Kelly the Culinarian: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Training Tuesday: On Skipped Sessions

I really did try to fit in all my workouts this weekend. The fails started Friday and just kept coming.

I got up on Friday as scheduled and had every intention of swimming my workout at the gym. But when I arrived, a ton of people were milling about at the entrance. I realized that no one could get in, despite the fact that the gym should have opened nearly an hour before. I waited for 10 minutes, then went home, because I knew I didn't have enough time to run the workout, even if someone showed up right away. This is the second time that week that LA Fitness totally screwed me. On Tuesday nights, apparently some local swim school takes up a full lane for kids' lessons, but no one can tell me when that's happening or for how long.

LA Fitness Fail. Big Fail.
So that was the first fail of the week. I did complete the afternoon five-mile run as planned, complete with hill sprints, via treadmill. But Saturday was a planned rest day, and then Sunday just got away from me. I had planned to run while I was out spectating at a triathlon, but it just didn't come together. I fell asleep on the couch after Sunday dinner at the witching hour of 9 p.m. So perhaps I needed those unscheduled rest days?

Regardless, I tried to get back on track yesterday morning. I swam 2,000 yards with a dead Garmin, then tried to do the 12 miles on the treadmill. I completed 5.5. Better than none, but I shall try for 12 again tomorrow morning.

What really scares me about this training cycle is the rapid bunch up of races. I usually bounce back from triathlons in a few days, but I'll be doing an 8k (4.97 miles) the day before a 70.3. Then I've got a 10K, a sprint triathlon and a 70.3 one right after the other. I'm going to need a massage for real.

Days until ...

Hemingway 8K: 18
Door County 70.3: 19
Beach to Beacon 10K with #CabotFitTeam!: 32
Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon (Use KELLY15 to save 10 percent): 40
Pigman 70.3: 47

Halp. This is shaping up to be a hell of a summer.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Motivation Monday

So this one is a little strange in terms of items that motivate me. But if it works, I go with it. I've been so tied into pushing and committing this season, and also get bummed looking at my old times and photos and such. I finally missed a long workout this weekend and I know I won't be able to make it up. It bums me out, but I know a single workout won't change my performance, just like a single salad won't make me skinny. So in training, and in life, I'm trying to let the things I can't control just fall away. That shit is hard. So I turn to Disney for help.

I haven't seen the movie, but I like the song. It's a nice reminder at times to "just do you." Let the rest lie.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. My square foot garden is sadly gone. Someone in my neighborhood or the HOA or something removed it, unbeknownst to me, but left the dirt. My neighbor them proceeded to seal it with plastic and cover it with mulch, again, without my knowledge. He will not be getting any of my tomatoes, which are doing super awesome in spite of all that. After cutting holes into the plastic to reveal the peat moss, compost and pearlite I lovingly cultivated before the debacle, I put in two tomato plants, a pepper plant and basil from ALDI. I later added two more tomatoes from Menards. The tomatoes from ALDI are going gangbusters and I'm looking forward to a late-summer harvest of all the tomatoes I can handle. And that's a lot, no doubt.

2. My parents are in town! While they've been here, we've cooked out, seen sights and made many a Costco run. My mom recommended a fertilizer that she says is impossible to screw up. It's a shake and feed-style format that claims if used correctly, will not burn up your plants. I'll report back on its effectiveness soon.
Just some of the grilling goodness - this was for our Father's Day cookout

3. I make bad decisions, or really good ones, depending on how you look at it. From a training standpoint, signing up for a second 70.3 that's about a month away isn't a great move. From a budgeting perspective, though, getting in on a long-distance triathlon for $32 while people are unloading bibs before the transfer cut off is an excellent move. I offered $100 for a bib for the Door County Triathlon, which is the exact amount I had in my PayPal account from a freelance job. I paid the original purchaser, then paid the transfer and fees for a grand total of $32. Then I booked a campsite near the race for another $30. This will be my $32 half ironman, and my $60 Door County vacation.

