Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Triple?

When you have a gorgeous, picture-perfect day in Chicago - you take it! We didn't really have much planned yesterday, but it was stunningly beautiful, so staying inside was not an option. Instead, we packed up a few things (snacks, a blanket, a towel, sand toys) and headed out. I had no idea if running was in the plans, but I wore running clothes just in case. We started out on a walk. Big Girl pushed her own little stroller with her baby and we strolled around the city just enjoying the weather. After a significant amount of walking, we stopped for a potty break and Big Girl decided she needed a rest in the stroller. She was game for the beach so I figured I'd run there to save us some time.

Taking a loaded duallie on a run adds a serious arm workout to the already taxing leg workout you automatically get when running! Geez, it can be rough! But we arrived at the beach in no time (1.25 miles to the good) and spent some time playing near the water. None of us was wearing a swim suit, but that didn't stop Big Girl from entering the water multiple times doing whatever it is she does when at the beach. She has an whole intricate system of activity that keeps her busy and entertained and it doesn't require my participation. The baby, on the other hand, would eat sand all day long and face plant into the lake if I didn't constantly reroute her. So while I did a tiny bit of relaxing, I was mostly on my guard making sure all were safe and out of harm's way.

impromptu beach day

i heart sand

That would be my fearless baby hamming it up for the camera, and my wild child in the background plotting her next move. So anyway, we beached for a while until Big Girl decided to go farther into the lake and ended up losing a friendly battle with an incoming wave - it knocked her over with little effort and she found herself completely immersed in lake water. She wasn't digging the wet clothes, and frankly, I think she was a little bit irked that the wave got the best of her. Luckily, I had stowed a beach towel, so she wrapped herself up and climbed into the stroller - not a bad consolation prize. But that was enough beach time for her. And all of us. We do not need that much sun - and afternoon nap time was fastly approaching. So I ran us home (another 1.25 miles for me!). 

Fast forward to the evening. I had planned to go to another yoga class last night, but as fate would have it, my husband got held up at work and the baby needed extra TLC before bed on account of a cold (poor baby!). When it became clear that I would not make the yoga class, I decided to do another run instead. A solo evening run after work on a ridiculously gorgeous summer night - can't beat it. I think it was about 3.5 miles or so. So maybe 6 miles total for the day. Is that a triple?! Because if it is, that is my first triple to date. 

I had planned a run with Baby J this morning - and since it was yet another beautiful morning, we had no choice but to go. We logged a nice and easy five miler and then enjoyed a quick lunch with Daddy. Baby J kind of dozed since she is battling her cold, but she was otherwise content with the pleasant weather and her rock-a-bye baby tunes on pandora. My legs are a bit fatigued right now, but I'm enjoying it. I'm grateful that I can do all this running around - whether my kids are with me or not. I know the weather won't be this perfect forever, so I'm taking advantage and racking up miles. When the polar vortex 2.0 hits us this winter, I can return to the yoga studio and get my down dog on. Until then, I'll be on the roads. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Menu Planning - August 24

Lots of cooking already underway - and ideas galore! It's really the best time of the year for fresh fruits and veggies. You wait almost all year long for this bounty, and it's finally here. Last night we kicked things off with a simple, delicious meal. You can't go wrong when the ingredients are farm fresh!

Our apps were basically a fresh tomato cut into slices (totally naked - not even salt), rosemary infused ham slices, and a raw sheep's milk cheese. These items paired well with some crisp glasses of Italian white wine. Big Girl helped herself to a good serving of ham, but she will not touch tomatoes. Just will not touch. Her loss. 

The second course was stuffed banana peppers. We picked up the peppers at the farmer's market earlier in the day and stuffed them full of fresh feta and dill. The fresh feta was tangier and had a bit of a bite to  it - the dill rounded it out perfectly. We roasted them until they were a bit charred and tender. And the main course was a whole branzino stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon. 

Saturday night dinner

Not only was the fish delicious, it also featured an entertainment component. Big Girl was enchanted by the whole fish, and though she (literally) ran circles around our table, she kept coming over to investigate and inspect. We kept asking her if she wanted to try the fish but the answer was no. Then yes. Then no. Then yes. Finally, an affirmative yes. She picked off a nice piece and tried it. She liked it! She went back for more. We told her to mind the bones - we don't eat the bones. Naturally, she wanted to eat a bone. I showed her a bone and showed her why it wouldn't be a good idea to eat the bone. It is like a small stick - it wouldn't taste good. She had to see for herself. She concurred. It was not to be eaten. We told her that if she accidentally got a bone in her mouth, she could just take it out and set it aside. She wanted to practice this. She took some fish along with a bone. She carefully peeled the bone out of mouth, setting it aside with the biggest grin known to man. She had successfully avoided a serious choking hazard! Well done, Big Girl! I have a feeling she will be more keen on the whole fish concept the next time she sees it for dinner. 
trying fish

Lastly, I'll share this short video Big Girl took of us during dinner. We thought she was taking a still photo - that's why we are posing like that and waiting. Instead, she was troubleshooting - attempting to figure out why the (red) button was "locked" and she couldn't snap a pic even if she "held it straight again." "Look at this!"

