Monday, March 28, 2011

Rainy Race at Rodeo Beach


This race fell in the middle of one of the rainiest months we've had here in the bay area (it's rained 24 of the last 28 days, or something like that). A particularly strong set of storms had been hitting our area the past week, and the rain was thundering Friday - so much so, that our friends and race partners decided to bail (one was feeling a bit under the weather, and they're both very busy). 
Ed and I talked and we decided we'd bail as well. We didn't want to drive over an hour in bad weather, and there was a certain basketball game on that Ed wanted to catch. So, Ed picked up a bottle of champagne and we stayed up late, talking and watching tv, enjoying the promise of a lazy day curled up. inside. 

At 6am, I felt someone shaking my shoulder. "Honey," said Ed, "it isn't raining! Do you want to go to the race?"
So, we went. The weather report said only 10% chance of rain for the morning, and we were awake, so we decided to not be lame and to head up to Rodeo Beach. I was a bit tired, and not exactly in racing shape after our late night, but I was planning to walk most of my 8k anyways. 
On the way up, we had a shock. As we were driving up 280, Ed told me he thought he could see snow on the side of the road. I laughed him off, only to realize that the whole hillside was dusted with it. Suddenly, the highway itself had snow! Luckily, a cop car appeared to escort us slowly through the snowy road, but it was enough to make me glad that we don't live in a place where this is a normal occurance. 

(looking back on the snowy section - can't really see it, but the snow is back there!)

After that excitement, the rest of the drive was pretty low key. 

We reached the sometimes annoying one way tunnel, and hit it just wrong. After five minutes, the light finally changed and we headed towards the coast. 
Weather was nice until we headed through the tunnel. Suddenly - rain!

As we parked and picked up our bibs, the rain got progressively harder. We hung out in the car until Ed's race started. 



I had a great view of Ed's pack heading up the hill - people seemed to be going fast through the rain!



The beach was beautiful and stormy - beautiful whitecaps and turbulent water. 


It was a crisp 46 degrees with the rain outside - didn't make me too eager to step outside!

Finally, I headed out for my race. There was some discrepency about when my race started, and I almost ended up leaving with another group. My final group seemed a bit small (I think some other people took off early), and I was worried about being the slowest one. The rain tapered off by the time my group started and it actually ended up being pleasant weather. 

Everyone started running, which worried me, since the first mile is all uphill. Luckily a few people started walking around when I did, so I had some company. While it was a challenging uphill, it was beautiful - I could see the Golden Gate and the ocean as I was climbing. 

Once I finished the climb, I finally got to start running. It was lovely up and downs with some slippery mud. 

Finally, we reached the wonderful downhill fire trail, where I got to go fast. During the part, I got to feel like I was an amazing runner and almost felt like my old self. It felt easy and lovely. 

Then, I hit the flat last mile. And, I remembered that I have only been getting back in shape for 9 weeks, and I still sort of suck. But, I ran until the finish line. My time was something like 1:12. 

After I finished, I hung out for another hour, eating chili and reading in the car.



Ed placed a "disappointing" 19th place (amazing by anyone else's standards, but Ed is used to top 10). Apparently the aid stations were really lacking in caloric food and he hit empty during the race (plus his knee has been off and he jsut wasn't well rested). Still, it was a nice day of laziness. 

And, we even got back in time to see UCLA play the second half :). 

Menu Planning Monday


Monday: Salmon and salad
This was so long ago, I've actually sort of forgotten what we had, but I think this is it :). Yummy, easy and healthy

Tuesday: Beef Tacos
For this, I use the 4% fat ground beef, which works great. I wanted to make it extra filling, so I added a can of black beans, a bunch of frozen corn, and onions to the beef. I ate this as more of a stew (since it was very sauce-y), and put the mixture in a bowl and then topped it with torn up tortilla. 
Wednesday: Roasted Pork Tenderloin and VeggiesOur "recipe" from two weeks ago! This was great, and I had enough leftovers for two lunches :). 

