Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Dinner

Since today is race day (Yea!), this dinner was cooked on Friday. And it's Lent, which means no meat on Fridays. So here in NOLA that means seafood. I know, not much of a sacrifice. But I didn't make the rules.

Like I said last week, the idea have have for this post is healthier Cajun/Creole food.  The basis of the dish is a roux. Roux=half fat+half flour≠healthy. You can make a oil-less roux but I've only done that once before. Instead, I just reduce the amount of roux down drastically. I usually double this recipe as well.

Shrimp Creole
3 pounds shrimp
4tbsp vegetable oil
4tbsp flour
1 lg onion, chopped
3 celery, chopped
2 bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cup diced tomatoes
1-1/2 quarts shellfish stock (or water)
5 green onions, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped 
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne or to taste
couple dashes hot sauce 

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the oil on med high. When hot add the flour. Whisk continuously until roux in light brown.

Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic for 5mins.

Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Stir well.

Add shellfish stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly. If you don't have stock, water works too. (I just happen to have some frozen from a previous shrimp boil.) Add salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook for a min of 15mins. But as with most stews and soups, the longer you cook the better the flavor. If you plan to cook it longer, cover and drop the temp to med-low and stir every 20mins or so.
Increase temp back to med-high bring to boil. Add shrimp, green onions and parsley and continue to cook five 5mins.

Serve over rice. I add the hot sauce after I serve it because the girls are too little for food that's too spicy.

I hope y'all enjoy this recipe. It's a classic around here. It's more Creole than Cajun. But really that's just splitting hairs. Just a heads up, making a roux takes patience and practice. You can buy roux in a jar (I assume you can get it in every part of the country). But I find it to be too dark. Also, if you use jar roux, you can't control what's in it.

If you have any question/comments about this recipe, pls leave me a comment or email at megmehell at yahoo.

Race Day

I can believe it's here. I'm so excited! Right now, I'm milling around at start. Doing normal pre-race stuff. I'm not really nervous, I've done this once before. Last time I ran by myself the whole time.  This time I have Pam & Christy to run with. Nanny goat is running too, but she's too fast for me.

The weather is going to be perfect today. Right now, it's in the low 40s and the sun is coming out. When I finish, it'll be in the 50s. My momma, the girls and the Big Man will be at the end waiting for me. Cheering me on as I pass. 

Months and months of training are behind me. I'm ready to run.  I've raised a decent amount of money for Team in Training. I've made a lot friends. I'm ready.  Game on, y'all!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Race Day Check List

Now that my race is only a few days (4! Wahoo!!!) away, I've started laying out the things I need.  I like to have things planned out but I'm also super forgetful. Hence list making. Can y'all read over my list and see if I've forgotten anything?

Race clothes
· shoes
· tights
· skirt
· socks
· bra
· shirt
· running jacket
· arm sleeves

· water bottle
· iPod (charged) & headphones
· Garmin (charged)
· bondi band
· sunglasses
· sunscreen

If you a suggestion for a good sunscreen, I'd appreciate it. I'm not planning on wearing a hat. And all of the sport sunscreens I've tried sweat off and drip into my eyes.

· compression leg sleeves
· shirt
· bra
· sweater
· pants
· crocks
· recovery chocolate milk
· PB&J sandwiches

When NOTC hosts a race, you know that there will be beer and food (and plenty of it) at the after  party. But that's not guaranteed at all races. I'm bringing PB&J to be on the safe side.

My iPod has more than enough music  for me to listen to for the 2.5hrs I'll be running. But I'm always looking for more. Do you have any suggestions of songs for me to add to my playlist? Which songs keep you moving for the distance?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Dinner

I've been rolling around the idea of incorporating cooking/recipes into this blog. I feel like I spend half of my life in the kitchen. And since this blog is about my life...

As y'all know, I've got two wild maniacs (MM & Li), not to mention the Big Man, who require feeding everyday. Last year when I started living healthier, I started cooking healthier. But here's the rub, we're Cajun. And most Cajun people will tell you the reason they don't eat better is because of taste. So my goal has been to revamp the classics and add new family favs.

On tonight's menu was white beans. Both of my girls love beans.The recipe below works for all dried beans; red, white, black, etc. I usually double the recipe. Beans are even better the 2nd day and freeze great.

