Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30th

This past weekend I went to one of my favorite places: Steamboat Springs. Steamboat is where I re-learned how to ski, where I met Chris three years ago, and where I love to go to get away. Chris and went skiing in Steamboat at the end of December. The ski conditions in December were terrible. In the last few weeks they have definitely improved. There are a lot less brown/grassy patches and more snow than ice. We got in two great days of skiing. I could tell that I could make it down the mountain without stopping as much. I wasn't out of breath and my legs weren't on fire. I guess I can say that the workouts are paying off.

However, my weight watchers points were through the roof. Even though I planned meals and brought healthy snacks, I ate way more than I should have and picked some unhealthy snacks. I found a pumpkin pie liqueur that tastes delicious, but also 6 points a serving. Yikes! Now that the week has started, it is time to get back on track. When I was tracking my points, I was surprised to find that skiing isn't on the acitvity list. It is hard to actually count the minutes of actual skiing.

This week is going to be an easy week, I hope. It is a short week, with parent-teacher conferences on Wednesday, a professional day on Thursday and a furlough day on Friday. I only have to teach two days this week since I took today off. I just have to keep my motivation up and track my points better than I did this weekend. Chris and I might check out the Denver Beer Co. running club tomorrow night. This will be my first time running since October. But, I have to start somewhere. Chris wants to write about the various running clubs that are hosted by breweries/bars. We have both run the Snug run in the past, but plan to run it again so that he can write about it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22nd

It was another busy week and another great weekend. I made sure that I got a workout in every day this week. I gave myself a day off to rest on Friday. I found a  couple of new workout DVDs this week, so I have yet to get bored with my workouts. Yesterday I did Jillian Michaels' Extreme Shed and Shred. This morning I did Bob Harper's Total Body Transformation. This was an hour long workout and my body was working hard for every minute of it. I am sore in places that I haven't been for a while. I guess those are muscles that I have neglected. There were a lot of other DVDs on Bob's website that I want to buy. The "My Trainer Bob" series has two DVDs that I want to buy: Ultimate Cardio Body and Totally Ripped Core.

I have been trying to follow the Weight Watchers plan as strictly as I can. I used all of my points every day and all of my weekly "allowance" points. Thankfully I had 47 activity points that I didn't have to use. But, the scale hasn't moved. I am hoping that because I am building muscle that is the reason the scale isn't changing. It is really hard to stay within the daily points. I used the recipes on Weight Watchers to make dinner tonight (Chicken Sausage and Whole Wheat Penne). I also found a recipe for Spicy Shrimp Skewers and Couscous that I will make later this week.

I have been making recipes from the America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, which I absolutely love. This week I had fresh blueberries in my Door to Door Organics box. I thought that blueberry muffins sounded like a great way to use the blueberries. The recipe calls for yogurt, which seems healthy. I used Fage 0% plain yogurt. (My coworker Nick was eating the individual serving of Fage one day at lunch. I decided that I would give it a try and I LOVE it!) It is a good way for me to get healthy dairy and it is only 3 points for the 0% and 4 points for the 2%.) Yogurt seemed like a healthy addition to muffins. I guess the stick of butter made it not so healthy. Each muffin was 7 points. Ugh! But they taste really good. It is kind of hard to make a muffin one meal though, since I only get 8-9 points per meal. I need to up my fruits and veggies at every meal. I have been good about eating an apple every day. Yesterday I added a little Justin's almond butter to my apples.

I feel good that I already have 21 activity points for the week. In addition to the two workout videos, I played Just Dance 3 for the Kinex with our friends yesterday. I was just as sweaty and out of breath after dancing as I am after a workout DVD. I wonder if the Wii version is as good. It is definitely a fun way to workout because it doesn't seem like a workout.

I think the highlight of the weekend was going to Highland Tap and Burger with friends on Friday night. They have a beer club called Crafty Ladies Beer Club that meets there. One of these days I want to attend one of their events. They collaborated with Oskar Blues to make a chai stout called Chai-No-Mite. I love chai tea and even made a chai porter last year. Even though I hadn't planned on getting a beer, I couldn't pass up a chai beer. It was delicious. I had imagined that when I brewed a chai beer again that I wanted it to be a little more creamy. But this stout wasn't creamy. It had a great chai flavor and aroma. Maybe next fall/winter I will brew a chai stout of my own.

The lowlight of the weekend was grading tests. But that is the life of a teacher. Thanks to Chris for helping me grade. He got to see how ridiculous some of their answers were. I just can't believe that one kid could not correctly identify the anus on a diagram of the digestive system. Come on! Seriously, they laugh every time I say it in class.


