Food Photo Sunday Funday

What a fun weekend!

I was able to help prepare for a friend’s surprise birthday party and it was such a great event to be a part of! To see her face when she came in the door was priceless. It was so wonderful to help do something so fun for some great friends. Everyone celebrated and enjoyed a great evening.

Besides helping around the house, running to get more ice and shuttling a few guests, I made a batch of treats! A favorite of the birthday lady and a hit generally everywhere I have taken them, these no-bake energy bites are easy to throw together for a trip, event or protein snack to keep in the fridge all week!

I snuck a few photos before I set out to help with the party —->

SONY DSC

Recipe here. *

 

*Note: If making these for a casual gathering, I usually leave out the protein powder.

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Foodie Photos

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

Welcome Daylight Savings Time!

At least that’s what I said this morning when I was getting an extra hour of sleep! Now it’s been dark for almost two hours already this evening and I can’t even…  BUT looking forward my morning runs being a bit lighter for a while at least!

It has been an excellent weekend all-around. I was able to spend time with almost all of the closest people in my life at one point or another. As an added bonus, I busted out my camera after I did some food prep. It’s been too long and it has got me excited about the things I like about photography again.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

Beautiful for fall AND delicious. (Recipe via The Food Charlatan) Yes, I’ve admittedly already eaten some for Sunday dinner even though it was part of food prep for the week. I realize my prep and presentation skills still need a lot of work, but hopefully it can be appreciated for the concept. I’m putting this on the list for a Thanksgiving meal.

Although not quite as charismatic, I prepared some Brown Basmati Rice as a part of food prep Sunday. The lighting leaves a lot to be desired, and possibly the texture of the rice (LOL), but it gives me another area to work on.

Brown Basmati Rice
Brown Basmati Rice

Not only did it get me excited about photography in general again, but it sent me on a shopping trip for some more food prop ideas. I saved a brown grocery bag for texture and purchased a couple of tiles – one light and one dark – from the home improvement store. As you can see above, the color of my kitchen counter is not exactly ideal depending on subject matter.

I’ve spent so much time neglecting some of my personal hobbies outside of racing (Spartan, trail) that maybe the winter months will allow me to focus on those again without taking away from my fitness activities. Here’s to the next season!

 

 

Photo Saturday

White balance difference

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been terribly slow at getting to know my camera. In fact today has been one of those days where I took the initiative to experiment some with lighting and customizing the settings on my camera. My brother is also into photography and is strides ahead of me in working with the settings on his own camera. Regardless, today I wanted to take advantage of the natural light and see what I could come up with.

My biggest takeaway today was the white balance setting. I take most of my photos in “P” mode which allows me to make adjustments (not that I do), but today I did! And look what I found…
White balance difference

The difference was almost mind blowing! I had thought the first photo looked a little dark for the amount of light that I had, so that motivated me to play with the settings a bit. I’m sure they could be customized more to make the second photo even better, but it shows what a huge difference it can make for your photos! And you’ll soon see why the chair was the focus of this experiment…

I was doing some cleaning and cruising through some magazines – Food & Wine, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire – and came across a recipe for Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread. I skimmed the ingredients and realized I had most of what it needed, not to mention it would help me use up some of the whole wheat flour I had purchased for another recipe. So, long story short I whipped up this bread referencing this recipe and this recipe. (The recipe in the magazine was a little bit more extensive than what I had.)

And what do you do when you make Focaccia? Well have a photo shoot of course!

Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread

I realize there are several things wrong with this photo (small cutting board, steak knife, the bread itself, etc.) I’m kinda proud of this photo. I like the light, the background, although I know a darker background would have provided me more contrast and getting back into photoshop again in my free time.

I’ll leave you something pretty with for the day for good measure. What is happening on your Saturday? I’m getting ready to watch the Belmont!

petunias

The First Half

This past weekend I ran a half marathon. A HALF MARATHON. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.

Yes I’m aware I was training for this event for almost four months. However the idea of actually running 13.1 miles seemed at one point, impossible. Now that I’ve done it, I’m not really sure that it happened.

