Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blogging Bunnies

Hoppy Easter Walter &Spot Day!  We took over our mom's blog last year in honor of our day, so this year, we thought we'd just photo bomb you with our cuteness (Has our mom ever told you that our egos are disproportionately large?).

*pushing and shoving* Walter, I wanna be first! You got to be first last year!
*ear shaking* Oh, fine. You can be first this year, but you have to promise to clean my ears later.  *hops off and munches on a hay cube*

 Hi, Spot here. I'm a 3 year old Sagittarius. I enjoy hay, hay cubes, bananas, and long stretches of time hiding in the bathroom - especially behind the toilet, climbing on my dad whenever he lays on the floor to read, and cuddle time with Walter.

Okay, Walter, I think I'm done for now.  Show 'em what you've got!

Hi, I'm Walter! I'm a 3 year old Virgo. I love carrots, bananas, perching on towels, shredding paper towels, and snuggling with Spot.

We know you're probably on cuteness overload already, but do you know what's cuter than each of us on our own?

Both of us together!

 Well, that's all for this year's Walter & Spot Day post...see you next year!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Looking out the window, I'd swear that it's early January, not late March.  Between the frigid temperatures, the recent snowfall, and the arctic winds, it seems like spring, and the accompanying warm weather, will never come. However, according to the calendar, training and racing season are just around the corner!

Monday, March 18: Strength Training
I loosely based this workout off of one I found on a CrossFit-type blog.

Here's what I did and how I did:

3 - 7 Minute Rounds - As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) - 2 Minutes Rest Between Rounds

Round 1:
10 Pushups
20 Walking Lunges
30 Single Rope Jumps (I had to settle for a 'pretend jump rope' because the basement ceiling is too low!)

Results: 3 full rounds + 6 push ups

Round 2:
5 Burpees
10 Lateral Raises (5lb weight in each hand)
15 Sit Ups

Results: 3 full rounds + 5 burpees

Round 3:
15 Air Squats
10 Overhead Tricep Presses (5lb weight)
10 Bicep Curls to Overhead Press (5lb weight in each hand)

Results: 3 full rounds + 11 squats

I look forward to trying this again in a few weeks to see if my fitness level has improved.

Tuesday, March 19: Holy mother of sore muscles!  I don't think I've been this sore from a workout last marathon.  Seriously, everything hurts. Getting out of bed? Ow! Standing up from my desk chair? Ow! Ow! Walking half a block from the car to a restaurant? Ow! Ow! Ow!  Today was likely going to be a rest day anyway due to having dinner plans to celebrate my dad's birthday, but I don't think I could have worked out today if I wanted to! We met up with Dad, Little Bro, Little Sis and her boyfriend at one of Dad's favorite restaurant's: Balistreri's where massive quantities of fried eggplant and pizza were consumed in his honor.

Wednesday, March 20: I woke up this morning and sneezed.  No big deal, right? Think again. My abs were still so sore that I had to roll onto my side and curl up in a little ball when I sneezed to minimize the pain!  My original plan for tonight was a trainer ride, but my legs were still dead and getting off the couch caused wincing.  I ended up spending a solid 45 minutes on the living room floor, stretching out every aching muscle in my body - with Spot's assistance! (Apparently Human on Floor = Coolest Climbing Toy Ever)  Once I was done, I felt a lot better, so hopefully I'll be back in business tomorrow.

Thursday, March 21: Feeling better, but not great.  Took another day off because I'd rather not start the season injured.

Friday, March 22: For the first time in two months, I dragged my butt to the pool.  I felt like a total loser because I had to stop and rest at the end of each pool length - while the lovely 70-something lady who was kind enough to share a lane with me whizzed by repeatedly. I spent about a half an hour in the water, swam about 400 meters, and managed to do something interesting to my right arm while attempting to re-train myself to breathe on my right instead of my left side.  It seems that I'm one of the freaks of nature who breathe to the left instead of the right - something that's going to have to change.  Anyone have any suggestions on how to change a 30 year habit?

Saturday, March 23: Remember how I said I was feeling better in the Sore Muscles Department? Not any more!  That swim kicked my booty.  My activity for the day was limited to a walk downtown with Mr. R&R and a trip to the Public Market since moving my arms more than necessary didn't seem like such a hot idea!

Sunday, March 24:  Well...$#!% just got real.

I'm officially a member of a triathlon club, which can only mean one thing:

Fish Be Damned. I'm Doing This!

111 days until Race Day.  This should be interesting!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What's In Your Bag: Gym Edition

Have you ever seen someone lugging around a gym bag that looks like it's stuffed to the point of bursting and probably weighs as much as a pile of bricks and wondered 'What on Earth is in there?'  Well, if I'm the person you've seen (seriously, one of my co-workers dubbed my gym bag 'The Body Bag'), I'll answer your question.

