Monthly Archives: January 2014

Gym Shenanigans

I totally felt like a badass last night when I finished off my treadmill run by sprinting for the last quarter mile, until a girl got on the machine next to me and her warmup pace was the same speed as my sprint. Also, her hair was down, she was wearing a sweatshirt, and she WASN’T EVEN SWEATING.

Source

Source
Also not fair: The fact that I will never get the two hours of my life back that I wasted on this movie.

About 10 minutes before the sweatless gym fairy showed up and crushed my confidence, some overzealous dad decided it would be a good idea to stand on the rails of a treadmill and let his toddler son try and run between his legs while he held his hands. At first I was like, “what an idiot” but then I realized that the hilarity potential was pretty high and I got kind of excited.

Sure enough, about half a second later, the kid tripped but didn’t let go of his dad’s hands, forcing the guy to hit himself pretty hard in the crotch. I love seeing stupid people out in the wild.

I’ll end this with an update on my Jillian in January Challenge progress.

Via Instagram

Via Instagram
Whiskers here has been joining me lately. Maybe he finally realized he’s three times the size of a normal cat.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve only been doing Jillian videos two times a week to supplement my running. Even though that doesn’t seem like much, I’ve noticed some pretty big changes. Like the fact that I can once again do regular-style pushups, and can complete all the mountain climbers without fighting the urge to pop out the DVD, break it into pieces, and use the shards to slit my wrists. The side lunges still kill me, and my rock star jumps are more Keith Richards than Adam Levine, but still: I’m making progress, and that feels really good after effectively taking a 2-month break over the holidays. I can’t wait to see everybody’s results!

Violence of the Lambs (AKA, Guinness Lamb Stew Recipe)

The following is a guest post from Dave, who really did give himself a blister cutting the lamb for this recipe. Apparently we need to invest in some better knives.

***

“Guinness lamb stew, you say? Well I’ll make that for you, Heather.” – me

I was excited to make lamb stew Sunday, mostly because I love the taste of lamb and the taste of Guinness, and it was my first foray into turnip-cooking. When we went to buy the ingredients, there was really only one snag: we needed boneless leg of lamb, and all we could find was bone-in. No big deal, I thought. I’ll just cut that tender baby sheep meat off the bone and cook it up.

This stew recipe estimated a three-hour cook time, give or take, so I yanked the shanks out of the fridge after cooking up the onions, thyme and rosemary (which smelled phenomenal) and got to cutting around 4:30.

Wait, did I say cutting? No, that’s what knives normally do. What I did was ineffectually glance knife blows off a lamb’s leg like it was Robocop’s titanium farm friend. What I failed to realize going into this recipe was that lambs, the curious little scamps who flit about our sleeping exercises, are actually indestructible creatures who laugh in the face of chefs who use knives purchased at a Big Lots! about seven years ago. Part of the problem was the fat on the shank, which had the tensile strength of carbon filament and the piercing resistance of Kevlar.

You won't be laughing when my impenetrable lamb-armor stops your bullets. Well, you'll still be laughing, but I won't be hurt.

You won’t be laughing when my impenetrable lamb-armor stops your bullets. Well, you’ll still be laughing, but I won’t be hurt.

I hacked, poked and prodded the meat on those little lamb legs in what assuredly looked like one of Babe’s nightmares. I’m sure if it had been filmed, vegetarians would use the horrifying footage to scare kids into meat-free diets. I finally ended up with a decent pile of mangled pieces of lamb for the stew about an hour later.

Luckily, the stew tasted really good, and the actual blister I got from using the knife was definitely worth it.

Guinness Lamb Stew

Not baaaa-d

The recipe, which came from … some calendar of recipes Heather owns, is here:

Guinness Lamb Stew
8 tsp olive oil, divided (or just pour it as you need it, like a normal person)
2 cups chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1.5 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2.5 pounds BONELESS leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into one-inch cubes
salt
pepper
2 cups Guinness Stout
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups of beef broth
2 cups cubed, peeled Yukon gold potato (we used honey gold, which are probably the better choice)
2 cups of 1-inch diagonally-cut carrots
8 oz turnips
1 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
parsley

Heat a large Dutch oven or a regular pot over medium-high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pot. Add onion, thyme and rosemary; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. By “occasionally” the recipe meant continuously, unless you want burnt ingredients. After five or so minutes, dump that stuff out into a nearby bowl.

