Monday, December 31, 2012

Bring it on, 2013.

I can hardly believe how quickly 2012 passed by...I feel like it was just yesterday that I was trying to remember to date everything with '12 instead of '11 - something I struggle with every year!

This year was pretty fabulous. I ran my first half marathon and completed it under my goal. It was a summer full of incredible weddings - including my own! I have the world's most amazing husband to share my life with now. I got to travel to magical Hawaii for my honeymoon. I gained a wonderful new family - seriously, my in-laws are fantastic. My friends have continued to be a bright light of happiness in my life, and I feel incredibly blessed to have them. I conquered my dislike for mushrooms and brussel sprouts - a total win in my book. Oh, and I hate winter a LITTLE less now that I finally got to make use of my snowshoes.

I've really tried to focus on all the positives that came out of this year, but there's still one particular negative experience that creeps up to the front of my mind and puts a damper on my 2012: the loss of Max. The holidays were more difficult this year than I anticipated, and it's amazing how much I still miss him every day. I feel now more than ever that I am completely ready to hit the refresh button and see what 2013 has in store.

I don't really do New Year's Resolutions, so instead:
I will continue working on being the best version of myself that I can be. I will be open to learning and growing in my career. I will try my hardest to be the amazing wife Brent deserves and the best caretaker to Casey. I will continue living a healthy lifestyle and running as many miles as I can.

I feel a big change coming this new year. The older I get, the more I fear not taking chances. I would really like to take all these "what if's" that have been floating around me the past couple years and make them reality.

So bring it on, 2013. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Recap '12

I'm finally reemerging from the Christmas haze, which unfortunately means being back at work. We got hit with a big Nor'easter overnight in New England, but the Boston area got mostly rain, so no snow day for me. Lucky for us, places up north got a good amount of fresh powder; one of my Christmas gifts to Brent this year was a weekend getaway to Brunswick, Maine for the first weekend in January, so we will FINALLY get to test out our snowshoes! So exciting!

Christmas Recap

Christmas Eve, we had a potluck dinner and exchanged gifts with my stepdad's family. Keeping with tradition, I later played bartender while we all cozied up on the couch and watched Scrooge fell asleep before 11:00pm.

Traditional Christmas Eve Tini's: Hendrick's Gin, St. Germain, Raspberry Puree, topped with Prosecco

Casey eyeing Brent's cocktail

Christmas morning, my mom made her famous monkey bread, and we opened gifts while toasting with mimosas. Typical.

My new Garmin Forerunner, thanks to Brent! Can it be spring now, please??

Casey enjoying her rawhide bone...for the moment. Girlfriend got a little too excited with it, demolished it, and got sick off it later. Tisk, tisk.

My aunt's fabulous creation: grape syrup, dash of bitters, and Champagne

We spent Christmas day at my uncle's, equipped with TONS of delicious food, wonderful company, and a kick-ass game of Trivial Pursuit. It's so sad when Christmas comes to a close, but I'm so ready for 2013 to begin. And with it, the warmer weather of Spring/Summer. I'm not sure how many more winter seasons I can handle up here in Mass!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Berry + White Chocolate Chip Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Most recipes I come up with are a product of having random things leftover that need to be used. I kind of like creating order out of chaos, what can I say?

Today, I bring to you a delicious breakfast food.

Berry + White Chocolate Chip Cottage Cheese Pancakes
[makes 6 pancakes]
>>PRINT this recipe!<<

2 eggs
1/4 C flour
1/2 C low fat cottage cheese
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp white chocolate chips
1/4 C berries, chopped (I used raspberries and blackberries, but blueberries or strawberries would work great as well)

  • Mix eggs, cottage cheese, flour, and butter together in a medium bowl.
  • Gently fold in berries and chocolate chips.
  • Spray a frying pan or griddle with cooking spray and heat to medium. Using a 1/4 C measuring cup, scoop pancake mix into pan, and cook 1-2 minutes per side. Serve warm with maple syrup.

119 calories per pancake

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, all!

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

I'm stuck having to work this morning, but as soon as noon rolls around, my (mini) two-and-a-half day vaca will begin. Brent, Casey, and I are all heading out to central Mass to spend Christmas with my family...and I absolutely cannot wait!

