Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm Grateful, Thankful and Appreciative

Once again I am stealing a theme from other Bloggers, known as "What I am Grateful for" which is a fitting way to say Good Bye to 2009. So here we go:

I'm grateful for my kids, and that I have a boy and a girl, so I can experience raising both kinds.

I'm grateful for my husband, who, although he snores, would walk through fire for me.

I'm grateful for my legs, which allow me to run, bike, ski, swim, play tennis and vacuum.

I'm grateful for anti-wrinkle/anti-blemish cream.

I'm grateful for all the major food groups, especially Mexican and Pizza.

I'm grateful for my house, and all the things I want to do to it.

I'm grateful for 10k's, 15k's, half marathons, and hopefully, marathons.
I'm grateful for my country, and for the freedoms I hope we never lose.

I'm grateful for spring, summer, winter and fall, and all that comes with it.

I'm grateful for my friends, old and new.

I'm grateful for my sisters, brother, and parents, even though after a couple of days with them I want to strangle them.

I'm grateful for my extended family, including my wonderful mother, father, sister and brother in laws, and all they do for us.

I'm grateful for high speed Internet, and my trusty laptop.

I'm grateful for my boots: black snow boots, tall black leather, and tall brown Frye boots.

I'm grateful for my public library, and discount coupons to Barnes and Noble.

I'm grateful for Nick Jr. and Disney movies.

I'm grateful for white wine, the occasional beer, and dirty martini's.

I'm grateful for a New Year, and Fresh Starts.

and on that note, Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

You Gonna Eat That? Cause I will if you won't.

I've been thoroughly enjoying Christmas, I'm surprised my pants still fit. I've been starting most days with a cookie along with my coffee, although I did whisk some Amazing Grass into my coffee the morning we packed up and headed down to NY for Christmas. I haven't run in 5 days, but it's sunny out right now, although I'm not sure how icy it is, but I plan on getting out there to get some miles under my feet.

We started our feasting on Christmas Eve Eve, with Tex Mex takeout from the Cactus Cafe near my Mom's house on Long Island. I had a spicy fish taco, along with a veggie burrito, but I was bummed because they left the vegetarian chili off the burrito. My mom had bowls of chocolates throughout the house, by the time we left Eliza and I made a pretty good dent in them.

For breakfast Christmas Eve, Mike went out for bagels, I had a toasted Everything Flagel with butter, we always had bagels on Sunday as kids, such a great comfort food. I was good about not eating too much in anticipation of our main meal, an 18 pound Prime Rib. I thought of taking a walk or a quick run, but there was still so much snow from the storm last week, that the roads were a mess. So I played with the kids in the yard, then started cooking in the kitchen with my sisters.
I roasted 5 pounds of organic carrots, just sliced, then tossed in olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and a bit of brown sugar. My sis in law D is a fabulous cook, she made stuffed mushrooms, a bruschetta with tomato, red onion, garlic and olive oil, and broccoli roasted with chunks of garlic and red pepper flakes. None of us had green bean casserole at Thanksgiving, so my Mom provided that, along with biscuits. The last dish was roasted baby potato's with garlic and fresh rosemary, made by my sister M.

I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of the finished prime rib, Mike roasted it on the grill outside and it was PERFECT. We got such a large piece because we thought there was a bone in it, but, nope, no bone! We had a LOT of meat, but after everyone took some home (and I picked at it bit by bit) there wasn't much left. My sister said a serving of prime rib is a scary 900 calories, but none of us eat this often, once a year if that, so we ate it guilt free. Plus we had such great vegetable side dishes. Hey, it's Christmas!