White Beans
2 quarts water
1 pound dried beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb of meat; turkey sausage; grilled chicken, alligator sausage
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

I'm going to start by saying something controversial.  You don't have to soak your beans. I know, a lot of people are going to disagree. But you don't. Having said that, I do soak my beans. I prefer the texture of the final product with soaked beans. 

To soak your beans, pour the beans in a bowl. Cover the beans with water. Be sure to measure keep track of how much water you use.

Place the veggies (onion, bell pepper, celery) oil in a lg heavy bottom pot (cast iron or stock pot) on medium-high heat. Add the salt and pepper. Cook, stir frequently, until the onions, celery, and the bell peppers are tender.

Add the garlic and cook for about a min. Add the meat. You can use what ever meat you choose; grilled chicken breast, sausage, ham, or the traditional pickled pork.  But you have to use cooked/smoked meat or cook it separately. Tonight, I used smoked alligator sausage and browned it in a pan.

Add the remaining water, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and beans to the pot and increase the heat to high.

Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil. Decrease the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 1.5hrs (at min) stirring every 30mins. You can continue to cook all day. The longer you cook the better the favor. Just remember to stir.

Serve with brown rice. 

This is one our family favorites (and every other Cajun family). It's healthy and everyone loves it. Hope y'all enjoy!

If you have any question/comments about this recipe, pls leave me a comment or email at megmehell at yahoo.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I am officially on taper. My  race is 9 days way. Wahoo!!!

Yesterday: I ran my last long-ish run until next Sunday.  I'm off all week because of a combo of Mardi Gras holidays and vacation days. Since the girls school was open, I decided to bring them to daycare so I could have a day to myself. Usually, I run in my neighborhood because  of time constraints. But since I had nothing but time, I went for a run on the Mississippi levee. I should've brought my camera. There's so much interesting to see. Next time. I'll leave it for a future blog.

The weather was perfect. The kind of early spring day that reminds you why we put up with the heat, humidity, and hurricanes. My plan was to run 7mi. I started running and did my usual hemming and hawing about being out there. Y'all know that story. "I'd rather be at home. I just want to go soak in a tub and reading."etc. But then I had a stern stalk with myself about giving my best, yada yada. . Everyone does this, right? Of course, I'm glad I did. That was some of the best running I've done in weeks.

Let me just preface this next part by saying, I am 12min mi. runner. I ran to the first processing plant, .9mi away.  Looked at my Garmin , under 11mins. Ooops. Supposed to be taking it easy. For the next 2.25mi., ran around 11:25min/mi. Ok. So much for slowing down. Like I said my original plan was to 7mi. but at about 3.1mi, I saw three shady looking guys lollygagging on the levee. All I could think was, why are these dudes not at work. I mean it's, 10AM on a Thursday. I decided to cut it short. I turned around and headed back to the car.

I was feeling so good, my legs, my hip, my lungs. The sun was at my back now. I decided to push it. See what I could do. Ran mi 4 at 10:45. Pushed harder ran mi 5 at 10:15. I was feeling it now. had to slow down to 10:25. Dang! That's fast. That was an amazing run. 

Today: I was supposed to get up and run on the mill before MM & Li woke up. But I didn't. I figured I'd see if I could run while they were awake. The toys and TV are in the next room over from the where the TV and toys are. I figured I could get about half an hour. Well, almost. MM came in the room and just watched me run for 5mins. I don't think 19 month-olds understand treadmills. Then Li came in the room. The girls played for a bit but got bored. I ended up banishing them to the TV room so I could finish up. They were getting too close to the mill for comfort. I ended up finishing my 2.25mi in 26min. Not too shabby.

All in all I'm please with the running I've done it the past few days.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Athleta Wavelength Skort Product Review

 Last spring, when the seasons changed, I bought my first running skirt. I love it. It's so freeing. And I decided I only race in a skirt. And it is HOT in NOLA in the summer. I like to wear as little clothing as possible.  Well, it's not hot right now. But I am racing.

I wanted a new skirt for this race season. I decided to treat myself to the Wavelength Skort from Athleta I've been eying.

