Nov 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! 

I'll be enjoying a few days off from work, eating a ton and spending some quality time with loved ones.

I will also gobbler galloping some virtual miles. 

One thing I will not be participating in is the saddest American tradition of all - Black Friday. The last time I went shopping on Black Friday was in college in the late-90s. I have never looked back or regretted it. There are some many other things to do: go watch a movie, work off the turkey, spend some quality time with the family or take in some culture. Then, go shopping on Small Business Saturday

Enjoy this Thanksgiving weekend. Stay safe and eat turkey!

Nov 25, 2013

Recent Happenings - November 2013

Hello, friends. You may have noticed that I haven't had a Week in Review in quite some time. I have decided to discontinue them because I find them boring to read on other blogs and I also find them boring to write. So from time to time, I am planning to do Recent Happenings posts instead. 

- I was officially in hibernation mode this weekend. I ran all of my errands and did my long run on Saturday. Because this was the forecast on Sunday....Yeah, it is freezing. Hopefully, this passes soon.  

- I entered the random drawing for a spot in the 2014 Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC. I actually am not dying to run it, so I would be fine not getting in. I'll find out in a couple of weeks if I do though.

- I finished reading book #2 of my goal of 15. My second book was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The writing and the characters are so engaging. The book only makes me want to visit Savannah even more!

- My yoga and stretching regime has really fallen by the wayside. My body is really starting to suffer because of it. I need to get back to my goal of yoga once a week.

- As you may know, I am a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador. I recently received a pair of these bad boys for a Girls Gone Sporty Gear Girls Review. Six ambassadors got a chance to test out a pair of Under Armour Sunglasses of their choice and review them. You can read my review plus the other Gear Girls reviews here. I will most likely write an extended review in the coming weeks.

Under Armour UA Rumble Sunglasses

- My race calendar for next year has not been shaping up much. I am officially registered for only two races so far. It seems so weird not to have more on the docket. If you have any recommendations for races in the DC area, please let me know!

- Mileage update for the year: 331.37 miles!

Happy Monday!

Nov 19, 2013

{Product Review} The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli

Raisin Bread was away on a business/leisure trip for part of last week, so I decided to surprise him with a multi-course meal the night he returned. I turned to The Lemonade Cookbook to try out some new recipes. 

Chef Alan Jackson's Southern California modern cafeterias called Lemonade are the source of the 120 recipes shared in this beautiful cookbook.

Dishes from marketplace sides, salads and sandwiches along with soups and braises are featured in the cookbook. Also, there is a whole section of different lemonade recipes. Chef Jackson's recipes showcase his approach to healthy Southern California comfort food that leans heavily on global flavors.

For our first course, I prepared the Creamed Cauliflower Soup. The soup came out so smooth and creamy. It was rich while not being overly heavy.

For the main course, I made the Greek-marinated Chicken with Tzatsiki. Instead of grilling the chicken, I decided to broil it. The chicken came out super moist, and I loved the homemade tzatsiki. The flavors were very strong, but so tasty!

I must admit that dessert was the least successful course. I attempted the Caramel-Butterscotch Pudding. Both Raisin Bread and I found it to be a little too sweet for our tastes, but the flavor actually grew on me. Also, it didn't turn out to be the prettiest of desserts.

There are a ton of recipes left that I would love to try, especially some of the salads and sandwiches. Everything looks so pretty and yummy! I love being able to get new ideas from a reliable cookbook and I think The Lemonade Cookbook is just that!

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Lemonade Cookbook from St Martin's Press through my affiliation with Girls Gone Sporty. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Nov 14, 2013

New Mexico's El Malpais National Monument and the Rest of Albuquerque

This will be the final post in my New Mexico series.

If you missed my other New Mexico posts, check them out first:
Albuquerque: Settling In and Driving the Turquoise Trail
A Day Trip to Santa Fe
Exploring Albuquerque and Afternoon Tea at St James Tearoom
- New Mexico's Acoma Pueblo and El Morro National Monument

After leaving El Morro, we drove back towards Grants and then on to El Malpais National Monument.

Beautiful sky along the drive!

El Malpais is known for its caving opportunities but since it was already late afternoon and we didn't have permits, we obviously didn't take part in the caves. Instead, we were mostly there to see some of the natural formations.

On this portion of the trip, we were honored by the presence of some wild and not-so-wildlife. This cow falls into the second category.

What you lookin' at? 

Our first stop was La Ventana Arch, which is located about 18 miles south of the highway. La Ventana is one of the largest sandstone arches in New Mexico, and we had it all to ourselves. There was absolutely no one there except for one family that was leaving just as we arrived.

A short trail leads up to a viewpoint, but you can't really get too close to the arch.

Besides the beauty of the arch, we saw some furry friends in the park. I loved this caterpillar. It's a fuzzball!

We drove back towards the highway and spotted some deer! Raisin Bread had been keeping his eyes peeled all trip to see wildlife. So cool!

Our last stop in the park was the Sandstone Cliffs. There were lots of places to walk and bounce around from points along the cliff. The weather was starting to turn, so Raisin Bread went off roaming on his own to try to get some shots of lightening.

Tadpoles were in full force in the pools on the top of the cliffs. I thought they were both cool and kind of gross, which is unusual for me.

There was one last place that we planned to go but we scrapped it after such a long day. We drove back to Albuquerque for dinner. 

Our day of disgusting food experiences continued with what was the second worst food we had during our trip. Sadie's is super famous and written up in all of the travel books. For me and Raisin Bread, it was absolutely awful. 

