Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to Athens

More years ago than I care to admit, John and I were fresh-faced undergrads at Ohio University. We started dating just a few months before we both transferred there from other schools (a decision in the works prior to us getting together, for the record). Athens holds a special place in my heart because our relationship started and grew there for 3 wonderful years. A couple weekends ago, we went back for a visit.

This is the most spontaneous overnight I have ever orchestrated and gotten John to agree to so excuse me while I pat myself on the back. On Wednesday, I told John OU was hosting Ohio Brew Week. On Saturday, we were there. Bravo! We hadn't been back to campus since 2008 which was just a day trip. We walked around, ate, bought t-shirts and drove the 2+ hours home. It was fun but this was better. We stayed overnight at the OU Inn which is the only walkable hotel option. It's a bit under a mile which may seem far to some but we are accustomed to this walk. John's apartment was up a giant hill across the street so it was all very familiar.

We got there in the early afternoon, checked in, and headed up to campus. A lot had changed but it had the same feel. All of the happiness we felt when we were carefree in college came rushing back in and we immediately knew this spontaneous getaway was the right decision.

The CI in the daytime is strange.

Being Ohio Brew Week, we didn't have to stoop to the Miller Lite of our formative drinking years. Although, I did love the prices on that schlock. I wish I could go through all of the 30ish beers we tried but I didn't take good enough notes. And no, all of them were not full pours by any means.

Here are a few standouts that we really enjoyed:

-Rockmill Brewery, Saison Noir
-Mt. Carmel, Coffee Nut Brown
-Jackie O's, Skipping Stone (actually -- pretty much everything we had at Jackie O's)
-Listermann, White Death (my new favorite Christmas brew by FAR)

While the beers were great, the atmosphere was just as awesome as we remembered. I was worried I would feel really old but because of Brew Week, the crowd was definitely more outsiders than undergrads. That and there aren't nearly as many students on campus in the summer.

The remodeled Junction now known as J Bar -- come on.

One tank top wearing 22 year old guy talked to me as if I was much younger than my 31 years and it made me feel really good about myself. I am aging well, apparently.

At the Pigskin

We capped off the night with a slice of pizza from Goodfellas (of course) for the long walk back to the hotel. Our t-shirt supply is now restocked too and we have vowed not to let another 6 years go by before heading back.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Sweats

Can I tell you about a YouTube workout channel that I am loving lately? It's Jessica Smith TV.

I've done several of her workouts and they are a nice change of pace. I really like the ballet based ones but I did this fat burning yoga the other day and was pleasantly surprised at the sweat I worked up. It incorporated weights which I liked.

I love lifting heavy but small movements with light weights are a good way to mix things up. Also featured in many videos is her French bulldog, Peanut. LOVE this dog.

I've also been working my way through various kettle bell workouts on YouTube. THIS ONE from Bob Harper (of Biggest Loser fame) was top notch. I think it's actually a DVD series you can purchase but someone has put it on YouTube for free ninety-nine.

I'm really trying to shake things up since my weight loss has plateaued for the last 6 months or so. I'm still working out 6 days a week and eating normally. While I know running is still doing good things for me, it doesn't seem as effective as it usually is. Time to play around with some speed work and hills. My favorite! (Did that sarcasm come through?)

How is your fitness going? Any good YouTube channels I should check out?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Recipe Reblog: Grilled Corn & Crab Salad

This recipe for Grilled Corn & Crab Salad with Summer Ale Cilantro Vinaigrette from The Beeroness came across my blog feed and I knew I had to make it! Seemed like a perfect summery meal using local fresh corn and also tomatoes from my garden. I did make one major change in that I omitted the crab. I like crab but I wanted to serve this as a side dish for grilled chicken and I didn't feel like I also needed crab in there. I also skipped the avocado. I know, I know. But really, avocado is not my favorite. To me it's best in a good guacamole but not so much by itself.

