Monday, December 29, 2014

New Goals

As the new year approaches again, I take time to pause and consider. A lot has happened this year. Good things, really terrible things that made me feel small, insignificant and sad, and middling things. From the outside I accomplished a lot: finishing my MBA, running three half marathons, surviving a summer with barely seeing my husband, making it through the first year of marriage, starting a small business, changing jobs...

Internally there's a lot of work that needs to be done.

But it's a new year, and my focus needs to be doing things that make me happy, that benefit myself and my family, and finding my center again. I've felt off-balance for quite a while, and with the New Year I intend to re-focus and re-discover what I need to be doing.

I already proved that "The Doctor Said I'm Never Running Again" wasn't true (and at the same time proved to myself that I'm not what I used to be in terms of not being able to do three half marathons without putting myself through unnecessary pain...), I've left the job that I never wanted in the first place, and left behind the job that I thought would be my saving grace from that other job, and now I'm in a place where I can do what I need to do to be happy.

I need to remind myself what that looks like.

So this year, that's what I'm doing.

Oh, and work on posting more often.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Time

There are always little points in your life that you can point to and be like "There! That was what I was supposed to do!" Staying with the man who eventually became my husband when our relationship was new, long-distance, and stressful was one of those moments for me. Every time I went to turn away something deep and instinctual went "Nope, sorry, honey. I know it's not the easier route, but this is what you're supposed to do."

Turns out that voice was right.

I expected to have that sort of "come to Jesus" moment when I quit Verizon or when I moved to Bend or really a variety of other things. Were they bad decisions? No, they just didn't have that primordial affirmation that yes, this is right. I believe in a higher power that rarely interferes but will intervene when the choice you are trying to make will affect something bigger and more important.

Maybe my marriage was that bigger thing, maybe not, but I love that I have such a wonderful, affirming man in my life who truly believes that I deserve the world -- even on days when I'm a whiny, bitchy, nagging pain in the ass. Damn it, now I'm welling up.

I had that moment recently, though. And the affirmations of it since then. So we will see where it leads us.

On a Thursday morning in August, I'd had it up to here with a job that I had grabbed like a lifeline to sanity seven months ago. It had brought me peace, better hours, and more time with those I love. It also brought me to a place where I understood that it's okay to want to be doing something you at least like most of the time, as freelance work took me more and more away from being mentally present at the job I was holding like a good little nine-to-fiver. A not-so-unusually-critical day prior, with minor meltdowns from people who should know better and the first respectful, adult conversation I'd had about the job since I started the job made me go, "Wait. Why am I here?"

That stupid voice on the inside nodded sagely.

I sent a text to my husband, asking how he would feel if I told them "So long and thanks for all the fish" and went to California for a long weekend.

"Do it, it doesn't affect me," he said.

"I don't think you read that message properly," I replied, after calming my pounding heart and trying to figure out if he was serious. "I'm asking if you would be okay if I quit my job."

The man replied with a quote from an email I sent him recently about feeling trapped in a box of what I was "supposed" to be doing with my life and that I wanted for once to be irresponsible, take the leap and quit my job and face the world on the strength of knowing I will survive.

His next question was "If not now, then when?"

It's really annoying/wonderful/frustrating/amazing when my inner voice and my husband agree on things that I can't make up my mind about. I put in my notice the next day and it felt right. Then, I got sent home immediately after giving my two weeks in a "that's nice, too bad" sort of gesture, which added a brick of guilt to my heart. Like I had maybe done something wrong, not tried hard enough, not been good enough.

I received a couple phone calls in the week following as I fled to San Luis Obispo for sun, relaxation, and visiting with friends I never get to see asking me to consider returning to the job. That added to the guilt and pressure and even though that deep, internal voice kept whispering, I became unsure.

And then like a gift from God, I received a phone call from a client I had given up on who wanted to send me a check for a deposit for a job.

I knew in that moment that I needed to follow what was in the process of hitting me over the head. Since then, I've found a job at a winery that lends me flexible hours, a sense of family, a calm for my panic-button-ohmygodI'mnotmakinganymoneywhatwillIdohowwillwesurvivewe'regonnabehomeless moments (because having a job that you can just go, okay, this week I'm gonna work a little extra and make a couple more bucks is really a nice feature, especially when you're finding out that entrepreneurial stuff is far from stable...which we knew...we just didn't...know), and I've found a little piece of happiness.

For the first time in my life I get excited to talk about what I do for a living.

For the first time in my life my only complaint about work is that while my boss is wonderful, understanding, sweet, respectful, and interested in what we have to say, her sense of organization is a tad different from mine and that overwhelms me some days.

No yelling, no throwing phones, no saying I'm wrong or don't know what I'm talking about, no one telling me I'm doing it wrong and then repeating back to me what I just said as the right way to do something, no long hours...

It's fantastic.

Besides:



And:


What's not to like?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Beer is Proof that God Loves Us

Many would postulate that "beer is proof that God loves us." Now I don't know if that's true, but having a husband who likes a good cold one and living in...well...Bend, one has to think that there is some validity to the whole thing. (Bend has more breweries per capita than anywhere else...)

So for Tyler's birthday, when he sweetly told me, "I want you to bake whatever cupcakes make you happy," I turned to good ol' Pinterest to find something manly and acceptable for summertime.

The original recipe used either Blue Moon or Corona (with the appropriate citrus additions for each), but being a true Bendite, I quickly realized that I had no business baking beer cupcakes if it didn't involve local brew. I love Deschutes Brewery's seasonal additions of Twilight Summer Ale and River Ale, but while my favorite, River Ale, doesn't lend itself (at least to my perspective) to a dash of orange or lime, I thought Twilight would be delicious with a little citrus.


