Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I ♥ Spring & Wednesday Winner

I  ♥ Spring
Actually, I double ♥ Spring. Spring has definitely sprung in NOLA. It's the kind of weather that makes you want to quit your desk job and become roofer or a landscaper just to be outside. Or just leave a little early so you can get a run in with your kids before dinner. That's just what I did.

Yesterday,  I was able to use some sneak out (use flex time actually) of work a little early and go get MM & Li from school. As soon as we got home, I changed into my new brooks running skirt (review to come) and load my girlies into the double jogger. I was so happy to be out running. The first mile felt really slow. It's been a few months since I ran with the double jogger and I have been resting my legs after a race. But I found my rhythm. The nice little impromptu afternoon 5k was great. It's so nice just to run sometimes.

Wednesday Winner
This week, I was lucky enough to be interview about my love running by one of my fav bloggie running friends. You should stop on over to Robin's Turtle Running blog and learn more about me. ;)

Monday, March 29, 2010

4wk Birthday Challenge

At the beginning of this year, I decided to share a few New Years Resolutions with my bloggy friends. I feel like I'm making great progress on a few. But I need to push myself harder on others. I figure if I have a defined plan and report on them weekly, my goals will be in the forefront of my mind. I borrowed this idea from Amanda at runtothefinish. Every 30 days she starts a new challenge with herself. 

Here are my goals for the next few weeks:
Mind: Stop cursing - When I had Li, I dropped most of my vulgar words. But GD and others still creep out of my mouth. I, mean really, I'm a lady and shouldn't be cursing like a sailor.

Body: Arms & Abs - The last few months I've been so focused on my half-marathon training. I haven't been lifting as much as I should. And I've never liked ab work. Usually, I avoid it like the plague. But a weak core is a hindrance for running.

Diet: Limit myself to one treat a day - This may sound kind of lame. Why not give junk up completely? I know how I am, cold turkey will not work for me. So, I still have weight to loose. And the only real way for me to do this to be more disciplined with my eating. That's it.

Soul: Work on Temper - This is the toughest one for me. I am the world's least patient person.When I get frustrated, I get angry. I do not want to holler as much as I do. I want my home to be more calm & peaceful. The plan is to try to not loose my mind over the small things.

Check back in weekly and see my progress.

How are your goals for the year going?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Dinner - 03/28/10 (Birthday Edition)

Today is my birthday. Usually, the Big Man and I get a babysitter, go to the theater, and eat at fancy restaurant. But yesterday, Nanny Goat got married.
Nanny Goat on her wedding day
And after the excitement of that all I wanted to do is hang around the house. I decided to cook us an easy dinner that we all love.

This is not an old family recipe. In fact, I didn't eat Chicken Shawarma until I was in college. But we fell in love at first bite. And of course, what meal of Shawarma would be complete without hummus and dill yogurt dressing.

Chicken Shawarma
10 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

Make the marinade: In a bowl, mix together the garlic, lemon juice, oil, curry powder, salt,and pepper. 

Whisk to combine. Add chicken and coat with marinade.

Preheat a grill. Remove chicken from marinade. Grill chicken for about 10 minutes on each side or until fully cooked through.

1 can chickepeas, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin

In a food processor, blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Yogurt Dressing
2tbsp lemon juice
1cup Greek yogurt
2tbsp parsley
1tbsp dill
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, yogurt, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Refrigerate, covered in plastic until ready to use.

Serve with pita and a salad of cucumber, tomatoes, and Romain. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

ING Georgia Half-marathon

Sorry bloggie friends, I have been out of the loop for a few days. But I am in Atlanta running the ING Georgia half marathon. This weeks Sunday Dinner post will be postponed until Monday night.

It's been a great weekend and I will give you a full acount of my race later in the week. But I just can't wait to share my good news. I PR'd today, 2:45-ish. Two mins off my previous PR. I'm so happy. I didn't expect it at all.

