Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Eat: Jelly Donut Muffins

I dare you to argue that these aren't the cutest things that you ever did see.*

Recipe via a cup of sugar... a pinch of salt blog
And they better be because while adorable, they sure aren't healthy.

I spent a good chunk of the morning perusing Pinterest yesterday and caught a glimpse of these babies and knew they had to make it onto my Tuesday morning agenda. (What with Monday already booked with pretzel bread and enchiladas.)

Man, pin-spiration sure keeps me busy on these days off and rest assured I am not complaining.

*Please don't argue. It might break my heart.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Workout: Reach The Beach Relay

On Monday morning I was hanging out debating whether or not my chest cold was resolved enough to brave the bitter cold and go for a run. My legs were itching to go for 6 or 8 miles, but the wheezing in my chest and faint rattling in my lungs overruled and I stayed home.

I moped. I ate dessert for breakfast. I perused the web.

Then, I got a text from one of my very best runner friends asking me if I was up for joining her Reach The Beach team for the 200 mile, 24-hour relay this May. Mood revamped. YUP!

I am part of the second iteration of this relay team who took on the New England Relay last spring. I missed last year's relay while I was on the Cape cheering on my sister in her first triathlon and have been horribly jealous ever since.

12 teammates in 2 vans will each run 3 legs, averaging 15 or so miles each. My goal is to run sub-9 minute miles... though I'm really hoping to get to 8:30 or under, depending on the difficulty of the leg.

So, once I had gotten the text and gotten myself all worked up and excited I decided that running outside with a chest cold was still a bad idea (I'm terrified of bronchitis and pneumonia!) and popped in a workout DVD instead: Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred. Have you done it? I never do workout DVDs (with the exception of yoga with Rodney Yee... love me some Rodney) and wasn' t sure it would really be much WORK.

Jillian Michaels, I am sorry for doubting you. I spent two days feeling like my legs got gotten run over by a car. You are NO NONSENSE, lady!

Good news is that it's Thursday morning and I finally think I'm 'better' enough to hit the track tonight. Time to get back to training!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Will You Be Mine?

via 20x200
Today's an exciting day and not just because my husband will probably remember to buy me the Valentine's Day card I've been no-so-subtly reminding him about for a week (what can I say... I LOVE cards and he came through with two last year!)

Today marks my 100th blog post!

This is a big deal because, let's face it, it's really hard to stick with stuff. And time is always crunched and creativity is tough. Some days are annoying (like those when spammers totally throw off my page views) and some are bizarre and exciting (like when I get triple the views than a normal day and spend hours trying to figure out why).

So, thanks for reading and for telling your friends and for coming back. Your feedback is always welcome and hopefully across the next 100 posts my little site will continue to grow, creatively, in viewership, and in depth. I'll take 'em all.

And, because Nik is actually the sweetest guy ever and is wonderful about remembering my favorite things on all sorts of days and not just February 14th, check out these lovelies that he bought me this weekend. (Tulips are my favorite).

I mean, the guy humors me by celebrating like a gazillion anniversaries a year... (the day we met, our first date, our engagement, and then, of course, the actual wedding).

Happy Valentine's!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Eat: Quick & Easy Paella

What a crazy little weekend.

After some intense and scary events on Saturday morning I found myself cuddled on the couch with a cup of tea for the afternoon, wanting nothing more than to hang out and listen to the Ben Harper station on Pandora, thinking. When evening rolled around and it occurred to me that I hadn't eaten since before the sun came up, I suggested burgers and a beer, Nik agreed, and we packed up and headed to Hingham Shipyard. The line at Wahlburgers was reallllly long so we landed at Hingham Beer Works with a cranky bartender and just-okay burgers, but it still did the trick and I'm pretty sure I passed out before my head even hit the pillow, not even 10 PM.

Fresh start for Sunday, complete with a 180 in productivity. We cleaned, we did some meal planning, hit Lowes and managed to leave with only what we went in for, grocery shopped, and spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen. It was perfect.

Nik voted on the Barefoot Contessa's 'Easy Lobster Paella' for dinner last night and with some modifications we made it work and in a volume that is sure to last all week. Coupled with the margaritas we learned to make thanks to our new neighbor Michelle (secret ingredient and all!), we have big plans for summer 2012 on our new back deck.