Thursday: Morrocan Chicken with Apricots and Butternut Squash
A labor intensive but very awesome one pot dish that is seasoned with cinnimon, coriander and cumin. The squash is a pain to cut up, but it makes a ton of food!

Friday: Homemade Pepperoni and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza (Trader Joe's Dough)
This was a very fun friday night activity. I finally figured out how to cook this pizza dough to get it crispy! I coated the pan in spray and then cornmeal and put the pizza dough in for about 10 minutes. Once it got crispy, I flipped it and cooked for another 8 or so minutes (this is key!! it get the crust crispy on the top and bottom. Then, we topped it and popped it in the oven for another 10 minutes or so. 



Ended up going a little too long, but was very tasty. We had it with TJs lager beer - very tasty!

Saturday: Date Night at Elements (Vietnamese French Fusion)
This was a fun new experience as we tried out another restaurant, curtesy of Yelp. It was tasty, a little on the pricy side, but felt like a "special" dinner. We started with spring rolls (shrimp and pork wrapped with some veggies in rice paper wraps) and a salad with blue cheese and a orange vinegrete (it was a little too orangey for me). 


For main courses, I got scallops and prawns in a sweet pea butter sauce, with rice (very good).

(from yelp - not my picture, but just what my dish looked like)


Ed got Tea Smoked Duck (which he loved!).

(also from yelp)


It was a very nice evening out, and a perfect way to spend a Saturday night!

Sunday: To Mero Mole
We had the good fortune to have my sister, Kortney, visiting, and decided to share the deliciousness of Tu Mero Mole with her. She had steak fajitas, Ed his carne asada burrito (as per last visit), and I tried their red snapper fish tacos (which had gotten good reviews). They were very tasty and crispy! We enjoyed our meal with a big bag of chips and delicious margaritas, courtesy of Ed. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Weekly Reading Roundup

Little late posting this - probably because I feel like I'm reading less with each week! I only ready two books last week (though I've been reading another one off and on - I can't quite decide if I like it yet). In any event, this is what I read.
Extras: The next book in the Uglies series.

After seeing that the last book I read was the "last in the trilogy," I was curious about where this book would fit it. It ends up that this book takes place a few years after the last book ended, in Japan (rather than, I think, North America), with new characters. This book is an interesting commentary on social networking (this society is "Reputation Based," meaning the more people who talk about you, the more resources and wealth you're afforded). I enjoyed it and look forward to what I'm sure will be the next book.


Before Green Gables
Before Green Gables


I had to grab this book, since I love the Anne of Green Gables series so dearly. I kept my expectations low and had trouble with the book in the beginning, since it is clearly not as well written as the originals. However, I was interested to hear what one author imagined as the life of Anne before she moved to Avonlea, and eventually found myself taken in with the plot. It wasn't the best written book (the author did try to capture Anne's spirit, but it felt a bit forced at times), but I enjoyed the story. Of course, after I read it, I had to rewatch the movie. It was the perfect remedy for a bad headache and a tired body after my race Saturday.

I haven't even started a new book yet - it's been a hard week with Physical Therapy yesterday and (my 5th now) MRI, so I've been pretty lazy once I've gotten home. Tonight I'll try to get some reading in.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

This week felt a little weird, just, I think, because of the time change! I also had a training Tuesday (hence the leftovers). 

Monday: Lentil Curry, Cilantro Yogurt Sauce, and white rice
This is one of my favorites - very much comfort food. I've also started doubling it when I make it, which makes a ton of food (one would think, with 3 onions, 2 bell peppers, 10 cups of chicken broth, 2 cans of tomato and 2 pounds of lentils). The cilantro yogurt sauce is awesome - just blended cilantro and plain yogurt in a food processor. We ate some, saved half for leftovers this week, and froze the rest for some time in the future. 

Tuesday: Lentil Curry (Leftovers)
So easy! We even remembered to make extra rice yesterday, so all we had to do was heat everything up. We did miss having any kind of naan (will have to remember that for next time). 