I'm still kind of recovering from being sick all last week, so this weekend, we really didn't do too much. On Saturday night, we did manage to get out for a holiday date night. We had dinner at Olives in Charlestown - one of Todd English's fab restaurants - and it was delicious!

Brent's cheesy grin | seared scallops with sugar pumpkin risotto and pepitas
roasted brussel sprouts | my handsome hubby
Sunday was spent in the kitchen. For our multi-day X-mas extravaganza, I made a whole slew of goods to bring along: nutella-stuffed brown butter and sea salt chocolate chip cookies [Ambitious Kitchen], cheesy polenta [Giada De Laurentis], quinoa burgers with a trio of dipping sauces; and this morning, Brent is making soppressata and cheese in puff pastry [Barefoot Contessa].

Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
And then the weekend was capped off with a whole lot of this:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Mexican Roasted Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

I get into weird food kicks sometimes, and lately, it's been with quinoa. It's like a temporary addiction. A few weeks ago, it was cookies, so I'm kind of glad THAT one has passed.

After eating quinoa burgers all last week for dinner, I decided I wanted to branch out with some new quinoa recipes this week. The best part about cooking with quinoa is you can make a huge pot of it on Sunday night, store it in the refrigerator, and eat it throughout the week as you please, which is exactly what I did. I cooked up a pot-full of quinoa and used half of it to make this Mexican Roasted Chickpea Salad. The other half will be used for these wraps later in the week.

It was amazing and so easy to prepare. Tangy, spicy, and just a tad sweet from the roasted corn and touch of Agave. Plus, if you haven't tried roasting chickpeas before, you need to experience it. I paired this salad next to my roasted kale for a healthy meal packed with delicious veggies and protein. Brent even went back for seconds!

Mexican Roasted Chickpea and Quinoa Salad
Makes 4 servings
>>PRINT this recipe!<<

1 (15.5 oz) can of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 C frozen corn, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 C cooked quinoa
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped fine
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup
1/2 tsp Chipotle Tabasco sauce

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, corn, red pepper, taco seasoning, lime juice, and soy sauce. Toss until well combined. Add chickpea mixture to baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent from burning.
  • Combine lime juice, agave, and Tobasco sauce in a small bowl and whisk together. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and chickpea mixture. Toss with lime juice, agave, and Tobasco dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
{Per serving} Calories: 243 | Fat: 2.8g | Carbs: 46.9g | Protein: 10.4g | Fiber: 4.3g | Sugars 10.2g

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dreaming of paradise

Well, it was bound to happen at some point once it started to get cold and dry outside. Asthma is really starting to cramp my style.

I'm stuck home today with a fever and icky bronchitis. I have a feeling it's from having spent the majority of the chilly morning on Saturday strolling around Boston. Asthma and cold, dry air do not mix well. I developed a dry cough pretty much right away, and now it's turned into full fledged YUCK. I get it every winter now since I've been diagnosed with asthma - at least this year, it didn't fall on the same week as Christmas. Thank goodness for Mucinex and Albuterol.

These annual infections are making me seriously consider moving to a warm place where I would never have to worry about cold, dry air ever again...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chipotle Cream Sauce

Some weeks, I love to live over the stove and explore new recipes for Brent and I - but then there are weeks where I just don't want to have to lift a finger in the kitchen - this week, for example. Brent will usually take over when I get lazy, but he's been pretty busy at work, so he's been getting home a bit later than usual. And I'm definitely one of those people who has to eat by 6pm or else I start gnawing my arm off.

I anticipated laziness this week, so Monday night, I made a huge batch of Quinoa Burgers for dinner to have throughout the week so that I don't have to cook at all. BEST DECISION EVER. I made a nice veggie side dish of stir fried snap peas, seasoned with smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and garlic salt to go alongside my quinoa burgers. I've had this meal every night this week, it's that good.

Oh, and that sauce on the burgers? Well, Brent and I picked up some Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce a few weeks ago and finally put it to use.

Chipotle Cream Sauce
Serving size: 2 Tbsp || Calories: 30 

1/4 C light sour cream, 1/2-1 tsp Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce, and pinch of salt to taste. 

