Friday, July 29, 2011

Guest Post: 10 Tips For Participating In An Endurance Event

While I'm away hippie dancing my butt off at Floydfest, I asked Jess to stop by and write a post for my readers who have been missing my posts about running...since I've seriously been lacking in the running department lately. She's a fellow CLE blogger and marathon maniac who I truly admire because she is such an incredible athlete! It's so great to have the support of the blogging community, especially when we're all training for big races, and Jess's blog is always my first stop when I need some motivation to get moving! I hope you enjoy her tips for participating in an endurance event!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  1. Start with the proper equipment, a good pair of running shoes. Go get fitted at your local running store! They are some of the nicest people and will fit you for what you need, not for what is the most expensive. You will also need proper clothing attire, something form fitting that also has a wicking material. Avoid cotton unless you want to chafe. Speaking of chafing, invest in some sort of anti chafing lube (BodyGlide or even Vaseline), throughout training you will learn where to put it.
  2. Prepare for all types of weather. In colder weather bring warm up clothes that you can throw away. I usually pick old race shirts and sweatshirts to use as my throwaways. If it is wet and rainy don’t be afraid to wear a garbage bag to keep warm and dry at the start. In hot weather run naked. j/k, run in light colored clothing and clothing that is light in weight.
  1. Test all fuel options ahead of time. I love Gu, specifically Vanilla Bean. However energy gels work differently for different people so test them all out. Same goes for Bloks, Chews and powerbars. Test your fueling options on your long runs to determine what works and what does not. Race day is not the time to try something new.
  2. Fuel with food properly. Everyone knows you need carbs before a long endurance event but you should really try and stick with whole grain carbs (whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, etc). Also limit or avoid alcohol and dairy before a big event.
  1. Water! Don’t just drink water the morning of an event, start hydrating 2 days before an event. Before a long distance race, I will carry a water bottle around with me wherever I go.
  2. Practice your routine. 90% of the time you will be getting up super early for an endurance race. Practice getting up at that hour so that your body is used to it and to help make you less zombie like on race day.
  3. Get your Z’s.  Make sure you are getting enough sleep the weeks leading up to race day. Sleep allows the body to rejuvenate itself and to let your muscles rest and repair. The night before the event, get dinner a couple hours before bedtime and make time to relax. If you have trouble sleeping the night before a big event (I have this problem), don’t let it bother you. One night of less than perfect sleep will not hurt your performance.
  4. Layout all items you will need. Have your clothes, food, watch, bib and anything else you may need and lay them out so that you are not searching for them (or stressing when you can’t find it) in the morning.
  1. I.D. Yourself. Write your name, an emergency contact number and any allergies on the back of your bib or invest in Road I.D. You never know what could happen on a course and it is always better to be prepared.
  2. Have fun! You trained hard and worked for this. Remember to enjoy it and to celebrate your achievement!

Huge thanks to Becca for letting me guest post on her blog while she is away, I am so honored!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Tomorrow, I'll be getting up before the ass crack of dawn to head down to Floyd, VA for Floydfest. The trip promises to open my eyes to some new music, and I absolutely cannot wait for the opportunity! Why? Because...


Since I'm about to become enlightened to all that Floydfest has to offer, I wanted to share some of my favorite music with you and {hopefully} give you a chance to learn about a few new songs and new artists. I'm calling the musical entree I'm about to serve up, Beccafest.

The Beccafest line-up includes (but is not limited to):

These guys are a new discovery for me and I'm completely in love (and I get to see them at Floydfest!) If you put Railroad Earth into Pandora, you'll probably get a whole lot of bluegrass music, but they are so much more than that. They've got some really sweet instrumental songs too. The video (above) is one of my favorites.

If you don't already know him, you definitely need to check him out. I've seen him live and his is probably one of the most talented musicians I've ever seen, in terms of how many instruments he can play at once. Some of his solo songs can sound like a full band, it absolutely blows my mind. His lyrics are always incredible too. 

I'm gonna thank Pandora for introducing me to the world of John Butler! The video above is the song "Ocean". It's so amazing what one guy can do with a 12-string and a stomp box.

I wanted to find a video of the song "Calabasas" for you (one of my faves) but there are no videos of them playing the song live, and if you're taking the time to watch these videos, I don't want you to have to look at a stupid slide-show that someone put together and put on YouTube. Live performances are the bee knees.

I'm pretty sure for most of you, Zac Brown needs no introduction. "Who Knows" is one of my favorite ZBB songs because it's got this incredible long jam at the end. The violinist is so talented!

This is one of my favorite Michael Franti songs, but his Pandora station is often one that I put on when I'm practicing yoga. He is an artist and an activist and I truly admire all the things that he's doing to better the world. He's got one or two popular songs, but his lesser known songs are always worth checking out. 

