29 June, 2013

It's a 5K in my Neighborhood...and YOUR Neighborhood!

Last year, I read about a "virtual 5k" for Thanksgiving, and I thought it sounded like a ridiculous amount of fun.  Basically, they mail you a bib (race number) to wear, you run 5k wherever you want, and then they mail you a finisher's medal.  Like most actual 5ks, the event is for charity.  And since they're not paying for road closures, port-a-potties, etc., I have a feeling more money really goes for charity.

There's a girl named Alyssa training for the NYC Marathon as part of a charity group raising money for Alex's Lemonade Stand.  As a part of her fundraising, she has organized a virtual 5k/10k with an adorable medal.  I couldn't resist, and since her virtual race takes place the weekend of my first prescribed training run for the Space Coast half, I was already slated to run 3 miles. Now I have motivation to start running again before then so I can at least finish in under 45 minutes.

I thought I'd send out the information to my friends who are either already training for longer runs, or maybe just want motivation to walk 3.1 miles (or 6.2 miles) around the neighborhood. Whether you're local and want to shuffle along with me, or far away and plan to run or walk elsewhere, I hope you'll consider joining the fun.  Heck...maybe if any locals want to join together we can move the fun to one of the Disney resorts with a running path! (and then celebrate with an ice cream or an adult beverage?)

So what is Alex's Lemonade Stand?  According to the website, their mission is:

  • To raise money and awareness of childhood cancer causes, primarily research into new treatments and cures.
  • To encourage and empower others, especially children, to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer.

  • And Alex? (grab a tissue before clicking that one!) September, the ALSF is holding a "Million Mile Run" fundraiser.  I have started a team and would love to involve anyone who is interested.  Thanks to my aforementioned training, I'm already slated to run 30+ miles in September.  Teams are supposed to run/walk at least 100 miles, and while sponsorship is encouraged, there's absolutely no registration fee.  As long as you have a comfortable pair of shoes and 20 minutes a day (way more than you should need to walk one mile), you could easily walk 30 miles of your own.  No fitness level required!

    If you're interested in joining my team, just click here, select "I'm joining an existing team," and choose "Park Hoppers" from the drop-down list.  If you would like to donate a set amount, you can do that through the team page here (I'm going to make it pretty...later).  If you want to sponsor me per mile, leave me a comment/email/text and I'll keep track and let you know at the end of September how I did and how you can contribute.  And though I'm planning on doing most of my miles either on the treadmill or jogging around the neighborhood, if you want to do a fun walk at a Disney park or somewhere else I'll gladly come along.

    Fitness for you and me...research for childhood cancer.  What's the down side?

    27 June, 2013

    Running in "Style"

    I haven't had much to talk about on the running front recently.  That's probably because I haven't been doing any running.  In order to run before work, I would have to wake up at 3am.  That's a big fat NO!  And by the time I get home, it's 90+ degrees or raining.  And by the time the sun goes down, I'm in bed.

    That changes soon.  I bought a treadmill and am waiting for it to be delivered.  It's going to live in the garage, with a fan, and I'll be out there 3 days a week.  It's time to start training again!

    I recently bought a crazy pair of silver leggings as a base for a running outfit (I refuse to call it a costume) for the Space Coast Half Marathon.  And last night when I was laying in bed not sleeping, I was brainstorming how to turn the silver leggings into an awesome outfit.  I came up with a sparkly black tulle ruffled skirt and some sort of space-themed top, but then I couldn't figure out how to make the skirt.  (yes, I literally was contemplating sewing patterns. WTF?)  So today I found a kids' pattern online that I think would work for my purposes and started to visually put the pieces together.  Here's what I'm currently contemplating:

    The leggings are pretty close to the ones I bought - shiny like a mylar balloon - and the skirt is pretty close to what I had in mind.  I'm not sold on the shirt, but I like that it's both spacey and girly.  I also think this would work with a bright pink shirt that says "Space Cadet" in sparkly letters.  The shoes? Obviously no! They came with the image of the leggings.

    So...the Space Coast Half is the first Sunday of December.  The following Saturday (yep, 6 days later) I am signed up for the Orlando Half.  For that one, I found some sparkly orange organza that I'd like to use for a skirt (hoping for a 1/2 price sale around Halloween), and I thought it would be fun to find a shirt with an old Florida postcard image or Disney's Orange Bird.  Cute, right?

