Friday, May 28, 2010

Busy Busy Busy...Boot Camp Challenge

It's going to be a busy weekend. The girls birthday party is this Sunday. I will be spending the next few days grocery shopping, cleaning, decorating, and cooking. My to-do list is a mile long.

The Big Man's best friend is coming to stay for the weekend. It's great. We all love Uncle Jim and we don't see enough of him. But that means I have to clean my spare room and bathroom and vacuum upstairs. I was hoping to get away without doing all that this weekend. Then we have another party on Sunday evening that I'm looking forward to. But I've got to get two girls down for good naps after their party. So as not to be too fussy at the night time party. Starting to get a little panicky just typing this. Ok, Meg, Breathe.

With all that to do, how would I fit exercising in. Well, last week I stumbled on Inperspire's Weekend Boot Camp Challenge. The idea is to challenge yourself a little more everyday. Boot Camp begins Friday and ends Sunday at midnight.

This weekend's Challenge Goals:

200 Jumping Jacks
300 Jump Ropes
100 Push ups
300 Squats
10 – 20 count Wall Squats
10 – 10 count Planks
100 Sit ups

The Boot Camp Challenge is meant to challenge you at whatever level you are now.  You can split the challenge anyway you like, e.g., you can do 50 jumping jacks on Friday, 50 on Saturday, and 100 on Sunday.  If you cannot do a full sit up, modify and do 25 crunches in the morning, 50 crunches in the evening, and so forth. I love that you can squeeze these in whenever you get a few mins.

Stop on over to Inperspire's blog and join the Challenge.

What are your weekend plans? Busy, Parting, BBQing, or just Chillaxin'?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Virtual “Finish Chelsea’s Run" Race Report

Earlier this year, a Chelsea King disappeared during a run outside of San Diego.  The investigation revealed she was kidnapped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who was suspected of  kidnapping and murdering another girl in 2009. This is every parents nightmare.  Chelsea's parents established the Chelsea's Light Foundation to strengthen sex offender laws and change policies.

As a mom of little ones, I often think when they are older I won't have to worry as much. They'll be able to take care of themselves. But I guess the worries change.  It's so sad.

Kayte @ longlegsontheloose organized a virtual race in support of the Chelsea's Light Foundation.  The idea is to finish Chelsea's run. We chose our distance (which is good b/c of my knee I can't go too far). We rocked Chelsea's favorite colors, blue and orange. Wore the bibs Kayte made us. And tied ribbons in Chelsea's honor on our run. 

This past Friday, I ran my race. I originally planned for a 5k but my time was limited and my ITband was bothering me. I kept it to a slow, even for me, 2.25mi. Took me 23:45 for lots of reasons (excuses), my belly is no longer used to Gu, I'm not acclimated to the humidty yet, it was 87deg, and the route I ran is boring. This was supposed to be my triumphant return to running. Not so much. My ITband hurt all weekend. Guess I need more rest. Dang!  Enough whining.

At least I look cute in blue & orange. This is a nice color combo.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Dinner - 05/23/2010 (Oil Spill Edition)

Ok. This is going to be a little long but bear with me I get to the recipe after awhile.

The past few weeks, I've been watching the news about the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. It's such a shame. I feel kind of like I did right after Katrina (obviously, not to the same degree). Is this the end of our way of life? Will my children be able to see SE Louisiana in all her glory like I did/do? Are crawfish/shrimp/crab boils gone forever?

You have to understand, my feelings are divided on this. I love this land. I grew up crabbing on the beach on Grand Isle. And looking for alligators in the Bayou Segnette. The fertileness, the wildness, the mosquitoes and worse...I love it.

But, I cannot villainize the oil companies. You see, they feed my family (along with many others). The Big Man works for an oil field construction company. This company (as well as the one before) has been good to him and the work is interesting. What am I to do but worry over what is coming for our estuaries and the potential loss of income?

Having said all that...I decided to make a seafood gumbo. In case the worst happens, at least my girls will have eaten Louisiana crabs and shrimp one last time. Luckily, we live with in a few mins of a fresh (right off the boat) seafood market.

