Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spud Day

*All photos courtesy of Seth's wonderful brother Scott. Thanks!

For years I've been hearing about the infamous Spud Day in Shelley, Idaho. I've constantly begged Seth for the opportunity to experience the starchy goodness of free baked potatoes and mashed potato tug-o-war and this year I was given the honor of making the pilgrimage to Potato Land for this wonderful occasion.

To make the trip even more exciting, a couple additions were added to the list of activities and attractions. First, Seth's brother, Scott and his wife Amanda were going to be in town. They are currently living in Houston, Texas and have a baby girl on the way. Getting to spend some time with them was on the top of our list.

As great as Spud Day would be with Scott and Amanda around, we added yet another source of excitement. The Spud Run. Yes, we signed up for another 5k. I mainly wanted to do the Spud Run so I could get a shirt with potatoes on it, and let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed.

The Spud Run started early Saturday morning (7:30!) and it was pretty chilly outside. Seth and I were the only ones in the family that ran this 5k, which meant we had a lot of people there to cheer us on. For this race they gave us actual race numbers that we pinned on our shirts, which we thought was pretty cool. And the blue t-shirts with running potatoes on it were amazing. That all combined with a real starting gun was almost too much to handle. It was like a REAL race!

Pre-race with our numbers & a view of the legendary Spud Run t-shirt.

Everyone standing around freezing, waiting for the race to start.

I was pretty nervous during the morning of the race (like usual) and that anxiousness combined with an early cold morning made the run feel twice as long. I felt so shaky and weird for the first little segment that I thought about dropping out. But, I told my body to just keep going and what do you know? I made it!

And the race begins... notice the Potato mascots in the road.

Seth and I ended up coming in one second apart... 28:08 and 28:09. A new record! Although in the "Shelley Pioneer" and on the Shelley website, everybody's times are 2 minutes off... it shows our times as 26:09. Which would be super fast for me. But I'm not complaining. Especially because once again I came in 5th place out of all the women! WOO HOO!! I don't know how that happened! Maybe this is an unconscious tradition? I'm not sure what place I was in my age group. Seth came in 17th place out of the guys, but the men put up some pretty stiff competition. Still, there were 114 runners, 48 men and 66 women, so we both did awesome. We were in the top 25%!

Seth coming through the finish line. I got confused and went in the wrong lane.

Seth had to hold up my arm. I was too tired to do it myself.

After the race we went and watched the Spud Day Parade. Neither of us had been to a parade for years. It was fun watching all the kids chase after the candy thrown from the paradees. We also had a famous family member in the parade! Arielle was on a float with her middle school volleyball team and looked pretty cool in her red and black uniform. We made sure to throw her some candy because apparently that's what the kids do these days when they see a float they like.

When the parade was over Seth and I went and checked out the park where all the booths were set up. It was really crowded and the line for the free baked potatoes was huge, so we ended up leaving. Luckily it was Tessa's birthday party that night so we got to have a baked potato and a funnel cake over at her house.

As would be expected, our free time was filled with fishing trips. I didn't catch a fish the whole weekend, but at least I got to fish the Snake River and the Henry's Fork. You can bet I'll be back and next time I'll be taking names.

On Monday before we left for home, we went up to Harriman State Park. Seth and I got there a couple hours early to fish (this was the Henry's Fork trip I mentioned above). We were hoping to hear some elk bugle and were lucky enough to hear a few loud calls when we first arrived. It was pretty cool.

The rest of the family showed up a couple hours later and we did a small hike around the park. We didn't hear anymore elk but we did see some deer and a couple beautiful lakes.

A cute pregnant Amanda on our Harriman hike.

We had a great long weekend up in Idaho and Spud Day was all I have ever dreamed it would be and more. I'm sure we'll be back again.

Today's Special

I don't remember what days I did these recipes so you can just have a regular boring list. Here you go.

Grilled Eggplant Panini- This was a new recipe and holy crap was it good. They didn't have any eggplant at the store I went to so I just got portabello mushrooms instead. The jarred roasted red peppers were surprisingly good and I plan on finding more recipes that use them. This was a great fast dinner.

Hamburger Buddy- This was also a new recipe. The name sounds really dumb but it's basically an upgrade to your average Hamburger Helper. It was good, but didn't knock my socks off. However, we did use the whole grain pasta that the recipe called for and it passed inspection. I'd use it again.

Crunchy Pork Chops with Applesauce- I saw this on an episode of America's Test Kitchen and made it two days later because it looked so good. And I don't even like pork chops. This turned out awesome and Seth said it was the "juiciest pork chop [he's] ever had." They have a recipe for applesauce as well, but I just bought some.

