Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spilled oats

There's no use crying over a bowl of spilled oats.
This morning didn't start out so great. First, I woke up at 5:20 naturally and couldn't fall back asleep despite trying for a good 20 minutes. At 5:40, I gave up and went downstairs to start breakfast. I'd left my oats to soak up the water overnight so they were cold and I had to pop them in the microwave to warm up. Sleepy and bleary eyed, I put my bowl into the microwave and set it for two minutes and thirty seconds. I then decided to wander over to the closet and get the K-Cups to refill my rack. Upon returning to the kitchen, I was stricken to see that my oats were boiling over onto the microwave plate.

This made me sad, then angry. At that point, I realized there wasn't any point in having any sort of emotion towards the problem. I just sighed to myself, cleaned up the mess, started a new pot of oats and snagged my Kindle. I'll take any opportunity to read more of this book:

I seem to have too many social networking websites to check lately, and so my Google+ stream doesn't get checked as frequently as it ought to. Last night, for the first time in many days, I actually looked at it and stumbled across one of my friends asking if anyone wanted invites to Fitocracy.
The basic idea of Fitocracy is to make fitness feel like a game. You log your workouts, get points and level up. You can get achievements and complete quests for even more points. I'm a bit of an overachiever (World of Warcraft achievements were what kept me hooked so dang long), so this is a fun way for me to log the workouts that I was already going to do. It's obviously more fun if you invite your friends to join in too. Now that I've been invited, I can invite people too. If you want an invitation, send me an email. Just click on the little mail icon up at the top left!

San Francisco
Our flight leaves tomorrow morning and we're getting up absurdly early to make it to Logan on time. That means I'll have plenty of time to catch up on blogs, leave comments and do the things that work's been interfering with for the last couple of weeks. Woohoo vacaction!

What are you reading right now? Are you totally hooked on it? Let me know in a comment down below! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pastry Cream Disaster 2011

I couldn't ever be a pastry chef because I can't make pastry cream.

Before I ever started blogging over at Run Sqrl, Run, I had another blog Nuts About Cupcakes. I used it to document my cupcake baking and subsequent sharing at work. I even harassed and cajoled my coworkers into leaving me review comments. For that blog, I tried to make Boston Cream Pie cupcakes which unfortunately resulted in the original Pastry Cream Disaster of 2010. Even with the clumpy, unappealing pastry cream filling, the cupcakes were still tasty. I considered it a marginal success.

Last night though, I was feeling ambitious. I wanted to bake my own chocolate cream pie for work. I got out my trusty Baking Illustrated, made a grocery list, bought my ingredients and began preparations. The first thing the recipe has you do is make the crust with some butter and (smashed to bits) Oreos, basically a chocolate cookie take on a graham cracker crust. Simple, very simple.

Then comes the filling. Ugh. UGH! Let me just say that I did not even realize that I was making pastry cream until I tempered the eggs and poured them into the saucepan with the half and half.

It went south from there.

I ended up with a huge, ugly, nasty clump of yellowy egg-half and half mixture. It was wrong, all wrong. It was also about 9:20 PM and I decided that the best course of action was to say, "Screw you pastry cream, I'm going to bed."

Sorry coworkers, no chocolate cream pie for you today.

YAY Socks!
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that my SmartWool socks were super beat up and that I needed to find some new socks. They arrived yesterday!
Stylish! Warm! woohoo!
Lifetime guarantee, huh? Sounds like a challenge to me.

Have you ever successfully made pastry cream? Have some tips/tricks for me? Let me know down below! :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sarah's Top Seven Favorite Books

I know. I know! This isn't a top ten list, just a top seven list. I just couldn't think of three more books that I've loved so much they deserve a place on this list.

1. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
 This is my absolute favorite book of all time. Hands down, no holds barred. I've read it at least 10 times since I first found it and it never gets old. My paperback copy of this book is battered and beaten by many readings. I always find a new way of looking at it and seeing Phedre's or Joscelin's motivations. Jacqueline Carey's prose is wordy but pretty, though that may hinder some readers. Despite that, I still highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the fantasy genre.

