To Have and To Hold: Our 3-Year Anniversary

>> Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Happy anniversary to US (tomorrow, that is)! Three years ago, the temps were crisp, the skies were sunny, and Stephen and I tied the knot before 80 of our closest family and friends. We're postponing our "real" celebration to this weekend (still not totally sure what we're doing), but we thought you might enjoy some photos from our big day.

September 1, 2007





Do we still have your attention? If not, you may be interested to know that Steff from Steff Says sang at our wedding! What was the song? "Love" by John Lennon.


And a few more wedding photos for good measure:






You can view more of our scanned wedding photos by following this link. You may not actually KNOW us, but along with house crashing (which you can get to by clicking "TOUR" on the linkbar above), wedding crashing is a whole lot of fun!

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Chili Soup: Slow Cooker Recipe


While we're on the topic of smart foods for endurance athletes and marathon runners . . . a recipe! Yup -- we think this soup recipe is the perfect pair to this information. It may be over 90 degrees outside today, but the forecast calls for a drastic cool-down this weekend. Fall-like weather is returning slowly, but surely. What does this mean exactly?

It's time! Time to break out the SLOW COOKER!

We affectionately call this slurpable stuff the "poor (never home)maker's" stew because it's full of all the leftover foods from the week. Stuff we didn't want to waste. What's in your pot may differ from what's in ours. Use the ingredients list as a mere guide -- and use up your ripe produce (and lonely cans of beans) before it wilts away!


You may think this stew looks suspiciously familiar -- maybe a little TOO much like our Rainbow Stew. And you're right! But we've made a few modifications for health (for example: lower the salt content and level of difficulty!).

THE POOR (NEVER HOME)MAKER'S STEW

What you'll need . . .
  • 2 cans (or one large can) of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of low-sodium corn kernels, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, juice and all
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchinis, chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped Opo squash (again, use what YOU have -- maybe eggplant?)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Method . . .
  1. Chop, mince, and otherwise prepare all your ingredients.
  2. Put EVERYTHING -- all vegetables (and fruits if you want to get all technical on me) and beans -- in the slow cooker pot and mix them to distribute.
  3. Pour in the water and soy sauce. Sprinkle in the spices.
  4. Turn the slow cooker to high and cook for about 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Mix every hour or so.
  5. Serve with bread or pumpkin macaroni and cheese. It freezes well, too!

If you have yet to invest in a slow cooker -- I would highly recommend revisiting the idea. Though we've gone through our list of useless kitchen gadgets, a slow cooker is CERTAINLY not among them. It's one of our favorite kitchen contraptions. One we use time and time again. If you do have your own, what's your favorite slow cooker meal?

We have several -- mostly soups/stews:

In other news, Stephen cut my hair last night. Yes. Stephen. I find it hilarious -- the horror that comes over someone's face when I tell them I let my husband go scissor-happy on me. But he did a fantastic job. I've been wanting a chop for a while. The way I look at it, perhaps it's SLIGHTLY uneven (though, so far, I've found no issues), but that's another $45+ in our pockets for our anniversary celebration this weekend!

Or to go towards savings (whatever that is . . . ).


ALSO: Don't forget to enter our Operation Beautiful Giveaway. That's right! We're giving away a copy of Caitlin Boyle's new book -- enter by Friday, September 3rd at 9PM EST for your chance to win!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Endurance Athletes: How and What to Eat?


We've had many variations of the same question now. So many, in fact, that we just had to add the topic to our to-do list. The question is: How do you guys adjust your eating to fit the demands of marathon/distance training? And the answer is far from simple or one-size-fits all. So, please treat this information as a guide, not absolute fact to live your training life by.

Stephen and I both answer this question differently. Today, I'll provide my perspective . . . because we're in the final weeks of preparation, and I've fallen into my old eating slump. Hopefully writing about the "DOs" versus my "DON'Ts" will help.


When the miles creep above the 40-a-week point (and they have for several weeks now), I get lazy about my consumption. I eat pretty much everything in sight. Yes, I'm undoubtedly hungry and definitely need to eat. But cookies for breakfast? That's a little over the top, don't you think? I do.

