Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trying to Find My Way Back

I know- its been a really, really long time.  At the never ending badgering suggestion of some friends, I decided to blow off the dust from the old blog and tri again.  Speaking of Tris... the knee- not so great. Running- probably never going to be something I can do.  So, I find myself stuck in this in between place of not knowing really where I'm going anymore.  Tri's are probably out of the question for the moment. This summer, if I can hack it I think I'm going to try for some swimming races in Indiana and Wisconsin (Sidenote: What do these swimming races have against Illinois? Last I checked there is a HUGE lake right smack dab at the top of the state that a certain THIRD LARGEST CITY IN THE COUNTRY borders)  but hey, what do I know.

If you follow SMT on Facebook, you probably noticed I've been checking into Brutus new gym---  yep the dynamic duo is back in action.  He has a new gym that close to me (yay)  so  we're working out TWICE (yes, twice) a week now...  and after our separation, I have a sneaking suspicion that Brutus jumped on that 50 Shades of Gray bandwagon this summer and *might* be under the impression that being whipped into shape also should include pain, and agony.  I'm quite certain that Brutus has become a masochist... okay he probably was before too but now it's like to the Nth degree.  I am a sweaty, drippy puddle of goo at the end of every session... not that I'm complaining (Brutus if you are reading this I am NOT complaining.. *whimper* please go easy on me tomorrow)

I have a new job which I love (yay for employment)  and I'm slowly trying to find my way back again. My issue now is trying to figure out how to get back into the pool- as my old gym (Lifetime) while t was close to the old job  is nowhere near the new one... and their other locations are also nowhere near the new job.  Sadly, there isn't a gym within any sensible radius of the new job...   I wish that there was just a place with a pool -  just a pool- thats all I need.  When I was a kid, I used to be able to go and swim at the local high school for like $2 bucks a day or something like that... I'd even do that if they still offered it.  I don't need fancy schmancy gyms or classes or spas and juice bars just me and the pool.

I tried convincing my husband the cost/benefits of installing an indoor, in-ground pool in our backyard (or what woudl be left of our back yard if we added a pool)...  he didn't go for it.  Damn.

Anyhow~ I'm still not quite sure where I'm headed or what I'll be doing... but hopefully I'll be taking the blog along for the ride.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Inspirational Women, In Honor of Mother's Day #CleverHaiti and #spon

This Mother's Day, I'm working with Clever Girls in support of Macy's Heart of Haiti to shine a light on the "trade, not aid" program, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans struggling to rebuild their lives and support their families after the 2010 earthquake. Thank you to Macy's Heart of Haiti for sponsoring my participation in this “Share Your Heart" promotion. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Taken in Minnesota- on a boat.
She was re-entacting the "Titanic" scene.
In Honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to tell you about a truly inspirational woman.  She is no longer with us, she passed away a few years ago, but having been lucky enough to know her, I am honored to be able to share with you an interesting story about her.  This is my husband's grandma.  Her name was Lenore.  My husband and I have known each other since 1997, so by extension, I've known Joe's grandma for roughly the same amount of time.  You always learn such interesting stories about people at their funerals.  Lenore was no exception to this.

She was a nurse during World War II.  My husband's grandfather, John Henry, was a marine stationed in the South Pacific.  Their love was like many during that time frame.  Letters back and forth, during one of the countries bleakest times.  However, Lenore, so worried about her (eventual) husband's safety, she prayed daily for his safe return.  In her daily prayers, she also promised that in exchange for John's safe return, she would give up her favorite drink:  coffee.  Quite a sacrifice for a nurse.  John made it home safe and sound. They got married had and raised 7 kids.  Lenore worked the graveyard shift at the hospital so she could stay at home during the day and take care of her kids.  And for her entire life-  she never - never- drank another cup of coffee again... because that is what she had promised in exchange for John Henry's safe return.

I usually refrain from talking about religion, because there are a gamut of beliefs and views out there... but this is not necessarily about faith.  Her commitment to her promise speaks volumes about the amount of faith, commitment and love she had both for God and her husband.  Lenore is a perfect example of someone we should all strive to be like.  Committed 100% to whatever it is that we strive to accomplish.   Being "all in" in regards to loving, and believing that faith in a person and your commitment to them is all that you need to get through life, is something we can all aspire to do.  Regardless of religion or even relationship...  that level of commitment can be applied to practically anything in our lives, and is something we can all strive for.  And, for me personally,  she is someone I aspire to be on a daily basis.  To live your life with that much faith, and that much commitment to your faith, to me is absolutely inspirational.   I love that I am able to share a piece of her with all of you, especially on a significant day such as Mother's Day.

What is Macy’s Heart of Haiti? Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s. Already, Heart of Haiti has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti, providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,500 people in the country.
Each item is a one-of-a-kind design and handmade by a Haitian master artisan from raw materials such as recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier-mâché and stone. The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry and paintings and is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood.  
Heart of Haiti products are available online at Macy’

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Emotional Hard Limit

It's been a while, I know.  Ive been at a loss as to what to say or how to say what I need to.  The weeks of abuse I have imparted on my limbs in an attempt to force them into submission,  unfortunately reared up in protest- and I have been sidelined by the orthopedist.  Meaning-  no triathlons for me- all season, unless as he so aptly put it- I want knee replacement surgery by the time Im 40.  He told me I need PT to strengthen the muscles in my quads and calves to help support the knee joint and no running- not even on an elliptical.

This has become another nail in the proverbial coffin of my ever depleting self worth.  Yet another thing that I have managed to not do right.  I know the saying goes that shit rolls down hill-  well, I feel like Im sitting in the valley, and it just keeps piling on.

I have hit my limit of things I can take on, fret over, or even entertain.  I am just really overwhelmed right now, and am going to be taking a step back.  I haven't blogged in a while anyway, but I need to take a time out and reevaluate and refocus the plan going forward.

I have a blog post due which I already agreed to, discussing  Macy's Heart of Haiti project, which I blogged about last year as well- but after that post, I'm going to be going dark for a while as I regroup.

