Friday, June 7, 2013

Mud Run Part 1

Wow, I really left you all hanging huh?

Now the tough decision, who would dumb enough to agree to do this with me? I gave it some thought and thought since I had not seen one of my best friends in what seemed like an eternity, I would ask her. After all she used to be a big cross country runner and she is used to my antics.

Well, Justine reluctantly agreed to come do the Dirty Girl Run and spend the weekend with yours truly (I swear she is actually is right in the head). She is on an awesome journey of weight loss and getting fit, plus she used to be a cross country runner… needless to say she agreed. I had been working with a trainer, not for running purposes but overall getting into shape purposes. It was funny in the beginning Justine was all about getting a good time and I was worrying about finishing. Well, life got in the way of training and we kind of switched rolls, I was trying to convince her we needed to finish in less than 30 minutes. (yeah, insane…. I know) I’m still thinking it’s a 5K just in a mud pit, no idea about the fact that obstacles were involved.

The week before the run, aka finals week for yours truly, I was trying to get Justine to back out! But we decided, why not? (it was more like I couldn’t get Justine to back out and I was too proud to say screw it)
So, she came up the night before and we headed to target to find matching outfits. She is trying to tell me all about the obstacles involved, yeah I was rather freaked out by this point. But we had already paid and what else would we do?

I was thinking tutus would be fun, but the one with common sense aka Justine reminded me it would just weigh us down. So, we practically decided on dri fit tees, running shorts and knee length argyle socks…. Plus running lollies, yep, lollies/bloomers whatever you call them. We needed an extra layer of protection because mud can get everywhere, ahem.
In addition, being the clean freak I am, we dug through the clearance sections to find towels, wash cloths and a shower curtain. Yes, a shower curtain aka a cheap version of a tarp to protect my car. Plus a pack of baby wipes… each. The towels we got were this ugly green color and the wash cloths were this tacky grey Hawaiian print.  I didn’t care too much because my thought was that it was all getting trashed because there was no way any of what was mud soaked was coming back into my house!

We packed up our bag and went to bed. It stunk! We needed to catch up more but we also had an 8:30 wave time…. Yeah I have no idea what I was thinking. Plus I was a little freaked about not being there 90 minutes prior to our wave time so needless to say we were up EARLY…. Blah

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Well everyone else is

If you know me at all, I tend to be rather random and sometimes impulsive.  Which is rather odd considering I hate change and like to know “what is next”.  But this is not a psych analysis, so let’s just accept it that I tend to be oxymoronic and move on

I’m not sure about you but it seems cross fit, working out, marathons, triathlons, running and just exercising in general has taken over my Facebook news feed.  It seems like an addiction among everyone I know, other than myself.  HA!  Here’s the thing, I kind of hate exercising.  Well, not exactly the actual exercising part but the out of breath/exhaustion part and sweating part isn’t really my cup of tea.

I know how to get more toned and look better in a swimsuit, but I just have almost no desire to put the effort in.  There is just limited incentive (in my opinion) that trumps the hard work and effort involved in working out.  Pathetic?  Yep!

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to join the ban wagon and participate in some running event that hopefully would not result in the need for medical attention.  Not because it would help me get in better shape but to fit in with my Facebook friends, my news feed and just to have fun.  After all its always fun to feel a part of something and even though it involved running, it seemed everyone had a blast doing it.  So, why not?  It’s not that I’m physically unable to train for a marathon or triathlon but I tend to lose motivation about three minutes into day one.  HA!  Though I’m good with team efforts and it always seems to suck less if you’re doing it with others.

I would love to become a marathon runner but the work involved totally turns me off!  I like quick results!  I also have a tendency to think I have some super power enabling me to randomly go run a 5K without any training and finish in less than twenty-five minutes!  Yes, I was pre-med and have quite a wealth of knowledge on the human body and its physiology.  Though, that knowledge is never applied to my personal self, after all that would be pragmatic and I’m far from pragmatic (when dealing with myself).

As much as I would love to be a true runner, those desires are not powerful enough to get up and run, let alone on a regular basis.  Though once in a while, acting on those desires could be fun.  Not to mention I always had a desire to be a contestant on Nickelodeon GUTS or Legends of the Hidden Temple or Wild and Krazy Kids.  Plus, I always liked obstacles courses.  I guess the obstacles help me forget that running is involved.
Going off the events that had popped up on my Facebook news feed over the past few months, I thought maybe a mud run, or color run would be challenging but doable.  Well, Google revealed that there was a dirty girl mud run in my area the first week in May!  Not really knowing exactly what a dirty girl mud run involved and blinded by the excitement that one was literally in my back yard, I registered myself and a-yet-to-be-determined friend.

