Monthly Archives: May 2013

High Five for Friday

bridge

(1) I love early morning runs, and scenery like this makes it easy for me to roll out of bed and lace up my shoes. I was the only person on the trail Thursday morning aside from a whole bunch of deer, who seem to have arranged a game where the objective is to jump out from the trees right in front of me. Whoever gives me a heart attack first wins.

cheese

(2) My work hosts occasional wine and cheese parties, and I’m always in charge of the cheese board. I take my taste testing duties VERY seriously.

arm candy

(3) New arm candy.

Smoothie

(4) I’m not often hungry after my long runs, so I’ve started drinking protein smoothies to refuel. I’m kind of obsessed at this point – they are so delicious and refreshing. My basic recipe is one frozen banana, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, and a big handful of spinach. Sometimes I’ll mix it up and throw in a tablespoon of PB2, cocoa powder, or a small drop of mint extract.

(5) I’m on Instagram now, so if you want to see more pictures of my day-to-day life, you can follow me here!

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Review: My First Stitch Fix

Have you heard of Stitch Fix?

It’s an online styling service that sends clothes hand-picked by a stylist right to your door. Which is great news for me, since I live in a small town where the local shopping options are questionable at best. Also because I’m so lazy that even ONLINE shopping tires me out sometimes.

Here’s how it works:

First, you sign up on their website (it’s free to create an account). Then you answer a bunch of questions to complete your style profile. At that point, you can start scheduling fixes.

Each “fix” costs $20 (you can schedule them as often as you’d like), and includes five pieces – you can choose whether you want just clothing, or if you would like them to include accessories as well. If you choose to keep anything from your fix, the $20 styling fee goes toward your purchase. If you choose to keep everything in your fix, you receive 25% off your entire order. You have three days to try stuff on, and anything you decide not to keep you just drop in the mail inside the pre-paid shipping bag included in your order. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

I received my first fix on Tuesday. I was warned by friends who have joined that the first fix is usually somewhat disappointing because your stylist hasn’t gotten to know your preferences yet, aside from the initial questionnaire. I’m glad I was warned, because there’s not much I’m going to keep from this fix, which included three dresses, a top, and a necklace.

Let’s start with the good. Namely, this necklace:

Necklace

I love the color, and I think this is something that will go well with many of the tops and dresses I currently own. I kind of loved it just with the plain white T-shirt I was wearing when I tried it on! I’ll definitely keep this.

The next piece looked really cute in the box, but not so cute on me:

Blue Dress

It was a little big, and I wasn’t really digging the undefined waist. I tried belting it, and it looked awful (I have a super short waist, so things tend to get weird when I bust out a belt as you will find out below). I love the color and pattern, though.

I also feel like I should note that I was heading out for a run after taking these, so please don’t judge my gym hair.

Carrying on.

tunic

There’s some of that belt weirdness I mentioned. I like the Peter Pan collar on this tunic/dress, but that’s about it. It was really tight through the hips/thighs. Not a good style for me.

Geo Print Dress

First of all, I don’t know why I am making that “Oh Stitch Fix, You Saucy Minx” face up there. It was late, I was tired, my belt wouldn’t stay put, I was over taking pictures, etc. Anyway. This dress was HUGE, and the big poofy skirt did nothing for my lower half. Not to mention, the pattern looks like it belongs one of those hidden 3-D image books that everyone loved in the 90s. Maybe if you stare at it long enough, you’ll see the Statue of Liberty.

Orange Shirt

I blame myself for this top – there is a portion of the style questionnaire that asks what colors to avoid. I thought I had clicked orange, but I hadn’t. I’m also not a huge fan of super loud prints, which I’ll be noting in my follow-up feedback.

So there you have it – even though I’m not keeping any of the clothes this time around, I scored a great necklace without having to get off my couch.

Necklace

(See, sometimes I do my hair.)

The great thing about this service is that, once you try everything on, you go back to the website and give your stylist feedback on each piece – how it fit, what you liked, what you hated, etc.  I plan to be much more detailed about what I’m looking for when scheduling my fixes from now on, and I feel pretty confident that I’ll be keeping more items from my future fixes.

