Confessions; Life, Lately (Mostly Food).

Happy Saturday Friends!

Any exciting weekend plans? Farmer Ben and I are having some friends over for an evening of good food and games. I’m really looking forward to it!

Other than that, my back-to-school game is in full swing! Not gonna lie, I’ll be happy once my orientation class is over so I don’t have to log in every day. I probably still will… but I won’t be obligated to. That makes all the difference!

In other news, have you guys heard of EBATES? It’s stupidly easy. You sign up, download their button, and when you are on a site that gives cash back, it turns red. Once activated, you get money back! If you don’t want to download the button, you can go to the EBATES’ site and find what you’re looking for that way. I’ve gotten money back on a book for school, protein powder and a baby shower gift.

(Full Disclosure, if you sign up via the link above and make a purchase, I get $5. Thank you in advance!). 

I signed up about a month ago and I’ve already gotten $8.05 back from online purchases. My sister, on the other hand, got $26 back (I think she does more online shopping than I do). It doesn’t seem like it’s that much, but those few dollars here and there add up! You’ll either receive a check in the mail or you can have it go to your PayPal account.

Confession time… (Mostly Food)

  • Farmer Ben and I had pizza for dinner three times this week (Unless you count Sunday as last week, then it’s technically only 2 times). One of said pizzas was a “nacho pizza.” Yes, it was ridiculously good and I think I gained approximately 5 pounds.

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  • I am officially over summer squash and zucchini…we’ve been eating it SO MUCH and people keep giving us more! I’ve gotten creative, making a zucchini “lasagna,” and just eating it raw, dipped in hummus or dressing…and a few other ways… but there are only so many things you can do to squash. Sometime next week, we’ll have zucchini fritters and the elusive zucchini pizza crust (because clearly, we never get sick of pizza). Gulp…wish us luck!
  • I made these cupcakes with a few modifications, to use more zucchini up (and then my mom gave us 3 more). They were good but only required a cup… I may need to quadruple the recipe and freeze them!  Any suggestions for what else we should make?
  • I am really into snack plates (Always with radishes and cucumbers)… I think it’s becoming a problem…this was a recent work meeting.

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  • Farmer Ben and I have a problem with making everything boozey. The cupcakes I talked about earlier? I put Kahlua in them… And Farmer Ben? He made this…

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I can’t even.

  • I’ve been alternating between three pairs of running capris. I have other bottoms to wear, but they just aren’t as comfortable! I’ve been doing a lot of laundry the last few weeks.
  • Speaking of running… I’ve been eyeing different GPS Watches/Heart Rate Monitors… I’ve even gone as far as putting some in my online shopping cart… but I can’t convince myself to spend the money on them. Any suggestions on brand? I’m bouncing back and forth between Garmin and TomTom. Are they worth all the hype?
  • And sports bras. It’s time to cough up some cash for some new sports bras. Why is having boobs so darn expensive?!
  • Looking back over my last month of posts, I realize that I haven’t blogged about so many things…look for some major photo/catching up posts in the next week or two!

That’s all for today, Friends! Any confessions on your end? Let me know in the comments! 


Scenes from a weekend: Breakfast, Beer & Cigar Box Guitars

Happy Tuesday!

Hope you all had a great weekend, I certainly did!

I snuck away to visit the family in Horseheads, NY and let me say, it was so fun (even though Farmer Ben was missing)!

Anyway, here is a brief peek inside my trip… I was a terrible blogger and didn’t take as many pictures as I should have.
I did manage to remember to take pictures at the Horseheads Brewing Co., great beers, great staff. If you are in the area, try the ” hot chocolate,” a mix of their jalapeño ale and chocolate porter!

That’s all for today! Enjoy!

Photos:
Dinner and dessert, my brother-in-law’s latest craft-cigar box guitars!, Horseheads brewing company randoms and more eats.

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Finding a Balance: Burgers and Big Workouts

Hi Friends!

Farmer Ben and I are back from our road trip/vacation down south! Can I tell you a secret? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much barbecue in my life…I loved every morsel…but I must admit, it is good to be home, sleeping in our own bed and cooking at home. I’ll do a full post on that later…

I need to get something off my chest.

I was perusing instagram the other day and came across a photo of a giant cheeseburger with French fries. To put you in the right frame of mind, the burger was similar to this one, minus the braised kale:

Pictures like this speak to me.

Pictures like this speak to me.

