The Sandwich-Hater’s Lunch: Herbed Chicken Salad

One evening during last week’s heat wave (yes, I’m calling 90 degrees in early April a “heat wave,”) I wandered through the grocery store looking for dinner inspiration.  All I could think was, “I refuse to eat anything hot.”  Truly, cereal sounded better to me than anything else, but I had a feeling Andrew would not be to thrilled to eat cereal for dinner. 🙂

Chicken salad popped into my head and immediately seemed like the best idea for a cold dinner entree.  Originally I planned to title this post, “It’s-90-Degrees-And-I-Refuse-to-Eat-Anything-Hot Chicken Salad,” but 1. I’m writing it so far after the hot weather that it’s not as fitting, and 2. the leftovers made for an excellent sandwich-hater’s lunch.

Here’s the recipe:

Herbed Chicken Salad

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*

1/2 cucumber, chopped

Rosemary, fresh**

Sage, fresh**

Thyme, fresh**

1/4 c mayonnaise

Squirt*** of mustard

Salt & pepper to taste

*I boiled the chicken breasts, but you can saute, bake, use leftovers, or even canned chicken.

**In the produce section at my grocery store (Kroger) I found a “poultry blend” of fresh herbs–one small plastic container had rosemary, sage, and thyme, and it was more than enough!

***Yes, a “squirt” is an official measurement.  😉

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Put everything in a bowl and mix well.  It’s not a bad idea to start conservatively with everything but the chicken–you can always add more to suit your taste, but you cannot take out mayonnaise once it’s in!

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We ate ours with mixed green salads, and I had Triscuits with mine as well.  It ended up being an excellent dinner on a hot night… and a solid lunch the next day for someone who hates sandwiches 🙂

Enjoy!

Today

April 16, 2013.

The day after the horrific explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The 6th anniversary of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech.

What can be said on a day like today?  I feel tremendously saddened by each of these events, and equally inadequate to write about them.

Here’s what I know for sure:

In the Gospel of John, chapter 16 verse 33, Jesus tells us, “…In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart;  I have overcome the world.”

I don’t know why these tragedies happened.  I can’t say what good will come from them.  I don’t know that I’d be able to restrain myself from punching those responsible in the face, if given the opportunity.

What I do know is that we have a God who loves us more than we can fathom, and that He has already overcome every ounce of evil in this world.  In Him alone we can take comfort.

Please join me in praying for those who are grieving today, those who are remembering in sadness, and those who are on the road to recovery.  Kristin Armstrong said it well:  “The road ahead is long.  But little do they know, [runners are] good with that.”

 

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Monument Avenue 10k 2013

On Saturday I went head-to -head with the Monument Avenue 10k, and… here’s how it went down:

Friday afternoon Gabe and I went to the race expo to pick up our numbers, t-shirts, and lots of free samples.  (Gabe is a girl, by the way, in case I don’t know you in real life :))  That evening I laid out my race outfit, just to make sure I had everything together.

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We had Gabe and her boyfriend Jeff over for a pre-race, pasta dinner (brown rice pasta for Andrew and me, whole wheat for Gabe and Jeff.)  Using a basic canned tomato sauce as the base, we sauteed in olive oil some mushrooms, garlic, onion (saving some without onion for me,) and ground beef, then added bay leaves, basil, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme and let simmer for a while.

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The pasta + salads + garlic sourdough toast made an excellent meal!  We ended up eating on the back deck because it was such a beautiful night.  It might be time to purchase some deck furniture…

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Yep, we set up four TV trays and took our kitchen chairs outside.  Hah!  A little ghetto, but it worked 😀

After loading up on carbs and getting a good night of sleep, it was race time.  The weather was absolutely perfect: mid 50’s and sunny.  To avoid traffic and parking issues with local races, my preferred method of arriving at the starting line is to drive close, and then bike a mile or two to the start.  It’s a good warm up, and it reduces the risk of arriving late due to traffic and/or parking (which I did once, and ended up running a mile to the start of a half marathon, which started while I was running there.  Stressful to the max.)  Anyway, we parked about two miles away, where Andrew was planning to spectate.  The course is more or less an out-and-back on Monument Avenue, and there’s a large, grassy median where Andrew stood so he could catch us around mile 2 and then again at mile 4.

Gabe and I met up, made our way to our corral, and before long we were running!  Our plan was to start slower than goal pace (which, to run under 50 minutes was about 8:03 min/mile,) then make up the time in the second half.  There’s a strong tendency on race day to get caught in all the excitement and start running too fast, so we had to make a conscious effort to hold back a little.  (Andrew’s thoughts on this plan?  “You should start running fast, run fast in the middle, and run fast at the end!” ;-))

We ran the first mile at an 8:08 min/mile pace.  Mile two was 7:59 min/mile.  When we passed Andrew we were going strong!

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Why are so many other people in the photo looking at the camera?  Because Andrew was yelling, “Goooo!  You’re running so fast!!!  Run faster!!!”  😀  My mom and Walter came to cheer us on too, and we saw them at the halfway point!  It’s always so great to have people rooting for you!

