Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A need for barrettes?

So, what is the deal with all the barrettes these gymnasts wear in the Olympics? It isn't so much the United States, but as I have been watching I noticed all the girls from teams like China and Romania have like a thousand barrettes in their hair. Seriously, do they need that many to hold back a few hairs?

Late (Olympic) Nights

I think I am going to try to go to bed at a decent time tonight without watching the Olympics. I doubt I can do it, but I have stayed up way too late watching them every night and I am tired! The problem is that I start watching just for a few minutes when I get into bed and then get totally sucked in. I was so upset last night when Nastia Liukin did not win gold on the uneven bars. She stuck her landing and had a great routine - definitely better than the girl from China who won the gold (and barely looked a day over 12). Anyway, since I have been up past midnight watching, I have noticed my caffeine and candy intake has gone way up in the last 1.5 weeks. I need extra sugar to keep me awake during the day and going for the next late night. But, the summer games are my favorite, they only come around every 4 years, and my favorite events are swimming and gymnastics, so it has been worth it. I just hope that someday I get to actually go to the Olympics. My friend April (who is also the biggest fan of the Olympics I know) is thinking about London in 2012. I might have to join her...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Domestic Diva

This past weekend was spent in the kitchen! With the summer semester over, I now have some time back to do a few of the things that I enjoy. One of these semi-hobbies is trying new recipes. I am not a great cook by any means. In fact, a fair share of what I have attempted to make has ended up in the garbage. However, our garden is overflowing with vegetables and since I hate to waste anything, I figured I would try a few new recipes. Heck, it cost next to nothing for most of the ingredients, so time was the only potential loss.

Most of what I did turned out great. I am now dubbing myself a Domestic Diva. Not only did I make all of the recipes below using mostly ingredients from our garden, I also did four loads of laundry, tons of errands, and went running. We also had neighbors over Saturday night. Outside of catching up on personal email and blogging (which I am still working on), I did a heck of a lot of stuff in two days!

On Saturday, I used up all of our old frozen bananas to make three loaves of Banana Chocolate Chip Bread. I highly recommend this recipe. It was so good! I think Todd liked it, too, since we ate 1.5 loaves in three days!

I also boiled, peeled, and cut up about four dozen tomatoes. We have so many in our garden and I wanted to be able to use them. So, I decided to make homemade marinara sauce. I looked around for a recipe I liked, but didn't find just the right one. So, I combined two different recipes to come up with my own creation. It was pretty good. Todd loved it because it was sort of a spicy marinara.

Christan's Spicy Marinara

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper powder or chilli flakes
  • ~2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons dried basil

In a large pot, bring 2-3 L of water to boil. Place the washed tomatoes with cross slits in the water. Bring to a boil. After 5 minutes, switch off the gas. Remove tomatoes from water and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel of the tomatoes and quarter them.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the chopped garlic for a few seconds. Do not brown. Put the chilli flakes/powder in the oil and immediately put in the quartered tomatoes. Season with remaining ingredients. Stir around the contents of the pan until the moisture has evaporated and continue to cook until the tomatoes make a nice thick sauce. If it is too runny, you can add tomato paste. This recipe doubles well. You can add other ingredients to taste if you like. Examples might be mushrooms, onions, meat, etc.

And then I made even more stuff...

Sunday night for dinner, I made Stuffed Green Peppers using more vegetables from our garden. Todd wanted them without meat, so filled them with chopped mushrooms and tomatoes instead of meat. The turned out okay, but not great. If we make this as part of a meal again, I would definitely try a different recipe. Below is a mixture of the stuffed pepper before they were baked. I added the marinara and some cheese just before putting them in the oven.

On Sunday night, I boiled, peeled, and cut up even more tomatoes to make salsa. I wasn't sure how this would turn out, but it is freaking awesome. I feel like I could sell this stuff to the local Mexican restaurants. We made tacos for dinner this past Monday and had chips and salsa, too. Between the two of us, we ate almost 3 cups of salsa. I highly recommend the recipe for D's Famous Salsa and if you don't want to use fresh tomatoes, you can even buy the canned kind to make this.