Door County Triathlon from Boreal Sky on Vimeo.

Smart or stupid? You decide.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Win it Wednesday: #Vegan1 Protein Powder Giveaway

I'm always on the hunt for a solid protein powder. It's a delicate balance - flavor v. nutrition. I don't want something filled with a bunch of crap, nor do I want to try and choke down some powdery goo. Vegan1 recently got in touch with me about their line of products, which has an interesting sales pitch to go along with four flavors:

Vegan1 is the best alternative to acquiring your protein needs without having to consume any meat product. It is a protein shake that has harnessed nature's plant-based protein sources to provide you the most essential nutrient your body requires. One serving packs a whole lot with 20g plant-based protein blend from peas, potatoes, and chlorella. It also provides 10 fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, and apricots. With 22 vitamins and minerals you also get great antioxidant protection. Plus, optimal digestion is ensured with 7g of dietary fiber, probiotics, and enzymes. Vegan1 has no dairy or soy and non-GMO. It is also allergen and gluten free. It comes in 4 delicious flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Banana and Chai. There are no artificial flavorings, colors, or sweeteners—it is 100% naturally sweetened with Stevia.

Flavors include banana, vanilla, chocolate and chai. They sent me a variety pack to try, and the chocolate was my favorite. It blended smoothly, even with just a shaker bottle, and it tasted great. I appreciate that there weren't any weird unnatural ingredients, and I like have a dairy-free option. If my tummy is having troubles, it's nice to have that as an option. Plus, probiotics are a pre-race staple for me, so that's a nice bonus.

I also read up about Vegan1, which was created by former football player Bill Romanowski. His claim to fame is he played 243 games consecutively, which he credits to solid and careful nutrition. I won't be taking up football anytime soon, but with all the training I'm doing for this summer's race schedule means I'm cognizant of feeding my body the fuel it needs to get the job done.

If you want to see for yourself in Vegan1 is your new protein powder, enter now. RaffleCopter will randomly select the winner of  2 tubs of Vegan1 and 2 shakers on July 2. Good luck, readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Training Tuesday: Much Treadmill Edition

I don't know why, but my last two long runs have ended up on the treadmill - 11 miles one week and nine miles the next. That's a long time on the treadmill watching TV and hoping for it to be over. In addition to being boring beyond belief, the first week hurt my toes immensely. I realized this week that I have to set the treadmill to an incline; otherwise, my toes are bumping into my shoes as I perpetually head downhill for 90+ minutes.

Another pro tip for running distance indoors: fans. All the fans you can find. I have a box fan, an oscillating fan and a tower fan, all forming an orbit of moving air around my treadmill. I still get unbearably sweaty, but at least it moves air around in the meanwhile.

This also means that closed captioning on my television programming for the duration is a must. I can sort of hear the TV over all the buzzing, but I need the CC to make sure I can fill in the gaps. And it also helps distract me from the fact that I'm running for longer than the treadmill can keep time. Luckily, this brand of home treadmill does not shut off after an hour, but after 100 minutes, it does start the clock over again. So when I took a shot of my 11-mile run, it looked liked I did it in 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Brooks, I'm ready for my contract.

I very much dislike that I know this fact about my treadmill.

However, this means I'm feeling pretty damn good about my upcoming races. I've kept nearly on track for all my training (I'm missing one pesky swim), and can't wait to run the Beach to Beacon 10K in just 40 days with #CabotFitTeam. It's going to be a blast to connect with Cabot again, and I've never been to Maine. The countdown is on and the training continues. Maine, here I come!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cooking with Kelly: Healthy Banana Chocolate Cookie Recipe

I have a confession. I've been a member of Katie's book club for two years. I've been like a half dozen ti
mes, and I rarely read AND finish the book in advance. I like the company and snacks, and I'm not a huge reader anymore. It's hard to read a book while biking on the trainer for hour after hour.

