Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday 1996

Some day I should get a photo scanner and scan in some of my cool older pictures.

In 1996, I was studying abroad in Rome, and I went with a friend to the Stations of the Cross service.  I'm not Catholic (actually, Episcopalian, so we have the same Good Friday service), but my friend was, and she really thought it would be cool to go to the service.  The Pope (John Paul II at the time) did the service at places around Rome.  He would process to one place, read that station, process to the next, etc., near the Colliseum (Colosseo), near the Arch of Constantine, and into the forums, ending up overlooking it all from the Palatine Hill.  The service was broadcast over loudspeakers so you could hear all of the stations.  I think the only way to see them all would be on TV or to be in the procession (which was about 12 people total, the Pope, some people I assumed to be acolytes, some priests, someone carrying the cross, and about 2 civilians). 

Since we were in college and there were no classes in Italy that day, we headed out to the Arch of Constantine early in the day and figured out roughly where the procession would go.

We got a spot right up front and we just hung out all day, laying on the grass, talking, watching the world go by, you know, all those great college ways of wasting a day other than sleeping or drinking. 

Eventually, late in the afternoon, the crowd was growing and we were happy to be up front.

When it started getting dark, someone walked the route and was laying out round metal disks with numbers on them, each about the size of a dinner plate. 

We were amazed to see #6 not too far from where we were standing -- maybe 5 car lengths away.  We couldn't read the plate, but one of us went down to check it out. 

We were hoping that would mean Station 6 would happen right there. 

More time passed, and eventually, it was clear that the service would begin soon.  There was a crowd at least 10 deep behind us.  I remember particularly some nasty old Italian guy who kept pressing up too close against us.  We kept our hands on our hips so our pokey elbows would keep him back. 

As an aside, during our study abroad experience, the young women in our program were the victims of a surprising number of skeevy things committed by old Italian men.  Groping and worse (but nothing like rape). 

Anyway, at some point shortly before the service, someone else walked the route, picked up #6 and moved it ...

directly in front of us!

And sure enough, station 6 stopped right in front of us, and a priest read out the Sixth Station.

For non-Christians (or if not all Christian denominations have this service), this is it:

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
"Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you drink ? And when did we see you a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?" And answering the king will say to them, "Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did It for me."

It ended up being one of the coolest experiences of my life.  Standing about 10 feet away from the Pope, framed by the Arch of Constantine behind him, listening to a beautiful service.

I always remember that day today. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Still Here

Lots to say, but little time to say it.

I need to write about my accounting buddy's 5k experience.

I need to write about my race PR last weekend (and first in my age group!).

I need to write about how irritated I am with Lean Cuisine's pizza packaging.

I need to write about our adventures in China.

I think I still need to write about my marathon last spring (just in case someone needs the info b/c they are considering the race).

I need to write about how today, I had company on my commute this morning and MIGHT have more company on my commute home tonight.

I need to write about the fun sweet recipes I'm planning to make for Easter (so ready to be done with Lent!). 

But it seems like there's just not enough time!!! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

FMM: Ten Questions

Another weekend in the books.  This one was a bit of a bummer.  I had a big race over the weekend and a lot of my speed work for the next 4 weeks was to be based on how that race went.  And it was disappointing.  I struggled mentally and my pace wasn't what I wanted.  But in reality, it was mixed -- I managed to win my age group, and I got a PR.  But in the end, I still look at it as disappointing.  Oh well, it just means I have more work to do. 

Other than that, the weekend was pretty quiet.  Laundry, packing lunches for the week, packing clothes for the week, some napping, some sudoku.  Oh, and I managed to give about 1,000 "high fives" while volunteering during another big local race: 

I love watching and cheering for races.  If I'm not running, I'd much rather be cheering than just going about my life.  It was just fun to see the mix of people, some working hard, some just running (or walking) easily and seeming to enjoy every step. 
So now another week... I think it's going to be busy at work again and I need to find time to shop to get some fun stuff for our godchildren for Easter. 
If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Ten Questions
1. Describe the kind of home you would live in if money were no object.   Hmm... I really love where we live now (I suppose it helps that I bought it when I worked at a big firm and wasn't overly concerned about money).  We live in a three-story condo that's just right for us.  But if money were no object, we would have other homes in several places -- in Wisconsin (near my family), in Italy (near hubby's family), and maybe somewhere like Colorado or Hawaii. 

2. Are you more conservative in your actions or more rebellious? Probably pretty conservative.  My life is pretty ordinary.  I am certainly argumentative and I guess somewhat rebellious when speaking, but my daily life is not very rebellious.  Typical lawyer...

3. Would you go to Mars even if it meant you could never return to Earth?   Funny question since my husband asks all the time if we would go if given the chance.  Maybe is always my answer.  If he's there, I think I could be very happy creating our own adventure, but of course, I'd miss everyone we left behind, and I'd be quite content if we never had to option to leave this lovely planet. 

