Bubbly, cheesy, *light* pasta


The PERFECT light pasta dish for a cold mid-week evening! Continue reading

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Holiday weekend…from hell?


Whew, what a weekend! Between a 10k turkey trot race, two thanksgiving dinners, broken kitchen appliances, and major car issues, it has been quite a long weekend. I know you are just dying to know all about it, so I will indulge you with a recap, including pictures!

But first, happy Mingle Monday!! Head over to Life of Meg and join in the fun to gain some followers and read some awesome new blogs!

Thanksgiving morning, bright, cold and early, I dragged Billy to one of the local high schools for the Almaden Valley Run, Turkey, Run 10k race. This was my very first 10k race, and my longest run to date. I finished in 60:20, giving me an average of about 9.7 minute miles. The race started at 8:30am and it was so cold!! I was all bundled up, but ended up shedding my running jacket just before the race started because the adrenaline had me warmed up. Lately I have been dealing with major IT band issues from over training in the week I was back to running after my egg donation cycle, so I used KT Tape to help support my knee and get me through the run, as well icing and using a foam roller before and after to help with tightness and inflammation. It really did help!

The hubs sat nice and toasty warm in the car. He laughed at me as I was warming up because I was outside in the 30 degree weather, while he was watching episodes of Raising Hope on his HTC Evo phone, lucky guy. KT tape is my new favorite running accessory, it goes with everything, didn’t you know?

I FINALLY have a good shot of me running! I usually look like Quasimodo or some horrible troll in the photos from my races, so this was exciting to see. The hubby makes a pretty good paparazzo! Marlo was super excited about my run and gave me lots of kisses when I got home. I recovered from the race with hot cocoa and chocolate covered pretzels, and tied a cold pack to my knee with a dish cloth so I could immediately get to work on Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and of course Grandma Ople’s apple pie!

Unfortunately, I broke the garbage disposal and backed up the sink by peeling 5 pounds of potatoes and 9 apples into the sink…it’s Sunday night and it still hasn’t been fixed by our apartment maintenance team. It stinks. Literally.

We had our first Thanksgiving dinner with my family at 3pm, and then headed over to Billy’s family’s for second dinner at 7pm. We ate a lot. It was delicious, but oh, so filling. Turkey really got to us, so we went home to sleep at 9:30pm and woke up around 9am the next morning! That afternoon we did a little black Friday shopping, mainly getting some DVDs and video games for Billy, and I scored big time at the local outlets getting cycling and running gear for me so I can start training for the 2011 triathlon season. I really can’t wait for Christmas!

Unfortunately, my car started acting up on our way home from shopping, and long story short, it died of the death, or in other words, everything a car could die from. Think computer failure, all the electronics failed, alternator died, and my engine started seizing. This left me without a safe or functioning car, so we traded it in for a 2008 Honda Civic coupe at our favorite dealership, Capitol Honda. It’s way cute, and God was really opening up a window after closing a door, because we got hooked up majorly with friends and family discounts on everything because our family has bought five cars from this dealership! It sucked having to deplete my savings that was already spoken for for 2010 taxes (ugh, no fair!!) but we got the most amazing deal so it worked out. My little Honda already fits me better than my Jeep ever did. I named her Sylvie!

And that folks, was my crazy, hectic, food filled, and savings depleting weekend! Whew!

 

Turkey Day Anticipation


Tomorrow is one of the best holidays of the year, Thanksgiving! I love the gluttony and indulgence, the family time, the wonderful decor and of course the entire holiday season! This year I am starting a new tradition: I will be running my very first 10k race Thanksgiving morning, and I hope to run a race every year from here on out. I have been training a lot to get up to the 6.2 miles this race will cover, and my body is paying for it in the form of an overuse injury in my IT band.  This comes from increasing mileage or speed too quickly. Those three weeks I took off to heal from my egg donation cycle put me back a bit in my training, so last week I really pushed it, running a 5k race my first day back to exercising, then a 4.5 mile run, a 5 mile run, and finally a 5.83 mile run this past Monday which left me gasping in pain in the last quarter-mile as it felt like someone was jabbing me in the outside of my right knee. I have been aware of knee pain through a lot of my training and have been crossing my fingers I wouldn’t end up here, but it’s pretty inevitable for a runner to have some sort of injury. Because running hurts. It can also be pretty wonderful. And so you have my love-hate relationship with running. It hurts me, but I love it.

