Monday, February 24, 2014

Hearts

My theme for this Valentine's Day was hearts.  I didn't start out planning it that way, but there are so many cute heart ideas and recipes on Pinterest I got wrapped up.  I painted my nails with hearts, made heart cookies, heart cinnamon rolls and heart egg in toast.  I also had planned on making heart shaped bacon, but my breakfast plans were making me frustrated and I decided to let that one go, more on that later.


On Valentine's Day I made these cookies.  I found the idea on Celebrating Everyday Life with Jennifer Carroll.  I loved her photos, however I wanted to make cookies from scratch.  I followed this recipe from Made to be a Momma and they were delicious!



Then Friday night I made cinnamon rolls ready for when Big B headed out to work on Saturday, since he leaves much earlier than I wake up.  I found the recipe for the heart cinnamon rolls here, but be warned I actually ended up coping and pasting the recipe on to a word document.  The original web page kept changing to an american food recipes page, very annoying!  Instead of starting from scratch you can always buy Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls and just roll them from each side and then pinching the bottom to form the heart shape.




Later on Saturday I painted my nails.  I got some advice from #16 on these Nail Hacks from Buzz Feed.  They didn't turn out exactly like the hearts on Buzz Feed, but I still thought they were cute.  And I was pretty proud of the heart on my right hand, since I am not an ambidextrous person.

Right ring finger
Left ring finger










Lastly on Sunday I made some egg in toast and bacon. We have a gas stove in our kitchen, which has been a new experience. I love the fact that the stove warms up very quickly, but it tends to burn out when I turn down the heat.  Because of this I ended up burning a sandwich and then I couldn't get the second sandwich to toast.  I eventually made the sandwich, cutting out the heart and then toasting it in our George Foreman.  This didn't work out as well as I had hoped and ended up a bit squished, but at least they toasted without burning.  Then I cooked the egg in my heart cookie cutter on the stove and then placed the cooked egg inside of the sandwich when everything was done.  Although it didn't turn out as well they did on Reclaiming Provinvial, they were tasty, but not worth photographing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mars

I originally started fostering Mars around October 2002.  I had only recently started fostering and she was my second or third foster group, sometimes I fostered more than one kitten depending if they came in as a litter or not.  Mars was my first "feral" foster.  I place feral in apostrophes because most of my feral fosters were just under-socialized, not necessarily feral.  She definitely started a trend because I rarely fostered any other type of cat, I had found my niche.  Plus, when you foster ferals like I did, in your only bathroom, then they pretty much stay out of your way until they are ready to go back to the shelter and get adopted.  Unlike other kittens who are all over you while you try to use the bathroom in any capacity.

Mars and another kitten I fostered, about a year after I adopted her.
I learned a lot while fostering Mars.  I had never fostered a kitten so scared and Mars was definitely fearful, although I have since fostered other kittens who were much worse off.  I had some things to learn and even lost her while visiting a friend, she somehow wedged herself under his Kegerator.  I didn't know you needed to keep a scared cat in a smaller, and open, area until they have gotten used to them.  I also learned that it was easier to wait on naming the kittens until they were older, this way you would know their individual personalities, and it helped me stay a bit more detached.  I originally didn't name Mars because another staff member had dibs on her and wanted to name her Madelyn, a name that didn't seem to match her.  I also had always thought that I couldn't ever own a cat with Haley, she has pretty high prey drive.  But Mars is sometimes too smart for her own good and snuck out of the bathroom, meeting Haley.  Luckily Mars isn't a typical cat and just laid down like a submissive dog and Haley treated her as such.

As time went on Mars started to grow on me more and more.  She is a snuggle bug, she doesn't necessarily like being carried around, but the second you sit down she is ready to be on your lap.  Mars is also a bit naughty, I seem to be attracted to animals that are a bit too smart and stubborn for their own good.  Big B says, "like dog/cat, like owner."  But, I am allergic to cats and Mars bothered those allergies more than the average cat.  The original interested party decided they weren't ready for another cat and I had a dilemma.  I asked around trying to find Mars a home with someone I knew and trusted, to no avail.  Then right before it was time to take her back to the shelter my allergies stopped acting up and I decided to adopt her!  In the meantime my roommate had been calling her Mars, he thought she looked like Biere de Mars, and being the smarty that she is, the name stuck.

video

Mars showing off that big brain of hers.  Check out the awesome carpet in one of the places I have lived.  And it was in the kitchen, who puts carpet in the kitchen?  


Mars has been quite the character since the move.  As I mentioned above she is sometimes too smart, and stubborn.  The two things she has been especially stubborn about over the last two months have been 1) getting into the food in the kitchen and 2) sitting on my lap.  Luckily she hasn't been too naughty about scratching up the carpet.  We put her favorite scratching post next to her bed and I think this has helped immensely.  Scratching up the carpet was one of her naughtiest habits in Seattle, as everyone who came to my Ladies Christmas Party a few years ago can collaborate.

Mars decided there was enough room on my lap between me and the laptop, even if she had to hold on tight.
In the past she would much rather sit on Big B's lap than my own.  Maybe it is because his lap is bigger, or that he tends to move around a little less when we are sitting down (usually in the evening), or that he is usually warmer than me.  But something in Virginia has made my lap much more inviting.

