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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Easy Roast Chicken

I'm trying to slowly remove gluten and cheese from my diet, in an effort to eventually ease into a paleo style diet (though I refuse to give up lentils). Plus I've started doing a lot more weight training since my workout schedule is very much freed up, and after last night's barbell class, I was craving some protein in a major way.

 Anyways, I just roasted some chicken legs for lunch and thought I'd share since it was easy and suuuuuper delicious. It's a variation of the roast chicken with apples and leeks I posted here ages ago.

Easy Roast Chicken
serves two

2 chicken legs quarters, skins removed
1 apple, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 spring rosemary
olive oil
salt and pepper

Set oven to 375. Put all the ingredients together in a pyrex like this:

Throw this into the oven for 45 minutes. Out comes this!

Except it won't be blurry.

Simple, easy, and quite Paleo diet-friendly if I'm not mistaken. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Warning: This post is going to be long as hell.

Saturday I had to pick up my packet, do the grocery shopping and laundry, go to my pre-event meeting down where the event would take place, and then of course make sure I was hydrating and fueling up before the big tri.

Getting my race packet at Tri Sports was intimidating and shook up my resolve in a way I was not expecting. Everyone there had rock-hard muscle bodies, expensive gear and even more expensive bikes, they all seemed to know what they were doing and were, in every way, exact opposites from little old me. I started crying in the car after I picked it up. I was absolutely terrified. Being with all those professional looking athletes made me realize I had no idea what I was doing.

I called a friend, Carlie, who is also training for a triathlon, albeit a longer, more intense one, and she talked me down off the ledge. She even offered to loan me her tri-suit, but I declined, and she agreed I should just wear what I've been training in so as not to throw me off my game in any way. She calmed me down, educated me on how to fuel up and hydrate all day, gave me tips on getting my legs ready for the run while still on the bike, and did I say she talked me down off the ledge? I owe her so much.

That night I had bizarre dreams, and woke frequently, convinced my alarm hadn't gone off and I'd overslept. The reality couldn't have been further from the truth, since I woke up 36 minutes before the alarm went off. 3:24am to be exact. I laid there, thinking and thinking and thinking. The cool thing though was that my nerves were settled. All I was, was amped up and ready to attack the triathlon.

At 4:00am the alarm went off, I sat up and said "It's time!" to Todd, and then bounded to the bathroom to brush my teeth, etc. I rattled around the house, putting a final load in the dryer, cleaning up a house I knew I'd be too exhausted to clean afterwards. We left around 5:00am and got three houses down before I remembered we forgot the camera, and a too-tired Todd thought he had forgotten the cell phone that was in his pocket.

5:15am we arrived and I got my transition area set up, which is when I realized I forgot an extra pair of pants, flip flops, and a towel. The towel situation was solved when I remembered I had my little diaper battle pack in my purse: An extra large burp cloth wrapped around a diaper, travel pack of wipes and a second burp cloth. Hurrah! Thanks to Alexandra, I had my towels.

But the pants and shoes... See, you have to set up your area before 6:30am, regardless of when your wave goes in the pool, and I was due to go in around 7:25am. So yeah, I had to spend that hour wandering around barefoot and with no pants. Needless to say, my feet were like ice blocks, and my chunky pale thighs were a sight for sore eyes, I'm sure. But it didn't matter.

I hung out on the balcony with Todd, watching the first wave swim. It was inspiring to see, because the first wave was made up of the slowest swimmers, and it proved that you don't have to be a professional athlete to do a triathlon. These people weren't my exact opposite after all. At that moment, that whole day actually, we were exactly the same: we were all triathletes.

My parents showed up and all too soon, it was time to head down to the pool. Taking off my jacket and hopping downstairs was a chilly, chilly adventure. My lane was empty of swimmers so luckily I was able to slip into the water a bit before my wave started, and that 80 degree pool was like a warm blanket comparatively. I treaded water, adjusted my cap and goggles, and suddenly it was 10 seconds til start... 5 seconds til start... I said "Oh my God" and the woman next to me laughed and told me not to worry, that I'd do great. And then we were off.

It was hard and intense. I'm so glad they make you time your swims, beforehand, in a 25y pool because there is no comparison in feel to a 15y pool. You hardly have time to get out of breath in 15y. Anyways, I was mistakenly put in a much slower wave than I should have been, and I'm glad for it. It was a confidence booster, passing my lane partner every time.

Eventually I stopped going "Oh my God, I have 25 more laps to do" and started listening to the rhythm of my breathing, of my arms slicing into the water, my torso swiveling, my feet fluttering. Suddenly I had no idea how many laps I had to go, which was a blessing and a curse, because I kept hoping to see the paddle dip into the water, signaling that I had just one more lap to go. And then my counter said "30. Three laps to go" which I could barely hear through my ear plugs. And all of a sudden it was over, and I was struggling to get out of the pool. A helper pulled me up and I heard my family cheer me on, and I was running through the lobby, down the lenth of the parking lot and into the transition area.

I got to my bike, dried off, pulled on my clothes, my helmet and gloves, and off I went. Since I had been placed in a slow wave, I was the only one out there for a long time. I had to do a four mile loop around the university campus three times, and I didn't see another cyclist for maybe 10 minutes or more. It was hard the first lap, but I found my bike legs soon enough and really enjoyed the second lap. The third, I was starting to feel nauseated due to eating two hours beforehand (I have a VERY hard time working out when I've eaten even two or three hours before), so I had to slow down, stop gulping water, and try to breathe very deeply and evenly.

Then all these damn women started passing me, so I said fuck it and tried to keep up with them, which lasted about a mile before I said fuck it again and had to slow down. I wasn't there to be a hero or a bad ass, I was there to do it for me, to finish on my own terms (which as I have repeatedly said, was: don't vomit, don't walk, don't stop mid-swim). When I was finishing up my third lap, and coming down the last bit before turning back into the transition area, I saw my parents and it boosted me up. I grinned and pedaled harder.

