MIMM/It’s the little things

Here we go! Short week at work this week. Ready to start getting pumped about the holidays and have an awesome Thanksgiving. I’ve got a few great gift ideas rolling around my brain for Jeff now, and although we have to rein me in so I don’t go too overboard on friends/family gifts this year, I’m ready to get in the spirit. I even pulled out our Christmas tree last night and got it halfway decorated. Last night was the un-fun part, where I assembled the tree and got scratch marks all over my arm and wrestled with the lights to get them all strung onto the tree. Next chance I have to work on it will be the fun stuff, adding the ornaments.


Time for another Marvelous In My Monday post! Today’s will be quick-I’m about to head out to my doctor’s office. Even though I JUST had surgery a month ago yesterday, I have to have another physical prior to this weekend’s festivities. Today is just the blood draw. I HATE needles. I don’t freak out or cry or scream or anything, but I can’t watch. But I can already tell you what the best part of my day is going to be:


One of the girls I work with brought me this calendar to work today. It’s a small town thing. My grandpa used to fill these things when he was a farmer. There’s about 4 lines for each day of the year, and he’d fill them with the weather, if Grandma went for a walk, when the kids were born (all 5 of my aunts/uncles/mom), if they came home late (my mother was a culprit), etc. They just read like a history of the family. I’m not sure if I’ll remember to write in mine every day, but just having one takes me back to when I was a kid visiting Grandpa & Grandma’s house. I loved to see my initials on that calendar.

That’s Monday! Tonight is the usual family dinner night, I’m bringing my vegan pumpkin cookies. They are SO easy and delicious, and pretty healthy to boot. Recipe can be found here. And don’t forget to pop over to Katie’s blog to check out what made everyone else’s Monday Marvelous!

Italian Stallions

If our weekend had to have a theme, I guess it would be Italian. Maybe we were just missing our honeymoon, but pretty much all our meals involved some kind of Italian flair. Friday, I scored these cupcakes from a retirement party at work: 


Yup. One was sugar cookie, the other chocolate caramel. Friday after work was a bit of a whirlwind as I ran across town to deliver some cookies to my cousin, pick up supplies for our adult lunchable dinner, and then get back across town to pick Jeff up from work. Once we got home, it was all wine, cheese, meat, etc. 


stock photo from one of our adult lunchable dinners a while back…pac man gouda! 

We started looking at each other at the late, late hour of 9:30 wondering how much later we could stay up hanging out on the couch. Yup, rock stars. Saturday was SUPER busy for me, took a training at the YMCA followed by a decent indoor workout. I did get stuck on a machine next to someone who had NO business being there. Guy was hacking up a lung, coughing everywhere, including on the guy to his other side. Was really, really grossed out but the 2 of us had the only 2 ARC trainers, so I stuck it out. If I’m struck down with the flu later, I’m totally blaming that guy. After the workout, I met my friend Angela for a fabulous salad & soup lunch, then off for coffee and errands with Lisa. I made Jeff some pretty amazing baked ziti last night for dinner: 


the secret ingredient is…lurve. And lots of extra garlic! 

Yup, that’s ricotta you see buried in there. I don’t make the best regular food-I’m usually better in the baking department, but I have a few specialties and this is one of them. Well, we barely made a dent in that giant pan, I have a feeling we’ll be eating that for a few days to come. Sunday was full of friends & food. We had about 12 people over for brunch today-kind of a horrible pun about my ovary being removed. Lots of eggs for everyone! I made a crock pot dish that didn’t turn out too well-it had me layer the ingredients instead of mix everything in. As a result, one person won the sausage lottery and everyone else came up potatoes. The other dish was another Italian themed casserole-bread cubes, tomatoes, garlic, bacon, and cheese with some eggs on top. I finally perfected it this time-I’m always worried the whites aren’t set enough that I let it cook too long and then the yolks are hard. This time would have been perfect, if not a little more done than I’d have liked. 


photo from food & wine magazine, the recipe is here and it’s fantastic! 

And then, the piece de resistance of my “retirement brunch”…uterus cake! 


that thing looks angry! 