Anyway, my immediate thoughts? “Oh my, that looks delicious!”

Obviously, I was drawn to it and stopped to read the caption and comments.

I won’t tell you who the user was but the caption was something along the lines of “Yes, I ate this…trying to tell myself that my ridiculously long, strenuous workout makes it okay.”

Cue screeching record sound… What?! 

I’m sorry… but that is ridiculous.

Why do you have to do a ridiculously long and strenuous workout in order to justify eating a cheeseburger and fries? Why do you have to burn a million calories in order to enjoy it? Or, make a vow to run a million miles the next day? Why can’t you just eat it and say, “man, that was delicious,” without feeling guilty?

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying that you should go out and only eat cheeseburgers and fries (or whatever your guilty pleasure of choice may be), obviously.

Not at all… but if you eat well most of the time, and yes, if you do ridiculously long and strenuous workouts more often than not (as this person does), then what the heck? Eat a damn cheeseburger!

Occasionally enjoying an “unhealthy” meal is not going to “ruin all of your hard work,” and it’s not going to make you gain 20 pounds or ruin your diet/workout regimen. Depending on the burger and your digestive system, you may be a bit bloated or gassy after…but it’s not going to ruin your overall health plan. It’s about balance, people!

I guess what I found most disturbing was the user who posted this picture. You are a role model in a healthy living community. That is not a healthy state of mind…and it’s a common theme I am finding as I peruse my instagram and twitter feeds of bloggers/people who claim to have a healthy lifestyle…people I look up to!

People would rather drink a protein shake or eat an energy bar full of artificial sweeteners and ingredients they can’t pronounce, than enjoy real, whole foods that happen to be calorie dense. I see more protein shakes with a side of celery or a few apple slices  than real, balanced meals on my feed. WHY?!

When did we get so far away from balance…and eating real food?

Again, I am NOT saying that a cheeseburger and fries is “healthy meal,” nor am I saying that all protein shakes/energy bars are bad…not at all!

I’m just saying, everything in moderation.

Neither of these options is going to completely nourish/sustain a person, especially a highly active person.

Balance is necessary.

When you start looking at food as the enemy or depriving yourself…or even trying to justify what you are eating with ridiculously long and strenuous workouts, then there is a problem…and this I am saying from personal experience.  On the same note, you also can’t look to food for comfort/stress relief…again, it’s about balance.

I am in no way perfect, and I am totally guilty of having that small voice in my head saying, “are you sure you want to eat that? Do you know how many calories are in it?!”

But, I’ve come to appreciate balance and I’ve finally learned the “everything in moderation” principle…Yes, I watch what I eat…but I don’t completely deprive myself and I don’t freak out after eating a burger. I’m no expert, but I think I’m a lot healthier now because of this.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

So tell me, what are your thoughts? Cheeseburgers, yes or no? Are you guilty of trying to justify your meals with workouts?  Favorite food to drool over on Instagram?


Scenes from a Full Weekend and a Confession

Hi Friends!!!

Life has been moving pretty fast around these parts lately…I’m looking forward to some much-needed time off and a road trip with Farmer Ben, later this week (Georgia and South Carolina, here we come!).

This weekend, I went to a women’s conference with some ladies from my church in Worcester, MA…this was a completely new experience for me and one that I needed.

I actually hemmed and hawed about going because, well… I just felt like I wouldn’t have time…but I made time and it was so worth it!

Not only did Natalie Grant lead worship (so powerful!), but we got to see some great speakers. I learned a lot and came back feeling refreshed and empowered.

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo...

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo…

My favorite speaker was definitely Valorie Burton.

Valorie Burton...I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

Valorie Burton…I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

I mentioned that this conference was something I needed and I found Valorie’s workshop especially relevant to some things I am dealing with right now.

I got home from the conference really late and Farmer Ben and I were up bright and early on Sunday Morning to volunteer with our church for our Faith in Action Sunday… basically, the congregation divides up into groups and does various service projects around town…

Our group went to a local park and raked leaves…for three hours. By the time we left the park, we had 97 giant bags of leaves and a ton of piles that we just didn’t have the man-power to bag. Needless to say, I am sore today and have some really attractive blisters on my hands.

After volunteering we went to my mother’s house and took a quick shopping trip… I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I absolutely despise shopping at Wal-Mart…This shopping trip reminded me why. I think I’ve had my fill of misbehaving, screaming children and rude people for the next three years.