I got off the bike in the transition area and my legs were, as I feared, simultaneously like lead and like jelly. I was somewhat shaky, too, but I put my bike on the rack, got my helmet and gloves off, took a cautious chug of water and told Todd, who was waiting right there for me, that "I'll be right back!" and headed off in a woozy sort of jog.

Here's where it gets awesome. The woman in front of me was the woman who had passed me on the bike a couple of times (I did manage to pass her once, but for less than a quarter mile, haha), and soon it became clear that we were well matched in jogging paces. We fell into a rhythm and chatted (breathlessly of course) about this and that, occasionally going "Oh my God" and "Jesus this road looks long" as we headed down the university mall. Another athlete, a slightly older guy, fell into pace with us and for the last lap we all kept a steady pace.

As we neared the finish line, I threw out the idea of sprinting, if I could even do it or not. The woman on my left decided on a start point for our sprint and we all agreed. We neared the mark, I counted to three and we burst forth. The announcer made a discovery that had evaded us. He announced something he'd never seen before, three athletes, with consecutive bib numbers, in order, all approaching the finish line together. Keep in mind, we were like a foot apart from each other and sure enough, the guy was 97, I was 98, and the other woman was 99. It was hilarious, and sort of magical too. Even more so when I realized that the guy had shared my lane, that the woman had been the one who told me not to worry in the pool.

So, I had done it, I had finished my triathlon, my first one ever. I finished 80th out of 125 women, and 12th in my age group of 23 women, in the middle of the pack which makes me super stoked.

Swim: 13:23 (ranked 23rd)
Bike + Transitions: 53:42 (ranked 111th - lol)
Run: 27:35 (ranked 46th)

I was amazed that I ran those three miles so quickly, considering how exhausted I was. I think I owe it to my two running buddies, who likely helped me keep up a brisker pace than I would have had I been alone. I was, and still am, extremely proud of my swim; I had started this journey a pretty weak swimmer, and now I basically kick major ass.

And I laughed when I finished. Later, walking the bike back to Todd's truck, I hugged him and cried a couple of times, and later that evening I sobbed while reading my scores, because it really was an emotional adventure. I had overcome a lot of things, but I had overcome myself, my fears and doubts, my body issues and my psychological ones too. I had seen it through to the end and along the way, I fell in love with triathlons. I've decided I'm doing it again next year unless I'm pregnant. And I think Todd wants to join me, because honestly, this stuff is seriously fun, and the high you get afterwards is amazing.

I encourage everyone to do it. And before you say you can't, let me tell you that you don't have to be fast, you don't even have to run the 5k. You set your own pace in a triathlon, you set your own goals. So just go set it. All you have to do, is tri.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Paleo Diet?

I wasn't going to blog about this but after a really gross lunch I think I am ready to talk about it.

See, I didn't want to write about it because I'm just learning, and I've been researching it and have a lot of basic tips and websites under my belt, but I've not actually dived into it, and I didn't want to regurgitate a bunch of one liners that I've been reading about. Basically it's called the paleo, or cave man diet, because it focuses on ridding from your plate those things that man never ate while in his most natural state. AKA things from a box, most carbs, even white potatoes (for the inactive individual) and corn, even legumes like lentils, peas and beans. This site here gives an excellent run down of the basics.

For the link-wary, the two main things about paleo diet are these:

1. Emphases on lots of meats, fats like olive and avocado oils, coconut oils and coconut milk, and vegetables, nuts and eggs.
2. No dairy, grains or sugars (in fact, fruits only play a low to moderate part).

There are loads more, and there is an underlying way of life behind the paleo diet that I actually like, one of being healthy, active, as much like our natural wild man bodies are designed for. Sleeping well and long enough, getting out in the sunshine and fresh air (bye bye Words With Friends), not over-taxing your body with too strenuous of an exercise or sport, at least when doing the similar primal diet.

Anyways, so I have heard of this diet, but recently read a post on in which Heather, the author, discussed still being on, and still absolutely loving, the paleo diet. It got me googling and link-clicking like a crazy honey badger, and I even brought up to Todd the possibility of us trying it, at least for 30 days or five weeks or whatever. Because I know I can give up cheese and pasta, but not if Todd's still eating it. Let's be real, this sort of change requires some camaraderie.

Then, today, we had for lunch and it makes me feel like throwing up now. I didn't even eat very much, not compared to what I normally devour when we order takeout from LW. But I seriously feel gross, bloated and now my stomach actually kind of aches from dealing with it. As we ate, I talked more and more about trying the paleo diet and it started sounding more and more doable.

Sure, I love cheese. But honestly, the most cheese I usually eat is parmesan, shredded and covering my pasta. I will of course indulge in brie and other fine cheeses at parties and stuff, but it's never a necessity. And the only other dairy I regularly eat is yogurt and both hard cheese and yogurt are considered the least offensive of the dairies as far as how they affect our bodies.

And another thing to remember is moderation is key. As one site said, you will fall. You will be at a party and a cheeseburger will speak to you and you will be unable to turn away. A little indulgence here and there is, like in every diet, no big deal.

So this is something I'm seriously considering. Todd has requested we wait until after Lent; I think the idea of having to give up meat on Fridays, plus quesadillas forever on top of that is a little too crippling to bear, which I can understand. But I think afterwards we're going to give it a try. I mean, steak and veggies with oven yam fries? UM TWIST MY ARM

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Triathlon Update: Some Final Thoughts.

Well, the triathlon is this weekend. I'm excited, and I'm scared, and I'm nervous and I can't believe it's here. Well, I can, because it's been forever since I got it in my head to train for this, and I'm so sick of swimming twice a week, getting all chlorinated and wet and having to shower at the gym and towel off and leaving looking like a drowned rat with snarled up hair and goggle imprints around my eyes like I'm some sort of bloodshot raccoon.