Poor Justine, it’s definitely a trip being friends with me…..

Monday, April 15, 2013

My heart goes out to all affected by the Boston explosions.

We do not know exactly what happened yet and as much as I pray for the victims and their families, I pray for whomever is responsible for the explosions. That person or persons are probably quite lost, denied by society and broken. Yes, it’s easy to blame them or to call them crazy or lose faith; but look at it this way. One or a few were responsible, planted bombs and ran to safety, but hundreds selfless run TOWARDS the blast to help strangers they do not know out of their God given sense of humanity. Who wins? Humanity WINS

What happened today is a tragedy, let's keep today about the families and friends who have suffered loss and stop creating separation between one another... come together for a moment instead and just remember your loved ones and the people who have lost or have experienced pain for theirs. After all isn't that what faith is all about?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot.”  -Michael Altshuler

Time can be an enemy as well as your best friend. Either way time does go by extremely quickly. Maybe not while you're weathering through but looking back, it seems time was set on fast forward.

Today my goddaughter is another year older. She is turning into a spirited, opinionated, creative, adventurous, funny, and wonderful person. She is unique, outspoken, and hilarious.
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 I cannot believe she is 12! In some ways it seems like yesterday, I was pushing her in a swing & begging to go wake her up from her nap. In other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago.

I was a young, young teenager when I christened her! Being the youngest Godparent, I got to hold her throughout the mass, well until she decided she was hungry & didn't want to wait! It was really special and I could not be more proud to be her "Godmudder". More than anything, I wanted a bond with her, I wanted her to know that I was there when she needed me and that I was more than just a cousin with a title.

I tried to spend every break, day off & weekend I could with her & her siblings. I loved/love babies and I loved being able to help out. It made me feel wanted. It was the best of the best times. Now do I ever wish I could go back, to when she fell asleep in my arms or stomped around saying "don't call me Rosie!!"?

No way! NOT in a million years

Why? Because as great as those times were, it was hard and in some ways a real nightmare. Looking back it was even more of a blessing than I knew at the time; it was an escape all that time with her. I did might have driven her poor mother nuts, wanting to spend every break with them, but it was pure bliss being with them.

If you asked me, does time fly? Well, my answer is that sometimes it does. I would say age 12-20 dragged and dragged on. I piloted myself through, sometimes directly into the storms, a lot sometimes through the more difficult routes and even through uncharted territory. I was (and sometimes still am) the pilot ALWAYS flying to what's next.
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Well, as I've been flying to what's next, time has passed & life has been lived. There are parts I've missed in Catherine's life, my family's life and even my own life flying to what's next.

Of course, I've lived my life too, growing up, going to college, moving away, starting a career etc... Nevertheless, looking back, all I had was time. Now everything involves excessive planning, scheduling, and trying to coordinate busy lives.

Yes, time does fly-by & of course, you can never go back, but you can remember how you piloted through and allow the special times to guide your future times.

I'm not trying to speak in code, all I'm saying is that looking back on Catherine's christening, and all the wishes, and dreams I had, have not necessarily come true. I need go back & remember those wishes and dreams. But instead of trying to re-do the past, I need to adjust my wishes & dreams to fit "now" and pilot my time to ensure those wishes and dreams come true. With both my relationship with Catherine and my life in general I need to pilot my time & effort into what's most important, relationships. Not just a title but a relationship, a special relationship behind that title, whether it be godmother, friend, sister, daughter, cousin, etc...

I'm not sure if I made much sense, but on her 12th (seriously? are we sure she is that old) birthday, I'm remembering the GOOD in being the pilot. That's my gift to her as well as myself. Not that any 12 year old would think that's an awesome gift, which is why whenever I see her next, there will be a few others wrapped up with pink bows & sparkly paper!

Happy Happy Birthday to my Goddaughter Miss Catherine Rose. You sure are not thus tiny any more, but I love you just as much as I did back then!
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kitchen Adventures

Remember how I said I’m not much of a cook? Like I tend to just dump things in together, flavors I like and just hope it turns out well. In my opinion, that really isn't cooking, whether it involves an oven or not, but defines how I “cook”. Well, I found this amazing web site Emily Bites and well… anyone can follow a recipe right? HaHaHa right….