I finished my first half marathon at 2:04:42, about 5 minutes faster than my projected finish time. How is this possible? Well, according to my 12-mile long run which I average at just under 10 minutes per mile, I should’ve finished around 2:10. An admirable time for a first marathon in my eyes. So you can imagine my surprise when the gun time at the finish line was hitting 2:05. (And gasp! I even stopped at mile 10 to use the bathroom!)

Finish line
Near the finish line of my first half marathon.

The run was unbelievable. I keep recalling scenes from the race, remembering how I felt. Remembering more difficult parts of the races and not wanting to remember how that felt. Both my family and my Ironman friend were there to cheer me on. My mom made a sign, which I plan to keep. I high fived the crowd as I passed by and miraculously felt relaxed at times. I remember seeing other runners and how they ran, their gait, their clothes, if they carried a supply belt or how incredibly sweaty they became during the beginning of the race because of the humidity.

It is almost surreal that I actually finished. For almost four months I dedicated myself to the training plan and the advice of my friends who had competed before. I thought more emotion would flood forward when I finished, but I suppose most of my energy at the finish was focused on catching my breath.

The last 4 or 5 long runs will be some of the most memorable. Here’s a recap on a few:

  • the first 8 mile run: I did it in the rain. Never rain in the rain before.
  • the second 8 mile run: I ran with a friend and did not take any walk breaks. She also showed me a new route around town.
  • the 11 mile run: It was terrible. I tried to do it in early afternoon and only got past 3 miles before I had to stop to walk the last 5 because my legs were not having it. I walked the remaining three the next day. {this undoubtedly left me a little shaken – could I run 13.1 miles?}
  • the 6 mile improvised run – I made new friends in small town Mississippi training during a family trip.
  • the 12 mile run: (on a Wednesday) I ran from one point to another down a trail I’ve never been on before. It was a good, relaxing run (until about mile 10), but I finished! (and learned the value of compression clothing for recovery)
  • the 8 mile run (last long run!): This run was truly more relaxing than I could have imagined. At one point, the music on my iPhone was on a classical tune which reminded me of the movie “Man from Snowy River” where the horses are running slow motion through the snow before the music picks up and the horses are off again!

Ok so that was six, but they were all really important. And let’s not forget that I checked off running my first 10K as a part of my training!

I’m so thankful of all the support I’ve received over the years from former roommates who got me started running, to group fitness instructors who pushed me to new levels and friends who offered words of encouragement or my younger brother telling me to “man up”. A running legend even acknowledged my tweet about my first half!

I’ve been in “recovery mode” this week for what that’s worth. It’s an odd feeling. I look forward to starting up again for the next event soon.

And last, but not least and definitely (most likely) the most important part, is that I get to put a “13.1” sticker on my car.

Stay tuned for scenes from the second half…

For months and miles

For almost four months now, I have been training for a half marathon race – my first one! The ultimate goal is to finish the run and to not be concerned (overly, at least) with my pace. I want to enjoy the run, enjoy the views along the way. It will be a route I’ve never run. Although it does house quite a few familiar landmarks, I will be seeing them from a different viewpoint.

For almost four months, i’ve replied to the question regarding my weekend plans – with miles. This really started when my mileage for the long run reached 6 miles, because at that point I was breaking into unfamiliar territory.

For almost four months, I’ve followed a weekly plan. I ran on Monday, did pilates on Tuesdays, Cycling on Wednesdays, ran a few miles or sprinted on the treadmill on Thursdays and completed my long runs on Saturdays.

My run took me places and helped me make discoveries – around small towns and neighborhoods I wasn’t really aware existed. I ran through a cemetery – something I would’ve never normally done.

I learned I could do things I set my mind to and not be afraid. And even if was afraid, I pushed through the fear. On one run, I needed to run around a garter snake laying in the middle of the trail, sunning himself. He wasn’t easily spooked, so as opposed to turning around and finding another route I simply ran around him. (I hate snakes).