Um, but I digress. Even though it's been a long time, it is daunting that it's here already. I haven't done a single workout this week due to putting myself on a screeching halt of a taper due to my knee issues (I'm not even wearing high heels to work to give it a rest), so I feel restless and nervous. I've shaped my life around this event for the past several months, so it is going to feel really weird Monday afternoon when I'd normally be headed out for a four mile run to prep for the tri. What will I do instead? Will I lose my steam now that I don't have a super intimidating goal in mind? I guess bikini season will do the trick, am I right? Ha, ha.

I wonder if I will cry after I finish it. I always think I will cry after a race, but I'm usually too amped up from the adrenalin kick that comes from sprinting to the finish, and too close to wanting to vomit to actually cry. This time, though, I'm not sure. It's a huge accomplishment, I know that, even though it's just a sprint triathlon, and it represents me sticking with the training, this idea of becoming a triathlete. So will I cry? Will I fall into my husband's waiting arms (well, he better be taking a shit load of photographs) and whisper "I did it"? Will I scream "HELL YEAH JILLY PUPS 2012!!" and projectile vomit into a trashcan? Who knows? Only time will tell.

What am I scared about? Why am I so anxious? The transitions between the events. I know what to do, and I know what I'll need but I will be so nervous, and will likely be shaking from the exertion of swimming, and later, from biking. So will I mess up? I hope not. It will go like this:

1. Swim my butt off.
2. Get out of the pool.
3. Dry off quick, quick like a bunny.
4. Put on my pants, socks and shoes.
5. Attach my ipod to my pants. Maybe run the earbud cord under a strap of my swimsuit so I don't accidentally yank it out.
6. Helmet, sunglasses, gloves.
7. Slather on lotion or sunblock (the pool makes my skin itchy) and add a coat of chapstick.
8. Grab the bike and GTFO


9. Bike my butt off.
10. Return to transition area, hop off bike.
11. Rip off helmet, sunglasses, gloves.
12. Take a big swig of water.
13. Hit the road and GTFO

So, thirteen steps. I hope I nail them. I hope I swim fast, bike faster, and don't walk during the 5k run. That's all I want.

I'm also scared of biking with 300 people in one lane on the streets of Tucson. I am thinking of having Todd write "TRIATHLON NEWBIE DON'T HURT ME" on my back in permanent marker. Oh God, it's making me so nervous, just thinking about it.

And you know, I'm a wee bit nervous about my knee. I don't want pain to get in my way and I also don't want to permanently mess it up. I am not stretching enough, that's true, and I'm not icing it either because I'm super dumb. Another thing about the knee, is that it means I probably can never do a triathlon again. I could but, it doesn't seem like a super rad idea, considering the knee issue has been a slow build up throughout the training. And that brings a touch of sorrow to the whole thing. This is my one shot at it.

I have to get up at 4am on Sunday. How the hell am I going to get any sleep? How am I going to just lie down at 9pm and tell my brain to shut off? I slept before my wedding, but there were copious amounts of ouzo and a super late night of giggling with my bridesmaids involved. There will be no boozing and gossip at 1am Sunday. There will just be a woman, in bed with her husband and her thoughts, and her hopes and dreams and nerves and wishes and fears, waiting for the alarm to go off, for the flag to drop, for her heart to leap in her throat as she pushes off the wall of the pool, taking the first of 1,000 strokes, the first move towards the finish line.

I'm going to nail it. I'm going to nail it. I'm going to nail it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chicken and Veggies with Lentils, Bacon and Goat Cheese

I really need a better camera. And some photography skills. Check out the placement of the bowl! It creates tension right?! Hello?


So this dish is like half health, half indulgence, and once again I just sort of put it together.

Chicken and Veggies w/Lentils
serves 2

3 strips bacon
1/2 cup lentils
10oz chicken, chunked
4oz mushrooms, sliced
4oz zucchini, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3oz baby carrots, quartered lengthwise
olive oil
1 oz goat cheese crumbles

OKAY HOMIES. I made this like last week, liked it and took a photo of it to blog about later, so I'm trying to remember the steps.

Put your lentils in a small sauce pan with 2 cups water and set to boil. Once the boil is rolling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Cook your bacon on medium heat in the same skillet you'll be using to saute your chicken and veggies because come on, right? Drain the slices on a paper towel and once they're hard, crumble them finely.

Dump out almost all the fat and up the heat a bit. Add your chicken and veggies and whatever spice you'd like. I added a bit of curry but honestly, it doesn't matter. The garlic is a good enough flavor, plus remember: BACON IS COMING

Once your lentils are fully cooked, nearly all the liquid will be gone. Add a bit of olive oil for some lubrication (heh heh), and stir in the bacon and the goat cheese crumble. And dude? You're done-zo.

Plate up in a big bowl so you can sample from the healthy side, the indulgent side, or mix them all up together. I think a dash or five of Sriracha may have found its way into this dish, too. Very tasty!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fort Alexandra.

The weather was absolutely amazing today, and by amazing I mean horrible, but to Tucsonans, winter weather is amazing. Hell, weather, period, is amazing. It went from raining to just overcast, hailing to sleeting, sunshine to "snow pellets" (which, as our meteorologist Erin Christensen tells me, are not hail but just snow pellets, whatever), to hailing and raining while the sun was shining.

I was off work today too, since Todd had to go up to Phoenix for several meetings and I decided to stay home with my bug-a-boo instead of getting a sitter. So it was just us girls. After looking out at the crazy weather all morning, I wondered what the hell we were going to do with the rest of our time before Alex's nap. Thanks to a dear friend, Susane's, suggestion, we decided to build a fort.

We got some blankets and pillows, Admiral Adama and her fairy princess Barbie, a zebra and a tiger, and sat inside. Bingley joined us shortly thereafter, mostly to hide from Patton, fight with Patton through the sheets, and fight the sheets themselves.

I have to admit, sitting in there, 32 years old, about 20 years after spending time in my last fort, I felt at a loss for what to do with my time. I didn't have any coloring books or popcorn or paper dolls so I just sat there, and soaked it up, my first fort with my baby girl. Bingley played hide and seek with Patton, whose hulking presence is perfectly, ominously concealed by that peach colored sheet.

