Holidays, take 2!

December 30, 2011

Ending the new year with:

A half day at work, good data and a happy boss.
A gorgeous drive up north.
A (new to me) retro sewing machine that works. (No I don’t know how to sew, but I’m learning!)
Dinner with college favorites.
Reading (read: OBSESSING) about bitters and learning how to make my own…
A morning to sleep in and a new years eve with amazing friends, food and fun times.
My only regret? I’m having a slight “oh man, I wish I brought my sneaks!” I am DYING for a run outside. But, if that’s all that I have to complain about…I’ll take it.
Hope everyone has a great weekend and I’ll see ya in 2012 🙂

Xo

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In the epic battle of Katie V. Crochet pattern last night, Crochet pattern won.  I got some hooks and patterns and yarn for Christmas this year and lets just say that Crochet Rounds are not an easy thing to figure out on your own.  Any help out there?  Back at it tonight for round two…

And now that I sound like a complete loser…

I’ve been really wanting to get back onto a schedule for working out, running and the like.  Starting with my lifting on Tuesday night, which left me alittle sore in the legs.  So I spent all day yesterday griping about how I was either going to skip the treadmill or hop on and fall flat on my face, which is not the most effective form of working out.  Until it dawned on me (lack of sleep guys, lets just say this epic Crochet battle has been ongoing…), CROSS TRAINING! Still an important part of working out and staying healthy and fit, even when not actively training for a race.  So, I bundled up and headed down to the gym for a short sweat session on the bike.  I know a lot of people prefer the elliptical, but it actually hurts my knees to do the elliptical.  Go figure, right?  Cross training is good for staying active and working muscles in a different way.  I’m still on the fence about signing up for the half marathon, but with the break from running consistently and the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I’m starting to be ready to get back into it.  Maybe I should just bite the bullet, sign up and then be forced to do it no matter what?  Either way it felt good (as usual) to get out there and sweat a little.

And can we just talk for a second, about how glad I am to be getting back into a normal eating routine?   Last night I was tired of the veggie burger route, and definitely not in the mood for holiday leftovers.  I wanted different, healthy and homemade.  Just one problem with that…I refuse to go grocery shopping for a short week that I’m flyin’ solo for.  So I had to get creative.  Hearing about a night out for Mexican food got the ideas going in my head and I came up with something that’s delicious, relatively healthy, Mexican(ish) and NOTHING like holiday food.  Leftovers from the fridge with homemade “Mole” sauce!!!!  Now, disclaimer.  I’ve never actually HAD mole sauce.  And I didn’t use rice as my starch, I used bulgur wheat (yum) and I’ve never seen tofu offered at a Mexican restaurant.  Clearly, I am a visionary.   And clearly, after reading about Mole sauce, there’s a lot more to it than I ever expected (imagine that…).  Allow me to enlighten you…

Traditionally, Mole sauce is a thick dark sauce that can have up to twenty ingredients.  And if you do it the RIGHT way, you ground all the spices and ingredients into a paste by hand.  Suffice to say, I did NOT do it right.  If you’re like me, you assumed that Mole is the name for a Mexican sauce with chocolate in it.  And if you’re like me, then you were only half right. Mole, as it turns out, is a general name for a sauce (which is defined as something that goes on TOP of a dish, did not know that – another little tidbit, officials almost took away the title of “sauce” from Mole because it was such a thick and substantial sauce that they argued it could stand alone, but since it was used as a sauce, it kept the title).  One of the popular varieties, Mole Poblano, happens to contain some chocolate, but is NOT a chocolate based sauce, rather the chocolate balances out the spice.  It seems that the common ingredient for most of the Mole varieties is chili peppers.  Makes sense, right?

So, one of the coolest parts about mole sauce, is that there’s a LEGEND to how this sauce got started, or more accurately, a few legends.  All of which can be taken to mean that no one really knows how it got started.

Legend #1:  During the early colonial period, nuns at the Convent of Santa Rosa were about to be visited by the Arch Bishop.  The problem is that the nuns were pretty poor and there was a general panic as to what to FEED him.  So after praying, they rounded up what spices they had and created a sauce that they then served over an old turkey.  Legend has it the Arch bishop loved it.  And voila! A recipe was born…

Legend #2 is pretty similar, only this time its sans nuns and plus one Monk.  The story is generally the same, only, in his cooking for the arch bishop, the monk (or the wind), knocks over a whole lot of spices into a pot where a turkey is cooking.  And there you have it.  Mole sauce legend number 2!

My mole sauce, did not contain 20 ingredients…lets count:

Unsweetened cocoa powder (1), Olive oil (2), crushed tomatoes (3), cumin (4), oregano (5), chipotle powder (6), cayenne pepper (7), Chili powder (8), fresh cilantro (9), fresh cracked sea salt (10), Franks Hot sauce (11), Honey (12), refried beans (13), garlic powder (14), onion powder (15), brown sugar (16!).

