To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Stepping outside the comfort zone is the price I pay to find out how good I can be. If I planned on backing off every time running got difficult I would hang up my shoes and take up knitting.
-Desiree Davila

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pinterest Projects: Rum Cupcakes

I'll just say it now ... don't bother making these if you want any flavor at all - especially any hint of rum.

So for my Pirate Pool Party I made delicious rainbow cupcakes with sand and a pirate flag. They were so tasty and cute to look at ... but they weren't my only consideration. I thought it would be fun for a more adult dessert. I looked through many recipes (on Pinterest of course) and decided to make some cupcakes with RUM!! I was VERY excited and certain these would be my new favorite!

Something different about these, compared the other cupcakes I've made, was that they were 100% from scratch. I was certain if my mother-in-law was still with us she would have been proud of me! 

So there I was, armed with my iPad directions, measuring cups and a ton of ingredients. Um, can we just discuss how expensive hoity toity butter can be? Psh, been there, done that.  I mixed everything together - and I was so underwhelmed I can't even give you a recipe. Flour, brown sugar, sugar, blah blah blah. 

The fun part was taking eggs and mixing them with some spiced rum. Maybe I should have added more rum..... Then I mixed the two together to get my cake mix. As a girl that proudly cooks her things from a box - I have no shame or guilt in that - and neither should you - the texture difference was something I noticed right away. This nonsense from scratch felt heavy and thick. Hmm. I started to get concerned. But I hadn't yet tasted it, so who knows. Maybe it would be delicious. These also took longer to cook that my trusty box type, making this whole process in the heat of summer even more tedious. Granted I have A/C but still.

I made the frosting from scratch as well. I thought I had one of the ingredients, but didn't - so I substituted pineapple juice. The frosting was made from powdered sugar, crushed pineapple and then the juice the pineapple was in. Hm, there was obviously something else in it but I am blanking on that. It all mixed together fine and I actually had a ton leftover. Aside from the pineapple chunks it really lacked flavor. Maybe the rum would tie it all together!  Maybe.

Here is my finished product. They tasted as good as they looked. We had a few tastings. Some with frosting. Some without. Warm out of the oven and also cooled. I thought they tasted like a sugar cookie. So really it wasn't a BAD flavor. It just wasn't the flavor I wanted. And the texture was thick and heavy just like I suspected it would be. In the end I sent all of them to work with Man Friend and didn't care what happened to them as long as I got my serving tray back. I figure guys will pretty much eat anything - especially if it is free. So the moral of this story is..... just make a cupcake from a box and drink the rum!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pinterest Projects: Rainbow Cupcakes

My favorite time of day, no secret, is what I call "Housewife Hours"! I get to vacuum any time I want (I LOVE vacuuming!!!), watching my Bravo Housewives, listen to music, try to isolate myself for undisturbed quiet time ... and try to create things I have found on Pinterest. For my Pirate Pool Party I did a few rounds of experimental baking to decide what my dessert would be. Given the name of this blog, it's probably no surprise that I opted for the rainbow dessert! How did I make it? I shall show you. You're going to realize this is ridiculously easy and complete common sense. I fully admit I found it on Pinterest and followed directions on how to do it - but looking back - um, DUH!

So here we go! *I did a double bath for the party, which resulted in way too many, FYI. First up - just get a simple box of white cake mix. Prepare it as the box says. If I can do that, ANYONE can except for maybe teenage boys. My cake had 6 colors, so I had 6 bowls ready for the mix to be evenly split among them.  To get the split I put half a cup of batter in each bowl, then just used a big spoon to start doling out the remaining bits to each bowl. Then the fun part - food coloring! I just started adding drops as needed to get the desired strength I wanted for each color. You can see my finished result here!

This is the part that was the most labor intensive - filling the cupcakes. Getting the right balance was hard because I would end up putting too much of the base colors in and by the time I was at the top I had a very full cupcake. I put about a spoonful of each other one at a time into the cup. It was probably less than a spoon once I figured out the right balance.

 Here is the inside of my finished product! It tasted as good as it looks!!!

For the Pirate Pool Party is got a little themey with them. I turned some vanilla frosting blue (like the ocean), used brown sugar to look like sand, and planed my flag in the center of my island! Yarr!!