Yup, my friends are awesome. They made me a pretty anatomically correct cake. Somehow we couldn’t convince a few of the guys to eat it, but I assure you that red velvet was pretty tasty. We popped over to our favorite watering hole to share with some more friends, and then Jeff and I came home for a dinner of…more baked ziti! I wanted to get a lot more done today, but the day just takes you where it takes you sometimes. I was looking to get a lot more done before next weekend-hopefully I can get some done this week. Ready for the short work week and then it’s on to “staycation”. 🙂 Hope everyone has a good week ahead, and safe travels if you’re on the move for Thanksgiving! 

Five Things Friday



I mustache you a question…is it Friday yet? 

Woohoo, the weekend is in our sights! That photo above is from a “Cinco De Mustache” girls bike ride we did a few years ago…so fun! Unfortunately, I had also had a pretty disastrous bike wreck a few days beforehand, so I looked a little like a mustachioed barfighter. My weekend plans aren’t crazy, but I’ve got a makeup training at the YMCA, followed by a little cardio and then an OG lunch with my girl Angela. Sounds thuggish, but we’re totally just going for unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks at Olive Garden. What can I say, we roll like that. Sunday we’re having a bunch of friends over for my “retirement brunch” on Sunday. Gotta send those eggs out in style! OK, so on to what’s on my mind today: 

1) BOY, am I argumenative today! Every email I get elicits some kind of sarcastic verbal response before I find a way be an adult and act like a professional. Just one of those days, I guess. 

2) I am NOT in the mood to work out these days! It’s a combination of factors-upcoming surgery, cold cold weather, and I’m not used to being stuck inside the gym for all of my workouts. I hate being on the treadmill, but I also get so bored on other machines too. Can’t win! I’m not too worried about it, though-I will workout when I can/feel like it until the surgery happens, and once I’m ready to get back to it, I will. No earth shaking disaster, just life.  

3) I’m not as psyched about Thanksgiving this year, or Christmas, and I’m not sure why. Things have been a bit tighter around our house, but I’ve usually bought Jeff 5 gifts and given him 3 by now. Granted, I have bought his major Christmas present-and it is MAJOR-but I know better than to spill the beans on this one. Maybe the elves will hit me with their pixie dust soon, but so far the Christmas Carols being played at my dentist’s office just make me feel rage instead of festive. Hopefully, Jeff & I can find a way to get together with both of our families during the holidays, I’m sure that would give me a big dose of Christmas Spirit. 

4) We’re having “Adult Lunchables” for dinner tonight (cured meats, cheeses, fruit, & bread…and wine) and I could not be more excited. It’s my favorite meal of all time. My Mom & Brother used to call it “Picnic Dinner”, and with Jeff it got upgraded to full adult lunchable status. Stopping at Trader Joe’s for supplies on the way home from work tonight-and after I drop my poor cousin off a care package of cookies I baked last night. He had to get his appendix out unexpectedly this week, just like I did last year. I know from experience that’s no fun at all! Jeff will tell you about how terrible the experience was if you ever ask him-I was in so much pain beforehand I kept getting sick every 10 minutes (albeit I was “the quietest puker he’d ever met”), they woke me up every 10 or so minutes overnight to check stuff, meaning he also got woken up all night, and one of the nurses totally manhandled my high on anesthesia behind, threw me in a bathroom with a new gown and told me to change myself. Didn’t go over well. This surgery will be at a different hospital, so we’re hoping for a better experience. 


Cousin Cookies-and perhaps a few for Jeff and I too! 

5) Changing my name has been frustrating the crap out of me lately! I was silly and decided I also needed to change my email address. So my logins to various websites are hard to remember what’s what, the front desk at work told someone I don’t work here anymore because they were confused, and I’m having some trouble getting a paypal payment as a result for a big sale. GRRRRR. 

That’s what’s on my mind today! Couple of silly questions to ask-

Family food traditions-aside from holidays, do you have any? 

Do you ever lose your workout mojo? It freaks me out that it’s not freaking me out, but it’s a good thing. 

For the cynics and sarcastics out there, what gets you in the holiday spirit? 


