Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jazz Half Marathon Recap

I ran the Jazz Half Marathon this morning and it was a great race. I finished in 2 hours and 4 minutes, which is longer than my first half marathon, but not by much. The key differences were that this race was very slow and crowded for the first few miles and we stopped and took some pictures along the way. It made for a fun, no pressure race, which was nice. The course stared by the Convention Center, wound it's way through the central business district, then went up St. Charles Ave., around Audubon Park, and back to the Convention Center, so for the most part, it was pretty scenic. I ran with my friends Jen and Margee, which was great. They're both really good runners and keeping up with them helps me push myself to go faster. And they dressed up in 80's attire as well, which was really fun.
I'm trying to apply myself to my recovery this time b/c I had a very poor recovery last year. It was really cold, I had to ride for 45 minutes in the car to get back to my parents' house, and they didn't really grasp the concept of resting one's legs and kept asking me to get up and go do stuff until I finally gave up and went home to New Orleans so I could get some rest. I remember being sore for like a week. This time, I want to be able to run again by next weekend.
After the race and after party, I went home, showered, and took a two hour nap. I woke up feeling like a new person (I find napping really helps me heal) so I got up, ate some lunch, and went to the grocery store. Despite the benefits of napping, I do get really stiff if I sit around too much after my nap. After my grocery run, I chilled out for a little while, snacked on chips and salsa, then did some chores. Next I did a 10 minute Yoga for Runners video that left my legs feeling much looser. I started this post, then saved it and went to get Mexican food with my friends. Now that I'm home, I'm going to watch a movie and soak in Epsom Salts.
As of right now, I'm feeling pretty good- slightly stiff and sore, but I've felt worse after some long training runs. I'm not going to end up sitting on the couch with bags of frozen veggies on my knees at any rate.
My plan for tomorrow is to continue with my active recovery by swimming a few easy laps at the gym, then going to a Saint's tailgate. Who Dat!
I'll leave you with some pictures taken by Jen, one of my fellow 80's girl runners. (Other bloggers who I saw today were Grace, Lindsey, and Keith. It was Lindsey and Keith's first half, so congrats to them!)

Before the start of the race- it was dark!

In front of a spooky house on St. Charles Ave.

Post Race Party
Eating Kung Pao Chicken and rocking some truly awful bangs

Friday, October 29, 2010


My half marathon is tomorrow!!!! I'm definitely sitting on the borderline between excited and nervous. Wish me luck! :)

p.s. I've edited this to add my costume for the race! 80's workout girl! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dusting Off My Sewing Machine

The good thing about my general wardrobe dissatisfaction is that I've been using my sewing machine a lot more to alter my clothes that just aren't quite right. When Grace posted a tutorial on how to alter your pants- I knew that I would have to give it a try!
I had a pair of light khaki corduroy pants that fit great at the waist, but belled out below the knee in a decidedly dated way (I think I've had them since college). I also wasn't worried about ruining that pair of pants because I have lots of corduroy pants. (So comfy!) They were the perfect pant to try to alter.
You should definitely check out Grace's tutorial if you want to try this at home because I think she explains it a lot better than I do, but here is what I did to alter my pants.
First I used a pair of skinnier pants as a template and traced them on the inside of the pants I was altering, using a pencil (if you want to do things properly, you should iron and pin them. I tend to take shortcuts when I sew which is probably why I'm not really all that good at it!)

My Template

Next I sewed along that line. I flipped them inside out, checked the fit, then went back and made a few more adjustments inside (it was hard to get the fit just perfect b/c I only needed to take the pants in up to the knee- the thighs were already fitted and the transition from stitching to no stitching was a little awkward).

Gotta Fix This

Then I did the same thing on the other leg.

Right= before, Left= after

Finally, I cut off the insides where I'd sewn the pants, ironed them into a new seam and stitched that down along the cuff. I went from bell bottoms to matchstick cords!
Thanks for the great tutorial, Grace!

Eat Your Heart Out, JCrew!