Definitely outside of the sound of the rest of these artists. One of my former colleagues introduced me to Ronald Jenkees and he has been on my playlists from spinning music to relaxing in savasana music. 

This duo is incredible! She keeps the percussive beat on her guitar while he provides the melody. I love to listen to them when I'm in the mood for instrumental music that I can just get lost in. 

Those are just a few of the artists that I have more recently gotten to know and fall in love with. They are some of the s.o.m.e.w.h.a.t. lesser known artists that take shelter within the confines of my iPod. They share their electronic home with the more well-knowns like Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, Jimmy Buffet, etc. who will also be playing at Beccafest!

 Who would you choose to headline Beccafest??


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Campsite Cooking

Since Brandon and I are about to spend four whole days camping, practicing yoga, hiking and listening to great music, I thought I'd give you a few tips on prepping for a long camping/music festival weekend. I'm doing this totally out of love and bringing useful info to my readers...and because I already made several spreadsheets about what we're going to bring, what we're going to eat, etc. etc. etc.

What can I say? I love my lists.

Floydfest, here we come!

TIP #1: Assess the camping sitch.
Not all camping is created equal. Sometimes you can just drive up and camp, sometimes you have to hike 20 miles before you set up shop. Sometimes you're in the middle of a field, sometimes you're in the middle of a forest. Hopefully, you won't be in the middle of a river. Regardless, it's helpful to know what it's going to be like before you pack. In our case, we are not going to be able to park near our campsite, but there is a shuttle that will bring us from the parking to the camping and then to the venue. We're still going to have to haul a bunch of gear.

TIP #2: Can you build a fire?
This is not a theoretical question. I'm not only asking "Are you allowed to build a campfire?" but "Do you know HOW to build a campfire?" Both are important questions to ask yourself before you leave for a camping trip. For Floydfest, we are not allowed to have any open flames and, even though I deflect to Brandon when it comes to fire starting, that's kind of a bummer...but I get it. We're going to be camping in the midst of thousands of other people.

TIP #3: Plan some meals!
When you're backpacking, you generally want to pack food that takes up the least amount of space and needs minimal preparation. When you're drive-up camping you can usually bring a more substantial smattering of foodstuffs. For drive then hike camping, it obviously depends on the distance you have to travel with all of your food. We are packing a roll-y cooler so we can just drag it, because we'll be camping in a field or at the edge of the woods. This is what we're planning to eat:
So, basically wraps and sandwiches. Though, I'm not gonna lie, we pretty much eat like kings and queens when we're camping. 
breakfast wrap = love
This is what's on our packing list (as far as food goes):
  • salsa
  • nut butter
  • jelly
  • peaches
  • apples
  • granola
  • honey
  • tamale pie filling
  • bread
  • wraps (approx 10)
  • GORP
  • pre-made overnight oats (dry-ingredients)
  • tomato sauce
  • cheese
  • hummus
  • chips
I know that looks pretty extensive, but we've got plenty of room in the cooler and some stellar ice packs (thanks, Ben & Jerry's!) that last for a ridiculously long time. I also love the idea of pre-making overnight oats with all the dry ingredients and just adding water (since we're definitely not bringing milk) when we're ready. We can even heat them for some real oatmeal if we choose to!

One last thing...GORP = Good Ol' Raisins and Peanuts. Probably the easiest, most portable and most tasty camping snack. Plus you've got proteins, fats and carbohydrates all in one little handful. I sometimes like to embellish my GORP with chocolate chips for a little bit of sweet.

What is your number one camping food? Any favorite camping gear that I should know about??


Friday, July 22, 2011

Baba Soup Recipe

I wanted to try to write this post on my new iPhone app, BlogPress, so I wouldn't have to email myself all the pictures from my phone then saving them off to my computer, then uploading them. Until I realized that it's difficult to insert bullets and numbering like I like to do for my recipes.


I'll try an easier post to post from my phone.

What do you do with your veggie scraps? We mostly compost ours, and we are even getting coffee grinds from a local coffee shop to compost...but, that's completely besides the point. Did you know you can save those scraps to make your own veggie stock??

{aside: I just typed "vaggie stock" and giggled. INAPPROPRIATE!!}

Yep, veggie stock is actually really simple. Just freeze all your extra scraps - I keep them in a ziplock on my freezer door and just throw more in when I have them. When you're ready to make stock, toss the veggie scraps into a stockpot and fill with water. Let it simmer for an hour or so, then strain out the veggies and put all the stock into jars to freeze or can for later use. It makes a ton of good stock and it's cheaper and healthier than store bought!

