Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Whole Lot of Grilling

Did you know that your left lung is divided into two parts while your right lung has three parts? Yea me either. Thank goodness for Bill Nye. We just realized that old episodes were on Netflix so we've been watching them. Bill Nye is just as awesome as I remember but a whole lot more cheesy too. 

Other than a whole lot of science, we've been doing a whole lot of grilling. I joked that I need another weekend to recover from my weekend. 

We kicked off Memorial Day weekend by grilling up some steaks my brother sent Nathanial for his birthday. We sent him reindeer meat and he sent Omaha steaks. It was easily one of the best steaks I've ever had. So delicious. It was one of those meals where I felt guilty not having people over because all the food was so incredible. 



Saturday I did a long run with my running group and then we got some things done around the house. Hotel Wells will be hosting our first set of five of guests in two weeks. Can't wait!

The weather has been so beautiful lately that I've been dying to have a picnic. I sold our pastor on the idea for Memorial Day weekend. Coordinating a meal with friends is a lot different than coordinating a whole church. It was both incredibly stressful and rewarding at the same time. Unfortunately it rained all day Saturday and was pretty chilly on Sunday so my outdoor picnic quickly became an indoor picnic. I set the tables up in long rows so it still had a picnic feel. 


I was pleased with how everything turned out. I received lots of compliments and thanks which in a church of older people is sometimes hard to come by. My favorite part was seeing different groups of people interact. 


I got so many crazy looks buying this many buns at Costco. 

We spent Memorial Day at our friends' house. They just moved about an hour out of the city. Their house had the perfect setup for the nearly 20 people that showed up. They had tons of room for all the kiddos to play outside and lots of space for the grown ups too. It was such a great day with great friends. We played lots of games and even did Minute it to Win It. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. 

Nathanial manned the grill again and we ate well. Shish kabobs, steaks and hot dogs for the kids. Couldn't have been better. 

Alaskans refer to grilling as barbecuing and it drives me crazy. It's only BBQ with the right sauce and brisket. We had a weekend of GRILLING and I loved it. 


Funny story - I bought cream cheese at Costco because I use it in a lot of recipes. What I didn't realize was that the kind I bought was a giant block and not individual packages. 


Needless to say, I've been thinking of ways to use it. Cheesecake seemed like the perfect dessert to take to our friends. 

I topped it with fresh strawberries before serving. 

And because I love a theme, I also made a blueberry pie. Love red, white and blue. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Night the Lights Went Out in Anchorage

I'm on my way to a rocking 6-pack and I didn't even have to do any crunches. Apparently three days of a bad cough really uses some ab muscles. I've also been doing that natural look thing because blowing your nose every two minutes doesn't leave much make up on your face. Prayers for me and my sweet husband that I start feeling better.

Aside from being sick, things are going well. Nathanial made it to the North Slope and back last week. The weather there was iffy and more than half of the flights both coming and going were cancelled. 

I kept pretty busy while he was gone with a hectic week at work and training for my half marathon. 

My legs have been painfully tight the last few weeks so my runs have been getting harder. I got some compression socks and a stick roller which seemed to help a little. My coaches said I just needed to work through it. It's frustrating because it feels like my training is taking a step backwards. My speed is improving when I'm able to run full out so I'm hopeful this phase will pass quickly. 

I continue to be amazed at how beautiful Alaska is. Even when my legs hurt - sights like this mean I'm still running happy. 



Nathanial got home on Friday. I picked him up from the airport and then we headed to see a performance of Sister Act. It was such a great show - until the lights went out after the first act and didn't come back on. It was almost perfect timing with the normal light diming. Eventually a crew member came out on stage with a flash light and said they were canceling the rest of the show due to a downtown power outage. It was fun to watch the surrounding buildings evacuate. There was both a Neil Young concert and the inaugural Cannabis Classic (lol Alaska) happening across the street. What a motley crew. 

The Performing Arts Center offered to reseat us in one of the remaining shows so we got to see the rest of the musical on Sunday. It was hysterical.

 

The volunteer usher in our section did not like me taking this picture. Talk about feisty older people! 


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How To Feel Like A Rockstar

Some things happened last week that made me feel pretty good about myself so I thought I would share.  Here are some instant ego boosters.

For our anniversary, I gave Nathanial some notecards I custom designed for him. He wrote a letter to one of his favorite podcasts on one of the cards (this podcast asks for viewer letters) and they spent several minutes at the end of the episode discussing how awesome the notecard was.

"It's got his initials on. It's really well designed."


