Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Donation December

We all need to give back in some way or another. This month I chose to give some non-traditional Christmas gifts, because my budget is tight (hence the gift guide for grad school budgets) and because my family (thankfully) isn't in need of much.

Each of them, along with some homemade edible treats, received Oxfam Unwrapped donations, which go to folks who need a lot more than any of us do.  Check it out and consider a gift like this for next season! 

Some of my homemade goodies!

New recipe November!

My goals was simple: practice cooking, and try to find some good vegetarian dishes that wouldn't scare away omnivores. Easier said than done! Too much tofu, tempeh, or nutritional yeast was sure to frighten both friends and family!

Here's what I made:

1. Vegan Mushroom Risotto--adapted from A Whisk and Two Wands: Delicious! I rehydrated the dried mushrooms that can be found at Trader Joe's to create my own 'mushroom broth'. This one was the most omnivore-friendly IMHO!

Photo cred: A Whisk and Two Wands

2. Eggplant and Zucchini Polenta bake--adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe. I went heavy on the veggies, light on the cheese, and used pasta sauce instead of tomatoes.

Very easy and very tasty!

3. Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai--I found the recipe on the newsletter in my CSA box...it was the least yummy of them all so I won't bother to post it!

4. Apple Crisp (for Thanksgiving!)--okay, okay, so I've made lots of crisps before so this isn't really a *new* recipe for me per se, but I wasn't going to try anything too fancy when other people would be eating it on Thanksgiving day! I used a recipe similar to this Chow recipe and this Cooking light recipe

Do you have any vegetarian recipes that are your 'go-to' favorites?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday gift guide (on a grad school budget!)

Being on a tight budget during the holidays can be a drag, but there are creative ways to give gifts to the people you love without breaking the bank.

1. Oiselle Runfinity scarf ($22): One of my favorite pieces for post-run coffee, or just a normal day at work!

2. Find a cool jewelry tutorial and DIY! (~$15): I've made both of these as gifts! You can find many other ideas/styles on Ornamentea's website.

3. Picky bars ($12.50-23): Edible gifts are always awesome, but edible gifts from a small business started by pro-runners?? PERFECTION.

Love them all!

4. Subscription to a magazine (~20): As a runner, I love Running Times. Monthly inspiration, training tips, and generally a 'serious' running magazine.

5. A basket of goodies from your local farmer's market ($20-25): Apples, local honey, a pretty squash, etc... piled into a basket. Done and done.

6. Smartwool socks ($10-15): Always a wonderful winter treat.

7. Grow your own mushroom kit ($20): More edible goodness combined with a little DIY.

8. A cute platter (filled with cookies!) (~10): Dig up a family cookie recipe and get cooking! Find a platter or plate at Ikea or give away one of your own that you never use.

9. Venture to Goodwill and up-cycle something interesting ($5-25): Repaint, decorate, or revamp-- need some inspiration?? Check out my "Create" pinterest board.

10. Make a donation in someone's name (your choice of $). Do you love NPR as much as I do?! Do you ever donated during those blasted fundraisers? Clear some karma and donate in honor of one of your geeky friends who also loves NPR.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Critter month--a photo tour

August (yeah I'm a little behind) was critter month. Between getting a macro lens for my iPhone in July and having recently revived my photographer side, I was primed and ready.

Here's a selection of what I found:

A different kind of winged friend, the kind that serenade you at night.

A butterfly and a feather

Drunk lab buddies


Beetle in my path

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Joie de vivre

-An enjoyment of life in a hearty, carefree way; a delight in being alive- 

Sometime in the last year (years?), my joie de vivre gently faded. The days began ticking by in a generic way. I’m sure you can relate; we all feel like that sometimes. Slogging through days that are neither good nor bad nor notable is not the happiest way to live. Apathy creeps in at some point and it’s hard to kick it back out. I wouldn’t say those days were bad or miserable, but they were incomplete. 
A couple major life changes in the last few months gave me the opportunity to re-evaluate my values, my big and small goals, and how I use my time. I thought about what activities have brought me inherent pleasure throughout my life. What times have I felt so caught up in the moment that time becomes irrelevant? When do I get that feeling that All is well in the world and I am so happy to be a part of it right now

I compared my list of joy-bringing activities to what I was actually doing. Quickly found a major time drain: too much mindless computer/phone time (although I love my social media time, it can *easily* get out of hand, not to mention movies and TV, which I also watch on my computer). 

