Happy 2014 and New Year Goals

3 Jan

I am generally not a resolution maker. I think I’ve made them occasionally, but they never really pan out. I’ve been thinking a lot the past few days about good goals to have though. Things that are a bit more short term, and not crazy ambitious and probably unreachable like hitting the gym 3 times a week or cutting a bad food from my diet for the entire year. So here are my ideas for January…if they go well I’ll renew them for February or adjust accordingly.

Fitness: I’ve had a Fitbit for a year, and I love it and wear it every day. My Fitbit goal is set to get 10,000 steps a day which working a desk job can be hard and probably only happens once or twice a week (if that). Fitbit is doing a January challenge and setting small weekly goals. I figured why not follow along with them and give that a try. Also a longer term goal: this year I would like to do another triathlon or if that doesn’t pan out I’d like to run a 5K race.

Healthy eating: Nate got me some sweet new Bento Box accessories for Christmas, so goal is to make use of them and pack some really tasty lunches this month.

Reading: I’m going to read two books this month. Maybe more! I love reading I just never do it enough.

Creativity: Finish a project or two. I’ve got a painting project, an ornament project, a couple crochet projects, and probably other things I’m not thinking of. So there is plenty to do!

That’s probably good for this month. Did you set any resolutions or goals this week?

Christmas Decorations

16 Dec

Besides decorating in the fall I also go all out decorating for Christmas. Due to some frustrating apartment things I was really worried that I would spend my Christmas vacation packing and moving rather than enjoying the holiday, time off, family, and friends. Luckily everything worked out so that I can put off moving for a few months which also meant I could decorate for Christmas!

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My mom and I have been planning to make ornament wreaths for over a year and I got mine mostly finished over the Thanksgiving weekend. I still want to get a few more ornaments when they go on clearance next week to finish it up.wreath

My elf doesn’t have a name and he just stays on his shelf, but I love to put him out every year. When I was a kid one of my grandmothers had a whole clan of knee hugging elves. When I told my mom about the elf on the shelf that my co-worker was doing for her daughter several years ago, and how it looked so much like my grandma’s elves she gifted me one for Christmas. elf mantle stockingHope you’re enjoying some festive decorations around your homes too!

Decorating for the Fall

26 Nov

fall mantel

Autumn is one season I really enjoy decorating for. I love that I can purchase (for not a lot of money) fresh seasonal produce to decorate with, and that my decorations stay in season for October through Thanksgiving. The past few years I’ve used pumpkins, squash, and pomegranates. I usually pick up various squash from Buy For Less for around .50/lb, mini pumpkins from Aldi for .59 each, and pomegranates from Aldi for 3/$1.

white pumpkin
This year I found the cute little white pumpkins at Walmart in a 3 pack for under $3. I’ve been enjoying these pumpkins on my mantle since the middle of October and they have just a few more days before they get sent to the compost. I added the pomegranates a few weeks ago and if they don’t go bad I’ll keep them up through February since they’re a perfect Valentine’s decoration.pomegranatesHappy Thanksgiving!

Goal of Doing a Triathlon – Complete!

10 Oct

A few Sunday’s ago Nate and I headed to Norman to do our first triathlon. There are some things in my life that I look back on like my first 5K race. I’m glad I did it, but I have a lot more negative than good feelings for it. Thankfully this tri was not like that.

Saturday I gathered up all my gear and laid it out. I was pretty nervous so it was nice to plan out what was going on my person when I left in the morning, and how I would set up my transition area. I tried to go to bed early that night, but that didn’t go so well and I ended up laying in bed for a couple of hours just thinking of things to remember to do while I raced.

TriPrep

The next day we arrived in Norman around 5:45 a.m., checked our bikes into the transition area (where you change your gear from swim/bike and bike/run) and then checked ourselves in, got our timing bands, and got our numbers and age marked on our bodies. Everyone I talked to and asked for tips from the entire morning was super nice. I stopped a couple of people who looked like seasoned triathletes and asked if people wore their flip-flops to the pool or just went barefoot. (No one wears their flip-flops to the pool.)