In other news, I went to the mall after work today and got four sweaters (I can't find the link for one- a hot pink v-neck merino sweater from Banana Republic that I somehow got for $12 because I win at life... oh and the third sweater I linked is in black and was marked down for much lower than the one that's linked- shopping in stores is paying off!) and a dress (for $15!), so I feel like my wardrobe has become at least a bit more versatile!

Cleaning Out My Closet

Last week, we finally took our winter clothes out of storage. Fortunately, we haven't taken our summer clothes back to our storage building b/c New Orleans had a record high temperature of 88 degrees yesterday. So unfair. But anyway, I took advantage of having all of my clothes in one place and cleaned out my closet and bagged up a bunch of clothes for Goodwill. Apparently, I'd already done this with my winter clothes because I didn't end up culling many of them- but I had a lot of summer clothes that just don't make the cut anymore. It's a great feeling to be organized, at least temporarily!
I've been feeling really dissatisfied with my wardrobe lately, and although I think part of that is due to being at the end of a season (I'm sick of my summer time clothes and looking cute in transitional weather is always a little challenging) but I also think that the proportions of my wardrobe are out of whack.
What I mean by that is that a disproportionately large percentage of my clothes falls into a "casual/weekend wear" category (And by that I don't mean stylish going out clothes, unfortunately. I mean jeans and t-shirts.), while a disproportionately small percentage of my clothes could be classified as "work clothes" even though I spend more time at work than I do being seen on the weekends. (I think that I have an appropriate percentage of lounge wear/PJ's/ workout clothes and dressy dresses at least.)
I've been feeling like my work clothes are especially boring and frumpy and I'm starting to think that I legitimately need to at least get some more work tops. I really like the way dressy knit tops fit me, especially if they have a band at the waist, but I don't have very many of them. Button downs don't fit me very well compared to knit tops and I really just need to give up the pipe dream of having a fitted shirt that doesn't gap where it buttons up.
The catch is that it's really easy to buy a knit top and decide it's more suited to jeans than dress pants and relegate it to the t-shirt drawer. The other catch is that practical knit tops aren't exactly thrilling.
My dress pants aren't anything to write home about but they are comfortable and they fit. Also, I'm pretty discouraged about the state of dress pants in general after trying on the horrendous ones at the Gap last week. It wasn't pretty.
Also, I am seriously not allowed to buy any more Jcrew or Banana Republic casual T-shirts b/c I have a zillion of them.
And yes, I am a completely boring dresser. Does anyone want to be my personal shopper?

Any tips on how to spice up my wardrobe? I need all the help I can get!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Treats

Two posts in one day! My goodness!
I wanted to post a quick and easy Halloween goody that I made for my friend Sarah's Halloween party on Friday. I made "ghosts" buy piping vanilla frosting out of a plastic bag (just snip off a corner and don't seal the top unless you want to pop your bag) onto store bought 2-bite brownies (I'm obsessed with these things) and adding mini-chocolate chip eyes. So if you need something quick to bring to a Halloween get together- give this a try!
And now, as a bonus, our costumes. I was a ninja and my darling fiance was a retired General McChrystal, now endorsed by Bud Light Lime. (It's an inside joke but I love his costume, especially since I sewed the better part of the outside of a case onto that thing!) Enjoy!


My friend Kristi gave me the Ottolenghi Cookbook for my birthday and I promised to let her know how the recipes were. I decided the best way to do so would be to blog about it!
I wanted to make my darling fiance a fancy dinner and this seemed like the perfect excuse. After pouring through the cookbook several times, I decided to make two of the side dishes and serve them alongside roast chicken (b/c for some reason, side dishes and apps are always more appealing to me than entrees).
I decided to make roasted golden beets (the recipe called for mixed golden and red beets, but there were only golden ones at the store) and caramelized endives with Serrano Ham (I used prosciutto instead though though).
I made these dishes over the course of two nights. On the first night, I peeled and roasted the beets in foil and caramelized the endive halves in sugar and butter. The next evening, I assembled the roasted beet salad (using the herb mix from Whole Foods, along with sunflower seeds, and the recipe's maple dressing) then topped the endives with cream, cheese, thyme, breadcrumbs, and ham and baked them for 20 minutes.

