Archive | December, 2011

Back in the Saddle

29 Dec

Apparently riding a horse is like riding a bike…it’s one of those things you just don’t forget. After more than 6 months without riding, I figured I’d be pretty rusty, but the moment I was in the saddle, everything came back. A few forgotten reasons why I love being a cowgirl…

  • The smell of horses or barns (horse-lovers – you know what I mean)
  • Cantering with the wind in your hair (quite possibly the closest you can get to flying)
  • Trusting a being larger than yourself with your life (definitely a humbling experience)
  • Realizing that, even for just a few moments, you can forget everything and just exist

I already can’t wait to be back.

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Better Than Caffeine

28 Dec

Spencer and I just got back from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo…all I can say is I will not be sleeping for a while. It was an amazing movie – the storyline was fascinating, the characteristics were complex and intriguing, and it was definitely not lacking in the suspense department. It was quite a mind-twister though. If you need to stay up late, and you’re tired of coffee, this movie will definitely do it.

Other news of the week…

We arrived home safely from Boulder City on Monday night, after a six hour car ride. Who knew there could be traffic in the desert??..but I guess that’s what you get when you drive home the day after Christmas. It was still a great day though. We woke up early Monday morning and went for a beautiful 12-mile run/bike ride from Boulder City to Henderson. The air was crisp and cool, the company was great, and the mountains made for a perfect backdrop, but the highlight was the way back. Spencer was our navigator, and he decided to take us on a different route back to town. As we ran/rode along, he told to me turn at the upcoming light instead of continuing straight the way we came. Seeing the massive downhill, I agreed as long as we wouldn’t have to come back up a hill of similar length or steepness. He assured me that it would be flat, and he’s usually right, so we continued on our way. I was enjoying the scenery and flatness, when all of a sudden, we turned a corner, and up ahead was one of the biggest, longest hills I’ve ever seen. I stared at it in disbelief for a few seconds until I realized that staring would not help me get to the top…so up we went. Despite the inclines, I still managed a 7:54 pace, so I was really happy with the run. After saying our goodbyes, we headed to the local Southwest Diner for breakfast before we hit the road. I had an egg-white veggie omelet, which was delicous (although what isn’t after 12 miles?!), and then we were on our way. Interesting sights along the way included the country’s smallest town (Searchlight) and the country’s largest thermometer (in Barstow). We were starving by the time we got back, so we headed to Rico’s Taco Shop and then to bed.

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday, so we went to Il Fornaio for some Italian food. It was great to celebrate with everyone, and it was a nice change from our usual restaurants. I had a salad with avocado and gorganzola dressing and whole wheat pasta with fresh tomatoes and ricotta. They recently published their nutrition information, and it’s nice to see that more and more restaurants are joining the trend. They also happen to have delicious food, so it was a good combination.

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday, and more importantly almost 2012… I’m attempting to think of some (non-corny) resolutions for the New Year πŸ™‚

Boulder City Part II – Baby’s First Christmas

25 Dec

When we arrived in Boulder City on Friday night, Spencer decided to give me one of my presents a little early – a red and blue U of A ornament, just in time for tree-decorating. He told me he had tried to find one that said “Baby’s First Christmas,” but no luck (thank goodness lol). This morning was quite an experience though. We woke up around 7:00 am and rushed to the tree, which was overflowing with presents. The Miller/Jensen family tradition includes a gift exchange, and Spencer’s mom had my name. I was soon overwhelmed with packages, and my favorites included some beautiful new jewelry from Urban Outfitters, a vegetarian cookbook, and some delicious vegan chocolate. I already tried one of the “peppermint patsies”, and it was definitely better than York patties or Junior mints. I was “randomly” given Spencer’s name, and I got him some fun old-fashioned candy from the candy shop, a shirt from the Coffee Cup, a fitness log for his new workout plan, and a spa massage at Vitality.

After present-opening, we had some vegan buckwheat pancakes with syrup and jam and fresh-squeezed orange juice – a perfect breakfast to prepare for my long run tomorrow morning. After watching the start of the NBA season, we headed to Hoover Dam and walked across the bridge that crosses over the Arizona state line. How many people can say that they’ve held hands with someone in another state? Hehe πŸ˜‰ We got back just in time for the Lakers vs. Bulls game, and I promptly fell asleep after about two minutes. I guess this semester is finally catching up to me. I woke up just in time for dinner, which was a delicious vegan lasagne, salad, and garlic bread. Yum. The lasagne was made with Daiya cheese, which I’ve wanted to try for a while, and I must say it would have fooled even the toughest cheese critic. Another great recipe to repeat at home!

