Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leg Lift


Sometimes I wonder how these two little darlings can sleep as much as they do. At some point, doesn't sleep become counterproductive? They sleep for a few hours, then out of the blue, they just jump up and run around. It's quite funny really.

Speaking of funny.

I brought these two little boogers with me to the store today to pick up my 3 copies of the Sunday paper (despite the fact that the coupons are crap this week, but that's a different story). It was raining all day today, so they didn't get their normal amount of outdoor time. I threw them in the truck and off we went. They're very well-behaved in the truck, so they are allowed to ride along pretty often.

All went well on the ride to and from the store. I even took a little detour so that they could have some extra time to stick their heads out the window and drool on The Gazelle's window for 5 more minutes. He loves it when they drool on his window.

We got home, and jumped out of the truck. They both made their way over to the grassy patch next to our door...apparently the ride made them have to pee. Maya had just started taking care of business, when Nikko randomly decided to walk over, lift his leg, and pee right on my little girl! The dog who is officially a squatter (not a leg-lifter) decided to try leg-lifting out for the first time on my innocent little puppy as she was in a most vulnerable state. How rude!

I'm sure that my neighbors (we live in a little condo) were very curious to see what was going on outside as I was screaming "NIKKO! YOU CAN'T PEE ON YOUR SISTER!" It was lovely. Needless to say, Maya received an impromptu bath, and Nikko will not be allowed to stand near Maya while she pees anymore.

Oh dogs!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grandma's 4-Layer Dream Pie

I have jazzed this up a little bit to make it...well...less Grandma-ish, but it's basically my little peach of a Grandma's dessert that she makes on holidays. It's really delish, and don't let the recipe fool you into thinking it's difficult. It's not.

Layer 1

1 pkg Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix (17.5 oz)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (do not fear the butter...butter is your friend)
1 pkg honey graham crackers, crushed (9-10 whole graham crackers--not the little tiny baby squares that make up the big square)
8 oz walnuts, chopped (or spun in the food processor/blender), save about 2 T to garnish
1/4 C light brown sugar, unpacked

Combine all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until moistened. The mixture will look crumbly, but should basically be sticking together. Spray a 9" X 13" Pyrex baking dish (or similar...just think "deep baking dish") with cooking spray, then press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, until the edges are just barely brown. Let this cool completely before moving forward.

Layer 2 In case you missed the first mention...don't make this until the 1st layer is completely cool

24 oz cream cheese (3 regular Philadelphia rectangular jobby's), room temperature
1 C cold milk
2 envelopes Dream Whip (they come in a box with 4 packets, usually in the store next to the ready-made graham cracker pie crusts)
1 T vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (or stand mixer) and beat the crap out of it until it's fluffy and thick. This usually takes about 5 minutes. It's pretty forgiving, so if you beat it for longer than that, it won't call Social Services. If it seems too thick, you can add a little more milk, but you want it to be firm so that your pie isn't a big sloppy mess. Pour this evenly on top of Layer 1 and smooth out.

Layer 3

2 envelopes Dream Whip (the other 2 envelopes from the box you got next to the ready-made graham cracker pie crusts)
2 (regular, not family size) pkgs instant chocolate pudding (I usually use the sugar-free chocolate fudge kind...I have to maintain my girlish figure)
1 1/2 C cold milk

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (or stand mixer), and again...beat the crap out of it. You also want this to be thick, but not like mud. Beat these ingredients for about 5 minutes as well, and then evenly pour and smooth on top of Layer 2.

Layer 4

1 tub of Cool Whip
2 T of chopped walnuts, from above

Evenly spread Cool Whip on top of Layer 3, then sprinkle walnuts on top. Since there are nuts in the first layer, I always put the nuts on top just to warn people that there are nuts in it. Food allergies scare me, and I don't need that on my watch.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and then pig out. Enjoy, and let me know if you liked it. If you do, I'll take credit...if you hate it, lets blame it on my Grandma.