(BTW, I am posting this via email for the first time. Hopefully, it works out ok.)

Friday, March 19, 2010


Last week, my car hit an important milestone, 123456mi.

Its hard to read but I was driving when I took the picture.
I know, I's bad but I couldn't help myself

This kind of thing isn't important to most people but I love love love my car. It's so me. 
My 3 is practical and safe but doesn't scream "Mom Car".

I'm going to be very sad when I have to buy a new car. Eventually there will be a Baby#3. And, alas, 3 car seats will not fit in the backseat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patty's Day Virtual 10K Race Results

Thanks to everyone who played along. I had a lot of fun. And it was nice to have support between races. I'm already thinking of prize for the next virtual race. I may stick with duckies because they crack me up.

I ran a nice easy10k on the Mississippi River levee on a gorgeous spring  day.
Distance: 10K Time:1:20:38
Hahahaha...This is not how I ran my race but it would have been funny if I did.
Actually, this outfit is a tribute to my dad who wears head to toe green for 
St. Patrick's Day no matter how many time we tell him that just one piece would suffice.

She walked a 5k with her husband, Dan, pushing their baby, Jack, and their sweet dog, Kaylee. That's multi tasking. Christy and Dan used to work with me but they moved back North to be near home and start a family. I'm so glad they decided to participate in my race!
Distance:5K Time:0:51:44

She and her friend, Kerri, ran their first 5k with Kerris' son, Aanon. How exciting!  I'm sure now they've caught the racing bug too.
Kerri: Distance: 5K Time: 0:32:42
Stephanie: Distance: 5K Time: 0:30:30

Ran her 10k in the rain, wind and cold. You're tougher than me. :) She didn't take a pic because is was just to yuck outside. But she still put up a time to be proud of. Hopefully, spring will make it her way soon.
Distance: 10k Time:1:00:14

Ran her first 10k. Her LittleMan ran the 1mile too and LittleGirl ran the stick horse race. Everyone will be getting a duckie. I love that they were active as a family.
Distance: 10K Time:1:04:00

Ran the Kelly's Shamrock 5k and then ran an additional 5k. That's dedication plus the out fit is too cute.
Distance: 10k Time: 0:58:32

I love that she's smiling so big even after a run.
Distance: 6.4mi Time:1:10mins

She ran this race pushing her two kiddos in a stroller. That's a time to be proud of even without the kiddos.
Distance:10K Time: 1:02:08

Found time to run during nap time. Time management. That's what being a mom teaches you. Plus, I'm super impressed she got all four girls to nap at the same time.
Distance:10K Time:1:13:36

Ran her 10k shaving 4mins off her previous PR! Unfortunatly, there's no pic because she couldn't find her camera battery and the cell phone pic attempt was "horrendous"!
Distance: 10k Time: 1:06:21

Ran her first 10k! Great job! And in the cold with snow on the ground too!
Distance: 10K  Time: 1:17.36

Congratulations to all the participants! So many people running their first race or a new distance. It's always so exciting. Since I'm a numbers dork, here's the break down. 

  • Number of participants (including me): 12

  • The average speed: 1:10:03

  • The speediest: Kayte

  • The tortisine: Christy & Dan

  • The mean: Nikki
Everybody gets wins a little Duck of the Irish but two lucky winners win Green Tiara Bondi Bands.
The lucky winners are....
Christy and Darlene. I'll be sending out your Bondi Bands with your ducks.

If you participate in  the virtual 10k but haven't sent me your race times yet, I'll gladly update this post and send out your duckie.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Dinner - March 14 2010 (Pi Day)

Today, I had one of those days in the kitchen where you're jsut fighting a losing battle. I burned my first batch of roux flour, dirting one pot. Then had to change from the 2nd pot to a 3rd, larger one. Not enough rice for dinner. I didn't pay attention to the amount of spice I was adding and the final product was bland.