After dinner, Spencer and took a beautiful walk through town and checked out all the Christmas lights. It was dark and FREEZING cold, but totally worth it. We came across a neighborhood park and decided to bring back some childhood memories on the swings. I felt a wave a nostalgia as I remembered how cathartic it feels to fly through the air.

The rest of the night has consisted of Bridesmaids, more NBA, a HOT shower, and now off to bed so we can wake up for another bike/run tomorrow. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas πŸ™‚

X-Mas in Boulder City – Part I

24 Dec

It feels strange to be writing this…but I’m celebrating my first Christmas tomorrow! Yesterday, Spencer and I drove from San Diego to Boulder City, NV to spend the holidays with his family. I’m usually not too big on road trips, but a great 6-mile run in the morning kept me from getting antsy. We listened to Eminem Pandora and chatted about life as we wove our way through the desert, and the hours passed surprisingly quickly. We arrived in Boulder City around 5:00 pm, and after decorating the Christmas tree and visiting with Spencer’s grandpa for a little while, we sat down to a delicious homemade vegan shepherd’s pie for dinner. After dinner, we played a game of Yahtzee, and I forgot how much fun it is to sit around and play games without worrying about work or to-do lists.

This morning, we slept in later than expected, which was nice, and then headed over to the world famous Coffee Cup Cafe for breakfast. I wasn’t kidding when I said world famous – http://www.worldfamouscoffeecup.com. This place definitely fits the hole-in-the-wall with delicious food definition, and it was featured on the Food Network’s, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” show in May of 2007. I had an egg-white omelet with spinach, mushrooms, and swiss cheese, and I must say, it definitely lived up to its reputation. After breakfast, we walked around town for a bit, checked out Boulder City High School, and soaked up some desert sun. Then the girls (Spencer’s mom, grandma, aunt, and I), headed back to town for some last-minute stocking stuffers. We took a trip to the local old-fashioned candy store, which was very cute, and they had everything from candy apples and fudge to candy garters and bras. It was definitely an experience!

Later this afternoon, Spencer and I went on a BEAUTIFUL run/bike-ride through town and out towards the mountains. It was one of the best runs I’ve had recently and the best ride he’s had in a long time. I’ve been wanting to do this together for a while, and we both had an amazing time. When we got back to the house, the sun was setting over the mountains, and we stood on a hill enjoying the view for a while (until I got too cold).

Tonight we had another delicious vegan dinner – pineapple cashew quinoa with tofu and vegetable stir-fry – and it is definitely a recipe I’m planning to repeat! I never expected my first Christmas eve dinner to consist of tofu, and I was in heaven. That’s all the exciting news so far – off to bed so we can wake up and open presents! Happy Holidays πŸ™‚

 

A New Chapter

19 Dec

I don’t know if it’s hit me yet that this semester is actually over…or that I only have three more to go (and then another 8 in vet school, but who’s counting??) These last two weeks have been quite a whirlwind but also an opportunity to think about the bigger picture and the changes ahead.

Last Wednesday was my last final of the semester, Friday was my last day at 24 Hour Fitness, and Saturday was the start of a long-awaited break until the craziness starts again. On Saturday morning, Spencer and I took and long beach walk and talked about life until we couldn’t talk anymore. Sunday morning, I went on a rejuvenating 15-mile run along the San Luis River trail, and it was by far one of the best runs I’ve ever been on. The weather was perfect, I had the company of my dad on his bike, and I completely zoned out until all that was on my mind was the road ahead of me. For some reason, I ended up running a 7:46 pace, which is a personal record for that distance. That afternoon, we went to Naked Cafe in Encinitas, and I had a delicious breakfast burrito with egg whites, black beans, salsa, and avocado. It was the perfect post long-run lunch.