Running Log

For those runners who are also accountants and have mad spreadsheets, yo (yeah, I saw that on a t-shirt once), I found a really cool running log that keeps track of everything from your weekly mileage goal to the total miles you have on your runners. It will even keep a chart of how many more miles you have to run before you make it to the moon (well, this is pretend, of course)! I don't know...I'm simple...This feature makes me a little giddy.

I love convenience, so just in case you don't feel like going to the guy's website, I have also uploaded it for your downloading pleasure. You can get it in the black box to the right ("Joggers File Grabber")...or just click here to get to the file (logrun.xls).

In addition to my Nike + iPod jobby, I have been using this log as a backup since September. I really heart my Nike + sensor, don't get me wrong. However, the innate problem with the Nike + iPod jobby (this is a real word in my world) is that if you happen to forget your sensor, or your iPod died and you didn't realize it until you strapped on your earphones and tied your shoes, you have no way of entering that run into your Nike + module online. That kind of sucks in my book. I suppose that it keeps us all honest, but's difficult for us busy career women to be prepared all that time. That's a pretty tall order.

In any case, the log is good. If you'd like to use it, or just poke around at it a little, make sure you start with the "setup" page, and enter in all of the requested information there. That will ensure that the whole sheet works for you. If you want to change the layout or column widths, you have to turn off the protection on the sheet and use the password "dead". I was a little concerned that the developer used such a morbid password, and I almost called his mother.

Just the same, if you have any questions about the spreadsheet, just give me a holler.


So today is the first day in about 10 days that I actually feel like I am not ready to cough up my left lung. I was sick the entire time I was on vacation, and it was pretty bad there for a couple of days. I think that flying only exacerbated the problem, and by 7PM on the evening we arrived in Arizona, I was in bed agonizing over the pressure in my head that would not go away. So, despite my good intentions (I packed 5 jogging outfits, my runners, AND my Nike + iPod), I thought better of running with a head cold.

Now that I am back to reality, I have had 2 crapola runs (Monday and Today), but I'm ok with that. I'll get back in the swing of things.

I haven't updated anything on my Nike + yet, but don't worry. It's not impressive.

Tell Me a Story...

So I promise not to bore anyone with irritating vacation stores for the next 2 years, but this one made me laugh so I have to share.

I have never claimed that The Gazelle was a worldly man. I've also never claimed to be attracted to men of that sort. I love him because he is like me...comfortably naive to some of the finer things in life, yet open-minded and willing to learn. I grew up in a very small town, and didn't move to the big city until I was 21 years old. I like to think that I've retained some of my innate Country Girl charm, despite the fact that I've now lived in the city for 10 years. The Gazelle was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. Although he didn't grow up country, his family is from North Carolina, so it's in his blood.

I regress...

While on vacation, I was lucky enough to have an old friend drive into Phoenix from Tucson to have dinner with myself and The Gazelle. He was actually my junior prom date (strictly platonic, I promise). I'll show you the picture later. It's gonna blow your mind. So, Junior Prom Date met us at our hotel bar, and after about an hour of catching up, we departed to Kinkaid's for steak and conversation.

Everything was going great. Drink orders...check! Salad orders...check!

Then came time to order dinner. Junior Prom Date and I ordered our dinners. The Gazelle, being the open-minded man that he is, inquired to the waitress "how is the duck?"

"It's ok...if you like duck."

Oh no, he wasn't deterred by this. He asked more questions about the duck.

"You should try the prime rib, it's excellent", the waitress replied.

To that, The Gazelle answered "oh no, I don't like ribs at all."

I felt my cheeks get hot, and I think I began to feel my armpits get a little sticky. Did my boyfriend, the man I love & adore with all of my heart, just tell the waitress that he doesn't want prime rib because he doesn't like ribs? Err...what do I do...what do I say?

So, true to form, I did nothing. I said nothing. I just let it unfold right before my very eyes. I was afraid to look at Junior Prom Date for fear that he would think that I was a horrible country-rooted girlfriend for not schooling my city boyfriend on the vast disparity between prime ribs and bbq ribs.

