Category Archives: Outdoors

All That Mid-Week Jazz

You guys, my bracket be busted. The ‘Zags failed me. I knew I shouldn’t have kept it in the Northwest. We are the epitome of disappointment during critical sports moments (see the last minute of this year’s Super Bowl, for example). On the plus side, I’m no longer glued to that stupid ESPN Tournament Challenge app.

Allergy season is in full force with this early spring we’ve had, so if I forget to take one of the OTC allergy pills we load up on at Kaiser, I walk around feeling like someone is grinding my face into a pile of pollen. That being said, I slept in this weekend and missed my long run with the group. My alarm sounded, I turned it off, and fell asleep for another four hours. Want to know what’s NOT as fun as running 7 miles with a group of great ladies? Running 7 miles by yourself around a high school track on a hot afternoon. I opted for the track because sometimes, planning distance from my house is just a hassle. I ended up alternating running and walking laps until the boys (aka husband and dog) showed up with another water bottle to walk me home. My times weren’t so hot, but I got the distance in, which I’m happy with considering that I didn’t run much the two weeks prior.    I was also breaking in my new Brooks! No more Nikes for this girl.   Then, last night was hill training at our weekly track workout. We ran to the park close to the track and did four hill repeats and I was reminded of why I used to hate running. EVERY PART OF MY BODY HATES HILLS. I sucked it up, ran up that (*@($ four times, and walked down to give myself a little bit of recovery. When I got home, I rewarded myself with a big ol’ spoonful of cookies & creme cookie butter. YUM. That stuff is insane. Then this morning, when my quads and glutes were screaming, my treat was half an apple fritter. You gotta treat yo’self or you’ll go insane. I’m trying to drop a few pounds, so I’m keeping my meals super balanced and healthy, limiting mindless snacking, and letting myself have a treat every now and then.

Today is officially 17 days until my 15k, and 31 days until my first half of the year. I’m trying to stay on my A-game, because I’m pretty sure this half will be mostly harder core runners and I don’t want to look like a schlub. I’m even going to try and get in a long run next week when I’m in Iowa for a family wedding. #goals

And that’s all. I’m just rising, grinding, and working on a few new recipes for the blog that I hope to have posted soon. The time of convenience meals is over, my friends, as I try and get a better handle on my nutrition again. Tonight, instead of risotto, I modified a recipe I found for “quinoa risotto.” Quinoa has a lot of natural protein and a delicious nutty flavor, so it was truly a hearty, one pot meal with endless possible modifications. It’s definitely joining the permanent rotation of “meals that are easy and flexible and I don’t have to think about it.”

Your turn:

Did you pull any April Fool’s Jokes today? Have any pulled on you? I generally dislike April Fools, not because I’m a Scrooge, but because some people don’t have a sense of humor. They either get super offended over something that was meant to be an innocent joke, or they pull a legitimately insensitive joke.

What’s the best thing you’ve cooked lately?

How do you get up a beastly hill?

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Weekend Recap: A Run, Some Sun, and Some Fun

I’m getting really tense watching the Bachelor finale, so I figured I would blog a little bit to release some tension. If Chris doesn’t pick Whitney, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’LL DO. That’s clearly not true, my life will go on, but for some reason I’m super into this season. It’s gotta be my Iowa pride. 

It continues to be gorgeous in Oregon, and now we are all on pins and needles waiting for the inevitable rain to start pouring down. Our Runner Chick training run this weekend was 5 miles, which my legs were just not feeling, but hopefully the next few days of workouts will get them loosened up because hubby and I are signed up for a St. Patty’s 10k on Saturday morning. 

After our group run, my running buddy and I hit up Tom’s Pancake House for some much needed refueling. I’ve never been a huge pancake fan, but these bad boys are da bomb. I can eat them on their own, no syrup, no butter, just pure delicious fluffy semi-sweet pancakes. And they are even better when you pair them with some country sausage and two eggs fried over medium. 