What Athleta says: Your favorite board short is now a skort. This semi-fitted skort has breathable, wicking performance fabric construction that makes it perfect for running, beach volleyball, or just chilling on the strand. Pull-on design features elastic waist with internal drawstring for a secure fit, a PowerMesh inner short with gusset, a rear zip pocket, and a reflective logo.

What I Think: I love it. I've taken this baby out on an 12miler without issue with running tights underneath. There was no riding up or bunching. It'll be great in the summer too. The under shorts are made of a light weight, perforated material. I'm impressed with the construction of this skort. Sometimes the light weight material can be poorly made. The drawstring is a fabulous idea. I have an extreme hourglass figure. I often have to go up a size to accommodated legs & booty but then the waist is too big. When you run in a skirt where the waist is too big, it feels like the people behind you can see hiney crack. Also, I like the length of this skirt. I don't feel I need to cover it up to go run around town before or after a run.  The only negative thing I have to say about it is the undershorts are a little tight. But again, it's more likely my thighs and not the shorts.  I definitely recommend this skort.

I have tried a few other brands of skirts/skorts that I like. But because I was(am) loosing weight, I didn't have the best fit. I didn't review them hear because I didn't want to say anything negative that may not be the skorts fault.  Now that I'm no longer between sizes I'm going to replace them and review them as the spring and summer wear on.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oops I Did It Again...

I went and signed up for another half marathon. I did this last time. I signed up for the Mardi Gras half before I even ran my first half (the Jazz half.) When I started training for the Jazz half, I figured this would be a one and done kinda thing. But during my first 8mi run, I knew I hooked.

My sister and personal running guru (Nanny Goat) our friend (Barb) and I are running this half together.

Me, Barb, & Nanny Goat

This will be the first time I travel to a race.  It's exciting. And it makes me nervous. I'm such a creature of habit. I wake up super early to calm my nerves and eat the same thing for breakfast before a run. But I need to learn to be more flexible in life. So I'm jumping outside of my comfort zone. I'm running a race with 20k people, in a city I don't know. Wahoo! Look at me growing!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras!!!

I live for Mardi Gras! I love it! Along with St. Patty's Day, it is my favorite time of year. But this... The utter exhaustion. Might be the best part. Happy Mardi Grad, Y'all!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

14 days and Couning...

Until my first half-marathon of the year!!!

One more long run before the race. One more hour long slow jog. One more week of running until taper.

I'm so excited. I've got my outfit picked out and have my game plan for the day. I'm as excited about this as I was my first half.

This time I'm not worried. This time I know I can do it.

Also, Happy Valentine's Day!!!
Hope you get lots of good hugs & snuggles from all the important people from all the people you love.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thank you running

Over the next few days I will be reveling and enjoy the Mardi Gras. There will be too much drinking, too much sugar and too much food. I will be giving into the hedonistic atmosphere that is Carnival. But I know that you, running, will be there when it's all over to put me back right.

Again, Thank You.

Happy Mardi Gras Y'all!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy Bloggie Valentine's

Melissa at littlempknits came up with this idea for us to show our bloggie friends some love. We ladies, mommas, running chicks are hard on ourselves and internalize the negative things people say to us.

The idea is to make new bloggie friend and share the love. We send each other cards and/or gifts and check out their blog. I  love love love this idea. I mean, who doesn't love presents and new friends.

My Love My Neighbor buddy is Jill at runwithjill. I'm looking forward getting to know her thru her blog. She is a real runner (as in she's a running coach and in training for Boston Marathon) and a mom. She sent me lots of good stuff and card with a funny note.

Hope everyone out there gets lots of good hugs & snuggles for Valentine's and thru out the year.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


or Dat Tuesday or Super Bowl Victory Parade...

What ever you call it, it was awesome. In true NOLA style, the city threw a victory parade for the Boys in Block & Gold. This morning, the local news estimated that 800K people were in attendance to see the Saints roll thru the CBD on donated floats. Well, the girls and I were 3 of those crazies.

I knew it was going to be a madhouse. But I figured how many times do you get to celebrate the first Super Bowl win for New Orleans. I left work early got the girls from school and picked up my nephew. (My nephew, James, is 18. He tagged along with me to help with my maniacs.) After an hour of gridlock from other people trying to park downtown, we finally managed a spot.

