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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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?

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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?

 

10 Good-for-Your-Heart Valentine’s Day Ideas

Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly, but who says it has to include huge, artery-clogging dinners and blood-sugar-spiking desserts?  The way I see it, the day is about spending quality time with your significant other.  Here are 10 ways to strengthen your love and your heart this Valentine’s Day:

1. Take a new-to-both-of-you class together at the gym.  Last year Andrew and I tried a yoga class on V-Day (well, technically the day before V-Day).  We had a great time laughing at ourselves because we were both horrible, and it was the start of healthy routine that we both really enjoy now.

2. Take a walk together at a local park.  V-Day is on a Friday this year, so this is probably a Saturday activity unless you both happen to have the day off work.  Hand-holding is optional, but recommended.

3. Visit an indoor trampoline park.  These places are popping up all over the country, so chances are there is one near you (we have two in Richmond now.)  Jumping on trampolines is an insanely good workout and so much fun.  For any guys reading this, make sure you know your girl before surprising her with this;  while I would enjoy it, I realize that some girls need something slightly more romantic.

4. Build a snowman in your neighbors’ driveway after dark.  This is a personal favorite of ours any time it snows, and there’s a good chance we will have snow on the ground Friday!  Building a snowman requires some physical exertion, plus, doing it sneakily is inherently fun and gives you a bonding experience.

5.  Run a Valentine’s 5-k together.  Festive.  Good for your heart.  Good for your relationship.  Bonus points if you run in coordinating costumes.  (I don’t foresee Andrew ever wanting to do either the running or the costume part of this.)

6.  Cook dinner together.  Chances are you’ll cook something far healthier than what you’d order at a restaurant, plus it gives you the shared experience and probably costs less than going out.  Cooking dinner together has my vote every single Valentine’s Day (Andrew, you’re welcome.)

7.  Go ice skating.  It’s a classic winter activity with lots of potential for romance–hand-holding, leaning on each other for balance, helping each other up when you fall, etc.

8. Go to your husband’s basketball game and sit in the bleachers with the other wives.  Wait, don’t plan on that.  That’s what we did last Valentine’s Day.  If you have an activity like this scheduled for Friday, maybe plan something special for Saturday instead. 😉

8.  Take a cooking class together.  Preferably one that utilizes a lot of whole, fresh ingredients and not a deep-fryer.

9. Go skiing or snowboarding.  Bonus romance points if this is out of town and you book a cabin for the weekend.

10. Go dancing.  Even if it’s just the two of you in your living room.

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Andrew and I are planning to cook dinner together, and we will probably play in the snow at some point if there is any on the ground. 😀

Have a great Wednesday!

Do you have any heart-healthy activities planned for Valentine’s Day?
-Anything you’d add to the list above?

Weekend Highlights: The Daily Kitchen and Bar

When given the choice, Andrew and I generally choose to eat dinner on the early side–6:30ish.  I think Andrew would eat the moment he walked in the door at 5:30 if he could. 😉  Friday night he had a basketball game (he plays in a church league) at 6:30, so we planned on having a late date night.

After the game–they won, and Andrew was on fire!–we headed to a restaurant in the city called The Daily Kitchen & Bar.  We’d been once before for lunch and determined that it was definitely worth a second trip for dinner.  As it turns out, we were right; after Friday this restaurant has moved to the top of our favorites list, but I’ll get into that more in a moment.  When we arrived at 8:30, we were told the wait would be an hour–crazy-late for us old folks–so we gave them my phone number (they text when the table is ready so you can explore the area) and walked up the street to our favorite Thai restaurant… for appetizers 😀

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Wonton soup for me (with all the scallions given to Andrew), and tofu vegetable soup for A.

Just as we were finishing our soup, I received the text that our table was ready, so we headed back down the street to The Daily.  According to their website (and printed on the first page of the menus) :

“We strive to serve foods that are not only delicious but also health conscious, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible.  We use organic, all natural, local, and sustainable ingredients as much as possible while still keeping our prices fair.  In addition, we also offer an extensive selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items.”

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In other words, this is the restaurant of our dreams.

We started with drinks:

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Pomegranate mojito for me, cucumber martini for Andrew.  They were both delicious;  mine tasted like straight juice, which is exactly how I want a mixed drink to taste. 🙂  Just as we were about to order our entrees, Andrew spotted something great on the appetizer menu: gluten-free calamari.  We love calamari, but it’s most always breaded with wheat flour, so Andrew can never have it.  Despite the fact that we’d already had soup as an appetizer, we knew we needed to try this.

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Oh. My. Gosh.  The calamari was amazing.  It came with two sauces: a chipotle lemon vinaigrette and a garlic toum.  Both were fantastic.

For the entrees, Andrew ordered the blackened tuna sandwich (GF bread) with sweet potato fries and crispy Brussels sprouts.  I had the organic roasted chicken with whipped potatoes, asparagus, and a lemon herb pan sauce.