Easy Lobster Paella from Barefoot Contessa at Home
serves 6

1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch strips
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups basmati rice
5 cups good chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Pernod
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 pound kielbasa, sliced in 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices 
1 10-ounce package frozen peas
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 lemons, cut into wedges

We decided to include shrimp instead of lobster, to save a few dollars since we were splurging on the saffron. And since a bottle of Pernod is $35 and our liquor store didn't have anything smaller, we stuck with Sambucca, which also has the flavor of anise. You could make this with chorizo, but kielbasa is pre-cooked so much quicker (and less mess). Next time we're going to add some little scallops, too. Oh, and I don't have a Dutch oven so I just used my largest frying pan.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell peppers and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Lower the heat, add garlic, and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the rice, chicken stock, saffron, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover pot and place it in the oven. After 15 minutes, stir the rice gently with a wooden spoon and return it to the oven. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes more, until the rice is fully cooked.

Transfer the paella back to the stove top and add the Pernod. Cook the paella over medium heat for 1 minute, until the Pernod is absorbed by the race. (Jillian's note: This is when I added the shrimp) Turn off the heat and add the lobster, kielbasa, and peas and stir gently. Cover the paella and allow it to steam for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve hot.

Oh, and I also whipped up a pear, apple & cranberry crisp from page 200 of the same cookbook because I had a handful of rapidly ripening pears that I couldn't bear to part with. And now I am eating it for breakfast.

That is all.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kindness and a tale of paying it forward.

I know it's only Thursday but this week has been a trip. I haven't been sick in ages and the bug that knocked me off my feet last weekend left me with a fever that lasted days and a raspy, heavy cough that's given me a raw throat and throbbing headache. Yuck. (Read on for a dose of perspective.)

Anyhow, a woman I know who works at a prestigious university posted a link on Facebook. One of her former students founded a company and she wanted to spread the word. I was early for work and not quite in gear yet so I clicked over and started reading... watched a video clip... make a donation... and kept reading. And now I can't stop thinking about it.

It's called "The World Needs More Love Letters"and it's an idea that's turned into a movement. Basically, the founder, Hannah Brencher, started by writing love letters to strangers and leaving them all over New York City in places she knew someone would find them. She left love letters in coat pockets, on trains and tucked into library books. She wrote and wrote and wrote and then brought on a team, started taking requests, and wrote some more.

Remember back in elementary school when you'd create red and pink doiley-clad mailboxes in class and then stick cards for each of your classmates in there on Valentine's day? Or when you played Secret Santa and got to leave secret gifts and notes for a friend leading up to Christmas? Did your parents ever write surprise notes and stick them in your lunch box and it just totally made. your. day?

It's like that... but even better.

Growing up, my very large family (cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all) would attend church together in the summer before returning to my grandparent's house for breakfast rolls, coffee, donuts and a day at the beach. What I remember almost as vividly, though, was that the priest would have all of the children come onto the altar during mass for a prayer and then he would pass out prayer cards with an encouraging quote on the front. Give these out, he told us, to someone you think might need it. I recall passing them mostly to my cousins or grandparents, but I also remember at least once finding someone sitting alone or an elderly man or woman with a serious look on their face. Inevitably, it made them smile.

Nik and I have a 18 gallon tub full of stationary and cards upstairs in the closet of the office. I'm not joking. But tonight I'm going to dig it out and start working my way through it. And if it seems too hard, or too lofty or too SOMETHING to you, maybe just write one. A Valentine. Because, really, wouldn't that just totally make your day?


Oh, and are you ready for this? They're also looking for a STATIONARY SCOUTER. 

Not even kidding, that has got to be my calling in life. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Eat: Blueberry Oat Scones

I finally rallied yesterday afternoon, rolling out of bed and into the shower at 2:36 PM and stepping foot into the kitchen for the first time at 3:01. My productivity was less than stellar, but I felt pretty crappy so I'm going to go ahead and okay the sick day.

I spent the better part of the morning dozing it and out of consciousness, popping Tylenol to kill my fever and Robitussin to suppress the cough, and catching up on my favorite food blogs. It all felt incredibly lazy but by the time I got cleaned up and downstairs I had inspiration for a few yummy meals to get us through the week.

To wrap up the afternoon, though, I swung over to the grocery store to load up on lots of fresh produce and some ingredients to throw together healthy scones for this week's breakfasts.

Partnered with hot tea and bursting with blueberries and just a hint of sweetness, it was probably the most content moment of the day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I really wanted to make it happen today, but I'm home sick... in bed with that horrible one-moment-I'm-sweating, the-next-I'm-shivering kind of fever. So, back to bed for me and more to come tomorrow.