Saturday, July 30, 2011

Does this make me a runner?

I forgot to tell you guys... a couple weeks ago, I ran my first 8k race! It was the Bastille Day run, and this year they added the 8k option in addition to their traditional 5k. I did the 5k a few years ago, and a crazy downpour makes it the least enjoyable run I've ever done. If my count is accurate, this is the 8th race I've completed. A few years ago, I think I would have slapped you if you told me I'd be running for fun! Now, I still don't have any interest in really long races, but since I did ok on this 8k, I know I could manage upping the distance to a 10k at some point. 
See the girl in the yellow shirt, smiling like a dork? Yup, that's me!

Feeling slower around mile 4... but I kept pushing to the finish!
My pace wasn't fast, since the race was the day after we got back from eating and drinking excessively in L.A. Also, I've been battling allergies and/or a crazy cold for far too long now, and was all stuffy and what not while running. No bueno.  But I made my goal, which was to finish without walking! 

I'm sick of crowded races along the lake. Anyone know of any good races where they close off streets? The lake is always beautiful, but the trails on Lincoln Park just aren't made for full on races, and they get way too crowded. I'm thinking I'll do another race before it gets too cold... maybe September? I'd love to improve my 8k time, but since there aren't too many of those, I might just try that whole 10k idea out. I'm kind of still thinking that's crazy, though, so we'll see!

(I'm only blogging such boring stuff on a Saturday night because I'm babysitting. I swear, if I wasn't working I'd be out doing something fun!  Oh, and I'm actually supposed to be working on a powerpoint for an interview for a new position at work, but that is just too depressing for a Saturday night. Maybe it's time to see what's on TV?  Hope you're having a more exciting weekend than I am!)

Friday, July 29, 2011

My garden's bounty!

Check out the first harvest from my garden! There were supposed to be 3 tomatoes, but I accidentally dropped one off the balcony. Urban gardening is kind of silly, but I love it :)

Headed downtown now to meet Joe for a day date. We're finally going to the aquarium, after living here for more than four years! Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Weekend... and lots of Basil

What do you do with a huge pile of basil?  Pesto, of course! We've been growing some very abundant basil plans on our porch, and we also got a bag of basil in last week's CSA box. I hate wasting food, and the basil out back desperately called out for some pruning.  Kept it simple with the Everyday Italian recipe, although I didn't use nearly the amount of olive oil that was called for. Basil, pine nuts, cheese, oil... that's pretty much it! I froze ice cube size portions for future use, easy to grab one or two at a time. 
The basil bunches totally reminded me of a bouquet of flowers!

What do you do with a bunch of pesto?  Pizza! And not just any pizza, but pizza with crust that was made using some of our spent grain from brewing.

He has to know by now that if he makes faces because I'm taking pictures,
then those faces will end up online :)

My weekend was something like this... Friday night- work on resume, make pesto, go to bed early. Saturday- work and babysit. Sunday- work and make pizza. Exciting, huh? The life of an hourly employee :) 

We did squeeze in a couple pints at the British pub a block from our house, which finally got its liquor license after being open for almost six months! We rarely eat out, and pub food is not my favorite, but we're excited to have a decent bar so close to our house! The heat and humidity cut us some slack last night, too, making for a great time to sit out and have a drink. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

California Highlights: Part 2

I'm going to keep this one to mostly pictures, with captions. Joe and I have a dinner date tonight, and I accidentally wasted too much of today doing pretty much nothing, which doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging! I will say it was a lovely, relaxing day off... and that I get soooo much more done in my life when I'm busy :) Here are the rest of the highlights from our trip, or at least the highlights we remembered to take pictures of!

Natalie, my cousin Emily's daughter, was so darn cute! She's super smart,
and will talk your ear off if you let her. Here she is in her ballerina swimsuit
and melon smile :)
Emily and Natalie live in Arizona, but they decided to seek refuge from
the dessert heat by coming home for a weekend. Emily and my aunt, Anne,
 made a fantastic dinner on Saturday night.
Sunday we were going to hit up Hollywood for a swank and stylish dinner,
but we ended up enjoying our time in Manhattan Beach too much.
We decided instead of rushing home to change for dinner,
we'd enjoy dinner near the beach, and spend a little more time in this
great little beach town!
We at at Manhattan Beach Brewing Company, and enjoyed the simple but tasty food.
Since we were on vacation, we had to have beer flights with our meal!
This visit we decided to try Malibu Seafood, after a rave review from my cousin.
It was BYOB, beautiful ocean views, and great seafood.  I love the crazy biker
atmosphere of Neptune's Net, but think Malibu Seafood has them beat in the end.