Preparations have begun!



the robot machine that will be used in my surgery (source)


I have had a day or two to process what I have going on for Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ve moved on to action mode. I’m a planner, so I’m trying to wrap my head around what will need to be done beforehand, what I’ll want done beforehand, etc. I don’t want Jeff to have to think about anything but hanging out with me on the couch, making some darn tasty food, and going about his normal routine while I’m recovering. Of course, he’s told me I’m silly and he’ll do whatever needs done so that I follow my recovery instructions to the letter, but I want to do whatever I can to make it easy on him. So the next few weekends are going to be about getting stuff DONE! Organizing things around the house I’ve let slide. Cleaning things I’ve been putting off. Stocking our cupboards with all the comfort foods I could want. I’ve got a query out on facebook for favorite TV shows and stuff to watch while I’m stuck on the couch.

I tried to research the procedure while I was being a bum on the couch last night, and boy was that a waste of time! A, not much is out there for women my age undergoing a hysterectomy, since the majority of women getting this done are about 10-15 years older than me. B, the recovery time and what to expect seem to vary so widely, I can’t possibly even come up with a general guideline for what to expect. I could be down a few days to four weeks, according to the web research I did. I’m going to bank on at least a week, and hopefully not more, but it would be nice to have a more accurate window. I guess I’m just going to have to realize that my body will heal as fast as it heals-everyone’s experience really is different. And maybe since I’ll be willing things to get better SO FAST, they just will.

Turns out I’ll be getting a root canal Monday, so there’s that to look forward to also. I’m really freaking out about all these medical bills I’m accruing, but I guess there’s nothing I can do about it. We’ll find a way to take care of things; it’s not like we’re broke but it does mean we may have to give up a few things while we’re taking care of these bills. I won’t get to surprise Jeff with a trip for his 30th like I’d planned; both financially and vacation-time-wise, it just won’t work. And that stinks, but that’s life. I’ll just have to find another way to make his birthday memorable.

With all this stress going on, and the fact that I’m going to be inactive for an indeterminate amount of time, it’s become a bit tougher to find the motivation to work out. My brain is pulling the “you’re going to be a slug anyway, might as well just start early” mentality and trying to coax me to sit around instead of go for a run. But I’ve got a few things going on with some relationships in my life that are driving me to relieve stress, and workouts are how I do that. And I’ve come around to the positive spin on this-the healthier I am at the time of surgery, the quicker my recovery will be! So I’m going to pop over to the gym for my lunch break to get rid of some financial stress; have a great weekend!


It Turns on a Dime

Just wanted to write down some quick thoughts about a pretty big thing that happened to me today. Had my post op appt with my doctor for my laser laparoscopy last month. It’s been a few weeks since the operation, so I was kind of surprised it was so late, but it gave me a good chance to sit down with my doctor and really talk about what has made me have 8 surgeries in 12 years. Well, we talked about it and decided the best way for me to avoid future pain and future surgeries is to go ahead and have a partial hysterectomy/left side oophorectomy. I’m still relatively young, but my progression of the disease (endometriosis) has been “extensive” in his words, and the reality is that having kids biologically would be an uphill battle and probably be terribly hard on my body. So November 30th I’m having it done. It’s strange to know that in a few weeks I’ll be infertile, but the reality is that I probably have been for a while now. 

Jeff and I are OK with this; if we decide in a few years that we want kids, we’ll adopt. And having this surgery is best for me now, both physically and monetarily-I’ve certainly met my deductible. Doing this now ensures that I’ve got at least 10-15 years before the right ovary could become problematic enough that I’d need further laparoscopy. But here comes more recovery time and an actual overnight hospital stay. At least it’s in a super cold month here in Nebraska-perfect time to hide under a blanket and recouperate. It’s going to be tough to keep me on bed rest for more than a few days, and it’s recommended that I’m out for at least 1-2 weeks, possibly up to 6. If you’re curious, they’re using the da Vinci method-yay robots! Poor Jeff is going to have his hands full-good thing he’s got a great support system! 

So to any friends that are reading this-know the decision has had a lot of thought put into it and we’re comfortable with it. And to everyone, your support will be appreciated! Going to be a bit more recovery than I’m used to, and I’ll be going stir crazy so expect lots of “blah I want to go outside and run!” posts. But it’ll be all worth it when next October rolls around and I don’t have to go back to the stupid hospital! 



So, it’s Wednesday again. Having a tough couple of days here-I have a really angry tooth in my mouth right now, and it’s causing me some pain. I get to sneak into the dentist tomorrow and find out what the deal is, but until then there’s either an ice pack on my face or some cold water in my mouth. On the bright side, I am probably the most hydrated I’ve ever been in my life!