So, our menu this week - 

Sunday - tonight we are doing creamed leeks on fresh pasta with roasted mushrooms and toasted walnuts. 

Monday - sauteed kale with poached eggs and fresh sunflower bread (all farmers market ingredients), and I might shave some parmesan over the kale/egg combo

Tuesday - I'm hosting a ladies lunch for friends and my menu will be : 
classic panzanella
homemade vanilla ice cream

I've made all of these dishes before, so I'm assuming they will be seamless to prepare, and most of them can be made or prepped ahead of time. Also, the menu highlights the ingredients and flavors of the season. 

so... dinner will be leftover gazpacho with hummus in pitas

Wednesday - pizza with roasted eggplant, tomato, onions, mozzarella and basil

Thursday - tofu from the farmers market with soba noodles. I'll probably make a ginger/soy sauce or do something with peanuts. And some kind of veggie - bok choy or broccoli. There will also be fresh scallions to top this. 

Friday - I will be done with cooking by this point so we will either order in or eat leftovers. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Farmers Market Run - Summer Oh Fourteen

One thing that I had on this summer's bucket list was a run up to the Lincoln Park's Green City Market followed by some (preferably kid free) browsing of the delicious summer edibles that dedicated farmers bring into the city several times a week during the summer months for us to enjoy. I knew that if this run were to happen, we could stock up on the fresh fruits and veggies and see where it takes us.

Lucky for us, some distant cousins are getting married in our neighborhood today and since my MIL was invited to the wedding, she asked to stay with us for the weekend. Yes, please! She treated me to some "time off" from my "job" yesterday afternoon so I could attend my first real yoga class since pre-Baby J (in sum: I rocked it in a 96 degree sauna-like studio, not once falling on my face and/or making as ass of myself!). She also minded the kids at night so the hub and I could enjoy a fun night out (robata    bar! - a first for me). It was a bit of a late night filled with bottles of sake, sweet potato whiskey, and delectable treats, but we did not let that stop us from getting out this morning in soupy humid conditions to run in search of more delectable treats. We are suckers for delectable treats. 

So yeah- after Thursday's solo five miler, a heated yoga class on Friday, and more than enough sake, I was ready to power through this four mile run. The miles both crawled by and flew. I don't know how that can be, but at times I couldn't believe how much progress I was making; other times I felt like I was trying to climb my way up a raging waterfall. In any case, I have never been so happy to see those white tents! 

We browsed, sampled, ran into a friend, chatted, shared a refreshing cherry and ice smoothie, did not touch any tomatoes (hands were kept folded behind our backs while we eyed them), and haphazardly purchased items we feel we can turn into masterpieces. 

Re: the tomatoes.. you do not touch them. Ever. You let the farmers do the selecting and handling. But once you purchase them, I suppose you can do as you please. 

Re: the friend we ran into. She mentioned something about local honey and goat cheese. I was like Must.Have.That.Now. On fresh bread. 

Re: the cherry and ice smoothie - while it was refreshing, it was a disappointment. I wouldn't even call it a smoothie. It was just cherries and ice blended into a bevvie. 

Re: the samples - there were TONS of tasty bites to try (melon, cheese, pickles, tofu, sausage, jam, honey, tomatoes, bread, etc). You could have made a meal of these offerings. We kind of did. 

What we bought: eggplant, banana peppers, leeks, goat cheese, honey, tofu, tomatoes, bread, bell peppers, onions, and kale. Expect these things to show up on next week's menu. I've already made a few notes..

Anyway, we took a taxi home and immediately cut up a tomato (holy hell was it good!), broke off a hunk of bread, slathered it with soft goat cheese and drizzled on the honey. Now THAT was a perfect chart topping post run / farmer market lunch!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Weekday Running

I guess I've been pretty eager to run since I'm feeling better. We don't have a lot on our schedule this week (end of summer calm?), and Monday was basically planless. After a lazy early morning, I asked Big Girl if she was interested in a run and some playground time. In no time, she had changed into her running clothes (her third or fourth wardrobe change of the morning), and was telling her little sister that she was going to go running. She even "practiced"in the house - I'm sure to the dismay of our neighbors (who are actually very cool but we still try to be respectful). Anyway, she was game.

After loading up the duallie with our typical running accoutrements (water, snacks, sunscreen), we were off and running. Aside from asking me a dozen or so times when she could get out and run, Big Girl was actually pretty chill. I logged about a mile and a half before it was her turn. She was thrilled!