Recently, I bucked the trend and actually read the book club book in its entirety with enough time to spare to actually make a dish for the event, rather than haphazardly buying wine on the way there and hoping that was sufficient. I made a sort of healthy cookie recipe because I have a ton of Bell Plantation peanut butter after my giveaway, and also because I'm not typically known for my healthy offerings.

This recipe is great in that it doesn't contain sugar, it makes a huge batch and it checks a ton of my typical craving boxes. There's a little bit of chocolate, a touch of peanut butter and the satisfying chew of oatmeal. Plus, the coconut adds more texture and taste to an already delicious cookie.

I'd suggest making Tablespoon-sized cookies because a) then you don't feel bad about eating three and b) they cook faster and more evenly, too. These don't spread in the oven, so remember to flatten the dough balls a bit so they cook into the right shape.

Healthy Banana Chocolate Cookie Recipe

2 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup Bell Plantation creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Mash the bananas with a fork, then whisk together the peanut butter, applesauce and vanilla. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Drop 1-Tablespoon sized scoops on a baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 350-degrees for 13 minutes or until golden brown. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. I finally had a chance to do a side-by-side comparison of the spices Cabot sent me with their grilling and chilling welcome box for the summer. The verdict? The Pixie Dust is this household's favorite. It will be on my lunch later today, in fact. The Cowbell Hell was on the potatoes in this picture, too, and they were awesome. My grill and I might be in love.

2. I'm pleased to announce that my race schedule is filling in quite nicely - I'll serve as an Iron Girl ambassador again this year. Join me Aug. 9 in Pleasant Prairie and use KELLY15 to save 10 percent on your registration. This is fitting, since exactly two years ago today, I tackled the sprint triathlon with Alyssa. Friends that race together (and dress alike for workouts) stay together.

3. Speaking of races, I'll be at the inaugural Hemingway 8K Running of the Bulls, which is on July 18 in Oak Park. It looks like it'll be a blast, and I'm always up for a quick almost-five miles. Who doesn't want to run with the bulls, after all?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Training Tuesday: Do The Work

I have to admit, when the alarm went off yesterday to go run 11 miles the day after rocking Esprit de She Naperville, I was having none of it. I hit snooze and went back to sleep. I was spent - I took a two-hour nap Sunday and went to bed at my normal time, but was still too tired to move my feet for nearly two hours in the heat and humidity before work.

So last night, I took to my treadmill ... for 1:42. It was brutal. It was slow. But it is done. Even with the race last weekend, I've only missed one workout - an 1,800 yard swim.

I have to say that racing Sunday really renewed my vigor in the sport. There's something so thrilling about a start line. About the crowds and the energy and the joy of getting out there.

And for this I am grateful for the rain and the weather and the challenge of Sunday. If I could feel awesome despite all of that and all the changes my routine and body have undergone, perhaps I can just keep trucking to the finish line of another 70.3.

Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 Esprit de She Naperville Triathlon Race Recap

Six-word recap: Soggy elite wave yields successful finish.

Last year, this was my first elite race ever. I don't know what I was thinking, other than I wanted to try and play in the big leagues. When I picked up my generously stuffed Esprit de She Naperville packet Sunday morning, I said my wave's swimcaps are neon blue. My swim cap was bright red, because my packet indicated I was an ElitePro. I had planned to race with my age group, but when life hands you an opportunity, you go with it.

Only Wal-Mart helmet in ElitePro
This is my third year as an Esprit de She ambassador, and my second year doing this tri. I knew what to expect, but I still did two swim practices with Tri Right Coaching at Centennial Beach and spent a lot of time packing up my Speedo Triclops bag and mentally walking through my transitions.