Then, once you have your stock, you can use it to make Babaganoush Soup.

Babaganoush Soup
serves 3

prep time: 20 minutes + 10 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes + 30 minutes


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lemon


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice your eggplant (don’t peel) and lay slices on a sheet tray lined with tin foil. Press paper towels on top of your eggplant slices and let sit for 20 minutes. When done, remove paper towels and dice eggplant. Spray foil with cooking spray and place eggplant back on, if you have room, throw the jalapenos on too. Sprinkle generously with salt and roast for 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  2. When the eggplant and peppers are done, let cool then gently rub off blackened pepper skin and chop up.
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat then add the chopped onion. Saute for five minutes until soft then add the garlic. Saute for 30 more seconds.
  4. Add the stock, roasted diced eggplant and jalapenos. Stir in the spices and tahini. Bring to a boil then let simmer for a few minutes. Using an immersion blender or (carefully!) with a regular blender, puree your soup
  5. Ladle soup into bowls and finish with a squeeze of lemon.

How do you organize/upload pictures for your blog posts? How do you deal with pictures from two different cameras? (In my case, my Canon and my phone). 

Peace + Love,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

6 Drinks to Beat the Heat

Anybody in the Midwestern United States right now's HOT. You know this because the PL&B household actually has the AC on!!! It's a rare occasion, folks, but it's all for the greater glory...we're trying not to kill the pups in this heat wave!

Temps are hitting almost 100 degrees in Northeast Ohio today and the heat index puts it well above that.

Luckily, I have a couple of drink ideas that will help cool you down so you can survive the heat without a meltdown a la The Wicked Witch of the West

Cucberry Agua Fresca - this was inspired by the cucumber lemon water that you get at a spa (they have it at the spa my mom does massage at). This version is a little bit sweeter and much less tart, great for when strawberries are in season at the beginning of the summer!
ingredients: strawberries, cucumber, ice cold water
method: slice strawberries and slice the cucumber into rounds with the skin still on, put in a glass, and pour ice cold water over the fruit.

Cold-brewed Coffee - I got the idea from reading Smitten Kitchen and Running Foodie. It's brilliant for the hot weather because you don't have to turn on your stove or coffee maker at all (we don't have a hood on the stove, so turning on the burners warms the house right up - not ideal in this heat). It makes a concentrated coffee that you dilute down with water (if you want to) to taste and end up with a delicious iced coffee!
ingredients: 1/3 cup coffee, 1 1/2 cups water
method: in a jar, or a french press if you have one, stir together coffee and water, then cover and let sit overnight. Strain (or press), fill a tall glass with ice and mix equal parts of coffee concentrate and water, or to taste.

Sangrimosa - part Sangria, part Mimosa. A beautiful morning cap that is great for a weekend at the beach with friends. It's actually all mimosa with local fruit thrown in, but I liked the sound of Sangrimosa better. 
ingredients: orange juice, champagne of choice, fresh fruit (we used peaches!)
method: fill a fancy cup with your desired amount of champagne, then top it off with orange juice. Slice and add peaches.

Fresh Juice - you're going to need a juicer for this, unless you have one of those citrus juicers to juice by hand. That's a ton of work. But then again, so is cleaning the juicer. Your call.
ingredients: just about anything you can think of, I really enjoy apples and carrots, or oranges and apples
method: put everything in your juicer and watch it go! Make sure there's a cup there to catch the juice! If you're using a hand juicer, you can only juice citrus fruit (I recommend an orange). Just slice the fruit and juice til you've got enough to quench and hydrate you.

Cool White Wine - you should know by now that I'm a wine lover, generally I like to drink red but there's something about a cool glass of white wine in the summer that just makes me smile. 
ingredients: chilled white wine. I like Torrontes a LOT, Chardonnay is up there too
method: chill wine in your fridge, pour into wine glass and enjoy!

Arnie P - Ok, not my best photography on this one, but the drink is much better than it looks. The Arnold Palmer is almost as beloved as the Shirley Temple in my book. I like it with a big batch of sun tea.
ingredients: regular black tea, lemonade, a big cup of ice
method: brew your tea in advance, or make sun tea. When it's cooled, pour 1 part tea and 1 part lemonade (or your preferred ratio to taste) over ice.

Red wine - ok, this wasn't actually something that I would choose to drink on a hot day, I just wanted to share this picture with you because I think it's awesome. 

What are your favorite beat the heat beverages?

Peace + Love

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reigning in the Budget, part 3

I am overwhelmed.

You know how I know this? Because I haven't spent one ounce of my time procrastinating!!! :) I missed work yesterday (sick) and now that I'm back I have a pile of stuff on my desk and deadlines are looming. How did that happen? I was only out for one day!!