Off she went, running down the path. No hair tie - just wild child and the pavement.

is that a heel strike? 

she's fast!

She ran about a quarter mile and then began barking her orders at me. I was to stay where I was til she said "1-2-3, GO!" Then I was to run exactly 64 centimeters behind her - no more, no less -  until she changed her mind and demanded I go in front of her. Then I was to wait behind an imaginary line until she dictated that I proceed. Obviously, this killed the run for me. But I indulged her to some extent til I noticed she was tuckering out.


Then she was back in the stroller for another mile or so (scarfing cheese sticks and fruit) and then out again. She ran a bit more and then we took a break. I ended up with about 3 miles for myself. Her mileage was close to a a half mile.

I know this tired her out since she took a good nap that afternoon. That was quite a workout! In the evening, we attended a fun Broadway in Chicago concert at Millennium Park. Big Girl was psyched to go because some of her friends were going as well. She also knew she'd get to stay up "late" - which is always better in theory. She crashed big time as soon as we got home.

concerting with friends

So that was Monday. Yesterday, while Big Girl was at school, I took Baby J for a run. Our plan was to run about 4 miles and meet our friends at the beach. I packed the stroller with a few things and a towel and headed out. It was warmer and more humid than it has been. There was a wicked gusty wind. Unfortunately, when we got close to the beach, a storm rolled in. I smelled the rain before I heard or saw it. Drops joined to form sheets and whipped across the city. We were lucky to be somewhat sheltered by a bridge, but once we cleared that, we were drenched. And then the thunder - louder than I have ever heard - just booming in the skies. We ducked under a neighboring building's loading dock and took shelter there until the thunder/lightning passed. The dock guys were so nice, bringing us paper towels to help us dry off a puddle that had formed at Baby J's feet. Of note, Baby J did not in the least mind this thunderstorm. She splashed her bare feet in the water and blinked out the drops that came near her eyes. I'd say she rather enjoyed the show. I had another third of a mile to go before we were home, and though I waited for the thunder and lightning to subside, the drops still fell like buckets pouring water on my head. We splashed through huge puddles and got even more soaked as we headed for home. But we made it - and thankfully I had a dry towel stowed safely down below. That was truly an adventure - and our first stroller run in a storm (I typically make sure we do not venture out on foot in any storms - but this one took us by surprise!). Needless to say, we didn't make it to the beach. But I did end up with that refreshing "dip" in the water that I anticipated had I made it to the beach ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Menu Planning - August 17

I'm on the mend - but have still been taking it slow and easy these past few days. I went on one run since this infectious / summer cold fiasco and that was yesterday (meager details below). Instead, I've been running after my kids - Big Girl has some speed! and Baby J is pretty much crawling (scooting, on the move, you name it). Yikes!

On Friday we spent the lunch hour picnicking with our besties. The big kids couldn't handle too much downtime so they got up and chased each other. I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of the "wheels" on my Big Girl. She's got quite the turnover! And she was barefoot --> mad skills (or bad parenting..?).

taking a running break from picnicking
Our weekend eats were pretty fantastic. When you've got little else going for you (ie you're in baby jail), prepping dinner is about the extent of the excitement. Friday night we went with wild salmon. It included ginger/garlic/soy sauce and was topped with scallions. The side was leftover greens from earlier in the week. The wine was a cab sauv that pretty much sealed the deal with this dish.

salmon/ greens/ cab

Saturday morning was my first run in over a week. I was SO READY to get out on the roads. It was just shy of five miles (4.75) for no particular reason - that was just the distance when I finished. Pace was about 9:40 or so. But it felt good to get out there (finally). Post run we headed over to the beach to do some beaching and airplane watching c/o the Chicago Air and Water Show. The beach was way more crowded than usual, but that didn't cramp our style. Baby J still ate sand like it was in short supply and Big Girl ran back and forth collecting water and for her nonsensical sand projects.

work it, planes!
Blue Angels in the distance

Instead of seafood for lunch, we saved it for dinner. We were able to pick up some shrimp and langoustines at Eataly - put it all in a pot with some Old Bay seasoning and beer (and butter).

seafood feast

Big Girl was pretty amused at our dinner. She even tried both shrimp and langoustine and declared them ok. But she was fascinated with the whole production.
this!? is your dinner?? hilarious!

it's late - i'm silly
really silly 

perfectly paired with corn on the cob and an IPA
So that was good. Now, onto the week's menu. 

Sunday - tonight we did a big salad with greens, bell pepper, cucumber, blue cheese, bacon, scallions, radish and a mustard vinaigrette. Fresh bread on the side. Crisp white (an Italian chardonnay picked up at Eataly).