I have to give the waitress a lot of credit because she flowed right through this mishap with little more than a slight eye roll. She carried on and just let him order the duck. After she left, I very matter-of-factly brought up the story of my 20 year old assistant at work who made the very same mistake last year at our work Christmas party. I think that I effectively got my point across, without bruising his pride too awfully much...and I doubt that he'll make the same mistake again.

So, if you made it this far into my rambling post about prime rib vs. bbq ribs, then you have earned this...

See...aren't you so happy you waited? I think this picture can be the subject of several blogs to come.

And, alas...I promise to write about jogging soon. There are just so many other fun things to talk about in the meantime.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh Sunshine...Oh Palm Tree...Oh Blue Metal Art Thingy!


Vacation brought with it many adventures.

There were the careless nights relaxing in the hotel bar (ahem… while watching the game and laughing with The Gazelle. And the aimless walks around the streets of downtown Phoenix.

One of those walks brought us to this…


Here's a better view...just in case you missed it the first time...


That gave us a hearty belly laugh.

We did a lot of wandering for the first 2 days that we were in Phoenix. Despite the fact that I completely lack any sense of direction whatsoever, The Gazelle trusts me so fully that he still sometimes lets me lead the way. That’s love. However, after about the 5th time that I brought us full-circle around the 15 block radius of our hotel, only to find that our destination was a mere 2 blocks (insert cardinal direction here) of our hotel, he grew frustrated and took over the navigational duties. That was ok with me though. It was too much responsibility, considering I was on vacation and all.

The good part about wandering around Phoenix and getting lost is that you find things like this…


and this…


and especially this…


We found this little gem of a park behind the Hooters (go figure) in Arizona Center. Their little water pond with the rocky bottom was so relaxing that we spent 2 hours sitting on a wooden bench staring at the water and talking. We can talk for hours if we let ourselves. Sometimes life just doesn't give you time to do that though.

As we were sitting there talking on the bench under the palms (ack...gag...barf...that sounded way too romantic), I felt so thankful to have some extra time for a change. It was strange to have time to just wander around a city aimlessly and get lost.

If you have time someday, you should try it. It's a lot of fun.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to Life...Back to Reality

This is the song that I literally sang while walking out of the stuffy tube thingy from the plane to the airport terminal. The Gazelle just laughed at me.

Have you ever taken a moment to reflect, and then realized that you can’t remember the past month of your life? Really?! Yeah…me too. I feel like I have been living in a centrifuge for about a month now.

My Grandpa passed away exactly 3 weeks and 1 day ago, sparking an impromptu trip to Central NY to be with my family. I was back at work just in time to get caught up, and then left again on vacation last Wednesday, returning on Sunday. I am now just about caught up at work…in time to leave on a 4 day Thanksgiving holiday weekend! I'm beginning to understand the concept behind everyone’s musings about “there are not enough hours in the day.” I mean…I’ve understood it before, but I think I’m just really feeling it lately.

2 days until Thanksgiving…29 days until Christmas.

TWENTY NINE days until Christmas??!! Not only did I just spend a small fortune to have my 2 crazy dogs boarded while I was on vacation, but I also had the brakes on my car replaced while I was away. Not fixed. Replaced. Apparently, brakes can only be fixed so many times before they need to be replaced. Probably much like a hip or a knee I suppose. I’m sure that hip, knee, and brake replacements are all equally as shocking when you receive the bill.

I did have a great time on vacation though. But, all things must come to an end.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Heart Vacation

Ah, the joy of vacation.

Tomorrow, at the butt crack of dawn, The Gazelle and I will leave on a jet plane to spend 4 lovely days in Phoenix, Arizona. I’ve never been to Phoenix before, but I’ve heard only good things. I am basically ready to go anywhere that the weather is not 45 degrees and windy at this point. It’s been a blustery week for us in the DC metro area, so the idea of basking in sunny, beautiful weather (if only for 4 days) seems like a little glimpse of heaven to me.