The vinaigrette mixed up quickly and was full of flavor. I really liked the addition of the summer ale. It gave it a nice effervescence. Next time, I'll use a little less olive oil. Grill up your corn ahead of time so that it's chilled when you mix it all together. Then, ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garden Girl

We are closing in on the end of July and I haven't told you about this year's garden yet! I'm so sorry. We are having kind of a weird summer weather-wise here in Ohio and the garden doesn't really know what to do with that.

I planted (and killed) cilantro, rosemary, basil, mint and parsley for the herbs. I planted (and killed) broccoli, early girl tomatoes and beefsteaks. I re-planted the basil and (fingers crossed) it's still alive.

Let's talk about the successes. When I shopped for my plantings in May, I went on Mother's Day. I walked into Lowe's and said out loud, "I've made a terrible mistake." Mother's Day is a super popular day for plant buying, it seems. Plus, the weather was awesome so everyone thought, "Let's take Mom to buy her a chore." Lowe's and Home Depot both were totally picked over and thus, did not have my beloved Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. I settled for Sunsweets.

They are orange in color but just as tasty (as I have learned) as my Sweet 100's. So far, I've harvested about 35. I'm calling this a success because it continues to bear fruit even though the leaves look like they're dying. As for my red pepper plant, the jury is still out. There is a pepper growing...slowly. P.S. Do not buy anything from Menard's garden center. You will be sorely disappointed.

One success? You say. That's it? You say. While I am distraught at the utter failure of my herbs, my dark horse of the garden has bolstered my spirits. This year, I tried zucchini for the first time. John was skeptical, to be sure. Well, I'm here to say that there is a large zucchini ready to harvest and 2 more on the way!


I hope by the end of the season we will have so much zucchini we won't know what to do with it! I am bummed that the tomatoes didn't work out because fresh bruschetta is my favorite but perhaps I'll find some new zucchini recipes that will cheer me up.

Did you plant this year? How is your crop?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Love Life

I headed to my old library last week when my current library didn't have the DVD for Walk the Line. My old library didn't let me down though. I forgot how much I loved their Express Check Out shelves. You can only keep the books for a week but they're all new releases. Too bad it's not convenient to anything and takes 15 minutes to get there. The newest memoir from Rob Lowe was available so I decided, why not?


Good Reads' Synopsis: "When Rob Lowe's first book was published in 2011, he received the kind of rapturous reviews that writers dream of and rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. Now, in Love Life, he expands his scope, using stories and observations from his life in a poignant and humorous series of true tales about men and women, art and commerce, fathers and sons, addiction and recovery, and sex and love.

In Love Life, you will find stories about:

• Kissing Unexpectedly
• The secrets they don't teach you in acting school
• His great, great, great, great, great-grandfather's role in the American revolution
• Parks and RecreationBehind the Candelabra, and Californication
• Trying to coach a kids' basketball team dominated by helicopter parents
• The hot tub at the Playboy mansion
• Starring in and producing a flop tv series
• Camping at Sea World
• Playing saxophone for president Bill Clinton
• The first journey to college with his son
• Warren Beatty
• The benefits of marriage

Throughout this entertaining book, you will find yourself in the presence of a master raconteur, a multi-talented performer whose love for life is as intriguing as his love life."

What I Thought: This was a little disjointed and all over the places but the stories and anecdotes were interesting. I am a fan of Lowe's acting and his writing is better than some memoirs out there. If you want to learn a bit more about his career and life, start with Stories I Only Tell My Friends.

Rating: * * 1/2

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Girl You Left Behind

I so enjoyed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes a couple weeks ago that I wanted to try another one by here. Thus, The Girl You Left Behind.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "In 1916, French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened...

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most - whatever the cost."

What I Thought: While I didn't like this quite as much as Me Before You, it was still a good little read. I enjoyed the juxtaposition between old and new with Sophie and Liv and their separate plights. However, I did like Sophie's story a lot more than Liv's and was sad at the 100ish page mark when it switched to present day. The plot kept me guessing and the ending surprised me which was nice. Nothing worse than a predictable ending. If you like offbeat love stories with a little feminism mixed in, give this a shot.

