Lunch & a Green Monster!

>> Sunday, May 31, 2009

I decided to put on my creative kitchen hat and make myself a healthy lunch. Something that I might not usually eat. This is what I came up with:

It's a bowl of spinach with water-packed salmon, artichoke hearts (love these!), kalamata olives, feta cheese and walnuts. Nope, no dressing. I've really don't care for many dressings, so when I'm at home I just skip them. This salad was pretty good, but it was definitely missing something. (And no, not dressing!) I think I needed one more ingredient to finish it off but I just can't figure it out. Either way, it was still a fairly filling salad and I'm inclined to make it again.

And I just have to mention that it's in my favorite dish. My grandmother had this set and everytime I use it, it reminds me of all the Christmas Eve dinners we had at her house. Those dishes always make me smile.

Moving on.

I've been reading Angela's blog for some time now. She has a great outlook on fitness, health and life in general. Although she's a vegetarian and I'm most definitely not, I still really enjoy reading about her recipes. One of her daily staples is a green monster.

Now, I'm not going to lie here. The first time I saw that glass full of green weirdness, I wanted to close my computer screen. It caused me to revert back to my childhood where I shirked away from anything that was green. I could hardly believe that someone was choosing to drink something so.......GREEN! But slowly, as I kept reading her blog, the green monster intrigued me. And it didn't seem quite so horrible as the days went by. And then I think it challenged me. Yes, I could hear the green monster taunting me, teasing me for being such a foodie wimp.

So I bit the bullet and I made one.

And it wasn't so bad. In fact, dare I say it........was a little tasty. It had a smoothie texture and a fruity flavor. I mostly tasted the banana and not really the spinach at all. I probably should've blended mine a little more, but I got too excited about the whole experience.

And I'm a little impatient.

But I think I will definitely make this again! It will be a great after workout shake by simply adding some protein powder to the mix. But I guess you want to know what's in the mix anyway. Here goes:

  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 cup Almond Breeze (original)
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (pretty much all I had left
I think that next time I'll use a frozen banana to give it even more of a smoothie feel. Overall, I liked it!

And that is how it came to pass that Stephanie defeated the Green Monster.


Toga, TOga, TOGA!!!

>> Monday, May 25, 2009

On Saturday, we celebrated our friends Deseere & Scott's birthday. True to Deseere form, we couldn't just show up for a party. We had to show up ready for a toga birthday party! Earlier in the day, Jason & I went to a sweet little 2-year-old boy's birthday party. I forgot my camera, so no pics of the cutie! We left there a little after 6 which was later than we planned on. Deseere's party started at 7. We were about 25-30 minutes away from our house and Deseere's house. We live nowhere near Deseere. So, we opted to save gas and go straight to the b-day girl's house toga-less.

This did not go over well with the birthday girl who immediately pointed out that Anna's Linens was a 1/2 mile away and that we could buy flat sheets for only $8. So off to Anna's Linens I went. Somehow, I came back with fitted sheets. But fear not, you can still make a toga with a fitted sheet! You just have to rip out the elastic. Here's Jason right after Deseere finished dressing him. You can even see theripped-out elastic on the floor......

Deseere then set out to fix my toga. She cut two of the corners into 3 strips, then braided them. Then, she tied the braids behind my neck like a halter top and wrapped the curtain tie I bought around me. Then, I pinned the inside of the toga to my panties so that it was secure and it was done! Who knew it would've been that easy? Here's the birthday girl and her birthday twin:

And this guy showed up...this is how you do togas Texas-style:

Of course Jason & I had to take the obligatory self-portrait:

There was so much good food, wine, beer, champagne, gab, name it! Here's the group - or - most of us anyway:

And the naughty shot:

It was the best toga party EVER!!!


I survived Muddy Buddy!

>> Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunday began early. And I mean early. 4:10am to be precise. Jason & I left the house by 4:45 to make our way toward Pedernales Falls State Park. The actual race was at Flat Creek Crossing which is next door to the park. Since I wasn't able to pick up my packet with my partner, Shana, on Saturday, we had to pick ours up between 6 and 7. The goal was to meet about 6:30. Jason & I arrived by 6:15.

