Friday, April 3, 2015

Change is good, at least this time

What a difference a month makes! Instead of ice and snow, we have temperatures in the 70s most days, and everything is starting to bloom and grow.

I have been pondering another form of change and growth lately, in my attitude towards running. I've been running consistently for a little over a year now. Before training for last year's 10K, I ran occasionally, as a way to change up my exercise routine and do something that felt...cooler? than the elliptical. I had run three 5Ks when I decided to try a 10K, so it wasn't as if I was a complete beginner. But it was still something I did mainly for the benefits it gave me for other activities, like keeping me fit for tennis. Now? Now I can honestly say I run because I like running. That feels like such a radical statement for me, given that for most of my teens and 20s running was something I avoided at all costs, something akin to torture and craziness. These days, it is therapeutic, necessary. While I won't go so far as to say that I have felt a true runner's high, I definitely feel a mood lifting effect when I run these days. No matter how bad my day is or how foul a mood I am in, a run makes me feel better (at least for a little while).

Of course, I do still run to stay in shape, because I like to bake and cook and eat. And I believe in the Blerch. It is what got me started running, and some days it is what gets me out the door. I doubt I will ever run an ultramarathon, and might never even run a regular marathon, but if by getting out there four or five days a week I can keep the Blerch at bay and make myself happier, that is enough for me to keep putting on my shoes, strapping Malcolm into the stroller, and heading out for a run. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fun in the snow (and ice)

The first two weeks of February had us fooled; there were several gloriously sunny and warm days that made us think spring was coming early this year. And then, winter decided to make an appearance. At least one of us was happy about it.

Last year Malcolm was about 18 months old when we had enough snow to try out the sled, and he hated it. This year, at two and a half, he loved it. We took him down our street, which is a cove and was far too slick for cars, and which had the perfect combination of snow and ice for a runner sled.

The sled was my mother's when she was a child, and it still works, and didn't have any problem holding both Malcolm and me as we sped down the hill.

The snow wasn't very good for snowmen, but it was good for snow angels. He made me make one too, but all I really accomplished was getting snow all over my coat!

For children, even chores are fun when they are new. Here Malcolm is helping me clean off the steps so they will melt when the sun comes out. And when the sun does come out, everything melts pretty quickly around here. Thank goodness! Arkansas does not deal well with snow.

After watching snow blower videos on YouTube, Malcolm decided to make one of his own, and spent quite a bit of time snow blowing the back yard with his shovel.

And now, the adults in the house all quite tired of snow and ice and winter - just in time for another potential round tomorrow - but Malcolm is cheering for more. I say it is time for spring and garden planting and sunshine and tennis outdoors!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Wait, it's February already?

Male cardinal, eating seed from our feeder
I can't believe it has been over a month since I last sat down to write here. I know I thought about it, but kept thinking it hadn't been that long since my last post, surely. Well, here are some of the things that have been keeping me busy since the beginning of this year. 

Open kibbeh, from Jerusalem by Yotem Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
 Cooking, of course. I have so many good cookbooks now that I am really making an effort to try new recipes. Weekends tend to be the best time for that around here - more people to help with complicated prep work, or just keep Malcolm out of my hair while I do it.  For the savory side of things, my current crush is Jerusalem by Yotem Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. There are some recipes I know I will never make, but all the ones I have made have been amazing. This open kibbeh was so very good - lamb, bulgher, and some tahini, essentially - there was hardly any left for the next day.

Sticky Toffee Pudding from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food

Last summer, while watching The Colbert Report,  we saw Jamie Oliver bring out this sticky toffee pudding and my mother-in-law was drooling over it. I told her if she bought me the book, I would make it for her; she remembered and gave it to me for Christmas. So, I made sticky toffee pudding for a New Year's treat. Oh. My. Goodness. Rich and flavorful and oh so good. I probably won't make it again any time soon, just because we really don't need that much cake in the house, but I might break it out for the next potluck we go to.

Chocolate sables from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan
 Another reason I probably won't get around to making another sticky toffee pudding soon is that I also got Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan for Christmas, and I am attempting to bake my way through it. It will take a long time, since there are so many recipes and alternate variations, and I can't quite justify baking dessert every single weekend, but I don't really mind. Everything I have make so far is delicious.

Who can resist that face?
And of course, in addition to cooking, Malcolm is keeping me on my toes. At two and a half, he is far too smart for his own good, too good at getting into things he shouldn't, and just adorable enough to stay (mostly) out of trouble.

We are out riding bikes without coats, in February!
 He got a balance bike for Christmas, and has almost completely mastered it. He rides down our street without touching, rides circles in our cul-de-sac, and is generally getting set for a life on two wheels. It isn't so bad when the weather is warm, like it has been this week, but he was insisting we go out when it was 35 and windy, and that was a bit much for this mama. (Not that I should complain, since I made him go out in the stroller for runs with me when it was equally cold and windy. The difference is that he was swaddled in blankets and sleeps through most of the runs, whereas I have to stand around and watch for cars while he is bike riding - no blankets or naps for me). It is exciting to see how fast he learns and figures things out.

Sharp-shinned hawk (I think), staking out our feeder
 Malcolm and I have been participating in this year's Feeder Watch program, conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Basically, we watch our bird feeders two consecutive days a week and try to identify and count the various birds we see, then we report that data and it helps the scientists get a picture of bird migration and numbers. Last week, this beauty showed up and scared all the little birds away. I didn't mind, because it stayed around long enough for me to get out my camera and take a few pictures.

So, there is my year so far, mostly. I am also training for a 10K in March, partially in order to be able to eat all the delicious things I bake, and tennis season is just about to pick up steam. I'll try not to let things go for another month this time!