Monday, January 16, 2012

January 16th

I am grateful for three day weekends. The weekend started off with a Broncos loss. But, considering I was predicting a 3 game win for the season, going to the playoffs was pretty exciting. It was fun spending time with my parents, aunt and uncle, and of course Chris. We tried some new beers, one was too hoppy (Chris liked this one more than I did) and one was dark with hints of toffee, vanilla and chocolate (I liked this one more than Chris did). Chris has been sampling the Wild Wild Brett Series from Crooked Stave. Last weekend we had the W.W.B.O which is a beer brewed with a brettanomyces  yeast strain and minneola tangelo, orange peel and other spices. My first impression was it had a sour aroma with a hint of orange cleaner smell. I have an overly sensitive nose and I was the only one that was not a fan of the odor. The flavor was pretty sour and orange-y. It was not one of my favorite beers. This weekend Chris tried the W.W.B.G which is part of the same series. Before trying the beer, he explained to me that Crooked Stave is going to have a beer for every color in the rainbow. So, the G in W.W.B.G stands for green. This was the hoppy beer that I mentioned. Although it was much better than the W.W.B.O, I don't really like hoppy beers. The other beer that we tried was a 25th Anniversary Vanilla Doubledog from Abita Beer. I really liked this beer with the light toffee flavor and subtle hints of vanilla and chocolate. It was almost like a dessert, so of course I liked it.

On Sunday, we went to Jonesy's Eatbar for Geeks Who Drink Trivia. Chris and I first went to Jonesy's last year for trivia during the Martin Luther King Day weekend. We had just purchased the Eat Denver Deck and wanted to try out some new restaurants. As with last year, it seems that people use the opportunity of having Monday off to stay out late and go to trivia. There were 16 teams, which made the competition pretty high. We did alright for a two person team. But what is better than trivia is the food at Jonesy's. Chris gets the shrimp and grits whenever he gets the chance. They used to have a delicious pork chop and mashed potatoes. Sadly, it is no longer on the menu. I try different things every time I go. But, I always get the truffle fries. At the end of the night, it was a good feeling that I didn't have to get up and go to work. That gave me one more day to get stuff done (aka grocery shopping and cooking a real dinner).

Today I had coffee with my college rooomate who is getting ready to head back to Melbourne, Australia where she is a student at the National Institue of Circus Arts (NICA). Liz does some crazy stuff like fly around on a trapeze. It was good to catch up with her. After coffee, I decided I should figure out what I was going to make for dinner and use the bananas that have been sitting in my fruit bowl for two weeks. I decided on Sausage Lasagna in the slow cooker and a new recipe for banana bread. Both are recipes from America's Test Kitchen.  Both tasted delicious. Now I have lunch and a snack for work tomorrow. The banana bread recipe called for walnuts. I decided mini chocolate chips sounded better. These weren't the most healthy options as I found out after I put the recipes into the recipe builder in Weight Watchers. The recipe builder is a cool feature that allows you to put in a recipe and it calculates the points for you. In preparation for my high point dinner, I did another Jillian Michaels workout. I probably sound like an advertisement for her workout DVDs but I really like them. Yesterday I did Six-Week Six Pack and today I did No More Trouble Zones. My abs are sore, my legs are sore, and my arms are sore. I am pretty much sore everywhere. Probably because I haven't used most of these muscles for months. Tomorrow I am going to get up and try some yoga to stretch out my muscles.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 14

So, blogging every day is really hard. Maybe because lately I have been making my workouts and healthy eating a priority. After the new year, the workout DVDs are always on sale. I picked up a few new ones so that I don't get bored with the ones that I already have. I bought The Biggest Loser Calorie Knockout and The Biggest Loser At Home Challenge. They usually have two of The Biggest Loser DVDs at the end of each season. I think I have all of these DVDs. They are great workouts because some are 10 minutes, some are 20, and some are 30 minutes. That gives me options depending on how much time I have to workout. I also like that some of the workouts are cardio and others are strength workouts. I have also been doing the Jillian Michaels' Killer Buns and Thighs and Ripped in 30 Days. These workouts make me really push myself. Of course, I am totally out of shape. I need to start building up my workouts so when it is nice outside again, I will be ready for some long training runs for the half-marathon. I like that Jillian really kicks my butt. Sure, she yells a lot, but I actually workout harder. I was doing The Biggest Loser workout with Anna Kournikova the other day and I just wasn't as into it. Her emotions are so flat. I guess I like it that Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels "get in your face" so to say.

It has been a struggle getting up at 4:45 to workout before work. But, I think I can do that at least 3 days a week. Even after one week of working out and being strict about Weight Watchers, I can tell that my pants fit a little better. Hopefully the strength training, especially in my legs, with help the next time I go skiing. I want my muscles to feel stronger, so that I am more confident on the mountain.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 7th

Today I am thankful for good friends/coworkers.

Tonight we went to Dave and Buster's to celebrate my coworker's adoption of her son. Despite the giant snowflakes that were coming down, the drive wasn't too bad. Chris and I had fun chatting with my coworkers over dinner. My chicken sandwich came with the cheese and avocado sauce that asked to be left off my order. Somehow this is a very difficult concept. A lot of places don't understand food allergies or picky eaters. So I sent my food back. As we waited, we watched the balloon animal artist make flowers, dogs, spaceships, and bears for the kids. It is funny how something as simple as a balloon bent into a fun shape can keep a kid amused and happy.