The forecast at home looks like this…

And…the forecast in Phoenix looks like this…



Will you marry me?

Monday, November 17, 2008


I just figured out how to integrate my Nike + profile into my blog. So...I love you, but Nike + is my new BFF.


The Gazelle

My dear boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 2 years now. Without completely boring you with all of the gory details of our relationship, lets just say that exercise and fitness is important to both of us. He is a former Division I college basketball player, and upon graduation from college, decided that he needed to move on and get a “real” job rather than trying to pursue his hoop dreams a la Michael Jordan. In any case, he still plays recreational basketball, runs (a little), lifts weights, and really enjoys participating in a grossly overpriced (I’ll save that rant for another day) martial arts class twice a week. Did I mention that he runs (a little)?

In July, I was nosing around the website, as I do regularly, and came across The Police Pace 5K Race, which is an annual race that benefits a local police department. Since my dear boyfriend decided to ditch hooping in favor of policing a few years back, this was a cause that we could both feel good about running for…IF I could convince him to run. See, he doesn’t like running at all. He will occasionally run 2 miles on the treadmill at the gym, but by no means does he make a habit of it. He does everything else to compensate for not running.

I knew that the name “Police Pace” would get him. I barely even had to bribe him to do it.

The race was on a Saturday, so my long-legged honey and I decided to run the course on Wednesday night after work, the week of the race. I had previously run this course once the year before for a different race, so I was vaguely familiar. The one thing I did recall was that there was an abundance of hills. Big hills, little hills, medium hills. Hills rolling into hills. It was quite uncomfortable if my memory served me correctly. So, the week of the race, we ran the course. Backwards. Ok, well not literally backwards, but the opposite direction of how we would run it during the race. I was disoriented when we got to the park, and I just started running. Turns out that we made a wrong turn and ended up going the wrong way. The course was MUCH easier going the other way, but we had skipped an entire portion of the course, so I ended up running only about 2.5 miles in a circle back to the truck. My dedicated boyfriend just kept running until his Nike + told him that he had gone 3.1 miles. Such a trooper. When he got back to the truck AFTER me, he thought that I had ran faster than him. I didn’t have the heart to correct him.

In a truly loving gesture, he offered the next day to run the race with me.

“Honey, ya know…as long as you’re not going to run TOO slow, I’ll just run the race with you.” ***Enter visions of running across the finish line holding hands in a romantic fashion…gross.

I said “That’s very nice, but I really run better by myself, and I’m just an ugly runner…I don’t want to put you through that.” What he doesn’t realize is that the effort it takes for me to propel my body 3.1 miles without keeling over and dying is enormous. I have asthma, so my run is filled with coughing, heavy breathing, and I’m sure the occasional snort every now and again.

He insisted, so I went with it.

Race day was lovely. I had been training a little to run this race, so I was feeling very confident. Yes, I’m still at the point where I need to train for a 5K. Stop laughing. I regress...race day was lovely. Great fall weather (9/7/08), huge turnout, I was ready to kick some butt. We took off with the pop of the gun, and after spending the first 4-5 minutes milling through the crowd to fall into my comfortable pace, I noticed that my dear boyfriend looked like he was painfully holding himself back. Sidebar: I am 5’5”, and he is 6’2”…in hindsight, the pure physics involved with him running at my pace seems nearly impossible. I nudged him to go ahead.

The first time I ran the same course in 2006, I finished in 34:30. Pathetic, but I finished. I was so psyched when I crossed the finish line at 32:25 this year. I was literally overjoyed. Stop laughing.

Drenched in sweat and barely breathing, I started searching for my boyfriend. After a few glances around, I found him. Chatting. Dry. Calm. Cool. He was literally standing there chatting with a friend that he just ran into. I was immediately irritated, but still happy that I finished. “Babe…I finished in 32:25! Can you believe it??!!”

“Yeah, that’s really good! I’m proud of you!”

“How long have you been here waiting for me??!!”

“Oh, I don’t know…about 10 minutes I think.”