We dropped my mom off and then headed to our friends’ house to make a quick dinner.

I made this mac & cheese from Pinch of Yum and fooled their son into eating butternut squash. Not only was it delicious, but it only had 1 cup of cheese in a double recipe!

Delicious.

Delicious.

After dinner, I whipped up these cookies…they were also a hit.

Farmer Ben and I finally made it home at about 9pm and I immediately went to bed.

Other than that, life has been good…

We’ve been going to the market.

$1 for this entire bag of "imperfect produce"

$1 for this entire bag of “imperfect produce”

This was $38...$20 for local meat and cheese.

This was $38…$20 for local meat and cheese.

Hubby bought me some beautiful flowers from a local farm….

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And we’ve been enjoying the weather. I finally got to break in my sweet orange wind-breaker from the race.

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And now for a confession… 

My biggest frustration at the moment is that I haven’t run since my marathon. I took a few days off for recovery and, much to my dismay, ended up having to work both jobs for the entire week following the race.

Running a marathon and then working 12-15 hour days for five days is not conducive to recovery.

That Saturday, I was going to go for a short run but I started having a weird pain behind my knee. It hasn’t gone away. It’s more annoying that downright painful and almost feels like a snap or a pinch…does that make any sense?

It’s not my knee… but I don’t know how else to describe it. I did some google-ing and am guessing that it’s either a baker’s cyst or a meniscus but doesn’t feel painful enough to be either.

I did notice that the pain was a little more annoying this past week, depending on what I am doing. Yesterday, it was pretty uncomfortable and by the end of raking it was burning.

Any ides as to what this is?

I broke down and went to a walk-in doctor but honestly, he was no help. He felt around and played with my knee, stood back and said, “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you…I have no idea what to tell you!”

Super helpful, right? I did, however, finally get a full physical, for the first time in at least five years.

I don’t think I’ll be returning to that doctor as, honestly, I found him a bit kooky (and that is saying a lot, coming from me), but it’s nice to know that as far as he could tell, I am perfectly healthy.

Anyway, I have a friend who works for a knee specialist and she offered to get me an appointment… it sounds silly, but I am putting it off because I am convinced it’s actually nothing and will feel silly if I turn out to be right.

These are the things that go through my head… sigh.

Well…that’s all for now… It’s going to be a short work week and a lot of driving. I cannot wait!

What have you been up to? What are your weird aches and pains? Cooky doctors-discuss. Butternut Squash, yes or no?


GBN: Pre-Marathon Jitters

You guys…I’m running a marathon this weekend!!! (Did anyone else just picture that scene in Mama Mia? Anyone?)

Yesterday, I found myself telling Ben that I was going back and forth between “feeling ridiculously excited and absolutely terrified.” No matter what happens this weekend, I am going to give it my all….and I am going to enjoy the ride.

I’m taking a lot of comfort in the fact that my last couple of weeks of training have been really enjoyable. I’m feeling strong on my runs (even if they are shorter) and I am have a great time in the process!

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Night Runs are exhilarating!

Anyway, it’s been a busy week in our house. Luckily, Farmer Ben is the best hubs ever.

So, here is my week in training…and then some life:

Monday: I ended up having to work at job 2 on Friday and Saturday night…between that, church, group meetings and having a minor car issue (my muffler decided it was going to break) which entailed a lot of running around, I ended up doing my final long run on Monday night.

Not having my car that day turned out to be a blessing…I finished much earlier than normal because I had to run from my job to meet Ben when he got out of work. My stomach was finicky the entire time, but I found my zone and ended up going a lot faster than I thought I was going. I don’t know if that is good or bad…..regardless, it was a beautiful day and I felt great! I ended up doing 9 miles instead of the prescribed 8.

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This is the face of confusion…sweaty confusion.

Tuesday: I got stuck at work until late and ended up taking a rest day… I took a deep breath and told myself this was not a big deal.

Wednesday: It was a much better day.

Not only did Farmer Ben get my muffler fixed (Yay!) but, he also got my oil changed, took me to lunch, went for a run with me and made a banging dinner.

Oh…you want to hear about my run?

We ended up doing one of our regular loops featuring a big hill backwards… there is still a hill going the other way, but not nearly as steep.