Alex enjoyed the show once Bingley decided to attack the sheets.

And eventually Bingley wizened up and hung out on the dining room chair one of the fort's supporting beams, carved from troll's wood in a forest far, far away.

Then Alex got hungry, and Sesame Street came on. So we had some cheese sticks, chicken nuggets and fruit pouches, grabbed our sunglasses and had some one on one time with Elmo.

Can you tell when Alex's sticky fingers have been all over my phone? I can! It's when the little grubby fingerprints smear up my phone's camera lens:

Stay cool, hep cats. Build a fort, check out Sesame Street, and hang with your buddies.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Drizzle Drizzle

We had a winter weather bomb hit today, which is a refreshing change of pace, even for a spring fever junkie who is always chomping at the bit for warm weather at this time of year. But Tucson is pretty predictable; I knew March would give us at least one more bout of chilly weather before swaggering right into 90 degree weather and cloudless skies. And Tucson delivered. Here is my view, right this moment, from my sofa right now:

I woke up this morning feeling like our little house was a wind-battered ship out at sea, the gusts were so ferocious. And to think my dear husband, his brother and friends were out camping in that crap. I pulled Alex out of her crib, opened the shutters in our bedroom and we snuggled under the covers, gazing out at the rain. What a difference 24 hours can make. 

Anyways, as much as I enjoy and look forward to balmy days with the windows thrown open and screen doors in position to catch breezes and birdsong, it's always nice to wear warm fuzzy socks, have a hot bowl of soup for lunch and doze to the sound of rain pattering on your roof. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tomato Salad

This is so refreshing on a warm day. It's a great appetizer, or for a salad after dinner or a snack like I just enjoyed. It's just so simple and quick to prepare, but it's also really pretty, and rather elegant on a crisp white plate:

Tomato Salad
serves one

2 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 slice yellow or red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp finely snipped fresh parsley
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Arrange sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle the parsley and onion on top, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with the vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste and you're done. Viola!

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Imitation is the highest form of flattery, as they say, but for children, it's also how they learn. Alexandra "polishes" the table with me, helps with laundry, emptying the dishwasher, puts lotion on her tummy, tries to shave her face like daddy, brushes her hair, feeds her stuffed animals, and puts on makeup and high heels like the fashionista badass that she is.

It took me awhile to recognize that this pose here is also an imitation:

I used to just think it was a move that she figured out how to do and then did it for the thrill of hanging somewhat suspended over the floor. But then I realized, she was imitating Todd and me, when we kick up our feet on the coffee table. It actually struck me just the other day even though I took this photo months ago, because after I kicked up my feet, Alex wriggled out of my lap, stood up and got into this position. It almost made me teary-eyed, because here is this little angel who wants to be just like her mere-mortal mommy.

Although what this is all about, I have no idea:

I do not wander around the house wearing only leggings and a scarf wrapped around my head. Although Todd will occasionally walk around like every day is No Shirt Day, so who knows? Maybe when I'm at work they run around shirtless with scarves wrapped around their heads. Ours is a zany house, that's for damn sure.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Green Pasta with Chicken!

Oh man, you guys, I sort of did this off the cuff, and was totally worried it wouldn't work, but it did! And it's healthy because the green is spinach and rosemary! And I never used flour or butter for the sauce!

Green Pasta with Chicken
serves two

5oz spaghetti
2.5 cups spinach, finely chopped
3 springs rosemary, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp corn starch
1 oz feta
1 tbsp neufchatel
10 - 12oz chicken tenderloins
6 oz mushrooms, quartered

Ok, so mix the first three ingredients together in a small bowl. If you can believe it, the amount of spinach used is less than a single serving, which is why we've got some tasty mushrooms in there too. Set some water to boil for that spaghetti.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and then add the spinach, rosemary and garlic. Toss around to coat, and let it hang out while you mix the white wine and cornstarch together, stirring to combine. Now, add your broth to the veggies, and once it's boiling, add your white wine and cornstarch, but remember to stir again to re-mix.

Keep the sauce simmering, and check your pasta. If it's done, drain and drizzle a bit of olive oil, just a little, so it won't get gummed up. Add the feta, crumblin any big chunks with your fingers, and stir to combine. Add your neufchatel. By now your sauce will look far less like Italian wedding soup and more like a sauce.

Coat a medium skillet with cooking spray and set on medium high. Add your chicken and mushrooms, flipping the chicken after about five minutes. Spoon in several tablespoons of sauce over your chicken and mushrooms, which will start bubbling beautifully.


Dump the spaghetti into the remaining sauce in the pan, tossing to coat.

Now we're ready to plate up! Pasta first, then the delicious chicken mushroom combo. Sauce on sauce! YUMMO

At this point Todd had to take a bathroom break and I think I said something like "Suit yourself, home boy, I'm eating this stuff NOW!" and I ran to the sofa, fork mid-twirl in my spaghetti.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday Workout!

I was going to do this workout with you guys today but my guide book tells me no more strength training til the big event. On top of that, my right knee is acting up and is pretty pissed off, and since my triathlon is in 12 days, I'm not doing any more biking or running, just swimming and walking.

I've been training for this sucker since October though, so I don't think this break is going to set me back. The most important one is to keep up on the swimming since that is my newest acquired skill and even though I am starting to get really tired of getting into chlorine twice a week, I'm not backing down til a day before the event.

I am excited for this triathlon but I can't wait til it's under my belt and I can move on to other workouts. I'm going to keep biking because I'm in loooove with it, but no running for at least a couple of months. I am thinking of putting flow yoga back into my weekly routine, and doing my Wednesday Workouts three times a week. That should be fun.

ANYWAYS, I found this rad all over body workout on so I figured I'd share it.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Breaded Pork Chops with Parsley Caper Sauce

Yeah, you read that right, folks! This dish is yet another Country Cook's 30 Minute Supper Card, and we made it last night, and I was too busy eating it to even take an after shot. But this recipe is quick and easy and tastes great with any side.

