Wednesday, December 30

Kick your own arse

I quite possibly have found the best butt workout of all time. I have always had issues with my booty because growing up anything different can far too easily be misconstrued as bad. A girls self esteem is very delicate from about the age of 12, until the confidence finally (and hopefully) kicks in and this can lead to a lot of ridiculous thoughts and feelings. I used to HATE my butt. It stuck out, it was prominent and I somehow didn't realize this was actually a good thing.

I eventually accepted the junk in my trunk and have actually grown quite fond of it. Instead of making it smaller, I decided to pump that bad boy up and accentuate it as much as possible. I have done a lot of squats and lunges in my day which were pretty effective, but I recently came upon a really great workout for the ass that has worked well for me. If you want a juicy, firm, meaty booty in 2010 I would highly reccomend incorporating it.

I do 12 reps of each exercise, per leg if I am doing each leg individually (depending on the exercise):

Leg Press
Looks like this, but place feet high on the press, your toes should go over the top slightly, so you emphasize your backside instead of your quads, although you are definitely still using your quads for this. Focus on pushing with your heels.

Follow up with a calf press by placing your feet low so your heels are hanging off. Straighten your legs and press up with your toes.

Weighted Step Ups:
You can use a barbell or dumbbells. Try not to use the leg you are dragging behind you to push you up, all the work should be done on the leading leg. Also don't do this move quickly but slowly and in a controlled manner. If you are just starting out you can also do it without weight, or use a lower step instead of a bench.

Plie Squat:
First of all in the above pic girlfriend is not going down low enough, you want your legs to be paralell to the ground. Her foot positioning is right on though, toes should point out and you don't want your legs any closer or further apart than the girl in the pic. You should really feel this on your inner thigh and be sure to squeeze your butt on your way up. To make it more challenging grab a dumbbell and hold it with striaght arms between your legs.

Walking Lunge:
There should be no stopping or pausing during this and make sure your knee does not pass your toes when you are lunging. Lunges should be a standard in leg workouts, they really work the entire leg well, including the arse.

Kneeling Kickbacks:
You REALLY feel this deep in you gluets. You can also do this on your hand and knees on the floor but you have a greater range of motion doing it this way and the added weight makes you work harder. Get in this position and keeping your leg straight, raise it up behind you as far as it will go, lower and repeat. This is a weighted exercise so you need to use a cable machine you can attach an ankle strap to. Use as much weight as you can to make it difficult, but make sure you are able to do 12 reps with correct form. If you do several reps and find your form isn't good because it is too heavy, lower the weight and continue until you get to 12.

Stability Ball Hamstring Roll:
Lay down with your back on the floor and put your heels on a stability ball. Lift your pelvis so your body is straight and in a pike position, arms on the floor at your side helping to stabilize you. Pull your legs towards you, rolling the ball as you go, until you are in the position shown in the picture. Roll the ball back to the starting position and perform 12 times.

Do this workout twice a week for the best results and here is a little inspiration!

Hoarders: Office Edition

Ever see that show Hoarders on A&E? I think they need an office edition so I can nominate Tennesse. He can't even sit at his desk anymore, there isn't enough room so he works on the table outside his office that was supposed to used for eating lunch:

I think there might be a dead cat in there somewhere...

Tuesday, December 29

Truck Woes

I had to get my truck smogged for my vehicle registration renewal and much to my chagrin, didn't pass. So I brought it in to my mechanic and the news was not good. I need a new catalytic converter (whatever the eff that is)and what's awesome about that is my Dad sold me that truck knowing the converter was bad. The "Check Engine" light had been on since I had it and my dad told me it was just some minor thing that needed to just be switched off and not worry about it. So I didn't worry about it and he had forgottn that the reason it was on was because it needed a new converter. When he found out the coverter was going bad, it wasn't under warranty anymore and it wouldn't be a real problem until it had to pass smog again so he just let it go. Apparently I have been polluting the enviornment for years now, sorry world.

But the bad news did not stop there! My back brakes are also on the way out and need to be replaced. The mechanic even suggested that if I was in a position to make car payments to just trade it in and have the dealer deal with it. I have confidence that I am not being taken advantage of where I go because both my parents go there and have for years and so does everyone at work. Plus with the mechanic suggesting I may not even want to bother to get it fixed, I am pretty sure they aren't screwing me over.

The converter is $2,200!!! However since my dad knew about this before he sold it to me and he didn't tell me about it, he felt responsible and I agreed to let MWC take care of it. That leaves me with the brake issue and other various items, which is about $500. My bonus at work this year was 450, so bye bye bonus! It is a bummer that I won't be getting the cute shoes but at least I have the money to pay for this. I don't need new shoes but I do need a driveable vehicle so I am not going to fret.

I will probably keep the truck for another year and then buy a new vehicle next year. I just don't need a $400 car payment to have to make every month with the mortgage and everything else too. This way I can save some money and put that towards the new car. Plus it gives me a year to figure out what I want because right now I don't have a clue. The whole process completely overwhelms me so I will have plenty of time to do research and really figure out what I want.

Being an adult, priceless.

Monday, December 28

Salad for Breakfast

My normal diet of healthy, whole and natural foods has taken a bit of a nose dive this past week. I haven't been eating the way I would like to be eating and I have also not been exercising as much as I usually do. I mean hell you have a plate of cookies and brownies and fudge just sitting there, trying to fulfill its Christmas destiny and be eaten so what are you supposed to do?? Anyway this causes major stress for me. I skipped 2 shorter runs last week because I just didn't have the time due to work, last minute christmas shopping and social activities, however I did get to fit in my 9 miler over the weekend, which definitely helped.