Hmm, 16, not bad for a first try!  I think the great thing about the idea of a Mole sauce, is that generally, it can be whatever you want, but have a similar base to other Mole sauces.  I simmered this puppy with some chopped onion, zucchini and tofu (17, 18, 19?) and served it over bulgur wheat, with a garnish of goat cheese (20???).   While tasting the sauce the whole way through its cooking, it always seemed a bit off and the goat cheese provided the perfect amount of tanginess I was looking for to go with the richness of the sauce.  The zucchini also provided a nice fresh flavor to balance it out.  Ahhhh veggies, protein, yummy yummy grains.  I don’t know if my Mole sauce tasted like how mole sauce should taste, but It was a perfect warm you up kind of meal after a cold day.

Today’s history lesson brought to you by Wikipedia.  Who knew sauces could be so fun to learn about?

Tonight, I’m hoping to power through a shorter run and maybe some lifting (my poor legs…), prep for heading back up north for New Years (got those resolutions ready?) and wage war against my crochet hooks again.  What’s everyone up to tonight? Something delicious? Healthy? Relaxing? Fun?

xo

Hiatus, Complete.

December 28, 2011

Long time no see guys!!  After a bit of a hiatus, I am back from Christmas holidays and sludging my way through a short week of work to make it to the long weekend for New Years Eve.  Pitiful? Yup.

The holidays were so busy this year for us.  Christmas Eve is my brother’s birthday, so there’s no rest for this gal!  But, with all of the running around and holiday food, I did my best to stay healthy and managed to chalk a few up in the win column.  One of the dangers (as I have found) with being so busy, is that you forget to take the time to do something healthy for yourself.  I told you guys I packed my workout gear with the intention of running because I wanted to, but that I’ve never actually worked out over a holiday break when I intended to.  This year, I changed that 🙂  With my newfound desire to run for running and not for losing weight or burning off the calories before I eat them, I found myself gearing up for a quick run during one of those brief stints of nothing to do.  It was a shorter run (3 miles, outside) but with a lot of hills.  My legs were pretty tired from the hill-a-thon I pushed through before leaving for home, so with that in mind and the time crunch, I was pretty happy with the run J  Besides, half of the accomplishment is just getting out there and doing it right?

As for the rest of the holidays, there was so.much.food!  My brother’s birthday dinner is the same every year.  Ham and Mac&Cheese (homemade).  Christmas dinner is the same (turkey, and the fixings).  Christmas evening is the same (cold cuts, shrimp cocktail, chicken salad).  Are we sensing a pattern here?  Welcome to Lancaster County, a very meat centric group of people.  I don’t expect anyone to cater to my dietary preferences (vegetarian), so a lot of times, I tend to eat less healthy than desired.  Happily, this year, my family was extremely accommodating.  You should’ve seen my plate for Christmas dinner:  Brussel sprouts, stuffing (with veggie stock!), roasted tomatoes, corn pudding, mashed sweet potatoes, mashed regular potatoes, roasted broccoli, cauliflower and garlic.   YUM.  I was stuffed by the end, but not overly full that I felt sick.   So I definitely didn’t go hungry this weekend, but I wasn’t always eating either, which was really nice.  My only worry is that I didn’t get enough protein.  I can’t wait until all the leftovers are taken care of for this short week (short = no grocery shopping) and the holiday goodies are finally cooked and eaten and I can try out a few of the recipes I’ve already starting marking in the new cookbooks I got for Christmas this year.   But for now, I’ll settle for some thawed out veggie soup (leeks! Zucchini! Squash! Corn! Peas! Carrots! Tomatoes! Yum yum yum yum yum!!!!!)

I haven’t made it out for another run since my Christmas Eve jaunt, but I did manage to nab some fitness goodies with some Christmas money, which include a few reflector items for running outside and finishing up my current desires for a home gym.  Someday, when I’m not living in a complex that has a gym included, I’d like to get a treadmill, but until then – I’ve settled for adding to my collection of weights! I’ve rounded out my set of 15 lbs (lifting with one 15 lb weight is awkward).  So now, I have a set of 5s, 10s, 15s, and 20s PLUS, my new baby 🙂 🙂 🙂  a 30 lb kettle bell!!! This thing has me going “ooof” every time I pick it up and swing it around, but I cannot wait to see its results on my core (note to self: look up kettel bell workouts…!)  I could hardly wait to test them all out and knew I was in for a workout, when yesterday morning I woke up and was pretty sore, JUST FROM CARRYING THEM UP THE STEPS the night before. Oops.  Time to get back to the gym, Hebs 🙂 It was a nice lifting workout, hitting the biceps, triceps, delts, and lats, and all the major leg muscles, plus my abs.  Happily I wasn’t as sore this morning, but my muscles are definitely tired.   Hoping to fit in a nice run tonight (at the gym, boooo) and get myself back on track for the new year.  Speaking off – is everyone working on their goals and resolutions for the year?  I’ve been thinking hard about mine and am excited that this year, I can use the word “maintain” rather than “start” when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.  That leaves me room to focus on some other things that are just as important, I think.  I can’t wait to share my goals with ya’ll and hear about yours!!

