Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Runday: Gifts for Runners

I'm really trying to get on the ball here this year.  Every year I think about doing a little gift guide, and every year I realize it's too late.

Now that it is officially the Christmas Season (because I refuse to acknowledge it before Thanksgiving) here are my favorite running related gifts, or gifts for your favorite runner.

Shoes - because let's face it, every runner uses them, and every runner goes through them.  I don't think there's such as thing as too many shoes.

iTunes Gift Cards - because good music makes you run faster.  It's proven.  Somewhere.

Warm running duds - I use the holidays as an excuse to stock up on my winter running gear.  Or get friends and family to do the same!  Running jackets and sweatshirts, long sleeved shirts, and running tights.  And yes, I know it's California, but it was 35 degrees the other morning when I left the house.  It gets cold!

Bib/Medal Holder - Thatboy got me this last year and I love love love it.  It's the best idea for your loved one who loves to race.  It keeps all your bibs and medals in a place, but also gives you the ability to show them off.

Race Entries - This is my all time favorite gift.  Because race fees add up.  And I always feel guilty about the costs involved.  So getting an entry as a gift helps cut down on the money I spend, and my guilt!

Earbuds - Maybe this is just me, but I go through these.  Yearly.  Or more often.  Last year I went through 2.  I blame it partially on the fact that I hold my phone when I run, which I think messes with the wiring.  But my latest pair didn't have wiring issues, the over-ear piece came off!  So maybe I'm just hard on them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Safari Trip: Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Last month Thatbaby asked to go to the zoo after nap.  He does that.  On the weekends he'll request that after nap we go to (Disneyland, Legoland, the zoo).  He usually has very sad weekends, because most of the time we have to inform him that after nap we will be cleaning the house, or going to the grocery store, or something else equally disappointing.

So when we came across a weekend with no plans, we conspired to give Thatbaby one of his wishes - a trip to the zoo (or in our case, the Safari Park).  Having an early riser meant we got there early, when the animals were a little more active than in the middle of the day.  We got a whole show with the lions.

Papa Lion was keeping an eye on the rest of the family.

Mama Lion started out with her cubs, taking a little nap, but when the kids started getting rowdy she moved to a more secluded location.

But as anyone with kids knows, there is no such thing as a secluded place when you're a mom.  Within moments the cubs came a-looking for her.

Family photo!

We also got a chance to check out the new Tiger Trail which gets you up close and personal with the beautiful big cats.

We visited the elephants and watched some youngin's tusk-wrestling, had some lunch, and then let Thatbaby cool down a bit at the splash zone.

We stopped off at the gorillas on the way out, to visit another baby.  Of course I didn't grab my camera when the mom was giving a piggy back ride to her teeny tiny baby, so you're stuck with this one of him sitting on her lap in the cave.  Which is hard to see because of black fur on black fur  (hair?)

Since we spent the day at the Safari Park, it cut down on our homebody time.  Which means that even though it was a weekend, I didn't have a lot of time for dinner making.  Instead, I popped the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it cook while we played.  I came back and we had soup ready to go!  I used enchilada sauce, which made it a little spicy for Thatbaby, so if you're spice intolerant, a can of tomato sauce would make a nice mild substitute.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup
1 chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes with chiles
1 cup frozen corn
1 onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt  

  1.  Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours.  
  2. Remove chicken, shred with forks, and return back to the soup.
  3. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese, avocado, tortilla chips, and/or sour cream

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Still Nappin'

I have a very vivid memory of being 5 (or 6) and playing with my friend "J."  J had a little sister who was young enough to still take daily naps.  Obviously we "big girls" were way too old for such nonsense.  But J's mom worked out a deal with us, since the little sister wanted to be just like us, if we would lie down and pretend to nap, she'd make us a special snack.  I remember J and I giggling as we pretended to sleep, then crept out of the room and down the stairs.

I think back on those days now, because I'm trying to remember how old the younger sister was.  Because at 3 years old, Thatbaby is still taking daily naps.  And not just taking them, in desperate need of them. 