After we got the kids to bed, my sister Ali and Mike and I watched Emmet Otters Jug Bag Christmas, which is my favorite, and dug into one of those huge tins of popcorn. I opened an early present (a Snuggie, I think everyone everywhere got one of these) and was able to use it as a huge tablecloth so I didn't miss a single kernel of corn.
My sister Ali does Christmas morning breakfast, cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, toast. I also had a side of leftover carrots and broccoli to get some vitamins in my system, I didn't have my Amazing Grass smoothie at all while we were there, and that's how I get my daily serving of fruits, I'm not a real fruit person. I'm a chocolate person.
We made it to my Uncle J's for the day, and it was fabulous. All of my cousins were there, and Aunts and Uncles. My cousin told me she got a nine mile run in that morning down to the beach, I was so jealous. We started in on the apps, my Aunt L made a killer goat cheese log rolled in walnuts, cranberries and something else I couldn't identify. My Aunt J is Italian, so that's what we have for Christmas dinner, the only thing Irish about the meal is the drinking, and this year the drink was "Red and Ginger" Johnny Walker Red with Ginger Ale. I stuck with vodka tonics. There was an anti pasta (with knots of fresh mozzarella, I could eat just that and bread and be happy), sausage, peppers and onions, chicken parm, eggplant rollitini, penne ala vodka, spiral ham, and Caesar salad. I won't go into a long dessert description, but I made my border sugar cookies, and according to Eliza, the best thing of the whole day (not her presents) was the cake balls she had for dessert. These are little balls of cake whipped with frosting, frozen, then coated in chocolate and sprinkles. droooool.

Santa was very good to me, but the first present I opened was from my Aunt Linda, her coveted recipe for Irish Soda Bread, along with a cast iron pan to make it in. I seriously squealed with delight when I saw what it was. Her bread is the absolute best, I love it toasted with a bit of butter. I also got a Wii Fit Plus! Whoohoo! Now I can really tackle my fitness goals for next year, which involves a lot more cross training and strengthening of my core. I also got a new cookbook, Nigella Lawson's Christmas, oh, I love her, so I was very psyched for this new book of hers.

I'm not feeling guilty about any of my excesses these past few days, I know it's all about balance. And I'll get back on track this week, after I finish this brownie and bake two lasagna's for another round of festivities.....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Semi Wordless Post

I had fun writing my Twitter post, so I thought I would do a Wordless Wednesday type post on a Sunday, with photos of what I did this week. I'll start off with the above gingerbread house that I made with the kids, it took waaaay longer than I thought it would. I also
baked this for the PTA

Ran on this

Drank some of this

Saw this guy

Read these

Gave this a try

Snacked on these

And used this at the mall and toy store

I love Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rewind, reflect, and move forward

At this point of the season, I naturally start reflecting on the past year, in anticipation of what my New Year's Resolutions might be. New Years Eve is a no brainer for a fresh start, but when I think about it, I'm constantly restarting and changing, depending on what my life serves up.

Last year I wanted to focus on two areas, my role as a mother, and my physical goals. And I'm still working on them. I love my kids, but I am a very impatient person, I always have been. I can fly off the handle very easily, and little things annoy me. Perfect example was this morning at the drop off at Eliza's school. This woman always pulls up to the front door to bring her child inside, unlike the rest of us who park and walk our kids in, like you're supposed to. There is a pregnant Mom, and even she doesn't pull up to the front. This drives me nuts, and I'm never going to say anything to the offender, so I've just got to get over it, and not let these types of things bug me.

I do think I've been better with my patience with the kids, there were times where I prayed for it, and it was given to me. It's gotten easier now that they are getting older, but I'm always going to have to work on it. I can't believe we're out of the baby stage, I still look around for my diaper bag which I haven't needed in months.

Physically I am in a good place compared to last year. Last January I was finally over my hamstring injury, and my goal was to run a half marathon, which I did in September. I keep thinking back to last December, I was bummed out, had gained weight, and not being active really bothered me. Now I can't get over the difference a year can make. I don't want to weigh myself (I have a love/hate relationship with the scale, and it sits next to my dresser where I see it several times a day) but my pants are two sizes smaller, I even bought a new pair of jeans that are in my pre-baby size.

I pray that I stay injury free so I can tackle my next set of goals. 2009 was about running, 2010 will still be about running, but with a major focus on cross training. I did my yoga DVD this week and it was great, but I need to do it consistently, and work on my core. I rode my bike this year, I'm looking into getting a trainer for it to use it inside, but I cross country ski in the winter months so I think that will help to shake things up.

In March I find out if I made it into the NYC Marathon, I would love to do that one for many reasons, several of my friends, including my Dad have run it, and I'm from that area. I don't have high hopes, but I'm exploring other ideas if it doesn't pan out.