Anyway, lets talk about food. Thanks to Jenn for hosting the weekly food porn round up. 🙂

So what am I eating? Lots of the same stuff as normal-I am pretty habitual during the work day with the same foods. Apples, bananas, pears, oatmeal, sometimes popcorn, and currently boatloads of my homemade chex mix. I’m limiting that to a small containerful a day but it gets pulled out and picked at like 10 times a day. I learned that lots of people I know haven’t had homemade chex mix (a real holiday season staple in our family) so I have a feeling I’ll be making a few batches over the next few weeks and really perfecting my recipe. Twist my arm! 

Today, I’m going to highlight my lunch from yesterday and today: loaded sweet potato. I LOVE sweet potatoes. Before Jeff came along, my single girl dinner was usually a sweet potato with some fat free cheese and salsa on it and a veggie patty or a chicken sausage. Jeff refers to it as the saddest dinner in the world. And it wasn’t bad, but I’ll admit it usually left plenty of room for a snack later on. He hates when I eat sweet potatoes-he doesn’t like them himself and they remind him of “dark days”. But this week I’m sneaking them back in for lunch! We had some leftover chile chicken from our taco dinner Saturday night, and so I am adding that to my regular salsa/fat free cheese combo. It’s delicious! And I’m not even a little sad after I eat it. 


So, recently on Facebook, there’s been a lot of discussion about what a “goal weight” is. There’s a fantastic few bloggers I follow there (Erin Brown, Chichi Kix, etc.) who have really been sparking discussion about women being happy in their own skin. And I’ve realized lately that my “goal weight” is actually where I am now, or maybe just a pound or two less. That kind of makes this my “happy weight”. I’m eating for the most part exactly what I want, when I want, working out as much as I’d like to, and generally maintaining. And that’s freaking awesome! I’d really suggest checking them out-their message is exactly what I have been working towards believing for myself. What brought all that up with WIAW? Nothing, really, except I’m wearing a pair of jeans today that I haven’t worn for a while because they were “too tight” on my thighs. Fit fine now! Woot woot! I can get a bit obsessive about my workouts and loathe taking rest days. I may be a convert now-that time off I had to take while I was miserable before my surgery has been the reboot my body needed. Just feel right back on track! 


Have a great Wednesday! Do you have a “goal weight” in mind or are you happy where you are? Do you have any “goal clothes” in your wardrobe? And last but not least…how do you get rid of excruciating tooth pain when your dentist appt is 22 hours away? 

The Longest Way Round is the Shortest Way Home, aka MiMM



Going to try to join the weekly roundup with Katie today and get my thinking back to being Marvelous. Having a whomp whomp kind of morning at work. About a year and a half ago, I decided that I was ready for a change in my job. I like the company I work for, but I’d been doing the same job for about 5 years, and it had become an automated response instead of something that I challenged myself with. I switched from a customer service based position to a position in our data integration department, or tech support. I’m a pretty personable girl, at least at work with clients, and I thought I’d be able to bring that factor in to the tech role where sometimes it’s missing. But the transition has been frustrating, the training isn’t really available to me to learn a lot of the things I need to do this job, and basically I have way more downtime at work than I am comfortable having. So it gets frustrating, and a lot of the time I feel like I made the wrong choice. I miss having contact with people-there’s not a lot of communcation that is not email based or that gets much beyond base level tech speak. At the same time, I have a lot of interest in the wellness field so I’m working my way towards getting more involved with that here. Trying to find ways to make this job a better fit for me, because the bottom line is that I can’t afford to walk away or shift gears right now. 

So what’s the marvelous in my Monday? I get to go have lunch with my Husband today. I get to go for a run after work and then have dinner with our fabulous group of friends like we do each week. I have a job to come to that pays me well and doesn’t stress me out, at least not in the traditional sense. And overall, I’m healthy, happy, and trying to become a more positive person in my interactions with others. That’s all gotta count for something-after all, for whatever struggles you’re having, they could seem like a cake walk to someone else with far different issues. I bet there’s someone out there who wishes they had such a job to go to, a former runner who for whatever reason isn’t physically capable anymore, or someone who doesn’t have the wonderful support system we do. That’s the marvelous in my Monday-appreciating the gifts I’ve been given, whether or not they seem like gifts at the time. 