They turned out spectacularly light and fluffy like a champagne cake, with a little caramelization (as said by one of Tyler's friends) on top from the brushed on-while-hot beer. The orange flavoring pretty much overwhelmed any beer taste for those who don't love beer, but for connoisseurs (not me) there were enough lingering hints to be decidedly thrilled.


Twilight Summer Ale Cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
3/4 c butter at room temp
1 3/4 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange zest (if you use Corona use lime zest)
1 c Twilight Summer Ale (or brew of choice that pairs well with orange or lime citrus)
1/4 c milk



Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.–In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.–In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.–Add eggs, beating after each addition then add the vanilla and zest.–Combine milk and beer and alternatively add this mixture and the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture with the mixer on low speed, starting and ending with the flour.–Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.–When cupcakes are done, poke holes in the tops of the cupcakes with toothpicks and brush some beer on each while still warm.  

Ingredients for the citrus cream cheese frosting:
12 oz cream cheese, cold
6 tbsp butter, room temp
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange or lime juice
1 tsp orange or lime zest
4 c powdered sugar

Directions:
Cream together the cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the citrus juice and zest and gradually add the powdered sugar until well-combined. Beat until smooth for about 2 minutes. Load frosting in a piping bag fit with a large star tip and pipe cupcake tops once cooled. 

I had a small runny-ness issue with the frosting, but my cream cheese was almost room temp. I just added more powdered sugar and a tad more butter and it resolved the issue nicely. You could also chill it slightly if it is too runny out of the gate.

Recipe yields 24 cupcakes. 



Do as us Bendites do and pair with a delicious local beer! Enjoy!

Ciao,
kc

Friday, June 27, 2014

TOMORROW

Tomorrow is my EIGHTH half marathon! After a tumultuous couple weeks I am so so so excited to put my head down and power through like I know I can.

I know we discussed my possible ninth and tenth a little while ago, but I'm officially signed up for them now (and they're different than what I had planned)! I'll be running number 9 at the end of August, again in Sunriver for the Sunriver Marathon. The Sunriver Marathon weekend is something to aspire to...it attracts a lot of ultramarathoners and hard core runners because (a) it supports a good cause in gorgeous Sunriver (the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and (b) it offers a challenge race that you can sign up for. The challenge is: do a half one day and a full the next or visa versa!

Maybe some day, but I'm not that crazy yet.

It sounds badass though, doesn't it?

In the middle of September one of my inspire-rs for running is coming to stay with us as she runs the Flagstaff 50k, which is one of the most brutal races in the Pacific Northwest. I was told last year that the Down and Dirty Half that I did was tied with its sister race the Dirty Half and second only to the Flagstaff 50k for brutal terrain. I could be wrong, but that was what I was told. I just know there's lots of up.

Bendite runners and race coordinators have an obsession with running up the stupid mountain.

So I'll be CREWing for her (or at least cheering her on), which should be fun. I wish my lovely friend was here to come play too!

My tenth half will be in celebration for my birthday at the beginning of November. Last year, my birthday was celebrated with too much hangover, and as I enjoy having a little fun, I'd rather have fun running than have fun drinking like I'm 21. So I took matters into my own hands, and a dear friend who was one of my bridesmaids is coming up to Bend to run with me, which will be so fun!

Next year I'd like to do a full, simply to do one, and cut back on the number of races because I'll be busy with my wonderful little sister's wedding at the beginning of the summer. I will probably pick up the Dirty Half next year or Haulin' Aspen though...I love me a little trail running...simply for the strength of will that is required by it!

Hope you all got your run on recently!

Oh, and sneak preview of my next post! You know you want some...



Ciao,
kc

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cooking in the Heat

I love my slow-cooker. I really, really do. I had some trials and a lot of error attempting some freezer meal crockpot recipes (they required a lot more babysitting than I expect out of a quick and dirty crockpot meal), and I've had some good luck with the easy stuff (shredded taco chicken anyone?).

But it's ideal for the high desert heat when turning on the oven makes you sweat just thinking about it. And our little house doesn't take much to heat up, and it retains heat like a champ. Which is excellent during the looooong cold winters here, but it's a bitch in the summer when there's no AC.

So I Googled "recipes for hot weather" and landed upon this nifty website that had lots of tasty recipes.

Two nights ago, I tried the Slow-Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken, with a little bit of trepidation because chicken can dry out so damn quick in the crockpot, and a whole chicken? Well...let's just say I've had my fair share of errors with cooking whole poultry.

OH MY GOD. IT WAS SO GOOD.

I didn't love the gravy, but Bethany liked it. It was a bit too sour-lemony for me — I like my gravy rich and salty.

But when I pulled the chicken out of the crockpot for it's resting period I kept nibbling little pieces of meat that literally slipped off the bone, and it was so tender and juicy...oh my goodness.

The only alterations I made to the recipe were that I used dried thyme because I didn't have fresh, and I was too lazy to run to the store for it. I also didn't add the rosemary because I didn't see that part until it was too late.  I also used a whole can of chicken broth (15 oz or whatever) because I didn't want to waste it. I don't have any idea how that would have affected the end result.


Slow-Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken

Serves 2 to 4 with leftovers
4 to 5 pound chicken

For the seasoning rub:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped and minced

For the cooking liquid:
2 lemons, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves separated, but left in their skins
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 1 teaspoon bouillon paste, divided (optional for richer flavor)
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 sprigs rosemary

For the gravy:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Remove the bag of gizzards and discard (or reserve for stock). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
Mix all the seasoning ingredients together in a bowl. Gently work your fingers under the skin covering the breast meat and slide them back and forth to separate the skin from the meat without tearing it. Scoop up a dollop of the seasoning and work it under the skin covering both breasts. Rub any remaining seasoning over the drumsticks and thighs. Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker, breast-side up.