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The recipe calls for two types of cheese, I don’t think I had even heard of one of them. I just figured only using cheddar would work . The problem, is that I had a block of cheddar cheese and no cheese grater. From experience, I do know that trying to melt a solid block of cheese to use in a sauce, wont turn out the best. So, I improvise… I use my veggie peeler! It was quite funny peeling my cheese block and it took forever needless to say. In addition, I figured I could just use penne and fresh spinach…. Right? How much of a difference is there between elbow macaroni vs. penne and fresh baby spinach vs. frozen chopped spinach? It’s all going into a baked dish, there shouldn't be an issue. Well, cooked fresh spinach probably would be fine, the recipe even said it would be. Do you think I read that part of the recipe? Nope. Did I cook the spinach, prior to adding it in? Nope.  It still worked, righhhhttttt....

So, I start cooking, needless to say I have no idea what four cups of cooked pasta is, so I just made the entire box. No biggie. Then not thinking at all, I started making the cheese sauce, before the penne was actually finished cooking, oops! I thought the recipe would include cook the pasta as a step in the directions. Well, I guess cooked in bold in the ingredient list was enough of an indication. Yeah… no. (I’m book smart people, common sense could use some massive improvement).

Being my first time making cheese sauce, I had visions of burning it. I thought it was going to burn like almost fully melted chocolate burns after three seconds too long in the microwave. (Yes, I know you should melt chocolate in a double boiler, but that’s not my point). So, I kind of puttzed around till it was finished cooking. Did I mention I have little patience when it comes to cooking?

Shockingly enough it did not burn, separate or boil while waiting for the pasta to finish cooking.

I took four full scoops with my 1-cup measure and put it in the bowl with the fresh uncooked spinach and cheese sauce.  The problem is that four cups of cooked penne is a smaller amount than four cups of cooked elbow macaroni….  It’s an insult to my education I did not realize this HA!  Therefore, I just dump the rest of the cooked penne into to the mix. 

I mix it all together and realize my sauce must have gotten too hot because it was very thin, not really bonding everything together.  I’m not too sure, how I’m going to mold this mixture to fit into a muffin tin.

First off look at one piece of penne it longer than the bottom width of the muffin tin, do you think I realized this… nah.  I tried to fill the muffin tins.  Well, each muffin looked like it was filled with three ping pong balls, meaning nothing was bonded or mixed together, the sauce pooling at the bottom, penne coming out in all directions, tons of open air pockets, nothing staying in the formed mold.  Pretty much a mess.

This was just really frustrating, I now had a muffin pan I had to wash, find another pan to cook this in and wait to until it cooked. (I don’t have a dish washer and I had almost a full sink of dishes from this recipe already… I was a little over it) Needless to say, I was hungry, over the entire thing, mad my kitchen was messy and that it was past 7pm.  But I still had to cook it…somehow.

So, I ditch the whole portion control concept and grab my 9x13 Pyrex pan and decide to just make this a pan of baked mac & cheese. It all fit in the pan too! It still really wasn't sticking together but it was better than what it looked like in the muffin tins. I’m thinking to make it more like traditional baked mac & cheese, I added breadcrumbs to the pan, then take a spoon to try and evenly spread out the breadcrumbs. It looks ok, minus the occasional spinach leaf sticking straight up.

Thinking I didn’t tweak the recipe too much so, I was going to follow the cooking instructions as indicated. Well, after those 15 minutes, it looked just like it did when I put it in the oven, so I let it cook longer, checking on it. Not really much happens so after about 35 minutes, I take it out because I’m worried about it burning and it not being edible.

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Well, after about a two and a half hour long process it turned out pretty damn good! Crispy pieces on the top and quiche like in the middle. YUM! Of course, I did not portion it out in 12 servings and I certainly ate more than one "serving" but ughh it was good! I may have eaten half the pan that night.

So, yeah I’m driving blind when it comes to cooking but it turned out good. And yes, I do realize this prolly isn’t as daunting or funny to you, but it complete defines my personality in the kitchen! A little hap-hazard but the results are usually better than expected!

Lesson learned: There is a reason recipes indicate specific ingredients. If you follow the recipe, it turns out pretty good without all the head aches and extra dishes! In addition it helps to READ the recipe.

*** I have made this recipe again, sticking to my original detours but I used frozen chopped spinach. It’s necessary because it helps the sauce bind with the pasta and make its quiche-esk.

So, my hap-hazard version of this recipe is as follows:

Mac & Cheese Bake

Source: adapted from EmilyBites

¾ of a box of cooked penne 
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 c skim milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
6-8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg
1 egg white
1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, & drained… I didn’t take the time to pat it dry
1/8 t Salt                                                                                                                                                                                                     1/8t Pepper

¼ t McCormick Pinch Perfect Basil & Garlic (optional)

1/2 c of Italian Style bread crumbs SPLIT

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 400. Lightly mist a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2.    In a small sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, mixing it into the butter until thick. Stir in the milk and garlic and raise the temp to bring the mixture to just under a boil. Add the cheese and whisk mixture together until thoroughly melted/combined into a cheese sauce. 
3.    Remove the cheese sauce from heat and then mix in the egg and egg white (binding agents) until combined.
4.    In a large bowl, combine the pasta, spinach, cheese sauce, salt, pepper, McCormick pinch perfect, and ¼ c of the bread crumbs and mix.  Once combined, put into the prepped baking pan.