If you’re interested in trying this out for yourself (and want to get me a small credit as well!) I’d love it if you used this link to sign up. This isn’t a paid review or anything; I just think this is such a fun idea and a great way to try new styles for people who are either too busy to shop or, like me, don’t live near any great stores.

Healthy Alfredo Sauce Made From Cauliflower. I KNOW.

No offense to Dave, but cheese is the love of my life.

It is the answer to all the important questions I ask myself every day: Why get out of bed every morning? So I can eat cheese on toast for breakfast. Is it really necessary to spend so much time running every week? Yes, because brie.

It is even the answer to important questions other people ask me. On Saturday, Dave and I met with a home loan officer, who looked over my finances and asked where all my discretionary income goes. He was clearly thrilled with my answer:

“Uh … cheese? I mean, SAVINGS. IT GOES RIGHT INTO MY SAVINGS.”

So when I was browsing Pinterest last week and saw this picture of Veggie Alfredo Lasagna from Pinch of Yum, I made a mental note to make it over the weekend because look! At all of the gooey cheese!

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Photo: Pinch of Yum

And then I found out that it’s actually fairly healthy. The sauce on this bad boy is made from pureed cauliflower, milk, vegetable broth, garlic, and just a small pinch of parmesan. And yet it tastes like full-fat, cheese-heavy alfredo sauce. WHAT IS THIS CULINARY MAGIC?

I will admit I was skeptical at first, so I dipped a pinkie into the sauce for a small taste when I had finished blending it. I seriously could not believe how delicious it was, and decided I  needed to taste a bigger sample in order to properly “check my seasonings.” Because that sounded better in my head than, “I want to drink this alfredo sauce like a damn milkshake.”

Instead of dirtying a spoon, I decided to just take a small sip from the edge of the blender. (Important Note to All My Friends: I swear I do not do things like this when we have guests.) This of course happened to be the exact moment Dave walked into the kitchen to grab a beer. I totally tried to play it off like I was just smelling the sauce and not DRINKING IT like a total creeper, but I think my alfredo mustache gave me away.

I can’t believe I write these things on the Internet.

Also, somebody please start a band called Alfredo Mustache before Gwyneth Paltrow uses it for her next kid’s name.

Anyway. In addition to the healthy cauliflowery sauce, this lasagna has a ton of other fresh veggies mixed in the filling. Lindsay at Pinch of Yum used carrots, tomatoes, and greens. We used eggplant, yellow squash, tomatoes, and spinach. I had planned to use mushrooms as well, but forgot to buy them because I’m an idiot (like you didn’t figure that out from the sauce chugging story). My point is: Don’t be like me. Use mushrooms if you make this recipe.

Veggies

Photo: Heather Homefaker

I’d post a picture of how mine turned out, but right now I’m struggling to take close-ups of my food without it looking like a pile of inedible slop. It’s stressing me out. I need some cheese.

A New Look + Weekend Photos

It was so hard to get out of bed this morning after enjoying a relaxing long weekend. Aside from a 12-mile training run on Sunday (my last super long one before the half marathon!), I spent most of the weekend at home watching movies, cooking, and working on this new blog design you’re seeing today. I’ll probably be tinkering with it for a few more days, so don’t be alarmed if you stop by and see something weird!

Avocado Eggs Benedict

I’ve been focusing on healthy eating lately, but of course I made an exception when Dave whipped up my favorite breakfast ever on Monday morning: Avocado Eggs Benedict.

To make: Mash some avocado and sprinkle with sea salt. Spread on an English muffin and top with meat (we used maple sausage), poached egg, and hollandaise.

Hair

Since I had nowhere to be all weekend, I figured it would be a good time to finally attempt this beach waves tutorial I found on Pinterest a while ago. It did not end well, but walking around like this was fun. (In fairness, I don’t think the method is bad; the girl who cut my hair last didn’t do the layers like I asked and they don’t lay right when I wear my hair wavy.)