And it was pretty dang chilly....probably the low 50s. After all this 90-something-degree weather, the cool front was not welcome.

Shana & I picked up our packets and then waited for our time to go. Here's team "Running for Booze" with our leied bicycle. Trust me, decorating your bike makes it soooooo much easier to find!

Our start time wasn't even until 9:00am! The nerves were starting to set in, as well as a bit of hunger, but I couldn't do anything about it until after the race. We were in line waiting in a sea of people and bikes.

Finally, our turn came. I rode the bike for the first leg while Shana ran. Other than the night before, I hadn't ridden a bike in YEARS. And I have never in my life mountain-biked! The start was a little rough because there were so many people trying to go all at once. Luckily, most people in this race are amateurs and complete newbies to the race as well. There were MANY times I had to dismount the bike to get up a rocky hill or keep from flying over the handlebars on a steep decline. At the end of the first leg, I had to climb a "rock" wall for my obstacle. I nearly laughed when I saw it because I could almost see over it! It took me two steps before I got over the wall. Then, I started running.

I passed a friend of mine, Deseere, of team "Send in the Bitches." You can see her (middle) and her teammate, Shawna (far right), below:

Holy bad camera angle, Batman! (Memo to self: don't turn to the side while wearing patterned tops and standing next to someone way smaller than myself.) You can see the obvious height difference between Deseere and I. My legs have a longer stride, but I tire fairly quickly. Even though I passed her up, I had to walk a little and she was able to catch up with me. I kept at her pace and she got me through the second leg. (Love you girl!) The second obstacle was a rope climb that ended in a slide. It wasn't too bad, but some girls seemed to slip on the rope. The slide was fun, but I tried to slow myself down so I wouldn't end up in some water at the bottom. I was not about to run the rest of the way with wet shoes!

I quickly found my bike (thank you leis) and moved on to the third leg. I lost Deseere here because her teammate hadn't arrived yet. Even though Shana dropped off the bike, neither of us remember passing the other. The third leg was very quick. The ride wasn't too bad, save for a vicious downhill that I dismounted and walked, and was over too quickly. The third obstacle was an army crawl across some astroturf. This probably didn't feel so good on the knees, but I was high on adrenaline, so I didn't even notice.

I grabbed some water and started jogging. The 4th leg shall now be named "the hill from hell" because it was rough! According to the Muddy Buddy website:

"This short, but unrelenting uphill is the steepest section of trail in the entire Muddy Buddy Series."

Let me tell you, they were not exaggerating. I walked all the way up the hill as did 99.5% of everyone else I saw. The bikers had to dismount and walk up it as well. The Muddy Buddy site also said that only the most experienced mountain bikers will be able to ride up that hill. I didn't see ANYONE ride up that hill! After conquering that hill (with a short stop 3/4 of the way up to catch my breath) the course did flatten out a bit until I got to the last obstacle. It was a balance beam. Normally, I'd say balance beams are easy, but when you're exhausted and just are ready to finish, it's not nearly as easy as you would think! That said, I easily walked across the balance beam, grabbed some water and the bike, and got moving.

The last leg of the race was extremely challenging for me. By now, my legs are tired and I'm having a lot of trouble breathing despite taking both asthma medications that morning. The course wasn't too steep, but it was slightly uphill. I had to stop two different times for several minutes to catch my breath. One girl even asked if I was okay. I knew I was so close to finishing, so I kept telling myself to keep going! Even though that last leg was tough, I made it through and met Shana at the mud pit for the last obstacle.

Every participant must crawl through the mud pit with their partner and we did a great job with that! After the mud pit, we had to run a few feet through the finish line. Here we are running through the finish line:

And here we are just afterward (like the crooked's all the rage):

We waited around to letting our mud dry until we saw Shawna & Deseere cross the finish line as well:

We all rocked it! Shana & I finished in 1:01:52 which was amazing. I was hoping to finish in about an hour and we did it! Also, I did accomplish my two goal for this:
  1. We finished!
  2. We didn't finish last!
My goals may have been simple, but I was happy to get them done. I've never done a race before, so I am so unbelievable proud of myself. Here's the group afterward:

Now, you may notice that we have a little bit of mud on us. That mud is extremely heavy. It weighs down our clothes, making them look like they are ill-fitting. Also, the freaking mud got EVERYWHERE. And I mean EVERYWHERE. We had to use water hoses provided by the event to hose ourselves off in public. Then, rather than change in a nasty porta-potty, Shana & I changed outside Jason's truck!