2. The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One
by Patrick Rothfuss

In November 2009, I was in the Oslo airport waiting for my flight home to Boston. This was a BK (before Kindle) in my life. I'd already read through all of the books I'd brought with me and stuffed them into my checked baggage. I wasn't particularly keen on spending my flight back staring out the window waiting for the time to pass with agonizing airline travel slowness, so I gave the little book kiosk a shot. Obviously, most of the books were in Norwegian but I eventually found the small section of English books. I leafed through several books, reading their first and second pages, but nothing caught my attention. And then I picked up The Name of the Wind, I promptly bought the book and went straight to my gate to start reading. I didn't stop reading until I had to pick up my luggage and head home. It's one of the very few books in my life that I've been so utterly riveted by that the 8 hour journey home from Norway (literally) flew by.

3. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
 This is a wonderful collaboration of authors that just has me cracking a smile at the writing in the book. Every couple of years, I pick it up and reread it because I love the witty dialogue.

4. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Not just the first book either, but the entire series to date. Books that cause you to form attachments to some of the character to the point where you're screaming "no!!!! NO!!!" at the end of some of the books is a rare quality indeed. These books, however, are gristly and are not for weak stomachs.

5. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling
The last book was the best by far for me but only because of Rowling's character development of Snape. I'm usually very, very good at catching foreshadowing in books, but Snape's final bit of development took me completely by surprise.

6. Blood and Gold by Anne Rice
Marius was my favorite character of Anne Rice's vampires. An entire book dedicated to his life? No brainer for me!

7. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
It's just a lovely little story that struck a chord with me. I also love the movie.

What are your top 3 favorite books of all time? Let me know in a comment down below!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Turkey Trot Training: Week 4

Good morning, good morning!
I was up at 5:30AM this morning in an effort to get to work early, so I can go cram as much work in before my 1:30 status meeting as is humanly possible for me. Work is going to calm down for me (um, I think anyhow) within the next 10 days. I'll be very, very happy when it does.

Previous Weeks
Week Three - 11.62 mi
Week Two - 16.12 mi
Week One - 15.75 mi
Week Zero - the plan

Last Week's Training
Monday (9/19) - Zumba!
This was the last Monday Zumba class that they're offering at the studio. It makes me a little sad because I love starting my week off with some happy dance music. Oh well! :(

Tuesday (9/20) - 7x400m @ 8:27, Circuit Training style
I did 7x400m @ 8:27 (3K pace) this week for a total of 3.75 miles (including warm-up/cooldown miles). For the active rest periods:
12 x Pull-Ups w/55lb assist
30 x Split Squat Jumps
12 (a leg) x Barbell Lunge and Press w/27lbs
12 x Bench Dips
12 x Dumbbell Upright Row w/15lbs in each hand
12 x Pushups

Wednesday (9/21) -Rest
I just was not feeling up to much of anything after my circuit workout the day before, so I decided to move my rest day up.

Thursday (9/22) - Zumba
It wasn't just me for once! I had to work pretty hard to stay mentally present that day. I just couldn't get my mind off work. Ugh.

Friday (9/23) - 30-30 Intervals - 12x30s at 5K pace with 30s rest at 6.0mph
Wednesday's workout got moved to Friday and I was happy that it did. I wouldn't have had the energy on Wednesday to give this one my all.

Saturday (9/24) - 4 miles @ base on the treadmill (10:22 pace)
It's been unseasonably warm for late September. And humid too, which I'm utterly sick of, so I decided to say screw running outside and just went to the treadmill. There was an SVU marathon on, which helped keep me pretty distracted.

Sunday (9/25) - 6 miles @ marathon pace on the treadmill (9:39 pace)
I really love watching football and running, but not because it keeps me distracted. It's really funny to me to see how long a quarter of football really lasts. I started running at the beginning of the 3rd quarter, and by the time the 15 minutes of that quarter were up, I'd gone 4.25 miles and a little over 40 minutes.

