain.

Really, was it THAT bad? Apparently.

Don't mind the hideous hair beast. Sometimes, it can't be tamed.

As soon as I finished, I stripped off my long sleeve, removed the shoes and socks and hiked up the pants. I was just a bit overdressed.

Well, I hope I've amused you with these oh so flattering images. I'm off to run some more miles and hopefully not have this look on my face!

Friday, April 15, 2011

On what I'm coveting this moment

Toms in Olive Canvas or the Silver Glitters

Moving Comfort sports bras (Juno and Charity styles)

A European Adventure (like STAT)! It's quickly moving up to my #1 on the list of things I should be saving for. Kristen's guest post on Peanut Butter Fingers yesterday has me aching to go back.

Manfriend, are you packed yet?

The adorable touch screen ipod nano

What items are you loving right now? Do you mull over your purchases or are they usually impulse buys? Do you budget a specific amount per month of fun $$?

At all times, it's likely I have a number of things I want, but ultimately I make a purchase on one of the items that I just can't get out of my head. I'm curious on how you guys spend money because I'm listening to this interesting book on cd, All Your Worth and it talks a lot about how to budget and how much you should set aside for your "must haves," "savings" and "wants." I plan to do a review of it when I'm finished.

As always, happy rainy Friday! I'm so ready for nice spring weather to arrive. The cold temps and drizzle get to be a bit much come April.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I bet ya didn't guess...

Tagalongs were the goodies I made on Tuesday night! Sues and Chels of We are Not Martha will never steer you wrong in the kitchen. Lisa, nice guess about the peanut butter cups! You were close.

After seeing this recipe at We Are Not Martha a few months ago, I've been dreaming of making them. Then Girl Scout cookie season came and we had more than our fair share of chocolate cookies around the house and office. But this week, I was looking for something more than just your basic chocolate chip cookie...

Homemade Tagalongs
Recipe via We Are Not Martha and Babble

A few notes: I made the half recipe using just one stick of butter as Sues instructs you may do. I highly recommend using creamy Skippy Natural peanut butter for this recipe and using both semi sweet and bittersweet chocolate to melt. Oh and be extra generous with the peanut butter on each cookie. You'll thank me later.

Don't worry, after devouring a few, these were immediately put into "his" and "hers" ziplocks in the fridge and freezer. Lord knows I won't be letting the manfriend have his paws on my stash. :)

While these cookies do take a few steps, none of them were particularly hard. It took probably 90 minutes in total, including mixing, freezing the dough, melting the chocolate, etc. Call a good friend and catch up while you make these top notch cookies. Your spouse, roommate, belly and kids will thank you later.