Monthly Archives: July 2014

Anniversary Weekend

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I can’t believe it’s already been three years since this day! This week, husband and I celebrated our anniversary with food/drinks/laughs. My life is truly so blessed, and things just keep getting better and better. I’ve never met someone who can make me laugh as much as this guy, nor someone who is so thoughtful. I could gush forever, but instead I’ll just talk about our great anniversary celebrations this year.

Our anniversary was on Thursday this year, so I took Thursday and Friday off from work. Thursday was also husband’s last day teaching summer school, so it was time for a double celebration. We headed to the east side of Portland to eat at Bamboo Sushi, a local place that bills itself as “the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world.” I’d been before, but Shayne hadn’t, and despite the fact that the restaurant is like an episode of Portlandia (you should see the sushi eating instructions in the menu, which is the size of a small novella) it totally lives up to the hype.

We barely used soy because the flavors were so good!

We barely used soy because the flavors were so good!

It was busy on Thursday night, but we were fortunate enough to snag a seat at the sushi bar, where we got to watch our sushi chef hard at work. Also, I learned that my knife skills are pitiful. We went wild and ordered “chef’s choice,” hoping that our bill wouldn’t be $300 by the end of the night. We sipped our cocktails (something with shiso and cucumber for me, something with Makers for Shayne) and waited to see what appeared in front of us.

We were NOT disappointed. I usually play it pretty safe at sushi, so it was nice to not know what was coming, plus the chef paced it really well so we could truly enjoy each plate. Here’s what we had:

-albacore carpaccio, with pickled shitakes and Japanese sea salt.

-a salmon nigiri flight, with two Northwest salmons, a trout in the middle, and ending with two New Zealand/Australian salmon. We ate this from highest to lowest fat content, so it started with a really melt in the mouth cut of fish, and finished with something that had a little more chew. All of them were incredible.

-poke press box, which had a great Asian barbecue taste.

-the Green Machine. This was our finale, and it was truly a work of delicious art. Albacore, wrapped with tempura asparagus and sliced avocado, topped with a cilantro sweet chili aioli. Oh. My. Word. I could eat this forever.

The Green Machine

The Green Machine

We also had a steam bun with pork belly, which was good, but far overshadowed by the delicious sushi. After we paid the tab (which I’m happy to report was NOT $300), we rolled down the street to Rum Club for delicious rum-based drinks.

The next day, we got up and drove to the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge for a beautiful hike to Blue Lake, where we hiked 6 miles instead of 3 (I’m counting it as the 6-mile training run/walk I was supposed to do this weekend) and got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Not even kidding. We are working on our zen mindset and trying not to scratch ourselves raw right now.

We stopped for a few minutes to actually admire the lake before the skeeters found us.

We stopped for a few minutes to actually admire the lake before the skeeters found us.

We celebrated with beer and pizza on a dog friendly patio in Stevenson after our hike.

We celebrated with beer and pizza on a dog friendly patio in Stevenson after our hike.

A delightful anniversary indeed. Love spending time celebrating love with my man.

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The Three Rs: Random Risotto and Running

It is freakishly hot here in Oregon, which for us means anything over 85. The heat is swell during the day when I’m in the ice cube of an office, but when I get home to my hot, AC-less house, the heat makes me exhausted. I was finally able to get my rear out of bed at 5 this morning and beat the heat to get a few miles in. The day was already warming up. And then I PR-ed my mile time. For this training go around anyways. I feel like I walked a lot, but managed to shave 20 seconds off my pace. I’m still not where I want to be, but heck, I’ll take this little victory and use it for motivation. Since it’s been so hot, we’ve been doing minimal indoor cooking. No oven use, a little range, lots of grill. When I saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman’s blog the other day, it seemed great and summery and doable with what I had on hand, so I improvised my own version. I hadn’t been grocery shopping yet, so my risotto was onion-less and cream-less.

20140717-203327-74007883.jpg We have a ton of basil in our garden (pesto for dayyyyz), so I used a heavy hand with that. I seasoned my shrimp lightly with Greek seasoning, knowing it would go well with the lemon to be added later on.

20140717-203526-74126741.jpg I think I have a risotto obsession. No joke. I love loving arborio. I tended it carefully, first toasting it with butter, then adding half a cup of the low-cal white wine my husband found at Grocery Outlet, then adding a cup at a time of chicken stock until it was nice and creamy. Salt throughout.

20140717-203927-74367109.jpg I added the chopped up shrimp and about a cup or so of basil at the end, as well as a generous helping of pre-grated parm, which seems to multiply in our fridge. Garnish with a healthy squeeze of lemon. This was SO tasty. I love basil, and it really made this dish. I’m not kidding when I say that I’m seriously contemplating stashing basil in my car, not only because I’ve heard that it’s a good way to dry herbs, but because I want my entire Prius to smell like a basil plant. I love that I’m comfortable experimenting with risotto now, and Ree’s recipe provided perfect inspiration. Plus I drool when I so much as look at her recipes.

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One of *THOSE* days…

This morning, I did not go running. I woke up with The Cramps of Death and laid in bed on the couch, where we’ve been sleeping because our bedroom is ungodly hot, for a few extra minutes. “I’ll go tonight,” I told myself.

So here I am, with a glass of red wine, in my comfies, not running. It’s still hot, and I still have The Cramps of Death, and frankly, I would rather scavenge my pantry for chocolate chips than go put in my four miles today.