But cooking, as in running you learn to adapt. I started a second roux. I moved the sauce to a larger stock pot. I added caynne to the leftover sauce. You recover from an injury. You get over the disapointment of a bad race.

Chicken Sauce Piquante
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can use turkey, sausage, tasso or any boneless meat)
1 cup roux flour
2 tbsp olive oil
6oz tomato paste
1 lg onion, chopped
3 celery rib, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 cups pureed tomatoes
1 qrt chicken stock
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbsps Worcestershire Sauce

In a bowl, stir roux flour into chicken stock. Set aside.

Season chicken breats with salt & pepper. Heat up your George Forman. (When's the last time you used your George.) Cook chicken until golden brown.

In a heavy bottom pot, heat oil over med-high heat. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Cook for 5mins. (I used a pre-chopped mix today.)

Add tomato paste, tomatoes and chicken stock/roux mixture. Blend well into the vegetable mixture, bring to a rolling boil and reduce to simmer.

Add chicken, salt, black pepper, cayenne, oregano and Worcestershire. Stir well. Cook for 45mins.

Usually, sauce piquant is served over rice but I didn't have enough for dinner. So I substitued pasta.

Happy Pi Day

Today is March 14th (3/14) or Pi day and when you have a family of engineer dorks, you end up with silly things like an apple pie with Π cut in the top crust.

Birthday Wishes
If you've got a few mins, stop by Meg Runs and get the info to send Jill some birthday love. Jill is very inspiring and a talented runner. Plus she was my bloggy valentine and sent me some really nice swag.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ING Georgia Half

In 6 days, I'll be flying to Atlanta with Nanny Goat to meet up with Barb in Atlanta. I'm so excited. Sad to say but I haven't been on a girls trip since I got married. We had one planned, but Katrina got in the way. Then I had babies and was busy with work. Y'all know how life can get away from you when you're busy.

But my kids are bigger and work has settled down. So I'm off to Hotlanta to run the ING half on Sunday with my girls. Right now the weather looks like it should be perfect for racing. I'm hoping for a better race than my last but I haven't trained for hills. So we'll see.

There's still time to enter my St. Patty's Day Virtual 10k. I've got plenty of ducks to mail out.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Getting Old

The Big Man's birthday is on Easter this year. Mine is the week before. Because they are so close, we usually celebrate at the same time. Usually, it's dinner at a fancy restaurant and go to the theater. But this year, Nanny Goat is getting married my birthday weekend and Easter is Corey's we are going to push our celebration until the following weekend.

The Big Man, being the ever thoughtful person he is, asked what I wanted to do the day of my birthday. This is what I said. "Laze around, watch movies and cook. Drink wine with dinner." I'll add get in a run and bike ride, if I feel like it.

Dang! I am getting old.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Girls Day Out - Dreams Come True Exhibit

One of my New Years resolutions is to do more fun activities with the girls. MM is big enough now to not have to carry. And of course, Li is always up for new activities.

The New Orleans Museum of Art the Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio, an exhibit featuring original artworks from The Princess and the Frog, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. My girls are not much into princesses but they love Disney movies. I knew they would enjoy it.

Since I had a few days off after Mardi Gras, I decided that would be a perfect time to bring them. I figured I'd bring them in the afternoon then we could eat dinner at a restaurant, which we rarely do.  I decided to take them on Thursday afternoon since the Big Man had to work. But I didn't check what time they closed. We showed up at 3:50PM. Tens mins before closing. Whoops. Luckily NOMA is in City Park. Since I promised them something fun, we headed to the play ground in the park.

 On the play ground equipment

So attempt one failed. Luckily, I had Friday off too. We packed up and went to NOMA when it opened. The thing about bringing a crazy wild maniac of a 20mo old (MM) to a museum is that you have to go thru the exhibit quickly. The museum has a no camera policy or I would show you some of the amazing drawings/art. This going to sound dumb...but I didn't know how complicated animation is. It really is an art form, not just an ability to draw. I wish I could have spent more time reading and examining the displays. But Fridays is field trip day. Along with my wild maniacs, there 100 other kids milling about. At least I didn't have to worry about my girls being too loud.

