A Few of My Favorite Things

Since I recently shared some of my favorite food things, I thought it was time for some more Favorite Things.  In no particular order...

I usually like to buy a new (cheap) bag a couple of times a year, rather than one good handbag, because I think it's more fun to change it up.  Funny enough, I bought a relatively cheap one (this Tyler Rodan one from Macy's) over a year ago and ran it into the ground.  I'd still keep it, but the faux leather is literally ripping to shreds.  So, I thought that maybe it was time for me to buy an expensive grown up bag.  However, in my search for the perfect bag, none of the pricey ones were to my liking!  I ended up coming across Sole Society, which I'd never heard of before and I LOVE everything on the site!  I had a hard time choosing, there were so many cute bags - all for less than $50.  
I went with the Raleigh and am really impressed with the quality
I think you need a referral to shop the site, so here's mine if you wanna get rid of some disposable income.  I'm starting to eyeball some cute jewelry now that I'm getting all kinds of discount emails after signing up.  Another plus?  It's an Ebates affiliated site, and if you're not doing Ebates (what!?) sign up now

I posted this to Instagram the other day, but it bears repeating: these Oiselle cable knit babies are first arm warmer purchase EVER (since a pair was included in my team kit nearly 3yrs ago).  They are the bees knees - even for those who are genetically predisposed to having 'guns.' 
To beef up my fall wardrobe, I decided to try a pair of corduroy pants and OMIGOD.  Why have I not worn a pair of corduroy pants in probably 30 years!?  They are sooooo comfy!  My perfect fitting jeans happen to be Kut from the Kloth Diana fit, and they have a rainbow of lovely cords to choose from at Nordstrom.  Your mileage may vary, but I highly recommend these pants. And, hey, Nordies is also affiliated with Ebates.
I shared this on Twitter and Facebook recently, but I just can't get enough of this Key and Peele video on misunderstood texts!
And last, but not least, I finally tuned in to the Serial podcast last week on my long run and it's so freaking fantastic OMGGGG. Another outstanding production from This American Life/WBEZ Chicago, it follows the story of an ostensibly solved murder...  It's absolutely spellbinding and I seriously thought of running a personal distance record last week just to get caught up on all the episodes.  I decided to only listen to the first two and save them for long run days only.  I'll be super sad when I'm all caught up!  


This Weeks Eats 10.19.14

It has occurred to me that I haven't reported back on a few recipes we've tried in recent weeks.  Most of them were pretty good, but need a few tweaks if we add them to the menu again.  Last week the Chile Relleno Casserole was good and had great flavor, but was a little too mushy.  If we make it again, I'd add some cooked rice or shredded potato to give it more bite.  A few weeks ago we tried Grilled Chicken with Garlicky Green Sauce and Slow Cooker Jalapeno Popper Taquitos.  Both good, I'd recommend!  Maybe go easy on the garlic in the green sauce, as it goes a loooooong way.  And a while ago we tried One Pot Chili Mac which was really easy and made a TON (we're having the leftovers this week).  However flavor was lacking.  I'd add double the seasonings, a diced jalapeno along with the garlic and onion, and some cheese with a little more tang, like gruyere.  

I have no fun photos to share this week, so please enjoy one of my favorite stand up bits from Lewis Black on the most vile candy o' the season: CANDY CORN.
The embedded video is the short version, you can listen to the long (and hilarious) version here.
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!


Walking the Iron Horse Trail with the Kids

If you're a local yokel here in Western Washington, hitting the John Wayne Pioneer Trail from the Hyak trail head in Iron Horse State Park is a really fun way to spend the day with the kids.  Although, the time before the tunnel closes for the season is nigh.  I think it's sometime in early November, but I wanted to get my thoughts down while they were still fresh.  Definitely worth earmarking for the spring, or heading out to beat the cabin fever on a rainy fall day in the next few weeks.
bring layers - it gets COLD in the tunnel
My husband did a Mountains to Sound supported bike ride along the John Wayne Pioneer Trail starting at the Hyak trail head out to Rattlesnake Lake.  It's an absolutely perfect trail for bikers and walkers, as well as a very popular Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon.  He's gone back to bike it a few times and while I was in Bend, he took the kids there for a flashlight walk through the tunnel.  Needless to say, I wanted to get out there and see what all the fuss was about!

