Mountain Biking at Dutch Gap

Well, it seems the warm weather we had Saturday was just another spring teaser, as it is very likely to snow again tomorrow.  I feel certain that even the greatest snow lovers in Virginia are over it by now.  <Sigh.>

Andrew and I enjoyed the nice weather while we could; on Saturday we packed up our bikes and drove to the Dutch Gap Conservation Area, a park not too far from home.

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The park has a 4.5 mile trail that runs around a pond, with lots of spur trails that we rode down as well.  We didn’t ride super fast or super far, but it was a very enjoyable afternoon!  We spent about two hours exploring the area and enjoying the outdoors.

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At one point we took some photos with the self-timer on my camera…

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In case you were wondering, jumping photos are incredibly difficult to capture with a self-timer. 🙂

We did have a pretty good laugh at my expense at the beginning of our trek:  Andrew’s sister, Jenny, gave us the water bottles seen in the bike photo above for Christmas.  My previous water bottle was a Camelbak.  As we were getting set up…

Me: I can’t quite figure out this water bottle.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Me: I don’t know how hard to bite the straw part.  Sometimes hardly any water comes out, and sometimes it flows freely, but I can’t figure out the right way to do it.

Andrew: You don’t have to bite it at all.  It’s just a straw.

Oops. 😀  We laughed.

The rest of our weekend was filled with doing some odds and ends around the house, watching Robin Hood: Men in Tights on Netflix (I loved this movie as a kid, and it was exponentially funnier as an adult, :-D) and watching basketball (my March Madness bracket is pretty much done, by the way).  Speaking of basketball–and backtracking because I’ve been very undisciplined about blogging lately–the basketball team that Andrew and my brother, Ross, play for won their championship game on Thursday!

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So proud of these guys 😀

The medal is now hanging from our mantle, of course.

Have a great Monday, everyone!

-What was the highlight of your weekend?
Did you fill out a bracket for the NCAA tournament? Are more than two of your teams still alive?

28

Today is my 28th birthday.

I love celebrating birthdays, and I am not working today, so I have some good activities planned–starting with my annual birthday run.  At some point in my early 20’s, I had the idea that it would be really cool to run my age on my birthday every year… but quickly decided I was already too old for that to be a good idea. 😉  I just go for a comfortable, enjoyable run now.  The rest of the day will be packed with reading on the back deck in this gorgeous spring weather, visiting the greenhouse and planting a few flowers, and tonight going to our local trampoline gym and dinner with friends!

Yep, 28 is off to a good start.  As I look back over the last year, I must say: 27 was very good to me.  Here are some of the highlights of 27, in no particular order:

-Ran some great races, and PRed in the 5k and 10k:

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-Celebrated 1 year of marriage with Andrew:

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-Filled this garden plot with seeds and dreams:

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-… and watched it turn into this:

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-Spent time on retreats and mission trips with the amazing teens in my youth group:

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-Hiked to my heart’s content (almost ;-))

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-Spent lots of time playing outside:

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-Celebrated with friends getting married:

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-Put my wedding dress back on and pretended I was getting married 😉

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-Traveled to Jamaica:

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-Traveled to Colorado: 

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-Most importantly, spent lots of time with family and friends:

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I am incredibly thankful for the year behind–really, it was kind of an epic year in terms of everything I had the opportunity to do–and can’t wait to see what the year ahead has in store!

Have a great March 11, everyone! 😀

Tastes of Spring

My office is closed today, and I’m watching the snow fall outside through the kitchen window…again.  I like snow, but I am ready for the warmer weather we experienced briefly this weekend.  It was quite the teaser!  We did manage to squeeze in a few spring activities, one of which I am so, so excited about: planting vegetable seeds!!

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Last year we took the “go big or go home” approach with our vegetable garden, tilling a 10-ft x 20-ft plot in the middle of our back yard, and we experienced surprisingly great success.  (You can check out last year’s garden updates starting here.)  We ate amazing, fresh produce throughout the summer, and we are still working our way through the veggies we froze by using them in soups and stir-fries.  It’s been wonderful.

This Saturday we gathered our supplies–some seeds saved from vegetables last year, some new seeds, dirt, a seed starting box, a clear storage bin to use as a makeshift greenhouse–and set up a planting station in our driveway.

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We planted:
-Brandywine Tomatoes
-“Sweetie” Cherry Tomatoes
-Black Krim Tomatoes
-Yellow Pear Tomatoes
-Bell Peppers
-Pimento Peppers
-Tomatillos
-Butternut Squash
-Spaghetti Squash
-Watermelon

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And now our guest bathroom is a greenhouse. 😉  In the seed starting box in the foreground, which has a clear plastic lid, we planted all the tomatoes and peppers.  For the others, we are experimenting with 1. bigger containers and 2. a bigger greenhouse: a clear, upside down storage container.  We put our space heater in the bathroom with the seeds to make sure they are nice and warm. 🙂

Even though our garden last year was a success, I feel so nervous about how well these little guys will do;  we are still rookies who just happened to have ideal growing conditions last summer.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens!