Wednesday: Carribean Pork with Onions and Roasted Potatoes


As predicted last week, pork tenderloin made it on the rotation for this week, too. This is a recipe from my Cooking Light cookbook that Ed found some time ago, which is super tasty. The pork is seasoned with a bunch of different things, including allspice and soy sauce. Usually, we have it with plantains, but Ed had the forsight to roast some red potatoes as well. The plaintains ended up as a bust - all molted and bad tasting. The potates ended up complimenting it really well!
We're also trying to eat more "sit down" dinners (i.e. at the table, not the couch). It was lovely eating together with our nice dishes/napkins/etc. and the candles lit. Makes a normal weeknight dinner feel special. 

Thursday: General Tsao's Chicken with Onions, Red Peppers, and White Rice


We've made this before, but not for a while. It's a pretty easy weightwatchers recipe, and quite tasty. The sauce uses cornstarch, which means that its like "real" chinese food with a think sauce. I decided to double the sauce, since I generally feel like you can never have enough, but in this recipe, it was too much. Next time, I'll just follow the directions :). We didn't have scallions, so I topped it with cilantro instead. Ed was impressed with how quickly this came together - less than 20 minutes!

Friday: Spaghetti with turkey bolognese 
carbo loading for the race that almost didn't happen :). Very quick, easy, and tasty!

Saturday: Takeout from Tu Mero Mole

We visited our new favorite takeout place on this rainy Saturday. I got the special, Chile Verde, which was delicious. It was a bit less food than the other dish I had gotten, and a more mild flavor. My only wish was for more of the tomatillo salsa (they were more or less out when we were there, we got maybe a teaspoon). Very tasty, though!

Sunday: Salmon, Roasted Asaparagus, White Rice
A very easy meal (though the Salmon could have used a bit more seasoning). Just cooked the salmon on a grill pan and roasted asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. 


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Remodeling - Part Two!

This weekend, Ed and I invested in our living room. We ended up mostly reorganizing what we already had. Total, we've spent around $30 (though we'll be buying a rug and some lamps eventually). Unfortunately, we didn't think to take a "Before" picture, but here's what the "dead" corner of our living room looks like (previously, it just had a papasan chair there, shown in this picture (but the chair was living in the corner diagonally across the room).


Here's the after!


We now have a cozy reading corner with a super Mt Tam focus (if you notice, we have a Mt Tam poster, a picture from our wedding on Mt Tam, a Mt Tam print, and, on the bookcase, a ceramic piece made by my sister that looks like Mt Tam and a Mt Tam book). The only thing we bought was the ficus tree; the bookcase came from Ed's office, and everything else from around the house. 

We also completely decluttered the entertainment center, to make it seem less dark. 


On here, we bought the frames on the middle shelves to display wedding photos that finally have a home. 

We're planning to buy this rug:
It still seems like we need something over the entertainment center (more pictures? plants?), but for now, it's a lovely change. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring is (Almost) Here!

Our backyard is beginning to show signs of spring!

This is our cherry tree that Ed bought me two years ago, after I told him how much I wanted one, based on their beautiful blossoms alone. I can't wait until we move into a house and can plant this in ground (instead of making it suffer in a pot, which, apparently isn't great for it). The first year we had no cherries; last year we had two. I'm hoping for more this year! 
The rest of the area's cherry trees flowered weeks ago, so our little guy is a bit behind (likely due to the shade). Still, by sometime next week we should have gorgeous blossoms!


I always forget that this plant flowers, since most of the year it fades into the background with its broad green leaves. This time of year, though, it calls a lot of attention. 

Looking forward to when the hillsides get coated in flowers, soon!

(also, I moved around a frame with the bathroom - much better :) )


Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

I'm borrowing this idea from a blog I read, where you post what you ate the past week on Mondays. I like this for the main reason that I'm always trying to figure out what to choose for nightly dinners and can never think of what we should have. Having a record will hopefully make this process easier!