We ran mile 3 at an 8:04 pace.  Somewhere in the next mile, Gabe told me to run ahead.  I yelled at her to stay with me, but at some point I looked back and couldn’t find her, so I kept going (we talked about this scenario before the race… it’s what she wanted. :))  Soon after that I passed Andrew again and gave him my best, “I lost Gabe!” face:

IMG_4314Some people look really attractive when they run.  I’m not one of those people.

Mile 4– 7:57 pace.  Mile 5– 7:47.  At this point I had made up the lost time from the start and felt confident that, unless something crazy happened, I’d break 50 minutes!  My legs and lungs still felt strong.

Mile 6 I ran in 7:31, and the .2 home stretch took about 1:37, which means…

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I BROKE 50 MINUTES!!

Kind of crushed it, in fact 🙂  My official time was 49:00.  My average pace was 7:52 min/mile.  I was ecstatic (still am, really.)  Gabe finished in 50:41, which was a PR for her, so we were both very pleased.

It was a fantastic day, and I am so relieved to finally break that darn 50 minute mark.  Time to set some new goals and keep running!

One Year

One year ago today, I married my best friend.  I know everyone uses that terminology (“married my best friend,”) but I mean it.

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We had a gorgeous day in April (every other weekend that month was rainy and cold.)  The months leading up to the wedding had been rough in other areas of life, but with the help of family and friends, everything came together perfectly for the day.  I walked down the aisle to a song written and played by our friends Chelsea and Josh.  The flowers in the bouquets were grown and arranged by Andrew’s cousins Stuart and Alice.  We truly could not have done it without the help of, oh, everyone we know. 🙂

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Tudor & Storey Wedding

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Tudor & Storey Wedding

 

(Photos by Rob Jefferson and Kate Magee Photography)

It’s hard to believe an entire year has passed since that day.  So what have I learned in one year of marriage?  First, the power of apologizing and forgiveness.  There is nothing like marriage, being with someone every single day, to bring out the faults in both parties.  Being quick to say, “I’m sorry,” even if it’s only for a snippy comment made while in a bad mood, goes a long way… as does not holding something over the other person’s head or guilt-tripping.

The second thing I’ve learned in marriage (and I use the word, “learned” loosely; it’s more of a “learning process,”) is the value of putting the other person first.  By nature, we are self-serving beings.  When I come home from work, I want to sit on the couch and watch TV, or read a book, or do something that want to do.  But what if there’s a pile of dishes in the sink?  If I choose not to do them (which would by my preference 100% of the time,) Andrew will likely end up doing them.  If I choose to think of him first, suck it up, and just clean the dishes, then Andrew will have a chance to relax.  Sometimes I choose to serve myself, and sometimes I choose to serve him;  when I put him first though, I never regret it (and I bet he’d say the same thing about putting me first.)  Marriage, love, requires sacrifice.

Our marriage is far from perfect (as is any marriage, I assume,) but I sure do love that guy.  I wouldn’t trade the last year of my life for anything, and I look forward to 75 more (I’m optimistic ;-))

Andrew, thanks for letting me fall asleep on you on the couch most weeknights and for letting me hug you at inconvenient times (“It’s your cooking dinner hug.”)  Most of all, thank you for loving me so well all the time.  I love you… Happy Anniversary!

 

 

Race Week Workouts + Thoughts on Yoga

Tomorrow is race day–time to see if all my training has been enough.  To be honest, I am not feeling entirely confident I can achieve my goal of breaking 50 minutes for the 10k.  I know I put in some great training runs, but I started a little late, and my legs have felt achy in the last week.  I’m going to do my best to push the doubts out of mind and just go for it tomorrow!  I can break 50 minutes.  I can break 50 minutes…

The week leading up to a race is tricky in terms of workouts.  I try to strike a balance between working out enough that I don’t lose any physical fitness, and resting enough that I don’t wear myself out before the race.  Here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Run- 30 minutes, easy

Tuesday: Weeding the yard (Don’t even try to tell me that’s not a workout.  It’s like doing squats for two hours [we had a lot of weeds ;-)] )

Wednesday AM: Run-30 minutes, easy

Wednesday PM: Yoga- 60 minutes (more on this later)

Thursday: Walk-30 minutes

Friday: Rest

In the few days leading up to a race, I’m pretty sure resting is more beneficial than any workout!

About that yoga.  Andrew and I have started taking a class at our gym on Wednesday nights (we’ve been about five times so far.)  Prior to this, I’d taken a few yoga classes here and there but always preferred a good 30-minute run to an hour of thinking about breathing and trying not to laugh.  A few years ago, in an attempt to be proactive about relaxing and controlling stress, I bought a yoga DVD.  I did it a few times in my living room, but I’d always fast forward through the 5-minute “warm-up,” which consisted of lying on my back, breathing, and thinking, “I don’t have time for this…”  In retrospect, I think I may have been missing the point. 😉

Recently we decided to give it another shot (Andrew had never been to a class or fast forwarded through a DVD.)  After a few weeks of consistent yoga, it turns out we really enjoy it!  That doesn’t mean we are good at it (we are not,) but we do find it rewarding, and it actually is a very good workout.