Until then, have some mid-week smiles and power through! 🙂

xo

Home for Christmas 🙂 But not before putting in 5 glorious (and HILLY) miles outside.

This 65 degree weather isn’t really my preferred Christmas Climate, but it sure makes running outside a little more palatable.

I’ve been home for about an hour and already have shared a cup of tea with my parents and clementines. And I have decided. If I can decorate my house half as beautifully as they do, I’ll be happy!

Packing this year for Christmas there’s a new first, I brought along my running gear. Over thanksgiving I had to, because of the 5k. This weekend, I brought it because I wanted to. I’ve never worked out over a Christmas break before, so I’m interested to see how I’ll balance the Holidays and taking an hour out of my day to go for a run. Maybe some shorter, but high intensity runs are in order? So I’m curious how everyone else handles working out when they’re away for the Holidays, especially when there’s so much else to get done and do?

Xo

gym hiatus…

December 21, 2011

No, I haven’t made it to the gym these past few days…but! I have:

1. Finished 2 handmade Christmas gifts. Scarf for my dad and a hat for my mom.(See??). One more eternity scarf and bracelet to go! I use a knitting loom and love how easy it is to make some simple but fun and appreciated gifts! 🙂
2. Biscotti was successful and I got to play Santa with it today. Yay! I love the giving part of Christmas.
3. Run some last minute errands for stocking stuffers!!! (Does anyone else love the stockings as much as I do???)
4. Made a surprise dessert of Nutella cocoa krispie (pebbles) treats. I know that this time of year the last thing anyone wants to think of is more sweets….but c’mon…nutella AND cocoa pebbles ??? I’m in.

All of the non-work productivity aside, I’m starting to miss my workouts and craving being able to run outside. I’m beginning to recognize that by the end of the day, my body is simply just too tired to go to the gym. Which doesn’t mean not working out and it doesn’t mean have a crappy workout just to say I did it. What it does mean is figuring out how to keep hydrated and fueled and balanced enough during the day, so that I can get a good night’s rest and wake up in the morning to get my run in before work. Bonus points? A good mood to boot for the rest of the day.

And with that, this girl is off to bed. Home tomorrow night for the Holidays!!!

Xo

Monday Monday

December 19, 2011

Lets see:  My weekend was super productive

Christmas cards – signed, sealed and sent

DMV – new license, check.  Organ donor, check.  🙂

Christmas shopping – all but done.  This year I’m feeding my vintage/retro/thrifty/DIY obsession and have been searching through my favorite consignment and antique shops and knitting with my Knifty Knitter Loom.  I love how unique a vintage or antiquey gift can be and at a great price.  But I’m curious, when it comes to shopping for gifts do you like to hit up consignment and antique shops to find something unique or do you stick to the major stores?

Work – check annnnnd check.

Christmas Biscotti?! DEFINITELY Going into some gift bags for the work friends.  I’ll post the recipes later this week, but I’m really loving the Cranberry Pistaschio Biscotti I made.  It was my first attempt at any biscotti and its insanely easy.  A lot easier than I expected.  My only casualties were a wooden spoon and a sugar pouring mishap…oops.  🙂  And of course, the selfless biscotti that sacrificed themselves for the taste testing job.

Homemade Veggie Soup – Another post it later recipe, but this baby was chock full of fresh veggies and tasted amazing on a cold night.

The only thing I didn’t get to on my weekend to do list was to get out for a run.  I really wanted to take advantage of the daytime and get outside.  Turns out I was just too busy and too tired by the end of the day on Sunday.  We’ll just call it a full week’s rest, eh?

In that spirit, I woke up this morning with the mantra “Not going isn’t an option”.  And I went.  I was really glad I went but didn’t get that endorphin rush that I usually do. I put in a good three mile run and worked on some speed.  I have a particular time goal Iwant to consistently break for the 5k mark and am using that as my general training goal until I decide if I want to go for the half marathon or not.   I’m waffling on this guys.  Has anyone else out there ran a few races, started training and then struggle once a race is over to work up the goal to train for a longer distance?  I’m definitely motivated to keep running, but need that extra push to sign up for the next big race.

So I am back to knitting – I’ve got a hard Christmas deadline 😉

I hope everyone had just as a productive weekend as I did!! Its a short week this week 🙂  I’m determined to be cheerful for the entire week and head into the Holidays with all smiles 🙂  Can’t wait to share my biscotti and Veggie soup recipes and tonight’s new try of a Thai Pizza.  🙂

xo

I love Fridays

December 16, 2011

Let’s see:
Weekly Bagel and Latte treat.
Worked hard and saw the rewards. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend.
Finger food, with kalamata olives, hummus, feta cheese, whole wheat baguette, veggies, cheddar and apples on the menu. Um, yes.
Off Limits on TV (who knew the Twin Cities could be so cool?)
Lit Christmas tree.
Beer.
Purring cat.

I love Fridays.
What made you smile today?
Xo