The best way to enjoy your flashlight walk is to park at the Hyak trail head and less than a quarter of a mile from the parking lot is the beginning of the tunnel.  Headlamps, as well as flashlights, are a big hit with the punks.  We're contemplating glow sticks, necklaces, etc. for our next visit.
all set with her headlamp (best thing everrr) and her 'smartphone' 
Now, I've been told several times about how dark it is in there, but you kind of have to see it for yourself.  I must say, I have a touch of claustrophobia, so it was a tinge stressful for me - not gonna lie.  
maybe 25-30 feet in? DARK!
I also experienced a bit of vertigo, looking at the pinpoint of light that is the light at the end of the tunnel - two miles away!  I kept thinking it was another walker or a biker and learned quickly that if you can only see one light ahead, it's the end of the tunnel.  We were most certainly passed from both directions by bikers and lots of other families out for a walk.  Once my littlest is a proficient bike rider, I'm sure we'll utilize this trail more for biking.
made it to the other side!
Once you exit the tunnel, there are lovely views of the cascades and a few picnic benches as well as a bathroom.  We brought sandwiches along with us and ate while listening to the crickets and enjoying those views.  
bringing binoculars on a hike is always a good idea
After taking pictures, trying to catch those crickets and picking wildflowers, we were ready for the journey back through.  We had a bit of fun letting the kids run ahead and then we'd turn off our flashlights and sneak up on them.  Or we'd all huddle together in the middle and turn off all our lights to experience the utter darkness.  There are also numbered doors along the length of the tunnel, making for easy math fun with the seven year old.  How many more doors until we hit 20, and the like.  Lots of of fun and hi jinks to be had.

The kids still talk about it all the time and I'm sure they'll be chomping at the bit to go 'tunnel hiking' in the spring.  
requisite family photo



This Weeks Eats 10.12.14 (and Some Recent Food Obsessions)

Maybe I'm a little bit behind the curve, but I've been really into avocado toast for lunch lately.  It's so quick, so easy, so tasty - especially with a little feta cheese on top.  
And Jessica at How Sweet Eats just shared an avocado toast recipe that is swoon worthy.  I now know what I'm eating for lunch this week.  

This granola from Joy The Baker (with my preciousssss Woodinville Whiskey Maple Syrup) was SO GOOD.  Mmmmmmm, browned butter really makes the difference.  And I suppose I'm also late to the game on Noosa.  Dude.  A little with the granola goes a long way, but it does take quite a lot of restraint not to down the entire container in one sitting.
I've never been big on popcorn in a bag - whether it goes in the microwave or it's already popped.  But, I bought some Boom Chicka Pop on a whim at Costco and now I have a full fledged PROBLEM.

  • MONDAY - Pizza
  • TUESDAY - Out to the movies with a friend!
  • WEDNESDAY - Alpine Chicken Casserole (old comfort food favorite)
  • THURSDAY - Eggplant Parmesan (we sub eggplant in this Tyler Florence recipe for chicken Parmesan)
  • FRIDAY - Roasted Green Chile Relleno Casserole (trying this recipe I found via Pinterest from Some The Wiser)
  • SATURDAY - Seven Flavor Beef (can't get enough of this recipe from one of our favorite local restaurants, Wild Ginger)
  • SUNDAY - Tequila Lime Turkey Chili (from Pink Parsley)
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!


Books I Read in September 2014 (and Third Quarter Round Up)


Paper Towns by John Green

This novel was very similar to Looking For Alaska and, for me, it's hard to live up to that book. Green is quite the expert at placing you squarely back into the angst of high school in a very visceral way. I was pretty engrossed by the main character's search for the (literal) girl next door after her disappearance - Green's favorite archetype: the unattainable and mysterious female. Lots of great writing, original relationships between the characters and a satisfying, if not happily ever after, ending.


How to Love by Katie Cotugno

I enjoyed this YA realistic fiction novel that really delved deep into the many complex relationships the heroine Serena has in her life as a teen mother.  Yes, it mainly centers on her romance/obsession with bad boy Sawyer.  But, as in real life, her life does not just center around him - even if she doesn't realize it.  Thankfully there were other awesome characters to rally behind, because as much as I can get behind the bad boy who changes his ways, I just couldn't get behind Sawyer. Perfectly serviceable book and I enjoyed the way it came together, just didn't love it.


The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

This was a bit of a emotional roller coaster of a book, but I really, really loved this story of two very broken people who find each other despite themselves.  Things did drag in the middle a bit, where the main characters seemed to be dancing around each other in the same way, over and over again, which is fine - but I don't want to read the same scene over and over.  Despite this, it was filled with dark humor and very real people (again, lots of really well written characters) that I felt I could connect with easily.  Definitely recommend.


The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by The Oatmeal

Yay! So excited to get a signed copy of this after the Beat The Blerch race.  Of course, I've read the main comic in this book before.  But, in typical Oatmeal fashion, I love how he adds really interesting scientific and 'the more you know' tidbits into his gut-busting comics.  The bit on how bees take on hornets is FASCINATING and hilarious all at once.  Plus, his tips on getting into running (or any kind of fitness) are great tips for life in general.  Matthew Inman is just awesome.  I luuuurve him.