I get this attitude during training that since I'm running so much, I can eat so much. I know I'm not alone. The truth is: I am indeed running a lot and -- as a result -- need to increase my intake. If you read our post about the mysterious marathon weight gain, you know there are several reasons for why the pounds pile up during distance training. I have gained a few, but I'm pretty sure my diet is the culprit.


So, what to do? I need to take my own advice for a change. These things can help.

1.) First, make sure you're buying quality, power foods when you're at the store. We recently did a guest post for our friend Ashley (at Edible Perspective) about the Top 20 Budget Friendly Foods we enjoy throwing in our grocery cart. When you buy the healthy stuff, you'll be less prone to order out and get those quick-fix, full-of-fat-and-sugar things on the run.

Here's a quick visual rundown.



I encourage you to check out that post for specific information on these foods (why they're good for you, what vitamins they contain, how to use them in everyday cooking, etc.).

2.) Breakfast -- yup, that's right -- is still the most important meal of the day. When I don't start my day with a hearty breakfast, I feel it by 10AM. I'm absolutely ravenous . . . and it usually means that I spent the rest of the day foraging for any food that comes my way. If that means the office party cookies -- I'll eat three. White bagels loaded with cream cheese? Don't mind if I do.

I'll eat anything I can get my hands on if it's in supply anywhere near my desk.
There's a stocked-to-the-gills vending machine near my desk.
DISASTER!!!


Some good-for-you, hearty breakfast recipes include:
There are no excuses to miss breakfast during training (or ever, really). So, if you are prone to skipping, you may want to stash some oatmeal and nuts, raisins, honey, etc. at your desk so you can just add water and get your fill!

3.) Also: Eat lunch. In fact, don't skip meals at all -- and be sure to eat one or two healthy snacks if you're hungry. We don't actually track our calories during marathon training (or ever). But we know we need to eat more. How do we accomplish this goal without packing on the pounds? Packing smart.


Even an extra 15 minutes a day is enough time for you to pack a wholesome, whole foods lunch and a few snacks. This area is my downfall -- I tend to do a lot of blogging and emailing in the mornings. I also edit photos and run. Pretty busy couple hours before the day even begins.

If I take that extra time, though -- I look forward to my snacks and mid-day meal. I feel good about what I'm eating, too. Plus, whatever I pack keeps me way fuller than a single Snickers bar could.



For example, I've been a fan of the whole PB&J plus apples wrap lately. However, a sandwich doesn't fill me up. For my hunger level, I just listen to my body. I try to include a kale salad (this one's filled with sliced heirloom tomatoes, carrots, plums, and low sodium soy sauce). Some days I bring a sweet potato. Snacks include bananas, carrots, crackers with hummus.


Our favorite pack-and-go lunches are classic, easy sandwiches, spreads, and salads. Check out the "Lunch" section on our recipe page for more great lunch ideas.

4.) Eat until you are full, but listen to your body, too. From week to week, your caloric needs will change. Depending on your mileage (and whatever else is going on at the time), you'll need more or less. Try not to fall into the pattern I find myself in where any cookie is my best friend.


It goes a little something like this: "Hey, I've earned it! I just ran 20 miles." An hour later: "Let's order a pizza. Hey, I've earned it! I just ran 20 miles." Two hours later: "Maybe some beer would go well with this cheese fondue I'm making, to dip the pizza in, before we eat the cupcakes I just made. But HEY! I've earned it! I just ran 20 miles!!!"


I'm not THAT bad. But you get the picture. Calorie creep can happen when you lease expect it, and all those goodies will add up. Usually all that sugar, butter, and other processed stuff isn't what your body needs anyway. Allow you self some treats -- I sure do -- but try to keep them in check.

(Want the recipe for those delish vegan chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes? I thought so! And here's the recipe for those awesome chocolate-glazed donuts. It's OK to indulge, really! Just not ALL the time.)


As you can see, there's not really a "right" answer. We don't count calories, and I don't see that happening any time soon. What you should focus on is quality over everything else. If you think your eating is getting out of control (like me) try asking yourself: Will this food fuel my activity? Before stuffing it down your throat. Seriously, it sounds elementary, but it helps. More often than not, is the answer is NO, you'll feel better.

Chances are, you'll also perform better, too. It's a tricky balance, that's for sure, but as long as you're paying attention to how you feel, you should be alright. If you have trouble with internal dialogue, keep a food/activity journal. Note where you feel slumps in your energy throughout the day. Note what you ate -- this advice is good whether or not you're running long.