So, without further adeiu,

Monday: Fettucini Alfredo with Lemon and Asparagus
This is a really easy meal I first made for actual Valentine's Day this year. Fettucini with Ragu's light alfredo sauce (only 60 calories a serving, which is a bargain where white sauces are concerned). Then, I add the zest of one lemon, the juice of the lemon, salt, pepper, and chopped up asparagus I've roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. I use the whole box of pasta and the whole jar, so there are plenty of leftovers (though it would probably be better to use two bunches of asparagus for this; the asparagus always seems a bit short). We ate this with really good pugelise artisan bread.

Tuesday: Chicken and Apple Sausage with baked potatoes (Ed was in the mood for potatoes this week)
I was very tired today, so Ed decided to take on this dish. While he was originally going to just cook the sausage "normally" (in the oven to warm it up), he got inspired by the recipe on the back of the packaging, and ended up cooking the sausage in slices with apple slices, onion and apple juice. It came out great, with lots of extra flavor.


Wednesday: Steak Fajitas with corn tortillas
This is a pretty simple dish; cook up fajita steak meat with onions and bell pepper, then put it on warmed tortillas. We (re)learned an important lesson, though - the self proclaimed "fajita" meat isn't very good. We need to stick with our normal meat choice, which is thinly sliced strips of steak that I then cut against the grain for fajitas - much better quality (for around the same price). It's worth the slightly more effort. We did have some avocados around after a great sale (40 cents each!), so we had guacamole to go with the tacos, as well as some grated cheese, sour cream and salsa.

Thursday: Pork Tenderloin with roasted purple potatoes, carrots, and onions
This was great! I made a "marinade" (in quotes because I didn't have time to actually marinade it), using a quarter cup of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary, salt and pepper. then I put in my meat, chopped onions, carrots, and potatoes. The potatoes got their own roasting dish and the tenderloin went in the other, surrounded by the carrots and potatoes. It cooked for 20 minutes at 400 and then another 5 broiling. The veggies came out well cooked and the carrots and onions slightly carmelized. The meat probably could have been cooked a little less - I'm always worried about it being underdone (I did use the thermometer, but missed the window of perfectly cooked meat). Nonetheless, it was a great and easy meal to add to the rotation.

Tenderloins were on sale at Costco this week, so I think this meal might make it into this week's rotation as well.


Friday: Fending for Ourselves (I was at knitting night and Ed was working late)
I was treated to chicken cooked in cream with tarragon, blueberries and apples, over pasta; carrot, parsnip and potato soup; and frozen strawberry meringue. Ed had Jack in the Box.

Saturday: Originially we were going to go out on a date, but I got tired after a marathon house clean, so we decided to stay home and enjoy the clean house. We got take out from Rangoli, our favorite local indian place. It was a delicious meal of rice, samosa, naan, and chicken tikka masala.




Sunday: Breakfast was fiber one blueberry muffins. Theses are delicious! Have to be careful not to eat too many at once :)



Salmon (always on the list the week we go to Costco) for dinner. We poached it in a foil pouch with white wine, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon slices. I used to cook it like this all the time, but hadn't done it in ages, since we got our grill pan. It was good - moist and flavorful!

We did roast zucchini with it but, possibly because it's not in season, our last few attempts haven't been very succesful. The zucchini ends up mushy and not very tasty. We might need a zucchini break, or just go back to the old way of cooking it. In any event, we made a salad, too, which was good, and had some white rice left over from Saturday. All in all, a good Sunday meal. 




Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Remodeling!"

For about a week, Ed and I toyed with the idea of moving. We're tired of our apartment (after all, it will be 3 years here in June). While it's a great apartment, especially for the price, it's not perfect. It's a bit dark (the tinted windows are great for privacy, but not so great for lighting) among other things. However, we could never get a place near this size for the same price in this area, so it looks like we're in for at least another year and a half of so.

To help us enjoy our place more, we decided that we need to make this place feel more homey and more "us". We're waiting on a lot of things for when we get a house, but now we're reconsidering. At this point, we're thinking about getting a new rug for the living room, a new entertainment center, and a new tv (and possibly Ed's dream wish - a leather chair).

