Monday, March 29

I Have a Garden!

This weekend, my parents came over to help Mike and I with planting our first garden and do some work around the yard. It was a beautiful spring day and it was great to be able to spend it outside.

In the garden we planted snow peas, green beans and two varities of tomaotes. It is small but we didn't want to try to take on too much our first attempt at gardening. We also used 4 bags of steer manure so hopefully our little shit eater Nika will not see it as her own personal buffet. In about 30-45 days we should have come fresh veggies to eat and I am very excited about that.

While my dad and Mike tended to the garden, my mom and I planted some grasses and ground cover and mowed and edged the lawns. I am very fortunate that my parents love to to do yard work so they do not mind coming over and helping, and we will also learn a lot in the process. I think this weekend I am going to plant some annual flowers in the front yard and transplant some of the grasses and in the backyard plant lavender and salvia then I will take some pictures to post.

I love being outside and working in the yard because honestly it doesn't feel like work, yet I feel accomplished and exhausted at the end of the day and it is always a good day if you go to bed feeling like that.

Tuesday, March 23

LA Marathon Recap

Well, it didn't go exactly as planned. I was feeling great in every training runs, I had absolutely no issues while training and I even had my stomach problems under control, yet for some unknown reason, that was not the case during the race.

It started out great but right about the half way point I was already feeling my body starting to breakdown. My foot hurt, my knee was hurting and my hips were sore. None of these issues were too terrible so I hoped that they would just stay at that level of pain but they didn't. My hips and knee were not too bad but my foot was killing me. It was the same foot where I have a sore big toe but it wasn't the toe that hurt, it was under the foot, towards the outside of the foot. It kind of felt like the bone was breaking or splitting, which it obviously was not but that is the best way to explain the pain. The course was pretty hilly so it might have been the terrain that got me, but I was not doing well.

Then at about mile 16, the old familiar stomach cramps returned with a vengeance. I had to stop to use the porta potty 3 times, twice for emergency stomach evacuations. There are always lines at the porta potty's too so that probably took 20-30 minutes away from our time. Mike was great the entire time. He felt fantastic and had no problems, even though he had a problem every run when we were training (go figure). He was also very supportive and kept me from going completely over to the dark side but kept me positive.

At mile 24 my stomach issues magically went away and we ran a pretty fast and strong final 2.2 miles. At that point I was so close that I just ignored the foot pain and kept pushing. The crowds are great at that point too, everyone cheering for you, it really lifts your spirits. I crossed the line feeling pretty darn good and surprisingly I wasn't bothered by my lackluster performance. These things happen and I know I prepared for this race as best I could. Maybe it was the hills or maybe I just had an off day. I don't feel the 4 months of training were wasted though because those were 4 months that I had a blast running with Mike. I had a blast running the marathon too - for most of the way at least. Most importantly Mike had a great time. He ran the whole way with a grin on his face and loved every second of it. He never thought he could do it and he never thought he would attempt it and now he has so his mind is open to a whole new realm of possibilities. I am very proud of him.

We plan on running the half marathon in Fresno in the fall and another full marathon on Arizona in January.

My foot is still hurting but as soon as it feels better I can't wait to lace up my running shoes and get back out there soon!

Friday, March 19

LA Marathon

Marathon weekend is here! Sunday at approximately 7:20 AM Mike and I will be heading from Dodger Stadium, along with 25,000 other runners, on our way to the Santa Monica Pier. This will be my 4th marathon and I have never felt more healthy or ready. I have also hopefully learned my lesson and will not be going out too fast so I might actually enjoy the last 6 miles instead of stumbling across the finish line in pain (they key word there is might).

The weather forecast for Sunday calls for a high of 78 degrees and partly cloudy conditions. Slightly on the warm side but since it won't reach 78 until after we are done and it will be partly cloudy, the conditions are quite favorable. The course is brand spanking new and will go through Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Culver City on its way to the Santa Monica Pier. Here is a course map if you are interested. This is the second time I have run the LA Marathon and it was also my favorite so I hope Sunday lives up to my expectations. It is really amazing to have a huge city like that close off roads so we can all come running through, and the spectators and volunteers are always fantastic. I am just excited to take it all in.