Monday, April 9, 2012

To Running On Our 2 Month Anniversary

Dear Running,

Things just aren't working out with us.  Why the disconnect?  I am reminded of a Beatles Song...

You say "Yes", I say "No".You say "Stop" and I say "Go, go, go".Oh no.You say "Goodbye" and I say "Hello, hello, hello".I don't know why you say "Goodbye", I say "Hello, hello, hello".I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello.I say "High", you say "Low".You say "Why?" And I say "I don't know".

We're at the 2 month mark.  We should be friends by now.. or at least frenemies.  I don't know why you make me hurt so much.  You're making it very hard to like you.  No matter where we spend time together, on a treadmill, a bike path, grass, sidewalks, asphalt-  the story is always the same.  The only time we get along is on an elliptical.  As much as I hate to say it, I think I may want to leave you for walking.  Walking and I are just better friends than us right now-  and you and I can keep in touch via the elliptical.  I don't know what to do with you running.  Part of me says that we should cut our losses, and part of me thinks that maybe we still need to push through our rocky patch.  But when do you know when to give up and cut your losses and when do you know to push through?    I've decided that you and I need to get some counseling.  I'm planning to see a specialist next week about the pain you cause me...  maybe, as another Beatles song goes "We Can Work It Out".

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Am The Face of Bullying

Thanks to The Bully Project for sponsoring my writing. Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.

This is me (in the Pink Esprit)  at age 11, at the beginning of Junior High.  That's when it started.  The names, the jokes behind my back, the passing of notes about me in classes...  I didn't have a whole lot of friends.  My "old" friends had moved on to their new social circles in their new junior high. I was trying to navigate my way and find a place within friend structures that had been established in kindergarten or later on in grade school.  My parents were divorcing (practically unheard of in a Catholic school), I was having issues with knees (which developed into full blown knee problems) and essentially my world was falling apart.  It was a battle zone at home, and a battle zone at school.  Because of my knees,  I had to miss a lot of gym class... then because I was teased for always missing gym class  I would just miss school all together thinking that would solve the problem.  Instead it only increased the fodder. Teachers, students, they all joined in on the fun. My 8th grade year book has a "where will they be in 20 years" at the back of it... mine says "She will finally have come to school enough days to graduate".

There are lots of different forms of bullying.. not just the slam a kid up against the lockers kind.  Girls don't deal in physical bullying.  Girls get psychological.  Girls get mean.  I wish I could say that I am one of those people who will stand up to you and make you back down-  or at least try to tell you my 7th and 8th grade self was.  I wasn't, however.  By nature, I'm a pleaser.  When people don't like me, instead of brushing it off with an "I don't care" attitude, I spend too much time and energy trying to figure out why they don't like me.. and how I can get them to like me.  Couple this with a kid who has been "trained" to emotionally ball into a fetal position and surrender instead of standing their ground when having to battle the "mean girls" (and in all actuality, the "mean guys" too), because of the battleground in their home.  What happens when a bully realizes you are an easy target that isn't going to fight back and isnt going to tell on them?  

Once I graduated from that school and moved on to my high school I thought everthing would be different, it would all change now that I was in a new school getting a fresh start with dozens of other girls also getting a fresh start in a new school. Unfortunately I was battle weary and really had a hard time trusting anyone...and not everytime but there were enough times even in high school where I had put my trust in someone only to have it shredded and passed around a very small school like a toy.  I withdrew, kept to myself,  secretly hoping to be noticed, liked, befriended.  I was the "weird" one that people knew but didn't socialize with...  who wasn't an outcast, but didn't get invited to parties either.  Some of those people still feel I'm the "weird" one... but the difference now? I really couldn't care less.  

Adult me realizes that if people are still judging you based on who  they think  you used to be... that they aren't even worth a second of thought.  They do not deserve to rent out space in your head or heart.  Adult me, wants every child who is bullied to know that while those words hurt and sometimes its hard to muddle through another day,  that it will be o.k. 

While some people may think that you are a 
... the problem is with them  not you.  

I've made my peace with my past.  While I would never, ever want to re-live it; I have accepted what it was, and have used it to fuel me on the days when I feel unmotivated.  There were days when I was young, when I got so low, and the emotional pain was so bad, that I would have rather been dead than have to endure another day of being the butt of everyone's jokes.  I look back on those days now amazed  that I would ever let small minded people force me to hate myself that much.  

Because if I had rolled over and let the haters win, 

                                                            I would be here

                                                               Instead of here

Bullying is a very serious issue these days, and The Bully Project, a movie about child victims of bullying is a must see for parents and their children.  What better way to open the dialogue with your child about bullying, bullies, and the effects of unkind words, than a night out together watching this film.  Please take a moment to view the trailer below.  

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Find showings in your area for The Bully Project and buy tickets here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Channeling Your Inner Flintstone

I don't know if this is common everywhere,  but here in Chicago there is a joke that everything is "like ten minutes away"  even if in reality is like 45.  So, yesterday when I decided to ditch the gas guzzling SUV in favor for the bike to run my handful of errands I figured "those stores are like a minute down the street they're not far at ALL  I can easily take my bikes to run my errands".  Fast forward a few hours and a soaking wet, saddle sore Me grumbling back into my driveway and switching out the bike for the car.

There were a few problems with my plan.

1.  While everything appears to be close when you're in your car, driving possibly ten (ok maybe 15) miles over the speed limit.. of course everything appears close.    I made it to one of my four stores on bike.

2.  When riding a bike and trying to wear your purchases in a pack on your back, it really throws off your ability to balance, especially when said things are heavy and shift frequently.

3.  I do not live in a bike friendly area.  Every street is at least four lanes, if not more.  Most lights do not have cross walks or those little pedestrian thingies that you can push to get the traffic to stop.  In addition, its apparently illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk (which I learned last year)  but even still- the sidewalks in this town are almost non-existent,.. and when there is a sidewalk it stops suddenly and inexplicably.