Feel free to add more Tabasco for an extra kick. This Chipotle flavor is nice because it has a little kick, but it's not over-powering. It adds such a great smoky flavor!

This sauce goes perfectly with the quinoa burgers, as a dip for vegetables, and probably a great cracker spread.

I've also been racking my brain for ideas of what snacks to bring to my Uncle's for Christmas, and it finally dawned on me last night. I'm going to plan to make slider sized quinoa burgers for an appetizer with a trio of dipping sauces. Genius, right?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

As the fall season quickly comes to a close, so does the fall menu selection: pumpkin beers, cider, apple crisp, butternut squash, pumpkin's quite sad actually.

Some of you might be left with a residual butternut squash or two that need to be used because they've been sitting on your counter for a month waiting to be roasted. Or you're like lazy ol' me and do not enjoy de-seeding, peeling, and cubing squash, so you purchased a giant bag of cubed squash from the grocery store...

Well, thank goodness I happened to stumble across this recipe last week on Ambitious Kitchen for an incredible butternut squash soup! It combines some amazing fall ingredients, such as roasted butternut squash, apple, maple syrup, and cinnamon. With just a dab of light cream, this soup is HEALTHY, thick, and quite filling. Serve it alongside some roasted brussel sprouts, arugula salad, or delicious crusty bread for the perfect late fall meal!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup 

2 medium butternut squash with seeds removed, OR 4-5 C cubed squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 C carrot, chopped
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus more to taste
3 C chicken broth
1/4 C light cream
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil over squash*. Sprinkle with some cinnamon, salt, and pepper. 
*If cooking squash whole, place the squash face down on a baking sheet. Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until squash is fork tender. Remove and cool for 10 minutes.
**If cooking pre-cubed squash,sprinkle the oil, cinnamon, salt, and pepper over cubes and mix well to coat. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until squash is fork tender. Remove and cool for 10 minutes.
  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add apples, carrots, and onions, and saute for 10 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add 1 tsp cinnamon and stir well to mix. 
  • Scoop out the roasted squash or roasted cubes and add to the saucepan. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in the light cream, maple syrup, and salt to taste.
  • Using a hand blender, blend mixture until smooth. If you don't have a hand blender (go out and buy one because it's the best purchase you'll ever make!), then use a blender or food processor, transferring 1/2 at a time so to not over-fill your mixer. 

I like my soup thick, but if you find yours is too thick, just return it to the stove after blending and add either chicken broth or water to thin it to your desired consistency. Enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Breaking routine for a day

I'm a morning person. Always have been, always will be. My job has very flexible hours, and I use it to my advantage. I'm here by choice at 7am every morning and leave around 3pm. So usually, my mornings consist of waking up while it's still dark out and rushing to get ready so that I can be out the door by 6:45am. I always feel like I'm rushing, even when I don't need to be. But it's my routine.

So this morning, I opted to relax. I stayed in bed until 7am and awoke to light. I leisurely got ready. Hell, I even had a cup of coffee while sitting at my kitchen table, chatting with Brent. Guys, you have no idea how big this is for me. I have never EVER sat and had a cup of coffee before going to work, never mind carrying out a full conversation while sitting down at my kitchen table RELAXING. Even now sitting here thinking about it, the thought seems crazy to me. Who am I today?

Somehow, it was exactly what I needed. Brent is clearly like my favorite person in the entire world, and I love getting lost in the most ridiculous conversations with him. A lot of our topics of conversation lately focus on house buying, so it was nice this morning to explore other things - like how terrible I was as a kid with group sports because I lacked an attention span; and how when Max was in obedience school as a puppy, he was the model student until the final obstacle course, where he was supposed to hop over a pile of children on the ground, and instead he was distracted and massacred them with slobbery kisses until he forgot what the purpose of the exercise was; and how Brent is going to plan a date night tonight and surprise me; and about how fun next weekend is going to be. We have his company holiday party on Friday night at the Four Seasons in Boston and an ugly sweater pub crawl on Saturday. SO excited!