I finally convinced Mars to take a nap beside me so I could get up and down with a bit more ease.

What a silly cat!  Definitely makes me feel loved, but I wish she wasn't so insistent sometimes.  It makes it hard to get motivated to get off the couch when you move your nice warm cat and she crawls right back on before you can even stand up.

I thought this would be a favorite spot for her, but this is the only time I've seen her get up in the window.  Maybe she'll like it more when it isn't so cold next to the glass.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Making Shredded Chicken

It is amazing what new information and tips you can learn on the internet.

I would love to have this Crockpot. 
Since moving to Virginia I have been using our Crock-pot more often than I did in Seattle.  Part of this is due to the fact that I was away from home far too long for the slow cooker, it cooks slowly, but not slow enough.  Although I guess this wouldn't be a problem with a programmable Crock-pot.  I also have been using the slow cooker more due to our schedules.  We attend a few cycling classes that get done at 7:30 pm and then Big B goes to bed early since he has to get up around 4:30 am.  With the Crock-pot we get home from class and the food is ready versus the minimum 30 minutes it would take for me to cook a recipe on the stove or in the oven.

You can check out my Pinterest if you are interested in some slow cooker recipes, I have tried most of them and will delete the pin if the recipe isn't up to snuff.


A lot of my recipes involve shredding the chicken after it is done cooking.  In the past I had always used two forks and shredded it with a scraping motion.  But with the lovely internet I have found a much easier way.  While searching for the fastest way to cook chicken, more about this below, I came upon this article!  Who knew you could use a mixer to shred your chicken?!?  Plus, you don't need an expensive or powerful mixer to shred the chicken, I use a mixer similar to the one pictured.  Seriously, it takes about 1/4 the time to shred that chicken up, awesome!

In case you were curious I was originally looking up the fastest way to make shredded chicken, obviously the slow cooker was not the winner, for a recipe that we had decided to make last minute.  I found that the fastest way to cook chicken is on the grill, a George Foreman will work.  However, the resulting chicken isn't always the best to shred.  The second fastest way to cook chicken is to bake it in the oven.


 Here is an example of how well it turned out.  Pineapple Chicken Verde with brown rice.

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Top 10 Running Items

Running does not come easily to me.  Because of this I do everything I can to make running easier, or to help my body recover faster.  Below are the 10 items that I have found that make running a bit easier for me.

1. Nathan Intensity Vest Click here to see my review.

2.  Nuun.  During my swimming years I drank a lot of gatorade and because of this I'm really not a fan of it any more.  Luckily there have been many developments in different options for drinks that will replace your electrolytes.  Nuun is my favorite, plus it contains no sugar and has less calories than a lot of other options out there.

3. Lululemon Ta Ta Tamer  This is by far the best bra I have ever owned.  It keeps everything in place without any smooshing.  Plus I can wear it all day, if necessary, and my shoulders don't start hurting.


4.   iPhone  This link is my take on running with my iPhone, I also talk about #5.


5.  Earphones

6.  Wright socks.  These socks have a double layer to prevent friction and blisters.  Unfortunately, I didn't discover these socks until after I had run my half marathon.  I had blisters throughout my training and then during the actual run I developed more.  I tried a couple different things that helped Band-aid Brand Adhesive Bandages Activ-Flex or Spenco 2nd Skin Squares covered with Moleskin.  The Band-Aids for Blisters helped a lot if worn after the run, but really couldn't hold up to all the friction during the runs.  The 2nd skin with moleskin helped a bit more during the run and the 2nd skin feels fantastic on top of blisters, but they only protected the blister for some of the run.  So far I haven't developed any blisters with Wright socks and they are thin, so you don't notice the extra layer.


7.  GU Energy Labs Gel were my favorite thing to consume while on runs.  I'm the type of person who needs about 2 hours to digest before any physical activity.  However, I also noticed that after about an hour on a run I could really use some calories.  I had heard gels were the way to go for people like me, but I was a bit worried about cramps.  Luckily I was participating with West Seattle Runner in a couch to half-marathon and they have a wide expanse of knowledge.  They suggested trying gels, or whatever other food you want to try, towards the end of a shorter run.  That way if you have any gastrointestinal issues you will not be far away from home.  They also recommended drinking at least 4 ounces of water with any food you intake during a run.  I had success with most of the gels I tried, but I liked GU's taste and consistency the most.

8.  My knees are not a fan of running, so I ice them.  Body Glove Deluxe Ice Pack Knee and Elbow Wrap is one of my favorite ice packs because I can take it anywhere and don't need a freezer, all you need is a few ice cubes and water.  I would take this to work with me on days I ran before I headed home.  That way I could throw the cubes and water in before I left work and had an ice pack ready for me after the run, and then I would ice my knee as I drove home.
I also like this ice pack, Thermipaq Hot Cold Pack,because it isn't as cold as other packs, but it stays cooler longer, so I usually can ice both knees with the same pack.  You can also use it as a heat pack, although I don't use that feature.

9.  A Massage Stick is great to have about the day after a long run when your muscles start to become sore.  I especially like it for my calves and shoulders.


10.  Women's Performance Compression Run Sock are also great after a run or on an airplane.  My feet have a tendency to swell up, so anything that will help prevent it is key in my book!