Breaded Pork Chops w/Parsley Caper Sauce
serves 4

1 cup parsley
1/4 cup capers, drained
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil*
8 thin sliced boneless loin pork chops
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko
1 cup olive oil

Place the parsley, capers, and lemon juice in a blender or similar device. While it's on and blending away, slowly drizzle in your olive oil. *I thought 1/2 cup olive oil sounded horrible so I just drizzled slowly until my handheld thingy could adequately blend the ingredients and then promptly stopped the oil. Set the sauce aside.

Heat 1/2 cup of the oil over medium until just smoking. Pat your pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper. Place flour, eggs and panko in their own separate shallow dishes. Dredge the chops first in flour, then the egg, and then the panko.

Put half the chops in and cook about 2-3 minutes a side. If you'd like, set your oven to 200 so you can keep the first batch warm (I just put mine in a pyrex with a lid but I also returned them to the skillet in the last minute). Wipe out the skillet, add the rest of the olive oil and cook the rest of the chops. I don't think, by the way, that I used a full cup of oil. I probably used 1/2 - 2/3 cup for the frying.

Once finished, plate your chops and spoon sauce over each chop. Devour!

I must say the lemony caper sauce is so heavenly, and helps cut the richness of the fried chop with its tanginess. We had ours last night with peas and oven roasted potatoes, but last time we had them with green beans and buttered egg noodles. SO GOOD.

Enjoy, lovelies!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: OPI's "I Lily Love You" nail color

Ok, first off I know this is a lame post but it's really all I have to talk about today except for the fact that I am tired, hungry and my finger hurts.

I painted my nails with this shade last night and while it's pretty, it also sort of sucks. The glitter pieces seem to be actual chunks of confetti or something, because there are literally little papery chunks of it that are sticking out of my nails. It feels like I painted my nails and, while they were still wet, dunked them in a bucket of hay.

Also, the shade is extremly pale, and in order to get the sort of dark pink as seen in the photo, you have to layer on several coats, which just makes the hay feeling that much worse. Plus I know this stuff is going to be a bitch to take off so I'm not even looking forward to its removal.

However, an hour ago I brushed my hand against my sweater and all the polish on my pinky finger flaked off in one big piece. How's that for classy?

Grade: D+

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blippity Bloopity Boo-Boo

The name of this blog doesn't have "tumbling" in it for cuteness alone. I truly am clumsy. Watching myself in the mirror whilst partaking in Zumba yesterday afternoon was an exercise in humility and embarrassment. I am nearly six feet tall and while I can often wear gracefulness like a disguise, especially if I'm in heels and am sober, a lot of the times the truth just comes out, and six feet is an awful big playground for uncoordinated movement.

Last night we had a couple of friends over for dinner, and after we ate, and after Alexandra went to sleep, we sat outside. Patton was jonesing for a stick, going so far as to thrust slobbery chunks of bark in my lap in the hopes I'd throw it for him so he could chase them. So I walked over to our pile of wood/kindling/sticks, and snapped off a good throwing stick...

And promptly proceeded to destroy the middle finger on my right hand. I will take a photo for your cringing benefit later; I just bandaged it since we're fixing to go out on a family day errand (plants and ice cream, oh my!). But it is truly gruesome. And it is truly a reminder of how clumsy I am. I don't understand; I know plenty of tall people, Todd included and at the top of the list, who are actually graceful. They are aware of their bodies and move them accordingly. I am not, and do not. I wish I could blame it on some sort of  neurological deficiency but unfortunately, I can't.

At least I can provide you with a nasty picture later on!

Edited to add:


Friday, March 9, 2012

Mish Mash.

I had a few ideas for blog topics this morning, and since I can't decide which one to run with, I'm going to run with all three of them. I guess I could call it a Things I'm Into Right Now but Mish Mash is looking cuter and cuter the longer it stays up there in the subject field.

Being Human (U.K. version)

My dear friend Caryn has been recommending, and recommending, and recommending this show to me so finally, last night, since has THE SLOWEST PLAYER (ok, so maybe our Qwest internet connection has something to do with it) and therefore watching Downton Abbey is an impossibility, we checked out Being Human on Netflix.

We haven't even finished the first episode yet, since we started after finishing Up (omg rad) at like 10:15pm. But I can tell you, it's a great premise for a show, and the actors are charming and seem well-suited for their roles.

The show is about three roommates: Annie, a ghost, George, a werewolf, and John, a vampire. Naturally, the vampire works in a hospital and naturally he's a sweet kind of guy, but not vomit-inducing like Edward Cullen. Like I said, we've not even finished the first episode, but we're already hooked, much in the same way as Walking Dead and Downton Abbey (both shows whose second seasons are not available on Netflix which makes me want to send hate mail but I just don't have the time or energy).

Here is the premise, as stated on the show's wiki page:

The central premise of Being Human is that various types of supernatural beings exist alongside human beings, with varying degrees of menace; that three of these supernatural beings are opting to live amongst human beings rather than apart from them; and that these three characters are attempting (as much as is possible) to live ordinary human lives despite the pressures and dangers of their situations. They are constantly threatened with exposure or persecution, with pressure from other supernatural creatures, and with problems caused by their attempts to deal with their own natures.

It's really an interesting idea for a show and I'm looking forward to watching more. All I gotta say is, bitch better have ALL seasons on Netflix or I am going to cut someone.

Oven Fried Eggplant

Holy crap y'all, this was absolutely delicious, and you save so many calories from not deep frying it, yet you achieve that heavenly crispy-outside, succulent-inside balance. I got the recipe from this site and was delighted to find that it is extremely simple and extremely delicious. I highly recommend it to anyone but especially to those partaking in Lent's meatless Fridays, because my goodness, you do not even miss meat with this dish. I know I put up the link but here is the rundown with a few minor changes I made:

Set oven to 450. Thinly slice eggplant, about half an inch, and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle liberally with salt and wait 15-20 minutes so the moisture is drawn out. Wipe off the water and salt with a paper towel.