I rely on exercise as some people use yoga and meditation, to get myself for lack of better term, feeling centered. Gawd that phrase sounds so sapy and lame but it does describe the feeling well. I have a bad and stressful day and going for a run or lifting weights calms my mind. So when I skip workouts I start feeling out of sorts and gru-mpy. That coupled with my diet being whack, does not make Kasey a very happy girl. It has only been a week so physically I haven't really caused much damage but I better do something soon or crabby Kasey will be making a grand appearance.

I should be able to get back to my normal workouts this week, plus this is the biggest running week we will have had since we started training, 36 miles with a 14 mile long run, yowzer! And as running goes, your diet seems to naturally fix itself when you stick to your scheduled runs. You don't want to eat anything that will upset your stomach or make you sluggish and at least for me, I also seem to crave more fruits and veggies when I am running. Fruit has never been a problem for me but I could definitely increase my veggie intake. After giving it some thought I came upon a book that suggested having salad for breakfast.

Salad for breakfast sounds strange but food is food and why should we stick to what we are told are breakast or lunch foods? I have breakfast for dinner so why not reverse it? Better yet why not just eat what I want to eat, when I want to it and not be stuck in a food box? Sounds good to me, throw the rules out the window. And let's be honest, I always throw out salad bags that have gone bad so maybe this way I will be less wasteful too!

Starting your day with a serving of veggies is a great way to get fiber and antioxidents, plus your body is dehydrated from sleeping 8 hours a night and needs water when you wake up and veggies are a great way to get hydrated (along with glasses of actual water) since they are full of water. Having salad or veggies would create longer lasting energy and little or no effect on blood sugar, to avoid the dreaded blood sugar crash and cut down on cravings. I also love eggs, which are a great source of protein so adding that to a salad would be even better.

So today I started my new adventure in breakfast and had a mixed green salad with asparagus, raw walnuts and reduced fat string cheese. Not my ideal salad but I had to grab what I had at home. It wasn't weird at all to have salad for breakfast. It was actually quite tasty. Naturally, everyone at work commented but what else is new. I probably won't have salad every morning but I am going to try to make it a staple.

I am slowly, but surely, cutting out all the processed food in my diet and I am feeling pretty darn good. But those brownies were also pretty darn good! Ahh balance:)
I had a good Christmas. We ate a lot, opened presents and spent time with family, but I won't bore you with the details. I will however bore you with the details of the dog:)

Nika also had a good first Christmas with us. We put some bones and such in her stocking, however she was much more interested in playing with her stocking then what was in it:

My mom got her a whole box of these little squeaky stuffed animals too. I took one out of the box to give to her and she quickly became obsessed with it. Later that day Mike and I were making dinner and in she struts in with the box of stuffed animals that she somehow dug out:

She was quite proud of her herself:

She already seems to be losing weight too, so sometime very soon we will be able to try her out as a running partner. She is so strong and has so much energy that I am pretty sure she will do quite well.

Wednesday, December 23

Dinner with the Girls

Last night I had my very dear friends Melissa and Kendall over for dinner. I have known both of them since our freshmen year in high school, so a measely 16 years:) Melissa lives in LA so I don't get to see her very often, but when she is in town the three of us usually get together.

I wanted to make them dinner instead of going out so they could see the progress on the house and meet Nika and I also wanted to see if all of my cooking practicing in the past 4 months had paid off at all. Melissa is also a new vegetarian so I had to come up with a meatless dish she could eat so I decided on Sweet Potato Burritos. Sounds weird but they were really quite good! Here is the recipe:

Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
12 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.Heat oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in beans, and mash. Gradually stir in water, and heat until warm. Remove from heat, and stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper and soy sauce.
3.Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with cheese. Fold up tortillas burrito style, and place on a baking sheet.
4.Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, and serve

I used low carb tortillas because they are lower in calories but any whole wheat or flour tortilla will work. I also didn't use 3 tablespoons chilli powder because it seemed like a lot so I used 1 tablespoon instead. Overall I liked the texture and flavor of these burritos. Mashed Sweet potatoes are so gooey and have a baby food like texture so the kidney beans really helped add some more texture to the dish. I should have put a little more cheese in the burritos and when I make this again I would also top with a dollop of sour cream or non fat yogurt, sprinkle a little more cheese on top and smother it with salsa. They would be perfect with those changes but as they were, they were still pretty darn good.

I also made some spanish rice that was ok, but nothing special enough to post and I tried a new appetizer, roasted garbonzo beans. I always seem to have a can of those in my pantry from all of the times I swear I am going to make my own hummus but never do so I put them to some use with the following recipe I got from Life's Ambrosia, my new favorite food/recipe blog (you can also find a link in my blog roll to the right).

Roasted Garbanzo Beans

You will need:
1 (14.5 ounce) can of Garbanzo beans
kosher salt and pepper
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Drain the garbanzo beans, rinse lightly and gently pat dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
In a resealable plastic bag shake together flour, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper and granulated garlic. Add garbanzo beans and toss to lightly coat.
Shake off any excess flour. Lay garbanzo beans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake 25-35 minutes, shaking the baking sheet every 10 minutes or so to roll the beans around. When they are done they will be golden brown and crunchy. (Note: Keep an eye on them towards the end, if they look like they are getting too dark remove them, a few of mine burned and let me tell you a burnt garbanzo bean is not so tasty.)

I was paranoid about burning them so I should have left them in a little longer because the darker crunchier ones tatsed better. I would also add more garlic and I should have been more generous with the olive oil. Other than that though, I really liked these and they were quite addictive.

And one of these days I will remember to take pictures of these recipes (the pic of the garbonzo beans is not mine but comes from the blog I got the recipe from). I am usually just so focused on eating that I forget:)

Tuesday, December 22

Merry Christmas to me

I very infrequently shop at White House Black Market. I found a really great dress there once that I love so I get the catalog, however I normally thumb through it and toss it.