Salt and pepper the wonderfully cut and not-at-all mangled lamb chunks and coat in flour. Bring the pot to medium-high heat again and pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add half the lamb to the pot, and brown on all sides. The recipe says this will only take six minutes, but it also says that unicorns exist.

Once browned, pour into the bowl with the onion mixture and repeat with the second half of the lamb chunks.

Add beer to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and reducing to about half the initial amount. Pour in the onion-lamb mixture and tomato paste, stirring while cooking for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring as often as you like, depending on how awesome the Law and Order: SVU episode you’re watching is.

Uncover the pot and put in the carrots, potatoes and turnip. Simmer uncovered for about one-and-a-half hours. Stir in some more salt and pepper to taste and the mustard. Throw on some parsley when serving.

Next time I will try it using a pale ale instead. Oh, and I’ll bring a chainsaw for the damn lamb.

[Heather’s note: It is in your best interest to mop up the leftover broth in your bowl with a heavily-buttered piece of bread. Or three.]

I’m In a Fight With TurboTax

Dave was planning to write his recipe post for me last night, but instead I wound up hogging the computer all evening trying to do my taxes.

It did not go well.

I’ve used TurboTax online for the last three years, and it’s never taken more than 20 minutes to file my taxes. Last night it was going smoothly, like usual, until I got to the homeowner deduction section, and my mortgage interest and property taxes did not make my refund shoot up. That seemed weird, so I clicked on the chat help button to see if someone could help me. An hour later, somebody finally popped up and spent an hour after that wasting my time by typing things like “cool beans” when I told her my problems. After several failed attempts at screen sharing, I closed the chat window and waited 15 minutes to talk to someone on the phone, who basically told me she had no idea what was happening, but because I was being so nice she wanted to give me a free download of the desktop premier version. You know, just in case I feel like not being able to do my taxes on my desktop instead of the Internet.

Anyway, the best solution is probably for me to do them by hand, but thanks to TurboTax and the fact that I spent high school economics daydreaming about meeting Joshua Jackson (oh, Dawson’s Creek), my tax knowledge consists of “click in boxes, WHEE! MAGIC MONEY!”

Source

Source
Me, basically.

I finally gave up and decided to quickly make my mortgage payment online before going to bed, and proceeded to enter the wrong password enough times that my account locked me out. I think the computers are conspiring against me.

Weekend in Photos

Photo BoothCake and ChampagneOn Saturday night my friends Joanna and Nick got married, and their wedding was amazing. Mostly because they’re both pretty much the best people ever, but also because it was 50’s themed and was complete with candy cigarettes, a photo booth, and casino games. Also, that cake up there was the tastiest wedding cake I’ve ever had. I spent about 10 minutes scheming a way to sneak some out with me in my purse, but then I saw an unattended piece on a table near me, so I snagged it and then pretended to be all appalled with its rightful owner when he returned from the dance floor to find his delicious cake missing. SORRY, NOT SORRY.

RunIn other news, I’ve decided to try and get back into half marathon shape. Partly to offset that CAKE ALL THE TIME diet you just read about, and partly because I miss actually training instead of just running a few miles randomly when I feel like it.  I have my eye on a few races in April (a 10-miler and half marathon), so that gives me plenty of time to prepare while also being close enough that I can’t keep skipping workouts to watch Netflix in my pajamas.

StewFinally, Dave made Guinness lamb stew last night, and it was SO GOOD. It’s the perfect winter evening meal, if you happen to be in one of the regions of the U.S. actually getting a winter this year. Anyway, he promised he’d guest blog with the recipe, so look for that later this week. In the meantime, I’ll be at work, dreaming about cake.

High Five for Friday

1. After months of whining, SOMEBODY finally got his damn hot dog cooker. So now this wtfery is happening on our kitchen counter:

Hot Dog Cooker

Direct quote from Dave: “I like how the rotisserie creates a layer of sweat on the outside.”