What I didn't plan on was a) racing elite and b) racing in a ridiculous downpour. They delayed the close of transition by 15 minutes, so I set up my already soaked stuff and went back to my truck for a while. I made it down to the beach and slipped into the back of wave one. I didn't wear a wetsuit based on my swim practice last week, but I was one of the few elites who didn't.

They brought the elites into the shallow end right before the national anthem, and right as it started, the skies opened up yet again. The other athletes and I could only laugh at our luck. It was actually really exciting to start first. The water just stretches out in front of you and crowds lined the beach. There's something that I feel when I race that is unparalleled. It's a spark and tension and a determination that I hope I never lose. It's the spirit of racing.

When the siren went off, I struggled for a few strokes to find a cadence and break from the pack. By the first turn buoy, I'd settled into a pattern in someone's slipstream and just chugged along. The rain came down but who cares when you're already wet. In contrast to last year, I was not the last elite to get out of the water.  I jogged into transition, which is really weird when you're first. People are still setting up and lounging around. My bike was pretty easy to find, though, since while I wasn't the last, I was already five minutes behind the first.

I got all my gear and hobbled to bike out in bike shoes on pavement in the rain. Easily the most dangerous thing I did this week. Once on my bike, I promptly passed one of the elites and started to cruise. The only issue was that rain HURTS at 20 miles per hour. It felt like little daggers.

The bike was a two-loop course, so by the time I was heading back on my first loop, the relay and survivor waves were hitting the course. It was great because it gave me people to catch. I didn't get passed at all on the bike, which was a great boost. However, since it was still raining, I could feel the water pooling in my shoes every turn I made.

I pulled into transition and got into my running shoes as quickly as possible. Much like last year, I was basically alone on the run course. I could see someone in the distance and spent mile two catching up with her, then tried really hard to pass her in the last mile. It didn't quite work, but it kept me pushing.

I finished with two other women, but the other elites were long gone. I was happy with my time, which was only 30 seconds slower than last year. With the rain, I'm going to take that as a win. I was spent and wheezing, so I know I pushed as hard as I could.
The spread for Founding Finishers

Finishing as an elite is not nearly as cool as starting as one, though. In the last 3/4 of a mile, there were kids playing on the course and people just not paying attention, to the point that a bike lead us in. There was next to no one cheering at the finish line, and the post-race party area was quiet. BUT that also means I got a first shot at everything there, including the Founding Finisher's VIP area:

Dunkin Donuts was there making samples of their summer-flavored ice coffees, and Kumato was giving away packages of tomatoes (weirdest post-race gift?). Gildan provided a cotton T-shirt, water bottle and socks for each finisher, and Specialized was raffling off a bike. They also had a flower pot station, bananas, bagels and sports drinks, as well as a spa area where I made a beeline for a rub down.

Post-race swag
Moxie Jerseys and packet items
I've done this race twice and intend to keep doing it. It's an approachable even for beginners, but can be as challenging as you make it. The swag is amazing - in addition to getting another of my favorite Moxie jerseys, if you signed up by Dec. 31, 2014, you got bonus shirt from Moxie. They're both really cute and functional, as well as being high-value items.  This is also a family-friendly race because it's easy to spectate all three sports without moving much, and there's a playplace right by the finish line, too.

Time: 1:21:14 for a sprint (.5-mile swim, 13.3-mile bike, 5K run) - I was 9/13 Elites and 36th overall (top 3%)

Cost: $80-$100, depending on when you registered, but mine was free as an ambassador

Pros: You don't need a wetsuit, it's very beginner friendly, the swag is unparalleled, awesome post-race party, family-friendly race

Cons: Parking can be hard to find, it's a wave start so you could be there a while, the weather is unpredictable, it's expensive for a sprint (but you get it back in gear for sure), you can't park on-site

Would I do this race again? Every damn year if I can

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cooking with Kelly: Chicken Enchiladas Recipe

Mmmm, Mexican food. It's my favorite type of cuisine because it's always amazing. As I've talked about before, batch cooking is my jam. I make a big meal on Sunday for our family dinners, then eat leftovers all week long. We've been grilling and using the crock pot lately, but I've been itching for enchilada for a stretch.