Saturday night we hit up our first Timbers game…THE first Timbers game of the season. Beforehand we stopped at Laughing Planet, a local chain that serves healthy bowls and wraps with local ingredients and lots of veggies, and split some jambalaya. 



Then a whole plate of Tillamook cheese foods at the stadium. 



The match ended in a tie (lame) but it was fun, as always!



There’s still an hour left before After the Final Rose and I’m already binge-eating Trader Joes Brown Sugar Frosted Shredded Wheat (no milk, just tossing them back plain). 

Your turn: Are you dealing with Snowmageddon, or are you living it up in the sun?

What cereal do you find yourself snacking on?

Pancakes or waffles? Normally I’m #teamwaffle but Tom’s pancakes make me question all my life choices. 

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A Week of Runs, Beer, and Floral Happiness

I have a confession: I’m really starting to not hate running. Sometimes, I may even enjoy it. I’ve been loving my running group, which transitioned from Saturdays to Saturdays and Tuesdays. We took the track Tuesday night to do two miles of laps alternating between a light jog and fast jog, along with some stretching and triceps dips. The fact that we took to the track after someone who placed 5th in the Olympics wasn’t intimidating at ALL (we overheard a conversation which led to me internet stalking Olympic athletes in the area). I left feeling great! It’s nice to have a midweek meetup to keep me accountable. 

Then Thursday hit, and I had a nagging sore throat all day that I tried to ignore. We went to a new pub in the area for date night and tried some of their beers…I loved the golden!



I also had Scotch eggs for the first time. I always thought I would hate them, because I don’t like hard egg whites, but this was like a delicious bite sized breakfast! For those who don’t know, Scotch eggs are a soft boiled egg wrapped in sausage. This sausage really had lots of great savory flavor. 



Also the tables in the bar each had their own flat screen with a remote so you could watch whatever you wanted. I tried to convince hubby that he wanted to watch My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding but we settled on basketball. 

Friday I woke up congested and in the throes of a cold. But I sucked it up and took some DayQuil because I was looking forward to a 5k Saturday and I wasn’t about to miss out on my first race bling of the year. 

After an early night Friday, I woke up Saturday, still sick, but I went to the race anyway and am so glad I did. I PR-ed my 5k time! I was so excited, especially since I was sick. Imagine the gains I’ll see when I can breath again! My goal for the race was to keep my miles under 12 minutes, and I succeeded, so I was content. This serious hardware was just icing on the cake. 



After cleaning up, we went and dropped some serious money buying dahlias at the yard and garden show. Also, can someone build me this?



Panda Express made a great recovery meal Saturday afternoon. 



Though I’m not ready to start the workweek again, I AM ready to tackle this week’s runs and start building some distance. I’ve got my walk breaks down to a minimum, something I hope to stick to as my training mileage builds. 

You’re turn:

What did you guys do this weekend?

What’s your favorite flower?

Scotch eggs-gross or delicious?

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The Valen-Times

It’s a gorgeous weekend here in Oregon!

My Valentine’s weekend started out a little womp womp, with a citation for riding the train to work without a ticket. It’s completely my fault, of course, for trying to outsmart their electronic ticket system. But still, not a great thing to have happen first thing on Friday morning.

The rest of the day, however, was great. A group of us walked from the office to Verde Cocina for lunch, where I forgot to take a picture of my huevos rancheros because they were so devious looking that I immediately started wolfing them down. Verde Cocina serves Mexican food with an emphasis on farm fresh veggies. Nothing is deep fried, and there’s a lot of non-traditional ingredients used, like squash, bok choy, and quinoa. I first tried it a few years ago at Portland Farmers Market so I’m thrilled that they opened up a cafe not far from my office. Also I can’t wait to try their margaritas because I bet they are phenomenally fresh.

