Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My fuzzy boy, Banyan

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.


Saturday, April 26, 2014


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!


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

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

  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.


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!


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.


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.

Makes about 24 cupcakes

Coconut cupcakes

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

  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

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

  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

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

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

  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!