This Weeks Eats 3.29.15

If there's on thing there's no shortage of on Pinterest, it's salad recipes.  And, for the most part, they do not disappoint!  We tried this recipe I found via Averie Cooks tonight and it was DELICIOUS. 
I loved the addition of aged white cheddar, especially since I usually have some leftover in the freezer from mac and cheese dishes.  Generally the salads we make call for blue or feta cheese, so it was a refreshing change.  I made a few additions, because there are some things I just cannot forgo in my salad: red onion, chicken (or some extra protein for a dinner salad), and a handful of romaine for crunch.  So, yeah, I'll be adding those ingredients to this week's salad... 

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


The Beats Half Marathon Discount Code!

Yep, ANOTHER discount code to share!  This is another new race that is being organized by the same folks at the Snohomish Running CompanyThe Beats Run will take place on July 26th, 2015 and this half marathon is all about the music.  There will be a DJ at each mile along the course, and given my taste for good EDM, I'm VERY excited to check this race out.  Plus it's at Marymoor Park in Redmond (great location for easy race logistics) and will have Nuun on course, just like my favorite half marathon!
They've announced the DJ for the post race party, who has a single signed to one of my favorite artist's labels (Tiesto).
From the race director: X-Vertigo, originally from France and residing in Los Angeles, has been without a doubt one of the biggest up and coming, electronic music artists of 2014. In 2013 alone he signed on 3 of the biggest labels in today's music industry. His single "Kings" was signed on Tiesto's Musical Freedom label and topped #18 on Beatport's Progressive chart. His second single "Dusk" was picked up by Armin Van Buuren's Armada/Trice recordings which topped at #48 and was part of the Armada "Best tracks of 2013" Compilation . Finally, Nervo & Ivan Van Gough ft Beverly Knight's "Not taking this no more"(X-VERTIGO vs Bass King remix) was signed by #1 Dutch label Spinnin' Records and stayed on the Electro House Top 100charts for nearly a month.  You can give a listen here.

They've begun announcing DJs for the course, and I'm pretty excited to run without headphones for 13.1.  So come on out and join in the fun!  Register here and use code: HALLBERG15 for 15% off registration.

Disclosure: I was offered a race entry in exchange for getting the word out about the race; although it is sponsored, all opinions are my own.


This Weeks Eats 3.22.15 (and St. Patrick's Day Cooking Recap)

Seriously.  This cake was worth the effort.  Mostly for the frosting - BAILEYS FROSTING.  I enjoyed the taste of Guiness in the the cake, but I think if I make it again, I'd go for a little bit of coffee instead since it really intensifies the chocolate taste.  The beer might have detracted a bit.  However, the beer absolutely made this Irish stew fantastic.  We halved the recipe.  But in the future, I'd only half the meat, as there wasn't much of a stew going on when it was done cooking.  More of a concentrated sauce.  Still delicious, though.

And, in case you were wondering, we made a separate cake for the kids!  My mother in law always sends fun holiday care packages and included a box of pistachio pudding and white cake mix for a green pudding cake.
I rather enjoyed this cake as well, especially with my afternoon coffee.  I might have gained an extra pound or two this week...

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


On Public Speaking and My Blathering Vlog

Public speaking is a HUGE fear of mine.  One I've had from elementary school days that has only slightly abated over the years.  My earliest memory of standing in front of a group was in grade school, doing a book report.  I began with "um" and tried to proceed from there.  But my teacher would say, "Don't say UM."  And I'd inevitably say it again and again, finally getting started after four or five 'ums.'  Thankfully, we always seemed to have a table or a podium on which to still my hands.  I realized this was a problem when I attended Space Camp a few years later.  Oh yes, I did. 
You were assigned a team upon arrival that you did everything with (just like in the movie!), including the construction of a space station.  Upon completion, each team member had to present their portion of the station.  This was in front of HUNDREDS of other campers with a MICROPHONE and NO PODIUM.  When it was my turn to talk, my hands shook so bad that one of my teammates had to come up and make me move the paper away from the mic, because it kept hitting it and making an awful sound.  Yeah.