4. Name one song that makes you want to dance every time you hear it. Can I copy Kenlie's answer?  Gangnam Style would be mine too.  It was fine and fun before we went to China, but when we got there and it was just breaking -- it took it to a whole new level.  We went to a Walmart in Chongqing and there was a huge crowd of people around one of the huge tvs that had the video on a streaming loop, and they all just stood there watching.  For some reason my husband decided to do a small part of the dance when we were on a bridge going to visit a pagoda that had been specially preserved when they raised the level of the Yangtze and our guide loved it -- sparked a whole new level of connection and hilarity.  I love that kind of a cross-cultural connection. 

5. Share one thing that you wish you could go back and do differently in your life.  I would have learned at a younger age to be my own person and to think about how my actions and words could hurt others.  I'd also have tried to get to some more obscure countries earlier.  I started traveling in earnest in my early 20s (and that was really just Western Europe, I didn't make it to Africa until 2000, Asia until 2001, and South America until 2002) and I wish I'd branched out more quickly. 

6. Share at least one accomplishment that people wouldn’t expect you to be proud of.   I placed first in my age group at a race this past weekend despite a fairly poor performance?  I'm going to have to give this one some more thought.  Most of my accomplishments that I am proud of are things people would expect me to be proud of. 

7. Describe one delicious thing that you’ve eaten lately.  Ooh, yesterday morning after our run, I went to breakfast with some of my running buddies before going to high five at the race.  I had two tacos called "Fried Avocado" consisting of "hand-battered fresh avocados fried and served with vegetarian refried beans, topped with pico, lettuce and cheese, served with poblano sauce."  Sooooo good!  I've been on quite a taco kick lately, and this was a fun new one to eat.  Torchy's Taco, if you're in Dallas. 

8. If you had a theme song that would play every time you entered a room, which song would you choose?  Haha, hubby's song would be "I'm Sexy and I Know It."  I'm going to have to keep thinking about mine, but for now, I'd go with "Amazing" by Aerosmith.

9. Had technology enhanced your life, or has it over complicated your life?  Probably some of each.  Obviously it creates some headaches and I think on some level diminishes personal relationships, but overall, I think it has enhanced my life.  First, I love my job and I don't know that I could do it without technology since I manage litigation all over the country, not just locally.  Second, I have the ability to work remotely, which I currently do once a week on average, but I also do it for several days sometimes when we're out of town, allowing us to travel and enjoy being away from home, though I still work during the day. 

10. If you could get paid to do any job, which job would you choose?  Tough question.  About a decade ago for laughs, my best friend and I were taking a "green card" test (to see if you were really married) to see how well we knew each other.  Some things we couldn't answer (about falling in love, kissing, sleeping, etc.), but most things were things you know about your best friend.  One of the questions was, if money were not a factor, what would your spouse do for work.  And I was able to easily answer that question for her -- she would have loved to be a therapist or counselor (far more than being a lawyer), but of course, I had to answer for myself and I struggled.  I think I eventually said I'd be a professional jigsaw puzzler.  When we read our answers back to each other, she had said that one was easy to answer for me -- she said I'd be a travel writer.  And I think she's right!  That would be fun, especially if I was guaranteed to get paid and I could do it the way I wanted. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments. Happy Monday, friends!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My New Nickname

It's evaluation time around here at the office. And all I can say is, whew!

I told hubby I want this (my "overall rating") to be my new nickname (sorry it's kind of sideways, just look at the middle of the photo): 

So in case you can't read that, from this moment on, I would like to be referred to solely as "Top Talent." 
It's all good!!  

Monday, March 18, 2013

FMM: Pondering Personal Thoughts

This weekend was wonderful and deserves a full post.  Suffice it to say that we had so much fun with my brother and his wife visiting, and we were sad to see them go back to San Fran last night.  And my coworker finished her first 5k!  With some logistical difficulties, but finished! 

But right now, instead of writing about all of it, I just want questions already written for me, where all I need to do is answer them... enter Friend Making Mondays. 

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Pondering Personal Thoughts
1. How old would you feel if you didn’t know how old you are? I would guess about 30?  32?  If you'd asked me a week ago, I would have said in my mid to upper 20s, but when you actually go out and drink with kids that age, you're quickly reminded of your real age!  So now I don't feel that young anymore.  I'm totally wiped out by about midnight, and my alcohol tolerance (and food tolerance) seems to have changed markedly.  And cute high heels just aren't worth it if I'm going to be on my feet all day/night. 

2. Are you the kind of friend you’d want to have as a friend? I think so.  The women who were in my wedding are among my best friends ever -- one lives in Virginia and has been in my life for more than a decade, one asked me to be the godmother of her son, one is such a good friend that I followed in her steps career-wise, one is in DC now but feels like my sister, and one here is undescribable -- so much fun to be with, perhaps one of the most fun people in the world!  So I guess they think I'm okay!  Good things about me as a friend -- I'm loyal, reliable, a planner, and I think a good listener.