Last night though I found the latest catalog in my mail and was thumbing through it when a pair of shoes caught my eye:

They are neutral so they will go with every color and the heel isn't too high so they will probably be decently comfortable, plus I just think they are adorable.

Merry Christmas Kasey!
Aww thanks! They are exactly what I wanted!How did you know??

Monday, December 21

Running Update

I can't believe I am already starting my 6th week of marathon training. So far I have run a total of 130 miles, with my longest long run being 12 miles. At the beginning of the training I immediately started having digestion and stomach issues again which frustrated me to no end. I eat so healthy, I just didn't understand what the problem was. I knew that I didn't want to go another whole training program dealing with this crap (excuse the pun). So I read more, did more research and posted questions on running forums for practical advice from other runners who may have experienced similar problems.

Two suggestions from a forum I have started incorporating is eating fig newtons and hummus on pita bread or tortillas as my mid run snack instead of gu's or gels that are specifically for endurance athletes. The new foods taste great and they are more real food than any gel or gu is. So far, they haven't upset my stomach and I haven't felt like I have hit a wall during a run so thats very positive.

I also had been eating peanut butter on toast before runs and read that eating fat prior to working out is not such a great idea. A whole tablespoon of peanut butter has 10 grams of fat (considered 2 fat servings). Then there’s whatever fat is in the bread I was using. Fats are digested and absorbed very slowly, compared to carbohydrates and proteins. Pre- and post-exercise choices should be rich in carbohydrate and protein, but very low in fat. So I switched to just eating a bowl of cereal (corn chex) with fat free milk and since making that change I have had no stomach problems during a long run whatsoever. This is HUGE for me and I hope my new diet continues to work.

I was also fearful that my foot would really start hurting once I picked up my mileage. Well after a back to back 29 mile week and a 30 mile week, I have no change in my foot whatsover. The pain certainly did not increase, even after a 12 miler yesterday and being on my feet in the kitchen the whole rest of the day baking and cooking. Phew! This is also a big relief for me.

The goal of this marathon is not to improve my time. At first it was, but much more importantly is I want to run this with Mike. This is his first marathon and it is not something that he ever thought he could or would do and I want him to have a really great experience. Pushing for a time is unneccesary and defeats the purpose. We are doing this together and that is what is important to me. I don't want him to hate it so much that he quits or regrets doing it. It is a huge accomplishment and I am just thrilled that he is attempting something that seems impossible (even though I know he can totally do it). He is going to be so happy and proud of himself when he runs it and I can't wait to see that.

Super Busy Weekend

I think I pretty much filled every second that the weekend had to offer with either cleaning, running, a project or baking and I got a crap load of stuff done, which both exhausted me and made me happy.

Saturday morning we had a 6 mile pace run, which is often times harder than the long runs because you have to run faster even if it is for a shorter distance. I haven't done a lot of dedicted pace training in the past but this will teach our bodies to run at the pace we need to run at during the actual race. After that we had yard work to get to. I really wish trees didn't lose their leaves, but they do and thus need to be raked. The lawn also needed to be mowed which my object of interest did while I planted new succulents. And a side note on the phrase, "object of interest", this is how my dad introduced Mike to some of the guys at work. I wasn't there when he said that otherwise I would have probably said, wtf??

Anyway I had a couple of new succulents to plant, like 22 of them. When I hosted my sisters baby shower in October we bought a cup cake holder and I thought it was a shame to use that thing once and then never use it again so I thought it might look cool to use it as a succulent holder for a table centerpiece. I bought 20 little succulents and replanted them in little terra cotta pots and this is how it came out:

I also found an old can when I was hiking around my cabin last time I was in Shaver and I made a succulent planter out of that as well:

Yup, it is a Prince Albert:)I also transplanted 2 large succulents of Mike's that needed new homes because they had grown too big for their pots.

After all of that I had to go to the grocery store to get all the baking stuff that I needed for the following day, as well as the pork for that slow cooker carnitas I was making for dinner on Sunday. And of course Nika get's a long walk every night as part of her new diet and exercise program:)

Sunday we had a 12 miler to run so we headed to the Lowe's parking lot in Clovis to run the Sugar Pine Trail. Mike started out with one problem after another but finally everything smoothed out and he finished the longest run of his entire life at a good pace and no major knee problems. I was very proud of him and very happy that after his initial injury, he has bounced right back. I felt good during the run and I am findiing that starting out at a slower pace is quite helpful for feeling good at the end. Go figure.

When we got back, I checked the carnitas and the pork was just a bit too big for the slow cooker and it was wanting to spill over so I had to ladel some juice out, which I set aside to pour over Nika's food for a little flavor later. This however came back to haunt me when, in the middle of a baking frenzy I went to grab a bowl to put the nuts in and grabbed the bowl of broth accidently and threw it all over the floor. Luckily Nika was there to help me clean it up:

For Christmas gifts for my co workers this year I made mint oreo brownies, pistachio and cranberry chocolate dipped sugar cookies, spiced nuts and cinnamon pecans. The brownies are my holiday specialty and they are super easy to make. Just mix in crumbled mint oreo cookies in the batter, bake and when cooled top with frosting and crumble more mint oreos on top. viola!

The spiced nuts where spiced with a combination of cayene, cumin, cinnamon, brown sugar and sea salt. You make a glaze with the spices and butter (fake stuff, not real) and toast some nuts in a pan and then combine. I like the heat with the sweet:

The pecans are toasted in a pan with "butter" and then toss them in a bag with splenda and cinnamon and I threw them in the oven to tast for 10 minutes and they are goo-ood.

The sugar cookies are my personal favorite and of course quite easy. I buy pre made sugar cookie dough and mix in unsalted pistachio kernals and dried cranberries. They come out looking like this, pretty boring looking:

So I wait until they have cooled off and melt chocolate and dip half of them in chocolate and dust with powdered sugar so they look like this:

Much fancier! I tried to dip some in white chocolate too but the chocolate just did not melt right. I have since learned to melt them with a bit if vegetable oil to make it more smooth. I will definitely have to try that because pistachios, white chocolate and cranberrie sounds super delicious.