If you're looking for some numbers, we found the following guide on The Marathon Website:
  • 50 – 65% calories from complex carbohydrates
  • 15 – 25% calories from fat, unsaturated as much as possible
  • 20 – 25% calories from protein. Use the higher percentage if you are weight training
Also: Marathon time isn't the best time to try to lose weight. Your body NEEDS food . . . desperately . . . and if you're cutting back drastically, ignoring your hunger signals, etc., you'll likely burn out, get injured, or simply fall into demotivation with your training. From personal experience, my weight has INCREASED since I started racing marathons. Though I've remained the same clothing size, I am heavier. Learn more in our mysterious marathon weight gain post.


And -- above all else -- (if you are) please stop worrying about the number on the scale. If you're training for endurance events, give you body a little more credit for the awesome feats it is accomplishing.

Here are some more resources to help:
And if you're looking for more tips and tricks for your running training, check our our (never home)makers Run Wild page.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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More Weekend Happenings

>> Monday, August 30, 2010


I don't usually write posts only about what I'm doing. Because if I did that, it could be rather boring! No. I try to keep the content running/recipe/motivation-related. But I'm enjoying writing weekend recaps. And there's a recipe at the end of this post -- so, if you'd rather just skip to that, feel free!

This weekend went just as fast as usual, unfortunately. Stephen planned to visit his family down in Philadelphia . . . and I stayed behind because with all the working, blogging, and marathon training, I simply have no energy to go anywhere right now. Friday, we made the most of our time together by ordering Indian takeout (like last weekend, if you'll remember) and watching the final episodes of Nip/Tuck. We're so sad to be done with this show!


Thanks to my mother-in-law, Kathy, we each got new phones Friday night. Somehow I lost mine at our weekly trivia match. As a result, I lost my entire contact list, too. Very frustrating. But it's worth it for the better text-ing keyboard! (And -- no. No fancy phones -- I refuse to pay $30 per month for internet!)

I started Saturday off early. 5:15 AM kind of early. With an excellent 8-miler after Stephen departed for PA (and on his trek send me photos of Lululemon, IKEA, and a display of Vibrams that made my heart skip and beat!). Didn't time the run, but it was speedy -- that's for sure. This is the point in marathon training when the 8 mile runs are my favorite. The 5-milers just feel like busy work, but the 8s make me feel powerful, strong. I'd love to see how I could perform in a 15K right now. I wonder if I could beat my Boilermaker PR?

My parents were up for the rest of the day. We drove through the country and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. We even took a nice 30 minute stroll through a nearby park. I wore my Vibrams, of course.


Saturday night was relatively uneventful. I watched The September Issue and ate tomato/mozzarella/basil sandwiches with some ginger brew. I went to bed as early as I woke: 9:30 PM (I'm a total rock star!).


Sunday was another early day -- but I slept in until 5:30 AM. Hah. Right? Anyway, I wanted to get a start on my long run before the sun came out. I'm so glad I did, too. I got out the door at around quarter to 7 (had to eat and wake up a bit before I laced up my shoes). But around three hours (and 20.2 miles at 9:03 pace) later, I finished my second of three super long runs for the marathon.

Only.
One.
More.
20.
Mile.
Run.
To.
Go!

Thankfully, after two weeks of soggy (worse than soggy -- these runs were more like swimming than running) long runs, it didn't rain one drop! Still, I'm dedicated. There's no question after the horror-movie-esque scene that greeted me when I took off my right shoe after the run. (There's blood -- so, you may want to avert your eyes!)


If this isn't TMI. I don't know WHAT is. Anyway, I'm still not really sure how I got the cut on my toe. I felt some discomfort at the beginning of the run. After a while, it just got better. Needless to say, these socks are in the garbage. Ugh. Less than 35 days until the marathon!

Sunday was really a blur. A tired, in-bed . . . yet cleaning the house from top-to-bottom while doing loads-upon-loads of laundry blur. Stephen drove home and ran his long run in the heatwave. (Remember last week when I mentioned how excited we are for fall? The weather gods are definitely saying PSYCHE! right now.) When I have a particularly steamy run, I usually crave juice. Water. Coconut water. Fruit. More juice. Gatorade. Juice. Did I mention a cold cup of juice with lots of ice? Limes?

