Monday, September 28, 2015

Marathon Training Monday

Taper time! After the 20 miler, it is time to taper.  You run less, rest up, and get ready for race day.  I can't believe I am at this point!

Last week the mileage was 5, 8, 4 and then on Saturday I ran 12.  Everything felt pretty good considering I had just run 20 miles.  12 made me feel tired, but overall my excitement for race day is keeping me motivated.  This week the mileage is 4, 6, 3.  This is more like the typical miles I run during the week when I am not training and just feel like having a good mix of shorter and longish runs.  I think this week is going to feel great.  Saturday is the last "long" Saturday run with 8 miles.  This next time I run double digit miles will be on race day!

I can't wait for this marathon.  I feel like training went way better than last year and I am feeling really good.  My packet pick-up ticket came in the mail and I am getting super pumped.  I already picked out my race day outfit and my parents and I have been planning what we will do the day before.  I love the atmosphere of race day and I can't wait to share this one with my family again.  I'll keep you updated as I count down the days to the Chicago Marathon! 13 days!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesday

Flower time!  This is a topic that I know very little about.  So, I have been all over pinterest and I have been trying to educate myself.

At this point, we have met with two different florists to get information about options and pricing.  We went to Four Finches and to Pollen.  Both sounded pretty amazing so now we are just weighing our options and figuring out where we want our budget to be.  I think it's pretty crazy how expensive flowers can be!  I am that super practical person who thinks, "Why pay so much for something that is going to die so quickly?"  However, I want our wedding to be beautiful and flowers do have a special way of making everything look magical.  I am also liking the look of something a little rustic with lots of candlelight.  I hope that everything turns out wonderful and I can't wait to share pictures as we start to make choices on decor!

For now, check out my pinterest page and let me know what you think! I love hearing ideas so please keep them coming!

Dark Chocolate M&M Zucchini Bread

Marathon training makes me SO HUNGRY! Seriously, I am hungry all the time.  Plus, my lunch at school is at 1 in the afternoon.  So, when I eat breakfast at 5:30 and run in the morning I feel great, but by the time lunch rolls around, I am practically seeing stars I am so hungry.  I decided it would be a fantastic idea to hide some food in a drawer in my room so that I can discretely munch occasionally.  This was the motivation behind these Dark Chocolate M&M Zucchini Muffins...

This recipe made 24 mini muffins plus a whole loaf pan.  Bri was very excited when he saw what was happening in the kitchen and these guys came out great!  

Dark Chocolate M&M Zucchini Bread
(adapted from The Kitchn)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 small zucchini, shredded and squeezed dry with paper towels
4 eggs
1 cup non-fat, plain greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate m&ms

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a mini muffin pan and loaf pan.  
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, oats, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the greek yogurt and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Beat in the shredded zucchini.  Add in the dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
4. Stir in the m&ms and then spoon into the prepared muffin tin and loaf pan. 
5. Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes and bake the loaf for about 25-30 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean from both.  Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Marathon Training Monday: Ready to Run 20 Miler!

Sorry I took a bit of break last crazy life finally caught up to me and I just couldn't focus on everything at once!  However, I am back and ready to tell you about my fabulous experience in the CARA Ready to Run 20 Miler!  This "race" is a training run that it supposed to make you feel like you are a ready to run the marathon.  20 miles is the longest run during training and you are supposed to treat it like a dress rehearsal for the marathon.  So, I packed a gear bag, put my race bib on, had a delish pasta dinner the night before, and tried my very best to get a good night's sleep.  

For those of you who have never packed a gear bag, here is what I suggest:
-Clean undies, pants/shorts, and a shirt.  I didn't pack a shirt because we got a shirt at the finish line, but typically I do
-Flip Flops (all I ever want is to take off my sweaty socks so these feel great)
-An ID and some money 
-My glasses
-Wipes-you're gonna be sweaty so this helps! 
Put some of these things into a plastic bag.  That way, when you take off your gross stuff, you can stash it in the bag and it won't touch your other things!

I did not bring music with me as I had a bunch of running buddies:

Me and Jana
Our starting line selfie with some of the Perfect Tens

This was a training run, so you run with a pace group as best as you can.  I stayed with my pace group the entire time!  We chatted, laughed, high fived each other, and all got beers at the finish line.

It was a beautiful day out and the run went great! I totally feel ready to rock the Chicago Marathon in a couple weeks!  For now, we taper, rest up, and stay healthy!  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Vegetarian Brussel Sprout Carbonara

School has been going pretty well.  Yesterday, the students were all taking the ACT test and so I had a chance to catch up on some work! This made me feel slightly less overwhelmed.  Now, when I say overwhelmed, I mean I am just really busy.  I am also really happy!  I can't wait to get cheerleading started and I feel like I am finally getting a good grasp on what I need to do for my classes.  I have a ton to do this weekend, but I think I am in a really good place over all!