Swim Stuff
Swim Stuff
1. Swimsuit
2. Swim Cap
3. Goggles
4. Plastic Bag (so my sopping wet suit, cap, etc., doesn't drench the rest of the stuff in my bag)
5. Flip Flops  (locker room floors, pool decks, etc. are gross)
6. Towel (my pool usage agreement requires me to bring my own towel)

Run/Gym Stuff
Run/Gym Stuff:
1. Shoes
2 - 4. Track clothes (tights, long-sleeved shirt, jacket)
5. Sports Bra
6. Shorts (for the gym - it's hot in there!)
7. Short-sleeved shirt (see reason for #6)
8. Socks
9 - 10. Gloves and Ear Band (again, it's downright cold at the track until you've been running for a while)
11. Garmin Foot Pod
12. Track Pass

Other Stuff
Other Stuff
1. Post-swim/gym clothes (If I go to the pool or gym right after work, I don't want to put my nice clothes back on, so it's nice to have a pair of sweat pants and an old shirt to throw on.)
2. Brush and comb
3. Shampoo and conditoner (in case I absolutely have to go anywhere but straight home afterward)
4. Gym Membership Card
5. Weight Lifting Gloves
6. Waterproof Watch (if I want to know how pathetically slow I swim!)

Not Pictured: iPod shuffle and Garmin (they were busy charging when I took these pictures), water bottle, granola bar

So there you have it - all the things I keep jammed into my gym bag.  What's in your bag?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Food In A Flash

Let's try something a little bit different this week, shall we?

You probably have a million things you need/want to do in the few hours between the time you get out of work and the time you go to bed and at times it's easy to fall into the habit of picking up takeout on the way home - believe me, I've been there.  However, fast food/takeout/restaurant meals, while readily available and requiring little to no effort, are usually high in calories and fat and those frozen dinner things aren't very tasty and are loaded with salt and a whole bunch of unpronounceable things. Don't even get me started on the frozen foods that are marketed as 'low fat' or 'diet'.

I enjoy cooking and experimenting in my kitchen on weekends, but the thought of spending more than 30-45 minutes in the kitchen on a weeknight makes me twitch, so I tend to rely on a lot of  steam-in-bag veggies, pre-washed and chopped bagged salads, and sauces from a jar.  My nightly meals may not be the pinnacle of healthy eating, but I subscribe to the theory of 'all things in moderation' and I feel like cooking at home leads to me feeling better in general.  So without further ado, here's what we ate for dinner this week, and how long it took to make it!

Monday: Looks Gourmet and Doesn't Take All Day

Tonight's dinner of butternut squash ravioli with homemade Gorgonzola sauce and Brussels sprouts was ready in about 30 minutes.  Here's how I pulled it off: While the pasta water was coming up to a boil, I made the sauce.  Once the (frozen) ravioli hit the water, I threw the sprouts in the microwave and made the salad (from a bagged mix) while they were cooking.  (Side note: The salad was completely unnecessary. The ravioli and sprouts were plenty filling on their own.)
 Super Simple Gorgonzola Garlic Sauce:
  •   Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan
  •   Add fresh minced garlic to taste. (I really love garlic, so I added about 3 small cloves.)
  •  Stir in 4-5 tablespoons of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  •  Whisk gently with a fork until the cheese is melted and the sauce comes together
  •  Add black pepper to taste
I was so full from dinner that the thought of climbing on the trainer made me a little queasy, so I settled for making progress in the book I'm currently reading and letting the bunnies climb on me.

Tuesday: Somewhat South of the Border
These hot 'n spicy enchiladas took about 45 minutes from start to finish, but 20-30 minutes of that time is passive cooking time - meaning that you're free to do other things. I recommend washing the dishes you've made up to that point (or rinsing them and loading them into the dishwasher).  These enchiladas aren't the most well balanced meal in the world, but they're a lot better for you than what you'll find at your favorite local Mexican joint and I can guarantee you that they're not made with the scary chemical sludge that Taco Bell tries to pass off as 'ground beef'.

What You'll Need:
-1 lb. ground beef
-1 envelope taco seasoning
-2 cans of enchilada sauce
-1 can diced jalapenos
-2 cups shredded cheese

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.  While the oven is heating up, brown a pound of ground beef, drain off the grease, and add the seasoning according to the package directions.  Once it's at the simmer stage, open and drain the jalapenos and stir about half of them into the meat mixture (or skip them if you're so inclined).