And that’s ok. It is. It may not feel ok to me right now, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last week. If my body wants to rest mid-week, I’m going to let it. Nike+ Running informed me yesterday that I’ve run 19 miles since I started my training last Tuesday, and that’s an accomplishment for me! I’m a lifelong running hater. So I’m choosing to celebrate my personal victory rather than lament about how lame I feel right now.

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This may not be a fast pace to you, but for me, this was thrilling. It was my best average mile time all week, even though it certainly didn’t feel like it when I was out there. Endurance has always been my biggest struggle when it comes to exercise, so I’m really focused on finding a sustainable pace to get me through this race. I want to minimize my speed variations and maximize my consistency.

In your training, how do you balance working on distance endurance and working on increasing speed? Does one come naturally from the other? Let me know what you think!

Back to my wine…cheers to tomorrow being Thursday (and rec softball playoffs)!

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Soy Butter Basted Bok Choy

We introduced bok choy into our lives about a year or so ago. Why did we wait so long?! This leafy veggie is delicious and really absorbs flavor well in both the leaves and the stalks. This year, we (meaning my husband with the green thumb) took a stab at growing it from seed, and now have a big row of happy bok choy (once we beat the slugs off of them) ready for harvest. I’ve played with variations of this recipe for a while, but this iteration is our favorite.

-one bok choy
-3 T butter
-2 T soy sauce
-sesame oil
-sesame seeds

Clean and chop the bok choy into manageable pieces. If you are using baby bok choy, they would be good whole, but I cut the big stems into two or three pieces and chopped the leaves up. Big pieces are best, but something manageable to eat is also important.

Melt the butter and mix thoroughly with soy sauce. This won’t completely combine, but just make sure that the butter is completely melted.

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Now, this next part can go one of two ways. You can either prep the bok choy for cooking on the grill, using a grill pan, or cook it in a skillet on the stove top. I like the grill, because you get some char on the leaves, but I used the skillet for today. Arrange the leaves and stems in the skillet, trying to spread out as evenly as possible, and drizzle with sesame oil. As I’ve said before, a little of this stuff goes a long way. Heat cooktop to medium.

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Using a kitchen brush, brush the butter/soy mixture all over the bok choy as it’s cooking. Use as much or as little as you like of the butter mixture, it’s all taste preference at this point.

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Cook to desired level of tenderness, and sprinkle with sesame seeds right before done.

We are ours with my husband’s delicious chicken teriyaki, as well as some teriyaki Rice-a-Roni and a salad. SO GOOD. This is good with any teriyaki dish, as it has strong Asian flavor. If you’ve never had bok choy today, this is the way to try it. Trust me.

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Sorry about the whole “really shoddy picture quality” thing. I’m working on it, really.

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1 Week Down, 11 More to Go

Playing with PicMonkey again...I'll get there.

Playing with PicMonkey again…I’ll get there.

Well, I’ve gone and done it. I officially signed up for my second half marathon. I needed something to get my rear in gear, exercise-wise, and a half will prove just that. Especially this half, a new race called The Bridge of the Goddesses, with a pretty small cap of 1500 participants. It was easy to blend in with the crowd during my first half-marathon, which was 10,000 people. My friend and I had been talking about signing up for a run, so when she texted me last week to tell me she had finally pulled the trigger on this one (it had the best swag bag, let’s just be real), I signed up as well and immediately found a 12-week training plan for beginning runners.

I know that 12-weeks isn’t a ton of time to train for a lengthy race, but that’s ok. I’m ok walking portions of the course. My last half was all walking (though I forced my mom to jog with me through the finish line), and my goal for this race is to run MORE than I walk. Strive for progress, not perfection, amiright?!

The training plan I am using caps weekday runs at 5 miles, which is perfect for me, since I can squeeze my runs in during the wee hours before work. Distance increases about one mile a week, and long runs are reserved for Saturdays or Sundays. Mondays and Fridays are rest days. I don’t love running, I never have, and I probably never will, so it’s one of those things that I just want to get out of the way as soon as possible. My husband had to force me out the door this morning before it started to get too hot, and I’m glad he did. It’s so hard for me to be motivated when I get home from work, or when the sun warms up and I sweat from 10 AM to 11 PM. It may not be fun first thing in the morning, but it feels GREAT to know that I’m done.  My Fuel Band is a lot happier too.

This training coincides with our veterinarian’s recommendation that our dog shed a couple of pounds, so I’ve been forcing him to go with me. He loves it for the first mile or so, then he starts to slow down, and consequently, I start to slow down too. I run him when I can, but on warm days like today, I’ve slowed down to his pace. I shave at least a minute off my mile time when he’s not with me, but I try to remind myself that he needs the exercise as much as I do, and that his legs are much shorter. I also appreciate the company, and I talk to him a lot like a personal trainer (“You can do it Ramsay! Let’s run to that stop sign!”). I think I’m really talking to MYSELF and trying to self-motivate, but it’s less weird if I”m talking to my dog in public, right?

I’m excited to share my training with you, and I’m really proud of myself for making it 4 days this week, even if I had to modify the schedule a little bit. I’m hanging the months on my fridge and writing down my total distance and pace after every run to see my progress. Apparently this is just what I needed to get me going.

There’s lots of other things going on with Team Shupe too. Stay tuned! Our garden is huge, AND we just started our first home renovation project (which we hope to finish this week). Life is good. We are happy. And I’m sitting in front of our little AC unit right no, so I FEEL good.

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