The terrible threes, or the wrath of the three-nager, means lots of whining and mega meltdowns.  These get even worse when he's tired.  And given that he's still waking up shortly after dawn, he gets tired in the middle of the day.  Which means without a nap, the afternoons are miserable and the evenings are even worse. 

On top of that, I need those daily naps.  They're my break to get things done, because nothing gets done with a toddler running around.  They're also my break from that whining and melting down I mentioned earlier.  Eventually, when he no longer needs the nap, I'll still probably institute a "quiet time" or "alone time" during that typical nap period.  But between you and I, I hope he keeps napping for a long time.  Then again, I wish I could still have daily naps too.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Runday: Fit Foodie Part 2

The last day of the Fit Foodie race weekend began with a choice between Sunrise Yoga or Power Bootcamp.  I was torn between the two, but ended up going with the yoga, led by Kristin McGee.

The class itself was great.  I haven't done yoga in a number of years, but was still able to follow right along.

After yoga, there were more goodies and vendor giveaways.

Yoga was also followed by a brunch.  They turned all of us loose on a buffet of healthy goodies following our morning session.

Fruit, cheese, egg white frittata, yogurt, and granola

I ended up sitting next to Ms. McGee at breakfast, along with several of the representatives from City of Hope and Health magazine.  

 Overall, I really enjoyed my experience as an ambassador.  The race itself was great, and one I would highly recommend.  The weekly gifts were a serious perk.  My only complaint about the entire thing, was that I wish more was done to help us ambassadors get to know each other and become a more cohesive group.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Time for You

Being a mother is a full time job.  Like many jobs, it is both challenging, and rewarding.  But unlike most jobs, there is no "vacation time."

Wanting a break from your children doesn't make you a bad parent.  It doesn't mean you don't love them with every ounce of your being.  But being a mom is not easy, and without some recharge time, you can't do your job to the best of your ability.

It's really important that you find some time for yourself.  This can be an hour during the day when you shut the bathroom door and run a steaming bath.  The weekly dinners with the girls.  The monthly dates with your spouse.  The time where you can just be you - not "mom"  (or in my case - maaaaaaaa-oooooommmm).

I love my weekly runs with my girlfriends.  Yes, it's early in the morning.  And yes I hate getting up early, but it's a couple hours a week where I am just me.  I can focus on me.  I have no one to answer to. 

I love my moms' night outs.  Even if they're not as often as I'd like, the ability to sit around with my nearest and dearest as we laugh and drink and go over all the interesting things that have happened to us over the past weeks.  It makes me feel as though I were in college again.

And this past weekend, when I was part of the Fit Foodie race weekend, I got a hotel room downtown.  Just for me.  Well, at least the first night.  Friday night after work I checked into the hotel and got dolled up for a cocktail party.  After I grabbed a salad from one of my favorite restaurants and ate it on a king sized bed while watching television.  So decadent.  After the race Saturday, I returned to the room for a long hot shower (with no interruptions!) then curled back up in a robe in the bed.    The boys joined me later in the afternoon, but those few hours of respite made me feel like a new person again.

And that's really what every mom needs.  Time to recharge, refresh, renew.  It makes you better able to handle the pressures of motherhood and makes you a better you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Runday: Fit Foodie Part 1

So in this post I'll cover the cocktail party and the race itself.  Stay tuned next week for the recap on the yoga, brunch, and my thoughts on my ambassador experience.

As an ambassador for the Fit Foodie Race Series, I was given entry to all the weekend activities.  And let me tell you, it was quite a weekend!  I ditched my husband and child and stayed downtown in San Diego which made it an even more fun weekend for me.  No children to feed, no dogs to walk, no husband to clean up after. 

Friday night the excitement began.  The weekend kicked off with a "Light up the Night" cocktail party at Florent.

I have to admit, when I first got there I was completely intimidated by the fact that I was by myself and knew no one, as opposed to everyone else there who seemed to have brought their best friends.  But then I met Haley, and the night just got that much better.  Haley is another race ambassador.  Who was also there by herself.  We also ended up hooking up with some more ambassadors, Kay Lynn, Kellen, and Whitney and we spent the night holding down a table and getting to know each other over wine and so much delicious Sartori cheese.