Ben ended up taking off and getting pretty far ahead of me as I was trying to stay closer to my goal pace for the marathon…but then my competitive side kicked in…. and I ended up booking it up the hill in order to catch up with him… when I finally caught him, he had a look of confusion on his face…

And then he asked the question: “Do you have a funny taste in your mouth?”

Me, completely confused and unaware: “…No…what sort of taste?”

Ben: “You don’t taste something? Like Dust? (insert pause for effect) because I certainly DON’T!”

It took me a moment to get the joke, then I burst out laughing and slapped his arm.

And then I left him in MY dust…for a couple of minutes.

I ended up slowing down a little bit for the last mile, but overall I ended up running faster than planned. In the end, I still felt good!

Practicing for race day with my fuel belt...

Practicing for race day with my fuel belt…

I had to take a picture of Farmer Ben after his zing… notice his smirk:

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Anyway, after our run, Ben whipped a Swiss Chard risotto (complete with garden veggies, homemade chicken stock and almond milk) and some (local) chicken sausage meatballs.  I had two helpings, it was soooo good! I have to say, I am pretty darn blessed to have such a good husband, even if he does tease me during our runs.

 

A bowl of yum.

A bowl of yum.

So what’s going on the rest of the week?

  • Tonight: I’m going out for an easy three miles to make up for Tuesday.
  • Friday:  Rest day.
  • Saturday: I’m heading down to the race expo and going to scope out parking, bathrooms, clothing check and the like… I’m also going to squeeze in an easy 2 miles to keep loose.
  • Sunday: Race day!!!

As for food, I’m focusing on quality… I’m trying to load up on my veggies and avoid too much dairy, sugar and heavy foods in general, as my stomach has been a bit off the last few days (nerves). I’m also taking my ENERGYbits, focusing on drinking a lot of water  and logging my food on myfitnesspal to make sure I’m getting enough of everything… Saturday night, I’m planning on a simple pasta meal and then Sunday morning, I’m going with a bagel with peanut butter, honey and a banana for breakfast.

Tell me, any advice for race day? What do you eat before a big race? Have any good running burns? 

Happy Running!


Real Talk: Smoke Signals, Lake Placid-Review

After our trip up Whiteface Mountain, Ben and I decided to head into Lake Placid to wander around. After meandering for an hour or so, we ducked into a restaurant.

The restaurant was called Smoke Signals and is relatively new.  We were enticed by the re-purposed décor, the fun bar crowd and tasty looking menu, which used local meats, cheeses and veggies. What could go wrong?!

So, we put our names in for a table…. supposedly it would be a fifteen minute wait. There were two hostesses working…one disappeared to help bus/re-set tables.

Now, we should have realized when there were a number of open tables in the bar area, this may have been a bad idea…but we waited, thinking, “let’s give this place a shot.”

After 40 minutes, I was starting to get antsy and was about to ask Ben if we could go somewhere else. I noticed the hostess made a table for a large group that came in and then a couple that came in five minutes after us went up and complained… they were seated a few minutes later. Then we saw people sitting at the previously mentioned, empty tables.

At that point, having been passed over, I gave the hostess the stink eye. Not just an irritated scowl, but THE stink eye. She noticed….and realized that she forgot about us (even though she wrote our name down).

The girl hurried over to us and, without apologizing, asked if we preferred to wait a few more minutes for a table on the patio… I, still giving the stink eye, said “at this point it really doesn’t matter.”

So, she stomped led us over to a table and we were seated, inside. This was fine…but then, moments later, we watched her take another couple out to the patio. I almost hit the roof.

Now, don’t get me wrong, having worked in a restaurant for quite some time, I understand that stuff happens. Sometimes you have to wait a little longer…but to tell us it would be a “bit longer for an outdoor table (after having been passed over twice)” and then watching someone else get seated at said table, moments later? COME ON. And in all honesty, the hostess is the first person you see when you enter a restaurant. Maybe having a less indifferent teenager welcoming customers would be a good idea.

Luckily, our server, Christina, was awesome. She was very attentive and answered any questions we had. This was the restaurant’s saving grace.

A few minutes after ordering, we received corn bread… awesome, yes? No. It was cold and sticky. Being a bread lover, I was disappointed. But, I loved the mason jar water glasses and the condiment basket.

What seemed like an eternity later, we received our food. Again, normally, I don’t mind waiting as I understand, when things get busy, the kitchen slows down…but… I ordered a salad and macaroni and cheese…and Ben ordered a sandwich with French fries and baked beans.