One of my favorite parts about my new schedule is that I am able to work out before school.  I still wake up at the same time that I would have in order to commute to my old school, but since my commute is 1 hour (I KNOW!) shorter, I am able to get in a workout and a shower before heading over to school. This means that when I come home, I have more time to actually make dinner because I already did my workout!

Vegetarian Brussel Sprout Carbonara was one of the meals I was able to make when I got home from school.  I was inspired by the recipe over at Skinny Taste, and then I adapted it to make it vegetarian.  It was very yummy.  I loved the combination of the brussel sprouts with the parmesan pasta.  Plus, there was plenty for me and Bri to have for dinner as well as leftovers to bring for lunch.  It was a great weeknight meal!

Vegetarian Brussel Sprout Carbonara

2 eggs
3/4 parmesan cheese, shredded
a handful of basil, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
12 oz whole wheat spaghetti pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
12 oz shaved brussel sprouts
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add in 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, basil, and red pepper flakes.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boiling and cook pasta according to directions until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.  Drain and set aside.
3. While pasta is boiling, in a separate, large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the garlic, shallots, and brussel sprouts.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until brussel sprouts start to soften and brown.
4. Add the drained pasta to the skillet.
5. With the reserved pasta water, spoon a few tbsp at a time into the egg mixture mixing well.  Do this until about 1/4 of the water has been added.  Then, add the egg mixture to the skillet and toss with the pasta and brussel sprouts.  Add more pasta water if needed.  Finish with sprinkling the remaining parmesan cheese over the top.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesday Part 10

I said "Yes to the dress!"

For obvious reasons, I can't post any pictures...However, I can tell you about my amazing experience.  My mom and my bridesmaids who were in town, came with me to Gigi's Closette in Glenview.  A ton of people mentioned this place to me as a great place to look for dresses.  We had a great experience.  Sue helped us out.  She was quite the whippersnapper, but she also seemed to know exactly what I wanted.  She helped me find a dress that I love as well as some accessories I hadn't even thought of!  She didn't let me stray from my budget and gave me some great tips and advice while shopping.  Plus, after we found my dress, the girls tried on a bunch of bridesmaids dresses and we found the bridesmaids dress as well!  This place was great.  You do not need an appointment which I thought was strange, but it ended up being nice because it had a laid back feel to it and you could take your time.  I am so excited and I can't wait to see my dress again!

Here are a few things that I suggest for dress shopping:

1. Bring the right "undergarments."  I bought a bustier that I am probably going to return.  However, it was a nice thing to wear because it made me feel supported and covered while I was trying on dress after dress with other people helping me get them on.

2. BYOH-Bring your own heels.  This might be just for this place, but wearing heels is suggested as the dresses are all so long!  Even if you do not plan on wearing heels for your big day (I am not), it helps to see the whole dress with a little height.

3. Plan an after-party.  You never know when you are going to find the dress so plan a dinner or outing after the shopping experience to celebrate the big find or just to celebrate the experience!  We went out to Caro Mio for dinner!  It was lovely.

4. Stay open minded.  When I got to Gigi's I had this whole vision in mind.  Then, on my way to my dressing room with like 10 dresses, I saw one hanging that I thought was pretty.  It wasn't exactly what I had wanted, but it looked nice.  I started with that one and I finished with that one.  It was the one!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Caprese Avocado Toast

I have been super into avocado toast lately.  I know that it is "trendy" and it should be.  It makes for a great, quick meal and it is full of healthy goodness :)

I start with mashing up an avocado in a container and then sprinkling in some salt, pepper, and lime or lemon juice.  This is all "to taste."  Then, I just think about what I'm craving and throw that on top of the toast!

I use whole wheat toast, spread some of my avocado on top, and for this guy, I chopped up 3-4 grape tomatoes, sliced about 1 oz of fresh mozzarella cheese, and drizzled some balsamic syrup over the top.  YUM!

I found my balsamic syrup at Mariano's, but you can totally make your own! I think it should be a staple in every pantry.  It is so good! Use it for sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes and so on.  

I hope you are all drooling over this yummy avocado toast idea.  Go make some!  Me, I have to go get ready for another great day of high school!  On today's docket: Calculus quiz, absolute value problems in pre-calculus and some quiz writing for me! 

Enjoy :)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Marathon Training Monday

Happy Labor Day!