Completely easy, right?!?!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eugene Half Marathon - Round 3

Pre & Bowerman - Inspiration.
For the week building up to the 2014 Eugene Half Marathon I was pretty much All Pre All the Time. It's been so long since I felt healthy and ready to run a good race and not just hope to finish without tipping over in a dizzy spell. It felt awesome to have my focus back, and dare I say a bit of confidence!?! With this being my third running of the Eugene Half Marathon, I was aware of my weak part of the course and excited to have Man Friend running with me to maybe help me avoid my final 5K mental crash. But before we could get to mile 10 we had a day of fun cheering on my friends at the 5K and the expo. Best Eugene Expo Ever!! It finally didn't feel like cramped chaos... and I won free Lemon Bar mix due to my awesome skills of tossing a little bean bag. Woohoo! Cheering on the 5K was tons of fun. My friends looked awesome crossing the finish line and having a front row to yell from in the stands wasn't too shabby. We were able to see Flap Jack fly through the finish line as well. Seriously, look at those feet. There is visible air between them and the track!! - and he's in a freaking pancake!!

It was still daylight when I found myself in bed on Saturday night, very excited to get up way too early (2:45am!!!) to go and see if my mental toughness has improved. Poor Man Friend did not sleep at all. I wish I was kidding, but he threw up all night long. I was surprised when he said he would still go up, but maybe just cheer. It was around 4:45am that we were parking in Eugene and meeting up with my dad who was running this as his 2nd half, 3rd race ever! The time flew by and I was pleasantly surprised to be lined up at the start with not only husband as per usual, but my dad - whom I forced into this race's start line selfie! 

At 6am we were off and running! My dad, MF and I were lucky enough to all be in the same corral so we just sort of decided to all run together. I have the course memorized, so they just followed me while I ran the tangents and avoided taking those ridiculously wide turns that I saw so many runners taking. I'm not into adding even more distance into my already long races! We had a really nice time as a group, but then it was somewhere between miles 3 & 4 at a water stop that I lost my dad. He did catch up for a bit, but I ditched the boys on the first big hill, never to see my dad again until after the race. Man Friend caught up with me around mile 5 and we were together having an incredibly awesome run!

It was crazy. I mean I felt AWESOME!! I just kept running. My only walk breaks were water stops and a few on the longer hill around mile 9 - which I did on purpose as I was starting to prepare for the last 5K where I had sort of tanked the prior 2 times I did this course.  My music was all 'new' to my racing, but not new unless you've never heard of Toni Basil, A-Ha and Kenny Loggins! So that was a fun party in my ears.

Soon I was passing Hayward Field and heading to my least favorite part. I told MF to just start talking to me as a distraction once I felt that dread come over my head. I became very focused in this last stretch and kind of stressing out a bit. At one point he said, "Just Relax and breath." That worked, and another woman even turned to thank him; she needed that advice, too! I kept repeating some Bill Bowerman mantras to myself and talking to Steve Prefontaine, convincing myself that I am awesome and to just keep going.

I started checking my Garmin like a mad woman. I had set my own little goal for myself and there was no way I wasn't going to achieve it. It was then that I had tunnel vision and the rest of the runners and course became just a fuzzy blur around me. At Autzen Stadium I glanced behind on a turn and saw MF behind me. I faced forward and never once looked back. This was my victory over my own head and it was going to be mine! 

At mile 26ish the top women marathon runners went flying by me. I pretended the crowd's cheers for them were for me and just drove forward. Before I knew it there was Hayward Field. In my head I was looking at Pre's land and he was on my shoulder pushing me. Sure, it's dramatic - but this race ALWAYS is for me. It's my race with my idol! I rounded the corner and for a while it felt like I was the only one on the track. I just sort of took it all in and looked up to the cheering fans in the stands. A last minute surge to the end and I happily stopped my Garmin to see that I beat my goal!

A man in uniform gave me my medal and then I quickly looked expecting to see Man Friend. He was nowhere in sight. Damn. Apparently someone at the beer table held a cup of it out to him and that sent him puking in the bushes again. Soon enough though, I cheered him on through the finish! My dad wasn't all that far behind either!
By far it wasn't any finish time to brag about, but it was my 7th fastest half, and my 28th overall. This was also my fastest half in over two years and best performance since my marathon injuries. So I called this a HUGE success!! This race was a battle of my mind and I finally took charge and won. I don't like to repeat races, other than Rock'n'Roll ... but I'm already thinking in 2015 I might see myself at Hayward Field once again!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pinterest Projects: Bacon Wrapped Wieners

I confess I just really wanted to have WIENERS in the title of my blog post.

Alright, so here we are again to check out something I created after browsing through Pinterest. This one shocks me because I actually did it all myself (aside from the BBQ part). I freaking touched meat. And not just a little, but a lot of disgusting meat!