Another race that I hope to tackle is the Mountain Goat, here in Syracuse. It's a 10 mile run, and very hilly. The Lake Effect Runners are planning training runs for it, which I'd like to be a part of. And finally, I hope to do the Boilermaker for the fourth time. Notice how I keep saying "I hope" and "I'd like." Sounds like I don't want to jinx myself, if you believe in that sort of thing. Which I do and don't. I think.
So I'm looking to continue on with what I've been doing, being a good mother to my kids, a good wife, sister, daughter and friend. I want to keep running and get stronger than I am now. To not sweat the small stuff. And finally, in the words of the Eagles, I wish you peace.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What I would Tweet if I Tweeted

I am a slave to facebook. And to blogs obviously, and my latest obsession is foodbuzz. I have yet to join the Tweeting community, because I don't think I'm that interesting, if anything I'm pretty predictable. For the heck of it, this is what I would tweet over a couple of hours this morning...

7:40 a.m. the kids are awake, and it's Mike's morning to sleep in, so I've gotta get up.

Coffee, with eggnog creamer? or peppermint mocha? May as well have a Christmas cookie with it.

Get online and check what's new in the world, and the kids.

Hungry, Amazing Grass smoothie with milk, frozen blueberries and peaches.

I'm not going out to get the newspaper, don't feel like navigating the icy driveway in slippers.

Still hungry. Slice of toasted Italian bread with a piece of bacon and melted cheese on top.

Play Cooties with the kids. I want to run this morning, so I stretch as we play.

Put on the Santa Clause 2, put on outdoor running clothes.

Is that freezing rain? Change clothes.

Mike is taking the kids to the mall. I wonder if he's getting me that nail buffer I hinted about.

Go down to the treadmill. Better grab the phone. And the water bottle. And tissues.

1.5 miles in. I have to go to the bathroom.

I wonder if the prime rib we bought for Christmas Eve Dinner is enough for 11 people?

Ooooo Three's Company is on, and it's a Christmas episode.

I think it's interesting that my parents will be spending another holiday together this year, and they've been divorced for 30 years.

Eliza really needs a haircut.

Did I feed the fish?
Oh, Ladder 49 is on, a friend of ours has a small part in this.

I wonder if my brother in law made his Holiday Chex Mix for their party later today.

I should finish reading Have a Little Faith for bookclub so someone else can borrow it.

I think it's terrible that those Navy Seals are being court marshalled.

My hamstring hurts.

My brother is on the phone, need to talk to him so I'll walk for a couple minutes on a high incline.

I can't believe Billy Corgan is dating Jessica Simpson.

That southwest grilled chicken salad was really good last night.

What the heck am I going to get Mike for Christmas?

I'm done with my run, six miles. That makes 17 for the week.

That's enough for now. No big surprises, I love food, running, and television.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two vices in one

I'm a sucker for a salty and sweet food combo. Pretzels dipped in whipped cream, salty caramels, chocolate covered potato chips, we even throw dark chocolate into chili (it really adds a richer flavor to the chili). If I'm going to eat junk, I alternate between potato chips, and dark chocolate. And back again.

There was a cooking show on years ago called Two Hot Tamales with Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, and everything they made had a spicy accent to it. The two chefs have a restaurant in Las Vegas called Border Grill, we went to LV for my 30th birthday and planned to check it out.....but never quite made it. Hey, it was Vegas, and what happens in Vegas......

Well, they made a shortbread cookie that I have been making at Christmastime ever since I came across the recipe. And it is made with (surprise) potato chips and chocolate. I have to make several batches in December because they disappear in two seconds. So without further ado, here are the Border Sugar Cookies....

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crushed potato chips
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
sugar for dipping
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate for garnish
a heavy glass, like a pint glass

Preheat oven to 350.
Line a cookie sheet with Silpat or parchment paper
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy
Beat in salt and vanilla
Add pecans and chips and mix well
With a wooden spoon, stir in flour until it disappears
Roll batter into balls the size of a walnut and place on sheet, allow room for spreading
Coat bottom of glass with butter, then dip in sugar, and flatten each ball into a 3 inch circle.
Bake 8-10 minutes, edges should be light brown.
Melt chocolate, and use a fork to drizzle chocolate over cooled cookies.
Refrigerate to set, or if you live in the freezing northeast like I do, stick them in the garage covered with paper to set.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Christmas all over again

Once again Christmas has snuck up on me, every year I say the same thing, that I can't believe it's the holiday season. But it's here, and I'm into it. I was tagged by Sophia's Mom over at Wannabe WAHM for this Christmas meme, and I haven't done one of these for a while. Before I dive in, I wanted to share a website for AnySoldier.com, where you can get the addresses of deployed servicemen and women around the world. This is a hard time of year being away from home, so sending a soldier a holiday card might help brighten their day.
Now onto the meme:

Have you started your Christmas shopping?
Yes, almost finished, just need some more things for my husband and kids.