And then there was the carnitas, which fell off the bone after cooking for 8 hours. We made some fancy carnitas tacos that were de-fucking-licious:

I finished up last night at 10, making Christmas cards and then passed out. It was a long day, a busy weekend and I want to take a nap now just re-visiting all of it.

Thursday, December 17

Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Mike and I have Spaghetti Squash about once a week. We love it and have tried it numerous ways but we had the best yet last night.

I was trying to figure out a new way to make it instead of just using the ground turkey and sauce that we had on hand so I decided to pick up some mushrooms and spinach and toss it all with some olive oil and garlic with the cooked squash. When I got home I remembered I had turkey bacon so I decided to toss that in as well and I threw everything together and it was so good, we are making it again tonight.

Here is the recipe (makes enough for two):

1 spaghetti squash
Olive Oil (twice around the pan)
1-2 cloves garlic minced
1-2 cups spinach, chopped
1 portabello mushroom
2 slices turkey bacon
1/2 package ground turkey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half (so they look like two boobs), scrape out the seeds and place on cookie sheet in the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes. You will know when it is done when you push on the skin with your finger and it easily gives.

Add olive oil and garlic to a medium hot pan. Add bacon, saute a few minutes. Add mushrooms, saute a few minutes more. Add spinach and continue to saute until the spinach starts to get wilty and loses crispness. At the same time brown ground turkey until it is thoroughly cooked but not brown.

Remove spaghetti squash from oven. Let cool a few minutes. Scrape out the insides of 1/2 of squash, add to saucepan. Add cooked ground turkey to saucepan. Mix it all together and heat for a few monutes.

Top with parmesan cheese.

It was fantastic and much lighter than using real spaghetti or noodles. You could also be creative and use tomatoes, arugula, asparagus, peppers, broccoli etc. The turkey bacon flavor really infused throughout the entire dish. You also don't really need the ground turkey but it did make the meal a little more hearty and gives it more protien, which I needed. It is a very flexible dish and super delicious.


Office Dog

Nika is having a big day. I am getting a new sliding glass door put in at my house so she got to go to work with me today. I am also taking her to the vet later this afternoon so she has one big day ahead of her. She has already charmed everyone at the office:
She decided she would be santa with her to help everyone get into the holiday spirit. How thoughtful.

She has been helping me type by nudging my arm everytime I stop petting her.

She already fell asleep on the job, tsk tsk.

I wish I could take her to work everyday, but she has to keep the cats out of the yard, a job she is actually good at. She is also good at dragging everything she can out of the garage and onto the lawn. The good thing is she never chews anything so it just gives her something to do. Now if only I could train her to rake the leaves.

Runners Forum/Religion

A recent post and subsequent posts on a Runners Forum that was discussing things people have heard people shout during a marathon got under my skin a bit this morning.

One person posted: "One at Dallas this year kind of made me angry: "You can do anything because of Jesus" Now, you can believe whatever you want, but dont take away my accomplishment by putting the stamp of your religion on it."

That was fine by me. If you don't believe in god, then that does seem to take away from your accomplishment. It isn't something I feel is worth getting angry over but to each his own. There was some chatter about not letting those things bother you etc. and the original poster replied with:
"Todd - I think its great that you have a strong faith and believe Jesus is with you during your races. I don't believe that, and that should be my perogative - being told that I am only able to achieve something I worked very hard for because of an entity I dont happen to believe in is, to me, insulting."
Makes sense and is respectful of other people's beliefs.

But this subsequent response is what annoyed me:
"Angry? that is strange.
God and running go hand in hand.For those that can run it's a blessing.I would love to see a sign like that, that would be a huge motivational uplifting during a race. Don't give yourself all the credit for training, it goes deeper than that."

Talk about just not getting it. Believe what you want but don't tell other people what to believe. By saying "Don't give yourself credit for the training" he is quite clearly saying that what he believes is right and if you don't believe that, you are wrong. It is people with attitudes like this that turn people off from religion. Be a little more open minded and accepting of other peoples beliefs and be respectful of them and you would be suprised how far that can go.

Wednesday, December 16

Barefoot Running

The trend that is gaining the most momentum in the running community right now is barefoot running. There has been a backlash towards the companies that make running shoes that their shoes do not prevent injury but in fact they cause injuries in running. Some studies have found that running in shoes appears to increase the risk of ankle sprains, either by decreasing awareness of foot position or by increasing the twisting torque on the ankle during a stumble and running in shoes appears to increase the risk of plantar fasciitis and other chronic injuries of the lower limb by modifying the transfer of shock to muscles and supporting structures. The human foot evolved without padded shoes. The structure of the foot and lower leg is very efficient at absorbing the shock of landing and turning the energy of the fall into forward motion, through the springing action of the foot's natural arch. It is only by placing large amounts of padding under the heel that humans are able to land on the heel rather than the ball of the foot. In doing so, the foot's natural motion is impeded and the arch and lower leg are not able to absorb the shock of the landing. Instead, the shock is sent up through the heel, to the knees and hips.

The basic argument is that feet were meant to be run on and when you run in shoes that are built with shock abosrption and all the fancy technology that todays running shoes have, it changes the way your foot strikes the ground. This in turn changes how your body aborbs the shock and how you run, causing injuries. When you run on barefeet or on shoes with little support, your body will run the way it was intended to.