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Mushroom Sauce- I ended up making these this week instead of the week before. This is insanely easy to make. I put the mushroom sauce on top about half way through cooking so the mushrooms get softer. Also, this has always taken closer to 30 minutes to bake, but I suggest using an oven probe thermometer to continually monitor the internal temp. I have this one and it works great. Also useful for the pork chop recipe above.

Fresh Tomato, Sausage and Pecorino Pasta- This is a new recipe. I haven't made it yet, but how bad could it be?

I also thought I let you in on an amazing new discovery. For those of you who use Google Reader to keep track of the blogs you follow, this is one more thing you can 'subscribe' to. I recently subscribed to a handful of sites that have daily recipes. The recipes automatically get sent to my Google Reader account as soon as they are posted and I can easily scan through the list and put a star next to the ones I'm interested in. It's a great way to find new recipes without having to search through a bunch of stuff. I got 3 of the 5 recipes for this week that way. The sites that I subscribed to are EatingWell , MyRecipes, and Betty Crocker Recipe of the Day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today's Special: Sept. 13-17th

Well the last couple weeks have been a bit of a blur as far as food goes. Other than that delicious Mushroom Swiss Burger and Smashfries I had over at the SmashBurger. Mmm... so Smashie. If I made anything new it wasn't memorable (wait did I make anything at all?). Don't worry, I'm getting back into the swing of things.

Yes this is going to be a short week, but there is still some delicious food to be had.

Sunday: BLTs -Haven't had a BLT for a while. WHY? So gooder.

Monday: Spinach & Onion Couscous- This is supposed to be more of a salad than a main dish but I really felt like eating some couscous. This was a new recipe and I really liked it a lot.

Tuesday: Tacos. Hey! Taco Tuesday! Pure coincidence.

Wednesday: Sauerkraut Chowder- I know... it sounds wierd. I didn't even try sauerkraut until a couple years ago because I was so scared of it. Man was I missing out! Love that stuff. Anyway, this was a new recipe and it was super delicious. New staple... I can tell already.

Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu with Mushroom Sauce

Food Fight

So it wasn't really a food fight, more of a food discussion. More specifically, how to split up the responsibilities. With Seth being done with school (for now at least), he's got a little more time on his hands to help out with the domestic drudgery.

Right now I do all the cooking and he does all the dishes. It works out well because I hate to do dishes and Seth doesn't really like to cook. Win win. As many of you know, there are other things involved in cooking than just pulling things out of the cupboard and throwing them in a pan. Things like meal planning and grocery shopping. Things that I don't really like to do, but they're kind of a necessity.

The other day Seth told me that he wanted to help out with the grocery shopping/planning in order to take a little bit of this boring stuff off my plate. Which brings me to my question. Who does the cooking in your house? Does the cook do all the planning and shopping or do you split it up somehow? I'm trying to think of an easy way to do this but I'm a bit stumped. Do I just keep doing what I've been doing and make Seth clean the bathrooms instead? Seth is perfectly capable of planning a couple meals or grocery shopping, but knowing me and my meal planning, he'd spend all day lost in the store looking for some crazy item like kielbasa, bulgur, or Old Bay seasoning.

Monday, September 14, 2009

And I'm Not Even Pregnant!

Saturday evening Seth and I were sitting on the couch watching some football when I casually mentioned a sudden craving for pie. This is something I do on a somewhat regular basis... voice random cravings. Not that I expect Seth or anyone to do anything about these cravings, I'm mainly just thinking out loud.

So I've just verbalized my latest craving for a food we don't have and Seth immediately says, "I'm going to go get you a pie." WHA?! I assure him he doesn't have to run out during his football game to get me a pie, I'm just fine. But he insists. He wants to go get me a pie. Says he's been "looking for a way to spoil his lady." I know he will not relent until he has a pie in his hands so I offer up answers to his questions...

"What is your favorite kind of pie?"- Mixed Berry.
"Where can I buy a good pie around here?"- Marie Callenders.
"Is Dreyers Vanilla Bean icecream a suitable companion for this pie?"- Why yes. Yes it is.

And just like that he was out the door on a quest for a pie and some icecream.

About a half hour later he returned with a box from Marie Callenders and a Target bag containing a half-gallon of Dreyers Vanilla Bean icecream.

If Seth was looking for a way to "spoil his lady" he sure picked a good way to do it. That was one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me. He's got some serious bonus points now.

By the way, the pie was awesome.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Results Are In!