Squeeze and reserve the juice from one of the lemons. Stuff the rinds into the cavity of the chicken along with one whole bouillon cube and a few garlic cloves. Crumble the other bouillon cube over the chicken and rub it into the skin. Arrange the remaining lemon quarters, the rest of garlic cloves, and the thyme around the chicken. Combine the reserved lemon juice, the soy sauce, and the broth, and pour it over the chicken.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high heat for 4 or for 6 hours (according to your slow-cooker's instructions and particular settings). Thirty minutes or so before the time is done, add the rosemary sprigs.

Remove chicken from the slow-cooker and allow it to rest on a baking sheet, tented with foil, for about 20 minutes. The wings and drumsticks may fall away as you lift the chicken; this is normal.
While the chicken is resting, strain the cooking liquid into a sauce pan and bring to a rapid simmer. Scoop out a half cup of the liquid and whisk it with the flour in a separate bowl. Slowly pour the flour slurry back into the cooking liquid while whisking. Continue simmering and whisking until the gravy thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

When ready to serve, remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Use your fingers to pull the meat away off the bones; it should come away easily with gentle pressure or use a knife as needed. Serve the breasts, thighs, and drumsticks right away and tear the remaining meat into shreds for using in leftovers. Serve with the gravy alongside.

So incredibly delicious. I highly recommend it. I'm going to try the Carnitas tonight, hopefully it will go as well as this! I'll let you know!

Ciao,
kc

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day

After being photobombed via text message this morning by the one, the only, the original lovely friend slash running buddy of images of the cardamom-laced cinnamon rolls she concocted, she proceeded to (unfairly) inform me that today was National Running Day.

So not only do I not get homemade-by-Heather tastiness, I get informed that the day I thought I ought to blow off my run I really should go running since today is, apparently, the Day.

Sigh.

She loves that I get up early, by the way. Since she now lives a time zone (or two?) over and 7AM her time is 5AM my time so even when she's up and perky at a (semi) decent hour, she knows I'm up at an even earlier (stupid) hour and she can text me.

So, in celebration of today, I shall detail my morning as it stands:

I reset my 4AM alarm to 5AM because I didn't want to get up that early. Because some mornings, it is in fact too early. I was taunted at 5:05AM by lovely friend's delicious looking homemade ocean rolls via text, that time zones and different states will prevent me from inhaling. I decided I'd rather keep doing homework than go run when 6:15AM rolled around and I wasn't at a good stopping point to stop to go run.

So far, no run for me today and it's supposed to be 80 degrees by my lunch break...which means I can either die a painful (hot) death and then crash and burn with heat-and-running-induced sleepiness all afternoon at work (which is unacceptable) or I can just not run until after work.

Unfortunately (and fortunately) I'm taking a seminar this evening with another good friend (and early morning gym buddy...though at 4:30AM when I finally roll in, sleepy and cursing, she's been at it for about an hour) that I've been looking forward to for a long time. That goes until 8 PM, which, for those of you who don't know me, is bedtime.

This girl needs her 8 hours of beauty rest, you know. Four o'clock in the stupid morning doesn't just happen naturally you know.

Hopefully my day will be rocky enough that I'll be pumped for a quick run after that seminar and then I can go to bed a little later. We'll see.  Do you think my 11-mile run this past weekend and yesterday can count as me celebrating? Every day is running day for this girl!

How are you celebrating National Running Day?

Ciao,
kc

Friday, May 23, 2014

Why I Run

While I was thumping along the trail the other day, hating gravity, feeling the tightness across my shoulders from a couple too many lat flies that morning, and generally wishing for the run to be over and done with, I thought about why I run. Because most people would say, “Well if you hate it so much, why do you do it?”

First of all, I’m a runner. That’s why I run. I can’t seem to stop running. It’s kind of a problem.

Then there’s the same old trend of well, I run because it makes me feel good, I run because I can, I run because of…yadda yadda yadda.

I also run because I really really really like food. And if I can eat that ice cream guilt-free because I did a five-miler that morning, then awesome.

But ultimately, I run for the bragging rights.

That sounds really bad, I know, but I do.

Running is one of the few things in my life that a few misspoken words can’t take from me. There is no denying the awesome that is the 91.7 miles that the seven half marathons that I’ve done, not to mention the miles of training that it took to get to them. No one can say a blithe comment that will erase the memories of my legs burning, my lungs screaming, and the self-satisfaction at the end of a long, hard run.

There is no self-doubt when I run.

There is no judgment.

The road sure as hell doesn’t judge you.

With running, the only people who could possibly say belittling words with any justifiable condescension are running more than I am and know just how much it hurts and how hard you worked to earn those miles and would never ever say those words to another long-distance runner. Those others who might try to say belittling words about my running are easily countered with, “Really? How far did you run today?” and abruptly, they no longer have an argument or an insult.

Running is the only thing in my life that I don’t irrationally compare myself to others with, that I don’t worry about, stress over, or put myself down about.

Because anyone who can run is awesome.

(For the record, there are awesome people out there who can’t run to, I’m not saying that.)

If you ran that god-awful, painful, heart-wrenchingly wonderful 10k or half marathon or full marathon…or yes, even that 5k…you get bragging rights.

And, honey? You look damn good with them too.

Because nothing says awesome like, “Look how far I ran today.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cheap Sport

My favorite running misnomer to look back on and laugh at is my dad once telling me that running is the cheapest sport in the world.

There is some truth to that, all you need is a decent pair of shoes, some shorts or sweatpants, and a t-shirt. Especially if your jaunts are limited to a couple miles a week.

Running is a relatively easy sport to commit to. You don’t have to sign up for any teams, pay any dues, or buy super expensive equipment to start out. You can test the waters without blowing your budget. However, once the waters are tested and confirmed, things get spendier.