I ordered the chile relleno. The chiles were almost nonexistent and the batter was inedible because it was so overcooked. Raisin Bread ordered the pork chop, which was hard as a rock and extremely dry. The only thing that was edible were the sopaipillas. I highly recommend having an authentic New Mexican meal elsewhere! Barf.

Awful food from Sadie's

Our last day in New Mexico began with some bad news. We were booked on a hot air balloon flight for the morning, but it got cancelled due to the weather. It turned out to be fine for both of us because we wanted to sleep in and have a relaxing day. 

We started with a last yummy breakfast at the house with breakfast burritos, bacon and watermelon. 

Then we spent a good part of the afternoon at Betty's Bath and Day Spa with massages and relaxing in the hot tubs. We followed up with lunch at a Japanese restaurant, which I can't remember the name of, and ended our day of relaxation with a home-cooked meal. 

We had to say good-bye to Albuquerque the next morning, but not before a last stop at the Golden Crown! Thanks for the fun vacation, New Mexico! 

6230 Fourth Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107

1835 Candelaria Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107

Nov 12, 2013

New Mexico's Acoma Pueblo and El Morro National Monument

I'm getting close to the end of my report on our summer trip to Colorado and New Mexico. 

If you missed my other New Mexico posts, check them out first:
Albuquerque: Settling In and Driving the Turquoise Trail
A Day Trip to Santa Fe
- Exploring Albuquerque and Afternoon Tea at St James Tearoom

After our day exploring Albuquerque, we headed west to explore a pueblo and some national monuments.

I couldn't get enough of the huge clear sky. It is amazing how far you can see into the distance. It gives you such a feeling of freedom and like you're somewhere other people haven't been before even though you obviously aren't!

We spent the morning at Acoma Pueblo, where the Acoma people have lived for over 800 years. In order to visit the pueblo, you must go on a guided tour. Our tour guide was Dakota, who is a member of the Acoma tribe. Dakota told us the story of the pueblo and the history of his people. The tour was informative and heart-breaking.

After living for hundreds of years in peace, Acoma was discovered by the Spanish. The Acoma people were forced to build the San Esteban Del Rey Mission. According to Dakota, some of their people were buried within the walls of the church to ensure that they would not destroy the structure. That is also why photographs of the church's interior are forbidden. Today, the mission is a National Trust Historic Site and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

San Esteban del Rey Mission

Acoma was believed to be one of the "Seven Cities of Gold." During the day, the sun shines on the structures, giving it the sheen and color of gold. Of course, there was no gold here but that didn't stop the Spanish from colonizing the area.

During the tour, we were able to purchase handmade crafts and other items from local artisans. I, of course, had to buy a sopapilla with honey! Look, it has a smiley face! 

There are still many structures on the mesa, with many people still calling it home. Traditional ladders lead to religious chambers called kivas.

Adobo oven

The view from the mesa was so beautiful. Again, I am obsessed with this sky!

We saw this other mesa in the distance. For some reason, I was trying to imagine if they could communicate with each other. (Hello? Hello!!) 

The night before we visited, the area experienced a unusual amount of rainfall, which is why this pool is filled to the brim. Some of the locals said they haven't seen it so full in years. 

In the old days, the only access to the mesa was via a hidden staircase that had been carved into the side of the mesa. Dakota said that he could show us the staircase and if we wanted to, we could take it back down the mesa or we could hop back on the shuttle. We opted to take the staircase.

We didn't realize that the staircase was extremely steep and almost vertical, but we were able to manage.

Hiking down the steep and precarious hidden staircase.

I really enjoyed our tour of Acoma Pueblo. It was moving and eye-opening. We headed back to the freeway and onward! 

Oh boy, when it came to be lunchtime, we were stuck with few promising options. I really wished we had packed a picnic lunch because that would have been much more enjoyable than the lunchmeat sandwiches we had at 1st St Cafe in Grants. So disgusting.

At least, I got to see more of the gorgeous sky!

The second item on our agenda was El Morro National Monument. This site served as a stopping point for explorers and travelers for hundreds of years due to a pool of water located at the base of its sandstone bluff.

Thousands of these travelers left their mark on El Morro's Inscription Rock. The inscriptions date from the 17th century until 1906, when it became illegal to add more carvings. The rock also has petroglyphs that are much older than the inscriptions of European travelers.

The inscriptions included things like names, dates and even descriptions of their travels. It was so fascinating.

I noticed there were spots on the rock that had been sanded out. Apparently, these were made after 1906 and were actively removed as they were considered graffiti/non-historic. El Morro stopped being an important stopping point once the Santa Fe Railroad was constructed.

After viewing the inscriptions, we opted to complete the full 2-mile Headland Trail hike, which takes you to the top of the bluff.

The hike was very peaceful, with only one other couple hiking at the same time as we were. 

Near the end of the trail, we came to the ruins of Atsinna Pueblo. According to the National Park Service, "Between approximately 1275 and 1350 AD, up to 1500 people lived in this 875 room  pueblo."

Ruins of Atsinna Pueblo

With two super cool things done, we had one last stop before calling it a day. Stayed tuned for more on that! 

Nov 7, 2013

I'm not sorry...I'm sick

My friend, the upper respiratory infection (aka the common cold) paid me a visit last week, and I am still coughing up all sorts of goodness. 

He is so cute in Giant Microbe form, but he really needs to go back to where he came from.

I haven't felt like myself in days, and because of that, I haven't been up to writing blog posts. Having full days of work and commuting with a congested head and headaches that last for days doesn't put me in the mindset for blogging. So that's why there has been a lack of updates.

I think I would usually say that I'm sorry for the lack of updates, but not today, I'm not really sorry. I have not been in the mood. There are other things I have been doing and taking care of myself is my priority.

Have a great rest of the week!