I'm adding links below for:

Books I Read in August and...

Books I Read in July to link up with Everyday Reading's third quarter reading. Janssen has an awesome blog and I highly recommend checking it out, if you haven't already through the numerous recipes I link to in my weekly menu plans!  

And also linking up with Modern Miss Darcy's Twitterature link up!


Champagne Shrub Cocktail (And This Weeks Eats)

When I went out for a celebratory 'kids are back in school' brunch with my girlfriends a few weeks ago, I had the most amazing mimosa.  
I've said it before, The Commons is pretty yummy and you can get full on brunch (with cocktails!) every day of the week!
It contained a 'raspberry-mint shrub' and, needless to say, we had no idea what that meant but were very happy with our tangy and berry flavored bubbly.  It seems that shrub infused drinks, which is just a type of flavored simple syrup with a little kick of vinegar, has really caught on.  There was a shrub cocktail on the menu at Lola last week and I've seen them pop up on Pinterest.  The origin of the shrub is rather interesting. Naturally, I had to try and create my own. 
It's really, really, really easy to do.  Just mix, leave overnight, strain and add some vinegar.  I wanted to try my hand at a straight up raspberry shrub, and just bought frozen raspberries from Trader Joe's.  I think I might try strawberry or strawberry-basil next...

Raspberry Champagne Shrub Cocktail

  • 1 pound of raspberries (fresh or frozen - I mixed mine straight from the freezer)
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  1. Combine berries and sugar in a glass bowl, stir and cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Store in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or up to two days.
  3. Scoop the top layer of fruit and sugar into a sieve of mesh strainer (there will be some sugar at the bottom that doesn't dissolve), strain into a separate container and return to bowl.
  4. Whisk in vinegar and transfer to a glass or plastic bottle and give it a shake whenever you are ready to use.  It will last a month in the fridge.
  5. Make a cocktail! Just pour about 2 tablespoons in the bottom of a champagne flute and top with your favorite bubbly.  
This Weeks Eats
  • Monday - Pizza
  • Tuesday - Thai Ground Beef with Veggies and Brown Rice (a favorite Cooking Light recipe)
  • Wednesday - Chicken with Artichokes, Tomatoes and Mozzarella (longtime staple from Emeril)
  • Thursday - Easy Cheesy Chili Chicken and Rice (the name is true, it's a super easy and fast dinner we found on the Food Network years ago)
  • Friday - Mac and Cheese with Roasted Broccoli (a great Pioneer Woman recipe)
  • Saturday - out for a Oiselle event, gonna play dinner by ear.
  • Sunday Winter Minestrone (moved this Barefoot Contessa recipe back from last week, because it was just too warm and sunny around here for soup! So we went out for fish n' chips instead.)
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!


October Goals (and September Check In)

Recap on September goals...

Women of Wonder 5K: run sub 26 as my A goal (maybe even an age group placement), get in top 10 of my age group for B goal, and run smart/don't die in mile two was my C goal.
I definitely met my B and C goal!

Beat the Blerch goal: major funning.
I met this goal and THEN SOME.  Crazy.
I updated the post to add some of the FREE race photos, and a really generous spectator took pics and shared them via dropbox on Facebook; more free photos for the win!
Keep up the run streak.
Still going strong! 130 days!

Time for a car oil change, exciting.

Time to clean out the junk/storage closets, exciting!
Womp, womp. Big fail.  I did clear out a bin of kids clothes, changing out stuff for fall.  But, that's it.  I DID clean out our two junk drawers in the kitchen this month, so I'm giving myself a pat on the back for at least accomplishing one out of the ordinary cleaning task.

October Goals:
  • I had meant to shoot for a 10K PR this month at the Snohomish River Run, before surprising myself at Beat the Blerch.  However, I still want to do well and my A goal is for a sub 54:00.  
  • To that end, I really need to start getting intervals back into my running, which I've kind of blown off for the whole summer.  Maybe even a whole year if I'm being honest...  Now that I'm easing the treadmill back into my life in preparation for winter running, I'm trying to commit to them once a week.
  • And, yes, keep going with the run streak.
  • This is a crazy month of soccer, school events, baking, volunteering and fundraising.  I'm hoping to make it through all of it with my mommy gold star.
  • Oh and my least favorite holiday is approaching!  Blergh.  I'm just not into Halloween.  So my goal this year is to get a little bit more happy about it, maybe do a craft?  Maybe even decorate something?  At the very least, I'm going to try and not be so last minute with the kids costumes and getting pumpkins carved.  Luckily my girl just got her first princess dress, a hand me down from her friend and declared it her costume - WIN.
  • Get my whole family vaccinated for the flu. Yay, shots!
  • Clean out those damn closets.


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