Golden Beets Look Cool

Especially When You Peel Them

Halved EndivesCaramelizing Away- I Can't Even Describe How Great This Smelled

Ready to be Topped and BakedCompleted Salad with Beets, Sunflower Seeds, Baby Greens and Herbs
Endives Out of the Oven

Dinner is Served!

A few notes:
1) I washed the skillet after Pancaked stepped in it prior to cooking my endives. :)
2) The lighting in my kitchen is lousy, I cook at night, and my camera is old, so please excuse my picture quality.
3) The recipes I picked out were easy to follow and resulted in an excellent meal. My only issue with the cookbook is that all of the units are Britsh- so Celcius, ml, and grams. I did conversions for the stuff that seemed important but I was a little too lazy to figure out how many grams of salad I should have used and just winged it on things like that. Everything turned out fine, but if you are nit-picky converting everything could prove to be time consuming.

Overall I loved these recipes and I'm excited to cook more things out of this book. (I have my eye on mushrooms with barley and preserved lemons for this week.) Thanks for the awesome present, Kristi!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Tried on All the Skinny Jeans at the Gap So You Don't Have To

Okay, unless you are my butt twin, you probably still have to. But last night I had some time to kill before I picked my darling fiance up from the airport, so I braved the Esplanade Mall and went to the Gap. I've been wanting some work pants that have a slimmer leg than my current ancient slacks, so I went intending to try on the True Straight Pant. Unfortunately, it didn't look good on me at all. The leg wasn't much thinner than my current pants and it was too big in the waist-but I could tell that if I sized down, they'd be too small.

However, when I walked into the store, the salesperson told me that all of their jeans were 40% off that day. I did the logical thing and proceeded to try on every pair of skinny jeans in my size in the store. Then, since they were skinny jeans, I repeated the process with the size above mine. :)

(Does anyone else think it's total crap, by the way, that a given size in pants at the same store is too big in dress pants and too small in jeans?)

Actually, I've found that getting skinny jeans a size larger than my normal size consistently works well for me across brands. I have a very poorly defined waist and I've found that if jeans fit my rear and legs, they dig into my waist and create the dreaded "muffin top." (I also have a total complex about pants even making a line at my waist that you can see through an untucked shirt- I'm crazy, I know. And I never tuck in my shirts b/c it just emphasizes my total lack of a waist.) But anyway, I've found that if I size up on normal pants, the legs and rear are way too baggy once the waist fits comfortably. However, skinny jeans are tight enough that when they fit my waist, they still look good on my rear and legs.

The Gap currently has four options for skinny jeans: The Real Straight, The Always Skinny, The Forever Skinny, and The Leggings Jean. (They also offer the leggings jean with stirrups, but jeans with stirrups are an abomination and must be shunned.)

First I tried on the Forever Skinny and really liked it. It's comfortable, very skinny through the legs, but looked good and wasn't too tight through the stomach area. The rise is described as midrise- they were the highest rise of any of the jeans I tried on. (That being said- I'm happy to report that low rise does not mean what it meant a few years ago. None of the pants I tried on were as low as my hip bones, although this may be an artifact of my going up a size in all the jeans I tried.) I initially thought that these would be the jeans I ended up buying. The denim was nice and stretchy, kind of thin, but not so thin that I think they'll wear out too fast. They were very tight through the leg, which doesn't bother me, but my other skinny jeans (from Guess and Banana Republic, by way of Buffalo Exchange) have significantly more leg room than any of the skinny jeans in the 1969 line.

Next I tried on the real straight jeans. These were the most jeans like- they had the thickest denim and the widest leg (although it wasn't wide very wide). These didn't pinch my waist but seemed to have too much room in the front, if that makes sense. The pocket area was oddly bulky, which is something I've noticed about Gap Jeans in the past. These were the only ones I tried that had that problem though- but they were my least favorites of all the jeans I tried on.