Friday night was the start of a much needed restful weekend. We didn’t have much in the fridge or pantry for dinner, so we ran to Whole Foods and picked up some “gourmet organic” frozen items: tater tots and samosas. I had a bag of “lite ultimate Caesar” salad in the fridge, and some asparagus. I mixed up the salad, drizzled the asparagus with EVOO and salt and garlic pepper, and roasted it at 425 until it started to brown, while our gourmet frozens were cooking up. I also found this deliciously odd beer which I sipped while I waited for dinner.

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This dinner really hit the spot. Every once in a while, we really like some frozen meal supplements. They are quick and easy, and always feel like a treat. We enjoyed our plates while we we cuddled up on the couch under blankets. Our house has been super drafty lately.

When it breaks 60 degrees in February in Oregon, you don’t question it, you just get your rear outside, so hubby and I decided that a hike with the pup sounded like the perfect Valentine’s Day activity. We headed out to the Tillamook Forest to the Wilson River Wagon Trail to get in a few morning miles (since I was being bad and skipping running group).

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The trail was beautiful! We hiked four miles or so out and back, passing waterfalls, glades, and winding in and out of some gorgeous forestland. There wasn’t another soul on the trail. The only downside is that this trail, while being closed to motorized vehicles, is surrounded by ATV trails, so that noise started to get old after a while. Also the rural gun range shots started to get a little tiresome, but neither of these things put a damper on the beauty of our surroundings. Ramsay had a blast. He loves to be a wilderness hipster dog.

On our way home, we were hungry and it was lunch time. So we pulled over at Coleman’s Shady Rest, a roadside diner. I love all the roadside stops in the Tillamook Forest, on the way to the coast. I used to beg my parents for day trips to the beach so we could stop at my favorite diner for pancakes and hot chocolate on the way. Coleman’s wasn’t serving breakfast anymore, but they still had huevos rancheros on the lunch menu (I’m on a huevos kick lately). YUM. I think a more accurate description of this would have been “eggs and chili verde,” but I didn’t care because it was so darn good.

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We spent the rest of the day relaxing.

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For dinner, we stayed in, cooked up one of our favorite meals, chicken teriyaki, and watched Dateline, because my husband is the best and agreed to watch disturbing crime shows instead of a romantic movie or something. I also broke in my Moscow mule mugs.

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Today, we worked on finishing touches with the paint in our room, took the dog for a walk, and enjoyed opening up the windows and airing out the house. I’m not ready for Monday!

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Random Rainy 5k

Sometimes your friends invite you to a random, free, early morning 5k fun run and you whine about it for hours and stay up late the night before and then just HAPPEN to wake up on time to go. So you go, hang out with some great people, and get a good run in that makes you feel great about your running goals for the year, because your mile splits were decent considering this was your second run since September.

This morning was one of those times.

The Roadrunner in NW Portland was celebrating their one year store-iversary this morning, and held a free 5k group run with goodies and giveaways and all that jazz. When I wrenched myself out of bed and out the door in time to pick up my friend Angie, there was a nice, cold, steady drizzle happening. I was wearing fleece, because I’m a total n00b when it comes to cold/wet weather running. But I sucked it up and used the thought of a scalding hot shower to motivate me. Running through NW when it was early and quiet was delightful even with the rain; this is one of my favorite neighborhoods and we ran some back streets so I found some new bars and coffee shops.

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We got back to Roadrunner, drenched but feeling good. Some friendly chaps saw us taking selfies and offered to take a picture for us “because we HAD to get one under the Roadrunner sign.” Then we went inside for free mimosas and beer and bagels and fruit and infused water and waffles shaped like Nikes with the signature swoosh, because Oregon = Nike. We refrained from the waffles because we had run past Stepping Stone Cafe earlier and decided we earned us a REAL breakfast.