Rating: * * *

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

June Running Round Up

June was a good month for miles, even if most of them were on the treadmill. Hey, it got really hot here in Ohio. Must be summer or something. And I want to congratulate myself for those 2.5 miles in Nashville. The gym at the Omni during my work trip was top notch. The miles were junk (up too late the night before honky tonking) but that's okay.

6/1: 4 mi, TM, 34:31

6/3: 4 mi, TM, 36:09, sore!

6/8: 4 mi TM, 36:02

6/10: 5 mi, TM, 44:23, 8:53 avg

6/14: 4 mi, OUT, 35:38, 8:53 avg!

6/15: 6 mi, TM, 53:14

6/17: 4 mi, TM, 34:56

6/19: 2.5 mi, hotel TM

6/22: 4.5 mi TM, 39:38

6/24: 3.3 mi, TM, 29:18

6/28: 4 mi, OUT, 35:47

6/30: 5 mi TM, 45:00

Total Miles: 50.3

Next on tap for July.....another 5K on the 4th!

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Fabulous 4th

What an amazing weekend! Was yours awesome too? I sure hope so.

I always like when a holiday falls on a Friday so you can dovetail it into the weekend seamlessly. A three day weekend will do wonders for the soul. Let's dive in, shall we?

Thursday night, John picked up our race packets on his way home. We walked Sadie and then headed over to a local park to hear the community orchestra play a selection of American and patriotic tunes. We've gone to this concert many times. It's free and well-attended but parking is plentiful and it's not far from our house.

They played some questionable songs that were only loosely America-related. Luckily, they ended with the 1812 overture and Stars and Strips Forever which is all we really wanted to hear anyway. We stopped for froyo on the way home. It is dangerous that they opened an Orange Leaf about a mile from our house.

Early to bed because Friday was early to rise.

We signed up to run the Americana 5K in Centerville knowing that we probably wouldn't have great races. Yes, we had just achieved PR's (personal records) in our last 5K but that course was flat and fast (even if it had been raining). We last ran this race 5 years ago. What a different time that was.

So, we got up before the alarm (Thank you, Sadie), ate our peanut butter toast and laced up.

I'm sporting my new Brooks shirt which I L-O-V-E love and want to buy in many colors. We got there in plenty of time and because the race starts and ends at the high school stadium, you get to use actual toilets instead of portapotties. Modern plumbing FTW! We lined up and were off. Well, once we weaved around all the people who lined up towards the front and were walking with no intention of actually running any bit of these 3.1 miles. Please. If you're going to walk, start in the back. The course is a simple out and back with a gradual but long hill right in the middle, which means you have to run it twice. There was one water stop manned by some very enthusiastic boy scouts.

I went out way too fast, as usual. About a half mile in I realized I was holding an 8:25 pace. Whoops! Better dial that back before I bonk completely. Before I knew it, I saw John at the turn around looking very strong. He was watching for me but didn't see me despite my arms waving like a fool. The long slog back began but my splits were looking good and I didn't want to give up. I started realizing that my pace was steady and faster than I expected. With about a half mile to go, I realized another PR was possible if I really went for it. So I did.

I entered the stadium and sprinted the final lap finishing in 27:18. A full minute faster than my last race! A full 4 minutes faster than my very first 5K. How about that! John also PR'ed with an amazing 23:23. We could not have been prouder of our races. It was good enough for a 22nd finish in my age group, 491st overall (out of more than 1,100). Average pace was 8:48 which is something I never hold outside. John finished 20/55 for his age group and 221 overall. We surprised ourselves. The weather was on our side. A cool start around 60 degrees, if that.

What a great way to start the day and get your workout finished early. Home to shower and cook. Lunch, a little downtime and then back to the Americana Festival. We walked by all the booths but didn't buy anything. A root beer float was shared and then we headed home to eat again.

At night, we pulled out the fire pit and enjoyed some s'mores. Our neighbors set off some small fireworks. It was lovely. Sadie didn't appreciate said fireworks though. She never does.