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They offered a swim warm up from 6-7 a.m. before the pre-race meeting at 7:15. I originally didn’t plan to warm up because I don’t do a big swim warm up and I didn’t want to be wet and cold. But one of the lifeguards made a comment, “Aren’t you going to warm up?”, and I decided why not. However when I had to hop out and wait 45 minutes to start my race in a cold gym I wished I’d skipped the warm up. I’ll remember for next time.

swim

This race included a snake swim in a pool (up and down the lane, cross under the rope, up and down the lane, etc.), and they’d start a racer every 15 seconds. When you register they ask for your expected swim time so they can line you up accordingly and hopefully minimize passing. I had been wondering all along how they’d get us all in line according to our swim time. Turns out your race number is what number you are in line to start! Number 87 worked out just fine for me (Nate was 111). I was pretty nervous at my start, and on the recommendation of a lady in line next to me tried to make a shallow entry into the water so time wasn’t wasted swimming back up to the surface, but I ended up nearly belly flopping. I swam pretty smoothly though passing two people (nearly passed a third on the last lap), and no one passed me. The timing mat  you had to cross to stop your swim time was down the hall and out the door, so my swim time was longer on paper, but pretty spot on for what I hoped.

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My first transition (taking off cap and goggles, putting on race number, shoes, gloves, helmet, and hopping on my bike) I was a little slow on. I see why people practice changing between things! Thankfully I didn’t forget anything and headed out.

The bike course aside from a few hills, one GIANT hill, and some wind was great. They had lots of volunteers directing you which way to go, and they were even smiling and cheering participants on which always motivates me. When the wind was at my back (or anyway other than straight on really) I felt awesome and pedaled hard. Nate and I crossed paths when he was probably 1/2 a mile from the turn around and I was 1/2 a mile past it. I just gave him a thumbs up. I had a few people pass me on the bike, but thanks to the age markings on their calves I know they were all old (40-60), so I was OK with that and impressed with them! The other part I remember best from the bike was going back up the GIANT hill. It was awesome coming down, and I even tried to make myself aerodynamic like the pros do to gain a little, but going up was rough. When I was nearly to the top there were a few spectators and one goes, “You’re almost to the top, and it’s flat when you get there!” Thanks guy that was some good motivation!bike3

Coming back into the transition from the bike is an insane feeling on your legs. I’d heard that it was, so several times after a bike workout at the gym I’d hop on the treadmill and run a mile or so. At the gym it was never a big deal, so I know I was pushing harder on the bike that day. When I got off and tried to jog my legs were like jello, and I decided walking for a bit was probably a good idea. I changed shoes, abandoned my bike gear, and jogged out of the transition as Nate wheeled his bike in.bike5The weather was absolutely fantastic that day and I really hoped the adrenaline and everything would push me to a slightly faster run time than I’d been pounding out at the gym every week. But it was not to be. I’m much better at running than I was 4 months ago, but I’ve still got plenty of room to improve. The run was tough. Nate caught up to me 1/2 a K in, and I ran with him for a bit, but slowed down to a walk again pretty quickly. People of all ages passed me, and I let them and just focused on getting myself to the finish. I walked a whole lot more than I’d hoped to, but in the end my run split was right on with my training times, so I can’t be too upset. The best part was coming around that last corner. I looked up and saw the finish line and just knew that I had to give it everything I had left. There were some volunteers that saw me pick up my pace and cheered at me to pass the guy I was gaining on. I passed him and cheered him on. Right after I passed him I got a little concerned that I couldn’t hold my pace to the finish line, but I somehow managed to and crossed the line. I even remembered to give a little smile for the camera!

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And that was that! I finished in just under an hour and 39 minutes (Nate finished in 1:23:25). I was happy and really tired. Surprisingly my muscles only felt tired and never got sore in the days following. I still feel incredibly proud of myself for being prepared enough to finish a triathlon! It’s been a goal for a while, but I didn’t seriously know if I’d ever be able to check it off the list. Now I’m looking forward to doing another one. I’ll definitely consider the Tie-Dye Tri again because it was very well-organized (zero complaints) and a great tri for a first timer.