3. Look back at the last year. When did you feel most excited about something in your life? When we landed in China (October 2012).  There is a special feeling you get when you go somewhere totally foreign.  I don't seem to get that feeling anymore in Western Europe, as much as I love going there.  But somewhere that is so totally different, where you're basically illiterate and you stand out like a sore thumb and you have no idea where to begin, I think it's the most excitement there is. 

4. Have you ever been with someone and not spoken a word, only to walk away thinking that was the best conversation ever? Best conversation ever?  I guess with that standard, I'd say no. 

5. If you won 100 million dollars Monday, would you continue doing whatever you usually do on Tuesdays?   Well, I definitely think I'd meet my running buddies for a morning run as I always do.  I don't know what it would take for me to skip that, which is why we have such a good group -- I don't think anyone else would bail either.  Even though I totally love my job, I kind of doubt I'd keep working.  I love being with my husband and traveling so much that I couldn't justify spending my days at the office.  But knowing me, I'd probably go in for at least a couple weeks to kind of transition my cases to someone else, or until they found a replacement for me. 

6. What would you do differently if you knew no one would judge you?  Hmm, tough question.  I might have to come back and supplement this.  Right now, the only thing I can think of is probably skipping a shower and just staying in workout clothes many days, including at the office.  On the days I run to work, I'd love to be able to just sit down in my gym clothes and get to work. 

7. Share something you do differently than most people. I run to and from work more than half the time!  If most people did that, I think the world would be a very different place.  People would live nearer their offices, there would be less use of gas, there would be fewer traffic fatalities, people would be healthier (and happier I think!). 

8. What’s one thing that you really want to do that you’ve never done?  Argue a case before the Supreme Court.  And it seems it will never happen -- in-house attorneys don't do that.  But losing out on that dream is totally worth it to have a job I like so much. 

9. If you had to move out of state right now, where would you move?  Calabria, Italy!  Though I think there are many places we could be happy. 

10. What is the one thing that you’d like to change most about the world? I would like everyone to have water, food, education and happiness. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments! Have a happy Monday, friends!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Favorite Weekend Ahead

I've always loved St. Patrick's Day weekend in Dallas.  There's an awesome 5k race, followed by a parade, usually followed by a street party and usually including a day-long buzz (ideally).

I actually put this weekend in 2009 as one of the best days of my life -- it was the race in the morning, where I had a PR at the time and was thereafter asked to join a local racing team, then it was my bridal shower in the afternoon, then it was my bachelorette party that night. 

While I don't expect this weekend's festivities to top 2009's, it should be awesome.

My brother and his wife (pictured below I hope) are coming to visit, they land around lunch time today.  We've got plans for lunch, then a low-key afternoon while I finish up work, then we're going out for pizza, followed by a bar, then either out dancing or to the art museum. 

Saturday is going to be the same as always, but likely even more fun since they will be with us.  5k race in the morning.  The plan for that is mile 1 with my bro fairly fast (but about 30 seconds slower than a PR pace), then he will probably pick it up and I'll aim to hold steady.  But the key part is that as soon as I finish, I'm taking off my chip and going back out to find my accounting buddy and walk it in with her.  Since I plan to start up front and she's going to start near the back, I'm guessing I'll meet her around the halfway point. 

Oh, and I'm also planning to decorate her cubicle on Monday, assuming it goes well as I know it will.  I figured I'd bring in some balloons and write things on them like "5k-er" and "first race" and "superstar" and then put up a couple pieces of posterboard outside her cube saying "ask me how my race went" or "congratulate me".  Good idea?  Or too much?  I'm just so excited for her.

Anyway, after the race, we'll watch the parade, then probably come home to shower and change (which we have not done before, but this year we're skipping one of the two usual house parties).  Then we're going to a running friend's house party, which is right near the street party.  From there, no plans.  If we want to come back to our side of the highway, we can go out for dinner and drinks, or we can stay at the street party and eat and drink there. 

Sunday is a fartlek run in the park (but hubby is working, so it will just be the three of us), followed by brunch with a bunch of my running friends.  Then nothing else planned that day except to go to my favorite taco place for lunch, and then they leave around 6 at night.

So excited for the weekend ahead, now I just have to get through a day of work first.  I actually skipped boot camp this morning so that I can be done with breakfast by about 5:45 and officially on the clock by 6 a.m., which will hopefully mean I'm done by the early afternoon! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Setting aside the fact that her underwear looks very uncomfortable, particularly for sleeping, and the fact that the bedroom is a mess, I think this photo below could be my new theme.

I feel like I'm hurting pretty much every day. No real pain. Even whatever was tight in my calf went away. But I get out of bed feeling achy and sore.

Oh well, it will hopefully pay off in the long run!  No pain, no gain; what doesn't kill you makes you stronger; all that stuff.   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dying with Friends

So working with my new speed coach is kicking my butt.  Big time.  I am struggling to get through our workouts.