My ‘loves’ list was simple: I love nature, I love being physically active in nature, I love creating art and enjoying art by others, and of course I love sharing all of these things with other people I care about. There are a multitude of details within each of my joys that shape my personal intricacies, and they are allowed to fluctuate and morph.  But we all know running is my favorite outdoor exercise!

Getting back in touch with my joy-bringers brought me back to a joie de vivre, and with it comes with a luscious sense of wholeness, at least in some moments. 

And let me tell you, that feeling? It’s the bee's knees.

What brings you joie de vivre?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July: ups and downs

June finished up ages ago, and I have yet to make a peep about it. Let's just say my #runstreak plan went flying out the window as soon as some twinges came along (hip flexor, lower leg). I couldn't bring myself to jeopardize the rest of my summer running in the name of a silly resolution that was only lasting a month anyway. I *did* however run in some beautiful places:

Carkeek Park, Seattle

Green lake, Seattle (aka my old home turf)

Walla Walla, WA

Walla Walla, WA
July has been a month of ups and downs...literally and figuratively.

First, the downs. Summer running in the South is HARD. I had several weeks of running that were mostly miserable, like drained and barely moving by mile 5 of an 8 mile. Walking was a SERIOUS temptation and instead of zoning out and sorting out my thoughts mid-run, all I could think about were glasses of ice water. But I made it through and now running is fun again. I will say that my pace is still pathetic suffering and I'm glad my Garmin is collecting dust somewhere.

The ups. Although my running has been a bit rocky, my July resolution got dominated (mostly)! My lifetime goal of doing a pull-up was finally achieved! Kinda made me feel like anything was possible and that I might be a superhero. See below for evidence. If you don't want to waste ~30 seconds of you life watching me do one pretty good pull-up and then a second one that is obviously a big struggle, take a look at the screen shot below and take my word for it.

Not sure what my legs are doing here but I'm pretty sure they're helping

Ultimately, perseverance was my saving grace this month. Slogged through the bad runs, and lifted weights until my scrawny arms could lift my body weight. Success!

Have you had the summer running blues this month too?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Distance Dabbling

May was supposed to be all about Mediation for me, according to my 12 resolutions. It’s been hard. Between upheaval in my personal life, the end of classes for the summer, and traveling, I did not always set aside the time. Bad excuse, of course. A busy month means I need it more ever. I will continue trying into June in hopes of having a little more success!

In my travel adventures, I had the opportunity to race a road mile in Savannah, Ga with my fellow Oiselle teammate, Allie.

This place knows a thing or two about parks

Racing a mile was a totally foreign concept to me, and I didn’t have any idea how to race it. But the idea piqued my interest because it's a nice bench-mark distance, AND the pain-place could only last for 4 minutes tops…much shorter than the pain of a 5k!

We're smiling, but we're terrified!

Race plan: Go out conservatively for the first quarter (did I mention they had clocks every quarter?!). Pick it up in the second quarter to run a solid 800m but not a crazy one. Play the road kill game and try to accelerate for a strong last quarter. 
The beauty of this race was the straight, (mostly) flat, course. We could see the finish line while standing on the start line. Perfection.

The race itself was somewhat entertaining. Several folks ran a smokin' 400m and then appeared to be running through jello during the remainder of the mile.  Some men looked somewhat irked as I passed them in the final 400m. Sorry fellas, you just got bird-dropped! 

Allie and I took 2nd and 3rd, respectively, each bringing home a hefty metal “1” for our age-groups (no overall awards). 

