Changing up expectations.

Changing up expectations.

Life has changed a lot since I last took the time to write a post. I’m professionally buried; which is actually really wonderful because the experience of doing certain things on my own; has been priceless. I haven’t run in 2 weeks because of my knee which months ago would have devastated me but now I feel strangely liberated. I have SIX MONTHS, yes, a mere six months left of school and I am making plans for a bad ass graduation adventure. (like scaling a mountain in Patagonia, okay, maybe not that big but something really grand). I have less friendships to rely on than I used to (turns out some people can’t handle when you get messy) but the ones remaining feel really strong. I’m going to Iceland in September with my brother; where I am convinced, I will find my father (his soul, not actually his physical being). I get these STUPID braces off my bottom teeth in 8 weeks!! AND…..I signed up for an Olympic triathlon; which I swore I would not advertise until I was actually immersed in the training but fuck it, I’m really excited and I wanna tell someone. So now I’m telling everyone.

I’ve been battling my knee since 2013 but I’ve been very quiet about it. I mean, with my heart condition, the knee sort of always felt secondary and until recently; I could wiggle my way through any run. Well, two giant falls later, one in October and one just a few weeks ago equates to I’m officially done with distance running. (for awhile, hopefully not forever). Initially, this was hard to swallow. I tried over and over again to get over the 6 mile hump but the pain became really unbearable. I finally had some really hard conversations with myself. I realized I was holding into running for the wrong reasons. I built a lot of friendships running. Unfortunately, a lot of those sort of fizzled when I stopped pushing myself in a way that met the expectations of those around me. I thought that if I could get back to where I was; people would let me back in but I’m done operating like that. If it’s real, you ride the wave together, even when you both make mistakes. It really is, that simple.

The Olympic triathlon is nothing to sneeze at. I’m at day 3 of the training and I’m already like holy bananas but if I’m really being honest; I will always need something that feels hard in my life. I am just wired that way. The difference being, biking and swimming are SO FUN to me right now. I look forward to the workouts, the soreness, the hills, the laps, seeing faster times, smiling while outside or in the pool. I look forward to it all. The running is kind of secondary in this training plan which couldn’t be more perfect. Right now, I need things that make me happy. I don’t need things I dread. And the idea of conquering this distance on September 10th; feels really amazing to me. I’m super excited about it. So much so, I have butterflies when I consider my next workout. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

I’m not going to say that everything is shits and gigs over here because believe me; I have my days. Yesterday, while watching “This is Us” I started bawling over Randall and his Dad. What can I say, it made me think of my father; who looked as sad and unfortunate towards the end. There are days that I feel very emotional. There are days when I would give anything to change the dynamics of my life. I guess I convinced myself my father wasn’t a thing but I miss him immensely and I wish he was here so we could talk about my life. The universe can be cruel in that way. There’s a lot of good, I mean there is a ton of good but there is also the grim shit that can weigh you down. Right now, I’m just trying to refocus, re-calibrate and reconsider my expectations.

The horizon looks pretty sweet; just gotta keep looking ahead.

Love. Oh yes, and brownies.

Love. Oh yes, and brownies.

I find love to be, an incredibly tricky thing. I started off today, imaging all the ways that I could talk about love and its glory. Then I got into a stupid argument with my husband and realized that, yes, love can be blissful but it can also make you want to smash someones face in. (like multiple times) It brings forth a range of emotions that can only be described as catastrophic and slightly manic. Love is like taking acid. One minute everything is glitter and unicorns and the next, it’s thinking jumping off the roof is a swell idea. Is this too debbie downer? It wasn’t intended to be that way. I’m just being real. Because while I appreciate the eight million posts on social media that fool us all into thinking your life is perfect, guess what, everyone has highs and lows. Just the nature of the game. When you enter into the bond of love you are saying the following: yes we will kiss and have sex occasionally, sometimes I will crave you like a feral animal chasing dinner, but most of the time I will argue about something entirely meaningless for no reason, wear sweatpants to bed that have chinese food stains on them from eight dinners ago and at this point, I’m comfortable enough to snuggle up to you post run with no shower. (which is gross) This Valentine’s Day, Josh and I didn’t even exchange gifts. No card. No flowers. I think I murmured something slightly offensive to him this morning while pouring my coffee. After that, we put the kids on the bus and I made some brownies before work for Emma’s teachers. Which I should have done last night but just couldn’t bring myself to dirty one more dish. There wasn’t any romantic show of affection. I didn’t wake up to some grand gesture. Does this simply just happen as the years tick by? Who the fuck knows. At 6 in the morning, I don’t really give a single shit. I love him. We are in love. But sometimes, it’s not as glamorous as it looks on the big screen. Love is messy and intense. For me, Josh is the first person in my life that I have willingly sacrificed everything for without regret. I have never embraced compromise like I did when I met Josh. I had a lot of hard choices to make the first few months together. We took a lot of risks and thankfully they have paid off. The caveat to great love however, is that it can bring you up….and….take you right back down. Is it always worth it? Unequivocally, yes. I can’t tell you what my life would look like without him but I know this–it wouldn’t be nearly as sweet.