Total Mileage: 17.07

This week's plan:

How was your week last week, training or otherwise? Let me know in a comment below! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Turkey Trot Switcheroo

Turkey Trot Change Up
The Acton Turkey Trot registration form just got posted within the last week or two and unfortunately it's not actually on the Thanksgiving Thursday. So, I hunted down a new race:
Source: Gobble Wobble Event Brite Registration
This race is less of a drive for me, which is good considering that I'll also be making Thanksgiving dinner for my family that day.

Daily Mile
I'm on Daily Mile now! If you want to be Daily Mile friends, you can click this large button. :)
running apps

SF, here we come!
I'm excited for my short, little vacation that starts on Friday. :) This will be my first time traveling to the west coast!

I'm keeping it low-key today since I'm trying to recuperate from a long, crappy work week and start another slightly shortened but sure to still be crappy work week. I'm off to go read some of Brandon Sanderson's The Way Of Kings and wait for Eric to finish making our dinner. Hope everyone is having a good weekend so far!

Do anything fun this weekend? I'd love to hear about it! Let me know in a comment down below! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tales from Beyond the Weight Loss

Weight: 126.71
Body Fat: 19.9% + 3% = 22.9%
Measurements: 34"-26"-34"-20"

It's official.

I have gained weight. The trending line is on an upswing.
Image: winnond /
It's only two pounds and half a percentage of body fat but it niggles at me. It makes me feel (in no particular order):
  • Annoyed
  • Upset
  • Frustrated
  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Confused
Two pounds might not seem like a lot to anyone else, but to me it's a scary symptom of a larger problem. I'm having a difficult time reining in the stress eating.

The thing about maintenance, the very thing that makes it so tricky is that it's easy to loosen up too much and slip. Maintenance is a lifelong learning process about how to live your life and make dietary choices that don't result in regain.

If every time a stressful situation starts to get to me and I respond by uncontrollably eating peanut butter out of the jar, chocolate chips out of the bag, raw honey out of the honey jar, etc. then I am setting myself up for failure  And yet, I don't want to spend anymore energy freaking out about it, which is what I've been doing. It's not worth me wasting time feeling all of those feelings I listed up there. It's time for me to just be a woman of action and buckle down. That means back to consistently managing my food intake with CalorieKing, making sure I'm staying adequately hydrated throughout the day and keeping a package of gum with me to help me keep tabs on my true hunger feelings. It mean staying honest with myself and not allowing myself to justify the excesses. Feeling strained is not a justification for excessive eating!

Maintenance is tough, but I'm tougher.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day!

Are you a breakfast skipper?

Well, knock it off already!

Even though you may think you're doing yourself a favor to fit into those skinny jeans, research shows otherwise.

According to the study,  breakfast skippers are twice as likely to pack on the pounds compared to their breakfast eating counterparts.  They're also more likely to experience large drops in energy and general well-being.  This may be due in part to increased levels of the hormone ghrelin.  Ghrelin main job in the body is to tell your brain that you're hungry, so increasing levels could cause you to eat a overly large meal or for some, trigger a binge.

Don't like traditional breakfast foods? Doesn't matter, just so long as you eat something in the morning.

What's your favorite breakfast food? Lemme know down below. :)

RealAge Tips: Follow this morning ritual to get slimmer

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kitchen Adventures: Brownies

Last week blondies, this week brownies.
Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies
Recipe from Baking Illustrated