This is the moment you've all been waiting for... race results! Wahoo! First I just want to thank everybody for the encouragement you gave me the last few months. It definitely helps make each run a little bit better. Also, I can't believe all of you who came and participated with me! It was so much fun! There were four people that ran this 5k with me: Seth, my sister Annie, Seth's sister Rachel, and Seth's brother-in-law Marty. There were also several more people that came to show support: Rachel's husband Abraham with their two boys Soren and Liam, Hillary (Abe's sister), Marty's wife (Seth's sister) Collette and two of their kids Tessa and Marty Jr, Marty's mom (sorry I can't remember her name!), and Annie's husband Eric with their little girl Belen. Eric was the mastermind behind all the wonderful race pictures.

(Left to Right) Annie, Me, Seth, Rachel, Marty

I was really anxious the morning of the race and I think it sapped some of my energy, but I still ended up doing pretty good on my run. My official time was 29:30 but I timed myself and was more like 28:30, which is about a minute faster than I was the last time I tried running the course, so I was happy about that. I didn't quite make it all the way without stopping and walked for just under a minute on the big hill.

The race has just begun!

This is me at the half-way point. This is my out-of-breath smile.

I ended up coming in 4th in my age group for the women, 5th for women overall, and 20th place out of everyone. I was really surprised! There were about 100 racers total so I feel really good about my effort. I ended up finishing before the others in our group so I got to see everyone else cross the fnish line. Seth and Annie were neck and neck the whole way and were racing against each other on the home stretch. It was pretty funny.

Seth & Annie racing to the finish!

Everyone in our group did really good and I'm really proud of all of them for the hard work they put into their training. We're going to have a re-match in a couple weeks up in Idaho Falls at the Spud Day 5k. So, if you missed out on this race, you still have time to join us at the next one!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Something Missing

I was driving home from work the other day, flipping through the radio stations, when I heard a familiar song. I instantly stopped scanning the channels and started singing along. It was a song that's been very special to me for a long time, one of my favorites. Not long after I started singing I started to get choked up. For many years this song made me happy. And it still does, although it's a little bitter sweet now. It makes me miss my grandpa.

At his tallest my Grandpa Holley was only about 5'4", and after old age set in, he went down to about 5'2". The grandkids were always excited when they got taller than Grandpa. Except Annie, she only got tall enough to see eye to eye. For as long as I can remember Grandpa had a full head of fine white hair nicely combed to the side. I don't think he bought any new clothes during the last 30 years of his life which usually put him in slacks held up by suspenders, a dated button down shirt with a mother-of-pearl bolo tie, and if we were lucky enough to catch him on a Sunday, a grey fedora hat with a small red feather stuck in the band.

For years when we were kids we would visit my grandparents in their little house up on Cahoon Street in Ogden. All the cousins would gather in the backyard and play tag. We'd run around the perfectly pruned fruit trees and large oval shaped flower bed created and tended by my grandpa. Sometimes he would join us. He would've been in his mid 80s at the time.

When we got tired of running around we'd come inside and lay out on the living room floor with a deck of cards. My grandparents' carpet was perfect for making card houses. After our card houses were built we'd climb up on the couch and admire my grandma's lamp. It was a giant lamp with a bulbous smokey clear glass base. My favorite part of the lamp was its dangling teardrop jewels. I'd take off a couple and pretend to hang them from my ears as earrings. They would've been the most gaudy over the top earrings in the world, but I loved them.

Whenever we went to my grandparents' house we'd sit around and talk. Rather, my grandpa would tell us stories. With a can of Mountain Dew in his hand, he'd tell us about all the trips he and my grandma went on. My grandma would occasionally interrupt and tell us what really happened. He'd tell about his adventures during his youth... about how he was the Utah Kid. He'd tell us about how he met my grandma and how he came to marry her. We'd sit around in their 85 degree house and just listen. At the end of every visit Grandpa would give us each a hug and tell us how proud he was of us. And we knew he really meant it.

My grandma died several years before my grandpa did. He moved around to different retirement homes and we'd go visit him every so often. His adventures continued, but now they consisted of riding his motorized scooter around town and going for drives up the canyons with family members. We sporadically wrote letters back and forth telling each other about what we'd been up to. Occasionally I'd ask for his advice. He'd finish each letter by drawing a stick figure picture of himself with a cane and tell me I was his favorite. He told all of us we were his favorite, but I didn't care. I knew he meant it. I loved getting those letters.