Seriously though, I think I need to scale back my posting a bit. I'm running low on motivation (in just about everything, not just blogging) and I need to recharge the batteries a bit. I've been trying to post every day during the week, but I think the quality of my posts are suffering because of it. I know it's been drilled into my head:


not quantity!

Anywho, I hope you don't mind if I reduce my posting frequency a bit. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Now, onto today's regularly scheduled programming...

This installation of my Reigning in the Budget posts is going to look at the differences in cost of shopping at the farmer's market versus in the grocery store, as well as the pro's and con's of both. Although, this post might be a little biased because I LOVE the farmer's market. Especially after this weekend, where there was a free outdoor yoga class at the market. Definitely took advantage of that!

Over the past couple of months, I've been saving receipts and doing some analysis on them. It turns out that I spend an average of $65 per trip to the grocery store! So, I had a chat with a colleague of mine about budgeting...he said they take out a set amount of cash every month to spend on food (based on their spending/cost trends).

Well, my friends, that is (essentially) what I do when I go to the farmer's market. We only bring cash and spend what we have. In general, that amount is about $50 per trip to the farmer's market. We don't always spend the whole amount, but sometimes we spend more (like when I want to buy a beautiful tie-dye dress).

Ok, so assuming I go to the farmer's market and the grocery store once a week (that's being conservative, they don't always happen in tandem like that), I'm spending $115 on groceries every week. My goal is to get that number down to $50/week. Feasible? I think so.

In general:
  • it's easier for me to spend less at the farmer's market, because I can't use my credit card and I bring a set amount of money
  • I try to go to the farmer's market as much as possible and the grocery store as little as possible...but neither is ALWAYS possible
  • It's harder to plan meals in advance when shopping primarily at the farmer's market, because there are limited and seasonal options there
  • I need to find a better balance of farmer's market and grocery store
Maybe a venn diagram is more appropriate in this comparison, but I'm just going to stick to a pros/cons list:

Even though one of my life goals is to sever my ties to grocery stores, I think the key point I'm trying to make here is to find a good balance between shopping at the farmer's market and shopping at the grocery store. Farmer's market pickins start getting pretty slim after the summer, so that "balance" might shift seasonally, but I'm totally okay with that. 

I'm giving myself an action item for the next month (well, let's say, until the end of August) - only go to the grocery store OR the farmer's market for the week, not both. One small step for Becca, one giant leap for saving money. Hopefully. 

P.S. We officially have our first batch of home-brewed beer brewing, so it's almost time to cross beer off of our grocery list for good! I'll definitely post about this later!

Peace + love,
Did you miss my other budgeting posts? Check them out:

Friday, July 15, 2011

We Grow...

or more specifically, Buck grows....this is when we first got him. Day ONE:

...and this is on the Fourth of July. He's only 8 months old now! He's still got a few good growing months in him. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lemon-a-licious Spaghetti

In my quest to tighten the belt a bit and eat well on a budget, I have started planning my weekly meals in advance so I can simply buy what I need at the store. One of those meals this week was this lemon pasta dish. 

I have been obsessed with citrus ever since my trip to California and seeing my uncle's garden. Lemon just sings SUMMER to me! Brandon and I are actually planning to make our upstairs "half room" into a lemon and fig growing room during the winter. We'll just have to see how that one goes...

Anyway, LEMONS! This dish is very very lemony, so if you are not one for the yellow, tangy, citrusy goodness then scale back some of the zest you use, or some of the lemon juice. If you start with less juice and then add to taste you'll be able to take the lemon down a notch or two. The original recipe called for the use of about a cup of pasta water to the lemon sauce, but I didn't need to use any (probably why mine was SO lemony and delicious). I think adding the pasta water would have watered it down too much, to be honest. The sauce is pretty thin. 

BUT SO GOOD!! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. A perfect summery dinner. 

Lemon-a-licious Spaghetti
adapted from smitten kitchen
serves 2

  • ½ lb spaghetti (I used two servings of fresh made pasta from the farmer’s market)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ground pepper
  • small handful fresh picked basil leaves

  1. Cook the pasta al dente in salted water.
  2. While the pasta cooks, zest the lemons until you have just about 1 tablespoon of zest then juice both lemons.
  3. Drain the pasta, then dry out your pot to cook the sauce. Boil the oil, almond milk, and zest over high heat for a minute or so.
  4. Return pasta to the pot and stir until well coated. Add the cheese and lemon juice and toss everything together.
  5. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper
  6. Serve immediately, topping with an extra drizzle of olive oil and some more parmesan.

What is your favorite summer dinner? Do you usually pair your dinners with red or white wine?
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