Where does it GO?

Time flies when you’re having fun! Seems like this weekend went by in a blur, and I couldn’t really tell you exactly what I did. Well, that’s a lie-I’m going to try to reconstruct it here. 🙂 

Friday night was spent having too many cocktails. No need to give too many sordid details there; I was very glad it was Friday, apparently. Only thing worth mentioning from that is that I’ve been kicking around the idea of running a full marathon next year, and I think I found a friend crazy enough to do it with me. I was talking about it with Lisa today-I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it’d be nice to have found a “big” goal for next year-like 2 years ago it was an Olympic Tri, and last year was Half Ironman. But I remember feeling SO tired and cranky after finally completing the Iron Man, and thinking how this year it would be nice to get back to workouts because I feel like it, not because I have to hit x miles a week to progress towards a big ole goal. I wanted to get back to gardening, and baking, and some other interests I may not have even realized I have yet. And I know I could probably do both, but I worry that it’ll take over my already obsessive mind and put a halt to some progress I’ve made. On the other hand, I do love a challenge…

Saturday was spent doing the usual errands-putting together our household groceries for the week, a bit of housecleaning, and possibly a tiny nap. It was 60 outside-unheard of in Nebraska November. I decided it was probably my last chance for a good bike ride this year, so I saddled up my Kona and headed out to my favorite trail. There’s a packed limestone trail that goes from Lincoln farther than I’ve ever been able to ride. Well, let me tell you-it was pretty darn evident that I hadn’t rode for a while, certainly not that far in at least 2 months. I initially set out with a goal of 45ish miles, then dropped it to 40, and before I knew it, I decided 30 was going to have to do. My pace wasn’t good enough to make it safely home before dark, and I hadn’t brought my lights along. It was one of those rides that is just tough all the way. The way out is at a slight incline, so I usually come back much quicker, but this time if anything I got slower. Kind of discouraging, but hey-30 miles was enough to earn me some delicious chicken tacos Jeff made for dinner! I baked a pumpkin cake with a white chocolate glaze-turned out pretty darn delicious. 


Sunday was spent baking brunch for some friends-recipe here: http://www.navywifecook.com/2012/01/bacon-egg-and-cheese-ring.html. Ring of YUM! We made some homemade hash browns, and perhaps had some small slices of cake as brunch dessert. Lisa and I headed off for another Sunday of hiking-went almost 7 miles in and around Mahoney State Park here. Great way to clear your head, get your legs working without worrying about pace, and enjoy a brisk fall day. When we got home, Jeff and I decided that it was time to pick up his Thanksgiving overalls-engineer striped, of course. It is a bit of a tradition in our family that the turkey cook wears overalls. Just a strange thing we have. Jeff was pretty happy to participate in the tradition though: 


We stopped at Wal-Mart in our search for those overalls (3 stores later we got them at a western store specializing in wranglers and cowboy boots) and couldn’t resist the poppy sales from the American Legion members. Last week would have been my grandpa’s 91st birthday, and he was a proud and active member of the legion. This one’s for you, Grandpa! 



For those who don’t know me in real life, my Grandpa was a very important person in my life for a really long time. My father died at a very young age, both for him (27) and for me (5). My stepdad was not very accepting of me and was a bit abrasive for me to live with. My Grandpa was probably the single positive male role model I had in my life for a very long time. Always happy to see me, always smiling, family was his world. Any time I was with him, I felt important. We bonded for a Summer when I was about 12 years old. My family was moving to a small town in Iowa, and my Mom left me with them for about a month or so while they set up shop before I officially moved with them. At that same time, Grandpa was recovering from quite major surgery-a quadruple bypass surgery. He had been put on some medication that wasn’t agreeing well with him, and it made him super antsy. The only thing that calmed him down was somehow watching me play solitaire. Old school, playing cards, sitting on the floor next to his la-z-boy. I must have sat there at least 4 hours a day, every day, the whole time I was there. I would sometimes get frustrated, and not want to-I wanted to go explore their small town, go for a walk, or do whatever 12 year olds did before the internet. But I knew Grandpa needed me, so there I sat. And once, years later, I was with them in the grocery store and I heard him introduce me to one of his doctors from back then as the girl who saved his life. Grandpa passed away a few years ago, and we all really, really miss his positive spirit, but we know he’s still with us. 