As the song in the car ended and tears trickled down my face, I couldn't help but feel a little hole in my heart. My grandpa died just before Christmas in 2005. I kept his bolo tie. I really miss him a lot.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Biggest Fan

For any of you familiar with the blogging world, Google Analytics is a pretty cool tool. I check my Analytics account every morning to see how many people visited my blog and where they come from.

I've had Analytics set up on my blog for over a month now and most cities that show up are familiar to me in one way or another... at least the ones with higher traffic. I expect visitors from Idaho and Utah cities because that's where most of my family and friends live. But there are always a lot of visits from Palo Alto, California and I couldn't for the life of me figure out who that visitor could be. How could I not know who was visiting me from Palo Alto when it was so often the #1 traffic producer for my blog?

Call it an early morning brain peak or months of subconscious deep thinking, but this morning as I was checking my Analytics account when I first got to work, I had a revelation. Palo Alto was ME. The company I work for has a major site in Palo Alto and their Internet connection must be routed through there. All along this top visitor to my blog was ME. Not some random adoring fan. Not some stranger who stumbled across my blog and now visited on a daily basis because of my wonderful wit and charm. It was ME. ME and my addiction to my own blog.

Of course instead of keeping this information to myself I chose to post it for all my readers to see. What do you expect? My ego has just been crushed.... I've got to do something to build it up again. And what better way to boost an ego than to write a new post to suck in more readers? I feel better already.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Show Off

Seth and I went fly fishing this weekend up on the Weber River by Coalville. Can I just say again how much I love my new waders? Anyway, I ended up catching 2 large fish (well, large for me) so I wanted to show them off. What's the use of catching big fish if you can't brag about it?

These first 2 pics are of the same fish... Seth measured it at 18".

Not sure exactly how big fish #2 was... maybe 16 or 17"?

After looking at these pictures I realize I need to come up with a better system of holding my gear in the middle of the river... it looks like I'm gonna pee my pants.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You Mean This Actually Works?

I've been consistently working out since May 26th of this year. I've been doing at least 30 minutes of cardio (mainly running... earlier on it was more walking) followed by 30 minutes of strength training (mainly a stability ball workout), at least 3 times a week. I've cut back a lot on soda and try to drink a lot of water. It was a bit painful at first, but now I actually kind of like water. Weird huh? I've also tried to eat a bit less and eat more healthy, but nothing too drastic. I was aiming for something sustainable. More of a lifestyle change.

I'll admit in the beginning it was slow going. I didn't lose any weight for the first month or so. I haven't lost the typical "one pound a week" until recently. I've averaged out to about a pound every two weeks. But I have seen consistent progress, which is more of what I wanted anyway.

I'm 5'6" and at my heaviest I was 150 pounds. I know this doesn't sound like a lot to most of you, and it's really pretty good on average. But, I was starting to morph into a body I didn't feel comfortable in. My clothes were getting too tight, a few extra rolls were popping up here and there, and I couldn't do the things I used to be able to do without a lot of effort. I'd gained about 25 pounds in the last 5 years. Not healthy.

My initial goal was to be physically fit and not worry too much about losing weight. And that's still my main goal. If I end up being 160 pounds of pure muscle, that's just fine with me. But so far I've lost at least 8 pounds. That's almost a whole Gracie! Tonight I took my measurements again for the first time since I started running. I couldn't believe the difference! I've lost 3.5" on my waist, 2.5" from my stomach, 1" on my hips, 1" on my arm and 1.5" on my chest (not necessarily a good thing... but I can live with it :D ).

As soon as I saw my body start changing it just gave me more and more motivation to keep doing it. I feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. Something hard. Something I've never been able to do before. Most people probably wouldn't be able to see the difference in how I look, it's not that drastic yet. But I feel so much better about myself. And with every single little improvement in my fitness, whether it's running a little farther, noticing that extra muscle definition, or my clothes fitting better, I get more and more motivated. I want to eat healthy, I want to go out and run, I want to drink that extra glass of water because I know what will happen if I do.

I know this whole story sounds really cliche. I guess I'm just really excited about all this. And also, I wanted to offer encouragement to any of you out there that are in the same boat I am. A lot of the stories I hear tell about people losing 100 pounds in the same amount of time I lost my 8 pounds. It's always going to be difficult and more often than not it's going to be slow. Much slower than you ever anticipated. But keep it up. The rewards will come.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today's Special: Aug. 23-29th

This week I stuck with good old standbys. Sometimes finding new recipes is too time consuming and sometimes I'm just too lazy!

Sunday: Beef Stroganoff with peas

Monday: Broccoli Chicken Casserole with brown rice

Tuesday: Lemon Garlic Pasta

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Quick and Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Weekend: Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese with Asparagus