This Thanksgiving I am most looking forward to and am thankful for:

My first ever 10k race in the Almaden Valley Run Turkey Run event

Making Grandma Ople’s apple pie and healthy mashed potatoes for my family

25% off my entire purchase at Sports Authority which is quickly becoming one of my new favorite stores. They are open 9am-3pm and I’ve already been there twice this week alone haha (got myself a sweet new long-sleeved running shirt and an Under Armour visor, a foam roller, KT Tape, a hot/cold pack and GU chomps with caffeine for my race)

Having two Thanksgiving dinners, one with each of Billy and my families

A fantastic day off

Shiver inducing temperatures that make being cozy and warm inside so much better (it doesn’t snow here, but it will be the California equivalent of low 50’s tomorrow hehe)

Seeing Harry Potter 7.1

Getting and decorating our Christmas tree

Visiting friends

What are you looking forward to this Thanksgiving? Do you have any special traditions, or any healthy dishes to share? Do you participate in Thanksgiving day runs or walks in your community?  I want to hear from you!

Hairapy Sessions: short story


Here are some interesting hair photos to help get you through your day! Right now, short hair has caught my eye. I can’t do it myself, I have tried and failed, but I love it on other people.

All photos were found using a Google Images search…like pretty much all of the other images found on my site. Let me know if you want credit 🙂

Recipe Swap in Full Swing!


I love to share recipes that I am making on a regular basis with my lovely readers for several reasons. One, because I love to cook and bake, and two, because I think other people should get to enjoy some of the yumminess that fills my home, too!

Trish over at This Life of Ours seems to feel the same way, and has created a “What’s Cooking, Good Looking?” recipe swap. I think this is a fabulous idea, and I hope you get a chance to hop on over to Trish’s blog and post your favorite recipe for her to try out sometime.

I would also love recommendations and favorite recipes from you! Just follow my blog (through e-mail subscription or just use the follow button on the right) and post a comment here with your favorite recipe and I will give it a whirl and blog about it! Now how’s that for cooperating and swapping recipes?!

I simply can’t wait to try out some new recipes from my lovely readers!

Apple Pie a la Grandma Ople


Bryn, one of the kids I nanny for, asked me to make an apple pie with her a few weeks back, and of course I couldn’t say no, even if it meant that I would be making the pie myself. I have made an apple pie once before and forgot to peel the apples, and while it was OK, it wasn’t a recipe I was going to try again. So where to look? A lot of women can ask their mom or grandma for a trusty pie recipe, however my grandma is not really known as a cook. She can get along all right in the kitchen, but she will be the first person to let you know she isn’t very good. Instead of asking my own grandma for her apple pie recipe (because she doesn’t have one) I looked to allrecipes.com for a yummy apple pie recipe. One of the first recipes I looked at was Grandma Ople’s apple pie. It looked easy enough and had delicious ingredients, so I decided to give it a try.

Like I imagined, Bryn didn’t help much other than to ask “is it ready yet?” over and over again. I followed the recipe very closely, only adding a little cinnamon, and using trader Joe’s frozen pie crust, even making the lattice top crust. The pie was amazing. I mean melt in your mouth, buttery perfection. I have never had an apple pie that delicious. The only bad thing was it wasn’t very pretty with the lumpy lattice top.

I made the pie again this past Friday for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner party I was attending, and decided to use a full crust this time. It turned out even better this time around, and I got so many wonderfully sweet comments on how yummy it was! The other day, my friend Adrienne asked for apple pie recipes, and of course I had to offer her Grandma Ople’s recipe! I don’t know who Grandma Ople is, but I just want to hug and kiss her for creating this wonderful recipe! I am giving you the recipe with my own little additions and changes so you can try it for yourself!

 

Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie, a la Adrian

1 pkg Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust (includes 2)

6 large (8 small) Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 tbls flour

1/4 water

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, cinnamon, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, remove and let cool for a few minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, pour sugar and butter mixture over apples, saving just a little of the mix for the top crust. Toss to coat, then fill pie crust with apples, mounding slightly.

4. Cover with full crust and paint with leftover sugar mixture. Pinch both crusts together, making a pattern if you want all the way around the pie.

5. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Remove, let cool and enjoy!! Let me know if you use this pie recipe, I want to see if you make any adjustments and what you think!