Fortunately, the commuting runs are all I'm doing besides our class runs, and I've been running them very slowly (new record for all time slowest commute was set this morning).  So those aren't kicking my butt.

But the actual workouts?  KILLING ME.

Our schedule is basically running three days per week:

Tuesdays, standard warm-up/cool down, workout is hill loop, with heart rate in zone 4 (just one level below zone 5, which is your lactate threshold).

Thursdays, standard warm-up/cool down, workout is tempo run, with heart rate in zone 4 again.

Sundays, the most pleasant day, alternating weeks of fartleks in a park (run hard til you're exhausted, then run easy until you've recovered, then run hard again, then easy, at will), and "long" but easy pace (heart rate in zones 1-3).  And long isn't even long -- only 10 miles this past weekend.  The whole point of speed training is not to do much distance so your legs are okay with working harder.

There are other solo "recovery" runs on the schedule some days (maybe Wed and Sat?) but I kind of ignore those workouts since I get the 19 miles of commuting and that's plenty of outside class running to be doing in any given week. 

Pretty much every Tues and Thurs, I have doubts about whether I can finish the workout.  Serious doubts.  Doubts when I start the run, but doubts that get even louder in the middle of the run. 

Last week Thurs was 3 miles of tempo, and I felt like I was bargaining with myself every half mile, to just go one more half mile, then we could slow down.  But I managed to finish, keeping a fairly consistent pace and having my heart rate do what it should. 

Yesterday was 4 hill loops, and after the first loop, I said to my buddy there was no way I could do 3 more.  He said to take them one at a time.  I gave that a shot.  I managed to do my first 3 loops at a steady pace -- 4:29, 4:30, 4:29 (the loop is obviously less than a mile).  Nice.  But I really struggled for that last 4:29 loop (loop 3), and so my final and fourth loop was agony.  My heart rate was near zone 5, and my pace was slowing involuntarily.  I just felt like there was no way I could keep going.  My buddy was nearby and he was encouraging me, but he grew further and further ahead of me.  Loop 4 ended up being a 4:37 that felt more like 10 minutes of death.  Overall split, not bad.  I'm quite happy to have less than 10 seconds of variation between my fastest and slowest loops,  But during the run, that last loop seriously felt like it would never end. 

But then it does, and I survive a slow cooldown (on Thursday I had to ask my friends to walk a minute because my heart rate just wasn't coming down, but no one complained).  And then when I'm back at my care, I realize that I have ended the workouts so proud of myself for completing them.  It seems like a small miracle every single time.  I almost can't believe it when I make a checkmark on the paper copy of the schedule that I keep in my car.  True, the commute to work a couple hours later is basically a slow jog (which mentally is 100% no problem, I seriously don't care how long it takes, I just don't want to drive), but the point is, I've been able to finish the scheduled runs, giving the scheduled effort, much to my own amazement. 

Anyway, since my bro and his wife run and they're coming to visit this weekend, we have a lot of running planned.  First, on Saturday, we'll do the St. Pat's 5k, my favorite Dallas race of all time.  My bro and I plan to run the first mile together since he likes my goal pace for that mile, then he said he may speed up, and I will inevitably hold steady (well, that's the plan, haha, I love how I claimed it was inevitable.  What I meant was it's of course possible I'd slow, but I don't see being able to speed up.).  I've already told him that the second I cross the finish line, I will be tearing off my chip and running the course backwards until I find my accounting buddy, and then I will walk (and maybe run a little!) to the finish line with her.  But it should be a manageably hard effort for the 5k.  No chance of a PR, but that's fine, I may go for a legit 5k attempt after all this speed training is over. 

Anyway, I'm taking a long time to get to the point...  Anyway, I'm planning on bringing my bro and sister-in-law to the park with me for Sunday's run, since we pretty much run at any pace we want.  We'll be able to easily split up or run together, whatever we want. 

I figured it would be fun to have a bunch of my running buddies meet us for breakfast after the race, so I sent an email to the whole group.  I said that since we have a 30 minute late start (so we don't run in the dark in the park, which would be a recipe for a sprained ankle), we should celebrate with breakfast. 

The responses I've gotten have given me so much comfort:

“I would say 3 weeks of survival is cause for celebration.”
“This is a brilliant idea! I'm looking forward to actually talking with/getting to know people since my efforts are usually focused on not dying every morning. :)”
“Personally I am thinking that death might just be an option for me………..At least I could stop the workout!  :-)”
So bottom line is that I feel like I'm dying when I do these workouts, but now I feel better to be reminded that I'm not the only one who feels like dying. 

I run toward the middle of this speed training group, so there are people faster and slower than me out there, but it's just a nice reminder that 100% effort is 100% painful for everyone, regardless of what that pace is.  I just look around me and think everyone else has it so easy, they're such natural runners, or they're hill monsters, or they don't seem to be struggling at all.  But in fact, they are struggling, maybe they're even making deals with themselves about "just one more half mile" too. 