#PodcastFamous

I've occasionally done graphic design at work, but never as frequently as I am in my current job. I usually outsourced work to an actual graphic designer in the past. It's pretty cool to walk around the university and see posters, web graphics, etc. that I've designed myself. 


#UniversityFamous


We've been studying missionaries in Mexico with our little friends at church. Last week was the last session on Mexico so I thought we'd celebrate with a pinata.  1 pinata + lots of candy = instant hero.

We share this room with another group.  None of the clutter in the background is ours. :)
#kidhero

We had a church potluck on Sunday and I made an Asian Crunchy Salad. I've made it a few times and it's always a hit.  I can't remember where I found the recipe, but I know it came from someone in the Duck Dynasty family.  



It's always my goal for the food I bring to events to be the first thing gone - and this recipe never fails.  You won't regret making it!  #PotluckQueen

You could also feel like a rockstar by actually being a rockstar and doing a surprise concert in a remote place.  This happened a few weeks ago when Jack White (of the White Stripes) announced on a Monday morning he would be doing an acoustic show that evening. Tickets were only $3, limit one per person.  The announcement went out at 8 a.m. and there was a line by 8:10. The tickets went on sale at noon and all (nearly 1000) were gone by 12:30.  Did I mention this actually happened? At the college where I work.  The concert was held in one of the buildings I'm in charge of marketing.  The website had more than 10,000 hits that morning.  It was my second week on the job. Two weeks in and I could already show a significant boost to website traffic. #MarketingRockstar ;)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Scenic Saturday and Training Program Week 1

My friend Kendra tagged me in this picture on Instagram. I cracked up at its accuracy. There are few things that have been more dangerous to our bank account than the resurgence of my running.  Even my time as a housewife wasn't so bad.  Ha!



Last week was the start of the training program I'm doing through the local running store. This will mark my third half marathon - but this is the first time I've done this type of program.  I wasn't sure what to expect but even after just the first week, I couldn't be more thrilled with my choice to join. 

The coaches sent out the training schedule for the week last Monday. There were two tracts - beginners and intermediate.  The beginner plan incorporated three days of running with the other plan calling for 5-6 days. I ended up getting in 5 runs last week. 

I knew I was back in love with running when I sacrificed an awesome hair day to get in a run between church services on Sunday. 

I ran on my own Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, and met up with the training group on Wednesday and Saturday. 

Wednesday's practice with the group was intense.  I went to the morning session which started at 6 a.m. (in the rain & cold.) We met up at a local school track to do different types of strides (cherry pickers, sideways running, backwards running, etc.) and then tempo work.  We ran three tempo sets, each 5 minutes, of running as fast, but as consistent with our speed, as possible.  The goal was to be running at 90 to 95% of our maximum with no ability to carry a conversation.  The first set went fine but on the next two sets I couldn't control my breathing. It was like I had never run before.  I left feeling really disappointed in my progress but excited about the program.

My running watch bit the dust last year and I've been eyeing a new one for a while.  Wednesday's practice (& Nathanial - best husband ever) encouraged me to go ahead and get one so I could be more consistent in my pacing.

Friday night, I rushed over to the running store to pick one up after work.  We attended a workshop at our church Friday night and I barely made it home before we needed to leave. I didn't get to play with my new watch until we got home but it was worth the wait. IT IS AWESOME. 


The training group met at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. I was really nervous about the run because of how Wednesday had gone. This training program utilizes time instead of distances which made me nervous too.  We were supposed to run for 75 minutes. Eek.  There are over 100 women in the group and I had only met a few so that part didn't help either.  Luckily my nerves were for nothing. It was the best experience. I was downright giddy and feeling awesome after we finished.

The coaches had some tables set up with shoes and water belts we could test on our run. Because of the previously mentioned nerves I opted not to add anything new to the mix, but I'll definitely be trying new products in the future. 

I stayed towards the middle of the pack during the run. I was able to find several ladies who were running similar paces which was great. Conversations made the time fly by.  One of the biggest differences I've noticed about running in Anchorage is the hills. They are everywhere.  The locals aren't phased and tend to call everything flat - but to this Texan, even the littlest hills are hard. During the last hill of the run, I started talking with Kristen. I found her blog a few weeks ago when I was doing research on the training program and was thrilled to meet her in real life.  My first blog friend!!

The trail we ran was great (minus the hills).  I couldn't get over the stunning views or the beautiful weather!!! 





This week's training schedule looks similar. I'm excited to see how it goes!

Post-run group picture!