Yep. The man who runs (a little) finished in 24:21. Disgusting. Makes me want to kick him in the shin. However, this little story speaks volumes about early conditioning and natural ability. My dear boyfriend, The Gazelle, has been playing organized sports since he was about 6 years old. When he misbehaved as a young child, rather than spank or yell at him, his father made him do push ups. Brilliant. It started him on a path of fitness that he never let go of, and now at the ripe age of 28, he can still run a 7:51/mile with no training.

Me…not so much.

Beef and Mechanics

I slept until 12:30 yesterday. I admit it.

I have been feeling slightly not "right" for about the past 2 weeks, and I had a hunch that my body was trying to tell me that if I didn't slow down and get some rest, I was going to be sick soon. I ignored it, of course. I proceeded with my crazy weekend, including steak on Friday, steak on Saturday, and tacos on Sunday.

"Hello, coronary bypass? Yes, I'd like to make an appointment for 3pm today..."

In addition to my overly carnivorous meal plan, I also began Saturday with a trip to the vet for psykko (a.k.a. Nikko), followed by a pretty hard-core trip to the grocery store for coupon hounding, immediately followed by dinner out with my boyfriend's family. However, considering it was a Saturday night in the DC Metro area, there was nothing short of a 45 minute wait. I promise that I wore sensible, sturdy shoes, but no orthopedic shoe on the face of the Earth can shelter my chronically injured right knee/calf/ankle/foot...LEG...from pain when faced with a 45 minute wait at Texas Roadhouse.

Needless to say, I was a little grumpy by the time we sat down. Dinner was enjoyable, and we had to cut out a little early to make it to Hooters in time for our date with Randy Couture and Brock Lesner. Of course, we left late, as is our typical M.O., and got to Hooters WAY too late to get a table. This was about 28,475,639 times more irritating than having to wait 45 minutes for a table at Texas Roadhouse. However, we couldn't miss this fight because we are both UFC we stood.

And stood...

And stood...

Are you noticing a pattern yet?

Yes, we stood for 3 HOURS. Around hour #2, I think I cracked a tear. Around hour #2.5, I think I heard my feet cry out for help. It was miserable. Finally, after Randy Couture was defeated, we ran out the door and quickly made it to the car so that we could take a load off of our feet. I started up the car, then proceeded to have a 10 minute asthma attack with no rescue inhaler. The Gazelle was ready to drive me to the ER. Poor thing.

I survived the asthma attack (obviously), and we started on our way to stop #3 for the night, my friend's birthday celebration at a local bar. We drove all the way there, only to find out that there was a $10 per person cover, and they didn't allow hats. Not even girl hats. Are you SERIOUS??!! It was drizzling all day, and I wore the cutest was my only savior on a day like that. Ok, I could have went to the car and gracefully ditched the hat. However, with a $10 cover and no confirmation that my friend was even still AT the bar, we went to the car and waited to hear back from her. answer...12:15...still no answer. We went home.

On the way home, I began hearing this eerie metal-on-metal grinding noise coming from my brakes. Hello $500 brake job. So...when I was finally able to drag my butt out of bed yesterday, I dropped my car off with my mechanic to be fixed. I love car maintenance expenses.

So, I ate too much red meat, got sick, and I'm anticipating a huge bill from my mechanic. Hopefully at least my run this afternoon will be good.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The 10% Rule???

So the rough plan between now and July 12 when I jog The Boilermaker is to run as many smaller races as possible, gradually working my distance up to a 10K by April-ish. My runs presently are only consisting of 2 mile runs at lunch on Monday, Wednesday & Friday, and usually a longer (3-4 mile) run on Saturday or Sunday. In 2 weeks, I plan to start banging out 3 miles on my lunch hour rather than the 2 that I’m presently doing.