That’s neither here nor there though. This blog is advice for runners, whether you are getting started or already are and just like reading things like this like I do!

Find what makes it “easy” for you. Not long ago, there was one of those forwarded messages that circulated among me and some runner friends that was “75 things a runner thinks while running.” The one the jibed most closely for me was one that said something along the lines of “Shoot, I’ve gotta do 5 miles. Well, that’s only 2.5 miles out and then turn around. And that’s really just a little bit more than 2 miles. I can do two miles.”

For me, breaking down a run like that is what sometimes gets me through it. If I’m doing an out and back, it’s very easy to think “well, if I keep going for another half mile, then when I turn around I’ll get a whole extra mile in…I can do a half mile, that’s not that far. That’s like 5 minutes of running. I can run for another 5 minutes.” Bethany gets through it by going faster – the whole: the faster I run the faster I’m done mentality. She usually kicks that mantra into gear on hills and when she wants a snack.

I also find that with the gym in the mornings – more so than running, because running I always need a little more morning prep time than weights – if I sleep in my sports bra and workout top so all I have to do is roll out of bed and put my pants and shoes on I manage to get myself out that door before my brain has registered what I am doing. And then of course once I’m in the car on the way to the gym and out of bed and all that, there’s really only one thing to do: go to the gym and work out. I just make sure my headphones and water bottle are prepped the night before and on the table so I can just grab them as I go past, and then you’re there before your brain can get awake enough to say, “But…!”

Just find what works for you and go with it.

My other advice is to find your fuel. The best I advice I ever got from another runner was, “You know that nauseous feeling you keep complaining about? That’s your body telling you its hungry.”

Changed my life.

I have runner friends that swear up, right, left and center that they could not now nor ever eat (and sometimes drink!) on a run because it makes them feel terrible. I have found that sometimes I don’t need fuel, but most often, I do!  And I’m faster, peppier, and feel better with fuel!  The key is to find the one you like, however. Some people like the Jelly Belly Go Beans or whatever those are, some people like Gu, some people like powder in their water…I’m a ShotBlock girl.

It motivates me to know that I get a snack every couple miles, and it helps that they’re fruity delicious goodness fruit snacks. That somehow only taste good when I actually need them.

I just got Amy hooked on ShotBlocks, and she eats them differently that I do – only chewing on a block or maybe two when I’m wolfing down three, but she was surprised to notice what a difference it made to have a snack every couple miles and have water that she carried with her. She’s told me several times, “Oh man, I didn’t think I was going to make it through that run I was having such an off day, and then I had a ShotBlock and all of a sudden…wow! Makes so much difference!”

Here's a good quote to live by:

"You must listen to your body. Run through annoyance, but not through pain." -Dr. George Sheehan

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Inspired

One of my favorite running quotes is:

 “A fifteen minute mile is just as far 
as an 8 minute mile.”

I hope you feel inspired today :) Now go do some lunges!

Ciao,
kc 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Adaptation

There’s an art form to living with another human being.

I’m not talking roommates, though there’s an art form to that too, but it can devolve into something a lot more passive aggressive and it’s perfectly acceptable to just be living with a roommate for the convenience of cheaper rent.

If you have a crappy roommate you just hide the good kitchenware, put your name on all your food, and keep your areas as clean as you prefer them. I had a friend who had a “Caution” Tape area where he would stack his roommate’s dirty dishes and they would just stay there for weeks and the rest of the kitchen would be spotless.

Living with a human being who you care about, share a bed with, wear a ring for…well, that is a different sort of art form.

We live in a world of “I can’t believe people used to…” and I think premarital living arrangements are one of those. People still do wait to live together until after marriage, and holy moly, more power to them.

While we have never gone to bed without apologizing or at least cooling down a bit, and while in the same house never made the other sleep in a different bed (or on the couch), there were some times that I’m pretty sure the only reason we stayed together was because we didn’t have to. I’m also pretty sure that doesn’t sound the way I mean it.

With marriage comes a sense of permanence and inescapability. It’s not a bad thing, and it soothes my soul and makes my husband more confident that I won’t leave him if he has a particularly mephitic evening. But three, almost four years ago when we first “shacked up” there were times that those particular constraints would have driven us past our breaking point. By having the opening we would never take, we learned and developed the art form of living with each other.

The years that we have lived together we have learned to adapt. We have learned to compromise. We have learned which battles are worth fighting and which shall be left alone.

Because I swear to God, I will never understand how the man can go to the kitchen for a glass of water and manage to leave every single cupboard door open. But now, I follow behind him, sometimes muttering quietly in aggravation, and close them all, because it’s not worth the fight. It shouldn’t even be a fight, though it was on occasion.

I promise this is not a negative post, though I’m realizing it might sound that way. It was supposed to be humorous.

There is an art form to living with another human being.

I have learned that in the mornings I shouldn’t speak, or be too chirpy at my husband. I’m a morning person once I’ve committed to being awake. He is most decidedly a person who prefers sleeping to all else – I have never seen a greater commitment to napping from anyone other than our cat. So in the mornings, when he is forced to wakefulness, he is a silent, sullen, and easily-grumpified person.

Kind of like me when someone is making me do an activity I don’t want to do.

I have learned that if he is in a mood, I must stifle my natural instincts to discover, cheer up, and cure the mood. Me pestering him about it or trying to fix it, nullify it, or cower away from it will simply make things worse. I have to just act like nothing is wrong, go about my business, and wait for him to move on and come to me.

He has learned that sometimes I just get grumpy. Sometimes I yell for no apparent reason. Sometimes I’m just out of sorts and there’s probably a reason but it’s not usually the reason I’m upset right now. He’s learned to hug me when I’m ready, fuss me out of the mood, and let me cry.

