The Face of a Genius

Helpful hint of the day: if it’s raining and you’re in a hurry to get into your car?  Keep your face out of the way, or else this could be you:

Yup.  Wednesday afternoon, in a rush to get into my car, I whacked myself in the face with the door.  This picture was taken yesterday morning, and all I can say is that it (thankfully) didn’t bruise up anywhere near as much as I expected.  Thankfully.  If it had, I’d have to come up with a much better story for my giant black eye than, “I hit myself in the face with the car door.”

Happily, it didn’t prevent me from enjoying my second day of vacation yesterday.  Highlights included a BBQ at a fellow PT student’s house (which turned out to be the last time I’d see a lot of people before they headed home for the summer) and a Girls on the Run practice.  I’ve been helping to coach a group on Thursday afternoons all season and while it’s been challenging at times, it’s been a ton of fun overall.  Today we played freeze tag for the workout with the coaches being “it”.  I was determined to take it easy for the sake of my knee, but once I got into it?  I was chasing those girls all over the field.  It was so much fun to run into a group of them and watch them scatter and scream, and if I hauled serious ass?  I could even catch a few of them to tag them.  I haven’t had that much fun running around outside in a long time, and it’ll be totally worth it if my knee is wickedly sore tomorrow.

To top it all off, Irwin and I had a fabulous dinner off the grill this evening, because the warm, sunny weather demanded it.  (Plus, I was craving steak after watching Top Chef right before bed last night, where they spent at least half the episode talking about it.)  The steak and asparagus off the grill hit the spot, and I even worked in a new recipe for my challenge: horseradish-roasted sweet potatoes.

The recipe called for what seemed like a lot of horseradish, and I was worried that they were going to be some horribly powerful potatoes, but they were absolutely perfect.  The horseradish added a nice amount of zing to the sweet spuds and this may very well be my new favorite way to cook them.  I followed the recipe absolutely verbatim, so I’m going to make you click over to Rainy Day Gal’s site for it.  (I promise you it’s worth the click.  While you’re there, check out these brownies for a totally unhealthy but absolutely delicious dessert.  There’s good stuff over there.)


Hello, Vacation!

As of today, I am officially on vacation.  I celebrated by sleeping in this morning and then taking myself out for a run before taking Dippy to the vet.

Dippy at the vet

"What is this place?"

Let’s just say that she wasn’t really a fan.  Especially since I disturbed a perfectly good nap to dump her in a carrier and take her off to be poked and prodded.

However, the run this morning was most excellent.  Why was it so awesome?  I’m now doing more running than walking!  I’m still on a run/walk program, but I’ve graduated to doing 2 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking.  The best part is that my knee is tolerating it pretty well.  It definitely wants some ice when I get done, but it’s all been pain free.  Now I just need to get the rest of myself in shape…

Since I’m done with school, my to-do list has gotten much, much shorter.  Right now the main priorities are to brush up on my French and catch up on my reading.  And maybe my knitting, before Susan’s sock starts to make me look really bad.  (I’ve got a pair of socks I’ve been working on for over a year now.  I’ve got 1.3 of them done.  If Susan finishes her sock before I finish mine, I really don’t have an excuse, since I’m pretty sure I could find 3 minutes each day to knit.)

I’ve also decided to adopt Erin’s 21-day Make Me Something Good challenge.  Since I’ve, you know, got some time and just bought a couple of shiny new cookbooks to inspire me to do something creative with our CSA veggies.  The idea behind the challenge is this: try one new healthy recipe a day for the rest of the month and blog about it.

I can’t promise daily updates, and in my case it’ll be more of a 16-day challenge than a 21-day challenge (since we’re leaving for our honeymoon in a couple of weeks), but I’ve decided not to let those things stop me.  Full on ahead with creative cookery!

So here are the past couple days of creativity.  Yesterday, I tried out a Jambalaya-style chicken & shrimp recipe from my slow-cooker recipe book.  I swapped out the white rice for brown and added a bit more liquid to compensate, and it turned out deliciously.  This one was definitely a winner.