I made adjustments. When my family was traveling one weekend (to the land of humidity), I adjusted my schedule so I could go along. I still ran, mind you.

I made new friends and memories along the way –

IMG_1285

And I became much more concerned about the workout/running wardrobe for the week than I did my daytime or work clothes. I mean if the weather forecast was remotely accurate, I had it about down to a T.

I ran in the ran. Which I may have to do again on Saturday.

I’ve eaten more eggs than I ever have in my life. Hard boiled, scrambled or poached – just to make sure I had some protein at lunch.

The training has been one of the greatest experiences in my young adult life and I’m excited to share the results when I’ve finished. Until then, run on.

The unfamiliar familiar

How many times in conversation have you replied to a question of familiarity with “Oh yes, I know them!” or “definitely, I know them well. I played ball with his daughter.” Think of every person you know, and could you fully recount their features and personality? Did you really take the time to know each one of your acquaintances? Now it’s probably near impossible to do this for everyone you know, but what about people you consider to be a friend?

——
As I looked up from my laptop, prepared to take notes for an upcoming feature article, i  realized the man setting across the desk from me, although a familiar face, seemed for some reason not familiar at all.

His style and demeanor were the same as I remembered and he’d neither lost nor gained weight to my eye. He spoke in the same tone I always knew, friendly, jokingly, but direct.

While he spoke intelligently of the next steps of their business model, it occurred to me that I had never stopped to study the detailed features of his face.

So what? You may ask. Looks aren’t everything, you say. This is true, but I’m talking of the features that create the individual character. As he continued to speak genuinely of the background of the program and its’ development, I became less interested in my notes and more interested in the expressions of his face.

All these years covered by a short, meticulously trimmed white beard hid a chiseled, pointed chin. One could call it sharp if it was shaved, I presume. When he laughed, I noticed his jaw did not seem as prominent and the set of his teeth were more inward (?) than I remembered. The lines of his face reflected the years, showing character, but somehow remain unchanged.

What I saw before me was the kind, family man, but at the same time the shrewdness of a businessman as opposed to the father figure to youth organizations I had thought to have been so familiar with before.

Was it me who had changed? My view of who he had been in my life before compared to what he was today appeared to come from a different place. Surely I had changed since our last encounter for it had been years since we enjoyed any discussion remotely that long, if any. Had he aged? It sure didn’t appear so. What I noticed today were features and characteristics of a human being I had totally neglected before. I had categorized him as an outline of what he represented to me, but not fully taken the time to recognize his individuality.

And what I realized as we parted ways at the end of the interview, is that perhaps we were two people known to each other, who had never really known one another at all.

So in closing, I’m making it a goal of mine to be more observant of those close to me and fully appreciate and know – not just their features, but what makes them unique and why they are important to me.

Running Chronicles

When I view a list of things to add fulfillment to your life or something along those lines of achieving happiness, it often suggests doing something for the first time. Well, 2015 is off to a great start for me in terms of accomplishing firsts (first time a bridesmaid, first time driving in mountains alone, first time skiing in keystone). Among those, is training for a half marathon and finishing a 10K as part of the training process. As I continue to add distance to my runs, I’m accomplishing new mileage and experiences all the time.

For instance, Saturday was a significant day of firsts as a part of my training. I’ve highlighted a few of those as well as a few additional takeaways:

First
• rain run
• 8-mile run
• running north of Kimball Ave. run
• running west of Browning St. run
• long run without using my inhaler prior
• OMG my feet and knees ache run
• Stopping under a tree to wait out the rain run

A few additional takeaways –
• 8 miles is tough
• Hitting a steep hill at mile 6 is tough
• I can adjust my run depending on the environment (weather, road construction, etc.) – positive!
• If I’m running in weather, I probably need weather-proof gear. I was terrified my phone would become soaked through my armband and ultimately be lost forever.
• I can push through and I can run in the rain

In fact, even as tough as this run was, that very evening I was researching marathons and possibly considering a warrior dash.

10K Eisenhower Marathon
Crossing the finish line at my first 10K race! April 2015