Dredge slices in flour, beaten egg, and then panko bread crumbs, pressing to make sure the panko sticks. Coat the cookie sheet with cooking spray and place the eggplant slices in a single layer. Spray the tops with cooking spray and toss in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip them, spray again, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes. Top with parmesan or mozzarella if you so desire (you desire it by the way).

I served mine with spaghetti, more cheese and a tomato sauce I made by combining Trader Joe's low sodium bell pepper soup, tomato paste and red wine. So good! We have leftovers and I'm so going to eat a slice or two in a sandwich.

image courtesy of

Bike Riding

So I ran on Monday and my knee is still bothering me. It's below the knee cap, and below that band of tendon, right where the tendon meets the bone. It sucks. I don't think I can run on asphalt anymore, until the triathlon. And after the event, I'm not going to run for at least a couple of months. I'd be more heartbroken about it if I hadn't recently fallen deeply in love with biking around town. Specifically to downtown and back which is about 12 miles round trip, an excellent work out that is fun to boot.

Hahaha, I typoed and wrote booty instead.

Anyways, while I suspect that my knee problems started with the combined efforts of running and biking, each of them twice a week, I am determined to keep biking. It gets me out of the gym and onto the street which is far more challenging than just sitting on an indoor trainer, both physically and mentally. I used to be terrified to bike on the streets because hello, cars, and also, I had no idea how to share the road. But I just said fuck it and did it, and was surprised to find that it's easy, provided you find a bike route, from which we are lucky to live three houses away, and actually kind of fun.

My father has loaned me his super rad mountain bike for the triathlon and my mother in law has loaned me her super safe bike helmet, and Todd bought me super rad biking gloves for Christmas so I am a total badass out there. I just hate seeing people riding without helmets. Don't they care about themselves? I have to bite my tongue every single time I see one of them out there. I just want to yell "SOMEONE LOVES YOU, WEAR A HELMET." Helmets aren't the sexiest things out there, but being brain dead isn't too sexy either. Sorry, Mrs. Von Bulow.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tip: Oven Fries

I have found that the best way to cook oven fries, so they neither stick to the cookie sheet (even with foil this would happen) or burn on one side and look pasty on the other, is to set them up on their ends as shown above. Cut a potato in half, lengthwise, and then quarter each half. If the slices are too slender to do so on their own, dovetail them like I did in the photo. They come out much faster this way, with a nice browned skin, and there's no sticking! They are best baked around 400, 425. They take 15-20 minutes.

Hurrah! (and yum!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday Workout!

Hey Beefcakes, it's time to pump you up. I mixed up my TV references in that sentence. I hope you forgive me.

I ran four miles with the dog yesterday so naturally my right knee is killing me and the dog is full of piss and vinegar. In 18 days, I will compete in my triathlon and after that, I don't think I'll be running for quite some time. Anyways, due to the pain in my knee, I was going to save this workout for tomorrow but after reading through workout #3, I think I might give it a whirl. It's mostly upper body. Although, swimming, which I will be heading off to do in about an hour, is upper body too. What's a girl to do?

On to the awesome:

30 Push-ups.
30 Arnold Presses. Hold your kettlebell (or 15lb+ weight) at shoulder height, palm facing your body.  Lift weight straight up until arm is fully extended, and at the same time twist so your palm faces out. Return to start, weight at shoulder height, palms in. That's one.
30 Double Crunches. Those who know yoga will understand when I tell them to get into half boat position. For those who don't, check this picture out. Now, lower legs and upper body apart from each other as if you were going to lie down, but stop about halfway down. Go back to half boat pose. That's one.
30 Jumps. Jump straight up in the air as high as you can, bringing knees and feet up as high as you can.
30 Russian Twists. We know these by now, right? :)
30 Recline Presses.  Grab your kettlebell or 10lb+ weight in one hand and sit sideways on a chair so you can lean back. Lean back about 45 degrees, weight at shoulder height, palms facing forward, and lift weight straight up. Return weight to shoulder height. That's one. Do 15 each side.
30 Front Horse Lifts. Get into horse stance, which we talked about last week, with the kettlebell or weight on the floor in front of you. Grab weight, lift straight up above your shoulder (not above your head), and then return to the floor. That's one. Do 15 each side.
15 Burpees. This is a burpee.
30 Low Pulls with Weights. Grab that chair again. Grip the back of the chair with your left hand, placing left knee on the chair. Make sure your back is flat and your butt sticks out, so your body is lower to the ground (Todd and I call it hooker butt because we are 14 year olds). Look straight ahead. With the kettlebell or heavy weight in your right hand and lift up as if you were trying to start a lawn mower. Lower weight but never completely to the ground. That's one. Do 15 each side.
30 Calf Lifts with Weights. Stand straight, feet shoulder width apart. Hold as much weight as you want. Lift up on your toes, engaging your calf muscles. Slowly lower down til feet are flat on the floor. That's one.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Usual Suspects.

Don't let all the pink fool you.

Don't let that innocent look beguile your senses.

This trio is up to no good. Especially that crazy dude in the middle.

Hide your dolls, hide your teddy bears, hide your fruit pouches. Cause these bad butts are on the loose.

Brought to you by Alexandra's recent obsession with sitting her buddies up against the wall and then joining them for a moment of reflection

Monday, March 5, 2012

Poor/Lazy Man's Cassoulet

Poor man's, lazy man's, slutty (aka easy) cassoulet. Whatever you want to call it, it is WAY easier than the previous cassoulet recipe I posted, requires fewer ingredients, takes less time and tastes just as great

Cheap and Easy Cassoulet
Serves 2

1 cup great white northern beans
4 strips bacon
3-5oz chopped carrots
1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
1/2 large white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 tsp dried thyme, divided
8 - 10oz white meat chicken (we used tenders), cut into large chunks
1 cup water
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup Panko crumbs
Olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan

Soak 1 cup GWN beans overnight.*

Set oven to 375. After their soak, drain them out of the old water and put them in 2 cups cold water, and set to boil. In a cast iron skillet, cook the bacon. Put the cooked slices on paper towel and set aside. Dump most of the grease in your bacon can, and then add your veggies to the skillet of grease.

Cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes, add 1 tbsp thyme and then your chicken pieces. Push aside the veg so your meat has a chance to brown. Once that's done, mix your water and tomato paste to make a sort of veggie broth. Add the tomato water stuff to the skillet until it's just barely reached the top.

Put in the oven for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, crumble your bacon as fine as you can and mix it evenly with the Panko crumbs. After the 20 minutes are up, pull out your skillet and evenly sprinkle the bacon crumb mixture on top. Drizzle the olive oil over the whole shebang, and pop back in for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top, plate up and enjoy!

* If you don't have the time, start boiling them a couple of hours before you want to start dinner.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nothing Says Love Like "Here, Hold My Banana."

Ages ago, I posted about last year's Warrior Dash that Todd and I ran together. Well I finally got off my ass and bought the pictures from the event.

Here is the second to last obstacle: jumping over fire. Why my head is like that I don't know. Maybe I broke my neck. But yes, I am flipping off the cameras. It's like I knew in advance that the promoters ran out of fucking turkey legs before I even got through the mud and to the food truck!

Just when you thought Todd couldn't look any taller, or any more like a giant eagle about to take flight...:

Todd beat me through the mud pit (under barbed wire), but the sweet, sweet man waited for me, hand outstretched, so we could cross together. Believe it or not, tears sprang to my eyes as I just typed that sentence. It's such a metaphor for marriage. Now I sound like a contestant on The Bachelor.

The moral of the story here, so far, is do not wear cotton clothes if you intend to jump in a 4' deep mud bog, because you instantly lose agility, gain 15lbs and your pants start sliding down your ass.

True story.

Anyways, this is where Todd said "Here, hold my banana" and then he dipped me, and kissed me. Any woman will tell you, for a man to pull an impromptu dip-and-kiss without being asked in a fierce whisper "You know what would be awesome? If you dipped me and then kissed me!!!" is just about the most awesome thing ever, no matter how much mud is streaming down your legs:

Here we are, happily married couple, happy parents, a united force against all opposition, all mud, all fire jumps and 25' tall cargo nets. We are WARRIORS.

Oh my God, I love that man.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lemon Garlic Salmon with veggies

I did this off the cuff the other night and had to share.

Lemon Garlic Salmon
serves two

12 - 16oz fillet of salmon
Olive oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 large lemon, thinly sliced, ends saved (you may need two)
Parisian spices*
8oz squash and or/zucchini, thickly sliced (optional)

Set oven to 375. Prepare your baking dish with foil, a long enough strip to fold over the salmon. If you don't want to add the veggies, use a smaller pyrex in order to keep the lemon juice around the fish. Brush your fillet with olive oil.

Add the garlic evenly on top of the fish.

After that, squeeze one of the ends of the lemon over the fish to coat with lemon juice. All attempted photos of this step sucked, so forgive me for not showing this step.

Blinded by the light! Now add your lemon slices. If you ran out of lemon, use another lemon half for more juice.

This is what it looks like after the veggies are added, the Parisian spices are added, and more lemon juice is drizzled all over everything. Oh, and toss in the lemon ends:

Now fold the foil over and crimp to seal. Pop in the oven and either start some rice or kick up your feet.

This is after about 20 minutes. I opened the foil, cut it down the middle and threw back in for another 10 minutes or so. Maybe even less.

All right, 10 minutes are up! Plate it up, add that rice if you are having it, and add capers to your salmon. Have a tall sexy man hold up a plate so you can photograph it and then rip the plate out of his hands, run to the sofa and eat it.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Triathlon Training Update: Sink or Swim

When I did my triathlon run through at Gold's Gym back in January, and timed my swim in their 15y pool, I did it in 14:07. I was extremely proud of that time and was eager to email the triathlon manager to share the good news. Color me slightly tiffed when he replied that I needed to do it in a 25y pool, that the inclusion of that many more turns in a shorter pool could speed up my time instead of detract from it (which was my thinking). He told me to get myself to a 25y pool by March 11th (my event is on the 25th).

Well, I drove my butt on down to the YMCA in downtown Tucson, where they proudly boast a 25y pool. I was nervous; what if this Jim character was right and my time would now be horrible? I had been really proud of that 14:07, as far as I was concerned it was my personal best, it was only three minutes slower than the chick who had WON last year's early spring triathlon. I mean, I know nanoseconds mean a lot in the sporting world, but this is my first triathlon. I'll take anything. I suited up, goggled up, slipped into the pool, which was not as cold as I'd remembered and, considering I largely left the Y because their pool was outdoors and not as warm as Gold's Gym's pool, I felt sort of stupid. Anyways.

I clicked on my stopwatch and began. My God, is swimming 25y without a turn a lot more exhausting than doing even 30y in a 15y pool. I felt worn out after just five laps. The entire time I swam, this sort of shit was running through my mind:

I can't do this. How am I going to do this triathlon? What was I thinking? Oh my God, I can't breathe. My time is going to suck. That dude from Tri Tucson was right and my time is going to be like 17:30. My arms are going to fall off. Don't forget to swivel your torso! Crap, lengthen your stride. I'm going to drown. I hate swimming. I hate you, Jim. Stupid 25 yard pool. Oh my God I still have 16 laps to go. I'm doing to die. God this pool is so much cleaner than Gold's. I can't do this. Keep your arm outstretched while you breathe! Oh man, I can't breathe. I'm going to be exhausted after this, how the fuck am I going to bike 12 miles and then run 3? I need a drink. And a cheeseburger. I can't do this. TEN MORE LAPS?!?!

And then it was over. I stood up, ripped off my goggles and hit stop on the stopwatch and looked down. What the hell?

12:44:40.                                              12:44:40.                       12:44:40!!!!

