Well, Hello there!
Katie from Katie at the Kitchen Door and I are joining forces today. If you have never been to her blog – you must, you just have to head over there. Katie is oh so talented…her talents in the kitchen and behind the camera are out of this world. When she asked me to write a guest post for her blog, while she is on vacation, I couldn’t but jump at the chance.
And if you are visiting my little space on the Internet because you are wandering over here from Katie’s blog….then you totally know what I am talking about. She is awesome, right?!? And welcome! I am so very glad to have you here today.
Let’s get going!
The sun is shining. The trees are budding. Daffodils are waving ever so slightly in the breeze. Tulips are testing the waters…soon to be in full bloom. The grass is growing fast and furious, aided by the April showers. Spring is starting to slowly and finally roll into Ohio. It has been a long winter and we want nothing more than warm afternoons and long lazy evenings. Spring in Ohio requires us to practice patience.
In the spring, we have this internal urge to clean out the old and bring in new. Start fresh – Spring, to me, has always represented a new year more so than January 1st ever has. Something takes hold and before we know it windows are being cleaned, floor boards scrubbed, closets sorted and organized, and if you are me – fridges and freezers are overhauled. It has been a long winter – heaven only knows what I have stocked and stored away over the cold months. I am like a squirrel hoarding nuts. So it was no surprise to me when I found 2 extra bags of fresh frozen cranberries in my freezer last week. Left over from Thanksgiving/Christmas. Stored away just in case. Just in case I needed to whip up a cranberry sauce. Or jam. Or needed a another loaf of orange cranberry bread.
Honestly, I had forgotten about them. Big Surprise. So, when Katie asked me to guest blog and I was scratching my head and standing in front of my refrigerator wondering what recipe I would offer her readers…I spotted the cranberries. And instantly thought…I bet there are more people out there like me. Spring cleaning and finding extra bags of cranberries (among many other things… why do I buy so many packages of frozen spinach?!?).
I know, I know…cranberries are generally eaten around winter holidays, but I think they are perfect this time of year ( and I am not just saying this because I have an abundance). They have a bright tart flavor, matching the feeling of an early spring afternoon. A coffee cake with a thin layer of sweetened cranberries and a coconut streusel top is just what a Sunday afternoon calls for. A lazy Sunday afternoon spent on your porch, soaking up the sunshine, getting lost in a good book, with baseball on the radio in the back ground. All while you nibble away on an extra large piece of coffee cake that is studded with little flecks of vanilla bean. And coffee. Lots of coffee. Always coffee.
Adapted from Gourmet December 2008Read More
We did it. Again.
You may remember last year.
We are all a year older….and none the wiser.
Apparently we didn’t get enough of mud, dirt, and grime.
Didn’t get enough of the camaraderie and team work.
Didn’t get enough of the 20 foot walls and electrical shock.
First, as the picture above shows….we have added a member to our small crazy team.
Matt, Shawn, Me, and Jeff.
Second, if you aren’t familiar with the Tough Mudder. Check them out.
It always begins (and will end) with a bus ride.
Yellow school bus, bus ride.
Followed by packet pick up and baggage drop-off.
Then, bib numbers on forehead.
And always, me finding my inner-Elvis.
And this year, Jeff and I were chosen to record a bit for a Tough Mudder commercial.
Fingers crossed we make the cut!
To make it to the starting line…there is a wall to climb, or in my case, a wall to be boosted over.
Remember at the end…my socks were once PINK.
Overall, there are about 20 obstacles within the 10 mile course.
Monkey bars and rings ( I consider them swimming events) to muddy trenches and log carrying.
Andrea, my awesome sister-in-law, traipsed through the muck and the mud – along with Matt’s mom, girlfriend, and sister – and took all the pictures you are about to see.
Huge kudos goes out to them!!
We might be crazy. This dude was bonkers.
Keep Calm and Chive On!
Kiss of Mud or army crawl under barbed wire. No bigs.
Nice and muddy brings a smile to my face.
aka…fill a construction sight waste bin with ice and a touch of water.
Cold is an understatement.
Or…claw, dig, climb over loosely packed muddy mounds and slide/jump/fall into water filled trenches (of unknown depth)…and repeat x 8.
Post muddy mile.
Stairway to Heaven. Or was it Hell? Glad I climbed fences when I was a kid.
Conversation between Jeff and I at the top…
“mom can never come to one of these” – me
“yeah, no joke” – Jeff.
Claustrophobics need not apply.
Matt just dove in.
You go in and down…
Across, in, and back up.
Being short has its advantages here…
Everest. Oiled/mud slicked quarter pipe. Same thing.
It takes a bit of contemplation.
Some game planning.
A bit of praying.