Ahh, the joys of commiserating about shared uncomfortable circumstances.  It makes everything better.  One of the great things about running with friends. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

FMM: Food Questions

Short version of my weekend:  I want my hour back!

The time change may make commuting home in the evenings more pleasant though.

My weekend, again, was low key. 

Saturday was filled with lots of sudoku.  A couple little projects (framing some of my brothers' wedding pictures for a 6-part frame (only 5 brothers are married, so one currently has two pics in the frames, until my next oldest bro gets married, if ever)).  One dinner from a recipe. 

Sunday entailed 10 miles in the morning with friends.  Breakfast at home with a friend after the run.  A couple hours of volunteering.  A pedicure with another running friend.  And more sudoku, mixed in with a bit of laundry.

One high point was that I was volunteering for the St. Pat's race at our local running store, helping people who came into the store for the race by assigning and recording bib numbers and passing out shirts.

Well, while I was doing that, my accounting friend came in with her family to get new running shoes.  She was tearing up when she checked out (and not just from the $245 she spent on shoes for herself and her daughter).  She said she just couldn't believe she was in a running store buying running shoes that were fitted for her.  I'm so excited for her.  We both think early 2013 is a big turning point for her.  Suddenly she's walking.  Not just an hour with me on the treadmill once a week, no she's getting in a couple workouts on her own too.  Suddenly she's drinking water.  I still prod her a lot, but she's getting there.  I'm just so excited for her. 

So that was my weekend in a nutshell.  Quite nice, just tiring -- I really do miss that hour of sleep!  Our boot camp on Mondays starts at 5:30 a.m., and today the instructor was joking that it was 4:30 bootcamp.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Food Questions
1. What did you eat for dinner last night? Leftover two mushroom barley stew put onto a piece of lavash and rolled up like a burrito.

2. If you could make one food calorie-free for the next year, What would you choose? Cheese.

3. How often do you go to the grocery store? About twice a year.  Haha.  But my husband goes about twice a week.  One day is the big trip, and he usually goes to 2 stores, occasionally 3.  Then the other day is just for a couple items, usually another bag of spinach and a couple bananas, and sometimes something he overlooked on the list. 

4. Do you make a list before buying groceries? I make a grocery list of anything in particular that I need for a recipe, but I count on my husband to buy all the usual stuff, soy milk, veggies, tortillas, fruit, etc. 

5. List three things that can always be found in your kitchen.  Frozen peas, drinking water, canned beans.  I want to move to using dried beans since I think they're cheaper and have less sodium, but the cans are just so convenient. 

6. How often do you clean out your fridge? The entire fridge?  Almost never, maybe once a year, but about every couple weeks when a shelf or drawer is empty, I'll wipe it out. 

7. Do you ever use a slow cooker? If so, will you share a recipe? I am trying to use it about once a week right now, but as it gets warmer, I usually use it less as we start eating salads for dinner more frequently.  I don't think any of the recipes I've used are online, but this is a link to my favorite slow cooker cookbook.  I tried to post a pic below of one of my faves from that cookbook.

8. How often do you try new recipes?  Usually about 2-4 per month, sometimes multiple recipes for one meal, but then some months I tend to make recipes I've tried before.  My resolution this year was to make 52 dinners from recipes per year, but they don't have to all be new recipes, just dinners where I'm following the recipe and not just throwing stuff together. 

9. What is the most delicious meal(s) you make? Hmm, my best appetizer is a spinach artichoke dip.  I'd say my best entree is probably a veggie lasagna.  And my best dessert is either cheesecake or a chocolate cherry individual cake. 

10. Share at least one thing that is currently in your kitchen even though you don’t like it.  Where to begin???  Canned tuna, bananas, cherry tomatoes.  Those are probably three of my husband's favorite foods in the world, things he eats every single week (and actually most days), but things I hate so much. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments. Happy Monday, friends!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Eeee, very excited!  I just found out that I'm going to be an aunt again? 

Remember when one of my brothers got engaged?  I posted about it here, including some cute pics of them together.  They got engaged back in Sept. 2011. 

Well, they got married in November (of this past year, 2012).  Not sure if I really posted about the wedding since it was just a couple days after we got back from China, but it was lovely.  Here's a picture.

And they are going to have a baby! That was really fast! But I guess they've already been married over 4 months, but I think the timing works out that they missed a scandal by a couple months (though one of my other brothers was not so fortunate; my oldest nephew was born about 3 months after they got married). 
Exciting to be extending my aunt-dom reign. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Carina Cooks, 2013 Edition

As I said earlier, I resolved to cook 52 recipes from scratch in 2013, and I'm going to try to keep track of most of them.

If any recipe in particular sounds good, let me know and I'll either post it or scan and email it to you. 