I hate to admit it, but we cooked angus dogs on this thing last night and they were kind of excellent.

2. I’ve re-discovered my love of Cream of Wheat.

Cream of Wheat

Dave’s mom brought by a bunch of grocery coupons last weekend, and when I saw one for Cream of Wheat I remembered how much I loved that stuff as a kid, and added it to our  shopping list. Turns out it’s as delicious as I remembered, even without the six tablespoons of butter and softball-sized ball of brown sugar I’d top it with when I was younger. (I carefully cut out the coupon and then forgot it on the kitchen table, standard.)

3. HALLELUJAH, HOLY SHIT, THE PIPE IS FIXED.

Pipe
Sure, there’s a big hole in our front yard and our entire driveway/sidewalk is caked in mud, but I can fall asleep without wondering if the crawl space under our house is slowly filling up with water.

4. One of my oldest friends, Joanna, is getting married tomorrow, and I’m so excited to celebrate with her. Fun fact: We met as kids at church, where we sat in the back row together and bonded over our mutual hatred of songs with dumb hand motions. Here we are with some friends on my 16th birthday:

Birthday Trip

She is the cute one on the bottom right. I am the one who looks like she cut her bangs with a Flowbee.

5. My sister is due to deliver her second son any day now! She has cute kids (evidence below), so we’re pretty excited.

Heather and Josh
Although I would like to note that I’m kind of pissed that they didn’t consider my name suggestion of “National,” since their last name is Parks. There’s still time to change your mind, guys.

Have a good weekend!

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Raaaaaaaaaaaage

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or what (the big 3-0 is looming this summer), but lately my mood has been transitioning from mostly calm to COLBERT RAGE FISTS way faster than ever before.

colbert

Me, all the time, every day.

Lady sweats all over gym equipment and doesn’t wipe it off? RAGE. Driver fails to stop for me at the crosswalk? RAGE. Person writes intentionally vague “woe-is-me” post on Facebook, prompting all their friends to leave fawning, “Don’t be sad/you’re the best/I love you long time” comments? DOUBLE RAGE. (Note: Whenever I come across vaguebooking it takes all my strength to not be like, “OMG ARE THE ANAL WARTS BACK AGAIN?”)

Anyway, I’ve been trying really hard to not be so annoyed by everything because in addition to everything else, I am also annoyed by people who are annoyed by everything and lo, I HAVE BECOME THE VERY THING THAT I HATE.

Limiting my time on social media has helped a little. I did log in to Facebook during my lunch break yesterday and saw that my friend Caitlin had posted this gem of an email exchange, which gives me hope that it’s possible to remain awesome while simultaneously wanting to punch somebody in the throat.

And because I feel like I should balance things out and end this post on a positive note, here are some pictures of rats cuddling with tiny teddy bears. And now I want a pet rat.

Make These Now: Lemon Bar Muddy Buddies

Between grocery shopping, Jillian in January-ing, and pipe drama last night, (OK, and a mini American Horror Story marathon), I kind of ran out of time to prepare a post for today. Instead you’re getting a link to a delicious recipe: Lemon Bar Muddy Buddies.

Lemon Bar Muddy Buddies
I made these Saturday night for Dave’s sister’s birthday, and I think I may like them better than the original flavor. The recipe yields eight cups of muddy buddies, and I figure I ate at least five myself. But they’re made from RICE chex, so they’re obviously health food, right? Right.

This Pipe is Going to Kill Me

Sometimes when I go about my day I start to write blog posts in my head. On Saturday morning, as I was standing on my front lawn in 18-degree weather watching a dude in a tractor tear apart our property in search of the leaky portion of our water main, I started to form a post about how it totally sucks having to spend unexpected money on house repairs, but the satisfaction of a job well done is totally worth it.

That draft is currently in the shitter, along with that uncharacteristic sliver of optimism.

Tractor

Screw those happy couples sipping coffee at their kitchen table, THIS is the photo that should be on the mortgage tab of your bank’s website.