Jambalaya-Style Chicken & Shrimp

Jambalaya-Style Chicken & Shrimp, adapted from the Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes
Serves 4-6

1 cup sliced celery (about 4-5 stalks)
1 large onion, chopped
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (use fire-roasted for more flavor)
2.75 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 of a 6-ounce can (1/3 cup) tomato paste
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t white pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t ground red pepper
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t black pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1.5 cups brown rice
8 ounces (1/2 pound) cooked peeled, deveined shrimp
1 green bell pepper, chopped

  • In a 3.5-4 quart slow cooker, combine celery, onion, undrained tomatoes, 1.75 cups broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and spices.  Stir in chicken.
  • Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4-5 hours.  Stir in rice and 1 cup additional broth and leave covered on low heat for another 1-2 hours or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • Stir in shrimp and green pepper.  Cover and let stand for 10-15 minutes, or until shrimp is heated through.
My other experiment happened at breakfast this morning, when I swapped my oatmeal out for bulgur.  I cooked it exactly the same way, just with a different grain.  The results were decent – the chewier texture was a nice change, but I think I would have been happer with a more savory result.
Banana Bread Bulgur
Banana Bread Bulgur, adapted from Kath’s Whipped Banana Oatmeal
Serves 1

1/4 cup bulgur
1/2 cup plain unsweeted almond milk
1 banana, sliced
1 t cinnamon
1 T peanut butter

  • Combine bulgur, almond milk, banana and cinnamon in a small pot on the stove and bring to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover.  Simmer for 12-15 minutes.
  • Stir and transfer into a bowl.
  • Top with peanut butter.  Let sit a minute or two before stirring the peanut butter in.  Enjoy!

One Down, Two to Go

Earlier this afternoon, I finished up my neuroanatomy final which officially brought my first year of PT school to a close.  I’ll tell you this: back when I walked into that first chemistry class in September of 2008, I don’t think I ever really expected it would go this far.  Yet, it did and it’s been awesome.  I don’t miss my old job at all (although I do occasionally miss getting my own paycheck) and despite the challenges of 90-mile round-trip commute everyday and a crapload of information to stuff into my brain, I never spent a second regretting my decision to go for it.

Which is not to say I’m not looking forward to having the summer off.  My brain is tired and needs a break, yo.

Here’s to a summer of fluffy books, mindless TV, and time spent relaxing in the sunshine.  I think I’ve earned it.


In other news, you can now find my blog on Facebook!  “Like” Running at Dawn over there for new post notifications and sporadic random updates.  It’s basically all the goodness of Twitter for those of you that aren’t into Twitter.

Y’all probably feel like you’ve gotten a fairly complete accounting of my knee surgery recovery.  I’ve talked (at length, you could say) about how things have improved and then not, how things have been going great and how it’s been annoying the ever-loving crap out of me.  There is, however, one thing I haven’t mentioned at all, because, well, I would prefer to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

The post-surgery weight gain.

Yup.  As the swelling in my knee went down, the size of my ass went up.  Since I end up wearing yoga pants to school more often than not, I hadn’t really noticed it all that much.  But the jeans don’t lie, and the jeans are two sizes bigger than they were a few months ago.  I’m going to be honest: it’s depressing.  It is not, however, entirely surprising.  When you go from running 25+ miles a week to cycling and swimming and doing yoga to spending all of your time sitting on the couch because that’s all you can manage?  Well, yeah, you’re probably going to put on a few pounds.  Especially when you’re craving baked goods and sweets and let yourself have all of them because, hey, your knee hurts and you just had surgery so you certainly deserve a little ice cream.  Every day.  At least.

Still, it’s hard.  Clothes that used to fit are now too small, and things that used to be almost too-big-to-wear either fit or are a bit on the tight side.  Instead of shopping in the back of my closet for smaller sizes, I’m digging through the Goodwill pile for bigger ones.  I have yet to spin this in a way in which I can feel good about it.  (The only bright side is that, thanks to my excellent procrastination skills, that Goodwill pile is still on my bedroom floor instead of actually at Goodwill.  Not having to go out and spend money on bigger pants has certainly saved a big chunk of my sanity, for sure.)

As much as it gets me down from time to time, I’m trying not to get too worried about it.  I know that as my activity level goes back up, my butt should shrink back down.  I also know that I can help move that along by cutting out the junk and filling my meals with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.  I also know that the better I eat, the better I feel and the more energy I have.  (Which makes it seem like a total no-brainer, but the call of the brownie is hard to resist.)