Mike and I started training on November 16th and since that time we have run a total of 596 miles (and yes I kinda want to run 4 more miles to make that an even 600, but I won't, grrr). We have also gotten a lot closer during the process and seen each other at our best and at our worst, and we still love each other so that is a good sign:) When we started, the furthest Mike had run was 3 miles and now he is about to run 26.2. It really is amazing what you can do when you put in the time and effort and I am very very proud of him.

Also, we are painfully just short of our $1,000 fundraising goal for ARF. Currently, with online donations and checks we are at $960. I know that money is tight for everyone right now but if you can find even just 5 bucks to donate, you will be helping a very deserving organization and a lot of homeless dogs. 5 bucks would buy a bag of food so don't think it doesn't matter because it does. Here is the link to the online secure donation site. Of course you can also adopt a pet and give a dog a loving home as well, here is a link to their adoptables. I debated on whether to post a picture of one of their dogs in hopes of tugging on some heart strings but decided against it. But then I found a picture of Cinny and changed my mind because she had the perfect sad face for the job. Won't you help Cinny have a better life??
Donate or adopt today! (I am a little stinker aren't I)

Thursday, March 18

I haven't done any frivolous shopping in awhile and while continuing my very long term search for a close toed nude pump with a rounded toe that wasn't over 100 bucks, I found these shoes that made me swoon:
I love me a red shoe and although I have 3 pairs already, 1 is falling apart, 1 is very high and not wonderful to wear for longer periods of time and 1 is casual so I obviously need this show for my collection. And they are suede and have an adorable little ruffle!

I am just a little bit happier now:)

Wednesday, March 17

House Stuff

This weekend Mike and I did some work on the house that I am quite pleased with.

First, we painted the guest bedroom Sparkling Lake or Blue. I think the hue turned out nice, however we still need to do another coat and put the room back together. Here is the before and after:

The arrangement of the room will pretty much stay the same but I have some artwotk and accessories to put up as well that aren't there yet. I like the color though, it keeps the room bright and sunny.

Then we headed outside for some bush trimming which resulted in the removal of 3 bushes and two more got a serengeti trim. In front of the master bedroom there were 5 bushes, all of which were different. I always hated those bushes and it makes everything look cluttered and unkept. I prefer a more minimal, clean and lower profile landscape so even though Mike started by just trimming them, I decided that 2 of them had to go as well as one under the kitchen window.

The biggest benefit of getting rid of them was that low and behold you can see the beautiful brick that they were hiding! I love this brick too because the bricks themselves are longer and thinner than your average brick, so I love being able to expose them. They need a little pressure washing and sealing but already it is a big improvement.

I also coined the term "serengeti trim". In my mind, I pictured the trees from the serengeti and I wanted the bushes to look more like that rather than your typical round or square bush/hedge:
I think Mike did a pretty darn good job considering my obscure request:

Before he took the two bushed out, all 5 bushed were crammed in that space, overlapping and of various sizes and they looked terrible. I am very pleased now. This spring we are hoping to take out all of the landscape in the front yard besides the tree and grass and start over. Until then though, this will do just nicely.

Nika has been FurMinated

Labs are fantastic dogs in a lot of ways, however they are terrible shedders and Nika is no exception. If we go one week without sweeping the floors, we could make a replica dog with the fur we sweep up.

Looking into the problem I discovered a product called The FurMinator, great name, right? It is just a grooming tool but it has finer teeth and is made of metal and the premise is the more fur your remove during brushing, the less your pet will shed on you or in your house. Simple concept but I was really impressed with this:
So, I went to Petco to get one and we spent an HOUR brushing Nika on Monday night. We had to take turns because we got so tired of doing it but the fur just kept coming off until the yard looked like this:

Perhaps if we had piled all the hair together it would have more closely resembled the first pic but we had a hell of a time trying to keep her still for that long so if she moved, we followed and thus the fur went everywhere. I also believe we could have gotten more off of her, but after an hour, we were over it.