Fast forward a few dozen years and, as an HR professional, I became pretty used to talking in front of groups: new hire orientations, benefits presentations, interviews, etc.  I pretty much chalk that up to the fact that as the years go on, I care less and less about what people think of me.  BUT.  It has been a verrrrrry long time since I've had to speak in front of a group of people.  That's pretty much how I felt while recording this video for The Blathering.  A blog/twitter conference-type thing with zero meetings, breakout sessions and all the stuff you don't want in a conference!  Just hanging out, eating and drinking!  I'm so excited to meet all these gals; some of whom I've read online since my first kiddo was born.  So, yeah, I cared while I was making it and get a little goofy.  

But, I wanted to save it for posterity here since it's my first vlog - and probably my last, until another Blathering.  So, if you've ever wondered what my answers might be to these burning questions below, you're in luck!  (If you can't see the embedded Youtube vid below, here's the link.)  I'm going to go hide in a corner now...  

The Blathering 2015 Questionnaire

  1. Name, Age, Where You’re From, Kids? Names? Ages?
  2. Is this your first Blathering?
  3. Who are your roommates?
  4. Agree or Disagree: Keri Russell is a National Treasure.
  5. You are driving from Lanse, MI to Duluth, MN in a Ford Taurus you borrowed from your sister. A cassette single is stuck on play in the tape deck. You can turn the volume down, but you can’t turn it off or eject it. What song would you choose to play?
  6. Would you rather be attacked by a large bear or a swarm of bees?
  7. M, S, K: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig
  8. Why isn’t Freddie Prinze Jr. getting more work? America today is so screwed up you guys.
  9. Would you rather: Tom Selleck now or David Hasselhoff 20 years ago? choosewisely
  10. How old is Mariah Carey? Don’t look it up, it would ruin it. I saw a rerun of SNL from 1990 when Patrick Swayze was hosting and she looked like she was 30. So now I’m just confused.
  11. With the obvious exceptions of Christmas movies and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, what movie could you watch over and over and over again?
  12. You are forced at gunpoint to wear a pair of pants with a word written across the butt, but you can choose the word. What is that word?
  13. Do you have any opinions regarding recent changes in the Washington State regulatory code?
  14. Can you name all the Spice Girls? Which one is the best? Hint: The correct answer is Fancy Spice.
  15. True or False: I have glued rhinestones to my face.
  16. Please describe your idea of a perfect date.
  17. Favorite Batman?
  18. Do you feel that Sandra Bullock was more powerful in Miss Congeniality or Steel Magnolias? Discuss.
  19. Is Alaska an island?
  20. Team Fritz or Team Jake?
  21. If Bjork owned a polar bear, what would she name it?
  22. Do you think you’re different in real life than how you appear on the internet?
  23. You are worth two hundred billion dollars. You are flying commercial from Sydney to Los Angeles. Leonardo DiCaprio is sitting behind you. He offers you a drink. Do you take it
  24. Would you rather poop your pants or barf in public?
  25. Woo hoo see you soon are you excited?


Rye Whiskey Sidecar Recipe and This Weeks Eats 3.15.15

Now that the weekends of back to back racing are over, I'm enjoying after dinner cocktails on Saturdays again!  My husband has developed a love for whiskey over the last few years and I'm juuuuust starting to come around.  I LOVE the smell of it, the sweet vanilla like aroma.  When I do have a glass (with a large ice cube in it) I spend almost more time smelling it than I do drinking it.
The whiskey shelf...

I've discovered my favorite way to really enjoy it is to make a mixed drink.  I'm not a fan of the Manhattan because I can't stand Vermouth.  An Old Fashioned is good, but it requires some effort with muddling oranges and so forth.  Last year, I tried Shutterbean's Clove Scented Sidecar and made some adaptations so as not to do any muddling, added in Cointreau, and came up with my go-to recipe.  Sometimes I add clove to the mix and to the sugar rim, sometimes not.  Plus, I found that (for my palate) rye whiskey tastes better in a sidecar.  It's not as sweet as most whiskey, so it contrasts nicely to the sugar and juices.  I have it down to a science with my measuring cup, and the amounts aren't precise - so I've listed out how much to pour in the directions.