Each participant gets 2 free beers, but we were so exhausted and cold that we just headed for home and I had a nice nap. It was an awesome day! We're already planning for next year, too. Team "Running for Booze" and "Send in the Bitches" unite!!!


Take care little brother!

>> Friday, May 15, 2009

Yesterday, my brother left for Afghanistan. He's going to do a year tour, but may get to come back in 6 months for a two-week break. With the army, nothing is ever set in stone. My parents drove up to Fort Hood on Tuesday to go to a parent's luncheon and stayed with him until he left.

This is an email that my mom sent last night. I really couldn't come up with better words, so I'm going to reprint her words here.

To my friends and family:

As some of you know
Houston is in the army and deploying. We just got home today after sending him off (along with 2 platoons) to Afghanistan. His plane left here around 1:00 pm so he could be there now. He is an MP. Houston was personally picked to be on the personal safety detail (psd) to the Commander. He will be with the Commander throughout Afghanistan and when the Commander stays put he will be on other missions. Anyway, I am asking you to please say an extra prayer for him and the other soldiers overseas. I wish I could explain how I feel but I can't. It is such a mixture of feelings ranging from pride, to relief, to sadness to happiness(!) to fear. Thanks to all of you for your love, friendship and prayers.


The first picture is goofy and it was taken Tuesday at a luncheon for soldiers and their families. The second one was taken this morning around 8:00 am at the gym waiting for the busses to take the soldiers to the airport.

Please keep my brother in your thoughts and prayers. Although we have already spend many holidays without him, it will be especially hard this year since we probably won't even be able to contact him on those days. Thanks for all of your support.



Music for the weekend

>> Friday, May 8, 2009

I may not be the biggest country fan, but I love "Love Story" by Taylor Swift. I also love "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay. Did you think the two could go together? Check out this awesome instrumental:


Friday Workout

Today was an easy day, which means I can lift until 3 sets of 12-15 reps exhausts me. After 30 minutes of cardio, I did this set:

  • Quadriceps - Squats with 20lb loaded onto the 45lb bar. (I may add to this later)
  • Hamstrings - Stiff legged dead lifts using a 50lb bar.
  • Calves - Standing calf raises. Loaded 160lb onto the machine.
  • Chest - Bench press using 20lb dumbbells
  • Back - Bent barbell row using 40lb bar
  • Shoulders - Rear delt raises using 10lb dumbbells
  • Biceps - Preacher curls using 30lb bar
  • Triceps - Triceps pushdown. Loaded 30lb onto a cable pulley machine.
The result? Today I am tired, but I feel good.


How Does Our Garden Grow?

>> Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quite nicely, actually! Here's a picture breakdown of our veggie's growth so far:

Cherry Tomatoes (regular tomatoes not pictured)

Sugar Snap Peas

Red Bell Peppers


Zucchini or Yellow Squash - I have no idea which is which

Green Beans

Want to know why our beans and squash are surrounded by styrofoam cups? It's easy. Pill bugs, or Roly Polys, as some people call them. The very first night after the plants had grown out of the soil, those little bugs attacked them. We went outside at midnight and found them feeding on them, at least 5 or so per plant. They just eat into the fleshy part of the stem and munch away. They normally don't feed on plants unless they are in very large numbers and there's not much food. Our garden fit the bill. We wanted to try to grow our garden without pesticides, so Jason found that he could buy diatemaceous (sp?) soil which is harmless to us. Unfortunately, you can only buy it in nurseries which are only open until 5. So, for night number two, we tried to block the bugs physically with these cups so that we could save the plants. Since it's worked, we didn't even bother buy the soil after all. Once the plants are larger, the pill bugs won't be able to bite into them, so we can remove the cups.

The last thing in our garden is this chili pequin plant:

Yeah, I know it looks like a stick. It was a larger plant that was growing underneath this plant:

We took out this plant because it was in the way of the garden and it was a little out of control. It's now planted at my in-law's house where it can grow all it wants!