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Everything was swoon-worthy.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Every time we took a bite of something we felt so much joy that we’d found such a great restaurant!  Let’s talk about the Brussels sprouts for a minute.  The next time we go, I will be very tempted to order a few bowls of them and nothing else.  The waiter told us that the sauce is a lemon-something gastrique, and somehow, the sprouts were perfectly soft on the inside yet delightfully crispy on the outside.  How do they do that?  And somehow, they tasted like egg rolls–and I mean that in a very good way!  Who wouldn’t want to eat vegetables that taste like egg rolls?  Oh, man.

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Andrew, give me your best “Most Interesting Man in the World.”

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Monster-hand spoofs 😉

As you might imagine, after two appetizers and drinks neither of us had much room left in our stomachs, so we brought home a lot of leftovers, which were just as tasty the next day.  If you are in Richmond and looking for a restaurant with a. amazing food b. vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free options c.organic, socially responsible food, or d. all of the above, you must try The Daily Kitchen & Bar in Carytown!

The rest of the weekend was a nice mix of fun and relaxation.  Saturday morning we went to the gym together–after Friday’s dog bite incident I just took a relatively slow walk on the treadmill.  The bite mark is still pretty gross, but it doesn’t hurt as much to move today.  Progress 😉

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Saturday night we had a hilarious game night with some friends.  Have you ever played The Game of Things?  It’s my favorite…and not just because it’s the only game I can almost always win.  🙂  We had church and youth group on Sunday, with a lot of lounging in between, plus a phone call to my dad for his birthday!  All in all it was a great weekend.

I’m off now to attempt a run!  I hope to encounter exactly zero animals, wild or otherwise.

-What did you do this weekend?
-Are you an early or late dinner-eater?

-Have you ever played Things?

Running: When Dogs Bite

I experienced a running first yesterday: a dog bit me. 

I was running on a semi-major road near my house, and I saw the dog and its owners (or more likely owner + friend) up ahead on the same sidewalk.  As we approached one another, I could see that the dog–a mutt, maybe 40-50lb–was very excited, so I slowed to a walk and tried to give it as much space as possible.  The dog was barking, and the owner pulled the leash a little tighter, and just as we passed each other, the dog lunged and grabbed hold of my thigh with its teeth.

“Oh my gosh!  Did he bite you??  Did he bite you??”

“Yeah, yeah, he bit me!”

“Are you okay??  I’m so sorry!  He’s had all his shots!  I can give you my contact information and am happy to pay any medical bills!  He’s a puppy, and he just doesn’t do very well!”

“It’s okay; I’m okay.  Thank you.  I’m sure a band-aid will cover it.  It’s okay!  It happens!”

It happened so fast, and I was wearing running tights (now ripped), so I couldn’t see the extent of the damage.  It definitely hurt, but it was also cold, so I knew my skin was more sensitive.  It was just a very surprising situation, and I didn’t think through my reaction.

I tried to resume running, crossing the street into a neighborhood, and immediately was met with a lot of pain in my leg.  I investigated as best I could without pulling down my pants in public, and the one gash I could see was not pretty.  I can’t promise that I didn’t utter a few four-letter words.  From there I hobbled home, not quite crying, but definitely whimpering.

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24 hours later–Tilt your computer screen as needed to get the full color-effect of that bruise 😉

After inspecting the wound, I sent a picture to Andrew, my mom, and a couple of friends in the medical field, and they all urged me to go to the doctor just to get it checked out.  Friends, that was a funny telephone call:

“Hi, I’m a patient of Dr. So-and-So.  Um, I just got bitten by a dog.  Is that something she could take a look at today?

They were able to to see me right away, and said it looked all right, and it was time for me to get a tetanus shot anyway.  They gave me the shot and some heavy-duty antibiotic cream, and sent me home.  The left side of my body–my leg where I was bitten, and my arm where I got the shot–is super sore today, so I am going to take it easy for a few days, but otherwise, I think I will be all right.

After the incident, I did some research to learn what one is supposed to do if bitten by a dog.  If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what to do:

To avoid the bite:
-Slow your run to a walk so you are less threatening.
-Don’t stare, but keep the dog in site.
-Walk in the opposite direction of the dog.

After being bitten:
-If the owner is present, take the contact info!  (I am kicking myself for not doing this!)
-Apply basic first-aid: wash the area with soap and water, apply antibiotic ointment and sterile bandage.
-Go to the doctor.  Just in case.  I know it’s a pain, but why risk it?
-If you took contact information, ask for proof of up-to-date vaccinations for dog.
-Report the incident to animal control.

Stay safe out there, friends!

-Have you ever been bitten by a dog while a running?  How bad was it, and what did you do?

Warm Days in February + Homemade Baked Beans

Looking out my window now at the cold, gray rain, it’s hard to believe that yesterday was uncharacteristically warm and sunny for February.  Andrew and I took advantage of the beautiful day by heading to a park for a walk.

