Kelly the Culinarian: 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. It's finally deck season! It's been well into the 80s this week and our air conditioning is getting a workout. We upgraded to a quiet model that's more efficient, which also means we can enjoy our deck while it's still cooling the inside. It's a great time to be alive.

2. Another awesome sign of spring and wonderful benefit of our new home is getting out to bike some miles. We found a PERFECT paved trail near us that I'm sure will get lots of use this training season. It's 13 miles long without traffic. We could easily park and do endless 26-mile loop as we get ready for Ironman Wisconsin. It's only an eight-mile ride there, too.

3. A final sign of spring: 3Floyds moved back the date of Dark Lord Day from ever-rainy April to May. It was all sun shiny skies and smiles this year, which was a first. We ended up staying 12 hours, resulting in a few sun burns, but festivals like this on days like that don't come around that often.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. We went to a party this weekend and while I did not get the memo, apparently I dressed in the crew uniform for the day. Dark pants, white top with lots 'o fabric. It's a thing.

2. And because our life is a nearly constant party, we celebrated Mother's Day with the small ones last night. It's apparently National Barbecue Month, so we destroyed a family platter with all the fixings. I think my favorite was the pulled pork, but who am I kidding, barbecue is life.

3. This may seem petty, but my new purse makes me extremely happy. It's a monogrammed Kate Spade bag that I waited months to buy. I waited until it was on sale and I had a coupon, because we're frugal and all. I've already gotten a few compliments and I like that it's customized to my new initials. Winning!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lessons Learned from Our First Family C2E2

My mom noticed it's been a while since I updated my blog, so time to get back into the routine. My last month has included a family road trip, two business trips, a kitchen remodel, a holiday and a birthday. It's been a wild ride but stick with me on Instagram to keep up.

We've been meaning to attention the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo for a while and never got our act together. My sister goes every year for the duration and we keep hearing from people how fun it is, so this year, we finally bit the bullet and bought tickets for family day. Kids 5 and under are free, and passes for older kids are $10. We figured it was like taking them to a princess show or a theme park, but much bigger.
In actuality, it was somewhere between a nerdy swap meet and one of those kids play places you take your family to when the weather is -50 and everyone is stir crazy. We bought fairy wings for Z and a pikachu costume for B, which ultimately got returned because he wouldn't wear it.

The lines went very quickly when we arrived right when it opened, and we meandered through the stalls. We let the kids buy a few souvenirs, and we check out Family HQ. The conference puts together this little area with lego tables, giant lego statues, and some tables to take a breather and a snack at.

Bringing in our own food and water bottles was the greatest call ever. All that's available to purchase is crappy deep dish pizza and the only water is at fountains in the bathrooms in the middle of the center.

I also carried a backpack so when the kids inevitably decided to get rid of parts of their costumes or sweatshirts, I didn't have to carry it. Smooth move. I wish I would have worn a hat or something else distinctive because it's easy to get lost in the crowd when you're as small as I am.

What I wish I had done was tell them they each got $20 for souvenirs. Everything was incredibly expensive, and I wasn't about to shell out $30 for a stuffed magikarp doll the size of a sock.

The coolest part of C2E2, in my opinion, is artists' alley. There are a ton of very talented people, and they're all eager to show you what they're working on. It was especially fun for the kids to see how people made different drawings.

One thing I didn't anticipate was there were live animals at the show. A reptile rescue was there with a display of animals, and one of the handlers had a snake kids could pet. For a $10 donation, attendees could get a photo with the snake. Color me shocked that the more sensitive child who is afraid of things like spiders and scorpions (we live in Illinois) wanted to pose with the snake.

So based on all of this, I would suggest bringing the following to C2E2 if you're coming with kids:

  • Water bottles
  • Lunch and snacks
  • A bright hat to get spotted easier
  • Cash for souvenirs and photo opts
  • A cell phone battery bank
  • A backpack, not a purse, to leave your hands free

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. It's unicorn this and unicorn that lately. Everything is rainbows. I did not go and get a Unicorn frappuccino because my sister said it tasted like sugar garbage and I didn't really want to be that person at Starbucks, but you better believe I bought these rainbow bagels at the grocery store. "For the kids." They liked them, but quickly realized it's just a bagel with food coloring.

2. It's almost grilling season! Brent smoked these ribs for Easter and they were amazing. I mean, check out that crust. It's drool worthy.