While we are becoming more comfortable with yoga, we still have a long way to go–I know; it’s not really a destination, but we’re definitely newbies.  Inevitably during each class there is at least one situation that makes us giggle.  It usually happens when the teacher gives an instruction that, whatever she meant to say, arrives at my ear sounding like this:  “Lifting your right leg to the side, wrap your left arm around your ankle twice, right arm on blue, left foot green, and lean back.  Breathe.”  😉

Without fail there is also always some instruction given for which I think, “I must have missed something;  it’s impossible to look at the ceiling from my current position.”  I come out of the position to look at the instructor and discover that, yes, yes it is possible to look at the ceiling from that position.

Additionally, Andrew and I are potentially the two least flexible people on the planet.  This week in class we did a lot more stretching/flexibility positions than usual, and it was painful–not so much physically, but painful how bad I was! (I know, that’s not really what yoga is about.)  At one point she instructed us to sit with our legs in a wide straddle and lean to the right.  I thought, “Lean to the right?  Or lean over my right leg?  For you it’s the same thing, but for me the two are very different.  I have like a 90-degree angle going on…”  I was thankful that most people in the class could bend over and touch their faces to the floor so they couldn’t see me essentially sitting up straight. 😀

The verdict:  We are sticking with it.  At the very least, it is a great means to improve our poor flexibility!

With that I am off to rest…well, not workout, anyway.  I am going to the race expo this afternoon with my friend Gabe to pick up our numbers and race packets (and get free samples!  Gotta love race expos :-D)

Anyone else racing this weekend?

April Garden Update

Based on the weather, it seems we’ve skipped spring completely and gone straight from winter to summer.  Yesterday the observed high for Richmond was a record-breaking 91 degrees!  Even the squirrels are struggling with the heat:

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We have a bunch of white squirrels in our neighborhood (which we find awesome, in case you were wondering. :))  When I arrived home yesterday I found this one resting in the shade under our wheelbarrow planter.  He stayed there for a solid 30 minutes!

The plus side of the heat is that it is finally warm enough to start planting the vegetables outside.  This week we planted broccoli, Swiss chard, carrot, and beet seeds–all of which can handle a bit of cold, and we have a few 40-something-degree nights on the horizon.

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We also transplanted the plants we started inside in February from the seed starting kit to individual plastic cups (with holes cut in the bottoms for drainage.)  We were way late doing this, and now we are having to do some popsicle stick scoliosis treatment for the tomato plants.  I think they are beginning to straighten…

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This is only half of the plants, and the two giants in the top photo are tomatillos that our friend Matt gave us this week (thanks, Matt!)  We’ve been putting them on the back deck for a few hours each day to let them adjust to the outdoors before it becomes their permanent home.  (If that sounds crazy, you should know that when Andrew comes home from work he says, “How are the babies doing?” in reference to the plants. 😉 )

The downside to the heat is that my tulips–which I’ve been eagerly anticipating since I planted them in the fall–are blooming overnight, opening completely by the afternoon, and losing their petals by the evening.

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DSCN7747Pretty, nonetheless 🙂

By the mailbox:

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You can check out the “before” pictures from a month ago here.  It’s crazy to see the difference!

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Even if each tulip only blooms for a day, I plan to enjoy them while they last. 🙂

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

There’s something about the first 80-degree day of the year to make you realize just how badly you need to iron your shorts and shave your legs (sorry, Andrew. 😉 )  Additionally, the gorgeous weather yesterday inspired us to cook dinner on the grill.  This recipe is far from cutting edge, but the end result is quite tasty:

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

1 1/2 lb chicken breasts 

3 bell peppers 

1/2 onion 

2 c pineapple

skewers

(Marinade)

3 tbsp soy sauce (gluten-free or regular)

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

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1. Slice chicken into chunks and place in large zip-seal bag.  Slice peppers, onion, and pineapple into 1-2 inch pieces and place in separate zip-seal bag.  2.  Combine ingredients for marinade, mix well, and pour half into each zip-seal bag.  3.  Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour.  4.  Preheat grill to medium heat.  If using wooden skewers, soak them in water (to prevent them from catching fire.)  5.  Put chicken and veggies on skewers, leaving a little room at each end to allow for turning.

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(We put our meat and veggies on separate skewers in case they require different cooking times, but you can mix them up if you want!)

6.  Place skewers on grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning a few times.  Check chicken regularly to make sure it is completely cooked.  7.  Remove from skewers, and enjoy!

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We ate ours with some brown rice (made in the rice cooker,) and it was delicious!  I don’t eat onion, so half of an onion was sufficient for Andrew, but you could certainly use a whole one.  Next time we’ll marinate everything for a bit longer (we didn’t quite give it an hour.)  Even so, it tasted great, and we will definitely make it again!

Enjoy!