Speaking of holiday party, on a whim, I bought this dress yesterday - talk about last minute, I know - but I absolutely love the cap sleeve, sweetheart neckline, open back, and lace overlay. It's supposed to come on Monday, and I'm crossing my fingers it works because it totally screams holiday party dress.

On a completely unrelated note - if any of you readers are planning a wedding or know anyone planning a wedding and looking for the perfect summer/beachy/Cape Cod wedding venue, definitely check out White Cliff Country Club's Bridal Open House. They just set the date for Sunday, March 10, 2013. They do a fantastic job at their open house and know how to throw one hell of a party!

Butlered champagne at our wedding.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

One year

One year ago today, I received a phone call that would change my life forever.

My family and I had just enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving with my grandfather merely a week before. Though this was the first holiday season without my grandmother here, we all remained optimistic. There was so much to look forward to in the pending year. I couldn't help thinking how lucky I was that my grandfather - my only living grandparent - would be able to see me walk down the aisle the next summer. I sat at the Thanksgiving table with him that day, eagerly listening to his stories of my grandmother and him in their early years...stories of his childhood, my dad's childhood, my childhood. Three generations of Mangini's. God, he really was a great storyteller.

And listener. And mathematician. And cook. And husband. And father. And grandfather. And great-grandfather. Hell, this man trained Olympians in the shooting events back in his day. He was remarkable.

However, the loss of his lifetime love and the anticipation of an impending major surgery brought my grandfather to a difficult crossroads, and he made an irreversible decision.

One year ago today, my grandfather took his own life.

It's something I don't dare speak of beyond family and closest friends. When I say it, it makes it real. Hearing the words come from my mouth still makes my voice quiver.

The loss of anyone - anything - is difficult enough as it is. But when it is at the hands of anything but God, it's near unbearable.

I'm not sure I'll ever truly understand it. I try. I tried every day for a long time to grasp it. I searched deep in my memory for signs. How did we not see this coming? The word itself still makes me shudder. No matter what, it will always be there. It was an irreversible decision with permanent consequences. But in the end, it was his decision, and we all have learned to accept it is what he wanted.

That call changed my life forever. It brought my family closer. Strength existed somewhere deep inside of me I never knew was there. And above all, it taught me to never take anything in life for granted. Those few hours I got to spend with my grandfather on Thanksgiving, I will cherish forever, as they were some of my favorite memories with him ever. And I know my family cherishes those moments as well.

I love you, Grampy. And I miss you every single day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Recipe: Toast with champagne cupcakes!

One of my coworkers is getting married next week, so I decided to surprise her and make some cupcakes that would scream "Congrats on your Wedding!" After just having gone through the wedding planning process, I know how stressful it can be. Well, this gal managed to plan her wedding in under 6 months - so she deserves a cupcake. Or ten.

Also, at about 230 calories each, they have 25% less calories than the average store-bought cupcake.

Readers, meet the perfect celebratory cupcake:

Champagne cake. Raspberry filling. Champagne buttercream frosting. Pink, of course, for the bride-to-be. 

These cupcakes are perfect for engagement parties, bridal showers, ringing in the New Year, baby showers, girl's night out, or a midnight sweet tooth. The champagne really transforms a traditional white cake into a light, fluffy treat. 
I also love taking a bite into a cupcake to find a surprise filling. The slightly sweet, yet tangy raspberry filling really compliments the light texture of the cupcake. The traditional buttercream frosting is enhanced with a touch of champagne and given a color pop with a few drops of red food coloring. The result is a perfect cupcake for toasting special moments! 

Raspberry Filled Champagne Cupcakes with Pink Champagne Buttercream Frosting
Makes 24 cupcakes