3. I'm going to keep the food theme rolling. I don't buy cinnamon rolls often because they don't have a long shelf life in this household and I don't need to be eating those. But, holidays call for cinnamon buns of fun shapes. I did hearts for Valentine's Day last year, so naturally, I did cinnabunnies for Easter this year. The best part is you get a portion and a half this way.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. A great way to recover from a marathon is a full day of yardwork. Six hours, 50 bags of mulch, 40 bags of rocks and three trips later, we have a very nice-looking yard complete with vegetable garden and a fresh set of perennial bulbs. We're good grown ups.

2. For the past few years, we've celebrated prEaster. It's like Easter, but the weekend before. I make bunny-shaped cinnamon rolls and we hide eggs. This is the bounty for this year's prEaster. I don't know how to adult without the dollar store.

3. Just looking through my photos, I realized that since the beginning of February, I have been to Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, and many places more than once. I'm at the tail end of a heavy travel schedule and can't wait to slow down a bit.

Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Circular Logic Marathon Race Recap

Six-word summary: Awesome weather for my favorite race.

In the past four years of my life, virtually everything has changed. House. Job. Relationships. Goals. I have had few constants. But this race has remained. It's where I attempted a PR and we got engaged and made so many memories along the way.

This is the fourth year I've done the Circular Logic Marathon, a race of 26 one-mile loops in West Lafayette. Each year has been met with small changes and improvements to the course and logisitics. I'm loving how passionate the organizers are at creating the best hometown race possible that boasts an affordable entry fee and full support from volunteers. This is, however, the first year we've had great weather. Shorts weather! Last year (when we got engaged) I thought we'd get blown away, the year before it was 18 degrees and the first year, it snowed. Lucky us.

We've also gotten this race down to a science. We stay at a hotel that's very close to the park and allows for check out as late as 4 p.m. It's not fancy and it sure is a little weird, but that post-race shower makes it all worth it. We got up around 6:30 and had breakfast at the hotel before heading over to the start line.

Something we'll do differently next year is opt for an early start. We were at the park at 8:05, so we could have easily started an hour earlier. We didn't realize anyone could opt for the early start. The problem with the 9 a.m. start is that everyone who is trying to BQ starts then. With one third of the race field trying to qualify, that meant when we finished at a very modest time, it was as ghost town.

We dropped our labeled bottles off at the aid station and set up a box of odds and ends we might want throughout the day: Advil, gels, headphones, phones, keys and tums. Then we headed to the start with Mo and got to moving. For the first six miles, Brent's bib had the wrong name, so we had fun with that to pass the miles. We ran almost the entire first half and were starting to feel pretty worn out.

I took a Gu around 11 and then we started a regimented walk-run schedule soon after that. Mo kept time for when we walked and ran and around the park we went without much incident. By the 15-mile mark, we were far less chatty as it started to get hard. My left knee was bothering me, along with my normal aches and pains. Around 17, Mo and I both took some advil. When it kicked in by 19, we annoyed the crap out of Brent because we started to feel better just as he was feeling worse. Right around that time, we were surprised to see the Philips cheering us on. They were on their way back from Spring Break and stopped to see the end of our race. Their kids played on the newly constructed playground while we finished up.

Mark ran with us for the last 5K as the course emptied out. I felt pretty good at the end of this race, albeit tired and sore, and was happy to be at the deserted finish line. This year, the race organizers opted to eliminate finish-line food in favor of bringing in a food truck. However, one race participant was celebrating his birthday and handed us cake at the finish line. I also saw there were cupcakes someone brought, so there was plenty to go around.

We skipped the food truck and collected our stuff before a quick shower at the hotel, then met the Philips for our traditional post-race Chilis meal. We were spent, and I fell asleep in the car on the way home. Today, I don't have any chafing, but my left foot is killing me. It hurst on the sole towards the outside. Hopefully it's nothing serious, because Ironman training awaits!

Time: 4:40:20
Cost: $65 with a medal and shirt (It was under $30 without)
Pros: It's cheap, easy to get to and well-supported. The medal and shirt are great, and you're rewarded for each subsequent marathon with a charm on your medal.
Cons: The weather is really unpredictable. It's a boring course. A lot of fast people are trying to BQ, which makes me sad because I'm not fast anymore.
Will I do this again? Every year I can move forward.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. When I was at SXSW, I entered all sorts of contests, and I actually won one! Cuisinart partnered with Coolhaus to give away free ice cream sandwiches across from the convention center. I grammed a photo of my treat and viola, I won and ice cream maker and a signed copy of the food truck's cook book. I am in fat kid heaven!

2. We bought our house in late summer and aren't quite sure what to expect from the landscaping. Our HOA covered the lawn care, but we have no idea what might bloom this spring and summer. Our yard is currently a fun science experiment. I think these are daffodils and tulips, but we'll find out together in a few days.