Saturday morning was the BIG event, the actual Fit Foodie 5k.  It started outside the Hilton Bayfront with a little warm-up for all the runners which included dancing AND yoga.

But let's talk about the part that's helpful to you.  Let's talk about the course itself.  Because it's always helpful to hear about the course if you're thinking of signing up for a race.  This is a really great course, for two reasons.  The first, is that it's really beautiful to run along the harbor.

You are bayside the entire time.  So there's the water, the boats, the bridges.  Very scenic.  But the other reason it's a great course is because it's flat.  100% flat.  Not "flat" which really means there's only one hill, or small hills.  No, it's sidewalk flat.

The course is predominately an out and back course, with side jaunts around little tree-lined inlets.  My only issue is that it wasn't quite a 5k.  So we ran out for a little less than a mile, and then back and through those tree inlets for just around 2 miles.  My gps read 3.05 when I finished, which was .01 farther than some of the women I spoke with as we neared the end.

 Beautiful course aside, what set this race apart from most others was the Finisher's Village.  You've never seen anything like this before!  There were row upon row of vendors/sponsers dying to give you free goodies.  I skipped the super long line at Lexus which resulted in massages and water bottles, but I tried to hit up just about everyone else.

 Cooking Light also had a booth set up with samples of food and treats!

And before you think all the samples were the same old things you find at any race, let me show you the Sabazon tent, where they were making and handing out acai bowls to the runners.  Acai bowls are one of my all time weaknesses.

In addition to the free samples, there were cooking demonstrations!

 I've been very into Greek food lately, so I was especially excited about this pita stuffed with steak, hummus and cucumber.

Throughout the morning there were also Fitness demonstrations led by  Patrick Goudeau and Kristin McGee.

I stumbled back to my hotel with so much good stuff!

That's 2 boxes of quest bars, quest chips, resistance bands, a water bottle, a backpack, water, Zico coconut water, Suja drinks, Bhakti chai, luna bars, skinny girl bars, lara bars, perfect bars, Hawaiian Host chocolate covered macadamia nuts, Sahale snacks, 2 lip balms, moisturizer, sunglasses, and hairbands!

All in all, a pretty good morning. 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sunday Runday: Fuel for Your Feet

This post is especially for Thatmom, but it's been a long time coming. 

Think of your body as a car.  Like a car, your body is going going going all the time.  And like a car, your body doesn't run on oxygen.   Which means, if you plan on using it, you need to fuel it.

Thatmom complained to me (many months ago) that she was getting really tired after her runs.  Even though she was only doing a couple miles.  And when I asked what she was eating before the run, she confessed she wasn't eating anything.

Now, none of us would try to drive a car on an empty gas tank, but we are often guilty of trying to "drive" our bodies on empty.  And this isn't just in relation to running, think of how often you or someone you know skips meals.  But it is really important when it comes to running, because unlike sitting stationary at your desk all day, when you're running you're actively burning more calories and using your muscles which are going to be asking for help from the rest of your body.

So as tempting as it is to just run out in the morning, it's smarter to put something in your body first.  It doesn't have to be pancakes and eggs, but a combination of protein and carbs is a good start.  So a slice of toast with peanut butter, a smoothie, or I'm partial to Kind Bars.  If I have a lot of time, sometimes I'll make oatmeal with some egg whites stirred in.

Depending on the length of the run, you also may need to fuel during your run.  I can't give you an exact mileage, because it's going to be different for everyone, but if you feel like the ends of your runs start lagging, or that you're really worn out by the time you finish, or even if you start feeling light headed or dizzy, then you probably need to fuel while you run.  Unlike before the run, you want something that's going to give you some energy quickly, not a long burning type of fuel.  There are loads of fuels marketed for during runs, and of those I personally like Sport Beans.  But you don't have to go out and buy something special.  Gummy bears, M&Ms, jelly beans, almonds, all work really well for mid-run fuel. 

And just because you're done running, doesn't mean you're in the clear with giving your body something to work on.  If you've ever run a race, you probably noticed there's usually some form of food available for the runners after the finish line - bananas, bagels, even beer!  I'm on two complete opposite ends of the spectrum for post-run fuel.  Either beer or chocolate milk.  Beer is great in that it provides electrolytes, sodium, and hydration.  Chocolate milk has a protein/carb ratio that helps promote muscle recovery.