So  the movies got returned, and I picked up a few things at the Jewel... but after that I said bleep this, rode home and drove to my other errands.  It never dawned on me that the Jewel that I drive to practically every day (not just for the jewel theres like a billion things in that strip mall that I frequent)  is actually four miles from my house-  it does not seem that far to me at all.     So a total of 8 very slow, expletive filled miles yesterday in place of the car.  Id say that is enough of a contribution towards being green for one day :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

When Is Sharing, Whining?

A friend of mine  mentioned that my blog recently has gotten whiny.  I read it over, and I don't see any instances where I'm whining but perhaps my tongue-in-cheek, self deprecating humor sounds whiny.  Whining is not my intent, and so many times in blogging (or even writing anything really at all), I can be thinking of what I am saying one way  (think sarcastic, acerbic or biting)  and it can be perceived as another (whining).  So if my writing has come off as whining it was not meant that way.  I have actually been really cognizant of what I post and say, because well I am out of a job and it does suck but this blog is not a "lets sit around and have a pity party" blog.   But, it made me think-  when is sharing simply sharing, and when is it whining?  If I talk about how sore I am, is that sharing in my daily experience or is it whining about how hard it is?  What is the line that divides the two.

We all have days when all we want to do is sit and complain but how do you tell when your "one day of complaints" has morphed into three, or five, or a month?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Return to Me

Dear Running,

Yes, its been a while, I know.  No- I wasn't trying to give you the slip, briefly making eye contact with you in the hallways and ducking into the bathrooms real quick so you didn't see me.  I know you probably feel left out, with all the time that walking and I have spent together over the past few week.  Walking and I became very very close last week, I won't deny it.  We spent way too much time together.  So much so, that I actually had to take a time out from walking every once in a while and be friends with something called a cab.

But don't worry running.  We're not in a fight.  I'm back  to my old routine now.  Yesterday didn't go so well did it?  You and I just can't seem to find any middle ground ...  its either nothing at all, or a pained brief existence together.  Hopefully the rest of the week goes better than yesterday did.

I'll see you again on Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Break???.....

Wow, I honestly did not think that it had been this long since I blogged.  I write all these great snappy things in my head as Im working out- and apparently that has tricked me into believe I actually make it to the computer to download them from the ole brain onto the ole blog. -heavy sigh-  and they were so funny too.  Well, I thought they were anyway.

So, I'm on "spring break" this week. Um, yay?  Yeah.. not so much.  Apparently "Spring Break" has become synonymous with "you have a week of no classes so guess what, you get to write research papers. Are you kidding me.  Its like ridiculously gorgeous outside, and what am I doing? Trying to devour 400 page books in order to spit them out into a semi-sensical 10 page paper, by Saturday.  I love school.  I love school  I love school.  No really, if I say it enough, it will be true right?  Wait- if that's the case "I love a million dollars....  I love a million dollars... I love a million dollars"... oh wait.. even more "I love a size 8 body.... I love a size 8 body (Id even take a 10..or even a 12... hell who am I kidding I'll take a 14!)

Ok, enough with the silliness.  Its week two of Tri training.  Can I tell you how never endingly tired I am?  I swear, every morning I curse myself for not sticking with a training regimen through the winter.  I think my entire body is in complete shock.  I ache all over, all the time.  Im hoping that by next week my body will finally stop throwing a temper tantrum and just put up and shut up.  Of course, next week, I won't be around all that much.  I have an "employment conference" that I'm attending in hopes to network and see if I can find a job through non-traditional means.  I'll try blogging from the hotel room, but I can't promise much.  I am planning on bringing my workout clothes with me- and I can say "oh yeah, Im going to work out every day"  and I sincerely hope I can stick with it while Im gone, but Im not so sure about that either... but we will try and keep positive.

That's really it for now. I heard its going to be almost 80 tomorrow and I am so taking my bike out for a ride!  I am loving this weather.  Though knowing what a jerkface mother nature is, I have a feeling she is going to dump me with a mid-April blizzard or something - at a time that will really screw up my training- I can just feel it.

Alright everyone-  get out there and enjoy the gorgeous weather!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Allergies... or am I sick, again?

So- I dont know if its because the wind is blowing and there wasn't really a winter, and so lots of dead moldy stuff is all over the place (and of course I decided to take on running outside in the wind).. but oh my goodness. If I am getting a sinus infection I swear I'm going to be so ticked.  I seriously JUST got over that super virus that everyone was getting last week and now block sinuses, never ending sneezing, blocked ears.  Im going with allergies (Im praying its allergies)  but it is seriously putting a damper on my training (I mean, a girl needs to breathe in order to exercise).  So, today's workout was cut short.  Grr.  In all honesty I should have probably picked bike over swim, but I figured I would try to swim first (hoping the chlorine would dry out the ole sinuses)  and it didn't.  The inability to breathe only made me more miserable, and after twenty minutes (hey, at least I got the required in)  I gave up.  Instead of heading upstairs to the bike machines, I went home.  Not a good way to start out week one.  So, tomorrow, will be running and biking instead of just running.  I'm also so bummed that with as beautiful of a day that it was outside (temperature wise) the never ending rushes of wind prevented me from enjoying a bike ride outside.  I had so wanted to train in the warm weather.  Maybe tomorrow will be rain-less and warmer than they are expecting!

Anyhow, unfortunately I have nothing pithy nor entertaining to say.  It's late, I'm tuckered- and I still have stinkin homework to do.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Against the Wind

Dear Running,

No, really there is nothing I enjoy more than getting an extra hard workout running in 40 MPH winds.  I mean, it's character building right?  So what is my headphones kept getting blow out of my ears, that the wind was blowing so hard I couldn't hear the tone change on my c25K IPOD program signaling between walking and running changes, and lets not forget the actual effort involved in trying to work with you whilst fighting against the wind.  I know I only spent a scant 90 seconds with you today before I left you for your friend, walking,  but it wasn't personal today.  I mean honestly, when faced with those kinds of conditions who really wants to spend any time with you anyway?