Sunday was even more gorgeous than Saturday.  With temperatures in the 70’s, we simply couldn’t stay inside, so we drove to the University of Richmond to play disc golf.   If you’ve never played disc golf before, I think it’s the perfect compromise activity for people like Andrew and me–it’s essentially taking a walk in a park with elements of competition and athletics. 🙂

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Also, we found a turtle:

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#
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It was an awesome way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon. 🙂

And now we return to our regularly scheduled winter weather.  On the upside, I took these photos this morning of a giant hawk that sometimes hangs out in our back yard…so beautiful in the snow!

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Have a great Monday, everyone!

What’s the weather like outside your window today?
-Have you ever played disc golf?  What do you think?
-Are you growing veggies this summer, and have you started the seeds?

10-K Training: Making It Count

I don’t race as often as many runners I know, so I feel a lot of pressure to make it count when I do.  If I’m not going to race a certain distance again for another year, I need that PR.  Last year I won a 4-year battle with the Monument Avenue 10-K to break 50 minutes, finishing in 49 minutes flat.  (You can read that race recap here.)  The race is set for March 29 this year, and while I will be content to shave even seconds off my time, I’ve set a goal to run it in 48 minutes.

Ambitious?  Maybe.  Possible?  Yes.

With just over five weeks until race day, I am getting serious about training.  To avoid injury, I only ever run three days a week, usually M/W/F.  Typically when training for a longer distance (or no race in particular), my weekly routine includes one speed workout (either a tempo run or intervals), one long run (with “long” being relative to what I am training for), and one mid-distance, mid-speed run.  However, after looking at various training plans, and considering that I am aiming for speed, I decided that I really need to make my running days count.  Here’s my weekly training schedule for the next five weeks:

Monday: Tempo Run (30-50 minutes)
Tuesday: Weights + Cardio Cross Training
Wednesday: Intervals (mile, 800, or 400 repeats) + yoga
Thursday: Weights + Cardio Cross Training
Friday: Long Run
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Weights

I’m including both a tempo run and an interval workout each week to get my body accustomed to running faster.  Here’s my tempo run from Monday:

treadmill tempIs it still a tempo run if you don’t run one pace the entire time?  I like adding in a couple of half-mile faster spurts to avoid getting bored–plus, 7.7 mph feels easy when you’re coming down from 8.0 mph. 😉  It was a great workout, regardless.

I am pumped about the race and training and all that it entails!  After work today I am heading to a local high school track to do some 400 m repeats…wish me luck!

-What are you training for right now?
How may speed workouts do you do each week?

 

Valentine’s Day 2014

Valentine’s Day was full of good food and love for us this year.  My mom gave us a heart-shaped egg cooker, so Friday morning Andrew fried us some heart eggs to go with our banana muffins from earlier in the week:

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I met my good friend Kate for lunch at The Daily (the restaurant where Andrew and I had our awesome date night last week).  Kate and I realized that, for various reasons, we’ve had lunch together on Valentine’s Day for the last three years.  New tradition 🙂  We went to The Daily because I really needed some more of those Brussels sprouts:

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Mmm 🙂

After work I went for a 30-minute run–the first in my new running shoes that I bought last week!  I’m not usually a pink girl, but these are the best shoes for me, and this is the current color.  It’s tough sometimes, but I never pick running shoes based on the look!  It was festive for a Valentine’s Day run, anyway.

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Friday was a beautiful day here–I’m pretty sure the temperature was in the upper 50’s when I ran, but not all the snow had melted yet.  It feels a little funny to run in shorts with snow on the ground, but I’m not complaining!

After my run I took a quick shower and was getting ready for our Valentine’s date when Andrew arrived home with these goodies:

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Beautiful flowers and all-natural chocolate:  he knows the way to my heart 🙂

We turned to the Frank Sinatra station on Pandora and began prepping dinner.  While cooking, we enjoyed some festive pink cocktails that were quite delicious: cranberry-pomegranate juice, passion fruit rum, and lime (plus tonic water for Andrew).  Amazing.

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We tag-teamed the cooking and ended up with this very tasty dinner: steak, garlic green beans, and baked sweet potatoes.

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(I only ate about half of that giant steak :)) 

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After taking our time and really enjoying dinner and good conversation, we started watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Netflix.  Neither of us had seen it, and it was so good!  Midway through the movie, once our food had digested some, we brought dessert to the living room:

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Dark chocolate fondue with strawberries, marshmallows, bananas, and rice crispie treats

We made the fondue in our Crock-pot “Little Dipper”– chocolate chips + almond milk + vanilla.  We plugged it in while we were making dinner, and it was ready to go by the dessert course!

Overall it was a fantastic Valentine’s Day.  Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the day before V-day we did fulfill #4 on this list:

IMG_4104We built a very lovely snow woman in our neighbors’ driveway. 😀

Have a great Monday!

-How did you spend Valentine’s Day?
-What was the highlight of your weekend?

-When buying running shoes, how much does appearance affect your choice?