    And of course, it's never too early to start thinking about the 2014 Princess Half Marathon Weekend!  I signed up for the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge, which is two races in two days - the new Enchanted 10K on Saturday and then the Princess Half on Sunday.  I thought it would be fun to go fairly costumed up for the 10K, since it's less than half the distance/time to have to handle wearing silly pieces, and am currently digging the visual of the sisters of PNK sorority from Monsters University.   I'd have to experiment with the fuzzy leg pieces, but I think I could stitch them right to the bottom of a pair of capris.

    ...and then for the Princess Half, I think something quirky but sensible (again, obviously wrong shoes) with a nod to Disney but without going Princess would be great.  What do you think?

    So yes, I'm currently planning outfits to wear 5-8 months from now.  Just don't ask what I'm wearing to work tomorrow!

    13 June, 2013


    The color of my hair probably gave away the subtle Anne of Green Gables reference in my post title. I've finally achieved the red hair I dreamed of when reading the Anne novels in fifth and sixth grades. 

    ...the only problem is I was expecting dark auburn instead of orange. 

    I think I might love it, but right now this face pretty much captures my "oh my golly" mood pretty accurately!

    09 June, 2013

    Cajun Cookin'

    Last night I tried out a new recipe that I copied out of a magazine at work.  The recipe was for chicken gumbo, but I made a few substitutions.  It was really tasty, and made a crazy amount of food.  I figured I should save the recipe for posterity, so that I won't have to worry about losing the copy I made!  The recipe is below, with my substitutions in parentheses.

    Easy Chicken (and seafood) Gumbo
    adapted from Southern Living Magazine, February 2010

    • 1/2 cup peanut oil
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
    • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
    • 1 cup chopped celery
    • 11/2 - 3 tsp. Cajun seasoning
    • 2 tsp. minced garlic
    • 3 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth (I used homemade seafood stock)
    • 1/2 lb. Andouille sausage, cut into 1/4" slices
    • 4 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used 2 cups chicken and 2 cups mixed seafood)
    • okra pilau (recipe below)
    1. Heat oil in large dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat; whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until flour is chocolate-colored. (Do not burn!)
    2. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in onion, bell pepper, celery, seasoning, and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.  Gradually stir in broth and sausage. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.
    3. Prepare okra pilau.
    4. Stir chicken (and seafood) into gumbo, cook 5 minutes. Serve over okra pilau.

    Okra Pilau
    Southern Living Magazine, February 2010

    • 3 bacon slices
    • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
    • 1 lb. frozen sliced okra, thawed
    • 2 (8.5 oz.) packages ready-to-serve Cajun rice (I used Zatarain's reduced-sodium jambalaya mix)
    1. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 Tb. drippings in skillet.
    2. Sauté onion and okra in hot bacon grease over medium-high heat 6-8 minutes or until tender.
    3. Prepare rice according to package directions. Stir rice and crumbled bacon into okra mixture.

    Some additional musings on this culinary production:

    This is actually the first time I've ever made bacon.  (Seriously?  Seriously.) And I have to tell you - I think I missed my calling. 

    I'd be perfectly happy making just the okra rice and stirring some chicken or sausage into it.  At that point, it probably is jambalaya.  But really, okra cooked in bacon is really delicious. 

    I think I'd be just as content with plain white rice cooked in stock instead of the Cajun rice, because there are A LOT of flavors in this dish.

    If you're making both, make the rice in advance and leave it off the heat with the lid on the pot as long as you need it.  This recipe was almost more juggling than I could handle on my own.

    I used the weird frozen seafood mix (shrimp, squid, octopus, and mussels) I bought at Bravo.  I thawed them, then sautéed in 1 Tb. oil and 1 tsp. minced garlic for 2-3 minutes.  Plain old shrimp would work too.

    Oh, my dishes! I used 2 skillets, 2 big pots, a bunch of bowls, cutting boards, and other measuring instruments and utensils and I can't figure out how I could have used less.

    I actually formed and popped a blister on my finger from chopping all the vegetables.  Apparently I'm out of practice!

    This was my first time making a dark roux, and I liked that the recipe used peanut oil instead of shortening just to make that process go a little faster.  The stuff goes from tan to dark brown in seconds, so don't walk away. Don't even take your eyes off the pot. And have the next ingredients standing by ready to dump in.

    I can't say for sure, because I haven't had lunch yet, but this seems like the kind of dish that tastes even better the next day.  It's also an incredibly forgiving recipe.  It wasn't until I was transcribing the original recipe that I realized I screwed up the amount of stock used.  I only used 3 cups, and it should've been almost 6!

    I highly recommend making it, and I'm sure I'll be doing it again.