But, our shopping trip this weekend to get some of these things ended without success, so I decided on some smaller details to brighten up our place. I love them already!

Our new artificial hydrangeas brighten up the armoire in our bedroom, and remind me of the use of these flowers at our wedding. 


These flowers were originally bought to make a wreath for our front door that didn't end up materializing. The frames were buy one get one free, so I decided to snatch them up, and I'm glad I did. Before, this space was cluttered with 6 or 7 frames, among other things. It looks so pretty now, and it's nice to have more wedding pictures on display. 


While this bathroom might not look all that special, it actually looks so much nicer than it did on Friday. We bought the artificial lilacs and a small glass jar to act as a vase,  a glass soap dispenser filled with purple soap, new brown and purple hand towels (the ones we had were very old, off white and dingy), and we used a frame we had to frame this picture that we had lying around. 


We also added this framed print (that was originally in our bedroom). It didn't really make sense in our bedroom, and looks much better than the print that was there before. Overall, its such a nicer space - we just need to have guests over!

Not huge changes, but they make the space feel nicer. And, hopefully in the next month or so, we'll be able to act on some of our other plans for our home. 



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Weekly Reading Roundup



I thought I could do these each week, since I would love to keep track of what I'm reading!
39 Clues: One False Note
The second book in the 39 clues series was equally quick and fun to read. I didn't enjoy the writing style quite as much as the first book, but it's plot was fun and well thought out. These are reminiscent of the "National Treasure" movie, but on a worldwide scope, and for kids. This one (if you can't tell from the title) had a focus on music (specifically Mozart) and went, among other places, Salzburg, which I enjoyed after my recent visit there. I already have the next one on hold!

Inner Circle (not the one by TC Boyle, though that's good as well!)
This felt like 39 clues for adults! Not usually my genre, this mystery book centers on an archievist in  Washington DC who gets unwittingly involved in a exchange of information between those close to the president. The chapters were all short, and a bit choppy compared to what I was used to, but I did find it a book where I kept wanting to find out what happened next. I wasn't necessarily surprised by any of the "twists" but they were still fun. This author, Brad Meltzer, has written other good books, so I might check those out. Reviews online of this aren't very favorable, which made me feel a bit better about not being amazed by it. Still, a nice way to spend a Sunday. 
Specials (The Uglies)
Specials: Book 3 in the "Uglies Trilogy"
This is another book that was recommended by my students, and takes place in a futuristic society where everyone is given a surgery at the age of 16 to physically alter themselves to look "pretty." This was the solution to the issue of discrimination, but some people are unhappy with being forced to change how they look, and a rebellion begins to form.
While these books are definitely written for young adults, and the writing style seems young at times, it nevertheless poses an interesting futuristic scenerio, and I've enjoyed watching the series pan out. I've just started the 4th book, Extras, which focuses on a new character at a point in time past where the 3rd book ends. I'm not sure if I'll like this book as well as the last one, but we'll see.

That's it for this week! I feel like I barely read during the week - somehow it seemed fuller than normal and I only really got to read for a little while before bed each night. Hopefully I'll get to more reading this week!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tu Mero Mole

Ed and I decided to try out this restaurant after the very good reviews on Yelp, and the fact that its super close to our house (just down a neighborhood steet 12 or so blocks). Ed and I have decided that we want to start going to more of these local, independent restaurants. 


When we got there, it was actually nicer than pictures online seemed to show. The person who took our order was super friendly and even gave us a basket of chips to munch on while we waited for our to go order (she told us it was to try out the salsas). There were lots of options - my favorites were the two green based ones (those always have such a fresh, slightly sour taste). I liked mixing the mild with the more spicy. The most unusual was a peanut based salsa, sort of hard to describe. It was a pureed salsa, sweet and sour. 


I ordered the Cochinita Yucateca, which was recommended, and had pictures online. I love anything with a lot of sauce, and this had it in spades. 