Her coat was very shiny and silky when we were done though:
She is also shedding less in the house and on us, which is REALLY good. I would reccomend this product if you have a problem shedder like we do. It works on cats too!

Monday, March 15

Chickpeas and Cauliflower

I recently have become a fan of Indian food - I know, I am a bit of a late bloomer. I never really liked it before but the older I get it seems the more I seem to broaden my horizons in terms of my palate. I have eaten it at restaurants but I have never tried to make any at home, until this weekend.

My sister and I share recipes and recipe ideas all of the time which is a lot of fun, particularly since we have such similar taste now so I have to give her credit for this idea. You need a a jar of a wet curry sauce(I found one at Trader Joe's but you should be able to find them at any grocery store) that was the base for this dish. I started with roasting chickpeas and cauliflower:

Chickpeas & Cauliflower
(1) can chickpeas, drained and patted with a paper towel to get rid of most of the excess moisture
(1) head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
to taste:
olive oil
minced garlic
kosher salt
ground black pepper
lemon juice
red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 325. Toss all ingredients into a bowl and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, take out and stir and place back into the oven for 5-10 minutes, checking for the browning of the cauliflower. Once the cauliflower has some browned edges, take it out.

I think roasted Chickpeas and Cauliflower would be great by itself, but for the dish I started sauteing the chicken when I put the C&C back into the oven for 5-10 more minutes. Once the chicken was browned I added the curry sauce and then the C&C when it was done. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and put it on top of basmati rice and/or naan bread. There was definite heat that made me nose run (probably pretty mild for most people though, I am a bit of a wimp)but the flavors along with the heat made this one of the best dishes we have made. I think I said "Oh my god, this is so good" a half a dozen times.

Thanks Kristen and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Friday, March 12

I have been doing the majority of my runs around my neighborhood, mainly going from Fruit and Shaw, going West on Shaw to Van Ness and then going North on Van Ness and back. Yesterday I only had a 3 miler to run and in that short distance, 4 cars pulled out in front of me without looking and was very near to hitting myself or Nika.

The problem is people are looking in the other direction (to the left) to check to see if traffic is coming and they completely disregard anything that is happening on their right side. In one incident I literally had to stop dead in my tracks while a van pulled out from an office complex and stood inches from the passenger side for a good 15-20 seconds before she pulled out without ever seeing me. She was also on her cell phone. And then there was an older man who kept inching forward into the road, completely blocking the sidewalk without once looking to his right. The other two incidents were very similar to those two.

Now I understand that people are used to looking to their left because that is where the traffic is coming from but people need to be more aware of what is going on around them. Running down Shaw is not ideal by any means either, but there is a very limited number of running trails in Fresno unfortunately so unless I want to drive 15 minutes to another location everyday, I have no choice and don't feel it should be that dangerous to do so.

To be fair though, I have also had people see me coming and back up so I can run by. I always wave and smile when that happens because I certainly appreciate it. I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

Thursday, March 11

I have finally decided that the guest bedroom will have a spanish style theme to it. Currently there is a rod iron bed, an antique wood table, an antique crate and a natural wood dresser and soon there will also be these 3 prints I found on Etsy:

When I found the My Pink Turtle Art by Lulu shop on Etsy, I was very drawn to her style. I love the bright colors, I love the dias de los muertos style and the homage to Frida Khalo. I want that room to be bright and cheerful and these will definitely fit the bill without being overly feminine or girly. Mike is half Mexican so he really likes that style too and due to the fact that I still say my house instead of our house on occassion, I really want him to feel included and happy with whatever decorating decisions that are made.

I also got the perfect dress to wear while decorating that room on an Etsy shop:
It is handmade from a group of, oddly enough, Thai women in a village in Northern Thailand. Hopefully that is not just a fancy way of describing a sweat shop. Either way I think it is super cute and I shall wear it with a belt and cute red shoes.