Rye Whiskey Sidecar


  • rye whiskey (we love our local Woodinville Whiskey)
  • Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • lemon
  • superfine sugar
  • orange juice (out of the carton works just fine for me)
  • simple syrup (we always have a squeeze bottle of it in the fridge, here's how you make it)

In a clear measuring cup with pour spout, fill with whiskey to just under 1/3 cup.  Put a splash of Cointreau to just above the 1/3 cup line. Cut the lemon and squeeze half into the mixture (save the other half for your second drink - you'll want another), then run it along the rim of your glass and dip the rim in the superfine sugar.  Add orange juice to the 1/2 cup line, or a little more to taste.  Add a teaspoon of simple syrup, or more depending on your preference, and pour into a shaker with ice.  Shake and strain into your sugar rimmed glass and enjoy!

The new Mac and Cheese recipe from last week was definitely a hit.  I added caramelized onions and some bacon, just like our favorite Pioneer Woman recipe to 'fancy' it up a bit - highly recommend, especially when pairing with Brussels sprouts.  This week I'm SO excited to try out some new recipes for St. Patrick's Day that involve Guiness... and CAKE.
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap

This race really holds a special place in my heart and I'm thinking that I might have to make it my goal race every year.  Not only was it my (way too longstanding) half marathon PR, and is now my newly minted PR half, but it was the subject of my first blog post.  (I can't help but laugh at how I was describing my pace in mph instead of minutes per mile!  I digress...)  Looking back on that recapone might wonder what took me so long to run it again.  Well, the following year, I became an ambassador for Hot Chocolate and the Seattle race is always the weekend before Lake Sammamish.  I already throw a bit of a monkey wrench into the family weekend with races, so two weekends in a row is not ideal.  Plus, I wasn't sure about running a 15K the weekend before a half marathon.  So, I put it on the back burner.  Really, I spent a year putting half marathons on the back burner.  

As 2014 was coming to a close, and running was going pretty well for me, I decided that I wanted to put an honest effort into 13.1 again and I knew this was the race to target.  I love that it's a 10 minute drive from my house (same with packet pickup), there is event parking for all (no stressful weaving city streets hoping for a spot), it's a point to point (no demoralizing out and backs), the buses back were well organized (EVERYTHING is well organized), it's flat but with some variety in the terrain (from gravel, to packed dirt, to road), there is Nuun on course, it has lovely views along the way and it's on a SATURDAY.

Although, this year, I was suffering from a pretty bad head cold in the days beforehand and my son had been running a fever.  I was pretty freaked out.  With all the body aches, sinus pain, and sniffling, there were a few times where I thought I might just bag it altogether.  But, I told myself to make a decision the morning of the race and not before.  So I lazed around on the couch most of the day Friday hydrating and taking Tylenol.  The night before, I took a 24 hour Sudafed (the kind you need to show your ID to purchase) hoping that I'd wake up free of sinus pain and able to breathe.  And, LO!  I slept like a log and woke feeling pretty darn good at 5:30AM on race morning.  

I had my favorite pre-race breakfast of banana bread toasted with peanut butter and a nice strong latte.  Then drove on over to Marymoor in the aforementioned 10 minutes with plenty of time to spare.  I sat in the car to stay warm and had a half a banana and a Nuun tablet in a very small amount of water, so I didn't have too much sloshing around in my stomach before the race.  I finally left the confines of my car to hit up the bathroom and then line up.  Running into Sybil and her running buddy was a great way to pass the time and calm my nerves before the start.

Despite feeling a helluva lot better, I still thought I should take things easy and just get through the race without having a meltdown - my 'C' goal.  My 'B' goal of sub 2:10 wasn't really even on my mind at that point.  The plan was to do a comfortable effort by mile two and try to stick to that throughout the race.  (The first mile is not a good gauge to base my race on, since it's usually a little too fast.  Doesn't everybody do this...?)  After running in the 9:20s for a bit, I started thinking I could still achieve my B goal and I pretty much settled into a comfortable pace for the duration.  

My one race photo, thanks to Woodinville Bicycle!  In the official finish line photos, I was behind a group of people.  Probably a good thing, though.