Shake the enchilada sauce well before opening, and then spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce (about half of a can) on the bottom of the pan and then get to work rolling the enchiladas.
I like to microwave the tortillas two at a time for about 15-20 seconds so they're a little more flexible when I'm filling them.  Plop about 1/8th of the meat mixture into the middle of the tortilla, drop a tiny sprinkle of cheese on it and roll.
Tuck the rolled tortillas into the pan (don't worry if a little meat gets falls out) and then pop them into the oven for about 10 minutes or so - until they have a sort of crispy feel when you touch them.
Once they've achieved that crispiness, yank them out of the oven and cover them with the remaining can and a half of sauce and sprinkle the remaining cheese (should be about 1-1 1/2 cups) over the top.
Pop the enchiladas back into the oven for about 10-15 minutes - or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.  Plate and enjoy!

 After dinner, I spent about half an hour on the trainer.  Still seeing incremental improvements there.

Wednesday: Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy
 It was a very long and frustrating day at work and the last thing in the world I felt like doing when I got home was cooking anything.  However, I had taken some fish fillets out to thaw and it was either eat them or toss them - and I really hate wasting perfectly good food. It took me about 20 minutes to make dinner.
While I waited for the couscous water to boil, I mixed up the marinade, dropped the fish in, and tossed it back in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.  In the mean time, I pulled out the old George Foreman to start preheating and poured the couscous into the now-boiling water.  Once the couscous was in its final stage (covered and removed from heat to finish sucking up water), I threw the veggies in the microwave, threw the fish onto the grill for 3 minutes and waited until a couple of timers made their various noises.  Once again, better for me than a trip to the drive thru - and tasted pretty good too!

Thursday: Cook Once, Eat Twice
I spent 35 minutes on the trainer, sweating my booty off and feeling pretty good the whole time.  I haven't felt that comfortable on my bike in a long time.  After my little spin session, I was ravenous so it was a good to have leftovers in the refrigerator.  I scooped two of them onto a plate, covered it loosely with saran wrap, tossed it in the microwave and 3 minutes later I was wolfing down some cheesy, spicy goodness!

Friday: The Dinner that Wasn't Meant To Be
Friday's are always kind of a crap shoot as to whether we'll be eating at home or going out somewhere, so I usually try to keep Friday's dinner options really flexible (read: something that won't spoil if it doesn't get eaten that day or the next).  Had we eaten at home, we would have been having Boca Chik'n sandwiches with some baked beans on the side, but we ended up stopping off at Qdoba with Maverick since she'd had a few beers on an empty stomach and wanted to grab a bite before heading home.

Saturday: Food Porn
Dinner? I don't think I'm going to have room for dinner after the amazing lunch Mr. R&R and I had today.   I've driven past Ono Kine Grindz, a Hawaiian restaurant and deli, dozens of times in the last few years on my way too and from my former yoga studio - and it's pretty much right next door to my favorite Greek place, but I've never managed to stop in. That all changed today and I'm kicking myself for not having gone there much sooner!  As soon as we walked in the door, we were surrounded by the most amazing smells. The menu is pretty small (as is the restaurant itself), but if the smells in the air were any indicator, there was no such thing as a bad choice.  I ordered the a combo plate of Char Siu Chicken and Kalua Pork and Mr. R&R ordered the BBQ Kalbi Ribs.  After placing our order, we were invited to select our beverages from a cooler and have a seat at one of the handful of tables that were scattered about the tiny shop which also houses a Hawaiian market.

While we waited for our food, we were already plotting what goodies we wanted to take home with us!  When our food arrived, we dug in and it. was. awesome.  The pork was sweet, smoky, and melted in your mouth and the chicken was super tender and there was just a hint of charcoal smoke flavoring as well.  Mr. R&R's ribs were packed with spectacular flavors too.  While my chicken and pork were very sweet, his ribs were more savory.  Both meals came with purple sticky rice, macaroni salad, and carrot/pineapple salad  At first I was a little skeptical of the carrot/pineapple salad, but after one bite I was sold!  As we were eating, the owner came by and asked how everything was and I had to stop myself from falling at his feet in abject worship - okay, not really...but you get my drift.

Char Siu Chicken and Kalua Pork Combo
BBQ Kalbi Ribs
After our stuffing ourselves silly (the portions are huge), we picked up a 6-pack of the Pass-O-Guava juice that we'd had with our lunch as well as 2 of their house-made desserts for later!