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This is said real breakfast. And DAMN it was good. Angie had huevos rancheros, I had a veggie scramble, and we split a “mancake,” which was probably the best pancake I ever had. I had never been to Stepping Stone but I will for sure be returning soon because I wanted to devour their entire breakfast menu. Plus their motto was “You eat here because we let you,” and I like my breakfast to come with a little side of attitude. The cafe itself was tiny and cozy and I LOVED it because it wasn’t pretentious, like some breakfast places can be around here. It was just delicious food and good coffee on a rainy little corner of NW Portland. I’m excited to eat my leftovers tomorrow morning.

My scalding hot shower was worth the wait, by the way. Plus Husband had already showered so I got to hoard the hot water. Now I’m lounging in my bathrobe, cheering on my Seahawks (it’s a big week for northwest sports, with the college national championship game) and waiting impatiently for the beef curry I made to finish cooking low and slow in the oven. Perfect Saturday? Pretty close anyways. I’m still riding high on endorphins.

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Saturday Morning on the Trail

My friend Angie and I took the pups on a six-miler on the Banks-Vernonia Trail last Saturday morning. The Banks-Vernonia is part of the “rails to trails” initiative – it’s an old railroad track that runs 21 miles between two country towns off the highway to the Oregon coast. The fact that it was an old logging rail track means that it’s pretty straight, and pretty flat, and we were a-ok with that.

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We started at the first trailhead in Banks, and walked three miles in and turned around. Next time, I want to start farther in because you get to walk across old train trestles that have been converted to pedestrian bridges and for some reason I’ve ALWAYS wanted to walk across one.

We considered running a little, but my Ramsay has short little leggies and we could tell he was starting to get tired. So we were content to just walk and talk. For the most part, it was peaceful, though we had to hug the shoulder because apparently this is a super popular bike route as well. It would be fun to ride it all the way to the end – you can even rent bikes at the trailhead!

When we got our mileage in, we drove up the street to the Banks Trailhead Cafe for coffee and breakfast burritos.

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Though the lone employee who also happened to be the owner was clearly overwhelmed with a rush of customers, the coffee was much needed and the breakfast burrito was GOOD, especially because we added fresh roasted potatoes that she finished off for us. We topped off brunch with oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Because yum.

I definitely recommend checking out the Banks-Vernonia Trail if you are local. It’s an easy walk/run/bike and you can go as far as you want! There’s a few little towns sprinkled along the trail, and a slightly bigger little town at the end of the 21 miles in which you can get food and beer and other delights.

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Sunday morning, Shayne and I had an early breakfast at one of our favorite close-by places. His birthday was on Monday, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to wake up earlier and make him pancakes. Not on a Monday. So he had blue corn pancakes and I had a tasty omelette and caffeine was had by all. Then we made our once-every-two-years trip to the outlet mall for clothes. JAM-PACKED WEEKEND OF FUN! I’m hoping for a repeat this weekend…only two more days!

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Bridge of the Goddesses – Race Recap

I’m just now getting around to posting this…sad but true. The race was last week, my training really tanked the last few weeks of the half training calendar I was using, and I was fighting the tail end of a cold, but I did it anyways, and finished. And then promptly picked my next race because I didn’t meet my “under 3” goal.

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The race itself was BEAUTIFUL, mostly on a paved path in the Columbia Gorge, winding in and out of the woods, up and down some stairs, up and down some MASSIVE hills. Like a LOT of effing hills, long, drawn out ones. The other two women I was with and I decided to walk the uphill portions and run the flat and downhill portions, which worked well for us.

My big problem was that horrible nemesis, post-nasal drip. There were some sections where I felt like my options were barf or walk, and I opted for walking so at least I was moving towards the finish line. Though I wasn’t thrilled with my overall time, I had fun AND I think I have the running big now. I don’t hate it like I used to.

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After the race was over, the girls and I drove east to Hood River to grab some lunch and celebratory beers. Oh my word, fish and chips and Mac & Jack’s never tasted so good.

