Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Running Recap

My sister, Maggie, and me after
our second race together, July 2012. 
My second full year running was hit and miss. I had a huge schedule planned and didn't get to follow through on it all. Injuries and an unexpected move but some hiccups in my plans, but overall, I came out ok.

I started 9 races, and finished 8. I battled back from a stress fracture and am still recovering from a sprained ankle, which ended my 9th race of the year. I beat my own personal record for the 5k by 1 minute and 47 seconds. I ran two 5ks in one weekend, and my longest training run of the year was 5.5 miles and my pace has gotten much more consistent.

I have a very ambitious race calendar for 2013 including two half marathons, a 10k, and a possible Ragnar Relay Race. I hope to be 10k ready at all time, and to break 35 minutes on my 5k time. Most of all, I want running to become part of my everyday life. I want to wake up and run, everyday. I need to get more consistent and schedule in the time for myself. Here's to 500 miles in 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Top Ten Books from 2012

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

A non-fiction story gathered from the writings of the US Ambassador to Germany and his family during the 1930s. Hitler had begun his damage to Germany and no one wanted to believe it. The US Ambassador attempted to break through to the President but was constantly thwarted by the "Good Old Boys Club" of Washington, DC. This book was wonderfully written, I forgot it was non-fiction, and I loved reading about the Tiergarten and downtown Berlin, which I have visited.

Sorority Sisters by Claudia Welch

A group of women meet in college in 1975 and form a friendship bond that never ends. They grow up together, they grow old together. They have children together, weather husbands coming and going, and the tragedies that life brings. It was heartwarming to see a group of friends continue to be there for each other after 20 years.

NYPD Red by James Patterson

A new cast of characters and setting for Patterson, but he certainly did not disappoint. The RED section of the NYPD deals with high profile crimes, in this case, a string of crimes against celebrities during Hollywood on the Hudson week. I listened to this book, it was narrated by two people, alternating between the lead detective and the murderer. I truly hope this is the first of a new series by Patterson.

Jackdaws by Ken Follett

Ken Follett dives right into World War II and an elite group of English spies. An all female group created to sabotage a German stronghold, this unlikely group of women come together to change the outcome of the war. The group includes a transvestite engineer, a veteran spy, a criminal released from prison for this specific task, and a debutante. It was a fantastic read.

Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl by Susan McCorkindale

Susan McCorkindale left the magazine industry of NYC and her house in the NJ suburbs to become a farmer's wife in rural Virginia. Her compilation of blogs and hysterical stories of adjusting to "the sticks" had me laughing on almost every page. 

Calico Joe by John Grisham

The best baseball book I've ever read. A story about how one pitcher's temper changed the life of an up and coming rookie with just one pitch. The story is told by the son of the pitcher and is full of emotion. It tells a good story of forgiveness and how the love of the game can change your life.

Wine Country Murder Series by Ellen Crosby

This six book series takes place on a vineyard in Loudon County, Virginia. A family owned vineyard passed down to a daughter reluctant to run it and a string of murders that occur on or near the vineyard. With the help of her wine mixer and a reporter friend, the female lead conquers murderers and her injuries to rejuvenate the vineyard.

The Red Tent by Anita Diament

This biblical fiction was fantastic, but intense. The story of a woman growing up in the house of Jacob, experiencing the love of several mothers, and learning the traditions of the red tent. As she grows up and Jacob's household moves, she learns about love and loss and eventually finds contentment where she least expected it.

A Painted House by John Grisham

A touching story of a poor family in Arkansas and the migrant workers who picked their cotton. A young boy is in love with baseball and is forced to pick cotton on the family farmer each summer. They have hill people who come down to help them pick and Mexicans who are bused up to work, as well. As the three cultures combine, trouble brews. The young boy is saving his money to buy a baseball jacket, but instead begins buying paint to paint the exterior of their house, a frivolous luxury in that time. A great story of the mid-west and the hardships that young families endured.