It was big chunks of pork stewed in a spicy red sauce with pepper and onions. I added a bunch of cilantro and green salsa to it, and ate it with pinto beans, rice, chips and homemade corn tortillas (though I mostly focused on the tortillas and chips with the dish). It was such good quality, especially for $9. 


Ed got a Chile Verde Supreme Burrito, which was tasty as well. Much better than Chipotle. 

Belated Valentine's Day Post

I wanted to post about this past year's valentine's day, because I was just reminiscing about it, and don't want to forget all the details.

In true us fashion, we decided to celebrate Valentine's Day the weekend before the actual day, since it would be logistically easier and more enjoyable (since we both had work that Monday, and Ed wasn't due home until after 8). We've never been big on going on for this holiday, since the food is usually more expensive and not always as good. So, instead, we dressed up and celebrated at home.

We decided on no official gifts, but Ed did give me some beautiful flowers, and cooked a lovely evening of food for me. Part of the treat was him finding the recipes, doing the shopping, and keeping part of it a surprise. I got to hang out in the bedroom with a glass of wine while he was cooking, and he called me in when food was done. To start, he made a delicious fennel, onion and tomato brushetta on baguettes. And, for our main course, definitely the best meal Ed has ever made (and quite possibly the best meal ever served in our house).


A delicious seared lamb chop with a mint mango chutney, grilled zucchini, and white rice, to soak up the chutney. It was perfect, everything you could have hoped for. 

And for dessert? Brownie's al a Mode - the first dessert I ever remember eating (on a train trip with my family with I was 5, I think), and have loved ever since. 

What a perfect first Valentine's day as a married couple. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekly Reading Roundup

Since becoming a Language Arts teacher this year, I've rediscovered my love of library books. It seemed only fitting to be reading more, and once I started, I found I couldn't stop. I've been reading a mix of old favorites (i.e. Nancy Drew), new childrens books recommended by students (Percy Jackson), light chick lit that takes little mental energy to read, and adult books that have been recommended by friends, websites, or reading lists.

This week, I read:
Chick Lit:
Shopaholic Takes Manhattan 


Childhood Favorites:
Meet the Austins
The message in the Hollow Oak
Password to Larkspur Lane


Children's Lit:
Thirty Nine Clues: Book 1 (Written by Rick Riodain)


Adult Fiction:
Room


Being sick this week helped me get through 6 books, which was a bit more than average (though the kids books don't exactly count the same, as they are very quick reads.
The first two categories aren't much of note. The Shopaholic series is somewhat fun, though I find myself needing to skip over some of the more embarrasing scenes, and often find myself siding with her foes, who belittle her for her spending habits. It was a good read during my sick day this week. I enjoyed  Meet the Austins as it had been such a long time since I've read it. I remember when I was young really loving Victoria, the mother, who reminded me of my mom, but who was a little messier :). She plays records constantly, something my mom often did, especially on Sundays. I remembered very little of the plot, so it was almost like a new book. Nancy Drew books, rarely disappoint.

Thirty Nine Clues I was interested in reading, as I had a least 4 book reports of it this past trimester. The report was on theme, and one child's theme for this book was, "Don't trust anyone; Even family members often want to kill you." Needless to say, my interested was piqued. I really enjoy Riodain's style (author of the Percy Jackson series), and it was a good, quick read.
Room I was a little nervous about reading. It was recommended on a reading list I subscribe to, and the reviews all said that the subject matter sound horrific, but the book is an amazing read. Here's a brief synopsis, courtesy of Amazon:

"In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue's Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enterRoom will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time." --Lynette Mong


Despite that fact that I'm pretty weak when it comes to disturbing movies (to the point that I almost never see R rated films), the way this book was told made it gripping. I really enjoyed having the 5 year old narrator (even though it's never a completely convincing narrator - he often narrates using words that wouldn't seem appropriate for a 5 year old), and read the book in almost one sitting. 


Off to the library now to pick up some new books on hold. Hopefully it'll be another great group!


If anyone has any good recommendations, please pass them my way. I'm always looking for something else to read.