I'll admit I took a short cut - I used a can of enchilada sauce. But in my defense, I did marinate and grill chicken for the filling and bake it all by myself, so I think it counts.

These turned out so amazing that I plan to make them more often. The leftovers held up well all week, and the layers of flavor just continued to mingle and work together. I served up Mexican rice and slow-cooked black beans, which really took this whole meal to another level.

I ended up having filling leftover, which I ate over salads this week. The leftovers stretched quite a bit because one enchilada is super filling. This is a stick-with-you kind of meal that's a real crowd pleaser.

Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tablespoons barbecue rub (I used some from my parents' favorite joint in Texas, Smoky Mo's)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 24-count package of flour tortillas
1 can green chilis
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sliced olives, drained
1/2 can of fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup diced green pepper
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 cup taco cheese
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Marinate the chicken overnight, then grilled until cooked through. I used a thermometer on the grill and cooked them until the internal temperature was 160.

Place the chilis, beans, tomatoes, green pepper and olives in a bowl. Chop the chicken finely. I used a little hand chopper thing, but you can dice or shred it all the same. Add to the bowl and mix.

To assemble, microwave the tortillas for 20 seconds to make them more pliable. Place 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of the filling on the tortilla on the edge closest to you. Roll, and place seams side down in a dish. Repeat, packing the tortillas closely to one another to keep them all cozy. Top with the sauce, then the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Top with the chopped cilantro and serve with guacamole, sour cream, rice and beans.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know Napoleon made a new friend. Funny story: I saw a picture of this cow on Cabot's Pinterest board and commented, "I want one!" Well, when you ask Cabot, you get. And now Napoleon and this cow are besties.

2. I scored an invite to a fun event at Kick's Chicken Cafe this week and had a blast. To celebrate two years of serving Naperville, this summer they're hosting #SummerofKicks, which is a series of giveaways and events. Additionally, they're offering a build-your-own option for their chicken sandwiches. After another open water swim session at Centennial Beach, I needed food for real. I got a grilled chicken breast on whole wheat with pico de gallo, all the veggies and ranch chipotle. It hit the spot, as did the sweet potato fries. Swimming makes me hangry.

3. Esprit de She Naperville Tri is finally here! I'm really excited to be an ambassador for this event again this year. There's still a few spots left and you can register using EDS023. If this is your first triathlon, never fear. I put together a list of 16 Secrets for your First Sprint that is one of my most popular posts. Remember it's supposed to be fun - see you Sunday!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Win it Wednesday: Bell Plantation Prize Pack Giveaway

It's one of my favorite foods on planet earth - peanut butter - gone healthy! I've been a long-time supporter of PB2 from Bell Plantation, which is a powdered peanut butter product that comes in original and chocolate. It's a great way to get the flavor and essence of peanut butter without the fat and calories. I eat it every morning in my oatmeal with a banana and buy it in two-pound bags.

Now that they have that market cornered, they're expanding to bigger and better things. When I was speaking in Vegas, I chatted with the reps at the booth there and enjoyed some of their new products, which includes creamy and crunchy traditional peanut butter, crackers (gluten free and regular) as well as peanut oil for cooking.  The gluten-free crackers are pretty incredible. There isn't a discernible flavor or texture difference between those and the regular crackers, and you can eat quite a few for a small calorie hit.

My favorite of the new product line is the Roasted Peanut Oil because of its variety. In addition to having a high smoke point that's perfect for summer grilling, it also is very versatile. For a stronger peanut flavor, just shake the bottle to stir up all the good stuff. For something more delicate, leave it be. I've grilled broccoli, brussel sprouts and corn with this good good and I'm calling it my secret sauce.  Not so secret anymore, but I digress.