But speaking of decorating, if anyone ever comes across leather club chairs that are reasonably priced, please let me know. I want to make the area in front of the fire place a lounge type area and have been loking for chairs like this that aren't $500 a piece:

Wednesday, March 10

I run, therefore I blog about it

A funny thing happened while training for the LA Marathon, I fell in love with running. Any logical person would probably think they if one is running their 4th marathon and have also run 4 half marathons then they already loved running, but my relationship with running is more complicated than that.

When I first started long distance running I was living in Indiana and was the ripe age of 22. A friend of mine made a flippant comment once about running a half marathon and I said I wanted to do it too, so I trained. She never started training though so I ran it by myself and although I didn't so much feel the complete joy of running, I was happy I stuck with it and I followed through.

Most of the races I signed up, I signed up for were for the challenge. Sometimes I felt like I needed something positive to work towards to boost my self esteem or to feel like I can accomplish something. When I was living in Austin I was really down about school not working out and I didn't know what I wanted to do and I felt like a loser with nothing going for me. Training for a marathon pulled me out of that funk. It was a distraction and with each mile I felt a little better about myself as a person.

Almost every time after I would run a race though, towards the end of the training I would grow tired of it. Tired of all of the miles, tired of my life being focused on that and not being able to do other social things because of it or if I did do social things, paying for it in my run the next day. Once I ran the race I gladly stopped running for a period of time and did other forms of exercise.

I feel differently this time though. The marathon is 11 days away and I have no feelings of wanting it to be over or of being over running. My past few runs have felt great and I am finally feeling that zen when I run where it just feels good to pound the pavement. The runs are not difficult or burdensome and I am healthier than I have ever been before a race. I virtually had no issues this training - no pain in my hips or knees, no lack of energy, no anemia, minimal stomach issues - it has been fantastic!

I went into this training without any time goals or expectations. It is Mike's first so I wanted to just go at his pace so I put no pressure on myself to run a particular pace. If we run it in 6 hours it won't matter, which frees me up to just enjoy running. Having a training partner has also made it more enjoyable. We encourage and support each other and know what the other person is going through so I don't feel like I am going at it alone. It is still a challenge though, which I love. It has also opened my mind to other possibilities, an ultra perhaps? I have been thinking about that for a long time and maybe I have broken through the mental barrier to do it because running doesn't feel like a burden but a joy.

Monday, March 8

The Dog

Sunday we took a walk with Nika to Starbucks. She loves these walks and everyone we meet loves her. Everytime we do this we have multiple people coming up to us and talking to us about her. She is quite the charmer. Unfortunately she is also not very well behaved when she is in a new situation or surrounded by people. It is almost too much for her to handle-too many new smells and people and sights-and she gets on sensory overload and forgets her manners. It is nothing terrible though, she will just jump up on us (not other people, thank goodness)and she is so strong that she pulls pretty badly on her leash. That is the extent of it though.

She meet a puppy friend at Starbucks though and charmed an old man and possibly convinced another man to get a lab, then we headed home. On the way home we decided to just keep on walking down to Fresh and Easy to pick up some things for a salad I was bringing over to his moms house later. Mike stayed outside with Nika and I went inside and was perusing the produce when I see a flash of blonde out of the corner of my eye. I look up and there is Nika barreling towards me in the produce aisle of the Fresh and Easy. A second later Mike runs in after her, holding up a collar attached to a leash. Oh dear. She had backed out of her collar (that obviously isn't tight enough)and took off after me.

She ran right to me, wagging her tail just seeing what I was up to. She is funny because when we are at home if Mike and I are ever in different room she spends her time going back and forth between us. If one of us isn't there, she will look for the other and keeps doing this until we are all in the same room togeher and only then will she relax. She knew I was in the store and just wanted to check on me and make sure she wasn't missing out on anything. Mike quickly catches up to her but she isn't great at letting us put her collar on so she does what she usually does and flops down and rolls over on her back so we can scratch her belly.

One of the employees came up and Mike apologizes and starts taking her away when the employees goes "wait! can I pet her?". There she goes again, I thought, charming everyone she meets. So the employee chatted with us for awhile and Nika enjoyed her little adventure.