OK. I sound like a crazy person, but this is how my mind gets in the last mile. When I'm almost home. Almost close enough to my blender to blend together a post-long run slurpee:


What you'll need . . .
  • 1/2 cup sorbet (I used hibiscus-coconut water kind -- delish!)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds


Method . . .
  1. Just put everything in a blender and blend.
  2. Adjust content to reach your desired consistency. I liked mine just like this -- not too thick. Very slurp-able.
The chia seeds, coconut water, and blueberries make this slurpee a perfect recovery drink. When it's especially hot, I don't like to eat much after a run. I usually feel sick. But it's important to get some calories and water into your system. So, always be sure to at least sip on something -- even if it's only a glass of water or chocolate milk. Then eat as soon as you're able -- preferably some protein.


We've had many questions now about how we change our caloric intake during heavy training times. The quick answer is that we don't really count or "take a look" at how much we're eating, necessarily. We let our bodies be our guide. If we're hungry, we eat. We try to eat the "best" foods. Whole foods. Healthy foods. But that's not always easy. Tomorrow we'll post more info on this topic -- as well as back briefly to that mystical marathon weight gain. So, stay tuned!

What did you do this weekend? Are you experiencing the same heatwave in your neck of the woods? We're definitely not enjoying this last burst of summer. Bring on the sweaters and cider . . . the crunchy leaves and pumpkin pies, please! Well, at least for now we have pumpkin macaroni and cheese!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Healthy Living: Maddie's Story


Maddie writes:

I'm an aspiring writer and photog over at my blog called Spidatter. It wasn't until early this past spring that I began to love talking to others about my relationship with running. Not to worry . . . this won't be a rant about the marathon I'm training for (because I'm not), nor about how much I just love love love to wake up at 5am and get a few miles in before work (because I don't).

It's a relationship that never really got off the ground, unfortunately. I'm not sure what the deal breaker was. It might have been all of those forced jog-a-thon fundraisers in Kindergarten (which I walked), or the "running of the dreaded mile" in third grade (which I also walked . . . in the snow), or perhaps it was all of those laps we did in PE in fifth grade . . . in our plaid, pleated uniform dresses. I'm the one with the white sailor blouse on under my jumper.


While the above memories all feed into my broken relationship with the track, the moment in my running history that truly highlights my athletic demise (and also doubles as an oft-repeated family anecdote) was the mile I had to run for physical fitness testing in junior high. Junior high was a nightmare in and of itself, from which I'm still debriefing. And then at the end of the day, they made you run. We had these super cute red PE shirts we had to wear with the private school's logo printed on them. And all of the girls who needed sports bras were anti-wearing them (I was in that category) . . . while the girls with nothing to cover would seemingly wear them "just for fun."

So there I am running the mile on a beat-up field full of gopher holes and puddles. Near lap four, I glance around and realize that I am one of only two people left still running. And the other girl is about to cross the finish line. And I am behind her. AND SHE IS WEARING A BACK BRACE. If that doesn't scream, "Give up already! You are not a runner!" to an already insecure 13-year-old girl, I don't what does...

My childhood eating habits also mirrored my poor grasp of exercise. I have never been more than ten or so pounds over the normal weight for my height and age (whatever normal is), but I was rarely in good shape, and my body type leans more toward the curvier side of the spectrum. Growing up, I ate decently, but definitely not intelligently. I rarely binged and learned early on what portion sizes were, by I had no idea what I was eating. My mom and younger sisters had metabolisms that allowed them to eat Cocoa Puffs for breakfast and not gain an ounce. By college I realized that I was not capable of living the same lifestyle.

Now I'm 24, and I have just begun to mend my broken bond with running and whole foods. In one month, I decided to quit my job of three years and move to a new house after three years in the old one. I also found myself surrounded by new friends who all seemed to be yogis and half-marathon trainees. I was struggling to find something I could control in this 'new life' that suddenly looked so different than it had a few months ago. To be honest, it really started as a shallow effort to fit in. I was frustrated by my lack of health and fitness knowledge (last year I had NO idea what an "out-and-back" was . . . or Stevia, for example). So I started small, knowing that jumping full force into anything new could result in a fast burn-out.