I really did try and have a good attitude about fixing this damn pipe, even when the excavator accidentally cut through our sprinkler line (meriting nothing but a jaunty, “Whoops!”). I even held it together when we realized the leak was coming from under the planter, meaning we had to rip the whole thing apart. Finally, Dave’s dad (who helps us with home repairs all the time and is basically a saint except for his love of the Seahawks) found the cracked portion, fixed it, and we all stood around and marveled at his handiwork. He advised us to run down to the hardware store and pick up some insulation to wrap around the valve before covering it back up, so we skipped off to Ace and returned 15 minutes later to find a hole full of water.

Oh, I should also mention that I had contracted some sort of stomach bug or food poisoning the night before, which required me to sprint to the toilet every 10 minutes and re-create the Dumb and Dumber Turbo Lax scene. Somewhere around my hundredth trip I thought to myself, “It could be worse; at least our toilet is working,” and then I realized HOLY SHIT WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO TURN THE WATER OFF TO FIX THE PIPE. I have never panicked or wished for constipation so hard in my life.

ANYWAY, that hole full of water means that there is obviously another leak further up the line. From the way it’s draining into the hole it looks like it’s either coming from the shutoff valve or under the house. Under the house would be the worst case scenario, as it requires digging around in rock-hard clay by hand, hunched over, in the dark, surrounded by spiders. We’re going to try replacing the valve first, but based on my 29-year run of the worst case scenario prevailing, I’m less than optimistic that the valve is the problem. On a happy note, the Olympics are only 17 days away! Yay hot athletes in tight ski pants!

Updates

1. We have determined that our water main is, in fact, leaking. The good news is that it’s made of PVC and not copper, which apparently makes it much easier to fix. The bad news is that I am physically incapable of not imagining the worst case scenario in every situation, so when the people come over tomorrow morning to dig it out I’m fully expecting them to discover that the entire thing needs to be replaced, or, like, unearth a tunnel containing the underground nest of a mutant serial killer plotting to sneak in through our vents.

I may have stolen that one from The X-Files.

Source Obligatory hot Mulder gif

Source
Obligatory hot Mulder gif

2. I’ve been much better about keeping up with the Jillian in January Challenge this week. The last two nights I’ve done the 30 Day Shred, and I forgot how annoying it is when Jillian says, “give me two more” and then waits five more reps to start counting to two. Also, squat thrusts are the worst, not only because they hurt but because it sounds like something that should be happening on a toilet after eating a Nacho Cheese Chalupa.

Via Instagram

Via Instagram
Check out my bulging bicep! (Note: This requires closing your eyes and imagining that there is a bulging bicep in this picture.)

3. Dave brought home a 12-pack from Kona Brewing Company last night and I DID NOT EVEN DRINK ONE, on account of I’m still trying to cut out weeknight drinking.

Source My brain, Monday-Thursday. (Yes, I count Friday as the weekend.)

Source
My brain, Monday-Thursday. (Yes, I count Friday as the weekend.)

Have a good weekend!

Things Stressing Me Out Today

1. There is a growing puddle of water on our front lawn. We got some rain last week so at first I figured it was from that, but it’s been getting bigger every day and it’s not raining anymore. Dave thinks there may be a crack in our water main. I do not even want to know how much this will cost to fix, so I’ve been dealing with it the same way I deal with everything house-related:  burying it deep down inside. It’ll probably take 10 years off my life, but at least I don’t cry at work.

Source Me, for the last four days.

Source
Me, every day since we signed the closing papers.

2. My sister is having a baby any day now, and I can’t afford a plane ticket to go meet my new nephew because I’m spending all my money on plumbing. If anyone reading this is thinking about buying a house, take my advice and RENT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Or buy a house without running water, Ingalls family-style.

3. CHEESEPOCALYPSE

My favorite thing to do when I’m stressed is look at adoptable animals on Petfinder. Currently I’m trying to convince Dave that we need this little guy. But then I start to think about dog hair and dog poop and our presently un-chewed furniture and I think maybe we should stick to small animals. Like rabbits! Or a ferret! I have problems.