First up, Jeff.
Boom. Boom. Pow.
With one of my guys up there…it was my turn.
With Jeff pulling UP and some random guy grabbing my ass…I made it up and over.
Hands out…ready for Shawn.
This is my favorite shot.
It sums up the entire event.
Shawn. Up. and Over.
We are 4 for 4.
The guys hung out up top for a bit…until their spots were taken by other tough mudders…
Without the help of others, 99% of us would never be able to complete this obstacle.
Next up, Electroshock therapy…
Matt bites it first.
And then Shawn goes down.
I get it on the hay bales…
Goes down Jeoff.
We. Are. Tough. Mudders.
The electrical shock may have caused damage.
Michigan, you are next.
Can we talk about my Sunday? Last Sunday. It is a few days past, but the day was good and deserves a bit of discussing. And honestly, nothing earth shattering happened. No big news or life changing occurrence took place…something, anything that would turn my life upside down and leave me spinning for days afterward. I wasn’t swept off my feet – figuratively or literally…my feet remained firmly on the ground the entire day. I think.
It was just good.
First, The. Sun. Was. SHINING. All. Day. Long. It was sunny. Sunny to the point that I actually applied a nice layer of sunblock on my delicate face and the pale skin that can only belong to an Ohioan after a long winter. But I am skipping ahead. Let me start at the beginning…I awoke to NO alarm clock. Any day that this happens is considered a good day. Fact. 6am was what the clock read, I think. My eyes were a touch foggy since I have a terrible habit of sleeping with my contacts in, a habit that I just can’t seem to break. But it was 6am-ish. And guess what? I rolled right back over and fell right back to sleep until 8am. Because 8am is more suitable on a weekend than 6. I keep the 6am hour for work and vacation – yeah, I am that girl on vacation.
So, 8am … Stan (resident cat, lets not mistake a cat for a dude) and I stumble our way down the stairs and I mean stumble…he has a way of tripping me up on the stairs. He will be the reason I fall down or up my stairs. Him and/or bourbon. God forbid they conspire against me. I turn on the tea kettle and grind some coffee. Weekend mornings call for french press coffee. Dark and rich and bold and strong…talking coffee here, not men While the coffee is steeping, eggs are in the making. 2 eggs scrambled with a pat of salted butter. Sprinkle of kosher salt and a touch of black pepper. Layered over a piece of extra toasted toast and smashed up avocado. Grated extra sharp cheddar cheese rounds off the open faced breakfast sandwich.
I curl up on the couch…breakfast in one hand. Steaming hot creamy coffee in the other. The TV comes to life and I start watching CBS Sunday Morning Show. This show is heavily influenced by the previous week’s happenings – Boston being center stage. My thoughts have been with the people of Boston all week and Sunday is no different. While I nibble on my breakfast and make a total mess – I may have piled it too high with avocado and egg, but it is something I can deal with – my coffee has cooled to the temperature of drinkable. The morning show wanders to talking to Alan Alda and I am transported to high school physics class where we watched Scientific American Frontiers and celebrated his birthday with cheesecake. I really like Alan Alda’s laugh. His whole face lights up and his eyes dance. It is true and honest. I also learn that Shirley Temple is still alive and on Tuesday will turn 85. On my 29 and 11/12th birthday – Shirley Temple turns 85. Honestly, I assumed she had passed. Pleasant surprise to find her still kicking.
The show ends and I amble back into the kitchen with my dirty dishes and a coffee refill – my second of numerous. I know I need to run today – Sundays are generally reserved for long-ish runs, but I also want to bee-bop around the kitchen. I compromise with myself. Run. Cook. Deal. Plus, running now means I can catch the Indians afternoon game. We are in baseball season, full swing.
I lace up my over-worn, oddly laced Mizuno running shoes, toss on my favorite green running jacket, grab my phone and earbuds (just in case I need a distraction), and shoot out the door. I have made myself a promise…today will be slow and enjoyable. This is difficult for me. Not that I am fast – ha! – I do however have a habit of going hard on all runs. I focus on time and distance and little else. Today I told myself I would run through the park – Cleveland has one hell of a metropark system – and actually take in my surroundings. Walk if necessary. Stop and snap a few pics of my favorite spots. Capture the valley in early spring. The dark brown of the still bare trees is such a contrast to the bright green of the forest ground that is starting to peek through the leaves and overgrowth from the previous season. The river is rushing and washing away the grime of winter. There are fisherman wading out into the shallow depths of the river to catch whatever fish is running this time of year – I think most just like to stand in the middle of a river and watch it rush past them. It’s a good place to think. I nod in acknowledgement as I jog past. Turning to snap a quick picture of them with my iPhone – Instagram is always in my head. I run on the bridle trail in hopes of passing a horse or two, but today I only see couples with their dogs. I run over 4 bridges and hear my feet make contact with wooden planks…so loud compared to the soft dirt I have been running on. I catch a man and his son walking along the river. I stop and snap. The weeping willows catch my eye as they droop over the river and their rope like branches turning almost lime green with new buds. They are the first to turn. 3 miles fly by and I keep going.