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I did take away a few lessons learned from this race. The first is simple enough – learn how to use a neti pot. The second? Distance training runs make a BIG difference. This should have been obvious, but my first nine miles were on pace with what I was hoping for, and then miles 10-13 were considerably slower. The longest training run I did? Nine miles. Something to focus on for my next half (December). Also, I need to figure out how to fuel myself mid-race. I had a big bowl of oatmeal in the morning but I really could have used a supplement about halfway through and I kept missing the people at the aid stations that handed out gummy bears (fuel of champs).

I’m ready to get out and start running again. Fall weather is finally on the horizon, now that it’s almost October, and it’s the perfect time for outdoor adventures!

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My First 9-Miler Down

I slept in today, the day of my nine-mile long run (it’s long for me anyways). I’ve been real bad with my sleeping habits lately. But, thanks to hubby, I set out at 10 ready to tackle the challenge, because it hadn’t gotten too hot yet.

I made it. I wasn’t fast, but I was faster than my last long run, and kept my average mile pace under 13 minutes. I also did a sufficient amount of hill work, mostly because I was looking for a park with a water fountain so I could refill my running belt bottle. Pretty sure I will be emailing my local park & rec department about the serious lack of water fountains. I FINALLY started listening to music during my runs…I don’t know why I waited so long, because it helps SO much! Plus I can lip synch and amuse passers by. I loaded a few Rock My Run mixes onto my iPhone, which I use anyways for Nike+ Running, and jammed out for almost two hours. Though I did learn that the song “Selfie” makes me want to rip my ears off.

I’m happy I forced myself out the door and did this run. I think it helped my confidence, because for some reason I just figured I would be passed out by the side of the road after 7 miles. I’ve never run that far. Less than four weeks to go until race day!

Other than trying to keep up with my training schedule (August didn’t start out as strong as I wanted), we’ve been working, gardening, and reading. Right now, I’m super into the guilty pleasure teen series “Pretty Little Liars,” by Sara Shepard. It’s like “Gossip Girl” but with more of a mystery bent to it. Don’t judge. Yesterday, we took our nephew to the Portland Children’s Museum, which was a hoot (the words that come out of that kid’s mouth!), and I think, judging by this picture, it was a successful afternoon:

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We also discovered that our front yard produces The World’s Best Blackberries Ever. I’m willing to deal with the blood loss from the thorns in order to harvest them. Holy noms.

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And that’s life for us lately. Soaking up the last bits of a hot, wonderful summer. What’s been going on with you fine folks? Runners – what do you suggest for adding distance and/or cutting time? I’ve really just been…running. So I’m looking for some training tips!

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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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Around Here – Spring Edition

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Around here:
-we’ve been going to farmer’s market, every week, for strawberries and organic veggie starts for the garden (and I got the market basket of my dreams) and fresh made Popsicles and to stare at peonies
-I spent almost a week working from home with the pets while recovering from a cold that made me sound like I smoked a pack a day
-Ramsay has been ordered to lose six pounds, so we’ve been going on lengthy (aka three miles…he has short legs) walks on sunny evenings and discovering new paths and delightful neighborhoods
-we’ve been gardening up a storm (pics to come). My husband has a lovely farmer’s ran happening and my shoulders are already freckled. We’ve got lots in the works for backyard projects
-the Rose Festival Medallion Hunt was brought back this year, so we’ve taken up family treasure hunting in the last week. No success yet but I’ve found lots of parks in Portland that I want to explore

Spring makes me (and most other native Oregonians) feel alive in a way that doesn’t even seem possible in the winter. I love the sun. I love cotton jersey dresses from the clearance racks at Target and Old Navy. I love sandals. I love the smell of Home Depot, where we go weekly (seriously, if they could bottle it, I would either huff it or wear it as perfume). I love the petunia planter I put together for the front yard in an old fireplace ash bucket. I love the dog’s happy face after a long walk.

I am happy and I am healthy and there’s so much summer ahead!

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