3. On our epic road trip, one of the hotel lobbies had this sign. It warmed my heart.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. I totally recognize my content as of late has been light. I've also worked back to back conferences and am going on vacation, so it is what it is. This week's conference was in downtown Chicago and involved a lot of video and live broadcast. Both of these outfits were from Goodwill, and damn did I look sharp.

2. We've been trying to clean up our diets lately and I've realized it gets much easier with time. Even the kids are getting on board. I made this sheet pan chicken with chickpeas and tomato dish over the weekend. Initially, both kids refused to touch it. In the end, they loved the savory yogurt sauce that was served on top and ate the whole thing. I would consider this a big success.

3. I feel like I go through this with every holiday - I clearly need more decorations. But I also realize that more stuff = more to put out, clean up and put back. Ah, the choices.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Three Thing Thursday

1. My sisters and I went to Treat Yo'Self, which was put on by TimeOut Chicago. It was a blast. For $25, you got two drink tickets and unlimited tastes from a handful of dessert purveyors. There was also a DJ, fortune teller, hair stylist and massage therapist. I stuck with treats.

2. The small ones wanted to get a project at Joann's, so we tried sewing. We made pillows, a stuffed bunny and a sleeping bag for a toy. It was only slightly frustrating and they seemed to enjoy the challenge. Plus, I used my sewing machine for the first time in a year.

3. I went to SXSW last weekend (a whole post unto itself) and came home to this. I like the sad girl drawing at the bottom the best:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Donating Bone Marrow, One Year Later

Rocking Door County Half Iron
 that summer
Running a marathon 25 days post surgery
Thursday marks one year since I traveled to Baltimore to donate bone marrow. I don't write about it very often because truthfully, I don't think about it often. The short version is that I went under general anesthesia to have marrow extracted from my pelvis. The same day, it was transfused into the recipient as a potential cure for aggressive leukemia.
My life today is in many ways no different than it was a year ago. I ran 20 miles on the treadmill last weekend (almost a year to the day from last year), I'm training for a spring marathon and a fall Ironman and dealing with the same sort of exercised-induced minor injuries and soreness.

In essence, I am physically the same now as I was before the surgery. A few days of discomfort (never any pain) saved a life and I'm happy to report the recipient today is cancer-free and well on his way to living a normal life.

Swimming across a lake a few months later
It's an interesting paradox in that for a few weeks, the surgery was all I thought about. Avoiding sick people and doing everything in my power to stay healthy was my sole focus, and it was all-consuming for some time. Then the surgery day came and went, and after the first month, I rarely thought about it at all.

My scars are still fading. I was very swollen and sore for a few weeks and even when that subsided, the incisions where the punctures were made were visible for some time. Even now I can still see then, but I doubt anyone else would know what it is.

Bottom line, I would do it again. In a heartbeat. It has given my life purpose to give life to someone else. I feel like my life was moving towards this event in big and small ways for a long time - a flexible job to give me the time to do this, a partner who would take care of me throughout, retired parents to help in the process, an extended family for support, stepkids who gave me enough bugs and viruses that my immune system was in overdrive. Not to mention the results are nothing short of miraculous.
There are very few instances in which a person is given the opportunity to save a life. Be a hero and sign up for the bone marrow registry now.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. I've got that new glasses swagger! These came from GlassesShop and were both cheap and fast. I may never buy glasses from a store ever again. They're so overpriced compared to these, which do the same damn thing for all of $10. Now I'm frugal AND cute.

2. We went to a Mardi Gras party this week, so I got an opportunity to wear this gold dress again. Who would have ever thought I would get so many uses from a gold glitter shift dress?

3. We went on another date night last week to a damn fancy dinner. We had an eight-course tasting at Vie in Western Springs and it was worth every calorie. I have no delusions; I know I ate an ungodly amount of butter but I also don't care. The desserts were ah-mazingly heavenly. This is the surf and turf dish, which was everything I look for in steak. Be still, my heart.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Why Streak Running is not for me

Ah, the beginning. So optimistic.
I first heard about streak running from Mo, who is several years strong on running at least one mile every day. The idea is to get up and moving and run every day until you can't.

It turns out, I just can't.

At the beginning of the year, we decided to give it a try and log at least a mile every day. I made it about 40 days before my body started breaking down. I can't be sure it was the constant running, my shoes or something else, but I know when I knocked off this constant jostling, I felt much better.