It's not a trip to Southern California without some fish tacos, right? YUM!

Another obvious requirement of this trip... In-N-Out!

Eating too much, exploring all over, and plenty of time in the waves made for a great vacation. It was so refreshing to just enjoy five days together, away from work, bills, and taking care of regular life. We loved catching up with family, and roaming around town without a care in the world!

Thanks especially to Sarah & Sanjin, my cousin and her husband, for loaning us your house and car. We hated being in L.A. and not seeing you and your adorable boys... but we sure are glad you suggested we take over your house while you were gone!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Escape from Reality

Ok, it's been five days, and I think I'm finally recovered enough to post about our wonderful Southern California vacation.  We had a fantastic time relaxing with each other, just enjoying the feeling of minimal obligations and plenty of ocean air. I didn't take nearly enough pictures, but I don't really mind, because we were so 'in the moment' that stopping for the camera would have felt too much like work.

Some highlights of the trip...

 Spending time with much-loved relatives! Delicious food, lively conversation, drinks for everyone. It was wonderful to hang out and catch up with everyone. Thanks to Anne and Ron for hosting our little party!

Soaking up the different scenery. Ocean waves and palm trees are such novelties to us! We drove all over LA exploring, cruising famous streets like Sunset or Santa Monica Boulevards. From West Hollywood to Manhattan Beach, we got to know the city pretty well. Not going to lie, though, I love living in a city where I don't have to drive as much!

Hiking in Runyon Canyon was a great suggestion I got from my hairdresser, who lived in LA for a while. We spent a morning getting a workout while climbing around the hills, people watching and soaking up the views. It was beautiful, and seemed like such a stereotypical California thing to do... right down to the yoga class in the park! We kept up this healthy mentality through lunch, eating tasty vegan sandwiches at Veggie Grill. Then it was off to the beach, which we made a daily priority :)

One day we make the trek down towards San Diego, to visit the much loved Stone Brewery. It was fun to see the brewery, and we had an entertaining and welcoming tour guide. We loved seeing their operations, and didn't mind the tasting that occurred at the end of the tour. They have GREAT beer!

I've just made an official decision that this trip is going to get TWO posts worth of recap. We'll call this post Part One (With Picture Collages).  Part Two will involve iphone pictures, more food and beer, and some silly beach pictures. Midwesterners can be SUCH dorks when we go to the beach! Although I'm not a Midwesterner, for the record, because I was born in Northern California and have lived too many places to really lump myself in with one of them. Just so you know.

For now, I'll go make some dinner, while continuing to dream of living near the beach. It could happen. Right?!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back to Reality

We got back late last night from a fantastic little vacation in Southern California.

There was much eating, drinking, shopping, and beaching. Lots of catching up with family, and relaxing with my favorite travel companion. I'll tell you all about it later, but today I'm focused on a million loads of laundry, a couple grocery trips, and running an 8k race this evening. Hope things are great in your corner of the internet!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

French Potato Salad with Tuna and Green Beans

A great summer dinner, full of fresh flavors. I love a good one dish meal, too, for minimal effort. Drink a rose with this one, and follow up with a nice walk around the neighborhood. Perfect.

Recipe here.

Running around like crazy now, getting everything in order for vacation. I might go off the grid for a bit... miss you guys! See ya in a week or so!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Holiday Weekend!

What a wonderful weekend! Despite working 24 hours from Saturday to Monday, we were able to squeeze in a ton of fun 4th of July activities. There was a baseball game, a beer garden, dinners with old and new friends, brats and beer on a rooftop, and plenty of fireworks. After a gloomy and cool start to the season, this weekend's weather and activities finally made it feel like it's really summer!

Patriotic fruit tart, with homemade pastry cream.
Bought the shell for $3 at Whole Foods (straight from the back of the bakery),
which made this such a simple dessert to pull together.

Kane County Cougars-- a local minor league team.

Awesome fireworks after the game!

We finally made it to the rooftop at Gene's, and I can't wait to get back.

What's more American than some good craft beer?

Now just a few days of work, then we're L.A. bound for a little vacation! I can't wait to hang out at the beach, to eat plenty of tasty food, and to catch up with my California relatives. Anyone have L.A. suggestions on what we should do?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Friday!

Happy holiday weekend everyone! I'm off today, then working the next 7 days in a row. The good news, however, is there is a lovely Cali vacation at the end of all that working!  Plus, a baseball game, a paella night with friends, and hopefully a little more fun squeezed in. And I would complain about working on Monday, but we get paid time and a half, so no complaining here :)  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Some lovely reminders on living the good life, thanks to pinterest...