1.  1-8-13:  Sweet potato and butternut squash stew, in crockpot, from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, added black beans (leftovers w/o beans eaten on 3 occasions, once as a meal, twice on the side)

2.  1-13-13:  Homemade whole wheat pizza dough, top your own pizza, cooked on the grill, recipe from a friend (had two dinner guests this evening) (recipe makes 8 crusts, froze 2, we each ate one at dinner, so had 2 leftover for dinner the next night)

2A.  1-30-13:  Chickpea apricot from a blog (maybe HealthyTippingPoint or OnAnnasPlate?).  Not sure this counts (which is why it's 2A and not 3).  I chose the recipe, made the grocery list, but then hubby actually made the recipe since I was stuck at work.  And he kind of screwed it up (as in, omitted all 4 cups of vegetable broth).  But it was still insanely good.  And if I'd been able to leave work at a reasonable time or if the recipe hadn't taken nearly an hour, I would have made it.  And even if he does the cooking, it meets my goal of a meal made at home from scratch and yielding leftovers. 

3.  2-3-13:  Breadcrumb pasta from Pinterest (breadcrumbs, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley, mixed with pasta).  This barely counts as following a recipe since I used pre-made breadcrumbs, didn't really follow quantities, and could have thought of this myself, but I looked at the recipe a few times and I'm counting it (especially since I didn't count the recipe above from last week). 

4.  2-4-13:  Sweet and spicy lentil chili, in crockpot, from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  I followed the recipe exactly, but the lentils didn't taste completely cooked.  Thumbs down.  Maybe it was because we used French Green lentils?  Hubby isn't picky, so he ate most of the leftovers. 

4A.  2-17-13:  Waffles, from the recipe book that came with the waffle maker.  This barely counts, but I was following the recipe (subbed in some whole wheat flour, and half of the milk was soy milk), and it's not something I could have done without the recipe.  So I figured it would count until I reread my actual 2013 resolution, which related to cooking DINNERS from recipes.  So another recipe that doesn't count...

5. 2-17-13:  Curried roasted cauliflower soup. A total of about 3 ingredients (cauliflower, onion, veg broth), plus spices.  Very simple, very good.  I doubled the recipe. 

6. 2-17-13:  Orzo with roasted eggplant and cinnamon-cumin dressing.  A recipe I've made before, but worth repeating.  We were out of white balsalmic vinegar, so I used regular, and I used whole wheat orzo.  Very good I'd say.  And it got me to eat eggplant, which is not in my usual veggie rotation. 

7.  2-24-13:  Winter vegetable risotto, from 1,001 Low Fat Vegetarian Recipes.  Typical risotto so lots of stirring involved (made me love my cushioned kitchen mat that was a bday present from hubby a few years ago), this one featured sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and mushrooms.  Quite good.  Our neighbors came over for dinner and also seemed to like it.

8.  2-25-13:  Spicy black bean chili, in crockpot, from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  I'd made this recipe before.  So good.  The night I made it, we had it over brown rice, topped with avocado (and cheese for me).  Then as leftovers, we had it on tortillas to make our own very runny burritos, again with avocado (and cheese on mine). 

9.  3-1-13:  Butternut squash apple soup from no particular source.  I have been assembling a personal recipe binder and in it, I had two printed recipes for this soup, each with some slight variation.  Since one of our dinner guests this night couldn't do dairy, I found a third recipe online and kind of combined the three.  It was good but I thought I would have enjoyed it more with more squash and less cinnamon.  Hubby and I ate this soup in a restaurant once and it was divine, I dream of recreating that exact recipe.  Maybe it will have to be with dairy.  This soup used squash and apples, plus vegetable broth, water and soy milk, and then salt, pepper and cinnamon (I forgot to include the parsley). 

10.  3-1-13:  Red wine mushrooms over potato cauliflower mash, recipe from On Anna's Plate here, a blog I read pretty regularly.  The recipe didn't say how many it served, and I decided to roughly triple it, since we had 6 people total for dinner.  It was a ton of mushrooms and way too much liquid -- and I didn't even use all the broth listed in the recipe.  But fortunately, I started the recipe early, thinking I'd cook it all and reheat it before we ate.  Instead, I spent a couple hours boiling it down -- but the end result of the mushrooms was SO GOOD!  I wasn't wild about the potato-cauliflower mash.  It was just too bland, and hubby agreed. 

Figured I'd share this list in batches, and this is all I've done so far.  But on track to meet my resolution, which is nice in many ways.  It was a good choice for a resolution. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

FMM: Almost Spring

Ah, Monday, we meet again.

My weekend was low-key and lovely.  We had a dinner party on Friday night that was so much fun.  The two couples did not know each other, but there was so much common ground, and so much laughter.  And so much alcohol! 

That meant that Saturday was spent entirely in our pajamas.  We did truly nothing other than watch tv from the DVR, eat leftovers for lunch, and nap.  We managed to clean up everything from the night before, including putting all the china, silver and serving dishes back in the hutch.  I guess we did spend a couple hours studying Italian together, which was nice.