Some examples of this are illustrated in the book Born to Run which I have been listening to as an audiobook. Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the subject of this book are the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. They do not wear Nike's or New Balance shows but run on little pieces of leather that offer their foot no support whatsoever. Although barefoot running is not the main subject of this book, the author discusses it quite thoroughly. I have not verified any of this information but the book claims there have been no studies showing today's running shoe preventing injuries but in fact cause more injuries for runners. Apparantly the most expensive, technologically advanced shoes also cause the most injury. Like I said I did not study the articles in depth so I do not know how the studies were set up. There may well be causal relationships involved that are not discussed such as the runners who run more miles are more likely to buy the more expensive shoe and the mileage of the runner is the cause of the injuriesnot the shoe. However it appears that the running shoe is a probable cause of some injuries.

Although there is no clear consensous among experts about this subject, I have to admit that I am intrigued. I believe that the human body is pretty darn good at functioning all on it's own so the idea that shoes may be causing injuries makes some sense to me. Humans seemed to be able to run fairly well and injury free in the past without Nikes or New Balances.

Running in barefeet however is not very practical. If you are running on a street you are likely to run on a surface that has debris (glass, pebbles etc.)which can be painful if your feet lands on them. I also think there might be an issue with running barefoot on a treadmill at the gym. Obviously trail running could also be difficult. I suppose the bottom of your foot would toughen up but running on literal bare feet I would not be a fan of. I really don't want my foot to look like this:

Several companies have come up with shoes that mimick the concept of barefeet but provide a barrier, the most well known being Five Fingers. Their shoe looks like this:

I admit, they are a little silly looking but I am kinda getting over caring how I look to other people. I have looked silly in the past and I will look silly again, a sacrifice I am willing to make if I can run healthy. Besides I wear toes socks and I like them quite a bit and think they look super cool;)

You can't just switch from regular running shoes to these guys though, your body needs to adjust to your new form first and break in your feet again. They reccomend walking around in them first then gradually adding jogging and running and then increasing distance.

I like the back to the basics concept of barefoot running. I don't like that has become somewhat trendy. I would like to try the Five Fingers to see how my feet and my body respond though. Maybe after Christmas I can buy a pair and give them a try. If I do, I am sure to post a review!

Monday, December 14

Oh Etsy, I Heart You

Etsy is my favorite online site to buy gifts. You can find pretty good deals, most items are handmade and unique and I like that you can chat with the seller if you need to. Everything I have ever bought from Etsy I have loved, so I decided to get some Christmas presents from there this year.

My favorite purchase is for my moms birthday present (she was born on Christmas). If you know me, you know I love succulents and my love of succulents can be directly traced to my mom. Not only does she have an affinity for these plants but she also has quite a green thumb when it comes to them. I have seen succulent wreaths for awhile and I am completely fascinated with them. I hope to someday make my own but until then I found one for my mom to add to her collection:

This wreath is from a farm in Ohio called The Blossom Farm.

I also got my mon a scarf from a seller in New York:

And I snuck something in for myself too from a seller in San Francisco:

A nature inspired calendar for my office.

I love that I can connect with people all over the country and help support their creative lifestyles and passions and at the same time get unique gifts for friends and family. It is a so much more thoughtful way to find gifts for others and of course yourself too:)

Nika the Stinka

Well we brought our girl home on Saturday and although the weather was not ideal for bringing home a dog and getting her settled, we managed pretty well and she seems to be very comfortable in her new home.

I cannot believe how lucky we got with her. She definitely came from a loving home because she is sweet as can be and just wants love and attention. Adopting a dog from a shelter you never really know what you are going to get but she couldn't be much more well behaved. She sits when you tell her to about 75% of the time and she is crate trained and house broken so she is fine being left in the crate overnight or during the day (we didn't want to leave her outside in the rain!).

If we are walking around the house doing stuff she wants to be there so she doesn't miss anything but if we are sitting on the couch watching tv she goes to her bed and goes to sleep. she has a very lab like demeanor, always wants a toy or a ball in her mouth and likes to chase after balls (she isnt so good at letting you have them when she brings them back though). She is just wonderful. Her only flaw really is she has the worst gas! That is why we started calling her Nika the Stinka. Saturday night it was just one after the other so we didn't give her any treats yesterday thinking that may be the problem but she kept on tooting. We will try a different food once she is done with the bag she has now but for for now I can just blame it on the dog whenever I get a little gassy:)

Here are some pics I took of her:

Not quite grasping the concept of letting go.

Look at that belly!

Playing with Dad.

Big grin on her new bed:)

She loves her buddy Santa.

She won't let him leave her side!

Crashed out after a long weekend.

Oh yeah, I am a proud mama:)

Friday, December 11

Everytime I see this commercial, I really want a Jeep Wrangler.

I also love that at least half of the comments about it are hateful that Jeep is marketing to women instead rugged off roading manly men:)Here are a few of my favorite comments:

"why the fuck would these women get spend a shitload of money and 2 hours in a salon chair just to get in a jeep with its top down and throw it all away. fucking stupid, pointless ad."


"lol! If I was a dude who owned a wrangler and saw this ad, I'd be thinking about selling my car right about now."

I would like to know how many people who own Jeeps use them off roading and also how frequently because I am willing to bet that most Jeep owners use them to do daily activities more so than off roading. It is like people who don't think that women should have trucks because it isn't like they use them to haul stuff. Obviously this commercial is directed towards women who want to be like the ones portrayed in the commercial, care free and fun and like to have the wind blow in their hair (ahem, first comment). And (second comment) why is it so offensive that a woman may *gasp* drive the same car as you?

And I want one as a direct result of this commercial so me thinks I must be the target audience. I want to drive around with Nika with the top down and the wind blowing in our faces. Looks like fun!