05.28.13 Leg

I also spent quite a bit of time icing my knee, which has been giving me trouble on my long runs recently. I tried using a knee strap for my run on Sunday, and unfortunately it didn’t make much of a difference. I’ve resigned myself to making a doctor’s appointment this week to make sure I’m not doing permanent damage by running through the pain. I’m just crossing my fingers that I get the OK to go ahead with the race.

05.28.13 Cookie

I rounded out the weekend by eating a chocolate chip cookie roughly the size of my head. I regret nothing.

Guest Post: How to bounce back from a major kitchen fail

A couple nights ago, Dave saw me looking at a recipe for peach crisp with maple cream sauce that I had pinned and decided he wanted to make it. SPOILER ALERT: It did not go well. Below is Dave’s account of the Peach Crisp Incident of 2013, and his subsequent redemption in the form of a truly delicious recipe he made up for Turkey Sloppy Joes with a rosemary cream reduction. I know, right? A school cafeteria classic made fancy? I think we’ve been watching too many Gordon Ramsey shows.

The other day I had the driven look of a long-time baker who grabs the spirit of inspiration from a new-found recipe that looks both delicious and fun.
What did I say after being gripped by this cooking passion, toiling away in the kitchen at the hot oven?

Ow, my spirit.

My inspiration came from the Pioneer Woman’s masterpiece seen here:

PW Peach Crisp

Mine came out looking something like hers, but generally tasteless, poorly textured and boring:

Crisp 2

It did not feel good to eat this thing.  So, on my path to healing, I have developed a multi-step program aimed at rebuilding my self-trust and bolstering my future cooking.

Step 1: Admission of past wrongs.
I once made a tiramisu cheesecake that called for coffee in the list of ingredients. In my early twenties, I had maybe had coffee twice, and thus I assumed that the grounds themselves would fulfill this requirement. Imagine cheesecake, but with dirt in it.

After dirt tiramisu, I had experimented to a great extent with fruit cheesecakes, to the point where I wanted to make banana cream cheesecake. After adding the mashed fruit to the batter, I cooked the pie for about two hours with it never solidifying. Banana cheesecake slurry just didn’t have a great ring to it.

Step 2: Define the problem.
Now Ree Drummond has given Heather and I a number of excellent recipes with great outcomes, so she obviously was not the problem. If you happen to try her Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce, I have some tips:

Use real maple syrup, as the light faux-maple syrup I used evaporated out of the mixture in no time flat.

Do not use baker’s sugar. The ultra-fine grains made my coarse crumb mixture turn into a dough. I know what you’re thinking – “Oh, I bet it got crispy while cooking.” Not quite. It got a little bit done on the top, but underneath it had the consistency of the Blob:

Crisp Blob

Use peaches that do not make you say, “These peaches taste gross.” Self-explanatory.

Step 3: Create your own recipe that tastes, well, awesome.

Turkey Sloppy Joe With Rosemary Cream Reduction

Turkey Sloppy Joes with fresh parsley, basil and rosemary cream reduction

You’ll need:
1/2 to 3/4 lb. of ground turkey
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1 cup of chopped onions (I actually used leftover onion rings. I recommend this)
Approximately 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, four leaves of fresh basil and four leaves of fresh rosemary
Salt, pepper and garlic salt
Buns
Cheese

Pour the whipping cream into a small pot.

Chop the fresh herbs and place in the cream.

Turn the pot on low heat and leave for approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the cream is nearly done, place the turkey, bread crumbs and onions in a bowl. Season with the salt, pepper and garlic salt.

Pour the cream mixture into the bowl and let it cool for a moment before mixing the meat with your hands. If you think it feels gross with your hands, remember that we all do.

Place the meat mixture into a pan pre-heated on medium heat and cook until there is no pink left (unless you are feeling adventurous), caramelizing if you wish. When the meat is almost done, I recommend broiling the buns with the cheese.