The morning was really quite cold and my gloved fingers were feeling frozen up until mile 3 or so.  But the sun kept peeking in and out and we ran through little pockets of fog that felt refreshing and lovely to view over the lake.  I felt like I was getting my hydration by osmosis.  By mile 10, I knew I'd be OK and just felt really great.  By mile 11 and 12 the sun was out in full force and I started warming up, not necessarily in a good way.  As I was fumbling with taking off my gloves and taking that last gel, I felt fatigue creeping in.  But I just told myself to keep running miles that started with a 9 and I'd be good to meet that B goal, not realizing I'd settled into a pace that was more 'A' goal.  This dawned on me as we hit that final mile, I looked down at my watch and thought I was hallucinating the fact that I could probably score a PR.  Just in case my math was indeed correct, I switched gears from slightly fatigued 9:30 minute miles back to the 9:20 range and apparently into the 7:30s for that last .1 mile.  My final chip time was 2:01:50, a 1 minute and 4 second PR.

Given that final push, and the fact that I had not realized I was running close to PR pace the whole time, I'm thinking maaaaaybe I could have spread that effort more evenly over the first 12+ miles.  I didn't feel like hurling afterward and even had water leftover in my handheld!  Therein lies the thing that I could improve upon next time - because there's always SOMETHING.  Don't get me wrong, I think this was my favorite race experience to date!  The race itself and my execution were pretty much PERFECT: my fueling was on point from breakfast to evenly spaced water, Nuun and three gels throughout, the weather was excellent, the course was lovely even with a few miles on the road where the trail was closed, there wasn't much crowding, I love that the buses are at the end now - rather than the beginning of the race, and I kept a steady effort and met all my goals - even my A+++ one!  
And yummy post race brunch was the cherry on the cake of my day!

So, of course, I'm already chomping at the bit to do it over again WITHOUT coming off a horrible cold and with more confidence that I could kick it up a notch without crashing and burning later on.  But I may just leave this race as my goal half every year and run the others for fun, because it is just that awesome.  Thank you Lake Sammamish Half Marathon for giving me back some much needed 13.1 confidence!  Cheers!


Books I Read in February 2015


Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

This was a fantastic read.  I loved the whodunit plot that revolves around a bunch of eccentric characters.  There's a slew of teenagers on a music retreat, the organizer - a sociopath, a conductor with seven fingers, a teacher with a secret past,  a woman who witnessed a murder in the hotel years ago on a quest to move on, and the unfailing concierge who has seen it all. They're eventually trapped in this grand old Shining-esque hotel during a snowstorm when another murder takes place.  I love stories that flip back and forth between the past and present, and this one wove them together tantalizingly and seamlessly.


The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

This book was indeed strange, and very, very creepy.  On the surface, it's a story of a missionary sent to a planet light years away to preach the gospel to the 'natives.'  At times it was reminiscent of sci-fi stories like Avatar and District 9, but never really goes down the path of exploiting the aliens.  It really focuses on the main character's relationship with the natives and how he begins to change as a result of his increasing distance from human interaction, including his wife back home on earth.  It would be great fodder for dissection on what makes us human, the nature of religion, and many other heavy topics.  Mainly, I kept reading because I was convinced there'd be some weird plot twist at the end.  I suppose because it's a popular literary trend right now.  Alas, there were a few revelations, but no major WHOA! moment.


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Speaking of heavy...  Oy, this book!  It's one of those that you can't really explain because if you did, you'd give away important plot information.  Suffice it to say that it's a disturbing, heartbreaking and unique story.  Similar to The Book of Strange New Things, the main character is very introspective and it's another novel that would be good for dissecting heavy themes on the nature of what makes us human.  I felt chewed up and spit out in an eye-opening way after reading it.  Open at your own risk.


To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

So yeah, I needed a palate cleansing book after reading those last two books and a good YA romance seemed to fit the bill.  I enjoyed Jenny Han's short story in My True Love Gave to Me, and heard good things about To All the Boys I've Loved Before.  It was a sweet and perfectly serviceable coming of age story that sort of turned into a twist on Can't Buy Me Love. (Am I dating myself with that movie reference?)  I enjoyed it enough to probably read the sequel that's coming in May.