He has learned that my cleaning is sporadic, spastic, and odd. I believe in piles and in “from a speeding horse.” Meaning that so long as all the clutter is neatly stacked in a place that makes sense and that the dirt and dust is not obvious unless you’re looking for it, we’re good enough. Though I will go into “deep cleaning mode” on occasion and usually out of procrastination, and will deep clean random spots of the house and totally, obliviously miss other spots.

I have learned that I should always try to sort the silverware when putting it in the dishwasher, and he has learned to always try to remember the toilet seat. But we no longer battle it out. We save our energy for fights that actually mean something.

We are still learning every day, still growing together, and still both have meltdowns and misunderstandings. But that is why living with someone who you care about is its own particular art form.

How have you adapted to the person in your life?

Ciao,
kc

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My fuzzy boy, Banyan

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One year and almost nine months ago the cutest and unexpectedly tiny bundle of fur ever to walk the face of this planet was born. Well, maybe that’s the “mommy” in me talking, but I think he’s the cutest. He’s since grown into the cutest big bundle of fur every with plenty of personality. And we adore him.

How could you not? He’s got ridiculously long eyebrows and a perpetually worried look and the fluffiest curliest butt ever. And a cowlick right above his tail that gets especially curly after a bath and nappy ears that get crimped when damp.

Cutest ever.



His biggest worry in life is his kitty, Maddie. We think it’s a holdover from when we brought him home and she outweighed him at her sturdy nine pounds compared to his five. Hilariously, the dynamic hasn’t changed now that he’s sixty pounds and she’s still only nine.

She is such a bitch to him too.

He will be so excited for us to come home and will be greeting us with his fuzzy tail wagging and a toy in his mouth to show us…and she’ll come sauntering in from wherever she was napping and start loving on him. He immediately freezes and gets the most desperately pitiful look on his face, while she sashays around his feet and meows arrogantly. It’s a very scary time for him.

You never know when the kitty will decide she’s mad and turn around and swat at his worried little nose.

The only good part about his kitty is she has some fun toys. Though he gets a scolding when he comes trotting up with the string tail of one of her crocheted mice poking out of his mouth.

Banyan also has a couple mannerisms that I find absolutely adorable.

My favorite is his heavy head.

He’s a leaner: he leans on you when sitting next to you, he leans when getting his head scratched, and if there’s something nearby that he can set his chin on, he will. I’ve walked in on him in a completely empty room and he’s standing there with his chin resting on the seat of a chair, just hanging out.

I usually ask, “Are your brains too heavy today, buddy?”

He thinks they are.

The leaning thing also means that if you’re giving him a good scratch, he’ll tuck his head against your knees and lean. If you step away, he kind of falls over…it’s hilarious.

He is also very particular regarding when it’s time to get up.

Unless there are guests in the house, animal or human, he is not interested in getting up before it’s time. I first discovered this when I started getting up even earlier for gym. The first day I did it he grudgingly got up, just to make sure he wasn’t needed. Now, I’ll get up, go to the gym, come home and putter around before he even twitches.

If I make him get up, he will, but he gives me this look that totally translates into, “But Mooooooom…it’s early!”

Tyler’s been taking him for runs early this past week.

Banyan is decidedly not enthusiastic about them. It’s dark. And it’s still bedtime.

He doesn’t like them.

He might dawdle on runs with his dad because he doesn’t like them. This frustrates Tyler because he essentially has to drag the dog on the run, which makes both of them grumpy. Hilarious.

My dog is the cutest ever.

Ciao,
kc

Saturday, April 26, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Divergent

What is it with post-apocalyptic fantasy being the “it” thing these days? Hunger Games, Divergent, The Host…holy moly. Whatever happened to the classics? 1984, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies anyone? You don’t see Hollywood making those movies and they came first!


I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

Essentially, Divergent is another one of those so-super-popular-it’s-gotta-be-a-movie-now phenomena. Fandango’s synopsis says, “In a world where the population is divided into factions by personality types, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is classified as Divergent. When she uncovers a conspiracy to eliminate all Divergents, she teams with the mysterious Four (Theo James) to find out what makes the powers-that-be so frightened of them.”

Just for kicks, let’s look at what Amazon’s book synopsis says, “Beatrice Prior's society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she's determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.”

I don’t know about you, but the book sounds better. Ah, the imagination-inept-visually-stimulated limitations of society.

I am going to struggle with comparing this to the book because I really enjoyed the book, so please, bear with me.

Standing by itself, Divergent was good: especially if you have never read the book. From a pretend world where I was not intrinsically frustrated with minor details that were super important to main plotlines in the book, I enjoyed the movie. I even really enjoyed some of the parts that they adapted specifically for the movie as they would have been less-than-entertaining if they had acted them out as written in the book (there’s a fight scene towards the end that is quite exciting, but definitely never happened in the book).

Shailene Woodley, who plays the main character, delivered a performance that was both more exciting and enthusiastic than anything Kristen Stewart (Twilight) ever performed but less talented than Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games).  I peg those two other actresses as comparison as they are all in movies based on teen-fiction-of-a-fantasy-genre-made-into-movies. In short, Woodley was mildly entertaining though not particularly memorable.

The storyline had enough entertainment to be fun and easy to follow, as it left out a lot of the more complicated elements of the book that will frustrate fans everywhere, but allows the movie to be more accessible to those who are not particularly interested in reading the trilogy. The writers did an excellent job of adapting the book into a format that will reach a broader audience than just the book. My biggest complaint in the adaptation is that it leaves out the greater questions that the book haphazardly poses about society that are reflected in books of similar tracks. Entertainment value aside, the questioning of current society is one of the big draws for that type of story.