I would venture a guess that we waited about 45-60 minutes for a salad and a sandwich. Honestly, the French fries were probably the most labor intensive item to prepare… but 45 minutes?

So how was the food?

Ben's pulled chicken and French fries

Ben’s pulled chicken and French fries

My chipotle Caesar and macaroni and cheese

My chipotle Caesar and macaroni and cheese

It wasn’t bad…

I didn’t taste any chipotle in my chipotle Caesar salad…instead I got a really strong horseradish taste… not that I mind horseradish, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The macaroni and cheese was really good, not too heavy, but it’s a food that’s difficult to mess up.

Ben’s chicken sandwich wasn’t bad either.., however, there was a heavy cheese sauce that just overpowered the chicken and Ben ended up scraping a lot of it off. The French fries were hand cut and tasty. He also ordered a side of baked beans, which were not bad, but a bit too sweet.

Overall, I’d say our experience was mediocre…again, the food wasn’t bad, but it was nothing to write home about–though we were both really glad they made an effort to use of local growers/producers–and the prices were reasonable, our total bill came out to $37 for two microbrews and our meals and we left full..

Now, I really wanted to like this place. I really did! Ben and I both hope that our experience was just part of the growing pains associated with a new restaurant and I hope they work everything out. Not including our time waiting for a table, we were at the restaurant for over an hour and a half–Not that I like to be rushed while eating, but holy moly, that long for a sandwich and a salad?!

I will say, get rid of that hostess….and not just because she forgot about us.

On a more positive note, the bartender looked like he was having a good time and all of the bar crowd looked happy, there were also some really good happy hour specials..the other food we saw coming out of the kitchen looked tasty, but I don’t think we’ll be rushing back to Smoke Signals anytime soon.

Have you tried any new restaurants lately? Where did you go and how was it? Ever had a bad experience? Discuss.


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part II: Garden Eats

In my last post, Dad, Eileen, Gary and I were in Saranac Lake getting our local food on… I managed to pick up a few goodies….

My new addiction...

My new addiction…

 

I have a weakness for goat cheese....

I have a weakness for goat cheese….

After bringing Farmer Ben a surprise coffee, I took Gary and my Dad for a long walk on a bike path by the lake. It was hot…and sticky.

I then rushed home to clean-up and make some more delicious eats….

Here is what I whipped up….

Avocado-Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta... under a mountain of parmesan

Bruschetta… under a mountain of parmesan

What you’ll need:

  • 1 baguette…preferably local
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on bread
  • 2 large tomatoes (or 3-4 small-medium)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves (approximately)
  • 1 tbsp. or a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mince garlic.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic. Stir…cook garlic until it softens-do NOT let burn. This won’t take long. Pour garlic and oil into a metal mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Chop/dice tomatoes (this will be depend on how big you want your chunks to be–side note: chunks is not an appetizing word.) Add to mixing bowl with garlic and oil. 
  • Also, if you don’t want soupy bruschetta, drain some of the juices before adding to bowl.
  • Chop basil. (tip: stack some leaves on top of each other, roll them length-wise and slice into thin strips) Add to mixing bowl.
  • Add in remaining balsamic, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside
  • Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/4 -1/2 inch slices. Place on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Place in oven and let brown. Meanwhile, dice up your avocado and add to the bruschetta mixture–do NOT do this until ready to serve.
  • Remove toasted baguette from oven and top with bruschetta mixture.

If you’re feeling extra naughty, grate some parmesan over the top.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Garden Delight Pasta

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(Or…trying to use up all the veggies on your counter/in the fridge pasta)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (I used angel hair)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 1/2 a giant onion like I used…), diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 6 large kale leaves, sliced (I just ripped it up)
  • 2 large Swiss Chard Leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped (about 1-2 tbsp.)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or, if you have leftover bruschetta mix, that will work too!)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Heat water for pasta and cook according to package
  •                  While your water is boiling….
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add in onion, until it starts to soften.
  • Add in zucchini and eggplant, stirring occasionally, be careful not to let veggies stick/burn. Reduce heat to medium low. (This should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on your veggies/size of pan)
  • Add in Swiss chard and kale, cover and let wilt. Stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cooked and drained pasta (it should be hot) and mix in remaining ingredients.

Remove from heat and Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Favorite seasonal meal? How do you use up all of your leftover veggies? Goat cheese in pasta, yes or no?

Stay Tuned for Scenes…Part 3!