I can't wait to see what she does next:)

Friday, March 5

New Shoes!

I got a pair new shoes yesterday and I haven't been this excited about a show in awhile. They are beautiful, purple and made for trail running and hiking. Meet my Merrell Siren Sport Gore-Tex XCR's:
The reason I am super excited about these shoes is because I have a summer of hiking and backpacking in front and now I finally have the appropriate foot wear to do it in. I haven't done a lot of hiking in my life, but everytime I have gone I have had a great time and in recent years I have really wanted to do more of it but it never seemed to work out. Now that Mike is in my life I not only have someone to do it with but someone to learn from since he is quite the hiker/back packer. He has a great deal of experience and it is a big passion of his that I look forward to experiencing with him. He has been training for a marathon with me for the past 4 months and it will be nice to do something with him that is his thing.

We have 2 trips lined up at the moment. The first I am most excited about. On Sunday June 27th we are going to Half Dome, but we are starting at midnight so we can get up there in time to see the sun rise before heading back down. There is also a full moon that night so it should be beautiful. Now that Half Dome requires permits for weekend half dome trips, it will limit the amount of people up there so we shouldn't see a lot of people either, which will be nice.

The second trip is the 4th of July weekend and it will be my very first overnight hike. I have camped and done day hikes, but I have never backpacked. We will be doing a 2 day, 2 night trip to Ostrander Lake in Yosemite National Park.

Now I just need to wait for my tax return to buy a sleeping bag and I will pretty much be good to go. I already have a good pack that I haven't used yet but Mike got me at REI during their big sale last month. The only thing I am concerned with is being warm. I am in general a person who is always cold so I need to make sure to get a good bag.

I cannot wait to get out there.

Wednesday, March 3


For some unknown reason it smells like raw sewage at the office today. The stench is coming from outside the office but the smell is so strong that it is seeping its way into the office and it is kind of making me want to vomit. On the bright side I can fart freely and have a perfectly good excuse if it smells:)

Fit Tip - No Time To Exercise

Recently I was speaking with someone about finding the time to exercise. She stated that she got home from work at 6 and just couldn't put in another hour devoted to exercise because she didn't have the time or the energy. Like many others, we seem to think of exercise in terms of larger chunks of time. We feel that in order to be effective we should devote an hour to it or otherwise, why bother. Although exercising an hour at time if not more is effective, it isn't the only way.

One thing I do on the days that I have something to after work and can't get to the gym or just want to have more downtime at home after work, is to break up my workouts. I will wake up 15 minutes early and start my day doing 15 minutes of abs or I will wake up a half an hour early (and sleep in my workout clothes to save time) and go on a half hour run in the morning before work. This means I wake up at 5, but once I get moving I actually feel more awake when I make it to work.

You can also use your lunch break as workout time. Yesterday I ran 5 miles at lunch and came back a much happier person. It is nice to get a mental break and be moving for a period of time during the day. Of course you don't have to run but going on a brisk walk can be just as benefical. I come back a little sweatier but the sweat dries, you can reapply make up (if you wear it)and spray yourself with body spray and get on with the rest of the day. By this time you have already worked out for 45 minutes to an hour and can stop there if you wish.

But if you want to, you can still workout after work for a shorter period of time, like a half an hour as opposed to your usual hour. This is when you can get some weight lifting in or some sort of muscle building activity. Total activity time for the day would range from an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half, which is not an overwhelming period of time when you break it up. The great news is that you can even get benefits from exercise in shorter periods of time if you do interval training, which is short burts of high intensity exercise followed by short periods of rest that generally last 30 minutes.

It isn't always easy but most people can find time to exercise. By breaking up your workouts or doing interval training you can get the work done and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Need motivation? This might help:

Tuesday, March 2

Smooth Move

Good morning! It is TMI Tuesday so it is time to talk about bowel movements, or lack thereof. I have all sorts of stomach issues that range from bloat (severe bloat, like I am 6 months pregnant bloat), gas, constipation, the exact opposite of constipation, and stomach cramps on runs. Running always makes me stomach issues more prevelant too wich really annoys me.