Oh well.

It was a fun movie to see in theaters, especially if you’re familiar with the stories and can separate yourself from the misses in the storyline. Some of the daredevil moves executed by Woodley and her supporting actors definitely read better on the big screen, though not a lot would be lost in a smaller setting.

It’s a fun view overall, but not the end of the world if it simply makes it to your Netflix list.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Point to Point

It’s amazing how much your town will shrink when you’re trying to get mileage. I did a run with the girls a little over a week ago and we did a point to point run (which is truly sometimes a feat of organization and engineering…though in this case it was a feat of miscommunication that just ended up working out). Jamie and I had talked about it – I thought hypothetically, she thought seriously – for our normal Sunday evening run. The mileage from Verizon (where we meet Bethany as she works on Sundays) to Jamie’s house in Tumalo is 7.7 miles, and we needed 8, so that seemed like a pretty nice run to do.

And then we talked about how her husband has to go to bed stupid early because he works for FedEx and is up at like 3 AM to go to work. I said something about how we should put it on the back burner and do it some other time and just run the river trail, but either she forgot, didn’t see the comment, or just thought I meant wait on dinner.

Sure enough, when Amy and I pulled into the parking lot, Jamie’s husband was dropping her off.

“What are you doing?” I asked, “How are you going to get home?”

“Aren’t we running to my house…?” she asked back.

“Oh yeah, that…”

So we ran to her house.

It was gorgeous.

And apparently a lot closer than you’d think! I always think of Tumalo as being further out as it’s a 20 or so minute drive. Again, it’s amazing how small your town and the surrounding countryside gets when you’re doing mileage.

We had a great run in gorgeous weather. We kept Jamie at a 10 minute mile, which was a PR for her! Beautiful views of the mountains going down a backroad grade and a bitch of a hill at mile six. Though I maintain that hills aren’t so bad once you’ve done Run Like Hell up the waterfront in Portland. One-mile hills are nothing compared to THAT!

Ciao,
kc

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Parking Lot Cupcakes

Ah, Parking Lot Cupcakes…my poor husband. He hates Parking Lot Cupcakes. Apparently they’re a fan favorite around here, though I’m not 100% sure if it’s because of the story or because people actually like them.

It all happened one night in January. I was driving home from work at Verizon on a Thursday, humming away to whatever was on my radio, turning over my evening in my head when I had the oh shit moments of all oh shit moments. The following day we were supposed to attend a birthday party for one of our friends. Not just any one of our friends, but one of our friends in the group that has become accustomed to a certain way of birthdays and events involving homemade cupcakes.

If I failed to bring cupcakes there would be rioting.

So there I was, almost 8 pm at night when I like to go to bed by 8:30, nine at the latest…facing cupcake-astrophe. The horror.

So I stayed up late baking stupid white cake cupcakes with blackberry frosting. I had cupcake batter for dinner, frosting for dessert and was up in the middle of the night reliving it because apparently that much sugar on an empty stomach is not what you want in life.

The next night, I rush home, having texted my husband an hour prior with an urgent “Don’t forget!” that he failed to respond to. When I got home, the house was dark, we were supposed to have been at the party 30 minutes prior and my husband was fast asleep.

“We have to be at Kiana’s birthday ten minutes ago!” I shouted, shucking off my work clothes and rushing into jeans and a top.

“No we don’t!” he hollered muzzily back as he has a tendency to do when I rudely awaken him from his nap du jour. The man never agrees with me when he’s being woken up. He is always stubbornly 100% sure that I am wrong and am waking him up because I am an evil, evil woman who does not want her husband to sleep.

I finally haul his ass out of bed, get him dressed, shove the container of cupcakes in his hands and herd him to the car where we rush off to the birthday party.

So I’m already grumpy and pissed off.

We pull into the parking lot and he’s still only half-responsive and argumentative. He opens the door and steps a foot out the door, swinging the container of cupcakes with him, and the entire bottom of the container comes undone sending two dozen angsty cupcakes tumbling to the parking lot.

Are you seeing where the name comes from now?

He sat there, half in and half out of the car, frosting and cupcake carnage everywhere just stuttering. I of course, being pissed off already, start yelling at him to freaking catch the ones that haven’t fallen and rescue them.

We saved six. Two from the floorboards of the car (“They can eat a couple rocks and some hair, whatever, they’re fine,” I growled.) and one that had stuck to the lid on the inside and three that had fortuitously not hit the ground quite yet. I snatched the recovered cupcakes from my husband’s hands and stormed into the restaurant.

My friend Amy’s husband, Cory, saw my face and that Tyler was trailing behind me (by a good five minutes…the adorable man tried to clean up the carcasses), and instantly started cracking jokes. And then I told the story and the room hushed in horror. Poor husband came in looking like he was a puppy I had just beaten with a newspaper. Luckily, now we can laugh about it…sort of. It still hurts a little bit.

Weirdly enough, these cupcakes seem to be everyone’s favorites.



Parking Lot Cupcakes

Ingredients
3 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  2. In a separate, larger bowl, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.
  4. To the butter mixture, add about 1/4 of the flour mixture and mix well. Add about one quarter of the milk mixture and mix well. Continue alternating the flour mixture and milk mitxture, beating after each addition until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into cupcake tins, bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out of the tins and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
For the frosting
I used the recipe from Annie's Eats found here: 

Before adding sugar, add 3 tbsp jam flavor of your choice and the vanilla. Blend until smooth and then proceed with recipe.

Ciao,
kc

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Run Bet


I’ve got a new group of running BFFs. They are amazing and strong and beautiful and smart and I love them. And they run with me! And there’s like, a lot of them so when one is busy there’s still so many to run with me!

We’re that group of obnoxiously fit women running down the street in a pack. You know the one that I mean.