Outside of my relationship, the remains of love are scattered all over my heart. I love many things. I think love can motivate us in so many ways it’s almost inconceivable. If I love a particular food, I will travel an hour to eat it. If I love the way a piece of the world appears in a photo, I will imagine a way to go see it in real life. Sometimes it’s as simple as loving the way snowflakes fall and pulling myself out of a warm house to stand in the midst of it all. I feel love the most when I am in the kitchen and my children come in and discover something I have made for them. Their faces of sheer joy and delight are almost more than I can handle. In that moment, I am everything to them that matters in this whole world. And that memory; of that taste and my love, will hopefully linger within them for many years to come.

Take your tricky, over the top, sometimes annoying love and run with it today. It may not be cheap or easy but no doubt, it’s worth all the fuss.

Decadent Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients
5.5 oz (155 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2.5 oz (70 grams) bittersweet chocolate (62-70% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (1 & 3/4 sticks/200 grams) unsalted butter, melted
5 eggs
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Position the oven rack to the middle and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. (I lined it with parchmant paper with a little overhang, to make removal easier)

Place the unsweetened chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over (not touching) barely simmering water in a saucepan and heat, stirring continuously, until completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat, whisk in the melted butter until well combined and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the eggs in a mixer bowl and fit mixer with the whisk attachment. On low, slowly beat in the sugar for 1 minute, or until frothy and somewhat thick. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate mixture.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using the spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture into the egg-chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer with the spatula. (Batter will be thick)

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes- but start checking at about 20 minutes. They are done when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few wet crumbs on it. If there is still liquid batter on the tester, they need more time. If the tester comes out clean, they are cooked through and will be just cakey (not fudgy too). Let them cool for 2 hours. They are so moist, they need this time to firm up enough to cut.

friday is cookie day. period.

friday is cookie day. period.

You ever have one of those weeks when you lay out grand plans to accomplish all kinds of shit? Like Monday morning you’re in the car blasting some hood rat song that for some unfamiliar reason just gets you all kinds of riled up. Wearing your best jeans and j.crew’s modern day version of a blazer with a casual sweatshirt. (the best combo by. the. way.) You know that kind of week, coffee in hand, dreams in your mind, playlist ready, lunch in tow, gonna fuck some shit up kind of week. But then Friday comes along and you forgot all about that bender you went on Sunday when you couldn’t sleep and ordered 60+ pounds of organic flour (that really happened by the way), one of your kids end up sick, you figure out you might always hate your job a little and your jeans feel like someone shrunk them in the wash. (except deep inside you know the truth, pounds don’t lose themselves). Today’s Friday hit me like a ton of bricks. I feel radically disappointed in what I accomplished this week. (although I did run three days in a row to maximize every moment of nice weather we had) I want to get up and be all chipper every day but I have become the *worst* kind of morning person. Basically, when that alarm goes off I imagine flinging it right out the window and hitting some innocent person in the face who has the energy to be outside at that hour in the morning.

cookies-and-milk-1

Literally, I was so busy this week that I sustained myself solely on “kind milk” and stale walnuts I had in the car. Did not have time to get lunch one single day. Just sat in the office, sad and pathetic, staring at my computer screen, trying to troubleshoot design problems that are probably beyond my pay grade.

Yes, I suppose you could say I am feeling sorry for myself. So I made some chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t even eat one. BUT I do really enjoy Miles’ face when he walks in from school and smells fresh cookies, gets instantly delighted and proclaims that I am the best mom in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD with such enthusiasm that my heart just explodes into a million pieces. (Emma just rolls her eyes and walks away–SUCH A PEACH)

cookie-3

No joke, these cookies are the bomb. Simple, easy and incredibly tasty. It’s Friday, go make some cookies!! Or a million cocktails. Either one.

“your the best momma ever” chocolate chip cookies. 

ingredients:
2 sticks of organic unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 organic cage free eggs
1 teaspoon raw vanilla paste
2-1/2 cups heirloom wheat “00” flour (or use unbleached all purpose, whatever floats your boat)
2 teaspoons sea salt (coarse!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

method:
Preheat oven to 375, 350 degrees if using convection. Cream together in a mix on medium-high the butter, sugar and brown sugar. Scrape down the bottom as needed. This should take no less than 3 minutes (I do 5). Beat the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl and slowly add to the butter/sugar mixture. This will require additional scraping. You really want to make sure these ingredients incorporate well. Sift the flour and baking soda into the bowl. Add the sea salt. Mix on low only until ingredients are incorporated. Add the chocolate and mix on low for 30 seconds. Scoop onto a baking sheet, should make about 14 cookies. Cook until golden on the sides and just lightly browned in the middle. About 7-9 minutes per sheet.