Champagne Cupcakes [adapted]
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist white cake mix
1 1/4 C champagne **I use Barefoot Sparkling Moscato, which is sweeter than typical sparkling wines
1/3 C vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1 drop red food color
  • Heat oven to 350°F. Place cupcake tins into muffin pan. 
  • In a large bowl, mix dry cake mix and champagne with a spatula. Add oil, egg whites, and food coloring. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for two minutes. The batter will thicken. 
  • Pour batter into cupcake tins 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for 17 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake center comes out clean. Remove from tins and completely cool on wire rack, about 30 minutes. While they're cooling, you can make the frosting and filling....
Pink Champagne Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
3-3 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/4 C champagne
1 tsp vanilla
2 drops red food coloring
  • In a medium bowl, mix beat butter and powdered sugar together until smooth, scraping down side of bowl.
  • Add champagne, vanilla, and food coloring. Beat until uniform pink color is reached. 
Raspberry Filling [adapted] (makes enough for 3+ dozen cupcakes, so you will have leftovers)
1 bag frozen whole raspberries
1/2 C sugar
4 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • In a large pan on the stove, melt the butter. Add the raspberries, sugar, and vanilla. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Raspberries will break down and become pureed.
  • Once raspberries begin to bubble, transfer 4-5 Tbsp of raspberry mix into a bowl and add the cornstarch. Mix together with a fork and transfer back into remaining raspberry mixture on stove. Stir until well combined.
  • Bring mixture to a gentle boil then remove from heat. Stir every few minutes until it is completely cooled.

Cupcake Assembly

[1] Cut out a small cone into the cupcakes from the top. 

[2] Spoon ~1 Tbsp raspberry mixture into the cupcake.

[3] Replace cupcake cone.

[4] Frost cupcakes using piping bag or smooth with a spatula.

---And then marvel. Or devour. I think I did both.

The best part about this recipe? You have half an opened bottle of champagne left over....and we all know champagne doesn't keep well. 

Cheers, Pallavi!! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The perfect backdrop for a run

Having asthma makes it difficult for me to get outdoors and hit the pavement during the late fall/winter. I've got a great treadmill at home that allows me to continue running year-round, but anyone who has ever worked out on a treadmill knows how boring it can be. Time seems to slow to a crawl, and I catch myself constantly staring at the mileage and clock, not allowing myself to really get mentally lost in the run.

Yesterday was almost 60° here in Boston, so I took advantage and embarked on a nice 4.5 mile run, loaded with some tough hill intervals. I didn't bother timing myself because I really wanted to tune out my thoughts and get lost in the run. It was amazing. I got to watch as the sun set and snapped this shot during the last 1/2 mile:

Unfortunately, the picture really doesn't do it justice - I blame my iPhone 3GS for that - but trust me, if it looks this good on a 3GS, you can only imagine what it looked like in person. Talk about the perfect backdrop for a run!

On a totally random note, has anyone ever heard of Paloma Faith? She's a singer from the UK, and I just listened to her today for the first time on Spotify. Her album, Fall To Grace, just got released in the U.S. today, and I can't stop listening to it. Seriously, she is so good! She's a little eccentric looking, but girl has an incredible voice. Highly recommended.

Friday, November 30, 2012

It all worked out in the end

The other day, I stumbled across one of my older posts about the time I bought a new wedding dress 8 days before my wedding, and I was reminded a) how crazy I really am, and b) how truly lucky I am. It all worked out in the end - phew!

Then I remembered I had some pictures from that dress fitting that completely changed my wedding future and fortune forever.

So I figured I'd share! Forgive the picture quality, they're from my iPhone 3GS...

Smiling through tears at this point, I was so relieved!

P.S. The bridal shop I used is called La Reine Bridal. The staff there was so incredibly sweet and friendly. They treated me like I was the only bride in the world that day and promised me I would leave there with a gorgeous dress. They held true to their word!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shameless plug

I came to the realization yesterday, I'm not sure I've ever actually mentioned on here what I do for a living. I graduated from Northeastern University in 2008 with a B.S. in Biology.

So naturally, I'm a scientist.
I work in an analytical lab.
And I love it!

Brent is a scientist as well, so you can imagine what our conversations are like when we both get home from work. "Proteins blah blah blah; cells blah blah blah; tumors blah blah blah; glycosylation occupancy blah blah blah." [[[[ Bored yet? ]]]]

One of the top accomplishments out there for a scientist is to contribute to writing a paper highlighting their innovative work in the field and have that work published in a prestigious scientific journal.

I am excited to share with you that Brent achieved this goal yesterday! This is his sixth publication. To say I am incredibly proud is an understatement. Not only was it published in Angiogenesis, but his paper was highlighted as a cover article. GO BRENT!!