Let me introduce you:

First, there’s Bethany. We know Bethany. She’s the one who limped me from 1 minute running/5 minutes walking to my first 10k after my back injuries. She is the one who has listened to me bitch and moan, and whine, and somehow has an uncanny knack for knowing when I’m actually hurting and when I’m just whining.

I met Bethany at Verizon.

She likes margaritas and line dancing.

She laughs at my jokes, has as many “duh” moments as I do, and her husband has mentioned giving me “custody rights” as she spends almost as much time at my house as she does at her own.

Next, there’s Jamie. Jamie is a champ. I also met Jamie at Verizon. After the first back injury when I was trying to start running again and Bethany and I hadn’t really started hanging out, I bribed Jamie to run with me. She had never been a runner, so I figured it would be perfect because we would be starting on equal ground. I think it was November or so when I bribed her, and we planned on running the Pacific Crest the following June (2013).

Then I decided slipping and falling and reinjuring myself would be more fun.

I totally expected her to bail on our bet, but apparently, damnit, she made a deal and would stick to it!

That led to a long summer of her cussing at me almost on a daily basis while I cheered her on, limping myself back into running with Bethany. “I will never do one of these again! This is stupid!” she kept saying.

At the beginning of June, she started having foot problems that caused her a lot of pain. I told her to back off running, and she did, but she still ran the race. Because of her foot, she had to walk quite a bit of it.

Because of her foot, she’s running another “damn run.”

…Apparently she wants to prove something. I told her that she’s now officially a runner and it doesn’t get any better.

She might still cuss at me.

Last but not least, there’s Amy. She’s really fast. We’re really slow compared to her, but she likes the buddy system and doesn’t mind toning it down for us so long as we punch it up for her. Amy is friends with our neighbor from our old house, which is how we know her. She has the cutest ever daughter, who is two and a half and our adopted niece.

Her daughter has the biggest crush on my husband. It is totally adorable.

And I’m the cupcake lady, which makes me awesome.

Anyways. She’s fast.

So these three girls get my butt moving on a regular basis.

We are all signed up for the Pacific Crest this year, and my old boss overheard us talking about it. Now, a couple things you should know about Brian (my old boss): he is ridiculous, talks a lot of smack, and is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet.

And he likes to pretend he’s a runner.

Okay, so he’s run races which I guess qualifies him as a runner, but he likes to pretend like he doesn’t actually train for them. He goaded me into running the Dirty Half against him in 2012 and I beat him by 15 minutes. And it took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to run that race.

However, he ran the 10k with Bethany and I last summer and beat us by a minute.

We think that had we had six more miles, we would have kicked his butt.

So anyways, he overheard us chatting (well, Jamie, Bethany and I anyways, as it was before I left Verizon) and had to butt in. He started saying that he was going to run this race and beat all of us. Bethany, being one of the most competitive people I know, immediately latched on to that and started yelling back at him that he was ridiculous.

This quickly devolved into name calling and good-humored trash talk.

Then I proposed the bet: whoever lost had to buy everyone else a pitcher of margaritas.  Bethany and Brian thought that was a pretty awesome idea. And then Brian made the mistake of turning to Jamie – who having been a “runner” for all of a year isn’t quite as fast as the rest of us yet – and said, “Oh don’t worry, Jamie, we won’t make you participate.”

Jamie is normally very quiet and reserved, but apparently, that was a button that when pushed caused an unexpected reaction.

“OH. MY. GOSH! Are you calling me SLOW?” She blurted.

He made a terrible attempt to deny this and she started hollering at him about how she most definitely was NOT slow and that she would totally kick his butt.

I’ve never seen her quite so riled up.

She was so riled that after giving Brian what-for, she marched off to lunch and forgot her purse and her jacket and had to come back in and get them. She’s normally much more together. It was hilarious.

So we have this bet.

Since then, it has morphed into including Amy and changed a little bit. If Brian loses to any one of us four, he will buy two pitchers of margaritas. But whoever he beats also has to buy one pitcher of margaritas. This means that if he’s faster than we think he is, we will be very blitzed by the end of the day.

However, we have our secret weapon, Amy, who we know will beat him. And we’re pretty much banking on that extra seven miles (a 10k is 6.1 and a half is 13.1 for those of you who can’t do the math) to do him in.

Though Bethany pointed out to me that our own math might be off: if we let Amy beat him and then the other three of us lose to him, then that’s five pitchers of margaritas that will be bought. That’s a lot of margaritas. Luckily, some of us are way to competitive to think that way, and even with the lure of margaritas, Bethany can’t stand to let Brian beat us again!

Ciao,
kc

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Job

So three and a half years ago, I found a job here in Bend with Verizon Wireless. I loved it at first. Then I just liked it. Then I stuck with it for the money and I liked the people I worked with. And then…well…shit went to hell in a handbasket.

It was no longer worth the late nights and early mornings. The twelve hour days, fifty to sixty hour weeks, and the stress. It wasn’t worth the fights and lack of communication it caused with my marriage.

Once I let that go it was a huge weight. I was a star employee the last three months I worked there because I didn’t give a flying rip what anybody said about my numbers and I would take care of my customers the way I would damn well take care of them. So there.

Oddly, my sales were better than normal and I got along with the most asinine of my managers. Almost made the separation harder…

But I finally found a new job. Since mid-February, I work 8:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday. I didn’t have sales goals until about two weeks in and I still am not 100% on what they are (“Bring in money” was pretty much the only target I was given).  Do I love it with all my heart? No, but it’s a job. And I can come home to my husband at a reasonable hour (hell, I can go for a seven mile run after work and be home at a reasonable hour), and I actually want to talk to people at the end of my day without copious amounts of wine.