Since I am not a professional runner (pfffftt…that was an understatement), I don’t know much about training for a 15K. My loving sister (who drops her cell phone in the toilet sometimes) gave me the training program that she followed for her Boilermaker training last year. However, I know that I can’t start that program until 12 weeks out from the race. In the process of searching for a running log that would interface with my blog, I found the fabulous Log Your Run website, and it is a website that jogging dreams are made of. Not only did I find a really cool little blog gadget that will show my current week of running for all to see, but it also keeps track of my records, personal best, race results, shoe mileage, weight…this website is my new BFF (sorry Karie).

I went backwards and logged 2 months' worth of runs into my new personalized running log (thankfully I had this info already because I'm an accountant and basically exist on this planet to create spreadsheets for everything...jogging included). Upon entering my past runs, I started poking around at the reports. This was the first one I found, and I was a little disturbed:


I was alarmed immediately by all of the red bars. Upon reading the fine print, I found out about the 10% rule. WHY hasn’t anyone ever told me about the 10% rule?! I’m outraged.

Sorry knee. I hope you'll forgive me. I didn't know.

Hobby vs. Job

At least once a week, I wish that I could be a professional hobbier. I can't even imagine the pure bliss involved with earning a living by doing something that I truly love. My only problem would be deciding which hobby would successfully keep my interest for long enough. As I get old(er), I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm a bit impulsive. And have a slight case of ADD.

There was the soap-making phase. What started out as a small soap-making kit purchased at one of those canned craft stores, turned into a small-scale soap manufacturing company (sans customers) right in my very own dining room. Within a 2 week period, I had made every size, shape, and scent of soap imaginable. I quickly realized that I hated bar soap, I didn't even use bar soap, and that along with me, most of the American population had switched to using the more convenient body wash form of soap many moons before I started making my crafty little bars of soap. I'm usually a day late on these things anyway, so I wasn't heartbroken.

Then there was the paper-making phase. This was a good one, and I actually still have some leftovers of my paper-making phase. The process of paper-making is really messy, but it is actually very fun and relatively simple. The only problem with paper-making was that I couldn't afford to keep replacing my blender every other day. Those things get expensive.

I'm presently involved in couponing as a hobby. This seems to be a pretty inexpensive hobby, and in the end, I actually save money. What a concept. The problem with couponing is that it is fairly time-consuming, and my hand cramps up after cutting enough coupons for myself, my family members, and all of my coupon buddies. Carpal tunnel could be an unwelcome side effect of couponing. Something to think about.

Jogging is my longest-running hobby. I have somehow managed to stay interested in jogging for almost 6 years (despite a rigorous CPA testing schedule, college classes and tests, full-time job, injuries and physical therapists). Considering how well I know myself and my sporadic hobby track record, 6 years is impressive. Although this makes me feel proud to have accomplished a little bit of personal focus, I am becoming concerned about jogging lately.

My sister (who regularly drops her cell phone in the toilet) has completed 2 Boilermakers so far. We were both late-bloomer runners (well...she's a runner, I'm a jogger), but she has really excelled. She mentioned the race to me for 2 consecutive years before I finally decided to do it. In the weeks leading up to my registration yesterday, I have been fairly consumed with thoughts of the race. I have the elevation map posted on the wall next to my desk. Considering my history of becoming hobby-disgruntled and quickly throwing in the towel, I'm concerned.

Is my hobby going to turn into less of a hobby and more of a job?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And so it begins...

I'm terrified. I just registered for the 2009 Boilermaker 15K. Although I have been running (ahem...jogging) for about 5 years now, I have never attempted to tackle a race of baby brontosaurus proportions. My previous races have been more of a Deinonychus than a Brontosaurus.

In addition to not having ever run (errr...jogged) a race of this distance, I have also never jogged during the height of summer (July 12) over massive rolling hills. Uh yeah. I'm more of a "find the flattest 3 mile course and mosey through it" kind of gal. However, today I registered for the race and bought the t-shirt. There's no turning back now. I mean c'mon...I bought the t-shirt. What kind of a tool bag would I be jogging around in a 2009 Boilermaker training t-shirt with no intention of actually participating in the Boilermaker?

The race looks like this:


And, I'm scared of it.