MM and Li on the steps of NOMA

There's still time to gather your green running gear and enter my St. Patty's Day Virtual 10k. I'm sure everyone could use a little duck of the Irish.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rock & Roll Mardi Gras Marathon Race Report

I've been dragging my feet, not writing this post. Seriously, I've come to this post 4x without writing a thing. The race didn't go as I had hoped. I was so excited about it and the disappointment has gotten the better of me. My time was 10mins slower than my previous half and about 20mins slower than I should've been.

The only thing that I can put my finger on as the cause was I was tired. We didn't get much sleep the night before. Nanny Goat and I got a hotel in the French Quarter (near the start line) the night before. This was a bad idea. Drunken fools hollered all night walking past our hotel. There was a lull from 2AM-3:30AM.  Literally, slept an hour. I could feel how tired I was the whole race. Oh well. I can't change anything. Ok. Enough whining. I'm done with disappointment.

Nanny Goat and I met up with the team in training people at 5AM to second line over to the start line which was about 1.5mi away.  The race didn't start until 7AM. Needless to say we had a lot of time checking gear, waiting in the cold, using the port-a-pottys, and trying not to think about the race.  I drank a litter of water. We had time to take cute pre-race photos.
Dana, Pam, Jennifer, Me, Nanny Goat, Christy, other Megan

When it was time, we headed over to the corrals. I had to say bye to Nanny Goat since she was in corral 4 and I was in 18. And other Megan was in corral 16 so we wished her luck and sent her off. But the rest of us are similarly tortoisine so we got in corral 22. (Christy had no idea what her finish time might be when she signed up. ) Because of the wave starts, it  was 7:45AM before we crossed the start line. I understand why they do this. But it really messes with the race anxiety.  But finally, we were off and running.

I'm sure my Garmin can tell me my splits. But I've never figured it out. So this is what I remember.... The first few miles we steadily passing people. Just running, watching the bands as we passed. Every few miles of the course, there were Mardi Gras floats and statues you could take you picture with. I didn't because I have tons of pictures of floats.
At mile 3-4, I realized I had drank an entire bottle of water already. Uh oh. I'm going to have to pee at some point. Usually, that this point, I find my rhythm and feel like I could run forever. But I didn't that day. Then at the half way point, I checked my GPS, 1:30ish. Dang! I should be WAY faster than that. Mile 8-9, I thought "Why do I do this to myself? I could be chillaxin at home" more than once and I had drank another bottle and still didn't need to pee. Then at 10mi, I told myself it's just a 5k. It's a comforting thought. So I ran the last 3mi slowly and drank most of another bottle.  And I didn't have to pee until got home at noon. That's 4.5hrs and approx 2 litters of water without peeing. Apparently, I was a camel that day.

My finish time was 2:57:38 (I think). Not stellar. But waiting at the finish line was my family.

It was so nice to see my girls, my mom & dad, and the Big Man. Cheering me one to the finish line.

Here are a few pictures:
Me about to cross the finish line

I like this one. Think it makes me look fast.

After with my girls, Li & MM

The whole family

Look at all the crap on my wrists.
This makes me realize how far I've come with my running.
Not long ago this would a have driven me insane. But now, not much bothers me. 

Nanny Goat & I 
The Big Man, MM, Li, Pam and other Megan at the TNT Victory Party after the race.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Dinner March 7, 2010

My mom, Mel, is an amazing cook. She can cook just about anything. Mel has always worked but she came home everyday and made us dinner. We rarely ate out and never fast food. For Mel, cooking your family a well rounded meal with quality ingredients is an expression of love.  Of her culinary talents, anything with a red sauce is my favorite; spaghetti & meatballs, manicotti, and of course lasagna.