Just another manic Monday


Wish it were a Sunday! Cause that’s my fun day! Oh come on, you KNOW you always sing along when that song comes on the radio too!

Happy Monday friends! I don’t know about you, but I usually look forward to Mondays. *GASP* I know, I know, that’s super weird, right? Well, let me give you a little insight into my crazy life so you can grasp why Mondays are good in my world. First of all, I work every day. Like 7 days a week. I have been on this schedule for over a year, and occasionally I get a day off here and there, but for the most part, I’m always working. My weekend job is at a salon, working my magics making clients look fabulous, cutting, coloring, and styling hair. It’s usually very busy on the weekends, because I can only offer those two days to my clients, they book up solidly for the most part. I will be on my feet from early in the morning until late evening on both Saturday and Sunday, so when Monday rolls around, I am a happy girl! My weekday job as a nanny is sweet. I start in the afternoon, so I have mornings free to do as I please. Usually it means running with my amazing running buddy Nicole, catching up on laundry, blogging, reading, or watching some TV. Then work itself is super fun! I get to hang out with a 13-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy for a few hours every night, doing homework, going to different activities, chatting and laughing together. THIS is why Mondays are my fun days 🙂 They let me catch up on sleep, take care of the house, run errands, and sometimes I even get to be super lazy and lie about all morning before work.

You should hop on over to Life of Meg and check out this week’s batch of Mingle Monday bloggers. It seems to be getting bigger and bigger each week, and I wish I could be one of the first people to sign on each Monday, but I’m usually one of the last, because I wait until the evening to do it. Maybe next week I’ll get the jump on everyone!

 

Eggy in a basket


There are 7.3 million women in the U.S. alone who suffer from infertility issues. These women want to start families, but for many reasons are unable to achieve what could be one of their life’s dreams. I will unabashedly tell anyone who asks that I do not want children. Ever. Not in 5 years when I “change my mind”, not in 10 years when I should have already popped out a few kiddos. It’s not a stage I am going through, and I don’t believe in a maternal clock ticking away my childless years. I am completely content and happy with my life that does not include children, or the promise of little ones someday.

Though I hear that I would make a wonderful mother on a regular basis, I am not swayed to believe that would be the only qualification necessary to successfully raise a good kid. These are my own thoughts on having children, for myself, not for everyone else. If you want children, please, have them! I will coo, ooh and ahh over your pregnancy, your baby photos, the cute onesies you received at the baby shower. I will gladly hold your screaming toddler while you go to the bathroom, and I will give you all the advice I have compiled over the last 6 years I have worked as a nanny. I do not begrudge other’s their desires for families, however, I often get incredulous looks when I say I don’t want kids.

I do, however, come from extremely fertile stock. I come from a family that pumps out children as easily as an Indonesian Nike factory pumps out sneakers. Though I have no plans to use the eggs my body produces each month, I do recognize the need for them, and how I can help another family realize their dreams.  Two years ago I started researching infertility treatments, and how I could help. I joined up with an amazing group called Fertility Physicians of Northern California as an egg donor. I had to go through several screening processes, give my medical and family histories, answer extensive questionnaires about my life, as well as blood tests and ultrasounds- before I was even matched up with a recipient family! Then I waited. And waited. And waited some more to be picked by one of the families that uses FPNC in their quest for children. Finally, last May, I was told I had been picked as an egg donor! We did some more waiting, lots of blood tests and cultures, and finally got our calendar set with dates for my cycle.

The staff at FPNC established my cycle with birth control pills, and on a set day, I started giving myself a nightly injection of a hormone to suppress my ovaries from making any new follicles that would in turn become eggs. A few days later, I stopped taking the pill, and continued with my injections. About a week after the cycle started, I went back in for an ultrasound and blood test to check my hormone levels, and was cleared to add two more medications that would begin growing follicles, and more than just the one that normally would grow each month. Three injections each night left my belly feeling a little tender, but it’s really not very painful, and the discomfort goes away quickly. The third week of the cycle my ovaries became enlarged, which is good, and I felt a little bloated, but really had no discomfort. A week later, I stopped all three of the injections and took just one, which happened to fall on Billy’s birthday. This last injection was a hormone that told my ovaries to make available all the eggs the follicles had been growing so they would be ready for retrieval. Two days later, bright and early Monday morning, I  underwent a very quick surgical procedure to extract the eggs, and then my participation was done! I slept all day after the surgery, and took it easy for the next two days, but was back at work and functioning normally the following day. I have been on “pelvic rest” for 2 weeks, and I stopped running 3 weeks ago when my ovaries became enlarged so I wouldn’t mess anything up. I miss the activity, but it’s been a pleasant 3 week forced rest period.