Thursday will be better, hopefully.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Eye of the Tiger (aka Triathlon Training, Day 1)

I'm looking at the lyrics to "Eye of the Tiger" and really it doesn't *quite* fit for day one of a 16 week training regimen but hey, we'll go with it.

Day One.  At almost ten o'clock all I can say is, owie.  I felt fine earlier.  Now, I'm a tad sore and seriously cursing my winter laziness.  How Im going to meet up with the Mean Girl tomorrow, I have no clue.  Thankfully my mean girl time tomorrow is only a blessed 12 minutes.  However,I have been contemplating this all day.  When it says "run: 12 minutes:  does that mean twelve minutes of attempted run(wog) time  or twelve minutes TOTAL.  Because the Couch to 5K has a 5 minute warm up followed by 12 minutes of Wogging (well its longer than that- but I would stop it at 12) -  but that means Im doing a total of 17 minutes and not 12.  I don't remember what I did last time I trained.  I think I am just going to do 17 since 5 is just walking to prep for running.

It seriously feels like March came out of nowhere.  I still cant believe its already time to start training.  I thought I had a few more weeks, therefore I am not mentally prepared at all, which is seriously hampering the old motivation.  It took me at least thirty minutes this morning to psyche myself up to get out the door and go workout.  Not a good way to start down a 16 week path, thats for sure.

But I'm just gonna fake it til I make it.  One of these days, the  motivation (hopefully) catches up with the action.  Until then, well all I can do is keep on keeping on.

Just to refresh...  I'm following the 16 Week Spring "balanced" plan on Beginner

This was Week 1, Day 1:

12 Min Swim ( I actually did 15 because I like rounder numbers with more defined cut offs)
24 Minute Bike (I stuck with 24 minutes on this one lol)

15 Minute Swim:  I managed 750m  (which is the Tri distance. So, yay me for not slipping over the winter.  I can only go up from here)
24 Minute Bike:  I did roughly 4 1/2 miles in 24 minutes, which comes down to about 6 minutes a mile.  This will have to improve big time. But, it was my first time riding in a while- so the stamina can only build from here.  I seriously forgot how badly riding hurts your rear end when you aren't used to it.

Alright, this tired lass is heading off to bed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hollywoods Definition of Beauty

We bid adieu to awards season this past weekend.  It is, my favorite time of the year.  I have to say however, that I am so excited to see mainstream designers now working with plus sized actresses for their red carpet moment.    And when I say designers, I mean- the heavy hitters.  The ones whose names you hear being dropped from the super skinny actresses as they strut down the carpet.  Names like Bagdley Mishka, Marina Renaldi and Tadashi Shoji.

Nikki Blonsky in a dress from IGIGI

If you remember back to 2008 when Nikki Blonsky was nominated for her role in "Hairspray"  the award season Red Carpets were essentially a fat free zone.  I still cringe thinking about poor Nikki having to discuss (repeatedly, as I believe she wore them through the whole season)  that she was wearing "IGIGI"  -  not that there is anything wrong with IGIGI  I have worn them often to weddings and special events-  but thats the point  *I*  Have worn them.  Me-  with my normal, non celebrity paycheck.  The Oscars (and all the other award shows)  are something special for these actresses.  Something that they dream about from the time they decide that they want to be actors.  EVERYONE, regardless of size, should be catered to in the same manner.  A plus sized gal shouldn't have to (like Nikki Blonsky did)  purchase a dress off the rack, that every other plus sized woman out there has either worn or seen.

And Finally *FINALLY*  designers are seeing the light!  They have decided *HALLELUJAH* that "you know what,  those big girl deserve to be princesses for the day as well."  -Sound the  trumpets-!

And look at the beautiful dresses that the plus sized gals came out in this year

Melissa McCarthy in Bagdley Mishka

Melissa McCarthy in Marina Renaldi 

Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji

Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji 
And, who can forget Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique last year at the Oscars 

In Marchesa 

Mo'Nique in Tadashi Shoji

So BRAVO to the fashion industry for FINALLY allowing the plus sized girls a moment to sparkle as well.  If you could see me, I'd give you a standing ovation for finally cracking open that mold, tossing it aside, and realizing that BEAUTY  and TALENT  are SIZELESS.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Holy Cow- When Did March Get Here?

Crudola!  How did March sneak up so stinking fast!?!  Okay technically March doesn't arrive until tomorrow (thank you Leap Year)  but, the beginning of March marks *sound the trumpets*  Triathlon Training Season (okay, perhaps instead of trumpets it should really be murderous screams).  I can't believe its upon us already.  I was so hoping that running and I would be friends before Tri training started. So much for that idea.  My first planned Triathlon  is the She Rox Triathlon in Naperville, IL.  It's on June 10th.  So, this Sunday will mark 16 weeks for me.  If you are planning on tackling the triathlon this summer, find your event date and count 16 weeks back from there-  that is your "start" date for full boat Triathlon training.  I'm going to be following the schedule from Beginner Triathlete  .. the one hyper linked here is the 16-week "Balanced" schedule.  For someone who is weaker in one area or another, you can find running focused (which, I guess I really should follow instead of the "balanced one"), a bike focused and a swim focused schedule as well- dependent on what your weakest leg is.    I still can not believe it's already time to start training.  Hopefully here in Chicago the beautiful weather promised this week is a sign that spring will be here early (please PLEASE no mid April blizzards)..  thereby allowing for as many outside training days as possible.  Its so much better to train on actual ground rather than train on machines.

So, I had originally planned to do this race with Emmie from Skinny Emmie but she is having all kinds of problems with her foot of late- and is STILL stuck in her boot-  so I will be flying this race solo.  If anyone has ever thought "hmm, I should do a triathlon"  you could always train alongside/participate with ME :)  We could be besties!  Seriously!