I stared. I laughed and I said "No way. No freaking way" which made a girl, who had just walked in, look at me like I was crazy. Hell, at that point in time, maybe I was. Tired and high from my workout, from my new PR, from my miniature victory. I laughed again, and remembered that I threw my goggles behind me and since they are clear, I couldn't find them. So I hunted around for them a little bit, and then a thought dawned on me.

The stopwatch was broken. It got wet. It died. It stopped working at 12:44:40 and I just kept on swimming, five minutes past that time, thinking I was a freaking superhero. I put my goggles down and picked up the wet stopwatch. I gulped, and hit the button again.

It kept going! I stopped it again, and since my glorified time of 12:44:40 was no longer showing on the watch face, I cleared the time. But it was as plain as the runny nose on my face.

I shaved 1:23 off my time. Ooh, how magical that looks! I am 1:23 faster than I was a little over a month ago. TAKE THAT JIM. And lady who won last year? Suck it! I'm going to KICK YOUR ASS

Woo! See, the high you get from a workout? It lasts a lot longer than you think.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review: Mansfield Park

For those who haven't read Mansfield Park, it's about Fanny Price, who at the tender age of 10 or 11 is transplanted from her poor, overcrowded home in Portsmouth to the fabulous, sprawling estate of Mansfield Park in the countryside, per the request/demands of her aunt and uncle, Lady and Sir Thomas Bertram. They were presuaded by her other aunt, Mrs. Norris, who is a busy bodied old bitch, to take in at least one of the Price children to relieve the burden caused by Fanny's mom never closing her legs for her drunk sailor husband, Mr. Price. Good times. Lady Bertram is a beautiful lump of uselessness and Sir Thomas is the kind of guy you'd expect to go "Hem-hem-hem!" and bluster a lot in that affected British way. At least I did. He's well meaning but comes off poorly, gaining no affection from Fanny for most of the book. Probably few of the readers, as well.

Fanny herself is timid, trembling, lacking in any sort of individual opinion and is  frail as can be. A ride on a horse wipes her out (or knocks her up, as they said back then, which never ceased to amuse me). Her personality is largely shaped by her cousin Edmund Bertram, the younger son and most morally-bound child at Mansfield Park. He is the kindest one to her when she first comes to the house, and always keeps her comforts in mind until some tart comes and plays the harp at him, then he leaves her in a sweltering wood so he can talk clergy at this tart. The other children are Tom, eldest, Maria, eldest daughter, and Julia. They all sort of suck.

Other players are the Crawford siblings (on of whom is the harp tart), who come in and sort of screw everything up. Mary and Henry. The create a bunch of dramz.

Anyways, so the whole story revolves around a love triangle, or if you want to get really specific, a love scribble where everyone seems to love/admire someone else or if the love is mutual there is a conflict of moral interest. There's a play. Morals are put into question. Fanny is affronted. Edmund is stupid. Sir Thomas comes home and Lady Bertram wakes up. Mrs. Norris flaps her hands.

I sound harsh, but this was honestly my opinion as I read this book. Austen kept it entertaining enough with her writing, but I found no character I could admire or respect. I did feel bad that no one really missed Sir Thomas when he was in India, but then again, since Mansfield Park was built on slave labor, maybe I don't feel so bad after all.

Fanny as a heroine is absolutely peculiar and really not likeable either. She is described repeatedly as having a character and opinion and mind mostly shaped by Edmund himself. His interests are hers, his opinions are her facts and rest on pedastals, Edmund Edmund Edmund. Um, lame? She seems void of any backbone, spirit, individuality (except in thinking Henry Crawford is a complete asshole) or even loyalty to family.

When she returns home, it's ~too loud~ and the food is ~not refined~ and ~where is my East room~ She appears only to love Mansfield Park for its comforts and serenity and not for the idiots who raised her, and if you haven't guessed it, because of Edmund, which seems really weird, but hey, Patty Hearst fell for it so whatever.

So the first part of her life is spent pining for her family and I hope to hell pining for some respect and true affection for her as a person, and not as a silent companion (Lady Bertram), a whipping boy (Mrs. Norris), a foil (Maria and Julia), or worse, a meek blow up doll with a bible and a major case of hero-worship (Edmund, ugh). And when she finally goes home to Portsmouth, she's like, I hate these people, they are so crass and below me thanks to nurture vs. nature and all my siblings suck except for Susan who is the only one even remotely like me. So this selfless, mild-mannered heroine actually kind of stuck up and highfalutin' and has to order takeout every night to avoid the family meals. It's like the opposite of Overboard but without the awesomeness of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

And don't get me started on Edmund. You know, when Stephenie Meyer was creating the fiasco that is Twilight, she chose the name Edward because that was the name of the hero in Sense and Sensibility, and Edmund was the hero of Mansfield Park. And I think she shaped Edward Cullen on old Edmund Bertram because E.B. basically gets to shape his beloved to his standards of femininity from the age of 10 onwards, tells her what to do, when to do it, when she's tired, when she should go riding, etc.

Oh, and he's an absolute idiot who can't even tell that when a woman says "Hey I think the clergy is stupid and you are too and it's too bad you aren't eldest with all the money and no requirements to work for it" that, since you are to go into the clergy and don't give a shit about money so much, that she is not the woman for you.
And when she is all "I love society" and you're like "towns breed indecency" and you don't listen and assume that she's simply been corrupted by others and isn't thinking for herself? Sometimes a chick just isn't into the same shit that you are. That's another part of his horrible personality. He doesn't accept Mary for who she is, instead he tries to do the same crap he did to Fanny. And when it doesn't work, well thank God the prototype was lying around doing needlework in his living room I guess.
Captain Obvious: I didn't like Mansfield Park. I read a bunch of critiques and reviews and essays on it (well I skimmed like four) and while there's not as much Edmund hate as I have in them, there is still a lot of controversy on Fanny herself. I wasn't pleased in the end, I wasn't happy with anyone, and I should have just wikied the book plot.

Northanger Abbey better beat the pants off this book, because I'm already 150 pages in.

Grade: D-