I generally experience every single one of these issues on a weekly basis. And yes I have been to the doctor and he tells me I have IBS, which is a bullshit disgnosis because it means nothing and there is no treatment so I am left on my own to find what works.

Saturday during the last part of my run, I had waves of stomach cramps. I am pretty used to this and there are not as severe as they once were so I just grit my teeth and keep going. I was fully expecting a bathroom trip at the end, but it produced nothing. I then proceeded to eat A LOT. By Sunday nigt I still hadn't had a bowel movement and my last BM was Friday. That is just not right considering the amount of food I had eaten!

I was at the grocery store and was looking for my Yogi Ginger Tea that I like to drink when I have stomach problems because it soothes my belly, but I couldn't find it. I did come across some Senna tea though called Smooth Move (Mike found the name of this product hilarious btw). Senna is an herbal laxative so it is all natural and this brand is labeled organic so that is always a bonus. Drink a glass at night and by morning you should have one on deck it said, although not in those exact words, so I decided to see if i could have a smooth move of my own.

I wasn't expecting much in terms of taste but this was actually really tasty, like I would want to drink this even if I wasnt constipated. Even Mike thought it tasted good. The next morning, the cramps began. So much for the ginger soothing the stomach cramping. It wasn't severe though and within an hour of waking up, it had done it's job. My stomach was a little off the rest of the day but nothing terribly uncomfortable. I would use this product again unquestionably.

Monday, March 1

I don't know why this exists but it does and I am amused by it: Bea Arthur Mountain Pizza

Weekend Wrap Up

I had a great although not very exciting weekend. Friday mike and made apple butter pork sandwiches and sweet potato fries and watched Gran Torino. I had never seen the movie and I cried but I really liked it. Here is the recipe for the prok sandwiches because it is delicious:


1 pork tenderloin
sourdough bread (or bread of your choice)
Apple butter
1 yellow onion
smoked cheddar cheese
balsamic vinegar

Grill the pork and marinade or use the rub of your choice. Something with a bit of a bite or spice is best. While the pork is being grilled slice 1 yellow onion and add to a pan with olive oil and saute on a low heat until carmelized.
When the pork is almost done take 2 slices of sourdough per sandwich and grill until you get grill marks and the bread is crunchy. It is better to have crunchier bread so it doesn't fall apart when you are eating it. Take the pork off the grill and start assembling sandwiches. Spread apple butter on both sides, add the sliced pork and top with smoked cheese (smoked cheese is the BEST). Add the onion and arugula and splash with balsamic and enjoy! Oh and for the fries, I use 1 tsp of seat salt, 1 tsp, cumin, 1 tsp, paprika, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp chili powder and place fresh rosemary on the bottom of the baking sheet. Place the fries over the rosemary, sprinkle with spices and bake for 20 minutes at 400. Turn them over, add more spice and bake for another 25 or until they are browned to your liking.

Saturday morning we meet up with my mom to do our 20 miler. Luckily the weather cooperated and it only rained the first 4 miles or so. After that it was pretty much smooth sailing until we had to turn around a few places and go a different route because the trail was flooded, until we headed back. From about mile 10-15 there was a really strong headwind that was not fun at all, it really sucked the energy out of out legs and my mom had trouble too. We got through it though and it was one of the best runs we have had. We both felt strong and didn't have any problems and went by pretty fast for 3 1/2 hours of running. I defintely feel ready for the marathon and I know Mike is ready for it too. 20 more days and the training tapering will begin this week! To celebrate the 20 miler we went to dinner at Hunan and had some wonderful chinese food with my parents and ate with glee.

Sunday was a work day after a walk to Satbucks with the Stinker. Nika has been shedding like crazy so there was a lot of vaccuming and sweeping and we also gave her a bath. Then I had tea with Kendall and Ali and ran some errands with Mike, made dinner and watched Marley and Me and cried. I hope Nika never dies.

It was a very good weekend and I am very happy with my life. I wouldn't change a thing about it and I don't think I have ever been able to say that.