Seafood Gumbo
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1lb shrimp, peeled or 2lbs whole
1lb lump crabmeat or crab fingers
6 whole gumbo (cleaned) crabs
2 dozen shucked oysters (if you can get it I couldn't find any)
6cups shellfish stock or water
2cups onions, chopped
1cup celery, chopped
1cup bell pepper, chopped
1/4cup garlic, minced
1lb andouille sausage, thinly sliced
1cup green onions, chopped
1/4cup parsley
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
hot sauce, to taste

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat oil over med-high heat. Wisk in flour a little at a time to make roux. Stir constantly until brown roux is golden brown. 

Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Cook until veg are wilted.  Add andouille, blend well into vegetable mixture and  cook for 3mins.

Slowly add hot shellfish stock (or water),a little at a time, stirring constantly. Bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer and cook  for at least 30mins (more is always better).  Add green onions and parsley. Add salt, pepper, cayenne and hot sauce.  

 Add shrimp, crab fingers, oysters and whole crabs. Stir in gently.

Return to a low boil and cook until shrimp are pink. Adjust seasonings, if necessary and serve over Louisiana rice.

Of course, everyone loves this dish. How can you not if you are Cajun?! Hopefully, there will be lots of seafood gumbos to come.

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

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rouge Orleans 2011

So. I may have lost my mind... I really want to run the 2011 Rouge Orleans ultra-marathon. Well, with a team of people. This is pure craziness. Because a full marathon scares the crap out of me. And I don't have a weekend to spend running down the levee. And I'm currently injured. And I'm sure what is going on in my life in the next 8-10mo.  But still, I really wanna. (said in whiny voice)

The website say it all.
The Rouge-Orleans is a 100+ mile Ultra-Marathon and Team Relay that  starts in the capital city of Baton Rouge and Finishes in Audubon Park in New Orleans. Participants will run on top of the levee and follow the mighty Mississippi as it meanders it’s way 124 miles down to New Orleans.  Running alongside old farms, plantations, sugarcane fields, swamps, and of course the river will give runners a chance to see Southern Landscapes at their purest. 
Well, maybe not everything.

You  have to understand. I love the Mississippi River. I love running on it in the morning when the fog rolls in. It reminds me of all of the things I love about living in this area. The beauty, the decay. The industrial, the farmland, the swamp. But I've only ever run a 5mi stretch. I'd love to see the rest from something other than a car. And I've run Audubon Park so many times, I could run it backwards.

But the more you (I mean me) think about it, it's not really that crazy. This is how the website sells it. It is the most doable and definitely the most fun. Each member of the team will run 5 legs averaging around 4 miles per leg. As one person is running, the others are partying it up in the van. So basically, you run 4 miles rest 4.5hours. (I'm assuming my team runs as I do) Then run 4miles. rest 4.5hours over and over for 124miles. That's not impossible. It's not even unreasonable.

I guess for now I'm content to mildly cyber-stalk the Rouge Orleans. (This week I became a facebook fan and have stopped by the website everyday.) Unless anyone wants to be on my team. I have a spare room for any out of town teammates. Seriously.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Li

Today is  my sweet girl's birthday. Four years ago, my life changed in the best way possible...My oldest was born. From that moment, I knew I loved her.  The full head of black hair. The perfect cupids bow lips. The hair all fell out but she still has those gorgeous lips.

At three months, she babbled along as I sang.  At 10months, Li spoke in full sentences and hasn't stopped talking since. You are never lonely if Li is around. She has my healthy self-esteem and her daddy's easy smile and even temper.

I worried for her when MM came along. It's tough for a kid when a new baby comes along and you're still a baby. But in true Li style, she told us when she needed attention and was sweet to her baby sister. Li is the responsible oldest child, even at 4yrs old. She folds the laundry and organizes her toys.

Of course, she's not perfect. Li didn't slept the first two years. She still doesn't sleep like a normal kid. And her stubbornness is rivaled only by mine. It can be hard to deal with a small person who has definite ideas on how things should be.  But I love her with everything that I am.

A few of my favorite pictures of Li

Her choice for her special birthday, salad, and broccoli. That kid loves veggies. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Laurin Loved the Launch (copied from Mel)

[Note: I'm too lazy to write my own post about bringing our Laurin on a Stick on our Orlando trip So I just copied from my friend Mel's blog.]