Lasagna is the first dinners I learned how to cook well. (I'm pretty sure this is why the Big Man thought I was marriage material) .This recipe has taught me a lot about cooking. It has taught me patience and how to experiment. This recipe can be modified in many ways and still be tasty. You can use what ever ground meat you choose; chicken, turkey, pork, etc. Actually, you can probably leave out the meat if you're a vegetarian. Tonight, I decided to add spinach since we had some in the freezer. Like all moms, I want to sneak in veg when I can.  I use healthier ingredients than the original recipe but,  with lasagna, it is most important (and difficult) to serve the right portion size.

While I love this dish, it is not quick cooking. You'll need about two hours. But its only about 30mins active time. It's a great thing to cook while you're getting other stuff done around the house. I always double it and freeze the leftovers. And like most red sauce dishes, lasagna is better the next day.

1lb lean ground meat (I used turkey and pork)
16oz pureed (or diced) tomatoes, no salt added
12oz tomato paste, no salt added
2clove garlic, minced
2tbsp parsley
1tbsp oregano
1tbsp basil
1tsp black pepper
1tsp salt
1pk whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked per package directions
24oz low fat cottage cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2cup part-skim Parmesan cheese
1/2lb part-skim mozzarella
1cup frozen spinach, cooked per package directions

In a heavy bottom pot, slowly brown meat on med heat.  

Add tomatoes, paste, 1tbsp parsley, oregano, basil, garlic, pepper and salt. Mix well.

Cook uncovered for 1hr, stirring every 15mins or so.

In a separate bowl, mix cottage cheese, eggs, 1tbsp parsley and 1cup Parmesan.

In a rectangular high sided dish (like corningware), layer the noodles, 1/2 meat mixture, 1/2 cheese mixture, 1/2 cup spinach, and 1/2 mozzarella. Repeat layers. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. 

Cook in oven heated to 375deg for 30mins. Allow lasagna to cool and set up for 15mins before serving. Tonight, I served it with a salad, broccoli, and homemade french bread.

I know the recipes I've posted so far have been time consuming. This is generally how I prefer to cook on the weekends, taking my time. But I have plenty of simple, quick cooking recipes. Keep coming back, I promise I'll have something for every skill level. 

Of course, this dish is Italian and not Cajun. But that's what makes NOLA food so interesting...all of the cultural influences we have. I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does.

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

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

St. Patty's Day Virtual 10K (or 5k Relay)

I just ran my second half marathon (race recap to come) and am about to run my third. But I was thinking, between the two I can't run any great distances but I can run a 10k. I prefer to run with people but all my running peeps are tired from the race. I can't slack just yet. I'm still in training. So this is where you, bloggie friends, come in handy.

The Details: In honor of St. Patty's Day and the inaugural debut of the Irish Running Queens (more to come on that) I decided to host a St. Patty's Day virtual 10k. Come run with me. Between now and March 17th (St. Patty's Day) run a 10k. I have a few followers who are not runners, yet. If you still want to run(walk) a 5k instead, let me know and I'll set up teams. Anyone can run(walk) a 5k.  I know. I've done it as a non-runner runner.

How to Enter: Be (or become) a follower of my blog. Leave me a comment and let me know you're participating.

When you've run your 10k, send me an email at megmehell at yahoo with your time and where I can mail your duckie. I'll post all the participants times and a picture of you running if you send me one. Please send me your times by noon on the 16th

Prizes: All participants will receive a little duck of the Irish. If you push little ones in a stroller while you run, I'll send them each one for supporting mommy. The winners shall receive green with silver tiara Bondi Bands will be give to the winners. The winners will be chosen comme ca... the runner with the median time and a random participant.

 Me with Nanny Goat. I'm sporting my green tiara bondi band

And please spreed the word.  I'd love to have mail out lots of little duckies.
Oh and of course, don't forget to wear your green.