Monday - tomorrow will be an eggplant spread - recipe from Deborah Madison. Basically it includes seriously roasted eggplant (squeeze out excess liquid), toasted walnuts, fresh dill, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper - mixed in a food processor. Served with toasted pita and fresh cucumbers.

Tuesday - loaded nachos. This is a good way to use up leftover tortilla chips. We'll put black beans, shredded cheese, scallions, jalepeno peppers, and sour cream.

Wednesday - Homemade pizza. Shallot and pepperoni. With mozzarella.

Thursday - BLT's

Friday - out for date. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WIAW - August 13

In lieu of running due to illness and recovery, I've decided to do a food post like I've seen called "What I Ate Wednesday." I'm not totally sure of the appeal of taking a picture of every meal you eat on a random day and posting it with descriptions...however, K of Team Stick and I were texting the other day about our eats, and she suggested I do a post on breakfasts sometime. I told her I would do it - because if I'm ever in need of breakfast ideas, that post might be gold :) But also, why not. I'm taking a mini running break and it seems food talk has become quite fun for me these days. So here we go - my meals for today. 

Breakfast - my mom was here this morning because she is awesome and stayed over the past couple nights to help me with recovery. This morning I was feeling a wee bit better, so I decided to make pancakes. Also my pancake freezer stash has been long gone, and it's a bit of a staple for many of Big Girl's lunches or snacks. So I restocked. 

Pancakes - from Runners World Magazine
Fresh fruit (the remains of Big Girl's banana from yesterday, cantaloupe, and blueberries)


Lunch - toasted Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread (the BEST!) with sliced tomato and smashed avocado (liberally salted)
"Milkshake" made from two frozen bananas, a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a splash of maple syrup (this puppy rocked!)

avocado/tomato toast

Dinner - this one was on the menu plan but days were switched around due to me being sick. So this is my greens and tofu dish over millet. 


So there you go. And yes, there were a few snacks not pictured. For one - coffee. A half caf K-cup went with the 'cakes for breakfast. I can also guarantee that I snuck a few more pancakes while I was cooking (so I had at least 5 or 6. At least.). I remember a handful of cashews and pistachios in the late afternoon. And I just finished off the better part of a gourmet chocolate bar for dessert (because that killer cocoa shake at lunch wasn't enough chocolate for me?!). I'm not really a night eater, so that will wrap things up for the day. In any case, it was all delicious, and I hope it helps me heal.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Infected & Menu Planning - August 10

I realize the title of this post is pretty odd, but that is the state of affairs over here. I battled a 102 degree fever all weekend - which was the result of a nasty case of mastitis. There are other super fun symptoms that go along with mastitis, but I'll let you research them on your own. Little J is sick herself with a cold, and she could be teething. She has also been going longer stretches at night without feeding. Whatever happened, it was a shocker to wake up one morning in such pain when I have a nine month old. I though this happened with newborns (as happened to me with Big Girl). Sometimes I think that these girls are in cahoots and want to put me through the same crises so they can compare notes later..  Joke's on me. In any case, I am pretty effen miserable. Oh, and I also seem to have a cold coming on...sore throat, hoarse voice, and stuffies, because, ya know, mastitis isn't enough.

So, if I can somehow recover, here's the week's menu.

Sunday - tonight - we (and by "we" I mean the hub) are grilling chicken for grilled chicken tacos. The rub was made of ground cumin seeds, salt and pepper. Corn tortillas. Lime. Cilantro. Sliced radish. No booze. I wish.

Monday - Chili layer dip. My mom was gracious enough to send over some chili which we will turn into a multi layer concoction of goodness. Refried beans, roasted tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, a jalepeno, and fresh scallions. With chips.

Tuesday - Those greens I rave about - kale and chard and some kind of hot red pepper sauteed in sesame oil, ginger, garlic, cashew sauce, soy sauce, maybe a splash of balsamic with tofu over millet.

Wednesday - pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes

Thursday - Fish with olives, roasted tomatoes, capers, and shallot along with leftover greens from above

Friday - I didn't get this far. I hope to be more healthy by then. If I'm not, then perhaps there will be lots of frozen pizzas and/or cereal (the latter of which Big Girl and I survived on yesterday while I was alternating between shivers and sweats and aching all over - if at all possible: never be home alone with two small ones (especially - and this is important - if one of them is three years old) if you have fever and infection. You will more or less want to die because that will seem like a better alternative.

little #sconnie
Note: she is wearing my 17 year old college sweatshirt over shredded up too small for her tights. I had no energy to protest her choice of outfit, not that we were going anywhere. And while she looks innocent enough, beware. I think this is her "I've had way too much cereal today" face.. Watch out.

Luckily Big Girl went off to Camp Nonna last night, so at least it's been somewhat quiet here. As the wise Nonna stated : health is everything. She is so right. I am hoping like hell for a "good night's sleep" tonight (whatever the hell that means these days..).  My job stops for no one.