OK, Q&A time: 

**how do you balance training with living a normal life? Does training for a specific race or event BECOME your normal life? If so, do you find that some of your duties at home get put on the back burner? Also, full marathon: am I freaking crazy or WHAT? 

Three Things Thursday



One of my faves from our wedding-2 months ago today! 


  1. Tricked myself into taking yoga tonight-we’ll see how I do. My instinct would have been to run after work-normally on Thursdays I’ll use the elliptical machine over lunch and then run or something afterwards. But I went over to the gym and used the dreadmill so I’d have no choice but to take yoga! I am very bendy (points to anyone who gets THAT reference) and have great balance, but the “quieting my mind” part is a whole different story. I am going with a friend tonight, so that may help relax me a bit. 
  2. I am on a crock pot roll! Last night’s chicken taco chili was amazing, even better for lunch today. Tonight, we have in the crock pot a coconut curried pork tenderloin. We may have deviated from the recipe a tad-I was slightly impatient peeling the devil squash we had last night and said to hell with that, we’re using potatoes too. Barring a taste disaster, I’ll link to that recipe later. Heck, if ever you’re bored, feel free to check my pinterest board devoted to crock pots (http://www.pinterest.com/llkastens/crock-pot/). Something about walking in the door to a house with delicious dinner smells all around is just awesome, although it does make me wonder if it drives my dogs crazy smelling that all day and never getting to taste it. 
  3. The whole “being my biggest cheerleader/not being so hard on myself” experiment is going great. Yesterday in my 2 classes, I actively had to stop myself from checking how I was faring/looking/competing with other girls in the class, and direct myself to check on that girl in the blue shirt in the mirror (me!). Much more time was spent focusing on my form, how I felt in class, and making sure I got the most out of my workout. 


I’ve joined a few challenges and blogger exchanges this month, and one is the “pile on the miles” challenge. I don’t want to forget where I’m at, so my tally for November as of today is 20. Not too shabby-my projected goal was 50 and I plan to crush it! The breakdown so I don’t get confused is as follows: 




That’s all for now! Have a fantastic evening, so glad tomorrow’s Friday! 

What I Ate Wednesday!



Thought I’d give this whole weekly Wednesday thing a whirl! Tuesday & Wednesday are my 2 toughest workout days of the week-Tuesday is a kick butt kettlebell class over lunch and my spin/kettlebell class after work. Wednesday is “Power CSI” which is basically a boot camp over lunch, and then actual boot camp after work. Last Wednesday I was so tired after all that I crawled into bed around 8:30, so that leaves not a lot else to talk about but food! Thanks to http://www.peasandcrayons.com/ for hosting a weekly link roundup of all the WIAW posts for your voyeuristic foodie pleasure. 


Everyone knows which one I am! 


Pretty much every day starts for me with a big ole bowl of oatmeal. This weekend, I made my own applesauce in the crock pot-it was super easy! Just dice up a bunch of apples, throw in some apple juice, a bit of brown sugar, and some cinnamon and you’re good to go. I was in a bit of an apple frenzy this weekend and had used up all the cinnamon in the house, so I’ll admit to throwing some pumpkin pie spice in there, and it actually tasted awesome. You’ll know when it’s done-cook to your level of mushy. 🙂

After that oatmeal, and plenty of coffee, I have a banana and an apple with some string cheese. Boring. Lunch was a can of Minnestrone soup and a bowl of frozen blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Post workout snack is greek yogurt and a pear. I imagine there will be some popcorn here later, as I am a popcorn FREAK. I made Jeff register for a microwave popcorn maker when we got married and was devastated when we didn’t get one. That’s OK, Christmas is coming, right? 

Dinner tonight I’m super excited about. It’s crock pot season and we’re back to using ours full force. I grabbed this recipe from my Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/llkastens) crock pots board-yes, I have an entire one devoted to crock pot goodness. Anyway, it’s linked over here: http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/2012/02/crock-pot-chicken-taco-chili.html. We actually don’t make many modifications to this one, which is a rarity for us. Can’t wait to get home tonight and have the smell of yummy goodness waiting for me to chow down. 



Here’s hoping your Wednesday is awesome!