Back from my Shuttle Sister Trip and it was awesome!  We had such a great time-- it was great spending so much time with those girls.  We really had some good times when we used to work together.  I mean, work wasn't good times, but time spent with them always helped the days go by faster.  We rekindled that spark on this trip.  Literally, the whole 10 hour drive to Orlando was spent chatting away.  We didn't sleep, watch movies, or anything.  We just talked.  We did more sleeping on the way home, but that was mostly due to the terribly uncomfortable beds in the hotel.

Anyway, Laurin is such a ham in front of the camera, and she made me take all kinds of pictures of her throughout the trip. I thought these pictures would be a great way to tell you all about our adventure!

When we first arrived in Orlando, Laurin was super excited about going to Ikea, so we had to take her there immediately after checking into the hotel. 

I bought a few things there... I'll share them with you as soon as I get it all set up in my house :)

After shopping at Ikea, we were exhausted.  And hungry.  We pretty much were hungry all of the time.  I much prefer to be with girls who are good eaters.  And the Shuttle Sisters don't disappoint :)  Anyway, we hit up the California Pizza Kitchen (um, can you say deslish?!  I think we all ordered a whole bunch of appetizers, and it was so so good!).

Laurin's pregnant so she couldn't drink a mojito.  She had to stick to water.

We got our waiter to snap a picture of the four of us.

We were exhausted from the drive, so we just went back to the hotel and hit the sack.  Early.  We're wild and crazy like that.

The next day, we woke up bright and early to head to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for the launch.  We weren't sure about traffic and stuff like that, so we gave ourselves plenty of time.  We figured we could kill time in the area if necessary.  We went to Ron Jon Surf Shop.  Laurin insisted.

Then we walked the few blocks to the beach.  We buried Laurin in the sand.  She said she didn't mind getting all sandy before a full day of shuttle launch watching.

It was finally time to head to KSC to claim our spot to watch the launch!  We set up our chairs (Kristy brought these uglies so I had to put my towel over it so no one would confuse me for an LSU fan).  Laurin could hardly contain her excitement.  She hates space, but she loves her Shuttle Sisters.

We had a great view of the launch pad from our seats!

See it?  No?  Ok, look here:

That's better, right?  It may not look like a great view, but it really was.  No one is really close to the launch pad.  But it was a clear day, and we could see it all really well.  We got there early so we had front row seats.  And plenty of water and diet cokes and snacks.  The four hour wait really flew by, thanks to a special visit from a dolphin and a manatee in the water in front of us.

As it got closer to launch time, we were getting really excited.  Laurin wanted a picture of herself with the launch pad & the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB), where they stack the vehicle before rolling out to the pad.

After years of waiting, we finally saw a launch! More photos of the actual launch in a different post :) This one is all about Laurin. On a Stick. Laurin on a Stick, as we called her.

After the launch, there is a ton of smoke that lingers around the pad for a while.  Laurin is nothing if not thorough, so she of course wanted her picture taken with the smoke.

Within a few minutes of the launch, everyone was packing up, in a hurry to get off the site, because we all knew the traffic was going to be bad!  And it was.  With time to kill, we did a little photoshoot in the car!  Laurin kept jumping around all over the car.  Switching seats.  First she was driving...

Then she insisted on sitting in the passenger's seat.

Next thing you knew, she was in the back.

All that jumping around made her real hungry.  She begged and begged to eat at Chipotle for dinner, and we obliged.  Because we are really good friends like that.

It was soooo yummy.  We were soooo stuffed after dinner!  We went to the pool for a few minutes, then crashed.  Early again.  Cause that's how we roll!

The next day (Saturday), having accomplished our primary goal of seeing the launch, we decided to just chillax by the pool.  Laurin is one of those pencil thin girls who always looks amazing in her bikini.  It's rough having to go to the pool with those types.

Not an ounce of fat on her.  After the pool, we did a little shopping and some dinner.  Laurin wasn't feeling well, so she just stayed at the hotel.  Fortunately she felt better in time for the drive home!  We made good time, and even managed to stop and get some Dairy Queen during the drive!  Laurin's favorite!

So it was a great trip.  Relaxing.  Fun.  Filling.  Jeez, we ate a lot!  Can't wait til the next Shuttle Sister Trip!  Two more launches-- what do you say, ladies???

