Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So Excited...

Yea! Going on another girls trip! Two in one year. How fancy am I?!
Two (the third is preggers and can't go) of my Shuttle Sisters  and I are going to watch the next Space Shuttle launch in May.

Now to explain a little. I never talk about work on this blog. In fact, I rarely talk about it when I'm not at work. But I will now just for the story sake. The company I work for builds the External Tank for the Space Shuttle. In case you don't know what that is, it is the large brown fuel tank pictured below.

We (Shuttle Sisters) may not be space fanatics. But we did dedicate 5yrs (7 for me) of our lives to this. Ok. We didn't dedicate our lives. But at some point in the past few years, we worked too much over time, ignored our family and friends for the External Tank. And, of course, it's why we are friends. So we kind of care about it. And I'd like to see one launch before there no more.

Plus, who doesn't want to drive 12hrs, one direction, with their friends. Lay by the pool a drink fancy, girlie drinks.  Maybe I'll squeeze a run in too.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Dinner - 04/25/10

Growing up, I never understood why people didn't like meatloaf. My mom is an amazing cook. Her meatloaf is like an Italian meatball. It's moist and flavorful. I've tried to get the recipe but she's one of those "You put a little of this and a little that" cooks. I've never successfully mimicked her recipe, unfortunately. Below is a recipe is nearly as good.

Meatloaf with Red Sauce
1lbs lean ground beef
1lbs lean ground turkey
2 eggs
1tsp Worcestershire
Salt, to taste
hot sauce, to taste
1cup onion, chopped
1/2cup bell pepper, chopped
2tbsp parsley
1tbsp garlic, minced

Red Sauce:
2cups tomatoes, crushed
1/4cup dry white wine
1tbsp Worcestershire

Preheat oven to 350deg. In a small bowl, beat eggs with the Worcestershire, salt, and hot sauce.

Add egg mixture to the ground turkey and beef. Mix well. Add the onion, bell pepper, parsley and garlic to the meat mixture. 

Mix well. Form the meat into a loaf and place in a large roast pan.

Blend the tomatoes, Worcestershire, and white wine in a bowl.
Pour the sauce over and around the meat loaf and bake for1hr. Slice and serve with the red gravy on top.

While, I'm still refining my recipe. It is tasty. Tonight, we had over meatloaf with smashed potatoes,  fruit salad, and broccoli. I love how many serving of fruits & veg I snuck into this meal.

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Race season is over here in Lousiana. Well, marathon season. There are 5ks to come thru the summer. But it's not the same as training for a half marathon. Therefore, I'm not technically in training.

I feel kind of lost. I've been in training since last June. I'm better with a plan. A schedule of what to do each day. It a fundamental part of who I am. And I'm not running at all this week. My IT band is acting up. Has been for weeks. I've finally given in and decided to give it much needed rest.

Like most runners, putting one foot in front of another is my stress relief, my exercise, my time to think about everything and nothing. I'm worried about losing fitness. I'm worried about gaining weight.

But the more I think about it, this will be good for me. Change is often scary. But change is good. And at times, training was starting to feel like a 2nd job and I was resenting it. Now I will start to focus on other things. Speed work. Strength training. Cross training. My bike.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Dinner - April 18th (Sinusy Fog Edition)

Lately, I've noticed I've been cooking the same things over and over again. So yesterday morning, I spent some time flipping thru cookbooks and settled on a recipe from Justin Wilson's cookbook.

Roast Pork with Applekraut
2.5lbs to 3lbs pork loin roast
1/2tsp garlic powder
1tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp mint
1tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
4medium apples, thinly sliced
4cups sauerkraut
1/4cup brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 325deg. Combine garlic, salt, cayenne, and mint.

Rub pork loin with seasoning mixture. In a large pan, roast uncovered for 2hrs.

While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet.

Add the apples, a few at a time, cook until browned.  Stir in the brown sugar and sauerkraut until caramelized. Cover and cook on low for 30mins, stirring occasionally. Add the kraut mixture to the finished pork.

Slice and serve with your choice of vegetable. Tonight we had tomato cumber salad and baked sweet potato fries.