So give your body what it needs, because unlike a car, if you run your body into the ground, you can't just run out and get a new one!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Apple Picking: Chicken Sandwich with Lemon Aioli

I wrote a little bit about apple picking as a great fall activity to do with toddlers.  But I didn't actually tell you about our experience.  And it's been over a month!

We went way back to basics on this one.  L&O introduced me to apple picking in Julian many years ago, and this year we returned with her.  And Little LO. 

The boys were trouble as usual, having as much fun eating apples as they did kicking them. 

The weekend we went may have been the last weekend for apple picking in Julian.  Calling during the week, I only found 2 orchards that were open.  But when L&O arrived before us, she discovered that only 1 was actually opened.  Nevertheless, we managed to do alright and filled multiple bags of apples.

After, we headed in to Julian itself.  Thatbaby insisted in holding his friend's hand as we walked around.

The boys drank apple cider, we ate lunch, and picked up some more Julian goodies to take home.

We brought home honey, apple cherry cider, and lots and lots of apples.

If I were a better planner, this is where I'd share an amazing apple recipe with you.  But the apples are long gone now.  And like usual we ended up eating them plain, mostly.  With honey for Rosh Hashana, grated into pancakes, and lots and lots of slices!

So instead of apples, I'm sharing chicken with you.  A chicken sandwich.  We've been really in to sandwiches lately.  I think Thatbaby likes the bread portion.  He deconstructs his.  I just like how easy they are.  And the bread portion.

 Chicken Sandwich with Lemon Aioli
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, divided
1/2 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 ciabatta rolls
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
cheddar cheese 
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, paprika, and 1 minced garlic clove.
  2. Coat chicken with the sour cream mixture and let stand for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400. 
  4. In another small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, remaining lemon juice, and the remaining garlic, minced.
  5. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl and dredge chicken in the bread crumbs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. 
  6. The last few minutes the chicken is cooking, place cheese on top.
  7. Spread the lemon aioli on the rolls.
  8. Place chicken on the dressed rolls. 

Thursday, November 06, 2014

BA Turns 3: Spaghetti Carbonara

Last year, when talking about our October birthday boys, BA's mom told us she discovered a great idea for a birthday party.  One of the local pumpkin patches had party tents.  It happened to be a pumpkin patch filled with rides.    It was really a brilliant idea.  So I was pretty excited when she decided to go through with it this year.

Thatbaby was most excited about the rides.  As soon as we got there, he rounded up his buddies and headed for the carousel.

All through daycare, we were informed that Thatbaby was more of a follower than a leader.  He must be very comfortable with his friends then, because he definitely took the lead.  Dictating the rides and the order in which they would be ridden.

The cutest was when Lexus, BA, and Thatbaby all scrunched in to the car ride so they could sit together.

When Little Parrot showed up, the party moved to the train.  Which I think was the only ride Little Parrot went on.  Over and over and over.

Thatbaby, Lexus, and BA all ended getting their faces painted.  They were an amazingly cute puppy, butterfly, and tiger.

I think I've mentioned before that BA has a lot of allergies.  So his mom made him a special egg-free birthday cake.  A chocolate egg-free birthday cake.  It looks pretty amazing, right? And based on BAs reaction, it tasted pretty good too.

My only complaint about the party was the fact that it was on a Sunday afternoon, which is generally when I like to be getting ready for the week.  Which meant I had to put together a pretty quick dinner.  Pasta is always my go to for quick dinners.  And carbonara is one of the easiest pasta to make.  You don't even have to heat a storebought sauce!  Just beat some eggs and let the hot pasta do the warming for you!  Thatbaby decided he hated the bacon.  Not to worry, last night he had a bacon grilled cheese and asked for another bacon sandwich for breakfast, so it must have been an off night for him.

Spaghetti Carbonara
8 ounces spaghetti
2 eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 slices bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced 
salt and pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and Parmesan.
  5. Stir pasta and egg mixture into the bacon, and gently toss to combine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  7. Add reserved pasta water just until desired consistency is reached.