By Jan. 1, our Circular Logic Marathon training was well underway. This called for two hard run workouts a week followed by a long run on the weekends. I've followed this plan for several years without incident, typically filling the other days with cycling, CrossFit, swimming or rest. This year, I added a run and some light weightlifting for each "off" day.

My first indication this wasn't working was when I couldn't complete a simple tempo run. These runs are meant to be challenging, but attainable. I had to quit less than halfway through because I was abnormally winded. If I was less stubborn, that would have been the last day of my streak.

Somewhere near the end of the streak
Alas, I didn't stop until I had a pain in my hip that woke me up at night. It was so pronounced that it hurt to cross my legs. I rested until my next long run, which was 16 miles. I realized that if I stopped running, starting again was impossible, so I shuffled through those miles the best I could. I went to go on my run the next day and couldn't make it out of my neighborhood.

The streak was over, but the effects were still there. I got X-rays, which revealed nothing, and have cut back on my mileage. The pain has subsided, for the most part, but I haven't regained my mileage. I changed my shoes, which may have had an impact as well, but I've learned that my body is not happy when I run back to back days. I am healthier crosstraining or doing something else with my body day to day than trying to check the boxes of keeping up with a mile every day. I have deep respect for the people who maintain these streaks for years on end, because it was at times difficult to coordinate as well.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. If you follow me on Instagram, you know we spent a glorious weekend waterparking in Wisconsin. It was supposed to be a break from the cold, but it turned out to be nearly 50 degrees and sunny the whole weekend. It continued into the week. We've been enjoying grilling, washing the cars, sidewalk chalk and popsicles. This whole global warming thing is totally real.

2. Did you catch this story about a runner stepping on a nail deliberately placed on a trail in Tennessee? Who the hell does this? I'm sure this is the sign of someone who will develop into a serial killer. It reminds me of the time I could've gotten killed or maimed because someone thought it was really funny to place thousands of tacks at the top of a formidable hill on the Ironman Wisconsin course. Luckily, only my spirit was damaged, which was a damn miracle.

3. Napoleon has been particularly melancholy this week and we have no idea. This is just a photo of him looking cute. But this morning, he was following us around and staring intently at nothing. So either he isn't feeling great or our house is haunted. Both are equally possible.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. The glorious day has arrived. We have a Girl Scout in the house who is the right age to sell cookies. My foyer and freezer will never be the same. We're currently sorting and delivering 63 boxes of cookies, which I believe earned her a badge and a notebook. And me about 25 percent more time on the treadmill.

2. My monthly DeGustaBox arrived with some interesting additions. The Nando Peri Peri sauce is already a staple in this house, but these zero-calorie noodles are rather intriguing. I am very curious as to what these things will taste like, and how easy they will be to prepare. Let's find out together!

3. You might be married to a triathlete if your Valentine's Day looks like this. I am so excited - my old handheld waterbottle was all stretched out of shape, and my new Garmin requires a quick release for my bike. Because my bike frame is so small and I already have an aero water bottle, there's no place to put a bike computer or any other type of mount. More about the 920 another day.

Monday, February 13, 2017

First Look for Charity 2017

It was another wonderful year raising money for local charities while stuffing myself silly in the presence of some very fancy cars. #FLFC17 is an annual event that opens up the Chicago Auto Show to a black-tie crowd the night before it opens to the general public. The ticket prices support 18 local charities, and this year raised $2.8 million.

The transformation started with hair:

The lady who did my hair this year was not only talented but super fast. I was done inside an hour.
Then we headed downtown to check into our hotel and continue the whole getting ready process. We clean up well.

The evening started, as it usually does, with snacks and drinks.

And then we moved on to sitting in cars that are worth more than our house. It's nice to dream.

We walked the red carpet again this year:

Before I found my best friend each year, the dude at the Cadillac booth handing out fuzzy slippers.

A few foodie highlights from the evening:

This millionaire's bacon from AceBounce was incredible. I made myself stop at one because it's bacon, after all, but I wanted more.

Poke bowls and Korean barbecue sliders.

Andy's Frozen Custard custom sundaes, a favorite of mine year after year.

Smores bites, because smores + food on sticks is awesome. And I somehow didn't get a photo, but the signature cocktails this year were on point. There was any type of liquor you desire in both sweet and savory applications, as well as wine, champagne and craft beer. These people know how to party!

Photographer, career fluffer, drink transporter
I also somehow collected this lion somewhere along the way, which seems pretty fitting. 

Huge thanks to the Chicago Auto Show for inviting me again this year. While my ticket was comped, the opinions are all my own and trust me, it's as awesome as it looks. Check out my recap from 2015 and 2016 for confirmation.