Sorry, there's not a lot of personality to this post tonight. My allergies are really bothering the last few days. I'm tired and groggy and drugged to the teeth with sinus meds. I promise. More pizzazz next time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Weekend Activities (Better Late Than Never) & 3 Change Challenge

I meant to do this post Monday but as usual I got busy. But like I said better late than I never...

Weekend In Review
This past weekend I didn't do a lot of scheduled exercise but we certainly were active.

Friday, I ran a few miles in the morning. Then in the afternoon I loaded the girls in the trailer and we peddled off to the library.  All I could think was "Wow, I'm a dork. I've got my helmet on, pulling my girls on a bike, to the library." But I got some good cross training in and a trip to the library.

Saturday was the City Park Botanical Garden Plant Sale. The girls and I gave the Big Man some time to himself. We loaded into the truck and headed to the park.My mom, dad, Ted and Diane met us. The weather was gorgeous. We spent 4hours walking around, buying plants. I had to replace everything that died during the freeze this winter.

Some pictures from the day. Li making funny faces. Not meaning to, but as my mom says, it's the only face she has.
MM with her fav servant, my Dad.

Sunday we took Li out to ride on her bike. The Big Man loaded his bike and Li's bike in the truck. With MM in the trailer, I rode over to the empty neighborhood next to ours. Poor MM, the whole ride over she kept asking "Where Sissy?Where Sissy?" Typical 2nd child. Idolizes and loves her sister. Li practiced her bike riding up, down and around the block. The coaster brakes were messing her up a bit but she's working on it. I let MM out of the trailer to run the streets.  MM refused to ride home with me. So pulled Li back home.

3 Changes Challenge
Amanda at runtothefinish issued a challenge to her blog readers to make 3 changes in your life in the next 30days. Bust thru a plateau. Shake things up. Change is hard for me. Really hard. But since I started my birthday challenge at the beginning of the month, I figured I would incorporate this.

My 3 Changes
1. Add more core/ab work (at least 3x a week) to my routine.
2. No cursing. I've been working on this one already but I'm not 100%
3. Clean out and organize my spare room/closet. This is very embarrassing. I'm not an overly messy person. But I've been ignoring this room for along time. I plan to take before and after pictures then blog about it.

Anyone can join. And we all need to make some sort of change in our lives. Stop on over to runtothefinish and participate. At least 1 random winner will be drawn to win prizes worth over $200.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Running Jargon

Like all sports, running has a language of it is own. Last year when I was a newbie, I would read Runners World or running related blogs and have no idea what they were talking about. What's a PR or a BQ or taper?! Slowly but surely I'm picking up the lingo.

For those of us who are new to running, Saucony posted this nice little article defining common terms.

A few helpful ones:
Aid Station: A stop in a race with water, sports drinks and other aid.

Base: Mileage accumulated per week.

Bib: Race number usually pinned to the front of your shirt or shorts.

Bonk: To run out of energy or "hit the wall" in a race or workout.

BQ: Boston Qualify. The Boston Marathon requires that a certain time standard be run, based on gender and age, in order to qualify for an official number.

CR: Course record.

Chip: A lightweight chip that a runner ties on their shoelace to uniquely identify and time them as they cross an electronic mat at the start and finish lines.

Chute: A roped off area at the finish of a race where the officials collect the tear off part of a bib (race number) to use for determining the time/place of a runner.

Cross training: Activities that complement running, such as swimming, biking or weight lifting. Also referred to as XT.

Fartlek: A Swedish word that means "speed play." In a fartlek workout, you vary your pace throughout the run with recovery jogs in between faster efforts.

Flats: Light weight shoes used for speed training or racing.

Hill repeats: Running repeats up a hill fast with a walk or slow jog downhill to recover.

Intervals: A workout that consists of running a set distance at a fast pace, usually on a track. Between the intervals, recover by either jogging slowly or walking.

Junk miles: Easy paced runs done in order to reach a weekly mileage total rather than for any specific training effect.

LSD: Long slow (steady) distance.

MP: Marathon pace.

Master: Runner 40 years of age plus.

Negative splits: Running the second half of a race faster than the first.

Out and back:
A course you run out for a certain distance, then turn around and run back.

PR and PB
: Personal record or personal best.

PW: Personal worst.