I’m more relaxed than I’ve been in over a year.

Heck, I’ve drank less wine in the last two months than I have in a long time.  And done more art, and been happier.

It’s a good change.

Ciao,
kc

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Run Fast: Eat Cupcakes

I feel like this blog has sort of devolved into running and cupcakes. And I apologize for that. It makes it seem like I’m one of those people who all I do is run and bake.

I have a secret: that is all I do.

Well, that and work.

And spend time with my furry children and my husband and my friends; though the latter kind of ties up with the running part now that I’ve got this cute little girly group of running buddies. More on that later, though.

And I’m sorry, but this post is going to be about cupcakes. I promise, the next one will be about running. And then, if trends stay the same then you won’t hear from me for another couple months. Hopefully that’s not the case, but no promises.

Now, we’re going to talk about this cupcake because it’s a bit of inspired culinary genius, if I do say so myself. Officially, we are calling them Strawberry Lime Colada Cupcakes. They were inspired by this:


My good friend, Amy, turned the big 3-0 (…you know, that age after the one my mom says she is) on Friday. To avoid baking a cupcake we now fondly refer to as “Parking Lot Cupcakes” for like the third time in as many months, because those are the new favorite now apparently, I spammed her with a bunch of cupcake options from Pinterest and she picked that one.

I went to pull up the recipe for said Strawberry Pina Colada cupcakes, and I’m not really sure what I was expecting but embellishing on boxed white cake and then filling with pineapple goo was not it. Uck uck urk.

I’m still struggling with the idea of pineapple-goo-filled-cupcakes. Why would anyone ruin a perfectly good cupcake that way? If you are a pineapple lover then I apologize, but…ergh.

So, I quickly Googled a coconut cupcake recipe, and sure enough ask Google, and Martha shall deliver. Me ‘n’ Martha being good buddies, I picked that recipe (below). I felt confident enough in the strawberry frosting written out by the hack who wrote the rest of the recipe (boxed cake…phwah!), so I planned on staying with that, and then I trundled off to the grocery store for my ingredients.

While at the store, I thought to myself, “hmmm, I feel like coconut cupcakes with strawberry frosting just doesn’t have the level of pizzazz that I wanted for special dirty 30 birthday cupcakes. Too bad chocolate ganache sounds too weird to add to that…” And I thought that maybe regular chocolate would out-compete such delicate flavors as coconut and strawberry. All that wondering made me wonder if lime-flavored ganache was a thing.

Wouldn’t you know it, it is!

Though apparently it’s not something us Americans make often – if at all – all of the recipes I found were in ounces and grams, so we had to do a bit of converting. I also tweaked it a little bit based upon what I was able to get my hot little hands on lime-wise (read: what I already had in the house rather than what I would have to purchase).  But all in all it was quite good when I finished it!

I also ended up swapping out the frosting recipe to my go-to favorite from Annie’s eats, but added the strawberry puree to it before adding in the sugar. I’ve detailed that below as well.

I’ve also split them up into each individual recipe in case you’re like me and mix and match sometimes.

COCONUT CUPCAKES
Makes about 24 cupcakes

Coconut cupcakes

 Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (you can find it next to almond milk or soy milk usually…it’s quite tasty, I use it for Tyler’s super power smoothies)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups large-flake unsweetened coconut

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients and sweetened shredded coconut in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
  2. Reduce speed to low. Mix remaining wet ingredients in a bowl. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each full
  3. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
Lime Ganache


LIME GANACHE
Ingredients
I’m going to do this two ways…one with the original recipe and then what I did, I about doubled the recipe and had more than enough for 24 cupcakes. It was probably about enough for 3 dozen.

4 oz heavy cream (use only 4 oz if not using the optional spinach leaves)
5 oz white chocolate chunks
juice of 1/2 lime
zest of 1 lime

What I did:
About 1 ¼ cups heavy cream – a short 1 ¼
10 oz of white chocolate – I bought an 11 oz bag of Ghiradelli white chocolate chips, you could use the whole bag, I measured out 10 oz, but what the hell am I going to use 1 oz of white chocolate for?*
3 tbsp lime juice – I didn’t have a fresh lime, so I used what I had

Instructions
  1. Boil together the heavy cream, lime juice and zest under medium-high heat. Heat about 8-12 minutes, until cream reduces (for laymen like me: that means bring it to a boil and wait until it acts thicker and the bubbles pop slower…you’ll hear a difference…it’s weird). Pour cream into heat-safe bowl. If lime zest was used, mixture should be strained to remove the bigger chunks of zest.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, place the white chocolate chunks and heat in the microwave in 20-second increments until fully melted, stirring in between.
    Slowly pour the hot cream into the bowl of white chocolate and stir. Mix until smooth and free of lumps.
  3. Cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, until the ganache becomes thick enough for spreading. (You can also place it in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.)
*My husband says you can use 1 oz of white chocolate for feeding him as it tastes good

STRAWBERRY FROSTING
Again, I adapted this one for the strawberry frosting. The original recipe can be found here:

Ingredients
1 ½ cups butter
3 tbsp. strawberry puree (I threw a handful of fresh berries in my bullet with a tsp of sugar and voila!)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt if unsalted butter is used

Instructions
  1. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (though I used the regular one this time…it all depends upon how well I read the recipe!) and whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about a minute.
  2. Add the strawberry puree and the vanilla. Whip again for 30 seconds to a minute.
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time and mix on medium-low until just incorporated. Beat on medium-high until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the heavy cream and whip on medium until just incorporated. Increase speed until on high and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed about 4 to 5 minutes.

Then build your cupcake! Dab some ganache on the cupcake itself and swirl the frosting over the top of that once you’ve let it set for a minute!

TaDa!



Ciao,
kc