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan MacNeil

I also listened to this book, an excellent start to the Maggie Hope Mystery Series. Maggie Hope is an Englishwoman who was sent to live with her Aunt Edith after her parents died in her youth. She attended college, majoring in mathematics and returned to London to sell her Grandmother's house. Instead she stayed in war-torn London and made some fantastic girlfriends. She got a typing job working for the Prime Minister and thwarts a few plots by the IRA and the Nazis. A wonderful story of a brave and educated young woman in a man's world.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Growing Up

For Christmas, Declan got a piggy bank, a big, baseball piggy bank. In an attempt to improve behavior and encourage independence, we decided to reward Declan for doing his chores and helping around the house with quarters to put in his piggy bank. I was on pinterest (of course) and found these spectacular chore charts for boys and girls. I am so excited that it teaches them the different things they need to do and in what area of their life it is for.

We will start this with Declan on Sunday, December 30th, and see how it goes for him. I promise to report back.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Crafting

As most of you know, I get a lot of great ideas from Pinterest. Anyone who uses Pinterest knows how easy it is to sit on the computer and "pin" things you intend to do. I decided I would actually DO the things I pinned! So, I ordered green felt and a package of multi-colored craft felt online from Joanns (can you believe the closest sewing/fabric/craft store is an hour away!) Then we made a Christmas tree that the kids can decorate and redecorate, and redecorate as many times as they want. They loved this idea! We hung it on the wall in their playroom with a few small nails and they went to town. Such a fun activity for them, that will hopefully keep them away from the real tree.

I snagged this latch hook rug kit from someone at our old post and kept telling myself there was no point in starting it until we moved. I started this the week after Thanksgiving and was really hoping it would be done in time to enjoy this season. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and very glad that I bought enough stick binding to iron the rough edges down. Its by the front door now, and I'm not sure if the kids or Delilah love it more. We've discovered Delilah doesn't like the tile floors and finds any blanket/rug/discarded clothing available to sleep on.

Stay tuned for more homemade crafts as the season continues!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another frozen meal success

Honestly, the hardest part about having all these freezer meals is remembering to take one out of the freezer in time to defrost it. We tried a new one last night, Chicken Broccoli Alfredo.

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
2-16 oz jars of Alfredo sauce (I used the light sauce)
1 large green pepper, diced
4 oz can of sliced mushrooms (I used 8 oz of fresh mushrooms)
16 oz of frozen broccoli florets

I put everything but the broccoli in a freezer bag and froze it. I then added the broccoli to the crockpot when the rest of it had thawed. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, and enjoy!

We ate it like a soup, but I think it would be good with egg noodles or rice. It was awesome, and we have enough leftovers for lunch today. A perfect soup-type meal for this "cold" spell we are having.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Its Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas...

Even though the highs here climb to mid-70s and we frequently go outside without a coat on, we're full in the Christmas spirit here in Arizona. The kids awake each morning and excitedly count up to Christmas. Declan informed us that we are counting up, not down, because the numbers go up.

The main part of our house has the kitchen looking out into the dining room. I have a nice ledge there and have decorated it for Christmas. Two new baskets, my Scentsy warmer, and today, a framed print.
The door right by the hallway to the rest of the house, holds our Christmas Card wreath. Most of the cards on it are from my RMM friends, so far. They're always way out ahead of the group.

I missed my sewing machine so much, I just had to whip up some new curtains, and I made them out of Christmas material!

A few homemade and found knick knacks frame the entertainment center, including this button tree I made last year. And this coffee creamer container turned snowman, that the kids and I made at Memere's in October.

And the final bit of interior decorating that has been completed  is this china hutch. I have some more to do, but I like stretching it out over the Advent season. This weekend we hope to finish the lights outside and next weekend the tree will go up. So exciting!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Its all Greek to Me!

Last night I made (by made I mean threw in the crock pot, because I had prepared sometime last week) Greek Chicken Pitas. I loved it, Steven was excited about the prospect of leftovers for lunch this week. The kids scoffed at the chicken, but devoured the veggies, hummus, and pita bread. Not such a bad thing.....

Here's the recipe:

Throw the following in a crockpot on low for 4-6 hours:

  • one medium onion, sliced
  • one clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning (I use Mrs. Dash)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
After the chicken is cooked, shred it and return to the crockpot. Stir in 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt.

Assemble in pita pockets with 1/2 c chopped cucumber, 1 diced tomatoes, and 1 red pepper, thinly sliced. I also added hummus.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Squat Challenge

My trusty/crazy running friends are at it again. Not only are we having a competition for working out every day until New Years, but we are now embarking on a squat challenge for December.

I recruited my sister, too. Here we go!