5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1.25 cups (8.75 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Take a roughly 16" long piece of foil and fold it in half lengthwise. Lay it down in the baking pan like so:
Take another piece of foil big enough to line the entire pan.
Give the foil a quick spray with a trusty can of baking spray.
Set a medium pot full over water over heat and bring to a simmer.
While waiting for the water to simmer, combine the semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl.
When the water is up to temperature, place the bowl in the pot as show below. It's really just cheap way to do a double boiler.
While the chocolate-butter mixture is heating up, measure out the cocoa powder into a small bowl.
Set the small bowl aside.
Whisk the chocolate-butter mixture until everything is thoroughly melted.
Pour in the cocoa powder.
Whisk in the powder until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
While the chocolate is cooling, measure out the flour into a small bowl.
Then combine the eggs, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk them until combined.
Add in the flour and mix until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. The brownies are done when an inserted toothpick comes out with a few fudgy looking crumbs.
Allow the brownies to cool to room temperature. Or cut off a piece and eat it with ice cream!

How do you prefer your brownies? Cakey or fudgey? Let me know down below! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turkey Trot Training: Week 3

I feel like I just wrote one of these a a blink of an eye ago! I can't believe how fast time is passing. It's only two more weeks until my short, but sweet vacation in San Fransisco, where I full intend to get my 5 mile base run in the lovely CA weather.  This past week had its dietary ups and downs, but fortunately I'm feeling better about the entire situation. Something about identifying the problem and blogging about it makes me feel like I have a little more control over the situation.

I've actually fallen back into my habits of eating the same breakfast, lunch and snacks again. It's just easier for me right now since it's like super crunch time at work. I can hardly even find time to read people's blogs, let alone leave a friendly comment. :( I'm hoping to catch up with them this weekend though! I'm also hoping to check out the nearest Whole Foods to use my Living Social deal.

Previous Weeks
Week Two - 16.12 mi
Week One - 15.75 mi
Week Zero - the plan

Last Week's Training
Monday (9/12) - Zumba!
I feel like I'm getting so much better at Zumba each week. I love that it's so much fun I forget that I'm working out.

Tuesday (9/13) - 6x400m @ 8:27, Circuit Training style
I did 6x400m @ 8:27 (3K pace) this week for a total of 3.5 miles (including warm-up/cooldown miles). For the "rest" periods:
11 x Pull-Ups w/55lb assist
25 x Split Squat Jumps
11 (a leg) x Barbell Lunge and Press w/27lbs
12 x Bench Dips
12 x Dumbbell Upright Row w/15lbs in each hand

Wednesday (9/14) - 30-30 Intervals - 10x30s at 5K pace with 30s rest at 6.0mph
This is second only to zumba as my favorite workout of the week. It's just so quick, easy and engaging.

Thursday (9/15) - Zumba
It was just me and Elena again. It's kind of like a private Zumba lesson. I wish more people would come so that we can keep two classes a week!

Friday (9/16) - Rest
I just didn't feel up to the 5 miler on Friday, so I moved it to Saturday.

Saturday (9/17) - 5 miles @ base pace (~10:20ish)
It was a beautiful fall day, and the run was wonderful.

Sunday (9/4) - Rest
I had a headache when I woke up and felt generally crappy, so I decided to forgo my 5 mile marathon run to keep my immune system prepared for this:
It was a fun time. :)

Total Mileage: 11.62 mi

This week's plan:

How was your week last week, training or otherwise? Let me know in a comment below! :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sorry but I'm really not sorry