A Valentine’s Day Survey

…because everybody likes taking surveys 😀  Feel free to re-post and answer for yourself…or answer any/all the questions in the comments section!

1. Valentine’s Day:  Love it, hate it, or something in between?
I don’t have super strong feelings towards the day.  If you have a significant other, celebrate together;  if not, it’s not a big deal.  I really don’t get the whole, “Singles Awareness Day” thing, and I didn’t when I was single either!  It’s like Mothers’ Day.  We childless women don’t turn it into “Childless Awareness Day”–the holiday simply doesn’t apply to me at this point in my life.

2. Most memorable Valentine’s Day you’ve had so far (good or bad)?
Two years ago Andrew had to have a minor surgery… on Valentine’s Day.  I spent the day in the waiting room, driving to the drug store, and playing nurse while Andrew came down from his pain medication high.  Yaaay. 😉  He did think ahead and bring me flowers and chocolate the day before.

3. Do you have a Valentine this year?  If so, who is it?
Andrew, my handsome husband.

Catherine & Andrew Storey

4. Favorite love songs (cheesy or not)?
“I’ll Stand by You” by The Pretenders
“(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams
So good.  So cheesy.  Don’t care.  😀

5. Worst pickup line you’ve ever received or used?  (And did it work?)
-A (very inebriated) guy walked up to me at a bar one time and said, “We’ll have to think of a different story to tell the kids.  We don’t want them to know we met at a bar.”  It didn’t work.
-My junior year in college I was studying at Panera one afternoon, and a guy walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, I don’t usually do this, but I was just noticing you from across the room…”  Once I realized he was serious, I was flattered and went on a date with him.

6. What’s your favorite gift to receive on Valentine’s Day?
Flowers.  Cliche?  Maybe, but I love flowers.  Chocolate is a close second.

7. If you were a conversation heart, what would you say?
I think I’d just be a winky face:  “;-)”

8. Favorite flower?
Tulips.

9. Favorite candy?
I’m a chocolate girl.  I love anything mint chocolate or sea salt caramel chocolate.  Mmm…

10. Most meaningful way someone could show you they love you?
Quality time.  Simply taking time to do something with me is better than any gift in my book!

11. How are you planning to spend tonight?
Andrew and I are having a nice dinner at home–we are making steaks, sweet potatoes, and green beans, with chocolate fondue for dessert!

IMG_4043Rice Krispie treats for the fondue… but we may have already eaten a few 😀

Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Tell me your answers to any or all of the questions above!

Snowmageddon Chicken Stew and Other Snow Adventures

We have another snow day here in Richmond!  In anticipation of the snow, which started yesterday around 4 PM, I felt compelled to cook a lot of food.  (If that sounds familiar, yes, I did the same thing a few weeks ago.  It must be a primal survival instinct.)

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For dinner–and what will be dinner for at least two more days–I made a big pot of Snowmageddon Chicken & Rice Stew.  What makes it Snowmageddon stew rather than regular chicken stew?  The chicken is only from drumsticks because when I went to the grocery store in all the storm preparation craziness yesterday, there was no chicken remaining except drumsticks.  I am not exaggerating.  The poultry case was empty except for a few packages of chicken legs.  Chicken legs it is. 🙂

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Snowmageddon Chicken & Rice Stew
10 drumsticks (~3 lb)
8 whole carrots
4 large celery sticks
8 oz green beans
8 oz mushrooms
5 large kale leaves
2 cloves garlic
1.5 c brown rice
2 qts chicken broth
Salt, pepper, thyme, smoked paprika, rosemary, onion powder
Olive oil

1.  Chop all veggies into bite-sized pieces.  2. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and brown; add garlic and saute for about a minute.  3.  Add all remaining ingredients, including whole, raw chicken legs.  Stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.  4. Check chicken in about 15 minutes.  When it’s cooked through, take all drumsticks out of pot.  Remove chicken from each leg (yes, this is very tedious), discarding the bones and putting meat back in the pot.  5.  Continue to let simmer, partially covered, until rice is cooked through (or longer).

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Best if eaten while sitting under blankets on the couch 🙂

The legs definitely give the stew more flavor than we would have gotten using breasts, so that’s a plus!

While the stew was simmering, Andrew and I tag-teamed a batch of banana muffins.  We used a recipe from a gluten-free, dairy-free cookbook we have, and they turned out pretty great:

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We added a cinnamon-brown sugar crumble on top…not the prettiest, but they taste wonderful!

After dinner and dessert, we suited-up and played in the still-falling snow.  We took our sleds and found the best sledding hills in the neighborhood, threw a few snowballs, and give our inner-children free reign for an hour or so. 😀

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Eating snow + Snyoga

We warmed up and capped the night with two mugs of green chai tea:

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Andrew and I are both home from work today and have one snow adventure planned so far: making an igloo.  🙂  Have a great snow day, everyone!  Stay safe and warm!

-Do you have a snow day today?
-When was the last time you went sledding?
Do you cook way more food than you actually need when it’s about to snow?