---With that being said, when we eventually have kids and they turn out to be complete nerds, it will be because of him. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Exercise of the Week: Improving Your 5K Pace

Back about two months ago, I began trying out a new approach to improving my 5K pace, in hopes of re-emerging this spring and totally putting my previous PR of 24:30 to shame. My goal was to get my pace down to a 7:30 mile. So I dedicated one workout a week to tackling this goal.

After my 10 weeks of training, I did a sort of first time "test" last night to see how fast I could cover 3 miles. Granted, yes, I did this on a flat treadmill, so it's not entirely accurate, but...I was able to run 3 miles in 22:30 last night. This was a big deal for me as a runner and one that I was extremely proud of. So naturally, I celebrated with a big glass of Vignoles from Nashoba Valley Winery:

I wanted to share with you the approach that worked for me, in hopes that it will encourage those looking to improve their pace.

I've been doing this workout 1x per week on a treadmill for the past 10 weeks or so. I would even recommend increasing the frequency to 2x per week for 5-6 weeks then testing out your 5K time.
Also, if you are doing this outside, you will need to have a 1 mile route mapped out ahead of time.

Workout #1-3
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 20 minutes
-----Distance of run: 2 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #4
Run 2 miles at desired race pace. (my workout = 15 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 20 minutes
-----Distance of run: 2 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #5-6
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 20 minutes
-----Distance of run: 2 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #7-8
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 30 minutes
-----Distance of run: 3 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #9
Run 2 miles at desired race pace. (my workout = 15 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
Run 1 mile at desired race pace. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 2.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 30 minutes
-----Distance of run: 3 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

Workout #10
Run 3 miles at desired race pace. (my workout = 22.5 minutes at 8.0MPH)
Walk to recover heart rate. (my workout = 7.5 minutes at 4.2MPH)
-----Total workout time: 30 minutes
-----Distance of run: 3 miles at desired race pace, plus additional mileage with recovery

If any readers decide to try this out, please let me know how it works for you! Good luck!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Spicy Cucumber and Peanut Salad

Somehow, I managed to lose a lb over the week of Thanksgiving. I attribute some of it to the effects of the Zombie drink the night prior, but really, most of it was just being conscious. I tried everything on the Thanksgiving table, keeping my portions small, and I opted to take home leftovers of my favorite dishes so I could indulge more the following day.

Brent also did a pretty amazing job commanding the kitchen post-Thanksgiving meal. He made this amazing Spicy Cucumber and Peanut Salad served alongside some tilapia on Saturday night, and it was absolutely FANTASTIC. This salad is crunchy, tangy, a touch sweet, and with a little kick of heat from the jalapeno. 

If you like heat, feel free to add the entire jalapeno. With seeds. Don't say I didn't warn you though.

Spicy Cucumber and Peanut Salad

1/3 C white wine vinegar
1 packet Splenda
Pinch of salt and pepper

Heat briefly to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

1 cucumber with skin on, sliced thinly 
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 jalapeno, deseeded and sliced thinly
1/4 C coarsely chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp roasted peanuts

Combine cucumber, red onion, and jalapeno. Add dressing and mix to coat. Allow to sit for 20 minutes in the refrigerator so that dressing soaks into vegetables. Finally, add cilantro and roasted peanuts before serving.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Traditions and snow globes

It's been my tradition to go out for Chinese food on Thanksgiving Eve for as long as I can remember. After dinner, Brent and I go meet up with my high school friends at the local American Legion with the other 50% of my small hometown. This year was no different - except for when I decided to try out this new-to-me cocktail at Wong's. Talk about night going downhill. I didn't know WHAT was in this drink, as the restaurant provides a very general description of "rums and fruit juices." So I decided to look up the ingredients this morning when I got into work...

[courtesty of here]
1/2 oz Bacardi 151 rum
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1/2 oz apricot brandy
1 tsp sugar
2 oz light rum
1 oz dark rum
1 oz lime juice

YIKES- never again will I order anything with the word ZOMBIE in the drink title. 