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The lake, which had clearly been frozen solid, was beginning to thaw, and it was beautiful.  I loved watching the ducks waddle from the ice into the water. 🙂  We spent about 45 minutes walking around the trails and the lake, and it was a much-welcomed change of scenery from the gym workouts we’ve been doing lately due to the cold weather!

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Crazy Eyes: we got ’em

 As we were heading back to the car, we ran into one of the girls in the youth group that I work with.  Naturally, Andrew decided to throw a snowball at her and her friend.

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Sorry, Brooke;  it’s never a fair fight with that guy. 😉

Later in the evening, we went to our friends Evan and Kristina’s house to watch the Super Bowl with friends.  I had decided to make baked beans (from scratch) in the Crock Pot to bring as our contribution.  Despite the fact that I’d started cooking them at 8:30 AM, they were still not quite done nine hours later, so we brought the whole Crock Pot to the party to allow them more cooking time.  😀

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Navy beans (soaked over night and rinsed) + bacon + brown sugar + molasses + Dijon mustard + salt + pepper + onion powder + water

The flavor was really good, but they never got quite soft enough.  Any advice from more experienced Crock Pot users?  Is that just the texture of beans that don’t come from a can?  I’d love to give them another shot… once we finish the half-gallon of this batch still left in our fridge. 😉

Have a great Monday!

-What was your favorite Super Bowl snack/dish from last night?
-If you had a warm day yesterday like us, how did you spend it?
-What’s the best thing you did this weekend?

Andrew at the Gym and Other Gym Things

Happy Friday, everyone!

Last night Andrew and I hit the gym right after work.  I don’t typically work out in the evening–the gym is the most crowded, and my flexible schedule allows me to go other times–but Andrew does, and he asked me that morning if we could go.

As soon as we walked in, Andrew realized he’d left his lock at home (which is kind of amazing considering there have been at least three incidents in the last month in which Andrew has been on his way out the door to the gym and said, “I can’t find my lock… I think I left it on the locker the last time I was at the gym.”  He’s been right every time.  He just locks it back up like it’s high school :-D).  Without a lock, Andrew decided to give me his stuff to put in my locker.  He disrobed in the hallway and gave me his sweatpants, sweatshirt and big winter coat–I looked like I was carrying a full load of laundry into the locker room, friends.   😉

Anyway, I met him back out in the main exercise room and hopped on an Elliptical beside him (he was biking at this point.)  I wanted to do a little cardio warm up before lifting weights, and Andrew was just killing time until a treadmill opened.  After about 5 or 10 minutes, a treadmill in the row in front of us opened.  Andrew got off his bike, went to wipe it down while the treadmill user did the same for his equipment, and just as Andrew was walking toward it, a girl swooped in and took that treadmill!  The nerve! (I’m kidding, she had no idea;  she saw an open treadmill in a very crowded gym.)  After a few more minutes, he was on another treadmill, and I hit up the weight area.

At this point, I saw an opportunity.  I always feel a little bit funny taking pictures, especially selfies, in the gym, and Andrew would NEVER agree to me taking a photo of him at the gym.  While I was doing the leg press, however, I realized I could take a sneaky shot of both of us.  My feet + Andrew huffing away on the right.  Heh heh heh.  (Yes, it’s the little things. :-D)

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After I’d lifted all the weights I cared to lift for the night, I hopped on the treadmill next to Andrew to do a cool down walk.  I glanced over at his dashboard to see how fast he was running, as I am in the bad habit of doing (earlier in January when I was recovering from being really sick, I went to the gym with the firm plan of running 3 miles at a 6.0 (10 min/mile pace) just to help myself ease back into exercise.  The girl next to me was someone I knew from high school, and I saw that she was running at an 8.0-9.0 and had been for a few miles already.  Competition kicked in, and “The Club Can’t Handle Me” came on my iphone, and I thought, “Yeah, the club can’t even handle me right now,” as I foolishly upped my pace to an 8.0.  I maintained this for about a mile, then had to walk because… I was still getting over the flu.  It wore me out for the rest of the day.  Lesson learned: listening to and honoring your body trumps competition and pride.)  Anyway, I looked at Andrew’s stats and saw that he, my I-hate-running-but-sometimes-do-it-because-it’s-good-for-me husband, was running a 7:30 mile pace and had been doing it for quite a few miles!  I know he has the advantage of long legs and male body composition, but I just didn’t know he could run that fast for that long!  There was no time to get competitive at that point, but I think I’m going to have to up my running game and challenge him to a duel race in a couple of months.  I don’t see any other option.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. 🙂  Have a great weekend!

-Do you look at how fast other people are running/pedaling/ellipticaling next to you at the gym?  Does it ever cause you to alter your own speed?
Do you take pictures at the gym?  How do you do it without feeling awkward?
-Are you and your significant other competitive when it comes to fitness things?