My favorite new expression -- orchi molti truci.  Very threatening ogres.  Haha.  I NEED to find an occasion to use that when we're in Italy in the fall. 

Sunday was a "long" run.  Now that I'm into speed training for a couple months, my long run was only 7 miles.  It was different from all my other long runs in that this one was in a park and was mostly solo.  Our coach had us warm up for 2 miles together, then we had a fartlek run for 4 miles, then a mile of cool-down.  For the 4 miles of the heart of the workout, we were all running solo, all over the park, up hills, down trails, over roots, never on pavement.  And it was perhaps my first true fartlek workout.  Fartlek is Swedish for speed play, and I've done some of it before, but it is hard to do right unless you're alone.  Basically you choose something you see ahead of you, then you run hard and fast to that point, then you slow down again for as long as you want, then you pick another landmark.  Ideally, the landmark distance varies greatly.  Sometimes you'll be running hard for 5 seconds, sometimes for 2 minutes.  Anyway, it was a fun workout.

The fartlek run was followed by a lazy day of laundry, bill paying, and watching TV. 

What a nice weekend! 

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!
Almost Spring

1. What do you love most about Spring?  No more difficult decisions about what to wear to workout and it's generally much easier to get out of bed.  The warmer weather just seems to make everything better. 

2. If you’re lucky enough to have a Spring Break, what will you do to enjoy it? No spring break for either of us, but my brother and his wife will be coming to visit for a few days on the weekend of St. Pat's, which I think will be insanely fun. 

3. What is your favorite flower?  Not sure I really have one, I like lots of them.  We had a lot of hydrangeas at our wedding, and I think roses, tulips, pansies, and gerbera daisies are very pretty. 

4. Do you have a garden? If so, what do you grow?  No garden.  We live in a condo, so anything we grow would have to be in a pot on a porch, and I can't really keep anything alive (and Texas summers on sunny porches aren't really conducive to growing much). 

5. Share one thing that you hope to accomplish during Spring.  I really want to finish our wedding scrapbook before our fourth anniversary on April 18. 

6. Do you do Spring cleaning?  Not officially, but yes, it does seem that about twice a year I undertake a thorough cleaning.  Just this past weekend, I tore apart our walk-in pantry and reorganized the entire top shelf to make the 3 things I access most (our crockpot, our Kitchenaid food processor, and a vegetable dicer) to be more accessible. 

7. What is your weather *really* like right now? {Just b/c it’s almost Spring, doesn’t mean that it feels like it for some of you.}   Haha, Dallas in the spring is crazy.  Today, I got up at 5 to workout at 5:30, and it was 57 and windy out at the time.  For the afternoon today, they are saying a high of 85, a few degrees shy of the record of 88 from 1955.  Crazy warm.  But tomorrow's high is only 58, and the low for my workout on Wed. morning will be 33.  See what I mean about liking spring's simple clothing choices when it finally gets warm?!  It's such a pain right now to have to check the weather every morning and wonder about short sleeves, long sleeves, capris, tights, shorts, etc. 

8. Share one photo that you’ve taken during the month of March.   I haven't taken any photos in March, it's only a few days old!  This is the last photo of any interest on my phone -- two dozen red roses from Valentine's Day, combined into a single vase. 

9. What’s your favorite thing to do on a sunny afternoon? Probably going for a walk outside down to a fun bar that is about 2.5 miles away from our house, and sitting outside for a beer.

10. If you could spend the day doing anything in your city, what would you do? There is a new science and nature museum (the Perot Museum), I'd love to go for a walk to check it out, it's about 3.5 miles away, then walk back home and maybe stop in at that beer garden I referenced above.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments!

Friday, March 1, 2013

1/6 of the Way -- Resolutions Check In

Two months of the year already gone.  When I was a kid, perhaps the two things that irritated me most to hear from grown-ups were about how much I'd grown and how time goes faster when you're older (frequently in the context of chiding me to not always be looking ahead). 

But now that I'm a grown-up by pretty much any given definition, I must acknowledge that I think they were right that time does seem to pass more quickly. 

Something that feels like happened about a year ago, was actually four years ago.  Law school graduation was more than a decade ago, and it feels like it's been less than half that.  Even sometimes a phone call that I think was about two weeks ago turns out to be two months ago.  Crazy, I tell you, crazy. 

Regardless (or to use my favorite non-word EVER, irregardless), two months into the year seems like a fair checkpoint to see if I'm making any progress on my resolutions. 

1. Hardest effort ever at a couple months of speed training, then hardest effort ever training for an early fall marathon. The idea is that this work will lead me to a marathon PR by 11 minutes and 30 seconds in Berlin in late September.   IN PROGRESS.  I started working with my speed coach just under a week ago and am planning to work very hard at it.  So far I have three official workouts under my belt and I feel like I have put forth a solid effort. 