Going from one extreme to the next, I tried the legging jeans (sans stirrup) next. The fit was fine but the legs were impossibly tight and I think I looked a little silly in them. Also, the fabric, while stretchy and very very comfortable, was really thin. I don't think that these would be durable, and ultimately, I already own black and grey leggings and don't see a need to own denim colored ones as well. I've seen these in a context that looks really great, but they just weren't for me.

Finally I tried on the always skinny jeans. These were very similar to the forever skinny jeans in terms of material and leg tightness but they had a lower rise. I was surprised to find that the lower rise actually looked a little better on me and I ended up getting these jeans. I kind of debated between getting them in regular or ankle length b/c the ankle length was really cute, whereas the regular was slightly long on me. However, if they shrink vertically at all, the ankle would look weird and the regular would fit, so I went with the regular. I'm planning to wear them shoved inside my awesome tall boots for the next few months anyway, and if I decide they are too long, I know a good place to get them hemmed.

The price of my jeans worked out really well too. They were 40% off and I had an additional take $10 off coupon, so all in all I got a pair of jeans for $34. Score!
This shopping trip really illustrated to me why it's a good idea to go to a store rather than just buy things online. I think I've blogged about this before but if I order something online and don't like it, I usually just keep it and try to make it work. However, in addition to the 1 pair of dress pants and 9 pairs of jeans I tried on, I also tried on 1 jacket and 5 shirts. I left with one pair of jeans that I really like, but had I been shopping online I wouldn't have bought pants (I know better) but I probably would have ended up with 3 or 4 mediocre shirts. I really hate going to malls and shopping in person, but I think that in a lot of cases, it's worth it.

Do you like to shop online or in person? Would you rather buy tops or pants? (I love tops but buying pants is like pulling teeth for me.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun with the rice cooker

Last night when I was about to toss my standard brown rice into the pot for my near weekly batch of rice and beans (to be consumed over the course of several lunches) I decided to get creative.
I used 1/3 cup of Black Japonica Rice, and about 1/4 cup or so of quinoa and amaranth. (I just scooped in a little of each.) I used about a cup of water, but next time I'll use a little more (I think my rice cooker tends to leave things a little underdone), but all in all it turned out really well- I just mixed the resulting grain mixture with a can of white beans, chopped tomato, some lemon juice, basil, and a tiny drizzle of almond oil. (Sitting overnight in the fridge with the liquid from the beans and lemon juice pretty much took care of the undercooked issue.)
It tastes really great, has a texture that's more interesting than my standard beans and rice, and looks pretty- the black rice and white beans are a neat combination. Best of all, it's packed with healthy protein, fiber, and vitamins!
Has anyone else cooked anything interesting lately?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jello Cake

Last night I went to a "bring your favorite childhood food" dinner party (aka Ketchup and Carbfest 2010) and I brought the cake that my grandmommy (mom's mom) always made when I was growing up (frankly, it was either that or spaghetti with ketchup and cheese). It's simple and delicious and much more than the sum of its parts- so I thought I'd share the recipe here. It sounds weird, but I promise, it's pretty much the best thing ever.

Jello Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 box lemon jell0 gelatin (not pudding)- oddly enough, the cake doesn't taste lemony
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs

Combine ingredients and bake in a bundt pan for 40 minutes. Be sure to both oil (or PAM) and flour the pan before you put in the dough b/c I've learned the hard way that this cake loves to stick. Enjoy with fruit or ice cream.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anniversary Weekend