Thursday, December 10



Mike and I just met this sweet girl at ARF and have put down a deposit and will be taking her home with us on Saturday:) She is a 3 year old yellow lab who was just surrended to the facility on Sunday by a man who couldn't keep her because he didn't feel like he was able to give her the amount of time she deserved. Mike had actually called about another lab I saw on Petfinder but he was already in a foster home and they had decided to keep him so they told him that they just got another lab in and we should come meet her. So we just stopped in and met her and she is the sweetest little thing and we both immediately fell in love with her:)

She is a curvy little gal and could stand to loose a few pounds because she hasn't been on a lot of walks lately and could also use a little leash training, but she has a great personality. She doesn't bark, likes to give kisses and loves to have her belly rubbed, she did that flop over thing several times when we were with her. Since she is an adult dog she should be mostly done with the puppy stage so she will be fairly mellow but still enegertic and should fit in perfectly with our active lifestyle. I can't wait to take her on hikes and walks and to the dog park!

I have been wanting to get a dog for years but the circumstances have never been right and now they are just perfect. I have a great house with a yard, a wonderful man and now a beautiful dog, everything is just coming up roses:)

I am sure there will be a crap load more pictures of her coming your way next week:)

I will take overtraining with a side of anemia, please

Yesterday I hit a wall at the gym. The entire week I have felt a little run down and have looked really tired with these ever so lovely dark cicrles under my eyes and have felt a little crabbier than usual. These things happen though and I just kept pushing along with my regular routine. After my 5 miler yesterday(which should have been 6 but I failed to pay attention to the schedule closely enough)Mike and I were going to do legs. On a side noted Mike took a week off from running and he has done 2 runs since the rest and his knee is much better so hopefully that is all he needed. This makes me super excited to have my training partner back:)

Anyway after the 5 miler we started doing leg presses and my stomach was upset and I was crabby and when I looked to see what was next on my workout, I realized I really really didn't want to do any of it. This is very unlike me. Gym time is the time of the day I look forward to the most and I always enjoy doing legs. Mike asked if I just wanted to go home and I stubbornly said no but quickly realized he was right and I should probably listen to my body which is screaming at me to stop. I felt completely exhausted and had no energy to muster up so I somewhat reluctantly went home, had dinner and laid on the couch until going to bed at 9.

There are probably only two things that can cause me to feel this way: overtraining and low iron. This weekend I was literally moving and working non stop and in addition did both of my training runs and another full workout and I did a full workout Monday and Tuesday so my body hasn't had any rest. Exhaustion, lack of motivation and crabiness are signs of overtraining. But I was still concerned with my iron since I felt tired all week, even with caffeine. I then wondered if dark circles could be related to low iron in anyway and it turns out my hunch was right. Low iron levels result in poor oxygenation to body tissues due to lessened blood oxygenating efficiency. One of the areas this shows most of all is under the eyes where vessels tend to clot and pool, thus causing the darkening and eye circle effect. Sooo, it is my opinion that is probably a little bit of both over training and low iron that is making me feel this way.

I had a chinese salad with roast beef last night (btw the preservative free roast beef from Trader Joes is PHENOMENALLY good, best I ever had)and took an iron supplement and I already feel more energetic today. The good thing about iron is that as soon as you get it in your bloodstream, you start feeling better. I also feel I look a little less tired which is a very good thing because when you are tired and crabby the last thing you want to feel is ugly.

It is only my 4th week of marathon training so I need to make sure to address this immediately and make tweaks to my training so I don't crash and burn. I learend this lesson the hard way on several occasions so this time, I listen to my body.

Tuesday, December 8

Umm ok, great

I called PG&E today because I hadn't received a bill from them since September. The first month I didn't get a bill I looked on my account online and it showed a credit, so I assumed I had overpaid and didn't look into it (hey I am not going to complain about not getting a bill). When I didn't get one in November, I was busy with other things and didn't really think about it. When I still hadn't gotten one in December I looked online again and the last date the show a billing for was September.

Ok so something is going on and I better call because eventually they will figure out they haven't billed me and I will get a ginormous bill that I really don't want to deal with. So I call and get tranferred several times and finally get to a guy who is like "uuhh that's weird" and he tells me to hold on. I hear the clickity clack of the keyboard and eventually he comes back on and says that there hasn't been a meter reading on my house since June! Well then what was I paying June through September?! He doesn't really know that but he was going to send a request to the billing department to get it figured out and it could just be a clerical error (like they never put the meter to my account so I had been paying my old addresses bill until some unknown event happened in September and that stopped) or the meter is broken and they will need to replace it.

Fortunately he told me that when this happens they set up deferrred billing so I don't have to pay it all at once, and the money I paid June through September will be applied to that bill. What sucks is that I now have no idea what my bills are going to be like in the summer months so I won't know how often I can run my AC since I have no reference point. Maybe they will be able to provide me with a breakdown of each billing period (if it wasn't a broken meter, if it is then I don't know how they will even bill me) so I can look at what I should have been paying. I also have been very stingy with the heat because I was afraid of a large bill and now I have no idea if that was worth it or not. This part is actually my fault though because I am a dumbass. Last month I was very distractidly looking through my mail and this was a particularly stressful financial time so when I saw another bill I sort of panicked and I saw it was from the City of Fresno for 180 for utilities and I somehow connected that with PG&E (the utility thing I guess or I am just a total dumbbass)and cut off the heat from then on.

They said it might take a week to figure out what was going on and they will either call me or send me something in the mail. Should be interesting to see what my bill is!

Monday, December 7

For Adam

Andy Rooney, still at it.

Adam, you are M. Titus aren't you?

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love Chicken Tortilla soup, aside from Clam Chowder is the only soup that I really love. This recipe is really simple but is full of flavor and yummy. Great for a cold night and it makes a lot so it is also great for having people over or bringing it to a pot luck.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
1 cup white hominy
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
crushed tortilla chips
sliced avocado
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
chopped green onions

1.In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
2.Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, cilantro, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
3.Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese, and chopped green onion.