Think about.  You have until Monday before having to jump feet first into training insanity.  You can do it though.  Because, seriously, if I can, you can.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Cauliflower Conundrum

As I discussed last week on my Facebook Page , I had an over abundance of veggies at the end of the week yet to be used for meals.  I finally decided after hemming and hawing to make Cauliflower Gratin, a recipe from my sisters blog Plant Food Fabulous .  Now, Julia Childs I am not... we all know this.  But I figured, it's cauliflower, some cheese and some breadcrumbs ... how hard can it be.  Yeah... that was mistake #1.

The recipe is as follows:

Cauliflower Gratin 

2 tablespoons butter- I used Olive Oil Instead
1 yellow onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, mined
1 large head of cauliflower, cored and diced in 1" cubes- I think mine was more a "medium" head, possibly even a "smallish" head.

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour- No Flour- so instead I used Hemp Protein (which in my defense is labeled a "flour substitute")
2 cups cream- Omitted, opted for 4 cups of milk instead
2 cups milk
8 ounces sharp cheddar
6 ounces smoked cheddar- I only had a Shredded Mixture of some form, so used that instead
1/4 cup grated parmesan- at least I had this 
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup parsley, minced
a pinch of salt and pepper 

Considering that food pretty much hates me, therefore, I have to constantly be mindful of pesky things like calories and fat, I immediately omitted the cream and most of the butter (except where absolutely necessary), opting instead of olive oil.  I am admittedly the most germ a phobic person when it comes to food and how long things can be kept without them going bad.  Therefore, things don't last very long in my fridge.  As a result of that, I'm not a person who just has items on the fly to use or utilize- because I never know how long things truly last before going bad.  So, Im not the kind of person that has tons of cheeses or lots of vegetables to use on a whim  or even an over abundance of butter or milk, or flour.  Which is how I get into these situations a lot of times of not having all of the ingredients and making do with what Ive got.  

Anyway, the instructions referenced utilizing a linked cheese sauce from a previous recipe.  But, I didn't actually follow the link to figure out exactly how to make it-  I just figured it was a matter of combining the butter and the flour and the cheese and the milk to make a sauce.  Which-  I did.  I think the fact that I had four cups of milk and not 2 of milk 2 of cream probably resulted in a less than thick sauce.  Perhaps also the fact that I used Hemp instead of Flour may have been the case as well.  But regardless, the sauce did not really thicken to anything more than the consistency of a soup.  I figured though it would distribute more in the baking.  I followed the rest of the instructions with the onions and the garlic and the cauliflower and combined everything into a dish.  I don't have a fancy gratin pan.. so I used a casserole dish instead.  Covered it and baked it.  Fifty minutes later, it essentially looked like Cauliflower Soup.  Or- really, cauliflower floating in a cheesy, green soup. (Yes mine was green because of the Hemp...)  Instead of actually presenting it as it to my husband for dinner (which would have resulted in copious amounts of laughter Im sure).. I decided instead to blend it up and turn it into a soup.  Which helped to thicken it into a nice consistency, and despite the green color actually tasted quite wonderful.    Obviously, since it was soup I omitted the breadcrumbs.  While I could consider this a "Dinner Disaster"  since I failed to produce a beautiful bubbly Gratin like Ms. Plant Food Fabulous has on her site... I was able to rescue this from dinner obscurity into a very delicious, and satisfying (especially since it was cold and snowy)  soup.  I paired it with some boxed cornbread from Trader Joe's and made it a very delicious meal.  :)

I therefore, am putting this one in the "win" column.  :)  No pictures unfortunately.. I forgot to take one of the soup, and really the before pictures of my attempt at gratin would only make you laugh :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dear Running... Don't Talk To Me...'Kay?

Dear Running,

Well, I guess the honeymoon period is over.  We sailed along fairly well last week.... until you started to make my thighs hurt, and my ass hurt, and my feet hurt.  Oh yeah, and my back too.  You really aren't very nice.  What happened to the whole slow and steady thing? What happened to the whole if you ease into it, you'll be pain free?  Well guess what running... I do not like you.  I hurt. Everywhere.  Maybe one day I won't feel like this after a run, but right now OH Boy!  And we're only in week two. Imagine how much more my distaste for you will grow as we move into having to spend more and more time together.  You better hope things start to get better, running, because right now we are seriously in a FIGHT with a capital F.  And I mean it!   I'll reluctantly see you again on Friday running, but don't think I enjoy spending all this time with you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Passive Agressive Body Media Monitor

Since Im trying to be friends with running recently, and Im watching what I eat- staying away from sugars etc, I figured I would really put my all into utilizing my Body Media Fit.  I pay for the service every month, but I haven't been logging in to track my activity or log my meals in months.  So, that has changed.  The body monitoring bug was more frustrating than helpful for me in the past because it's not water proof, and I would then lose all of that monitoring every morning in the pool.  It still isn't the greatest.  I forget to wear it a lot of the time (you have to take it off once a day for "off body time" and to charge it.. and thats typically whenI forget to put it back on, so the numbers are never right.  In addition, I think mine is getting a bit old as it takes a while of wearing it before it will beep to let me know its ready and active.  Which, lovely considering Ive only had it for a year.

Anyhow, a lot of stuff has changed on their website since the last time I used it.  There is new software to install directly onto the computer now.  It loads in all its information and suddenly a CONGRATULATIONS comes across the top corner of my screen.  I click on it and it reads " you reached a new goal....  16 hours and 07 mintutes of ....  you ready for it... no really....


Seriously?  #1 Im awarded for lying down? I thought this thing is supposed to be encouraging movement
#2 There is no way I lied down for 16 hours.  No way.  Sat down? Yes (not for 16 hours but at a desk for most of the day, yes)  #3. Way to be passive aggressive body media monitor.  Instead of saying "Hey you lazy slob get off your ass"  you instead shame us with gratuitous congratulations for such preposterous actions as "lying down"?

Oy. Vey.