We had left overs from a graduation party, so I offered to host Friday Night Family dinner again, and of course didn't reveal the menu until everyone arrived.  Bacon Wrapped, Cheese Stuffed Hot Dogs - but not just hot dogs. These were like huge, firm, thick sausages! ;)  Thank you, Costco, for giving me something so dirty to cook. I have some boys that would really appreciate that!

Step 1: I laid out all of my ingredients. Can you tell which part is MINE?!? Yeah, give me the veggie dogs and don't let them touch ANYTHING!!

Step 2: Cut the cheese.  Uh huh, I went there. I've learned that when it comes to preparing food I love all the chopping, dicing and slicing!  Given the enormous size of these things I was only preparing 1 per person.

Step 3: Slice the dogs and insert the cheese. As noted in the first photo, I just used regular string cheese, and then cut each thing into four individual slices.

Step 4: This was the grossest!! Each dog had two strips of uncooked bacon wrapped around them, and then held together with toothpicks. Seriously bacon is so disgusting to touch!! I can't even guess how many times I washed my hands during all of this preparation. I want to wash my hands just looking at it.

Step 5: Man Friend took over, and put them on the grill!

Step 6: Rotate and monitor cheese dripping and possible flames!

Step 7: Apparently cook a spare, plain wiener just in case, and remove from grill.

Step 8: Nestle into an equally huge bun and decorate. Serve with vegetarian baked beans to make the cook happy!

Alternate Version: Go meatless and you can have this! And the stupid photo won't rotate. I'm giving up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Seattle Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon - Take 3!

In 2011 I was wanting a half marathon to toss into my schedule. A complete stranger, Abby, commented on my blog that I should do Seattle Rock’n’Roll. So I did! The next year I took Man Friend with me to run it as his first race EVER. It ended up being my 2nd fast half to date! I hadn’t even planned on running it this year but gave in to the peer pressure of needing that Pacific Peaks medal with Bigfoot on it. And so this past weekend I ran my 3rd Seattle Rock’n’Roll half marathon (the course being different all 3 times!)!

As per usual, this race had the best expo ever! Boston Marathon’s expo is big, yes – but does it pack the same punch and amount of quality freebies as Seattle RnR? Heck no! We spent probably a couple hours wandering around actually interacting with vendors, sampling things and winning tons of stuff. I even got to see Jim Ryun there – a runner from the days of Steve Prefontaine! The merchandise at Seattle was by far superior to what they were offering in Portland. Portland merch was blah, Seattle was fun and I did end up buying a couple official shirts. OMG the race shirts we got with registration? Soooo tiny. Nearly every woman was immediately heading over to the exchange booth to upsize! Another score for me was pet food. I went home with 8 free bags of food for my pets! Eventually I was done there, and went to Hard Rock CafĂ© for my pre-race dinner, keeping my tradition alive. I broke tradition however, and ordered a delicious frosty rum drink. So good!! We spent a little while wandering around Pike Place Market before heading back to our ghetto hotel to relax for the evening.

A great start line view!

At 5am I was up and ready to run. We were only 2 blocks from the start line, so it was nice to not have any pressure at all about getting there on time. Our time in the start area was a little nerve wracking. I see now that we were in the corral for about 40 minutes until we hit the start line – and we only started middle of the pack! I’m not used to waiting so long so I got a little antsy. But once we started I was totally cool and feeling great! The plan was what I call “The Furcini Method” – basically what Tara said to me at Ragnar …. You just keep running. So that’s what we did, aside from walks through the water/Gatorade stops and up a couple of steep inclines where I opted to save my legs for the end.

The course was beautiful. We turned a corner a couple miles in and had the most wonderful view of Mount Rainer looking down on all of us. I loved it! Running along Lake Washington is always so nice. It’s quiet, shaded and lined with trees giving much needed cooling relief. That stretch along the lake is also the most emotional part of any race I’ve ever done. For a mile stretch there are pictures of fallen soldiers. Man Friend and I never spoke during this part. I just focused on the photos and read every single name. Once photos are done there are family members and military members standing in line holding huge American flags. It’s a somber spot, a way to remember people, and for me it really made me appreciate how lucky I was to be running with that obnoxious husband of mine next to me. One seat over a few years ago overseas, and he would not be here with me now. So I did take a pause to enjoy him and be happy he made it home!