NateSommer
Finished in 1:38:52
57th out of 96 women
15th out of 22 in women age 25-29

Total: 1:38:52
Swim: 9:47 Swim place: 21
T1: 3:27 T1 place: 84
Bike: 48:18 Bike place: 53
T2: 2:11 T2 place: 78
Run: 35:08 Run place: 65

Tips if you’re going to do a tri:

  • Practice the going under the ropes part of the snake swim.
  • Invest in a tri suit or something that you can swim, bike and run in without changing. I found one for $25 on steepandcheap.com. Some people wore their swim suits the whole time, but I’ve run in mine before and knew that wouldn’t be comfortable for me. Once you get your race outfit try it out before the race to make sure it’s comfortable to compete in.
  • Have a good pair of running shoes.
  • Practice at least doing the full bike and run distances all in one go before the race. If you’re not a strong swimmer you might go ahead and practice all three.
  • Time your swim, so you have an accurate time for the registration. I worried that people would fib and I’d get stuck behind people who exaggerated their swim time, but at least for this race the people around me did a good job.
  • I was also worried about passing people on the swim, but it wasn’t too crowded, and I didn’t have a problem. I’d tap them on the foot as we got close to the wall, and then flip turn off the wall ahead of the person I was passing.
  • If you have concerns or questions do some research. There are tons of tips for beginning triathletes lists and forums where someone has probably already asked your question. My big awkward question was, do I wear underwear? People in forums overwhelmingly say no.
  • A smaller tri might be a good fit for your first. The Tie-Dye Tri was capped at 300 participants. It wasn’t too crowded, and I didn’t have to worry about things like having trouble finding my bike in the transition.

Things for me to remember for next time:

  • Bring a throw away water bottle to have before the swim.
  • Race number belt. They make a belt that holds your race number so you can clip it to your body after the swim rather than trying to pin your number on with shaking hands.
  • Take it easy on the gummy energy. They’re probably entirely unnecessary for a sprint tri, but the ones I had tasted good. However you’re supposed to drink a lot of water while eating them, and by the end of the race I’d had a couple too many gummies and not enough water which caused a bit of a tummy ache.
  • Skip the swim warmup.

OGE Night Sprints 2013

8 Oct

RowersatPractice

The corporate rowing team I’m on wrapped up their fall season in October. The Night Sprints regatta is my favorite of the two races, and this year didn’t disappoint. The weather people had been predicting severe weather for that Friday night so I think a lot of people were worried about that and maybe some spectators didn’t come because of it, but it turned out just right. It was a tad windy, but the temperature was perfect and the rain held off until a couple hours after the racing was over!

Typically we race in the co-ed category (no more than 4 men in your boat), but this season we put together an all women’s team. I know I had a ton of fun and hopefully they all did too!

We only had one other boat in our race which was great because it meant no qualifying heat just the final race. They had a time trial of 2:03 and ours was 2:23, so we were at a 20 second disadvantage.

We all put everything we had into the race on the small chance that we might pull off a win. I know we were falling behind for a portion of the race because our cox (the girl in the boat yelling at us to go faster) at one point stopped updating us on where we were compared to the other boat. The whole race goes by so fast, but the main thing was we all pushed hard until the end and none of us caught a crab, lost our seat or messed up.

It was all so close at the end though that our cox had us row until the buzzer for both teams sounded, and I really thought we might have come in second. People were cheering and we finally yelled to some spectators on shore who they thought had won. They said you did!!

Winning our Race

The other team is the boat with white shirts in photos 2-4.

Turns out at the very very end of the race the other team caught a huge crab and died, and we pulled off the win.

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Gold medals and a trophy for the team!

FallRowingTeam

fireworks

Gentlemen of the Road – Guthrie Stopover

10 Sep

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Nate treated me to an amazing weekend of music in Guthrie the first weekend in September. Generally I would say I’m not a music festival person, but this was a different story. I was pretty unsure of how it would go because one, it was a music festival and two, the information available, other than the long list of things not to bring, wasn’t very plentiful.

photo 1

A pretty close, but sunny and hot spot for the first evening.

Traffic
We headed up to Guthrie around 2 p.m. on Friday and were pleasantly surprised that traffic wasn’t an issue at all. We’d worked out a plan with our friend Traci to stay, along with some friends, at her house for the weekend because of the convenient location of her house a mile from the festival grounds. Even with 35,000+ people in town for the weekend I didn’t hear of many people having traffic issues which is impressive.

photo 2

Further back, but shade hit us sooner for the second day.