And, there is NO.WAY.  I laid down for 16 hours....  seriously.  So you don't think Im pulling your leg... here is my "congratulations"  for my new "personal best"  Ohh yeah, I can hear the thunderous applause at my glowing achievement now!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We Can Work It Out- A Letter to Running On the 2nd Day

Dear Running,

Did you think that you had gotten rid of me that easy?  I know we were supposed to meet Wednesday and not today, however the day got away from me yesterday.  Our meeting today went well don't you think?  I have to apologize however, for professing that I have "made you my bitch" on my Facebook wall.  This isn't about a power struggle.  We're supposed to be working together, and I know that now.    I wouldn't like it if you danced in my face and proclaimed you had done that to me, it was a mistake and I'm sorry..  I blame the endorphins ...  and the fact that I was able to keep going and push through even though you tried to foil my attempts.  Resetting the count clock on my Phone's 5K App everytime my phone went into "sleep" mode was sneaky-  but I came through, even doing five more total minutes of "running" than I was supposed to do because of it.  Also, shutting off the counter on my machine because I would occasionally stop all together to take a drink of water, thereby being unable to gauge how many miles I had gone ( I think I may have hit a mile and a half, and possibly two miles)  but I wont ever know because it timed out and then turned itself off.  Even with all of those things though, running, we still managed to stick together and work it out today.  Day Two of Two, and we're still on speaking terms.  That's a good thing!

Until Saturday,


Monday, February 13, 2012

C2K Week 1: Day 1

Image Courtesy of Howard Payne

Dear Running,

Now that wasn't so bad was it?  I mean, yeah, we can only tolerate each other in one minute intervals, coupled between one and a half minute walking segments, but we did it, right?  We managed to stick together for a whole thirty minutes.  Okay, so maybe there were a few times where I wogged and a couple times where I flat out walked, but really lets stay positive.  Thirty minutes was a good length of time for our first meeting, because we're still trying to feel each other out.  And, you managed to stay friends with my knees too-  at this moment they are still feeling pretty okay.  Perhaps later tonight when I come down off the endorphin high I'll be singing a different tune, but as of right now I'd say High Five Running on our first achievement.

Until Wednesday,


C25K Day 1:

5 Min Warm Up- Walking
20 Minutes of Walk/Run intervals:  1:30 walk/1:00 Run
5 Minutes of Cool Down Walking

Why Can't We Be Friends? A Letter to Running.

Image borrowed from

Dear Running,

We've had more ups and downs than 13 year old school girls.  Sometimes we tolerate each other, but most of the time, we simply glare at each other from across the room, roll our eyes and talk bad about each other.  But as of today, I'm trying to call a truce.  We don't have to be best friends, we don't even need to be friendly, but how about this:  I will refrain from being petulant if in return you can drop the mean girl act so we can work together.    Don't worry, we aren't going to go from never speaking to suddenly overnight being inseparable.  We'll start slow. Lets say we meet for 20 minutes a day for this first week and see how it goes?  I'm sure it won't be easy, especially since you and I don't really have the most solid of relationships.  I'm sure some days we aren't going to want to see each other at all.  But, remember that movie, The Parents Trap (the original one, with Hayley Mills... we won't talk about the other one)-  anyhow,  they didn't like each other to start off either.  Then they were FORCED to spend every waking hour with each other and look how great that turned out-  SISTERS!  Now, we don't have to jump ahead of ourselves and mire this down with unattainable expectations.  For now, it is what it is.  You don't like me much, I don't like you much-  but we're going to try for the sake of trying.  We'll continue to do this slow and steady thing for nine weeks, after which we can re-evaluate our relationship and make changes from there.  Deal?

Yours Truly,


Monday, January 30, 2012

Winner Winner Yummy Dinner

Considering my past dinner failures, and my never ending ability to find a way to royally muck up dinner, I am SO excited that Friday nights dinner turned out so yum-a-licious.   If you are part of the Facebook "fan" page (are they still called fan pages? Everything changes so often I have no idea anymore).  Anyhow, if you follow me on Facebook- you will have seen this recipe that I found on the Daily Green and decided to make for Friday night dinner.  It was crazy easy to make.

The actual recipe called for Chicken Stock, Heavy Cream, Parmesan Cheese and tomatoes, all of which I omitted- but you can use them if you want.  In their place, I used vegetable stock, skim milk, Low Fat Italian Cheese Blend, and I just left the tomatoes out-  both Mr Millie and myself can't eat cooked tomatoes.  

Here's what it should have looked like according to the Daily Green 
Image from The Daily Green

Here's what mine looked like 

It was SO good.  Can I tell you how good fennel and leeks taste together?  I've had fennel before at restaurants (if you live in Chicago, Scoozi downtown has the BEST roasted fennel)  but I have always been too intimidated to cook it.  They look kind of crazy hanging out in the grocery store.  For those who have not yet met the Fennel,  here is what they look like raw:

And, in case you haven't seen a leek-  this is what they look like  raw 

Now, with the fennel, only the white bulbs are used.  From what I read you can use the green floofy things for garnish, but I just chopped them off and used just the bulbs.  Same goes for the leek.  I'm sure there is a use for the leafy green part, but I don't know what.  I cut the beards off the bottom of the leeks and the leafy parts up top, and used just the light green and white parts.

Here is the recipe from the Daily Green

Now Mr Millie and I have a slight aversion to left-overs.. so I always cut recipes in half or even further down, to make just enough for one serving for each of us.  Case in point-  those stuffed peppers I made a few weeks ago intent on having the others "for lunch the next day"  Mr Millie forgot to grab it for lunch, and so it sat uneaten in our fridge until I just recently threw it out.  