The eggs themselves, 16 were collected, went to the lab where they were fertilized and grew for a few days before being implanted in the recipient. The recipients will have full power over the eggs at that point, deciding how many to fertilize and implant, and what to do with the extras. If the implanted eggs take, hopefully the recipient will have a healthy pregnancy that ultimately ends in a beautiful child, if not, they have more of my eggs to work with and have several cycles to make it happen.

Both the recipients and myself chose to have an anonymous cycle. I did provide pictures of myself through my life for them to see, but we will not meet at any point in this process, and I have declined to meet any offspring formed from this cycle. It would be wild to run into a little mini-me someday though, and there is always the possibility that in 18 years I will get a call from FPNC asking me to update my medical records, family history etc so they can update the family, but there is very little chance a child will find me and want to have a relationship with me. My mentality is this: I provide genetic material to allow another couple to have a family. It is not my baby, I have no attachment to any offspring, the recipients will 100% be the parents of any children that may come through this. I am here to help another couple get the family they have always wanted, and I am very proud to be of any service.

I am very grateful to have such supportive and understanding family and amazing friends. They are thrilled with my decision to be an egg donor, and are so glad I am able to help out a less fortunate family. Not all of them understand my commitment to not having children myself, though they still respect that as my life choice, and have stopped pressuring me about starting my own family. Everyone has been very interested in knowing all the ins and outs of the cycle, what my medications are like, and how they are affecting me. I have even had many people offer to come take care of me if I need anything at all. I am so grateful for the amazing people in my life, and how awesome everyone has been through this process.

We’ve got a winner!


I am back in the cool, wet weather of the Bay Area from sunny and warm Phoenix! I brought home a new fascination with body building and fitness, I guess you can say I caught the bug, and now I want to be a part of this whole new world! Oh no, don’t worry, I won’t be competing, I just want to figure out a way to be involved by doing hair and makeup for the competitors at different fitness events all around the country. I am scheming, and I have big plans, just you wait!

You may think of body building and immediately see Arnold Schwarzenegger or some pumped up manly woman, but it’s not all about the big muscles and the meat heads. Well, there is a lot of that, especially in the body building classes, but there are also amazingly beautiful women who have lovely toned and muscular bodies in the figure classes, and lean, toned and beautiful women in the bikini classes. I was especially interested in the bikini division because my friend Tiffany was competing in that class, so I knew the most about it.

Tiffany blew us all away by placing 5th (top 5 placings were qualified for national level shows) out of 13 in her very first show. Frankly, I think she looked amazing and should have placed top 3, but the judging is weird in bikini, and you never know what they will be looking for. Tiffany looked absolutely fantastic after 4 months of preparations, diet, exercise, posing lessons, and trips back and forth to Arizona to work with her trainers at AZ Pro Physiques to get ready for the NPC Western Regionals. I have never seen someone with more dedication, self-control, willpower and enthusiasm for something so difficult to achieve. She wasn’t feeling all that hot come show day, but she sure looked amazing!

This collage shows Tiffany the night before the competition with her spray tan all aglow, day of hair and makeup, on stage in one of her poses, and with her trophy at the awards ceremony.

This is 4 of the top 5 girls, the blonde in the pink on the far left didn’t make it. That skinny little girl in the center won 1st place. I didn’t agree. She was far too thin and bony looking to have won 1st, but once again, the judges are all looking for something specific and it always changes.

This is our gorgeous, amazing, rockstar 5th place winner!! It was a very long day for her! We were up at 6am (after not sleeping well for 4-5 hours), at the venue by 8am, and this was taken around 11pm that night!! We decided show makeup is a cross between Jersey Shore and Oompa Loompa, it’s a real winner of a combo, don’tcha think?

Also, it’s Mingle Monday! (Tuesday by my clock saying almost 1am, but I haven’t gone to bed yet, so it doesn’t count! Make sure you stop by Life of Meg and check out the awesome bloggers who participate in Mingle Monday.