Point to Point: A course that starts at one point and finishes at another. 

Rabbit: A runner who purposely goes out to set a fast pace in a race, often dropping out before the finish. 

Runner's Trot: Stomach problems on the run that usually require a porta-potty or large hedge to duck behind.

Singlet: Light weight tank top worn by runners.

Splits: Times in a race at measured miles or kilometers.

Taper: To cut back on mileage before a race in order to be rested.

Ultramarathon: A race that's longer than the 26.2 mile marathon. Distances can include 50K, 50 miles and 100 miles, among others.

Lingo Lessons Learned Lately:
•While it's doubtful I'll be setting any course records or Boston Qualifying any time soon. It's good to know that I should be impressed when people do.  
•Plus, I didn't know people had more than one pair of running shoes at a time. Esp, didn't know there are special shoes just for racing.
•Why are any miles junk miles? I thought meeting you weekly miles total is always better than not.
•Knowing whether a race is Out and Back or Point to Point is important for race day logistics.

Hope y'all learned something. I know I did.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Dinner - April 11, 2010

Yesterday, when I was thinking about what to cook for dinner tonight I thought I was going to make a stir fry. But then this morning, while laying in bed I realized I had bell peppers that need to be used. So I decided on chicken fajitas.

While not a Cajun/Creole/Italian, this is a family favorite. Growing up my mom would make this as a quick and easy dinner. I doubled this recipe to have leftovers for tomorrow's dinner.

Chicken Fajitas

1lb chicken
1.5cup lime juice
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
chili powder, to taste
2tbsp olive oil
1lg onion, julienned
2 bell peppers, julienned

Rub with chili powder, salt, & pepper. Slice chicken into 1/2" strips.  Marinade chicken for an hour.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook until soft about 15mins. Stirring occasionally.

In a separate skillet, cook the chicken over a medium heat until brown, about 10mins. Then turn the heat up to high and cook for 2mins.

When the meat and veg are complete, serve on a tortilla with cheese, salsa, and jalapeños. I served it today a side of black beans and cilantro-lime rice. Just a note, the whole wheat tortilla did not work out well.

We had strawberry short cake with angel food cake for dessert. It's strawberry season here in Louisiana. So I bought a flat (12 pints) and have been looking for ways to use them.  I made the cake myself. Something went horribly wrong. I didn't have a bundt pan so I used a loaf pan. This did not work out too well. At least the whip cream I made was tasty.

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Biking with my Girls

Look at my new toy! A bike trailer for my girlies to ride in.

I got it for my birthday. But I didn't have a chance to use it until yesterday. In fact, it was still in the box. After a few mins assembling it and attaching it to my bike, the girls climbed in. I handed them they're dinner, a la Mermaids. (Y'all remember that movie? The mom, Cher, fed the kids appetizers/party food for dinner. We had leftovers from the Easter party.) That's the key to keeping the fighting to a min, snacks. Good thing the like fruits and veggies. I'd feel silly giving them chips so they'll be quite while I exercise.

I'm super surprised with the quality of this trailer. It was very in expensive. One of my fav friends, Travis, turned me on to nashbar.com.
 MM & Li packed in to the Trailer with dinner.

 Unfortunately, I have no stats. In my excitement, I forgot to grab my Garmin. I know I rode for 40mins and I figure about 7-8mi. Clearly, I'm not speedy on the bike either. What evs. After the first block, my thighs were burning. After about 1.5mi, I wanted to turn for home. It's quite a resistance workout pulling 80lbs on a bike. But I was determined to ride for 40mins. As you know, I've run 3 half-marathons in the last year. I am tough and strong and my legs can take a beating. But geez louise that was a struggle. I had to stop to catch my breath after 20mins. Than after another 10mins. But I made it the full 40mins.

I'm super new to the biking scene and I have a few questions I'd love for people in the know to answer...
  1.  I get sore spots on my hands. Should I just suck it up or buy padded biking gloves? Is that a silly thing that wimps do?
  2. How do I find a comfortable pace? Even without the kiddos, I'm struggling to find and pace I can go the distance.
  3. Are they're workouts/training plans that help with speed and endurance, like with running?
 Thanks for the info.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Birthday Challenge - Wk 1

My first week of my new goals did not go perfectly. Of course not, if it did, I would not need to set  up this self challenge.