4 medium leeks (about 1 1/2 pounds)  - I only used 2  
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs (about 1 pound each)  I only used 1
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sugar -  I don't keep sugar in my house, and had some stevia left over from Christmas, I used that 
1 package (16 ounces) bow-tie (farfalle) or gemelli pasta
1 cup chicken broth -  I used Vegetable Stock 
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream  -  I used skim milk 
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  - I used Low Fat Shredded Italian Blend
1 ripe, medium tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice - I omitted entirely 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim off roots and leaf ends from leeks. Discard any tough outer leaves. Cut each leek lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide slices. Place leeks in large bowl of cold water; with hand, swish leeks around to remove any sand. Remove leeks to colander. Repeat process, changing water several times until all sand is removed. Drain well.
2. In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add leeks and cook until tender and golden, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. While leeks are cooking, trim top and bottom from each fennel bulb; reserve fronds, if any, for garnish. Slice each bulb lengthwise in half; remove and discard core. Slice fennel-bulb halves crosswise into thin slices.
4. Add fennel, garlic, sugar, and remaining oil, and cook until fennel is tender and light golden, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Meanwhile, prepare pasta in boiling salted water as label directs. Drain; return pasta to saucepot.
6. When leeks are tender, add broth, cream, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and all but 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; boil 1 minute.
7. Spoon pasta into deep 4-quart casserole. Add leek mixture and toss well. Sprinkle top with diced tomato and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with fennel fronds, if you like, to serve.

The recipe once you make it to steps 3 & 4 get a bit confusing, so here is what I did.  I prepared the leeks in one pot.  While that was browning, I cut my fennel up into little half moons and cooked them up in another pot.  In a third pot (I know, quite impressive I could keep three things going at once!  And, the oven was heating up... I'm getting quite culinary)  I boiled the water for the pasta.

Once the leeks became soft and browned, I added the stock, milk, pepper etc etc (I didnt add the cheese until the end).  In the other pot  I cooked the fennel in garlic, olive oil, and the packet of stevia, and once the fennel had carmelized (you're impressed by my comfort with culinary lingo, aren't you?) dumped the fennel into the pot with the leeks, combined everything, tossed it in with the pasta-  a smattering of cheese pop it into a 400 oven for a bit and taaaadaaaaa! :jazz hands: 

The result, in case after this LONG explanation you have forgotten how beautiful it was

Yum-A-Licious-  and perfect for a cold winter night.  Cheap as well.  My fennel cost about $2, my leek the same.  One box of pasta (I used the Barilla stuff $2 something a box).  So, for about six bucks (plus some ingredients I already had in my house)  a wonderful dinner for two.

Try it, seriously.  Don't be afraid of the fennel! :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

One of the few "good" things about not working

You know I always talk about the insufferably crowded lap pool lanes, and how I have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn in order to just get a lane.  And then I go on further to complain how hard it is getting out of bed in the wee, chilly hours of the morning, just to jump into a cold pool.

Well, the pool is still cold- I have come to the conclusion that its never going to change.  No matter how many times I talk to the peeps at the gym, I blog about it, I email- this squeeky wheel will never get the satisfaction of a tepid pool.  However, the one thing that I have started to receive *jazz hands*  my own lap lane :the crowd goes wild:.  Amazing!  I know you're shocked by this, but in the middle of the day, the gym is a virtual ghost town.  The only people in the pool are me and the blue hairs doing their water aerobics.  I can not even begin to tell how just how much I enjoy the solitude.  Some people have yogo to clear their minds, I have swimming.  :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why the Incommunicado?

Hi all.  It's been a trying past few weeks thats for sure.  There had been some stuff going on with me, which I had been hesitant to discuss on my blog, mainly out of shame, but also because of the situation.  However,  I'm realizing I really have nothing to be ashamed about, and considering the scope of this network, I may be able to utilize it to my advantage.

I was laid off at the end of the year.  My company apparently needed to save some money and was looking to cut costs, so they dumped me.  No severance package, no "here's some money in appreciation of the six years of dedication and hard work"  just a "thanks for the memories" and exit, stage left.  I have to say I'm still a bit hurt by the whole thing.  I realize business is business and decisions are decisions, but I worked for a very small company and I honestly thought we were a family.  To be cut out so quickly and decisively with little explanation or resolution other than "we need to cut costs" stings,  a lot.  I had intentionally sought out a smaller company when applying for this position because I  was under the delusion that in small companies people stick together, that somehow a sum being part of a whole was more meaningful in a smaller company.

It's a rough economic climate out there-  layoffs abound everywhere you look, so I know I'm not in this boat alone.  It just feels like it sometimes.  When you have spent the past 25 days seeking out positions seemingly everywhere, and you hear "thanks, but no thanks" more times that you care to count, it really wears on you.  So, in this, I felt it would be a bit disingenuous to continually blog and chirp along as if nothing was happening.  Especially since, I have shared with you every trial and tribulation over the past three years of my life, to not mention the fact that I'm on the unemployment line would seem dishonest to say the least.

I've heard a lot over the past few weeks that every stumble is an opportunity, God doesn't close a door without opening a window, make lemonade from your lemons, etc  -  and I am truly looking into every facet of possibility, and hoping for a short stint on the unemployment line.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Recipe Success!

So, after my last recipe debacle, I was a bit leery to try another.  But I shopped specifically this week with my list of recipes in mind- so Lentil Stuffed Peppers it is.

The original recipe is from Eating Well magazine (I tried finding the link to the recipe online but can't locate it).  The original recipe is more of a Moroccan spiced recipe one that my wimpy taste buds probably couldn't handle-  so I had already planned on switching it up a bit.  Also the one from Eating Well is a meat eaters version of Moroccan Stuffed Peppers (with Sausage in it). It also called for white or brown rice.. and since we're not rice eaters here (since Im on a strict "eat carbs only when you earn them" diet.. I instead decided to use what I know:

1 Package of Lentils (I buy the ones that you dont have to soak overnight)
1 Medium Red Onion
1 bag of shredded carrots
1 Tablespoon of Garlic (I have dehydrated garlic from my favorite spice store Penzys Spices)  but Im sure any old garlic will be fine
Vegetable Stock
Green Peppers (2)
Orange Peppers (2)  >  Im sure you can use whatever color suits your fancy.
Hubs had an orange one I had a green one, they were both good.
Walnuts (about 1 cup)

So, I set the oven to 350.
In one pot, I boiled the lentils in the vegetable stock.  ( I like using stock better than water it gives it more taste)
In another pan, while the lentils were cooking I took the garlic and onion and sauteed them in olive oil.  Adding the spinach and the carrots and cooking them down.
Once that was all cooked together, I took the lentils, the chopped up Walnuts [I broke out my fancy Cuisinart [you know I cant resist using it]  and chopped them up until they were a fine powder.. but Im sure keeping them in pieces would be fine as well]  and 2 ladles of stock and poured them into the pan with the spinach/carrot/onion/garlic mixture.