If you want to try all this good stuff, get in on this giveaway. Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner on June 18, and you can enter daily via Twitter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Training Tuesday

I do not bike in this
So I didn't quite make good on my training plans set forth last week. I'm still on track and haven't missed a workout, but I'm sad to report I did not complete the Udder Century ride last weekend. I didn't even start it.  I drove all the way out to Union really early Sunday morning only to find the weather beyond challenging. It was raining hard enough that I thought it was treacherous. There was even lightning. So instead, I drove the 45 minutes back home in ridiculous rain to sit on the trainer for 2 1/2 hours, or what it would take me to go the prescribed 40 miles.

Then my brand-new television quit seven miles in. Twice. So I begrudgingly took to the great outdoors as the rain had somewhat subsided. My lower half got completely soaked by the rain on the road, and any time a car passed me, I got misted again, but I made it the full 40 miles, only to get a flat at mile 41, about a mile from home.

I bought a new set of tools, which made the tire removal and replacement of the tube relatively easy. There was a piece of glass sticking out of my tire prominently, so there was no mystery there.

Centennial Beach is always a pleasure
Before I changed the tire, though, I went out on a two-mile transition run, which felt harder than my pace would indicate. I've gotten slow, but at least I'm moving forward. I was ecstatic about this week's long run - 10 miles, no stopping. I did mostly negative splits, too, and other than feeling thirsty, I finished the whole thing in pretty solid shape.

This is another exciting week in the world of training. Tonight I have an event in Naperville, so I'm going to hit up Centennial Beach for an open-water workout in preparation for Sunday's Esprit de She triathlon. I'm looking forward to participating again this year and growing from what I learned last year.

Another week closer to another 70.3 finish.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Motivation Monday

I'm now on week seven of my training plan and have not missed a training session. I've wanted to, for sure, but I've soldiered on. I've had a few workouts not go as planned, but that was either a math mistake or weather mishap.

I have to admit, this training cycle feels hard. After the Ironman and all my turmoil, fitness was my salvation, but also my last priority. I feel slow, and in some ways, I feel like I'm starting over. Not that it's a bad thing - starting over is just a chance to reinvent yourself.

It's funny for me to remember that I used to spring out of bed every day at 5 a.m. ready to tackle the day. Now, I just try to get on my feet and hope my legs will remember what we're supposed to do. When I get really tired or discouraged, I try to remind myself I am an Ironman, I did this once, I'll do it again. I will keep running marathons until my legs won't carry me. I will ride my bike until my wheels fall off. I will swim until my shoulders ache.

Because one Ironman is not enough. It's just the beginning, in fact.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cooking with Kelly: Spent Grain Dog Biscuit Recipe

Yorkie eating a treat
Napoleon is a very spoiled dog. He gets the best of everything, because he's my little puppy baby. He has such a stockpile of treats that I'm reluctant to buy anymore, but our homebrewing experiment yielded a ton of spent grain. I've been investigating all sorts of ways to use this bounty, and the Internet is a wonderful resource. I know some breweries feed their mash to chickens or compost it, while others partner with local bakeries and restaurants to create everything from pizza crusts to pretzels.  I'd love to try all that, eventually, but it's a lot of work just to dry the stuff out.

After you finish the first phase of brewing, you're left with a giant pot of grain that looks a bit like dark-colored oatmeal. The first step is to spread this all out on cookies sheets and dry it. If you have a dehydrator, even better. I don't, so I baked it at 200 degrees for like six hours, stirring it every so often. I'll admit, I wasn't home for all these hours - my oven has an auto shutdown feature.