Back to the plant - er - stick. I tried to plant the entire plant we uprooted at first. It was about a foot and a half long and had lots of leaves. I watered it, but it just didn't look very good. The leaves dried out and died. So Jason gave it a mayjuh haircut and chopped it to the stick it it. I thought there was no hope, but as you can see below, there's some growth!

I took these photos yesterday and today, there's actually 3 spots of growth on it! We may have little chili pequins one day after all!


By the way,

GMA punked out on Woodsboro. They officially suck. They only put the 'Boro couple on the air live the very first day but they were only seen waving to the camera.

See? I told you there wasn't much to see there. Apparently, GMA thought so too.




>> Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This weekend, I went to Cornyval in Helotes with my brother and two of my cousins. Cornyval is a festival that benefits lots of different non-profits. Each food booth was for a different cause. It also has a PRCA rodeo and carnival rides. Basicly, it's an eat-and-drink-beer type of place. I had never been before even though I used to live a couple miles away. It wasn't too crowded and it was more family-oriented. And, in light of the swine flu invading San Antonio, there were plenty of hand-washing stations. Because it's only important to wash your hands when the flu's going around. I digress.

I usually don't buy a lot of knick knacks, but there was one vendor I couldn't pass on. It was a homemade pasta and jelly booth from a company called Shayne Sauce (they take orders online, people!). The food is made right here in San Antonio. Did I mention that I love pasta? And jelly?

I bought the Spinach and Lemon fettuccine:

photo courtesy of Shayne Sauce

I put some regular marinara sauce on this and it was great! The fettuccine cooks in about 3 minutes, so you don't have to wait long. I also bought the Cranberry Cinnamon Jalapeno jelly:

photo courtesy of Shayne Sauce

After I bought my goodies, I decided I was starving. Over the course of the night, I had some beer, a Sprite, sausage on a stick, a jumbo corn dog, a chocolate dipped ice cream bar and bites of anything else that someone bought that I didn't buy. It was awesome! My brother ate a ton. And I mean a TON. The question is not what he ate, it's what didn't he eat?

I got pretty bad pictures of the rodeo; they weren't worth posting here. But we did get some pictures by the end of the night. Here's my cousins, my brother and I showing our true colors:

L to R: Becca, Me, Houston, Kathy

See those grease stains on my shirt? Yeah, that happened when I ate the sausage on a stick, which was really early in the night. It took me awhile to figure out that it was grease and not water, so I ended up walking around looking like white trash the entire night.

My brother was feeling pretty good by the end of the night if you know what I mean (lots of Shiner was involved), so he actually let me jump on him!

I caught Jason looking like a deer in the headlights here:

My brother's giant thumb covered part of the flash, but this is how he & Kathy usually act:

And I also got a picture of Becca with her fiance, TJ:

We had so much fun that I want to go again next year! I don't get to see my brother a lot, so this was especially fun for me!


Wednesday workout

After Monday's lunges, my booty was sore! That must mean that I did some good. Today's workout is my medium day, which means I lift enough to exhaust my muscles after 9-12 rep, whatever I can get to. I do 3 sets of each exercise after 30 minutes of cardio.

  • Quadriceps - Leg Press with 180lbs loaded onto machine
  • Hamstrings - Hamstring curls with 75lbs loaded onto machine
  • Calves - 135lb loaded onto Seated calve machine
  • Chest - Incline chest press using 20lb dumbbells
  • Back - Lat pulldowns, loaded 70lbs
  • Shoulders - Dumbbell press using 15lb dumbbells
  • Biceps - Bicep curls using 40lb EZ Curl Bar
  • Triceps - Lying tricep extension using 12.5lb dumbbells
This was actually my old Monday hard workout. Check out what I was lifting on my hard day in January! See the improvement? I could hardly believe it myself!