Wear ALL the Neon!
If you have done Seattle then you are familiar with the tunnel. Usually it feels stuffy in there and everybody ends up walking and looking miserable. You know what didn't happen this year? I didn't match that description at all. Somehow I flew through that thing like it was downhill on a cool day. Perhaps living in the middle of hills is paying off with my training! I always enjoy the race post-tunnel because not only are we heading to the finish, but we get the sights of the water and the downtown buildings. And total tourists we were during this entire race... but that's why I race anywhere but my home town. I love seeing new things!

The end of the race did get frustrating for me, even though I was still just really pleased with my effort. It seems everyone's Garmins had them waaay over 13.1. I essentially ran the tangents, I didn't waste energy zig zagging through people, I didn't jaunt off for photos anywhere, yet I was dramatically over 13.1 miles. Going up that last hill to the finish (who finishes UPHILL??? Seattle finishes uphill.) I did feel a bit irritated, but it was gone as soon as I threw my arms up and crossed!

Overall I was really happy with how I did. I had no time goals at all. I only wanted to just enjoy every moment, take in the sights and just try to really run. It feels like finally I am feeling improvement in my leg since the marathon injury. It feels great!! Crazy as it is, my 12th mile was my fastest of the entire race - and faster than my 5K PR pace. WHAT?!?!

The post-race concerts were The Presidents of the United States of America AND Sir Mix A Lot. Fine, I will admit it now - when I saw Sir Mix A Lot was added that's when I KNEW I had to do this race. Okay, my secret is out there. Happy???  Emily was also there, which was a total surprise. It was awesome to unexpectedly get to run into a friend yet again! She and I just keep seeing each other everywhere! And this time we relived our youth with Sir Mix A Lot, but sadly she missed him grabbing his goods ... and so did Man Friend. I'm the only one that saw it - and Wow. Okay? Yeah, wow.

The weather the whole day was absolutely perfect and made for a great concert -- especially when we were pretty much AT the stage. Such a fun time!! Will I run Seattle again? Honestly it has consistently been a favorite race of mine, so yeah, I'll totally be back!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pinterest Projects: Churro Cookies

Well hello there! Long time no see!

I am supposed to be laying out my neon race gear and packing for the Rock'n'Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon this weekend, so clearly I'm not. I saw this pin on Pinterest of 90's slow songs and decided that clearly I HAD to make a playlist of 90's slow jams (currently I am singing along with Mariah Carey). Well one thing led to another and here I am finally doing a short photo post of a cooking attempt I had last month!

In my little family we have Friday night dinner's during the summer. It is a good excuse to get Grandpa out of the house and let us all enjoy looking at the river. Well now that Man Friend and I have our own house in the country with mountain views and a pool, we wanted to start hosting dinner once in a while as well. Our first hosting was before the nice weather, but now that the sun was out we decided it was our turn. Browsing through Pinterest I decided we should do tacos. It didn't even occur to me that it was also Cinco de Mayo weekend - perfect timing! We got all the supplies for a taco bar, with soft and hard shells!, and I needed dessert. My dessert had to be themed, and what I found was Churro Cookies! 

I shall now share with you how cooking goes in my kitchen. (I don't have photos of the kajillion times I washed my hands. I swear I touch one thing and have to wash. I might have a slight problem.)

First up, I had to get my supplies out. For me that meant some pizza for lunch, a mixing bowl, actual cookies supplies and my iPad with Pinterest open to show me the recipe!

Then I mixed together some ingredients. I think there was cream cheese and vanilla. There may have been more but that's all I see in the photo that I KNOW went into this mixture.

As instructed, I set that bowl aside and unwrapped a pie shell.

It was like making a pizza. I spread half of the mixture on the pie crust (I did a double recipe, so all of this twice.)

It was very scientific how I used glasses to cut my cookies into circles. Oh yeah, I put the other pie crust over the time, so inside the circles is the creamy sweet stuff!

I decided to use the leftover parts and make Beetlejuice inspired cookies!

I forgot to add that you "seal" the edges by using a fork on the outside edges. You can see this in this picture of the cookies that are fresh out of the oven.

While those were baking I mixed up some cinnamon & sugar and melted butter. I loved painting butter onto my cookies before covering them in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

The finished product for our dinner was a success I think! We even had a Cinco de Mayo playlist to set the stage! The cookies were very tasty, but I think next time I'll put even more of the creamy mixture into the cookies. You'd eat one cookie, like it, think on it, and then realize you HAD to go back for another!