I am incredibly grateful for this day off from school.  Last week was great, but I have a ton of work to do and I am glad that I have this extra time.

This weekend was a bit rough in terms of marathon training.  During the week I ran 4, 9, and 5 miles.  The 9 and the 5 I did with my friend, Lauren, who is also training.  It was great to have a running buddy.  Running with a friend made the time go by faster, and it made me not notice the super awful weather as much.  It has been super hot and humid.  Saturday was the 18 miler.  This is really long.  I finished and felt pretty ok.  However, it was hot and humid for the first 6 miles which made for a really difficult start.  Then, thunderstorms rolled in and made it difficult to see.  The lightning got pretty bad so we stopped for a bit, but then it let up and we were able to go on.  I finished, but it was not pretty.

After the run, I came home to get cleaned up and eat a little bit.  However, I did not have a ton of time before I needed to get in the car and head to the suburbs to meet my mom to go wedding dress shopping.  This was super fun, but I definitely did not drink enough water throughout the day.  So, Sunday I was not feeling so great and had a headache.

Moral of this Marathon Monday: drink lots of water a few days before, during, and after long runs.

I only have one more long run before we taper and then race! I can't believe it is already so close!  This week the mileage is 5, 9, 5, and 14.  I know 14 is still long, but I have already done 15, 16, and 18 so it doesn't seem so bad.  Now, I am just hoping that the weather starts to feel a little big more like fall...

Well, I hope you enjoy labor day! I am off to run 5 miles and then drink lots of water :)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Brown Sugar Butterscotch Oatmeal Bars

I go through some weird phases.  The most recent one has been a butterscotch phase.  Bri's dad is big fan of butterscotch and it was just his birthday!  So, I made some butterscotch bars.  And now, I am really into butterscotch!

Butterscotch is super weird.  I mean, what is it?  So, my friend and I looked it up and found out that it is a delightful combination of brown sugar and butter! No wonder it is so delicious!

These butterscotch bars are super easy and I adapted them for a previous time by swapping the sugar for light brown sugar.  Brown sugar, butter, and butterscotch all combined in a great oatmeal bar!  You have to make these!

Brown Sugar Butterscotch Oatmeal Bars

1 cup flour
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
12 oz butterscotch chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 13 by 9 inch pan
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the brown sugar until well combined.  Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add in the flour mixture and slowly mix until just combined.  Add in the oats and chips and stir to combine evenly throughout the mixture.
4. Spread the batter into your prepared pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes.  The edges should be slightly browned.  Let cool completely and then cut into bars.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesday Part 9

We did our engagement photos!  Bri proposed back in December, but we decided we still wanted to do some engagement photos to get some nice pictures for a save the date.

We went with Dennis Lee as our photographer and he has been amazing!  If you are planning a Chicago wedding, he is great and I would definitely recommend him!  We walked around the Art Institute, part of Grant Park, near the Lakeshore Path, and along Foster Beach.  Here is a quick preview!

We had two different outfits and I am really glad we did because we ended up with a nice balance of different looking pictures.  It was really fun to have a photo shoot and I am so excited about all the great shots we ended up with!

Now, I can't wait to create our save the dates and send them out!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spicy Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

Can you believe it is SEPTEMBER?!?!?

I can't.  It feels like I was just finishing up the last year of school.  I can't believe I am already into my third year of teaching!  School is going really well so far and I am having a great time getting to know my students.  I have high hopes for this year and I can't wait to see how it goes.

Since it is September, I figured we could celebrate with a fall-like veggie burger recipe.  Now, I don't want summer to end, but I feel like good food can help ease the transition.  Fortunately, the weather is still certainly summer-like.  I hope it stays that way for a while!  While, fall is nice, winter is the worst.

I LOVE The Kitchn.  It is a great site with tons of amazing recipes.  Also, I love that the recipes are super use friendly and they all come with tons of tips, variations, and explanations.  I found this Sweet Potato Veggie Burger on their site and then I just changed small tidbits based on what I love and what we had in our fridge!  Please head over to the site for the recipe!

I made the sweet potato patties according to the directions, but here are the few things I added/changed.
1. I did not chop the sunflower seeds.  I wanted a bit of a crunch in there, so I left them whole.
2. I also used my food processor with a grater attachment to grate the sweet potato.  This made things go super quickly!  Then, I simply added the beans to the food processor and pulsed to combine.
3. Finally, for my toppings, I used some sliced tomato, sliced avocado, spicy cheddar cheese (sliced), and BBQ sauce.

Holy moly it was delicious!

Enjoy :)