Monday Workout

>> Monday, May 4, 2009

I finally switched routines after doing the same one for a few months. I should really be switching them up every 4 to 6 weeks, but I just got a little lazy. I had a great workout today and I could really see improvement. I can lift so much more than I could last year. It's so encouraging! I mentioned before that I like weight-lifting more than cardio and today was no exception! I started out my routine with 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical. Monday is my heavy day, so I did this weight routine using 6-9 reps (whatever I could squeeze out):

  • Quadriceps - squats using 30lb loaded onto the Smith machine. I may increase this later.
  • Hamstrings - 110lb loaded onto the seated hamstring machine
  • Inner/Outer thighs - Hip Adductor/Abductor - 210lbs for adduction (I maxed that sucker out!!!) and 125lb for abductor (I may drop that, not sure yet) on the scissor machine
  • Calves - 250lb on the Rotary calve machine
  • Chest - Flat back flyes using 15lb dumbbells
  • Back - Loaded 80lbs on the seated cable- pull machine
  • Shoulders - Shoulder extensions using 15lb dumbbells
  • Biceps - Reclined bicep curls using 20lb dumbbells
  • Triceps - Overhead tricep extension using a cable and loaded 40lbs
  • Abs - Hanging leg raises
That made me tired just typing that out! Yikes! I'll post my other workouts each day....good luck to you all, my sisters in iron! (That's what Tosca Reno says)


5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

>> Friday, May 1, 2009

Today's a two-fer! That's right, I'm posting TWO recipes today! You should feel special.

If you have an email address, then you've probably gotten the email about the 5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake. I've gotten it several times and every single time I read it, it makes me want to try it. I have no idea why I haven't, but I thought today should be the day. The recipe is simple enough; the ingredient breakdown is here:

  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 3 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional)
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 large coffee mug
All you have to do is mix all the ingredients into the mug and microwave it on high for 3 minutes. Sounds easy, doesn't it?

I put all the ingredients in a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup just in case my coffee mugs weren't big enough.

I mixed it all together well with a spoon:

Then, I put it in the microwave:

It came out looking like this:

And tasted like this:

Oh wait. You can't taste it. Too bad for you!

I kid, I kid. Actually, the cake turns out pretty heavy, but fairly moist. It tastes like chocolate cake, but it really needed something.

Like yummy chocolate icing.

But there's no microwave mug recipe for that, is there?

All in all, I probably wouldn't make this to satisfy a chocolate craving, but it was a fun experiment regardless!


Moroccan Couscous with Seven Vegetables

This might be my favorite recipe yet. It turned out so, so yummy! It's not very spicy at all and spells delicious. The downside? It takes a long time to make. It would be a great Sunday thing to make and then eat throughout the week.

Sauteing the Ras El Hanout, garlic & olive oil:

Adding in the first few veggies and water:

Putting the pureed veggies back into the dish:

I have no idea why the picture is sideways because it's correct on my computer! ???

Finally, enjoying the final product with some cilantro on top:

And the breakdown:


  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Ras El Hanout (see below)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 small turnips, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots (10 oz), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 head cabbage (about 1/2 lb), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into chunks (I used the whole thing)
  • 1/2 cup green beans (about 2 oz), cut into thirds (didn't use because I was out)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Harissa or any chile paste or hot sauce (I used 1 tsp Cholula)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins, soaked in 2 or 3 Tbsp warm water for 10 minutes, drained
  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz white fish (tilapia, haddock or sole), cut into chunks (I used Tilapia)
  • 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, divided
  1. Heat oil in large stockpot over medium heat, add garlic and Ras El Hanout. Quickly stir until brown, about 1 minute. Then add next 5 ingredients. Pour in enough water to cover vegetables. Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until vegetables are soft but not fully cooked. Add pepper, beans, Harissa and salt. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until tender.
  2. Ladle out 3 cups of broth and vegetables (1 1/2 cups each). Puree in blender until thick. Add back to stew.
  3. Mix in raisins and chickpeas. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and place fish on top of mixture (don't mix in, or fish will break up). Cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Fish will steam on top.
  4. While fish is cooking, boil 1 1/3 cups water in a saucepan over high heat. Take off heat, add couscous and cover. Set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. To serve, place 1/2 cup couscous in bowl. Pour 1 cup vegetable-fish mixture over top and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp cilantro.
Steps 1 & 2 can be completed up to 2 days in advance. Keep mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you're ready to continue.

Ras El Hanout (Makes 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric (careful! this stuff stains!!)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Seal in an airtight container and store in a dark, dry spot in the pantry; it will keep for up to a year.


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