The soup turns out to be pretty thick so if you like it really soupy. add more chicken broth or water. I would also reccomend simmering for 45 to an hour instead of only 10 minutes. You can leave out the hominy or substitute pinto beans for black beans etc., make tweaks so it is to your liking. It also isn't very spicy so if you like a little kick add some more chili pepper or add jalepenos. I also reccomend a dollop of sour cream or nonfat yogurt on top.

Please to enjoy!

Love Story

Last night I watched the movie Love Story with Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal. I love this movie, even though it makes me cry everytime I see it. It is on par with Old Yeller as far as tear jerking goes. But aside from the story itself I have a huge girl crush on Ali McGraw, or more specifically her character Jenny in that movie. The movie was made in 1970 and I love just about everything she wears. From the camel coat:

to the red dress she wears to meet his parents and the hockey game outfit, she is my fashion idol. I also love her smart ass personality but her wardrobe is what I have a crush on. I couldn't get many stills from the movie so check out this trailer for more style:

I would also reccomend this movie if you want to have a good cry. If you don't feel like crying, don't watch it. It tells you it is going to be sad with the opening line yet you still hope this time she will be ok. *Sigh* She never is.

The Weekend - and some exciting news...

This weekend Mike was gone to Arizona to visit his brother and I decided to take the opportunity to get a crap load of work done around the house.

The middle bedroom or office that I have neglected since I moved in had become a complete disaster. It still had unpacked boxes and furniture and all of the random stuff I didnt know what to do with in it and it literally looked like a bomb went off in there. I couldn't even walk through it and I kept the door shut at all times. I swear everytime I would walk by it it would whisper "psst. what about me?" and whenever I would be sitting down or relaxing I would be thinking that I should be working on that room. It was a huge weight on my shoulders and even though Mike offered to help me with it, I felt like it was something I needed to do on my own. It was my stuff, my junk, my problem.

So starting Friday night I cleared everything out of it and put it in the guest room, which then became the complete disaster, but I needed to start from scratch and have room to move in order to get it done right. Saturday I began the procrastination process I have perfected over the years. I started the day early by going to the gym for 2 1/2 hours. I had to run 5 miles at pace for my training anyway and since I was there I should do a leg workout oh and I definitely need to do some abs too and I really should be stretching more. You see I can justify that procrastination because I am doing something productive, it's not like I am just sitting on my ass and being lazy, even if I am not getting done what I need to get done.

When I got home I then started working on another project, bringing all the succulents in from outside for the winter and figuring out how to display them. I put a shelving unit up in the family room against the big blank wall so I used that to put them all on. Of course I had to water them, clean the pots and get all of the dead parts off first though and with abut 30 succulents, that takes awhile. Then I re-arranged that room by moving the bookcase to the other side so I can put my very old desk with the iron work legs where the bookcase was. This also took awhile because I had to try to gently drag the furniture by myself over the hardwood that I didn't want to scratch and that desk was heavy!

But enough productive procrastination as I like to call it, I had to get to work on that room. Now I am not someone who has trouble throwing stuff away, there is not an ounce of hoarder in me, so I quickly had multiple bags of trash, stuff to give to the salvation army and stuff to go to the shredder. Ahhh I felt cleansed and light after that. Then I decided to tackle those damn ugly hideous curtains. Those bastards were ridiculously rigged up. Naturally, my electric drill failed on me too so I had to do all of the unscrewing by hand and there were approximately 6 brackets, all of which had 2-3 screws in them. I was a woman possessed though and those things were not going to beat me, so I didn't stop until I had everything down. Take that you bastard curtains! The next day I continued the process in the guest room so there are no more ugly curtains in my house, woo hoo! Before I knew it, it was 9 PM and I was exhausted so I watched the end of White Christmas, drooled at their outfits, and went to bed.

Sunday morning I had to do just a 6 miler so I went to Woodward and it was pretty chilly but it seems I run a lot better in the cold. I ended up doing 7 because I felt so good (more productive procrastination). Went back home and I had to furiously work before I had to pick up Mike at the airport at 5. In addition to putting the office together I was also re organizing the guest bedroom and all of the closests. This is where the exciting news comes in. The reason I am organizing the closests is so I can make room for Mike's stuff as he will be moving in with me. He has practicially lived there for the past 4 months anyway and even though I have never co-habitaded with a boy, I am absolutely ready for it and excited about it.

I have never felt so myself around someone and the fact that we can spend so much time together and I don't feel the need for space is HUGE for me. Typically the reason I need space is because being around people is very tiring and can be stressful to me. I like to be able to just not have to talk and just be completely relaxed which is hard for me to do around most people besides my family. With Mike though I never feel that stress, I don't have to think about what I say before I say it and I do not put up a wall (which I admittidly do in most situations for reasons I would probably have to go to therapy to figure out but I don't and just accept thats how I am). Part of the reason I was able to take down the wall with him is because he likes to talk about how he is feeling and about what he thinks so I never had to try to figure him out. His motivations, intentions and what he is thinking is always completely clear to me, he is an open book and I have never had that in a relationship. Turns out when you know what the other person is thinking and they don't keep things to themselves, you feel comfortable doing the same, go figure. I don't feel I have to protect myself with him and even though it is scary to make myself vulnerable, it also feels really good.

I guess to some 4 months seems quick, and before this relationship I would be one of those people, but he is my best friend and I love sharing my life with him and it just feels natural to share my house as well. So with that motivation in my mind, I made room in all of my closests and my life for Mike:)

It was an exhausting weekend but well worth the hard work. I will have pictures up soon, I just didn't get around to taking them yesterday. Oh and I also made a really good chicken tortilla soup yesterday that I will post the recipe for at some point today. It is easy but it has a lot of ingredients so it feels like I am a fancy chef when I make it, plus it is just really good:) Perfect for the chilly weather.