It really began with a trip to Lululemon and the purchase of this bra, the first sports bra that actually took the chest pain out of physical activity for me. I had foolishly sworn off this store previously as over-priced and over-zealous, created for the people who do yoga up to three times a day. And then I found myself all but drowning in a social circle of Lululemon believers and testimonies. So I ventured into the store -- petrified, mind you -- and bought the aforementioned sports bra. Which is solid as a rock . . . and yet bizarrely comfortable. And Lord help me if I don't get my money's worth out of a $50 sports bra and burn some major calories in the process. So now, I run. At least every other day. Not impressively fast, and not amazingly far -- but that's still running.

It's amazing what a little monetary guilt can do to your exercise routine. Sometimes looking fantastic and spending unholy amounts of $$$ on athletic attire is by far the best motivation to sweat. Whatever it takes, right?


Shortly after my fitness wardrobe update, a friend asked me to run a half marathon with her. I laughed, and then realized she wasn't laughing, and then thought, "Oh, I guess I actually have been running . . ." My friend Amanda (on the left in the picture) was super inspirational (even if she doesn't know it!) because she herself has already ran several half marathons and one full marathon as well. The whole idea was completely foreign to me. But I was graciously shown different online training schedules that laid out daily runs and work-outs to slowly (keyword here) prepare my body for a 13.1 mile run (jog?) . . .

The first time I successfully ran four miles without stopping to walk was huge for me. I remember calling my mom feeling heady with endorphins, and just about crying into my phone that I'd finished four.

There is a half in my hometown of Santa Barbara in November that I'm planning on signing up for soon. I've only gotten up to six miles so far, but knowing how big of a battle one used to be gives me hope that this goal is reachable.

Thanks for reading, and hope you are encouraged! ANYONE can become a self-made athlete.

Maddie (from Spidatter)

In need of some healthy fitspiration? While you're here, you can read more great stories like Maddie's -- as well as submit your own healthy living story to be featured on our site!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese


I'll get to this weekend (and our 20 mile run) later. I wanted to start today off with my new favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. It's inspired by Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook -- she added cauliflower puree to make the kid-favorite healthier. We went a step further, using whole wheat pastry flour, garbanzo puree (instead of cream cheese), and pumpkin instead of cauliflower.

Makes this cheesy dish a little more grown up. Also adds some wonderful nutrition, cuts down on the fat, and keeps in the fridge really well . . . to use for lunch, perhaps?

(That is, is you have any left -- and we sure didn't!)


Anyway, I've written about my love for Lean Cuisine macaroni and cheese before -- ick, right? -- but I'm happy to declare before you all that I won't be eating that packaged crap anymore.

Plus, this recipe's so easy -- you can memorize it!


PUMPKIN MAC 'N CHEESE

What you'll need . . .
  • 1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup pureed garbanzo beans
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Method . . .
  1. Cook the pasta to the package directions.
  2. While you wait for it to finish: Spray the inside of a large sauce-pot with the cooking spray. Pour in the olive oil and cook over medium heat. Then stir in the wheat pastry flour and keep stirring until the mixture is thick -- but not browned. (About 1 minute)
  3. Add the milk and stir constantly for between 2 and 3 minutes. Until thick.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree, cheese, and pureed garbanzo beans (to puree, just rise a can garbanzos, put in a food processor with a couple tablespoons water, pulse until smooth -- like hummus), paprika, and pepper. Stir until everything is melted. Add more seasonings to taste.
  5. When you pasta is done, just drain and add to the cheese mixture. Stir for a minute or two, then turn off the heat and serve.
  6. I added some whole wheat breadcrumbs to mine.
We served ours with a gigantic bowl of veggie chili soup (because it's more like a soup, but with all the chili ingredients -- recipe later in the week) and a cold beer. The pasta we used? Barilla PLUS -- great tasting, but with "all the protein, omega-3s, and fiber you need."



Have you ever tinkered with a favorite recipe to make it healthier? Were you satisfied with the result? Sometimes we are, sometimes we aren't. There are definitely cookie recipes, for example, that we'd rather keep original -- full of sugar and fat. However, this healthy twist on mac 'n cheese is here to stay!

ALSO: Don't forget to enter our Operation Beautiful Giveaway. That's right! We're giving away a copy of Caitlin Boyle's new book -- enter by Friday, September 3rd at 9PM EST for your chance to win!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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