Wake up newbies; it ain’t all glam glam

Wake up newbies; it ain’t all glam glam

I know, I know-I said this would be all about the food but I just can’t help myself today. I woke up in a tizzy this morning over people just not honoring my sport. Everyone knows how personal running is to me. Even when I’m not doing it as much, even when it feels harder than anything I have ever done before, even when I am starting from scratch, there is a love there that is unparalleled. I love running more than I have ever loved anything or anyone in my life. (I guess my children come in as a close second, KIDDING) And it’s not because the actual movement itself-it’s because of the relationships built around the sport, the moments I only had because of the sport and the sweating and the bleeding, the sacrificing we all do to participate in the sport. You can swim, spin, play tennis, whatever–there is nothing in the whole wide world like running. There is a reason a majority of the population hates it–its fucking hard work. If you want to be good at it (in my case super amateur good) you have to work hard. You have to get up early. You have to go to bed before other people. You have to eat a certain way. You have to give up lots of things. Sure, you can be cavalier about it, but please, don’t fuck around with pretending. Show some respect or don’t bother.

This may sound harsh. I know. But I gave up a lot when I trained for the Boston Marathon so I take offense when people say things on the great wide internet that just sound ridiculous. Miles was 3, almost 4 when I trained for Boston. Emma was 8. I had young kids who needed things. Needed me on cold, snowy Saturday mornings. Needed me to be present after school. I had a husband who wanted time, love and attention. Meals to be prepped and cooked. A house and a job, both of which required a ton of work. I think it is interesting when people think that runners just find time that falls out of the sky. When people don’t realize the things we turn our back on when we make a commitment to the sport. There is a lot more to this than just showing up for the race. It is spiritual. It is emotional. And it’s worth it. Every single day of the week.

Saturday mornings my running group meets. Rain or shine. Snow or extreme sun. These people are there waiting for one another so that miles can be smushed in before most of the world even wakes up. There is a women who has three young children who qualified for Boston last year. Another women has three teeny tiny boys, she popped out a baby 8 months ago and now has better times than she ever had prior. There are runners who work till 8 PM every night, there are runners with teenagers, runners who are 80, runners who have never thought about doing anything else except showing up. I look at Allison, who just had her son in September and wouldn’t take no for an answer-she was raging to get back to running as soon as she was given clearance to do so. The love is real but don’t get it twisted, so isn’t the juggling. There was no fear upon her return, she showed up ready to get shit done.

You have to have a deep talk with yourself before you enter down this road. Do you want it? How bad? You willing to fight for it? How much. When it gets hard, guess what, you better go harder. You’re tired? Guess what, me too. This sport waits for no one and it doesn’t take days off. That’s what makes it so beautiful. There is a sacred vow we take when we enter into each mile. The finish line is never just a casual encounter, it is always, I mean always, earned.

Banana Bread + Other happenings

Banana Bread + Other happenings

I’m feeling all kinds of inspired lately which is really surprising considering a) I’m not running much at all, b) I had horrid mouth surgery on Friday and c) it’s cold as a goat’s balls outside. With my mouth being in the condition it’s currently in; I have craved only comforting foods. Over the course of the weekend I made black bean soup, tons of chicken noodle soup (with the most flavorful broth, mmmm, it was so soothing) and banana bread. When I am not feeling 100% I just like to curl up with a cup of coffee and something familiar. This weekend’s food just felt so bountiful that it helped me cope with the enormous amount of pain I was in post surgery. (p.s. I better look like a fucking model when this is all over, like these teeth better resemble small diamonds)

I have been designing and tweaking and designing and tweaking. I am currently in the midst of trying to troubleshoot a friend’s 2nd floor renovation which has been a little more challenging than previously assumed. I called in my father-in-law this afternoon to come and take a look at the project. Four years ago if you had told me he and I putting our heads together would lead to problem solving and major moments of illumination–I would have fucking laughed hysterically. Now, when we collaborate, really great shit happens and the end solution trumps anything I could have come up with solo. Today was about sketching, details and conquering some serious obstacles. I’m always nervous about telling people my ideas. I think confidence develops over time. This early in my career; everything is fresh. (including the mistakes). I have already learned the hard way: the devil is in the details. Pay the fuck attention.

Anyways, tomorrow is sure to be a shit show on the roads. Stay home with your kiddos, light a fire and make this banana bread. I promise you, it will bring you loads of warmth and happiness all over.

banana-revised

Ingredients:
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used some locally milled flour which I picked up at Pineland Farms)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3-4 bananas, super ripe and all smushed up
2 tablespoons plain yogurt, sour cream or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan (I use a variety of sizes depending on how thick I want this loaf to be) Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs together on medium-high with a stand mixture until super light and fluffy. (don’t rush this step, you want all that good air) Slowly drizzle in the oil, SLOWLY. This should take at least 30 seconds. If you dump it all in, you’ll deflate all that air you worked to get. Add in the sour cream (or yogurt), vanilla and mashed up bananas. Slowly fold in the flour mixture followed by the walnuts. Pour into loaf pan and bake about an hour or until you stick a fork in the middle and it comes out clean. (not the classiest but it gets the job done, lol)