2. Cook at least 52 real dinners from recipes.  STRONG PROGRESS.  I'm keeping a list of what I've cooked so far, and I'm at about 9 meals (I think I accidentally counted a breakfast recipe since I didn't read my resolution carefully before starting my list, so maybe I'm only at 8.)  I love doing this.  It's great to have the leftovers and makes me feel more like a grown-up than eating stuff that's just thrown together and/or microwaved. 

3. Quit Facebook. Not actual facebook suicide, I'm leaving the profile up, and I may log in on weekends to check for messages and/or invitations, and I'll probably check if I'm tagged in a photo by someone else just to make sure it's not horrifying, but no more daily reading what's going on with friends.  SO FAR, SO GOOD.  I've logged on about 5 times to get email addresses, to respond to a couple personal messages, and to see photos, but I've been avoiding the news feed and happier for it.  I've been playing more sudoku on my phone, but I reason that is brain exercise. 

4. New to me country (a repeat resolution, since I'm not sure I really achieved this in 2012). If all goes as I hope, the new country will be Lichtenstein, and that will be on about October 4.  NOT YET.  It's still a plan for the fall though. 

5. Study Italian at least once a week and attend an Italian conversation class regularly.  FAILING.  I've been good about attending a conversation class frequently, but I'm not studying at all on my own, and that is perhaps what I need to do most.  Only about 8 more months to buckle down on this to have my Italian be coherent when we see my husband's family in October. 

6. Weight management. Right now I'm sitting just over the halfway point of the 10 pound range where I've hovered for the last few years. I want to get to the bottom half, ideally the bottom, and stay there.  STRONG PROGRESS.  Actually, within the last week is where I've made some strides.  If I could lose about 1 more pound and keep it off, I'll officially be in the bottom half of my 10 pound range (right now, at least I'm down to the mid-point).  I think finally cutting out the sweets and doing speedwork has caused a few pounds to melt away, which is nice.

7. Entertain at home at least 6 times, at least 3 times included people who haven't ever come over for dinner before.  STRONG PROGRESS.  We've entertained twice (once including someone new), and we have a third time on the calendar TONIGHT (with two new couples).  And we're working to get something on the books for April, so this one is going strong. 

8. Finish our wedding scrapbook.  FAILING.  The task at least was on my radar screen last weekend, even though I didn't make any progress.  Hopefully soon. 

9. Less procrastination at work. The three big areas where I drag my feet are voicemails, reports, and reviewing records. I need to check voicemail at least once a week (we have a log, so I can see who is calling, so I answer the calls I want, and let the "ugh" ones go to voicemail, then I suck at checking messages). I need to do initial case reports within 3 weeks of it hitting my desk (for most my cases, it's actually easier to do it sooner, rather than later, because the later I wait, the more information I have that I need to include). I need to review records within 60 days of receipt (I sometimes let "not urgent" stacks sit for way too many months). IN PROGRESS.  I'm doing so much better on voicemails.  Reports are getting done pretty quickly.  But records review hasn't been happening.  But I feel more on top of things and more productive, so that's good. 

10. Update our stairwell photos through the end of 2012.  IN PROGRESS.  I actually chose and ordered photos a couple weeks ago, only to realize I don't have any frames.  So now we have the prints selected and made, but I need to drive to an Ikea in a BFE suburb to get the frames.  I have been waiting for an excuse that would have me in the area.  This might not be until May, but in early May I have a 5k race not too far away from the Ikea. 

11. Sunday organizing time.  I need to set aside at least one hour every Sunday before 6:00 p.m. to prepare for the coming week -- that means making my lunches in advance (with the current running commute plan, I have to bring Mon-Thurs lunches on Monday), planning my outfits (including shoes and jewelry), packing my outfits (including laundry bags), and pulling together any "other" stuff to bring to the office on Monday (usually bills that need to be paid, greeting cards that need to be mailed, etc.).  IN PROGRESS.  I've been doing outfits and/or lunches on Sundays, occasionally both, and I feel like I'm making progess.  But I need to get this one all the way done, so that most weeks, it's all done on Sundays.   

12. Regular non-drive commute to work.  STRONG PROGRESS.  Even on days where it hasn't sounded like fun, I'm regularly commuting to work on foot.  I have a total of 5 possible commutes in any given week that can be done on foot.  Thus far, taking out holidays and jury duty days when I didn't go to the office at all, there have been 36 total possible commutes on foot.  I have done 23 of them on foot.  Not bad.  And a vast majority of the ones I've skipped have been because I had an evening commitment that I felt was really important -- volunteering, an alumni event or a work dinner.  I've been lazy a few times and asked my husband to pick me up on his way home, and he dropped me off maybe twice in bad weather.  I'd be thrilled to average about 65% of my possible commutes on foot for the year, but we'll see how it goes.  Even 20% is better than nothing in my book.