Anywho, Brent and I had a really wonderful holiday full of delicious food, amazing company, laughter, love, and so much to be thankful for this year. Although this is my first Thanksgiving without my Grandfather here, we were incredibly blessed to have been able to spend it with my stepmother's parents who continue to amaze me every time I see them. Her father is 90-years-young, her mother not too far behind, and they have quite possibly a more exciting social life than I do. They still drive everywhere, attend church weekly, they go bowling, shopping, and one of their favorite excursion is Foxwoods. I look at them, and I can't help but hope that Brent and I will be like that someday - it's inspirational, really. 

After dinner, they taught us the game of Left Center Right, and people quickly learned how annoying it is to play games with Brent because he always wins. Always. So annoying. 

We spent all day Friday decking our apartment in holiday gear, which included putting our fake pre-lit tree up. Also, I ran across this amazing decorating idea last week while reading through blogs: DIY Mason Jar Snow Globes. So I set off to AC Moore on Saturday, gathered my supplies, and had at it. The end result was 6 of these beautiful, easy to make, snow globes:

Seriously, if you're looking for a fun project to do with children or friends this holiday season, this is perfect - and cheap! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Casey has always been a girl after my own heart...

She appreciates a good manicure.

She knows how to rock some shades.

She likes sippin' sangria in the summer.

And just look at her eating habits. Girl loves her food.

And for her, I am so thankful. She has been the one to really keep Brent and I's spirits up the last 5 days. Thank you, Casey, for being so wonderful. And crazy. 

Happy Thanksgiving all! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Goodbye, Love

Dear Max,

Your daddy and I had to make a very difficult decision at 1 o'clock this morning, after we finished cleaning up another accident, but we feel it's the right one. We've done everything we can to make your quality of life the best it can be as you near 10 years of age. Every day life is beginning to be a battle for you, and it is getting harder to see you struggle.

At 200 lbs, I really do believe a good percentage of that is your big ol' heart - you are the kindest, most gentle loving dog I have ever met. You walked into my life only 18 months ago, but the bond we formed is forever. If I remember correctly, you ran so fast to meet me that you nearly knocked me right over. Little did I know, that would be the way you greeted me every day when I would get home from work - at the door, with a toy, of course.

It may sound crazy, but you really are one of my best friends. You are a great listener, you love unconditionally, and goodness, are you the best cuddler. I sure will miss those cold winter nights, being able to crawl down on the floor and sprawl next to you, while you lay your head over me, as if saying, "it's okay, Mom, I'll keep you warm."

It's hard to even imagine our life without you in it. I will miss that sweet face and vibrant personality so much; how you come up and nuzzle me when you know I've had a bad day. How you grab the clippers out of Daddy's hands and throw them down on the ground after he cuts your nails. And no matter how deep asleep you are, your head will always perk up when you hear me open the peanut butter jar. How you can barely walk yet you still try to chase squirrels and rabbits. How you are 200 lbs but are deathly afraid of a 30 lb child. How you furrow your brow when I say the word "cookie" and it forms wrinkles all across your forehead. How you make new friends wherever you go because you're Mr. Social. How you burst into the bathroom while I'm taking a shower and sneak your head through the curtain just to say hello. Casey is always Daddy's shadow, but who will follow me around the house when you're gone?

There is so much more I wish we could have done together. We planned on taking you back to Delaney Park this fall, but we were afraid your legs wouldn't be able to handle it. We really wanted you to be around for one last Christmas, so we could dress you up again in that big red bow you loved so much last year. I had a genius idea for our Christmas card photo this year - now, I don't even want to do Christmas cards. I'm glad you got to see snow one last time a few weeks ago - your favorite all-you-can-eat buffet. You got to see Grammy this week, too, and I know she was one of your favorites. I'm not sure how Casey will be without you here. She has known you your entire life, you know. You two have always been the best of friends. I know she will miss you, too.

Life is a funny thing. A lot of people tend to take it for granted - but not dogs. You, my friend, have had quite an exciting life, and I'm certain you will leave this world today having no regrets. Daddy and I are going to stop off at Burger King on the way today to get you that delicious burger we always promised we would when the time came. You have taught me so much these last 18 months, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I will miss you more than you can imagine, my dear friend. <3