Mind: No cursing. Almost did when I was nearly run off the road by a dump truck but didn't. WIN
Body: Did 50reps of different ab exercises. WIN
Diet: One left over birthday cupcake. That's it just one. WIN
Soul: Let my temper get the best of me this AM. Mornings are hard. I hate the hectic craziness. And fussy babies. And I lost control over something meaningless. FAIL. Double FAIL, in fact.

Mind: No cursing. WIN
Body: Did 30reps of different arm exercises. And a jog with the girls in the double stroller. WIN
Diet: One teatime snack. WIN
Soul: Let my temper get the best of me AGAIN, this morning. My oldest is as strong willed as I am. We butt heads a lot. FAIL.

Mind: Said the "S" word. No real reason for it either.  FAIL
Body: Nothing. Nada. FAIL
Diet: We had a customers in from out of town. Took a late lunch in the Quarter. Three beers with lunch and other junk. FAIL
Soul: Kept my temper all day. WIN

Mind: Dropped the F-Bomb while talking to my sister. FAIL
Body: Nothing no exercising at all. FAIL
Diet: Glass of wine and a cupcake. FAIL
Soul: Another day without hollering. Still take effort though. FAIL.

Mind: No cursing. WIN
Body: Four plus hours of gardening then lot of other indoor cleaning. I was sore the next morning. I'm calling this one. WIN
Diet: Glass of wine only. WIN
Soul: Didn't raise my voice but once. WIN

Mind: Think I may have cursed but cant remember. FAIL?
Body: More cleaning but not vigorous. FAIL
Diet: Glass of wine and cupcake ad a beer. FAIL
Soul: I notice it's getting easier to keep my temper. WIN

Mind: Said GD in conversation. This is what I am trying to get rid of. FAIL
Body: No time. Too busy. FAIL
Diet: Beer, Reese's eggs, Doberge cake, and other assorted cake. I ate so much my belly hurt. It still hurt this morning. FAIL. Double FAIL.
Soul: I did have to fuss at my girls but normal mom stuff. WIN

So to sum up this week, I am happy with my Mind (cursing) and Soul (temper) progress. It's getting easier if I'm conscience of what I'm doing. Body and Diet did not go well. I was lazy.

This week I'm kicking my own butt into gear and getting better about exercising and eating well.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday Dinner - April 4th (Easter)

When the Big Man and I got married, I wanted to have a holiday at my house. (This was before I knew all the work it took. :)) But all the major holidays were taken. Except for Easter.  And since Easter falls near both our birthdays, we snatched it.

Normally, we boil crawfish for Easter. But because of the El Nino/La Nina crazy weather we've had this season and last none of the suppliers could promise us crawfish. So we decided to mix it up and do the Cajun solution to a crowd to feed. Make a big pot of something.  The following recipe is easily double and freezes well.

Shrimp Etouffee

2lbs shrimp
1/4lbs butter
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
2tbsps garlic, diced<
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup flour
1 quart water
1 ounce sherry
1 cup green onions, chopped
1/2cup parsley, chopped
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste
2 cups white rice, steamed

In a large heavy bottomed pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic and bay leaves. 
Sauté vegetables for 3-5 minutes.

Add shrimp and tomato sauce and blend well into mixture.

Using a wire whisk, blend flour into the vegetable mixture to form a white roux. Slowly add water, a little at a time, until sauce consistency is achieved. You may need to add more water to maintain the consistency of the sauce.

Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and at least cook 30mins, stirring occasionally. (Normally, I cook for hours. The longer/slower you cook it the better the flavor.) Add sherry, green onions and parsley and cook an additional 5 minutes. Season to taste using salt and cayenne pepper.

Serve over steamed white rice using a few dashes of Louisiana Gold Pepper Sauce.

I'm beginning to realize most of my cooking looks the same. Some sort of seafood (or other meat), red sauce  and rice or pasta. Dang! I thought I was a creative cook.

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

Happy Happy Birthday

Happy Happy Birthday Big Man!

Li, MM with the Big Man at the Irish Channel Parade

Thank you for being our strong,  patient and kind Daddy. We love you.