Attention: trophy can be used as a weapon in emergencies

Then, we got to spend the rest of the day/weekend soaking up the beauty of Savannah. What a magical place! Definitely worth a visit.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boston 2013 -- Experiences from afar

Boston Marathon Monday 2013 was one of the biggest emotional roller coasters of my recent memory. I got permission to stay home from work to watch the pros race the marathon, and I sat riveted to my computer (and cursing the terrible announcers) while Kara and Shalane ticked off the miles. I wanted Shalane to win (or at least place) SO badly. As I watched it slip away from her, I couldn’t help myself but start crying during her last few miles. She wanted it so badly. We all wanted it for her so badly. So many miles of training. So many miles of racing. The marathon is heart wrenching like that.

Watching Kara cross the finish line and immediately ask how Shalane did was one of the sweetest moments I have ever seen. 


I felt totally drained by the time I finally headed into work. I even had to put on extra makeup to cover up my puffy eyes. 

Of course, that wouldn’t be the only crying I would do that day. After hearing about the events at the finish line, I was stunned and confused. After confirming the safety of all of my friends and Oiselle teammates, my initial panic subsided and was replaced by an intense sadness that was hard to express. The sadness included the sorrow I felt for the victims, but much of it was for the Boston Marathon's loss of innocence. Tarnished. It can never be run again without the memory of what happened this year. Never can they be separated. 

I struggled enormously during the week trying to talk to the non-runners around me.  I couldn’t figure out why I was so intensely sad. What I needed people around me to understand was something that the April Competitor Magazine article “Marathoning’s Historic Mecca, why the Boston Marathon is such a big deal” articulated perfectly (you should read the whole thing).

“Finishing the Boston Marathon is probably the athletic achievement of a lifetime for many people…Boston is still the race that people want to be sure to do at least once in their career.” 

I have had those feelings. I worked for years to qualify and run the race, and I felt like everyone around me wasn’t understanding the weight of the matter. Because Boston is so close to my heart and the heart of the running community, the bombings in Boston were the first time I felt like an act of mass violence or terrorism was extremely personal. MY sport, MY community, MY iconic race. I felt like a valuable personal possession had been snatched from me.

Until these feelings subside, I'm trying to focus on the positive things that have come from the tragedy, and the support of the running community has been amazing. 

 In Raleigh last weekend, the Boston memorial run brought out 3,000 runners. The police blocked the streets for us, and the fire department hung an enormous flag from a fire truck ladder over the street as a start/finish line. Many Boston Marathon shirts dotted the crowd, and it felt as though the community was healing and getting stronger. 

And now, wearing a Boston shirt no longer feels like boasting, but rather a sign of support and solidarity.

The Boston bombings damaged us temporarily, but like a muscle that is torn down during a hard workout, it repairs stronger and more resilient than before.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Attitude Adjustment

At the beginning of 2013, I decided April would be a tortuous by attempting to shun sweets and go dessert-free. As the end of March approached, feelings of dread bubbled up…wwwhhhyyy?

During a well-timed visit from Sophia (@trails4life), amidst our endless gabbing, we decided skipping dessert was the dumbest idea ever. 

Sitting in crazy chairs together was the best idea ever

As Jungle Chicken wisely pointed out, “Misery, denial, and self-hatred should not be prerequisites to endurance sporting success.” And also, “runners can be so self-disciplined, self-denying, self-flagellating, self-absorbed, and so focused on denying fun and introducing pain in the name of success that they tend to be NO DAMN FUN!” 

Yeah…that second quote hits a little too close to home…

So, with Jungle Chicken wisdom and a love for dark chocolate, Sophia and I threw that idea out the window. I’ve happily been eating dark chocolate every day instead. To replace that challenge, I aimed for an attitude adjustment. I really needed one. About 50 too many negative thoughts were lurking around. With a little inspiration from MBS, my mantra this month has been, “Be the sunshine”.  I absolutely love this.

Found: a staircase of sunshine