Tell me about one of your special traditions.
I like to read books about the meaning of christmas with the kids.

Are you a Black Friday Shopper?
Hell No.

When do you put up your Tree?
The weekend after Thanksgiving.

Do you Travel at Christmas or Stay home?
We alternate each year, between Syracuse and Long Island. This year it's LI, so I'm praying for good travel weather.

What is your funniest Christmas memory?
One year my mom took us to a Spanish mass by mistake.

What is your favorite Christmas Movie of All time?
I have to have two, the original Miracle on 34th street with Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood, and a newer favorite is Love Actually.

Do you do your own Christmas Baking, what’s your favorite treat?
I make a potato chip shortbread cookie every christmas, and will post the recipe this week!

Fake or Real Tree?
Real, can't beat the smell of it. Plus picking it out is half the fun.

What day (as a mom) does the actual panic set in to get it all done?
I never panic, I just go with the flow and enjoy everthing about this time of year.

Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve?
No, but I only finish a day or two before that.

What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas?
We make cookies, and drive around a few times to look at christmas lights.

What Christmas craft do you like the best?
I am so not crafty, but I like taking photos of the kids and picking out the christmas card.

Christmas music. Yes or No, and if yes What is your favorite song?
Yes, and I like too many to have just one favorite....Baby Please Come Home by U2, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland, Fairytale of NY by the Pogues, Noel by Josh Groban, and Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC.

When do you plan to finish all your shopping?
A week before Christmas.

I'm tagging

Yonca Is Cooking
Girl with the Flour in her hair
Colorado Runner

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lake Effect Run

Today was my first run outside since the Turkey Trot, and wow, it was like night and day. The Lake Effect Run Club is a group for Central NY Runners, and they have weekly runs in different parts of the area. I've been wanting to run with them for a while, but the runs are usually on Tuesday nights, which is hard to finangle with the kids and Mike's schedule.

But they have Saturday morning runs as well, and I was able to join them today. This run was up in the Tipperary Hill neighborhood, the four mile loop which makes up the Shamrock Run in March. This area is hilly, and I've never run that race, so I wasn't sure what to think.

I got right up at 6:30, it's amazing how I sleep for exactly seven hours when I'm not dealing with insomnia, it is the perfect amount for me, and once I get it, I up and ready to go. It was 28 degrees out, but no snow flurries like I had expected. I had plenty of time to stretch and get to the coffee shop where everyone was meeting by 8:30. There was a group of 21 runners, including Jeannine and Bill.

We took off and it was a really great run. The cold didn't bother me at all, and it was fun to have a new route to run. There was one long hill in the beginning, which I was told is normally at the end of the Shamrock Run, but since we tackled it early on today, it wasn't a problem. There were inclines, but they were quick, and at times it was steep going downhill. I had my ipod, but didn't really use it, I was busy looking around, and chatting with Jeannine. We finished the four mile loop, but decided to continue on, so we ended up doing around six. Towards the end I pushed my pace, and it felt really good. It was nice to be outside early in the day, and breaking a nice sweat. We grabbed coffee in the shop afterwards, but I didn't stay too long as I had Christmas Tree shopping on the agenda. I'm so glad I went today, runners in general are a friendly bunch, as was everyone I met today, so I'll definitely join in again.

This week, I received two things from some blog friends, first, an "I Love Your Blog" award from Susan's Family Formula Blog, she's always got something good to share from her life as a Mother and Teacher.