Security and the Crowd
Despite the list of forbidden items the bag search before entering the venue was near nonexistent. Had we known we would have carried in much more water, snacks, and I might have even tried to get my fancy camera in. Oh well. The crowd was super mellow and friendly, and I didn’t witness any problems or fights. One of the main reasons I don’t care for festivals is because usually there are lots of really drunk and really high people who have no respect for your personal space. While it was frustrating when people would chose a walking path across the middle of our blankets there were a lot of people to navigate through and I just couldn’t hate too much.

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The Food
They had an awesome set up of local and out of town food vendors with a wide range of choices from corn dogs and pizza to pad Thai and portobello wraps. Not surprisingly it was quite expensive. I purchased a really delicious black bean and spinach quesadilla on Friday, but after not much of a bag search, Saturday I carried in my own food.

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The Music
Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros were awesome and did a bit of crowd participation which is always entertaining. I picked a couple new bands to like in the bands Phosphorescent and The Vaccines. The Alabama shakes were great performers and people went crazy for Brittany. And Mumford and Sons capped everything off with a fantastic set. One of the best parts of their show was the very last song. They brought everyone back out on stage (which was a ton of people), and sang a cover of With a Little Help from My Friends.photo(7)

Guthrie
I think one of the goals of GOTR was for people to discover a new town that they’d hopefully return to. Guthrie really rolled out the red carpet for everyone. A few of us went into town on Saturday to get some GOTR merchandise, and I regret not having more time to check out everything they had going in addition to the actual festival. Despite living less than 30 minutes from Guthrie I’ve never been up to check the town out. So my interest was successfully peaked, and I’m looking forward to a return trip to check the town out.

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So many people!

The Venue
Cottonwood Flats was a great set up. Big enough to accommodate everyone, close to the space they had people camping in, super close to downtown where even more stuff was happening, and close to the huge field where they were parking everyone (and to some city streets where residents were parking people in their yards).

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Crazy strong man sculpture they had set up that lit up at night.

The Weather
It was a hot, dry weekend. While it was hot and really dusty I was thankful it wasn’t raining and muddy. We used sunscreen and drank lots of water (they provided a free water filling station which was nice, but they could’ve used 2 or 3 on Saturday when the lines got long), and our group came away not too worse for the wear. We had a pretty close to the stage spot Friday, but opted for something further back that would be in the shade sooner for Saturday.

I could go on and on about how organized everything seemed, how awesome the music and lineup were, and what a great crowd it was. The weekend changed my mind on festivals, and given the right bands they can bring out a really cool crowd and make for a really fantastic and fun weekend of music. So good job Mumford and Sons!photo(5)

Labor Day Weekend Recipes

4 Sep

My Labor Day Weekend was pretty chill with lots of relaxing, but I did get in quite a bit of cooking. (All photos are from the blogs the recipes came from.)

First I made Skinny Veggie Lasagna from Pinch of Yum. I always find lasagna a bit daunting because I remember my mom slaving over it, and worrying about breaking the lasagna noodles as they came out of the water. This one uses oven ready noodles which are genius (no boiling), so most of the time preparing was spent chopping veggies. I think I used way more veggies than the recipe called for, but it was delicious.

 

The next recipe was Autumn Chicken Stew from Gimme Some Oven. It may have been a tad bit hot outside for stew, but this was so tasty and really got me in the mood for fall and all my favorite soup recipes. Nate was helping chop veggies for this and I went to throw in the apples and he said “Apples?!?” Fruit in a chicken and vegetable stew is a little weird, but I think when he ate it he didn’t mind too much. I will say if you’re not a fan of hot or cooked fruit this one probably isn’t for you.

 

And finally the crockpot whipped up an old favorite, Pioneer Woman’s Drip Beef. We made drip beef tacos with flour tortillas rather than making sandwiches, but as expected they were fantastic.

 

Did you try any new recipes over the long weekend?

Triathlon Training

28 Aug

TieDyeTri_2013_logo

I signed up today, so I’m officially participating in the Tie-Dye Tri. It’s been a goal of mine since high school to do a triathlon, and hopefully on September 15th I’ll be able to check that off the list.