Up ahead, I can turn left and make my way back home or jog a bit further and hit my favorite spot along the 13 miles of path that leads straight into Lake Erie. I jog further. It is a no brainer. My legs feel good, my feet aren’t bothering me, my breath is easy. There is a swing set on my right. They are empty, which saddens me…swings should be filled with giggling children and adults who will always be young at heart. I have an urge to stop and swing, but I need to run. I make it by a flock of geese, who for once, leave me alone – why are they so mean? and finally I arrive at my favorite spot.
It isn’t anything special. It is across the street from the Rocky River Nature Center….there is a wide rocky dirt path that descends straight to the river. The shore is shale rock and crunches beneath your feet. The river is shallow and in warmer months will be filled with children wading along the edges. The opposing side of the river is a rocky cliff, where erosion lines can be seen – an earth science lesson in the making. There are a few houses perched on its ledge, but they are so high above, one barely notices they are there. I think one is red. I run out onto the shore … coming to a walk and taking in what I know will be there. There is a man with his young son on my right…they are hopping across the huge stone boulders that run the width of the river there…a dam of sorts. A family of 5 to my left. I pass the family, who is trying to teach their youngest child how to skip rocks. A task he is too young for, but is trying his darndest at. You see, the shale that is beneath our feet is perfect (perhaps not the best because it is light in weight) but pretty darn good for skipping across water. This is why I love this spot. The simple pleasure of being able to skip a stone across a body of water is pure satisfaction. Three skips? Good. Try for four. Four? Fantastic. Try for five. If you have brothers, there is gentle competition. Teaching a child how to skip stones and seeing their excitement when it takes to skips across the water for the very first time. It is a good thing. I wander the shore searching for a few good stones to skip and give them a side armed toss. I get 4 skips. I am content. I walk the short shore as far as I can before it runs out and I climb up the steep edge of the river bed and find myself on the trail again. I turn to go back.
I do not follow the bridle path back…as that would be a 10 mile long run – more than I had intended and therefore I take the roads that lead me back home – they are as good as the path that runs through the park. They are lined with horse farms. Pastures and wooden fences. And horses. A reminder that the land I now live on, scattered with developments and city-like life was once, not long ago, farm land. I think I would have liked it better then. I’d take a pasture over a Target any day. This I assure you. The road is narrow and I must be watchful of traffic…stepping into the ditch if two cars are passing at once. And there is one hell of a hill. A hill that makes a car chug let alone me. I push up it. One step at a time. At times I feel like I am barely gaining any ground. My arms are pumping and my legs are screaming. I keep telling myself that hills were meant for short people. I don’t know. It gets me up the hill. I think about the equation for work, it equals force x distance. My brain is a funny thing. A breather is necessary at the top – I walk 100 yards before running again.
The horses are out today. My first one is on my right. He/she is brown and white. The white has brown freckles scattered about. She (as I think this is the truth) has a bit of a sway back and is grazing happily on the new grass. I stop to snap a pic and she looks up. I wave and move on. I have more horses to visit. Two more on my right are eating and the pasture to my left is empty as they are repairing fences. Finally, I make it to my favorite small red barn. Dark red with one door open, its light interior brown a stark contrast to the red, and the top half of the other door is open. For a horse, if ever the urge struck, to stick just his head out to test the weather. Normally, there is just one horse in and around the barn. But today there are two. It looks like it was an exciting spring on this farm. I stop and snap a picture. They just stare at me. Those big eyes. I stare for another second and turn and take off. My run is soon to be over, my house is just around the corner. I slow it up a bit and enjoy the last half mile. 8 miles. Not bad.
The day is not half way over yet and I feel refreshed and complete. Nature, sunshine, and horses can do that. A good sweat and physical exertion is the ultimate mood booster. The remaining bit of Sunday afternoon was spent listening to Tom Hamilton call an Indian’s win and saw me cooking a chicken tikka masala that will leave me with leftovers until Friday. I cut into a cranberry coffee cake that is meant for a guest post later next week on a friends’ blog and will be devoured at work on Monday. The light is perfect and I stand on a chair and take pictures of a coffee cake in my kitchen. I finally sit down on the chair and grab a fork and bite by bite, indulge in a slice of cake before dinner, with yet, another cup of coffee.
Sunday was easy and good.
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