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Dinner - 05/16/10

Well, no Sunday Dinner post this evening. I've been in Orlando all weekend watching the shuttle launch. My girls are tons of fun. We rocked the launch viewing and relaxing by the pool. Lots of pictures to come. Enjoy your Sunday evening.

Atlantis Launch STS-132

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

PT and Road ID

Physical Training
For the past week, twice a day, I've been doing the stretches my PT gave me. It amazes me how the series simple exercises can make all the difference in the world. Before I started, my knee/thigh/hip would ache. Even with out me doing any strenuous activity. Now, I only occasionally get a twinge. 

This morning, Mary (my PT) had me warm up on the bike for 10mins. I can not tell you how excited I was about it. So strange. I used dread the bike. Now I love it. Weird. We went thru the exercises and she added a few more. I'm starting to realize that not all of my leg muscles are as strong as they should be. Ok. I've learned my lesson. I'm going to start cross-training religiously. Not just the half attempt at it I had done before.

When our session was over, I asked if I could run again. Nope. Gotta wait a few more weeks. But I can cycle. Which is good, because I have been on the bike a few times. I'm glad I'm making progress.

Road ID
My girls birthdays are in a few weeks. And they are little, nearly 2 and 4. And I'm a fanatic about safety. And we often go to places with large crowds, festivals and parades. I bought them road ids for their birthdays. I know this is a weird gift to get kids. But Li can't remember her address or phone number no matter how many times we practice. And MM will only be two next month.  They are sweet girls and don't run off. But it only takes a second.  So I've decided just to be on the safe side, they each need a Road ID.

When ever your order from road id they send you a coupon to share with your friends.
Coupon Number: ThanksMegan746564

The coupon is good for $1 off any Road ID order placed by 06/05/2010. To order, simply go to or click the link below:

If you prefer, you can call them at 800-345-6335.

Just so you know, this is the 4th and 5th Road ID I've bought.  I love this product its unobtrusive and practical. It makes me feel secure to know that if the worst happens, they'll know who to call.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday Dinner - 05/09/2010 (Mother's Day)

I actually started this post yesterday but didn't get a chance to finish before it was time to go visit with my mom.

Happy Mother's Day!!! Since I became a mom, I like celebrating Mother's Day by not doing anything productive. I don't want to cook or clean or put girls to bed. This may sounds silly. But like all moms I rarely sit still. So on Mother's Day, I want to just laze around. But this year was different.  We had my in-laws over for lunch, which of course mean me doing some cooking. I don't really mind since they were taking girls home with them for the week. (Remember, I'm going to Fla to watch the shuttle launch with my friends)

Actually, the Big Man did the heavy lifting, lunch wise. I just did the sides. My MIL didn't have any requests for lunch so I made easy, tasty dishes that I like; green beans with potatoes, baked potato slices (this doesn't really have a name), and broiled tomatoes with Parmesan.

Baked Potato Slices
1 potato per person, sliced thin
1tbsp olive oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
random Italian seasonings

Pre-heat oven to 350deg. Slice potatoes evenly (I like using the mandolin slicer) about  1/4in thick. In a large bowl, coat sliced potatoes  with olive oil and seasonings.

 Toss gently. Layer potatoes on a baking sheet. 

Bake for 45mins or until done.

Green Beans with Potatoes
2lbs fresh green beans
3 potatoes, 1in cubes
1tbsp olive oil
1lg onion, chopped
1/2lb bacon
1 can low sodium chicken broth
salt, to taste pepper
pepper, to taste

In a heavy bottom pot (with a lid), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions cook until soft, about 5mins.

Chop the bacon strips into thirds. Add bacon to onions. Cook  for a few mins.

Add the potatoes and stir. Add salt and pepper.

Wash and trim the ends of the beans. Add to the pot.

Add the chicken broth and stir well. Cover. Stirring occasionally, cook for 25-35mins until potatoes are soft.

I love this dish. I like to make it for holidays in lieu green bean casserole that's loaded with sodium.

Broiled Tomatoes with Parmesan
4 roma tomatoes
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
garlic, minced
olive oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Italian seasonings,

Pre-heat the ovens broiler. Slice the tomatoes in half, down the length. 

Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasonings. 

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the tomatoes. Broil for 5-7mins. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. 

I'm really happy with how the Mother's Day lunch. Minimal effort but tasty. All of these recipes can easily be halved or doubled.

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

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Dinner

I've started tonights Subday Dinner post. But we left to go visit my mom. Now I'm home and too sleepy to finish. I'm promise tomorrow morning you'll have a nice post to read. More than one recipe. Sweet dreams, y'all. Hope you had a Happy Mother's Day!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lazy Lazy Lazy

As you've probably noticed (i.e. no blog posts), I haven't been doing much running lately. Actually, I haven't run at all, in 18 days. No biking either. Nothing. I have been a sloth the last few weeks. Well, it real has been strategic slothery. But slothery none the less.

My ITband has been bothering me since March. I ran easy in March and part of April to let it heal. Wrapped and iced after every run. Still hurt. In fact, it was starting to hurt more. My last run hurt so much I couldn't run the whole 5mi. And it H.U.R.T. when my 2yr old hugged my thigh. This scared me. I tried cycling to maintain fitness but that seemed to stress it too. So I decided to really rest.

After two weeks of no running and no biking, it still ached.  I figured it's time for professional help. Finally, I made an appointment with a physical therapist. My first session was this morning.  Not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. My lovely therapist, Mary, evaluated me. The good news: It's likely there's nothing severely hurt. Just inflamed. My hip. My knee. My hammy. Just stressed. We did some stretches and she gave me some homework. Mary does think I'll benefit from a localized steroid.  I'm currently rocking a flesh colored 6" patch on hip. (Normally this is where I'd insert a pic. But I am not showing the whole blogging world my ultra-white, flabby hip. ) 

I forgot to ask when I could start running again. How silly of me. I'm going back next week for more sessions. I think I'll rest more and ask her next Tuesday. This is where you call names like lazy and sloth and other mean things.

Like anyone who has lost weight, I'm freaked out about gaining it back.
not exercising = not burning calories = gaining weight
But I forgot one thing. Watch what you eat, silly. I'm down 3lbs. Don't congratulate me too much on that. I gained those three pounds in Jan/Feb when my half marathon training was hot & heavy. I'm hungry all the time when I run and I don't always make good choices.  Gotta work on that.

On a related side note...Because I am not running, I have no stress/anxiety relief.  I've noticed I'm extra cranky.  This is never good. I'm sure it is tough living in the house with me right now.  The other thing I do is random cleaning. The Big Man said I have cleaning ADD. I have been scrubbing the grout in between my floor tiles. It's not like anyone will notice the difference between dark brown and light brown grout. This is this kind of this I would do in college instead to procrastinate studying for finals.

Wow, this is a wordy post for me.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Dinner - 05/02/10

This weekend I shopped at our local Sam's Club. As usual, I got a little carried away with my produce buying. While laying in bed the morning, I was trying to figure out how I would use up some of the veg I bought. Then I remembered my mom makes this tasty dish. She uses bread crumbs instead of rice. But I've been obsessed with rice lately.

This is a typical New Orleans dish. Shows the Italian influence of the area. 

Stuffed Bell Peppers
6 green bell peppers, tops cut away, seeds removed
2tbsp olive oil
1 onions, finely chopped
1/2cup bell pepper, use tops of bell peppers
1lbs ground meat of your choice, beef, turkey, pork, chicken,
1tbsp garlic, minced
3tsps parsley flakes
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
2cups cooked rice
1cup tomato sauce (I used canned today)

Heat the oven to 350 deg. In a large pot of boiling water, boil the peppers  for 3 minutes. Remove peppers from water and set aside to dry.

In a large pan on medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onions and bell peppers. Cook until onions are nearly clear. 

Add the ground meat, garlic, parsley, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Cook until the meat is browned, stirring to break up the large clumps of beef.

Add the rice and tomato sauce and stir well.

Pour enough water into a baking dish to just cover the bottom. Stuff the bell peppers with the meat/rice mixture and place in the baking dish. Bake until the peppers are very tender and the filling is heated through, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest before serving.

Six bell peppers is a lot of food. This recipe is really for a large family. But it reheats well for tasty leftovers. I made extra filling for us to eat over rice through out the week.

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