For some reason, the City of New Orleans in it's infinite wisdom decided to shut down the entire parade route before the parade even started. (Usually, they shut in down in sections.) This threw off my game plan. But I'm a seasoned Mardi Gras girl. I adapted. We just parked as soon as we could and told Jamesy we were going to huff it. I mean, hey, I'm a distance runner, he's 18, and I had the double jogger.

We made it there in plenty of time. My parents didn't fare as well. They couldn't find a spot, at all, to park in. So Mel, my niece, and Ted hopped out and Don just turned around and went home. [This was for the best anyway. He doesn't like parades, crowds, or the cold. He'd have been miserable.]

Luckily, my husband and parrain belong to a KoC on the parade route. We stand there for Mardi Gras. They have a bar, pottys, food, and it's warm inside. What else do you need? Once I saw the crowds. I decided the girls and I would be watching from the windows. Like I said, I'm a seasoned Mardi Gras go-er. But that was crazy. Two to three times the amount of people for the largest parades.
 This is the crowd on the opposite site of the street. It doesn't do it justice.

Like I said, we watched from the windows. And the pictures are from thru windows. So you'll have to take my word for who's in them.

Li inside the hall holding a hand made sign

Sean Payton holding the Lombardi Trophy.

You'd think his arm would get tired. I don't think he's let it go since they handed it to him. When they got off the plane, he drove out of the airport holding it thru the sun roof of his car. He said it slept in the bed with him the first night. I love how proud he his and that he's not afraid to show it.

 Drew Brees & Co
The KoC hall is just past Gallier Hall and the mayor was toasting the players as they road past. Drew still had the bottle of champagne. He was drinking straight from it andspraying on the crowd. Everyone was loving it. Unfortunately, they didn't have him tied to the float and the mom in me was thinking how unsafe that was.

 Garrett Hartley
The parade organizers put our kicker, Garrett Hartley, on a light up shoe from one all female parades. That just cracked me up. Get it, a kicker in a shoe.  I love obvious humor. Garrett was show cased on his own float because he kicked two +40yrd kicks in the Super Bowl and the winning +40yrd kick in the NCF Championship.

I'm so glad I braved the crowds and kept the girls out late again to see the parade. It was totally worth it.  And as I turned out, me having to park further away than I expected was a blessing. I was close to I-10. Once we were in the car, we didn't wait thru any traffic on the way out.

Saints Super Bowl Champs

What the What...

As I'm sure y'all know, the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. Again, What the What...

I guess I didn't really believe. I am still amazed and awed by the win. Sean Payton, Drew Brees and the Boys worked hard and pulled it off. They worked as a team. Before Payton and Brees the Saints were not a team. It was every man for himself. But these days, you here it in everything they say and see it in how they act. These men are class acts.

Picture from the Huffington Post

 For a town that usually feels like lovable loser, this has uplifted us.

Super Bowl Party
Ted and Diane invited us all over to watch the Super Bowl on their gigantic TV. They had a great spread of party food. Diane's made margaritas from scratch. (yum!)

The hosts (unfortunately this is the best photo I got of them)

My nanny & parrain were there.
Along with Rocco & Sue (my parrain' sister) 

Don & Mel (my parents)

Of course, the Big Man & I.  

I love it when I can get a good pic of he & I. We don't have nearly enough. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of MM or Li. I'm still getting used to that camera.

After we celebrated the Boys in Black & Gold's victory we all ran outside to see the fire works.

People were honking horns and cheering. Don & Lou smoked cigars. And yes those are my girls up way past their bed time, standing around in the street. What can I say? Except...

Who Dat!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I ♥ Running Buddies

I have a habit of "making" people be my friend. Tyra, Ryan, Mel.  It's just what I do.

I've always been able to make friends pretty easily. I talk a lot. That seems to be the key to friend making. But since I'm a SLOW runner and kinda self-conscience about it, it's not been easy to find a running buddy.

Well, Team In Training has given me the opportunity to "make" a few new running friends.