Another Iowa Visit

One of the posts I have been meaning to catch up on is when we visited Todd's family in Iowa the weekend of July 26th. Todd actually took time off from work and went to Iowa early to visit his grandma. I was not able to do the same, so headed out after work on Friday. It was a busy weekend! We spent time with family Friday night and got up early on Saturday for me to run the Bix. It is a crazy 7-mile run near where Todd's family lives. I have done this race for several years. I did fairly well, finishing in 67-mins despite the crowded streets and humidity. Around 15,000 people run this race and it goes through local neighborhood, so it is hard to navigate, but fun to run along and watch all the people and crowds lining the streets. After that, we hung out with more family, went swiming, grilled out, and made smores around the firepit. It had been a long week for me, so I was happy to relax and take nap in the lounger by the pool. We had to drive back on Sunday, each in separate cars, which was hard for me since I was so tired. It was a short weekend, but it was also fun to see everyone.

Todd with his Grandma (she turned 102 in June!!)

Me nearing the finish line at the Bix (and not looking very pretty after 7-miles)

Ben playing in the pool (Todd was having fun throwing the kids)

Running (slowly)

Lately I haven't been running as much as normal. It seems so different from last spring when most of my spare time was spent training for the two half marathons I ran in. The summer has been different. Work has taken up a lot of my time and long days translate into short evenings. So, my runs have been non-existent or very short in duration. It also seems like when I do run, I am running in slow motion. Many days I feel as though I have weights strapped to my legs. I am not sure why, but it has taken longer to run the same distances I used to run. Maybe this means I need to take a break or I need to train more. Either way, I have definitely cut out some of my distance and I am looking forward to the shorter 5k and 10k runs I typically do in the fall.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's that time again...

...time for my favorite candy on earth!! My beloved candy corn has arrived in stores!! I saw it out of the corner of my eye while at the grocery store today. In fact, I was so surprised to see it, I thought my eyes might be deceiving me. So, I sprinted from the meat counter over to the seasonal aisle and left Todd to pick out our Sunday dinner. Although it seems a little early (after all Halloween is still 82 days away), it's all here - candy corn, mellowcreme pumpkins, indian corn, and autumn mix. I am so in heaven!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Review: Spaah

I have lots of posts to catch up on! The past few weeks have been busy - mostly work, but we also fit in a little fun. Or, at least we tried to.

On Sunday July 20th, we decided to get a couples massage. Todd had gotten a gift certificate for me to one of the local spas back in February. He didn't get me anything for my birthday (not even a card), so he decided to try to find something cool for Valentine's Day. I had been wanting to try Spaah and he decided he wanted to try it, too. Anyway, we called and made an appointment for the afternoon. After my experience at the French Lick Spa with Lana, I had high expectations. Apparently too high, because I give Spaah two thumbs down!!

At French Lick, we were given fluffy robes and relaxed in chaise lounges with water and fruit before getting a massage. The person who gave me my massage was awesome and brought me water when the time was over. After that, we sat in the sauna before taking showers back in the women's locker room area. Everything was provided - shampoo, soap, deodorant, hairdryers, etc. It was very relaxing and serene. Spaah, however, was a bad experience for me. There were no locker rooms, at least any we were allowed to use. So, we had to hang all of our clothes on two small hooks in the massage room. Todd had no where to put his glasses, so we stuck them in my purse hoping they wouldn't get scratched. I requested they do my shoulders and neck, but she spent 3/4 of the time on my lower back!?! She did not really even do a hard massage, so nothing felt "worked-out" when she was done. There were lots of things that made this a less than memorable experience, but the two most annoying things were that we did not have a way to shower off after they were done. We were covered in massage oil and had to put our clothes on to leave. The final straw for me is that the building sits on a busy corner, so we listened to cars speed by and motorcycles rev up at the stoplight. Not relaxing at all.

So, to my Bloomington friends: I recommend trying to find another spa in town. Or better yet, make the drive to French Lick. It costs a little more, but it is totally worth it for a true spa experience.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Vacation Pictures

I finally got our vacation pictures uploaded, among the other things I accomplished today. Hmmm...really I think I am finding other things to do besides grade final exams. They are due by midnight tonight, but four have already been turned in. I should be working on these, but instead, you can find our vacation pictures here! :)

(Note: Our parasailing pictures did not turn out at all. We should have asked someone to take pictures of us on our camera, but we bought them from the boat instead. Big mistake - they were all half black. I don't think they loaded the film right and the lens they sold us on less than stellar since all the far away pics are really blurry. Lesson learned. I croped a few of the better ones.)