World Famous CoCo Puffs
Guava Cake
Once we got home, we devoured the desserts and while both were good, we both agreed that my guava cake was the clear winner.  It was moist, not overly sweet, and packed with guava flavor.  I can't wait to go back and try the passion fruit cake.  The coco puff was sort of a combination of a cream puff and an eclair - it was good, but the guava cake kicked its ass around the block! If you're in Milwaukee, get thee to Ono Kine Grindz immediately.  I overheard multiple customers talking about how they drove in from Madison and Chicago just for lunch, so if you're not from the immediate area...start planning next weekend's excursion!

Overall, I was pretty pleased with this week's dinners, although I could have done without the trip to Qdoba, and nothing I cooked took more than 45 minutes.  What's your favorite quick homemade meal?



Sunday, March 3, 2013

You Win Some. You Lose Some.

It's been a bad week on the workout front, but overall it was a good week on a lot of other fronts.  I guess you win some, you lose some.

Monday, February 25: Today was my 33rd birthday.  While I would have loved to take the day off of work, that wasn't in the cards.  However, I did have a fantastic birthday dinner with Mr. R&R.  My initial plan for the day was to make a simple dinner and then hit the bike trainer.  By the time I got home from work, I was willing to let Ronald McDonald make me dinner if it meant not having to cook (and it's Shamrock Shake season).  Fortunately, Mr. R&R had a better idea: Ristorante Bartolotta.  This is one of those restaurants we've always meant to try, but somehow never have...until tonight.  We started with the Mozzarella di Pizzaiola as an appetizer.  The green olives in the dish were a pleasant surprise. The entrees were out of this world.  I chose the Papparelle al Ragu d'Anatra (duck ragu over pappardelle pasta) and Mr. R&R had the Gemelli con Funghi Porcini, Fegatini di Pollo e Tartufo Nero (gemelli with porcini mushrooms, chicken livers and black truffles).

My entree: Pappardelle al Ragu d'Anatra (duck ragu over pappardelle pasta)

Mr R&R's Entree (I'm not retyping all that Italian!)
For dessert, he had the flourless chocolate cake and I had a sampler of house-made sorbets (lemon, raspberry, and red wine).  It was a wonderful meal and I can't say enough good things about Ristorante Bartolotta.  If you're ever in Milwaukee, you really need to eat there!

Tuesday, February 26: Snow storm.  It started snowing heavily around 2pm. By 4pm, our office made the decision to close early so that people could try to get home before the roads got even worse.  I live less than 3 miles from work and it still took me over an hour to get home because of a nasty combination of road construction, heavy traffic, snow-covered roads, and nearly non-existent visibility.  (All pictures were taken when I was either completely stopped in traffic or pulled over on the side of the road.  I'm not willing to get in a car wreck for the sake of taking pictures!)

Main road with heavy traffic

Snow-covered side street
Wednesday, February 27: It was another long, crazy day at the office since we'd closed early on Tuesday, but I did manage to jump on the trainer for 30 minutes and managed to have another good ride. My average speed is still improving...slowly.

Thursday, February 28: I honestly don't remember what the hell happened.  I'm guessing it was a flimsy excuse at best!

Friday, March 1: I originally planned to hit the track or the gym. Instead I ended up grocery shopping and getting a good jump on my weekend cleaning projects. Don't ask me how, but every Sunday night, my house is reasonable in order and by Friday, it looks like a small tornado went through the place.

Saturday, March 2: How many people can say that they look forward to getting their taxes done? I know my mom can since not only do I do her taxes for her every year, but I also make her lunch on that day! After mom's taxes were done (and the bunnies were thoroughly spoiled with attention and carrots from their Grandma Naner), Mr. R&R headed out for Board Game Night with his buddies and I tackled some of those annoying little projects that always get pushed to the back burner because I run out of time.  I think I'm going to count the mental exercise of tax preparation and the physical exercise of dashing up and down the stairs between the second floor and the basement about a thousand times as a work out!

Sunday, March 3: I haven't slept past 8AM on a weekend in a very long time, but today I didn't even open my eyes until 10AM!  Today was a nice mix of fun stuff (watching episodes of The Amazing Race on Netflix, drinking half a pot of coffee, browsing pretty summer dresses online) and necessary stuff (making sure I have enough clothes ironed for the week, cleaning Walter and Spot's house, doing Walter and Spot's laundry).  I swear that those rabbits make more laundry than we do!  I don't really mind though since Walter loves fresh towels in his house and I get a kick out of Spot "helping" us fold their towels and then climbing the stacks when they're done.

It's clean...for now.
Laundry Assistant
Housekeeping Supervisor
I also had dinner with Dad, Little Brother, Little Sister and the rest of the clan tonight. I'm currently stuffed with pizza and garlic bread, my clothes for tomorrow are laid out, my lunch is made, and I'm headed to bed since I think I'm looking at another crazy week!