5.    After in the pan, take the other ¼ c of bread crumbs and sprinkle on the top
6.    Bake for 15-25 minutes until the tops slightly brown. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Final part of the catch up

So, I was thinking of this sweet eloquent way to finish off my catch up from January until, now, but this is reality. There wasn’t much going on to really delve into. So, here is a simple extremely generic finishing summary. aka… not the way I like to blog, but it works

My dad continued healing and going to cardiac rehab, his doctor was happy with how everything turned out. I think he liked cardiac rehab because he was the youngest guy there by about 20 years, or at least he looked like it. Since he was overall healthy prior to surgery, he made huge strides in rehab and did really well.  So, how we just need to make sure he keeps up with exercising and possibly eating a tad healthier! I think mom is more thrilled than anyone!

My brother FINALLY got engaged! Poor Carrie had been waiting for a loonnnggg time. I give her props, I doubt I would have waited that long. He always said he saw himself with Carrie for the rest of his life, but marriage seemed so permanent. Men! We spent a good 2-3 years asking when but any time we brought it up he would just get mad. She was definitely the “one” but I guess the idea of being married made him feel old. I have no idea, needless to say, I don’t understand him what-so-ever. It was really cool how they told my parents too, we had all just gotten iPhones. So, Kevin decided to face time them, he was just talking and showing them the beach, bragging a bit since they are in snowy upstate NY. He was panning the beach and then Carrie’s hand popped in with her ring on! Ahhhhh, it took them a minute but then mom screamed! Of course, she cried and best of all Carrie was totally shocked!  They called me and of course, I screamed and cried. Sooo excited! She makes him a better Kevin and they make each other happy. 

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I went to see my sweet cousins twice, ughh. They are growing soo fast and its hard living so far away! Here are a few of the bazillion pictures I took.

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Other than that, January-March consisted of work, grad classes and writing my thesis. If you want more specifics email me, but now you’re all officially caught up and I will hopefully be blogging on a more consistent basis!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Part two….

Well be careful what you joke about…. Here’s why:
Prior to my dad’s procedure, his doctor even said he was sorry to inconvenience him and that he doubted this procedure would reveal anything he did not already know. Well, the doctor ate his words! They found 90% blockage in two major arteries. Needless to say, we weren’t sure who was more dumb founded, us or his doctor.

The cardiothoracic surgeon wanted to do a double bypass as soon as possible. Dad wanted to wait until after Christmas but Dr. Fink did not want to wait. Surgery was scheduled for that Thursday…. Yes three days later!

We were all completely shocked and frightened. It rocked our family. I think in the beginning we were just going through the motions, just nodding and agreeing, unable to grasp the reality. I had never seen my dad in a sickly or weak light until then and it was hard. It was probably the longest week in our lives.

What was worse, was that the more questions we asked, the more nervous my dad got. We knew he was scared and his mind was racing, but we felt helpless in easing his mind. It was a tough lesson in restraint. Luckily, I knew quite a bit from an internship at a surgical center, but I still had questions and I wanted to grill his doctor. I even called some old doctors I used to work with to get the 411 on his surgeon. After all, their patient was MY DAD.

All four of us went to the hospital together, sat with him in pre-op and stayed with him until we were kicked out by the nurses.  I found peace in knowing it was a routine procedure, he had a great doctor and he was healthy. I was even a little excited, since I have missed being around an OR, surgery, hospitals and medicine. I couldn’t get enough of it, I picked anyone’s brain I could and asked tons of questions, simply because it’s fascinating to me. I was in his room more than the waiting room, just to observe, ask questions and learn. What was even better was that I was able to answer some basic questions my mom and brother, it felt like I helped ease their minds a little through my education and experiences.

His surgery went great. Dad did great. His nurses were amazing, absolutely amazing to both him and us. December was all about letting dad heal and making sure he did not overdo it. The first time mom left him home alone, he tried to do laundry! Things seemed to go back to normal, but the holidays were less hectic and calmer, surrounded by the ones we love most. We were reminded what matters most and how the power of prayer can carry you through. I was overwhelmed by the love, support and prayers from our family and friends.