Christy: She and I bonded while wrapping presents at Barnes & Nobles for a TNT fundraiser. We had lots of time to chat. Outside of not making very much money, we had fun. We've run a few times together. She lets me yammer on about my kids. And she tells me about her pugs.  I'm sure we talk about other stuff too, like Gu flavors and sports bras. But I can't remember. I've forgotten every time we've run to get a picture of her. What can I say. After 10-12miles of running, I'm just glad to have finished.

FYI...Christy has a Valentine Basket she is raffling off for TNT fundraising. The details are here in a previous post. Pls buy a few tickets.

Pam: I met Pam at one of the Group Training Sessions for Team In Training. She was running ahead of me for the first half of the run. But I noticed she stayed the same distance ahead of me.  I thought "Yea! If she hangs out at the water stop for a few mins. I can run with her on the way back. " She did and I did. It was nice to have someone to talk to. I was struggling that day. And like me she's a big talker.
I had planned to run with her at the GTS. Then "make" her be my friend but she beat me to the punch. She found me on facebook and she lives near me. Yea!

Last night, we got our first "run" in together.  I say "run" because Sunday was the Super Bowl and I was feeling the celebrating. (more to come on that). Eventhough, I was slower than usual and I had MM & Li in the jogging stroller we got in 5.5mi. Not too shabby for a weekday and being hungover.
I look drunk in this picture but Pam looks cute. Too bad it was dark. 
You can't see her red curly hair that seems to fit her personality so well.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Game Time

Ok BoysIt's time to get to business.

There's been tons of hype and anticipation. But now its time to ignore all of that and focus.

We're all rooting for you.  We know  you can win this. No matter what the "experts" say.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine

Sunrise over Highway 90

The view out of my windshield this morning. Li suggested I take a picture of the clouds.

This is an industrialized part of town. I love the juxtaposition of the blues & reds of the sky and the gray of the highway. There seems to be a lot of that where I live; a highway thru the swamp, processing plant on the Mississippi, rusted out tractors in fields.

Have you taken any great photos lately? Or seen any beautiful sunrises? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Valentine Give Away

One of my most favorite Team In Training teammates, Christy, is raffling off a gorgeous basket of goodies just in time for Valentine's Day. Christy has a few more dollars to raise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to meet her fundraising minimum. But she'd love to be well above the min.

The long list of products in the basket is below. This will make a great gift for your momma or a treat for yourself. I am so entering. I love it. I hope I win.I mean, I hope you win.

The Details: Raffle tickets are $2 each or 3 for $5. The drawing will be February 10th. And of course, I'll be sure to post the winner here.
How to Win: Go to Christy's Team In Training Fundraising Page and donate for as many tickets as you wish. There's no limit. :) Be sure to leave a comment (on her page) when you donate that you want to be entered into the drawing.

In this section

The Goods:
  • Molton Brown Lotion
  • Estee Lauder Sensuous perfume
  • Bobbi Brown Lip Stick
  • Estee Lauder Bronzer Compact
  • Lancome Juicy Tubes
  • Estee Lauder Pore Minimizing skin Refinisher
  • Chanel SPF 8 Liquid makeup
  • Bobbi Brown eye shadow
  • Annick Goutal perfume
  • Kiehl's Firming Serum
  • Fekkai hair gloss
  • Fekkai Glossing cream
  • Fekkai Shampoo/condition
  • Guerlain mascara
  • Guerlain shalimar
  • TasselAire
  • Strivectin Hand cream
  • Kiehl's hand cream
  • Prevage
  • Love Pillow
  • Full size perfume (can't tell what kind) these are all the large items........
  • also in basket are tons of samples
Christy works at a fancy downtown department store. There are lots of great things in this basket. I hope you'll spend a few mins (and dollars) for a chance to win. 

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Saints Fans Help Fulfill Buddy D Promise

    Where else is the world would grown men make fools of themselves for a sports team. Wait...Everywhere. But they did add some New Orleans flava.

    A local sportscaster Buddy D once made a pledge that if the Saints ever made it to the Super Bowl he would wear a dress. Sadly, Buddy D didn't get a chance to see that dream become a reality. But Bobby Hebert (local boy, former Saints QB and Buddy D's successor on the radio) along with hundreds of fans marched thru the city in drag to fulfill the promise in Buddy's honor.

    These pictures are from and