Once I dried the mash, I had a big ziploc of grain in the freezer for a while. I remembered that Charyln uses her mash for dog treats and decided to try an experiment. These treats turn out rather crumbly, and I think they're best suited for small or free-form treats. I used a bunch of cookie cutters in different sizes since my sister's dog outweighs Napoleon by 15 pounds and can take down a grown-up sized treat. The smaller treats held the shape better than the bigger ones, like the bats.  Also, my grain required quite a bit more sticky stuff than all the recipes I read online to keep them cohesive. However, Napoleon loves both eggs and peanut butter, so I think he's still pleased as punch about the outcome.
Yorkie wants a treat

However, a word of caution - don't use any spent grain that's been in contact with hops. There's a lot of conversation online about acceptable levels, because some dog treats leverage hops extract as a calming agent, but it's also known to be toxic to dogs. Just skip it, it's not worth the worry just to try to avoid throwing out spent grain.

Spent Grain Dog Treat Recipe 

2 cups dried spent grain
1 cup whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 eggs

Beat the eggs and whisk in the peanut butter until smooth. Mix together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add the wet stuff and mix until incorporated.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface into a 1/4- to 1/2-inch slab, then use cookie cutters to shape. Or, you could use a glass or knife. I don't think my dog knows the differences in shapes, it just seemed like an adorable thing to do.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 225 and bake for two hours. This is just to dry out the treats and ensure they'll stay fresh.  I put the treats into small ziploc bags, then into a large bag for storage in the freezer. Of course, I left out one bag for the most spoiled Yorkie on planet earth.

He's lucky he's cute.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. I have so much I want to blog about right now, but so little motivation to do so. I've been meaning to write a post about the nutrition lessons I learned at NOW Foods, a tour of the upgrades I've made to Suzie Slice for this season and the full report of our first round of homebrewing. It's been a crazy week. Sorry, dear readers. I owe you one.

How I feel about writing right now
2. I just bought this mattress on Amazon and it's totally insane. It comes wrapped up in something that looks like a giant burrito. When you cut the tape, you can start to hear air rushing into it. It gets super intense when you remove it from the plastic casing. They say it takes 48 hours for it to grow to its final dimensions, but you can sleep on it immediately. Related: I now have two fully functioning guest rooms with queen beds. I'm ready to open a B&B.

3. One of my life goals has been achieved - I actually used an entire tube of chapstick before losing it. Alert the media. Dreams do come true!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Training Tuesday: Oh, the Laundry

Even Napoleon is tired of this training
When you train for three sports simultaneously, usually twice a day, you wind up with a lot of laundry. I feel like there's a constant whirl of the wash machine any time I'm home just trying to keep up with all the dirty stuff. I've switched over to athletic detergent exclusively and don't much mind the sorting and hanging and folding. It's the putting away that's the problem. I end up rummaging through a laundry basket at 5 a.m. rather than put away my stuff like a normal human.

Other than that, training is going well, sort of. I've yet to skip a workout, but the running is actually much harder than I remember. I did my long run of nine miles before work Monday and had to stop. The struggle was real. I remember when I used to run 10 miles at lunch while training for the Ironman. I got soft. Also, hill sprints are really tough when you don't have hills. I went to the Arboretum to run the hills there. After looking at my Garmin, I realized what I thought was a hill was just an optical illusion. Sigh. Some is better than none, right?

What I'm really looking forward to this week, training wise, are two very special events on the horizon. On Thursday, I'm off for my third year of open water swim practice with Tri Right Coaching at Centennial Beach in Naperville. This is awesome because it's the same venue as the rapidly approaching Esprit de She and will be my first go with the wetsuit this season. Plus, it's nice to practice swimming with other people.

Next, I'm all signed up and ready to pedal in my third-consecutive Udder Century Ride. I haven't decided on a distance yet because weather is a huge factor. The first year was freezing, last year was scorching.

I have to say, as much as the early mornings and endless laundry suck, I do enjoy the double workouts and the time spent outdoors and the social engagement I get from training. When I started training this summer, coupled with other lifestyle changes I've made, I felt like I was finally starting to get back to feeling like me. It's like having the training plan to follow somehow helped me return to my resting state. The real me.

Workout by workout, I'm re-emerging.