I stirred that all up let it simmer a bit for the flavors to combine  and then stuffed my peppers with the mixture.

I used a dutch oven to set my 4 peppers in.  Once the peppers were all in place, I ladled more of the stock from the lentils into the bottom of the dutch oven, enough to cover about 2 inches along the bottom of the pan.  I then covered the peppers with the remainder of the lentils from the pot and the rest of the stock (there isnt a lot of stock left when you boil the lentils in it, as they absorb most of it.  But if I had to say an amount, there is probably about 1/2 cup of stock left in the pot which I pour over the peppers to get them a bit damp)

I put the peppers in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes-  with a check at 15 minutes to see how the peppers were softening.  Once they are tender to the touch, but not mushy, take em out, and serve them.

And this was the result

Yum-O-Licious.  Even my carnivore husband liked them.  So YAY for a successful, healthy, vegetarian recipe :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Suffering the Consequences of a Semester Spent on my Tush

The weather in Chicago lately has been absolutely gorgeous!  Like spring (as I type this, they're calling for 5-8 inches of snow tomorrow- so I guess the fun is over).  Anyhow, because its been SO nice, it has been much much easier to make it to the pool.  Can we please discuss how sore I am ?  Pitiful right?

At this moment thanks to the depleted stamina I am barely able to make it to the 1200 meter mark in 45 minutes.  My arms have that light floaty feeling when you know they are going to hurt later-  every time I swim.  Granted, as the week continues the stamina will return, but owie to the nth degree.  Ok, actually Im being a baby, maybe not the nth degree-  perhaps just a slight discomfort.  The swimming pain is no where even close to the pain instilled by Brutus.

Speaking of Brutus, I'm sure you're wondering what is going on with him as I haven't mentioned him lately.  Unfortunately-  he has become ridiculously popular -  like super star popular (and, if you watch MMA you may have seen his WillPower athletes battling it out)  and with the craziness of the term and the multiple trips I took in November, I had to give up my prime Saturday morning spot.  Which resulted in (at the moment) no available times for us to meet :(

I can't even tell you how much I miss him.  I am just not capable of kicking my butt in the same way he could.  I mean, in all honesty when I start doing something and it burns I'm like "okay, two? two is good enough...right?  I don't really need to to TEN.  Ten just seems excessive"   Where as he'd be all "Millie- just for complaining, you're doing fifteen *whip crack*  and Id be all *whimper* and do the fifteen and like it.  But I just am not a self-whipper.

Hopefully someday soon my prime Saturday spot opens up again (anyone know any "family" that can "take care of the problem"?)  kidding kidding--  For the moment however, Im flying solo.  And I'm not even going to lie-  I seriously miss the hell out of him.

Anyhow- my poor brain totally derailed and I can't remember what else I was planning on saying :-P

So Im going to wrap this up!
Oh- and today's picture I found on Pinterest- I dont know who it belongs to, so I cant give any photo credits.  But I'm not stealing it maliciously, I'm sharing the wisdom of the quotation :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Julia Childs, I Am Not

  • As I discussed on my Facebook Page today-  I had intended on attempting stuffed peppers from Eating Well magazine. Unfortunately I realized as I gathered the ingredients that unfortunately I am out of Vegetable Stock (mental note to go get some tomorrow).  So instead I decided to make these frittatas

Sadly, this is what they *should* have looked like...

And, instead this is what it turned out looking like (now keep in mind, I dont have individual ramekins, so I used a casserole dish instead to make a non-individual sized dinner)

  • The Recipe
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil - check
  • 2 cups refrigerated preshredded potatoes - they weren't refrigerated (maybe that was the problem)
  • 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 2 cups) - I just cut up the whole container of them- if it was more... that just means better right?  :)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion - didn't have, so I skipped it 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced - check
  • 1 16-ounce container liquid egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters  -  check
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese - I had shredded "Italian Blend" so I used this instead
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk -  Check 
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme - didn't have I didn't think a little old thyme would really make a difference 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt - check 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper - check - well it wasn't "freshly ground" but it was pepper

  • Okay-  so I have this Cuisinart that my sister gave me for my birthday a few years back.  So when I have fancy recipes like this, I tend to break it out to make myself feel "culinary"  ---  perhaps this was my downfall.  As I chopped  all of the Brussel Sprouts and the Potatoes in the Cuisinart instead of cutting them or shredding them - whatever it suggested I do.  
I chopped them up, cooked them down in a pan with olive oil and garlic as described.  Once cooked (when the brussel sprouts looked nice and bright green)  I transferred the potato/brussel sprout combo into the Cuisinart and chopped away.  

I think perhaps my brussel sprout to potato ratio could have been off as well.  But it seems every time I chop something up in the Cuisinart, it tastes really bitter.  Which is what this tasted- bitter.

So anyway-  its all chopped up,  I add the eggs and milk and salt and pepper and cheese into the mix and throw it into a casserole dish (I don't have individual ramekins)  and start baking it up.  I patiently wait the twenty minutes, use the thermometer to  make sure its 160 on the inside.  It *looks* pretty-but when I taste it- major yuck...  super bitter.

I added some more cheese hoping that will make it taste better. This is what it looked like (it looked yummy)  but even with the extra cheese it still tasted super bitter.  :(

One of these days I'll get this cooking thing down pat.  If you want to view the full recipe you can find it here

Hopefully, you will have more luck with it than I did :-/ 
Maybe next time I'll try following it to the tee- and leave the Cuisinart for another time.