On Saturday, I made it to hot yoga for the first time in about a month. It was glorious. I wish I could go every day. In the afternoon, John and I drove about 45 minutes to Hanover Winery. They make good wines. They also make good wine slushies. We did a tasting and then shared a bottle with some snacks I had packed. The weather could not have been more cooperative. Sitting outside on a picnic table with a light breeze and some sun was perfection.

We stopped at the outlets on the way home but came home with just a new pair of running shorts for me and new shoes for boxing for John.

That brings us to Sunday. We were supposed to do yard work but that sounded wholly unappealing. Instead, we had a lazy morning with the New York Times and I'm writing to you fine people. Weekends like this make the toiling weekdays tolerable, yes?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Uganda Be Kidding Me

You know I'm always looking for a funny book. I have read a couple of Chelsea Handler's books in the past. She's not for everyone. Her memoirs are typically quite vulgar. If you are offended by language and off-color stories, walk on by Uganda Be Kidding Me.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "Wherever Chelsea Handler travels, one thing is certain: she always ends up in the land of the ridiculous. Now, in this uproarious collection, she sneaks her sharp wit through airport security and delivers her most absurd and hilarious stories ever.

On safari in Africa, it's anyone's guess as to what's more dangerous: the wildlife or Chelsea. But whether she's fumbling the seduction of a guide by not knowing where tigers live (Asia, duh) or wearing a bathrobe into the bush because her clothes stopped fitting seven margaritas ago, she's always game for the next misadventure.

The situation gets down and dirty as she defiles a kayak in the Bahamas, and outright sweaty as she escapes from a German hospital on crutches. When things get truly scary, like finding herself stuck next to a passenger with bad breath, she knows she can rely on her family to make matters even worse. Thank goodness she has the devoted Chunk by her side-except for the time she loses him in Telluride.

Complete with answers to the most frequently asked traveler's questions, hot travel trips, and travel etiquette, none of which should be believed, UGANDA BE KIDDING ME has Chelsea taking on the world, one laugh-out-loud incident at a time."

What I Thought: This was a fast, amusing read but not quite as funny as I wanted it to be. Handler's travel tales are slightly unbelievable but there are pictures included as evidence. It was so short, it only took me a couple hours to get through but that's okay. I don't think I needed more than that. Not the best from her.

Rating: * *

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Back on the Wagon

This weekend, to shockingly little fanfare, I had a cup of coffee. Unremarkable, I know. More remarkable when you know that I haven't had coffee since last December. I made the switch to tea as part of my New Year's resolution and a quest to cut out sugar. Tea gave me a much-needed morning jolt sans sugar. Tea, however, is not something I crave. I didn't really look forward to that morning cup. I tried mixing it up, chai, green, chamomile. It just wasn't as comforting as coffee.

On the weekends, I would stare longingly at John's cup of coffee while sucking down my Orange Ceylon. What I've discovered over these last nearly 7 months of fasting is that cutting those calories didn't seem to help me lose any more weight or magically make my stomach flatter. I, of course, have still been working out 6 days a week but I can't seem to break through this doggone plateau. Why am I depriving myself of something that I truly love when I'm not seeing any benefits from it?

The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back came in the form of coconut creamer. I spotted my beloved Coconut Creme Coffeemate in the cooler and had to have it. We at the G. Household are big fans of flavored creamers, especially holiday ones. The creamers John's been buying lately have no draw for me. They too are unremarkable. Coconut? That's another story. I am a fiend for coconut. I purchased that creamer, in the jumbo size.

Saturday morning, I put a K cup in my Keurig and brewed away. I took my first sip. While it was good, the choirs of angels I had been expecting to float down on high were not there. Sure, I enjoyed it but it was slightly bitter to me. In goes the sugar. I had told my sister that perhaps I would be able to just use creamer and it would be sweet enough. I was wrong. I'm also a fiend for sugar, it seems.

There you have it. I've turned back to the dark side. Only on weekends. Give me a little credit.