And this concludes my non-recipe dessert cooking post courtesy of my Pinterest addiction!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Portland Rock'n'Roll - The Threepeat

Rolly & Louise!!!
I LOVE Rock’n’Roll! If I could just do Ragnar and Rock’n’Roll races I would be a happy camper, so when Portland Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon was before me for the 3rd year running I was full of giddy excitement! A week before the race I ran into a fellow Ragnar Rum Runner and we discussed the awesome bonus medal for running Seattle and Portland. I tried to convince myself I didn't need it. But for that entire week I kept seeing it in my mind. Soon I found myself at the Portland RnR expo getting my bib, shirt and buying my pin. I ran into some old friends and exchanged excited feelings about all the RnRs available and who was doing what. I was then absolutely certain of my first expo stop – the Rock’n’Roll registration area, duh!! There was no hesitation as I registered for Seattle AND Vancouver, BC. The RnR people talked to us the whole time, sharing ghost stories and things to be sure to see in Canada. Not only did I save $70 on our registrations, but we also went home with a total of 9 free RnR shirts. Nine, people. NINE free awesome shirts!! Right there the expo was a success, but it stayed that way. We talked to many cool vendors and loaded up on quality free swag. Yay!

Sunday morning we were ready to run, rain or shine… and it looked like it would be rain. We wandered around people watching (hello, “Captain America” in your stars and stripes speedo!) and running into Stacie! By the time we dropped our bag off and got to the corral we were completely soaked, but I didn't even care. Our corral was full of fun people all talking and joking around with each other trying to keep morale high. Wouldn't you know it, before we had our start the skies cleared, and for the next 13.1 miles we had zero rain! So there we were, crossing the start line for the Portland Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon and energy levels were skyrocketing. Perhaps it was the full pack of Clif Shot Blocks I took while killing time. *Note: we decided we are going to stick with that for the next race!

There was no running plan per se. I just figured we’d end up doing some run/walk thing and I’d just go on feel versus getting my Galloway on and having set intervals. That didn't happen. We started running and for the first part of the race it’s an out and back. So heading out I was on a mission, and .75 in that was completed – we got to see and high-five fellow Rum Runner Rachit! I kept on the lookout and next found Stacie, but never did get to see Rolly. After the turn on our way back I looked for Cilley Girl who was never to be seen. Bummer. Back into the heart of town I was feeling awesome! The crowd was loud, the music was blaring, my legs were loving me. So I just kept on running and ignoring any notion of walk intervals. Man Friend was happy just before crossing the river when we came upon the Navy band and he got to high five some fellow Navy boys, aww, how cute!

The east side of the river has felt like my nemesis. Hills galore. And Hawthorne. Never ending Hawthorne. It just keeps going forever and you seriously cannot see the end of it when you start running. Rounding the corner I decided I was going to run as long as I could on it before I walked. You know what? I NEVER walked! I felt that no matter what happened before or after, this race was a success because I conquered that long, slow stretch. Hallelujah! Around mile 9 I took my first non-water station walk break when I started having some Meniere’s issues and my knee was giving me some attitude after what I did to it on Hawthorne. Fair enough, knee. I did essentially no training, so I figure 9 miles in I could have a short walk. Before I knew it I was at mile 11, which I considered the end and the rest was just a victory lap to the finish line!

Tew Legit
Coming up to the finish though, had a moment of concern and one of those sights I hate. Up ahead of us Man Friend saw a guy fall down. By the time we got to him he was surrounded by runners and spectators were calling 911. He was pale, his eyes weren't moving, he was stiff. I hear CPR was administered and he started breathing around the time he was taken away in an ambulance. Ugh, I hate that stuff, it’s so scary! I felt like a jerk running by, but seriously there was nothing I could do, he had tons of people helping him. The crowd ahead of us stopping left an open shoot ahead of us. Being in matching pirate gear, we were hard to ignore. As we crossed the finish line the announcers took notice and said, “Always be yourself, unless you can be a pirate… then be a pirate!” I even heard them reference One-Eyed Willie at some point. Awesome finish!!

It was in the finisher area getting our space blankets, food and drinks that it started raining again. Perfect timing! The finish line concert sucked (G Love and Special Sauce). I didn't even want to watch it. I tried to listen to him on YouTube and iTunes and couldn't get through a single song. I went to the concert to take a photo and called it a day. So I had some rain AND shine and I feel like I ran that course the best I could that day, granted I ran it 14 minutes faster my first year, but who cares? I dominated the hardest part and feel like a winner for it! See ya next year, Portland – and I’ll see you, Seattle, in a month!