Back in May I found a really good deal on a tri suit and that sort of started the ball rolling. Nate found the Tie-Dye Tri and a training plan and suggested we try for it.

I have to admit I’ve been following the above training plan pretty roughly. It’s not an easy thing to go from 1 to 2 gym visits a week to 6. I’m there 3 to 4 days a week and generally take the weekends off. I realize now the extra distances on the weekend are there to push you past the the minimum requirement, so next time I’ll have to work to incorporate some longer runs and bikes.

It’s been so helpful to have my gym buddies Elena and Kaylee at the gym with me a time or two each week. While they’re not training for a tri it’s nice to have a friend to motivate you to make it to the gym. If there’s a next time I’ll have to talk someone who’s a member at the Y like I am to train too. I feel like that would really bump the enjoyment level of training up several notches!

A local celebrity who’s done lots of triathlons posted some of her times, and I copied them down a while back as good goals. She is obviously a much stronger runner than me, but it’s something to shoot for.

Her times:

Total Time: 1:21:18
Swim: 9:43
Bike: 43:40
Run: 25:50 (8:38 pace)

My goals:

Total time: 1:32:50Swim: 9:20
Bike: 45:00
Run: 34:00

I guess I’m feeling pretty good that my body will make it to the finish line, because the two concerns on my mind lately have been goggles breaking and getting a flat tire.

So that’s that. If you have any tri tips or even tips specific to one of the three legs I’ll gladly take them!

ThumbsUpBike

Pickles Three Ways

15 Aug

picklesI’ve been a pickle making machine lately. My grandma gave me several cucumbers from her garden so I turned them into several jars of bread and butter pickles (above). Then I visited my parents several weekends ago, and my dad had well over ten lbs of cucumbers. So we got to work and spent a good portion of the day Saturday pickling. We made a batch of sweet, bread and butter, and dill. I’ve tried some from each recipe and have found them all to be quite tasty!

I’ve canned a few different things and keep being surprised how easy it is. It takes some time and a bit of reading to make sure you know how to properly process your jars, but it is not rocket science. Honestly it doesn’t take all of the fancy tools either. I use my biggest soup pot with a steamer basket fanned out in the bottom for processing my jars. My mom did buy my dad the special jar tongs and they are really handy, but I don’t own a pair and my regular tongs do the job.

If you’re interested in some recipes check out Putting Food By. My grandma has a 1970s copy that I have a couple of recipes photocopied from. It also includes lots of great instructions and tips on canning, so it might be good to check out from the library if you’re going to give canning a try.

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Sweet Pickle Chips – This is the updated recipe of the one I used. I generally don’t care for sweet pickles, but I didn’t mind these. The addition of the Allspice gives them a bit of a different flavor than a store-bought sweet pickle.

Bread and Butter – (pictured above) I couldn’t find a copy of this one online, so you’ll have to buy or borrow the book. It includes turmeric, celery seed, and mustard seed. The cucumbers in this recipe are put on ice before canning. I may be wrong but I think that it helps keep the pickles crunchier. Next time I make the dill recipe below I think I’ll add a similar step to the beginning of that recipe.

Dill – This recipe was recommended by my friend Shannon. They’re incredibly easy, and I wish we’d made more because I’m down to just a few pickles left! I like that the recipe is very basic, so it leaves room for tweaking the spices. I actually emptied a jar a few nights ago, and decided to make some refrigerator pickles with the left over juice.

2013 Season Tickets to the Lyric Theater

31 Jul

LyricTickets

Back in February I participated in the OKC Public Library’s adult reading program. They do it every year, and for every three books you read you get a ticket to put into the bowl to win prizes. I was incredibly lucky and won a pair of season tickets to the Lyric Theater at the Civic Center shows.

So for the past month (and we still have Big River to go) Nate and I have been taking in some shows. We’ve seen Tarzan, The King and I, and Will Rogers Follies. I didn’t realize the productions would be so large and professional, but to my untrained eye they might as well be Broadway! I’ve been especially impressed with the costumes and dancing. Here are a couple of photos off of Lyric’s Facebook from last week’s Will Rogers Follies.

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Photo by Keith Rinearson

WillRogers

Photo by Keith Rinearson

The take away; if you get a chance to attend a Lyric production I’d definitely recommend it!

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