This past weekend, my darling fiance and I celebrated our anniversary. It's a little early b/c our first day was actually right before Halloween, and we got engaged on Oct. 16, but this weekend worked out to be the best time for us to get away together. This is also technically our last anniversary in October, and we won't have another anniversary until April 9, 2012! (I did promise that I would make a cake next October anyway.)
On Saturday, we drove up River Road to Napoleonville, La and stayed at the Madewood Plantation. It was gorgeous! Having been a tour guide in an Antebellum home in Natchez (Rosalie), I've always wondered what it would be like to actually live in one and this was a little taste of that.
Our stay included a candlelight dinner with the other guests (as well as breakfast in the morning) so we knew that we would have to dress up for that. My darling fiance decided that he wanted to dress up all weekend, and so I followed suit. I must say, it made for some really fun pictures.
On the way home we drove down River Road on the other side of the river, so we saw lots of refineries, small towns, old cemetaries, and historic plantation houses (a strange combination, I know) on both legs of the trip.
After we got home on Sunday we decided to grill out. I bought Buffalo steaks out of curiosity and they were really tasty. We ended the night drinking Sazeracs because I bought my darling fiance the ingredients as part of his anniversary present (we celebrated our engagement last year in the Sazerac Bar, after all). The other part was the orange tie he's sporting in some of the pictures below- it's from Southern Proper and has shotguns on it. So of course he wanted to wear it immediately (hence our dressing up all weekend.)

Our Room- The Master Bedroom

Relaxing after our Car Ride

Prior to Dinner we had wine and cheese and chance to explore the house- this was the ballroomAfter dinner there was coffee, brandy, and a slightly creepy portrait in the parlor

Exploring the grounds on Sunday
There were lots of other buildings on the property. Some were rather grand (like a riverboat captain's house that is being restored) and some were modest creole cottages like this one.
The separate kitchen was open for us to explore- I thought that this old stove was very picturesque.
Replicating Senior Pictures on the porch- haha!This is supposed to be my Southern Bell look- I think I just look skeptical. But you can see the pretty sapphire necklace my darling fiance gave me for our anniversary in this shot! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lady Mags

It seems like right after I posted a list of my favorite healthy living blogs, Marie Claire wrote a pretty scandalous "take down" that targeted several of the blogs I listed (among others). Basically, Marie Claire accused these bloggers of eating and exercising in a disordered way and being a bad influence on their readers.
As a long time reader of several of the blogs in the article, I was struck by many distortions and inaccuracies that were obvious to me. However, someone who doesn't read those blogs regularly probably would miss a lot of that because the article referenced posts that were written in December and January. Ultimately, my impression of the article is that it was written to be deliberately misleading.
I'm writing this post because I don't want anyone who reads me regularly to think that I would willfully suggest blogs that I believe promote a disordered lifestyle. Here are rebuttals from some of the bloggers who were profiled.
I hope I'm not the only person who immediately sees the irony of a magazine so enmeshed in the beauty industry accusing anyone else of promoting an unhealthy beauty ideal. The link between fashion magazines and poor body image in it's readers isn't exactly a secret. One of the first things I learned years ago in therapy that really changed my life for the better was that reading fashion and beauty magazines was incredibly bad for my self esteem. Now, when I read something I think about how it makes me feel. Reading those magazines does make me feel temporarily entertained but it also makes me feel like I'm not good enough. It makes me want to buy things I don't have and don't need. It makes me feel like I don't make enough money when I can't afford the things they're showcasing. It makes me hate my skin and my hair and my features because I know from experience that I will never look like the women I see in those pages (and neither can they!). But most of all, reading fashion magazines makes me feel fat. That's why I don't read them anymore.
I apply this litmus test to other forms of media I consume. I encourage everyone out there to do the same. I wouldn't read healthy living blogs if they made me feel bad about myself or made me feel like I should eat less. On the contrary, they make me feel like I should eat more- more healthy fats, more vegetables, more whole grains, more great foods that make me feel good and give me energy. Healthy living blogs have inspired me to revamp the way I eat and to become more athletic. This has improved my health and my self esteem.
However, I believe that every person has a responsibility to determine for themselves whether something is good for them.
There was definitely a time in my life when I was eating in a disordered fashion. At that time, I wasn't reading healthy living blogs. I was reading Marie Claire.