Then I won a Yoga DVD from Nicole at Mom's Home Run! It's called Pulse Yoga, for toning and balance, and I can use both. I've been trying to get into yoga all year, but haven't been very successful at it. I did find a great Yoga for Runners show on the Sportskool channel, but they got rid of it, so my yoga devotion was short lived. Hopefully this new DVD will give me the push I need, thanks Nicole!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Parenting Post

I wrote out this post, then something happened when I added a photo, and the whole thing got screwed up. Which is annoying because when I write, I'm emptying out whatever I have going on in my head, and once it's cleared out it's hard to find it again.

Regardless, I've been alone with the kids all week, Mike is due back from his trip tonight, but he leaves again on Sunday for a few days. And surprisingly, I haven't lost my mind. I think.

I feel like in some ways, we have a traditional Leave it To Beaver marriage, Mike works and I take care of the house and kids. Mike doesn't have expectations for me, but I have them for myself. Every day at 4:30 I get a little OCD, making sure the house looks nice, and that I've done everything I meant to that day. When you're a Stay At Home Mom, it's hard to gauge how you're doing. When I was a Salesperson it was easy, I had clear goals to attain, and if I made them, I was rewarded. But now, I don't have a quarterly review of my housekeeping skills, and I don't get a raise when my kids are happy and well behaved (well, I might get a coffee mug from Chicago). So although I've missed Mike this week, with him gone my days have been more easy going, I even let the kids skip brushing teeth one night.

Last night I was sitting at the table with the kids as they ate, and something felt familiar, it felt like my childhood. My parents divorced over 30 years ago, and we lived with my Mom, and saw my Dad for Wednesday night dinners at an Italian restaurant, or for weekends in Brooklyn. I don't know how my Mom did it as a single parent. Sure she yelled, and I know she was unhappy at times, but we were a team. She put herself through school, and spent her nights at class or at the kitchen table studying. So sitting with my kids reminded me of her, which I guess is good and bad at the same time.

This is the picture that caused me to lose my previous post, but I love it. I'm nine months old here, and I love what my parents are wearing. Nope, it wasn't a costume party, just the early '70's.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This will keep the Vampires Away

Thanks to everyone who entered the Stonyfield Farms Oikos Yogurt Giveaway.....I used random.org to pick the winner, and it was #3, The Pursuit of Healthfulness! Congrats!

Mike is out of town most of this week, as well as next week, so I'm faced with Cooking For One. I'm not a cereal for dinner type person, I still want to sit down to a hot meal at the end of the day. We ate out and had takeout several times over the weekend, so yesterday's lunch was Bang Bang Shrimp in a whole wheat tortilla (Bonefish Grill leftovers) and dinner was Pra Ram Long Song leftovers from my favorite Tai restaurant. I ran six miles this morning so I might let myself have some pasta for dinner tonight.

I thought I would share my favorite homemade soup, Garlic and Brie. It's actually pretty healthy, minus the cheese, and I think Mike found the recipe years ago in a copy of Bon Appetit magazine. We made a double batch a couple of weekends ago, and just a cup of it is perfect for an afternoon snack. Give it a whirl, just don't expect anyone to kiss you afterwards.

Garlic and Brie Soup

5 heads of garlic
1 large vidalia onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/4 cup flour
6 cups of chicken stock (your own, or an organic, no salt broth)
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
7 ounces of Brie, with the rind removed, and cut into slices
olive oil, kosher salt, pepper
blender, or submersion blender (which is easier)

1. Roast the garlic. Usually I cut the heads off, brush with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt, put it on aluminum foil, and bake for an hour at 375 until brown. When cooled, squeeze the garlic out of their skins, into a dish and smash into a paste. The last time we made it, we broke the garlic down into segments, and tossed them in oil and salt, then roasted them for about a half hour. It was easier to get the garlic out of the segments this way.

2. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Sautee onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Add celery and carrot, sautee another 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir for a couple of minutes until it turns golden.

3. Slowly add stock, and garlic, and bring to a boil while stirring often. Turn heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes until soup thickens a bit.

4. Time to puree the soup, take it off the heat. Either use a submersion blender to puree everything until smooth, or pour one cup of soup at a time into a blender, and blend.

5. Once smooth, return soup to saucepan if you used a blender, and add oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to taste, then bring soup back up to simmer on medium/low heat.

6. When you're ready to serve, put soup into bowls, and add brie so that it melts, but doesn't completely dissolve.

It's soooo good with a crusty bread, enjoy!