Friday, December 4

Product Rave

Every so often I will come across a beauty product that impresses me so much I feel the need to blog about it. Since I don't spend a lot of money on beauty products, even though I have always heard good things about Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray at $22 bucks a pop for a 4 oz container, I never splurged and got some. However I was always intrigued that this product allegedly gave you that windswept, salty beach hair look because heck yes I want to look like this:

(Of course when I really do go to the beach my hair ends up looking nothing like this, much to my shagrin)

In the morning it takes me an additional 10-15 minutes to blow dry my hair, which means I have to wake up at 5:30 every morning if I don't shower at night. That is awfully early and sometimes I just want to sleep in just a little bit more. I tried letting my hair dry naturally and it wasn't very pretty, more frizzy and unkempt, so I decided to bite the bullet and try some Surf Spray.

This product is outfuckinstanding and worth every penny. My hair seriously looks like that and I didn't have a professional hair stylist (take that Jessica and Kate). I just groggily spray my damp hair and scrunch it a few times and viola! It holds the waves and is not at all crunchy or hard but feels soft to the touch and shines. You can also spray it on hair that hasn't been washed and it is supposed to work wonders then too but I dont usually go a day without showering so I cannot attest to that but I believe it because if I respray throughout the day, it keeps looking great. I keep waiting for someone to say "Hey Kasey, your hair looks so beachy, did you just come from the beach??" It'll happen. I am sure.

I like my hair long but I am too lazy/busy/unmotivated to spend a lot of time on it so this product is perfect for me. I just wish I had gotten it sooner. Bravo Bumble and Bumble!

Thursday, December 3

I found this on Etsy and I like it quite a bit. Thinking about getting it for the house...

It is also fairly large (18" x 24") and inexpensive, both of which are always a huge plus for me and my budget. Plus it is kitschy and I love all things cactus:)

On the sanctity of marriage

Via Jezebel, a clip of Sen. Diane Savino stating why she believes gay marriage should be legal.

If you don't have sound, here are some quotes:

"I'm over the age of 40 and that's all you're going to get from me, but I have never been able to maintain a relationship of the length or the quality that Tom and Lewis have."

"Turn on the television. We have a wedding channel on cable TV devoted to the behavior of people on the way to the altar. They spend billions of dollars, behave in the most appalling way, all in an effort to be princess for a day. You don't have cable television? Put on network TV. We're giving away husbands on a game show. You can watch The Bachelor, where thirty desperate women will compete to marry a 40-year-old man who has never been able to maintain a decent relationship in his life."
"That's what we've done to marriage in America, where young women are socialized from the time they're five years old to think of being nothing but a bride. They plan every day what they'll wear, how they'll look, the invitations, the whole bit, they don't spend five minutes thinking about what it means to be a wife. People stand up there before god and man even in Senator Diaz's church, they swear to love honor and obey, they don't mean a word of it. So if there's anything wrong with the sanctity of marriage in America, it comes from those of us who have the privilege and the right and have abused it for decades."

If you can hear/watch the speech though, I would reccomend it. It plays well with the current push to ban divorce in California (Ed posted about this recently as well)

Tuesday, December 1

It's the Sesamoid by golly!

For the life of me I don't know why it took so long for me to figure this one out but I have finally self diagnosed the pain in my big toe as Sesamoiditis. For about 10 months now I have had pain in what I always refered to as the big toe joint in my left foot. The pain at times would cause a noticeable limp, particularly if I wore high heels for a long period or was on my feet for awhile and I always have to wear shoes around my house because if I go barefoot for long on the hardwood floor the pain would be bothersome. When the pain first started it was much worse than it is now, but it is definitely sore on a daily basis even though I have grown pretty used to it by now.

Here is what the toe looks like:

A sesamoid bone is a bone found inside a tendon where it passes over a joint. A tendon is a strong band of connective tissue which attaches a muscle to a bone. Your body has several sesamoid bones. The largest sesamoid bone is your patella, or kneecap. The ball of your foot contains two small sesamoid bones, the medial (inner side) and lateral (outer side) sesamoids. These sesamoids act as pulleys for the tendons and help flex or curl your big toe. When you run and jump these sesamoid bones absorb much of your body weight. So my poor little sesamoids have been taking a pounding for quite some time.

Symptoms can include:

Symptoms incude:
-Pain when moving the big toe, especially lifting the big toe up -- Yup
-Tenderness to touch at the ball of the foot -- Definitely
-Pain when walking, running, jumping, or standing -- oh yeah
-Swelling--Maybe slightly but nothing major

Oh and here is the kicker, wearing high heels contributes to the problem. Whaaat? you mean my adorable heels are not good for me feet??? Yeah not so much suprised but I own one pair of flats that are 4 years old and all of my pants and jeans I couldn't wear with flats because they would all drag on the floor. The good news is that I can wear whatever I want to work pretty much and even though I like to dress nicely, I can get away with wearing jeans and running shoes for a little while to help it heal.

The other treatments are:
-a special pad to wear that supports the bones
-a shoe insert that limits the motion of your big toe
-custom-made shoe inserts made for you (orthotics)
-tape your big toe to provide support and limit movement
-a removable walking cast to wear until the pain is gone
-anti-inflammatory medicine
-icing after exercise
-getting a cortisone shot

Obviously some of these are a little extreme in my case. I actually dont experience a great deal of pain while I run but it gets very sore later and standing for a long period of time is more painful. When I run I feel like I stretch my toes as a push off and it actually feels kinda good. Basically ibuprophen, tape and ice are my preferred treatment but if at the beginning of the year I am still experiencing pain I will go to the doc and at least get some orthotics. Right now I have only reached $800 of my $1,800 deductible so I might as wait until next year since I probably won't meet that deductable this year.

Anyway I have dealt with it for this long and even though I have done 2 weeks of almost 30 miles each week and havent had any increae in pain then it isn't getting worse and I can handle it as it is. It is nice to know what it is though!