Otherwise, Spencer and I have been catching up on season 8 of Grey’s Anatomy (we’ve gotten through 3 episodes so far), spending afternoons in the jacuzzi, and enjoying the time to talk and be together. We’re also planning to hit the gym together in the mornings and then try out some new recipes that we’ve been eying for a while. I’m slowly coming to the realization that I don’t have to study until next year…(although my physics book might get lonely if I ignore it for that long :-P)

LA River Run

4 Dec

I can’t believe we’re up to 14 miles already! I am loving the season, and I’m incredibly grateful that my knee has held up thus far (knock on wood)! This morning’s run was beautiful, and for some reason it felt easier than it did last year. We started out in Griffith Park and ran on a wooded horse trail covered in fallen leaves. It truly felt like trail running, and we were all cracking up as we dodged branches and hopped over logs. After about 3 miles, the trail dumped us onto the LA River bike path, which we took for another 4 miles before turning around. The second half of the run was considerably less scenic, (the LA “River” doesn’t exactly count as scenery), but the monotonous nature of the path made it easy for me to “get in the zone.”Β  Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy the time to think (or not think) on these long runs, and it was a welcome few hours of peace for my head.

Today was also a breakthrough day. Although they’re rare, they’re completely worth the time and effort of the non-breakthrough days. For the first time in a while on a run over 10 miles, I DIDN’T HIT THE WALL! While not entirely understood, “the wall” is feared by all distance runners. It is the moment when your energy drops, your legs feel like lead, and you wonder how you will possibly make it another few steps, let alone another few miles. I always bring some mid-run fuel (Annie’s organic gummy bunnies are my current favorite), but sometimes glycogen depletion leaves no chance for recovery. Once you hit, there’s no going back, and you are prisoner to the wall until you reach your destination. Today was different though. I waited with anticipation for the wall to strike, and somehow it never did. Instead, I got a sudden burst of energy that carried me through the last 3 miles at a fairly speedy pace.

Once back to Griffith Park, we stretched and enjoyed some fresh fruit and great conversations. Sweaty but happy, we piled into the car and headed back to campus. The rest of the day has been filled with studying and writing essays (and eating of course), with a few breaks to watch ABC’s Harry Potter Marathon. (What a cruel thing to do during finals week!)

Back to work, but I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend…it’s the final stretch to the holidays πŸ™‚

Finals and…cleaning?

1 Dec

Today has been quite a day. It’s been extremely productive, but I’m definitely glad it’s over. This morning I presented my research on running and body image, and it felt so good to finally see everything come together.

After my presentation, I got a delicious mango smoothie with whey and did a little last minute studying for my Theoretical Principles of Health Behavior final. I think it went pretty well, and I now have two finals crossed off my list (only 3 more to go!). I also submitted my 10-page paper on social inequality & natural disasters, which is a topic I’ve been interested in since my Environmental Sociology class at Whitman. I was able to interview a Hurricane Katrina survivor while I was writing, and it gave me a completely new perspective on the topic.

With the presentation and final behind me, the paper submitted, and my scholarship application complete, it suddenly hit me that TODAY WAS THE LAST DAY OF CLASS! It feels great to be done but weird that my last final is still two weeks away. Something about finals gets me in the cleaning mode though, and I went on a complete cleaning rampage through the apartment. It’s amazing how cathartic it feels to throw things away.

Other news of the day – today is World Aids Day, and in the words of the campaign, “World AIDS Day this year is about ‘Getting toΒ Zero.’ Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths.” The campus was covered in red balloons, and there was free, anonymous HIV testing at the USC Medical Center.

As if the red balloons weren’t enough of a sight, there was a gigantic fallen tree in the middle of campus that had been uprooted by the Santa Ana winds. It was one of those trees that looked like it would be there forever, and it just goes to show how truly powerful nature can be.

Slightly less important but still noteworthy, I invented a new recipe tonight – Black Bean Breakfast Burritos. Sooo delicious.

Black Bean Breakfast Burritos

  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (or egg sub)
  • 2 T. shredded cheddar/jack blend
  • Handful(s) of fresh spinach
  • Fresh salsa (I used Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce because I didn’t have salsa)

Place beans in microwave safe container, and heat for approximately 2 minutes, or until hot. While the beans are cooking, scramble egg whites and spinach. Warm tortilla, and fill with beans and egg mixture. Top with cheese and salsa, wrap, and enjoy!

Off to do more cleaning and head to bed, but happy (almost) Friday πŸ™‚