On Monday of last week, Katy Widrick wrote a post titled Sorry I'm Not Sorry. It happened to scroll by in my Twitter feed while I had it up at work and I (being intrigued by the title) clicked on it. I love nothing more than seeing honesty in posts which the trend of the "my life is puppies and rainbows" that seemingly pervades a good deal of the blogosphere. I was so inspired by Katy's truths that I wanted to write my own post and I'm not even the only that that her post inspired. Sam of Health, Happiness and Skinny Jeans has her own sorry she's not sorry post. It's taken me a week to get this post together because work has been all up ins my face, but here it is.
Image: Simon Howden /
  • I'm not going to train for any race distance greater than 10K. The training is too time consuming, the distance makes me ravenously hungry and I don't think they're part of balanced life for me. Sorry I'm not sorry.
  • I think the whole concept of taking pictures of most every meal you eat as a way of tracking your eating habits but being against calorie counting is ridiculous. It takes way more effort to take pictures of your food, upload them, edit them and write a blog post than it does to take 5 minutes to log it in something like CalorieKing. Sorry I'm not sorry.
  • I don't really get the whole Lululemon obsession. I wandered through the store once thought, "Gee, these clothes are geared at people who live in warmer climes than me." I've never gone back. Sorry I'm not sorry.
  • I think a lot of people don't fully understand how much effort it takes to maintain a significant weight loss. When you hit goal weight, the only thing that changes is the amount of food you eat. You don't get to stop working out, you can't go back to what you ate before you lost the weight. You will have continue being conscious of what you eat. It really is a lifestyle change. Sorry I'm not sorry.
  • Sometimes the healthy living blog community feels like a giant online high school clique that I just don't fit into. I never fit into a clique in high school, so I'm okay with not really fitting in to the HLB community. Sorry I'm not sorry.
  • As committed as I am to my job, I will not under any circumstance allow it to interfere with my dedication to fitness and health. Sorry I'm not sorry.
What's something you're completely unapologetic about? Let me know in a comment below! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September Foodzie Box

It's Foodzie box time!
This month's theme was tea time treats.
I'm no stranger to tea time treats, having made traditional style crumpets for my brother's birthday last year.
In the Foodzie box this month:

  • HoneyPax Raw Honey
  • Lark Salted Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
  • Teatulia Bengal Black Tea
  • Oren's Kitchen Coconut Chili Macadamia  
  • Snickerdudes

At first I wasn't overly impressed with these cookies, but then I ate a few more (nomnomnom) and they started to grow on me. I like the strange mix of sweet, salty and savory. It's certainly not what you'd expect from a standard cookie.
It's definitely labeled correctly! These cookies are all grown-up.
I'm usually a big fan of mixed nuts but I really didn't like the amount (or flavor) of the coconut in this one. I would have been content with just chili and maybe some cumin. I don't get the whole "let's add coconut to it!" idea that seems to be popular. Just like carrot cake, a spicy bag of mixed nuts does not need coconut.
I'm not a tea drinker, so I had to find some experienced tea drinkers to assess the quality of this tea.  Two Englishmen (we all know the English started tea time, so this was an obvious choice) and one Chinese (also known to love tea) man later, I've been informed that this is the weakest black tea that any of them have ever had. Oh well, they can't all be winners.
This honey was actually more flavorful than my standard honey bear honey. I was impressed and loved the little single serving package.

The Snickerdudes were so good that you don't even get a picture of them because I ate them up. :)

If you're a Foodzie box subscriber, what'd you think of this month's selection?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Just a few more weeks...

Weight: 126.27
Body Fat: 20.4% + 3% = 23.4%
Measurements: 34"-26"-34"-20"

I've been pretty quiet on the personal front lately. Work has been absurdly crazy the last couple weeks.
Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

Worse yet, it doesn't look like it's going to let up for at least couple more weeks. It's profoundly frustrating to me because the schedule for this project is insane. I'm not even stressed that I don't know what I'm doing, which has been a problem for me in the past. I constantly feel like I'm being rushed to finish things without really thinking them through thoroughly and produce a less than high quality product, which goes against my very nature. Despite all that, I personally feel like I'm doing a great job. I don't feel like there's anymore that I could be doing to make anything "go faster."

Unfortunately,  all this stress manifests itself in my eating habits. I want nothing more than to eat an entire bowl of this:
Instead, I stick to my training schedule and try to keep my eating habits under control as best as I can. I've gone through more packages of gum in the last three weeks than I went through in the entirety of last year. Obviously I'm not doing as good a job as I could be given today's weigh-in but I'm trying and that's all I can ask of myself at this point in time.

How do you handle stress? Are you a stress eater like me? Let me know in a comment down below! :)