This recipe is for two people, but if you have more, just multiply the ingredients by the appropriate factor and…

Step 4: Tell Heather that math is awesome, preferably in the comments section.

swimsuit search

Dave and I decided to make a mini-vacation out of my half marathon next month, which will be taking place in Southern California. In addition to hitting up the San Diego Zoo, we also plan to spend a fair amount of time on the beach. Which means I’m now on the hunt for a swimsuit. And not just any swimsuit. No, if I’m going to wear a swimsuit in public, it has to a) cover my love handles without being frumpy, b) have adequate coverage on the bottom half without involving a skirt, and c) make me look like I have boobs without being too padded. Searching for the perfect swimsuit feels akin to hunting for Bigfoot, only I suspect Sasquatch stopping by my tent for a cuppa next time I’m camping is more likely than finding a suit that meets all of my expectations.

I was delighted to find that ModCloth has some great options:

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Snack Bar Beauty Two-Piece in Red

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Bathing Beauty One-Piece

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Bathing Beauty Two-Piece in Black

I’ve never tried a retro-style suit before, but I have a feeling the higher-waisted bottoms would be more flattering on a curvier girl like myself than the tiny little crotch triangles I find in most stores. I love the striped option, and even though I normally don’t wear red because it clashes with my hair, I might make an exception for something fun like a swimsuit.

HOWEVER.

Scattered among their generally awesome selection are some suits that make me wonder if one of their buyers is playing a joke on the world to see if people will actually buy this stuff. And if that’s the case I want to buy them a beer. If not, I want to pay for them to have their retinas checked.

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Because who DOESN’T want a stampede of unicorns to draw attention to their lady parts? (This one is out of stock, which simultaneously blows my mind and makes me hopeful that I’ll get to see somebody wearing it IRL.)

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Long sleeves and a collar for all of those life events that call for business casual beach attire.

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Ah yes, the chemical formula for “Do These Bottoms Give Me Pancake Ass?”

Do you have a favorite place to buy swimwear? Help a girl out or I might wind up wearing unicorns on my boobs.

house hunters

I mentioned recently that I found a great house for sale up the street. Even though it started out as just daydreaming, Dave and I decided to go ahead and see if it makes sense to try and buy it.

Here are some things I’ve learned since we started the process:

1) My bank hates me. I know this because they insist that I CALL them to speak to a loan officer. ON THE PHONE. Which, whatever, maybe they want to make sure I don’t use the phrase “I seen” or sound like I’m missing my front teeth before they throw hundreds of thousands of dollars at me. But I assume if they are giving me large amounts of money they would expect me to, I don’t know, HAVE A JOB. And while it would take me five minutes to send them an email from my desk, it’s kind of impossible for me to convince my boss that I deserve a paycheck when I’m outside the building on my cellphone listening to Olivia Newton John’s entire catalog played whimsically on the oboe while I wait for a representative to tell me I’m probably too poor to buy a house.

2) I’m probably too poor to buy a house. Even though I have excellent credit. Even though I’ve been pre-approved. Even though I have  a great job where I make enough to easily pay a mortgage each month. Even though I promised the loan officer that I’d name my next dog after him (his name was Dick, so he probably sensed that was a lie). Turns out, I should have started saving for a down payment like 20 years ago. If I could, I’d go back in time and smack all those Wilson Phillips tapes right out of 12-year-old Heather’s grubby little paws and tell her to put that babysitting money in the bank. I think Dick could tell I was freaking out a little because he assured me that there are a few programs that help first time home buyers afford a down payment. This brings me to:

3) The acronyms. Sweet Lord, the acronyms. All I know is that I’m supposed to look into an FHA loan, which is part of HUD, but to use an FHA loan you have to pay MIP, which is different than PMI only I’m not sure how. WTF, Dick.

4) I don’t care where I live anymore, as long as there is a liquor cabinet with plenty of rum.

We haven’t given up yet, but I’m definitely regretting all those years in my early 20s where I didn’t think I’d ever care about ever owning a home. Have you been through the home buying process? I’d love any advice you might have to offer. Unless your advice is “drink more rum” because I’m already on top of that one.