The thing I’m really trying to resist is giving myself a deadline for dropping the weight, because I don’t think that’s going to help me in the long run.  Instead, I’m just going to focus on eating better, moving more (without overdoing it) and letting my body work things out for itself.  And, in the interim, rejoice in the fact that I can wear comfy pants to class instead of squeezing my butt into no-longer-comfy jeans.

Increasing the Awesome

(Title somewhat stolen from Sarah.)

In the spirit of, well, increasing the awesome in the universe, here are a few things that have been exceedingly spectacular lately:

  • The knee is adjusting to the running spectacularly, just like my PT said it would.  By Sunday, it wasn’t even getting sore after doing my walk/run on it, and this week I’ve knocked it down to a 1/3 interval (one minute run, three minute walk) with no problems.
  • The knee is also about 95% ok with doing yoga, which means I can go in, modify or skip just a few poses, and leave feeling like I just got my ass kicked in the best possible way.  Absolutely nothing beats that post-yoga limp noodle feeling.  I missed it.
  • The sun is trying to come out!  Most of our days are still cloudy, chilly and damp, but over the weekend we had 12 glorious hours of sunny & almost 70.  Spring is on its way, even if it is taking its damn time.
  • This tea mug, which I picked up in a little tea shop in Leavenworth a few weekends back.  It’s incredibly handy, holds two full cups of tea, and the built-in infuser and drip tray mean I never have to search for a tea ball or worry about it popping open or figure out what to do with it once my tea is done brewing.  Between this mug and the weather, my tea consumption has increased dramatically.
  • I am less than two weeks away from being done with my first year of PT school.  I have no idea how that happened.  I have also now forgotten more anatomy then I ever thought I would need to learn.
  • I am just four weeks away from going to France for our honeymoon, which is something I’ve wanted to do for just about as long as I can remember.  I am going to spend two weeks living on cheese, bread and wine and it is going to be glorious.

An Afternoon at the Zoo

This weekend, some of our friends wanted to take their wee one to the zoo.  The original plan was to go yesterday, but since everyone already had plans, the zoo outing got pushed to Sunday.  When we left the house this morning, all we could think was that it was an unfortunate mistake: yesterday was sunny, warm and beautiful and today was cloudy, chilly, and at that particular point in time, rainy.  The only silver lining was that the crappy weather would probably keep the crowds away.

Thankfully, as the afternoon progressed, the weather cleared up and the sun even tried to peek out for a bit.  The result?  A fun afternoon with the animals and this guy:

Woodland Park Zoo (16 of 17)

It was the sort of day that left us wondering why we don’t go to the zoo more often.  I’m thinking that a few repeat trips will be in order this summer (especially with a new dinosaur exhibit opening up soon).

Woodland Park Zoo (12 of 17)

Woodland Park Zoo (14 of 17)

Woodland Park Zoo (2 of 17)

Woodland Park Zoo (8 of 17)

Click for the full photoset.

Happy Passover

One of the perks of marrying someone from a different background as you is the host of new traditions and experiences that you get to try.  Irwin is Jewish, which means that I now get to celebrate holidays such as Passover and Hanukkah with him.  Passover started Monday night, and we marked the occasion with a Seder held with a few of our friends.

This giant bowl of matzo will become matzo stuffing

For those that didn’t grow up in a Jewish home (or with a lot of Jewish friends), the Seder is a meal that tells the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.  In our case, it was an interactive affair, with everyone taking turns reading parts from the Haggadah.

The Passover Haggadah, which is essentially a script for the evening

There are a million different Haggadahs so each family can choose the one that best suits them.  The basic elements are the same across the board and they all include the five elements of the Seder plate: harosets (an apple & honey dish), parsley, horseradish, salt water, a hard boiled egg and a bone.  Each item represents a different element of the Jewish journey from Egypt, and each one is explained during the course of the meal.

The Seder plates

When it came time for the meal, we enjoyed a Passover-friendly meal of chicken, veggies, matzo stuffing and, my favorite, matzo ball soup.

Making matzo balls

Matzo balls, waiting to jump into the soup

It’s a super-simple soup – chicken broth with matzo balls, which are essentially dumplings made of matzo meal and eggs – but it’s also super-delicious.

By the time we headed home, we were absolutely stuffed, which in my mind is the cardinal sign of a successful meal.  Sure, it was an evening where I didn’t get any studying or homework done, but it was spent in the company of great friends with great food.  Totally worth it.

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