After dinner we played games, trying to win as many tickets as possible. The best part was watching kids run around and play games. Even if they didn't win, they were still having fun. Sadly, I didn't get to play skee ball, which is one of my favorite games. Apparently it is the favorite of a lot of other people too, because it was busy the whole night. Some of the games are just as addicting as Vegas slot machines. You get sucked into to trying to push coins off a ledge to get more tickets or watching a little light go round and round waiting for just the right moment to land on the bonus light.

Our goal was to walk away with some of the best prizes we could find. We had enough tickets to get a pint glass, some bubbles, and some candy. Bottom line, we had fun.

January 6th

Today I am thankful for trying new things.

Tonight we went to one of the newer breweries in Denver. Wit's End Brewing Company opened a few months ago during the Great American Beer Festival. Chris keeps up on the latest beer news in Denver including when new breweries open. Wit's End is tucked away in an industrial complex, but easy enough to find. When Chris said it was a small brewery, I expected a bar with enough room for the brewmaster to serve his beer, five or six chairs and the bartender's buddy sitting at the bar. In reality, the brewery had a large bar with siting room for about 10 people, 5 or 6 small tables, and a large group of people. We sat down at the bar and ordered a sampler so that we could try all of the beers they had to offer. We started chatting with the people next to us about breweries and some of our favorites in the state. A group of guys walked in and we talked to them for a while about beer and breweries. Then the brewmaster's neighbors walked in, so we talked to them. Then a guy that we met a few months ago at Hops & Pie walked in. We learned from the brewer that he is going to be in Vail for the Big Beer Festival. This is a festival that we have yet to attend. We also still need to visit the breweries in Vail/Avon/Eagle area. We can probably accomplish that this summer when we don't have to deal with Saturday morning ski traffic.

We walked into the brewery with the intention of trying new beer and adding another brewery to our list. I didn't realize that we were going to hanging out with a fun little beer community. This place is like Cheers. The brewer chats with everyone there and is genuinely appreciative that they are there. The art work is framed coasters from other breweries and beers establishments from around the US and around the world. I was reminded that we did not visit Elysian Brewing Company when we visited Seattle two years ago, because we hadn't heard about it yet. So Chris and I made plans to go to the new Husky Stadium when it opens for a football game and visit Elysian. Hopefully we will get to try some of the pumpkin beers that they don't sell here in Colorado.

January 5

Well, this post was supposed to be written a couple of days ago. This blogging everyday is going to be harder than I thought.

Thursday was a wonderful day for one of my coworkers. She and her family welcomed a wonderful little boy into their family. They started the adoption process almost two years ago. They went to classes for the county, had people making sure their home was safe, had every aspect of their lives scrutinized. They endured the long process that the county put them through and it paid off! My coworker sent pictures from the courthouse. You could see the excitement for this day fo finally  be here.

I am truly amazed at the strength of my coworker and her family. I am thankful for people like her who are willing to go through this process to give a loving home to a little guy. My coworker is one of the most patient people that I know and I can tell she is a great mommy to her boys. Tonight we get to go celebrate the adoption by playing games and having fun.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 4th

Today I am grateful for students that make me laugh. My students came back with stories about what they got for Christmas and what they did over break. My last period of the day is always the most chatty, but they are a quirky group of kids. They are always eager to tell me a joke, or something silly that their little siblings did. It doesn't surprise me that they are always a little bit behind my other classes. But when they look back, they probably won't care about the excretory system. They will remember that science was fun (I hope) and that they laughed a lot. It always helps that on the first day back from break we are talking about the kidneys and that one of the slides on the notes says we are talking about pee not poo! All day long they laughed when they read it and thought it was even more funny when I read it. Twelve and thirteen year olds are awkward, but I guess that is why my job keeps me on my toes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 3rd

Today I am grateful that I have a job. Although it was very hard getting up early to go to work after being off for two weeks. Today was a teacher work day so we didn't have any students. It was a nice way to ease back into being at work. I brought some of the classroom pets back to school today because I know the kids will be anxious to see them. As I carried the animals to the car, I was able to watch the sunrise change frome blues, pinks, and purples to oranges and pinks. It was a wonderful way to start the day.

However, when I got to my classroom I was welcomed by the smell of rotting liquid. One of my students left a water bottle full of some type of liquid in my classroom. Two weeks worked its magic and the liquid became a putrid smelling sludge. I was able to escape my room for a while as we gathered together to complete a personality profile. We did the True Colors personality quiz. It has been a few years since I have done this quiz, but I think my color is the same. I am a gold, with orange a close second. One of the traits of gold is being organized. If you look at my classroom or my house, you will see that I am NOT organized. I may have my own weird method of organizing which consists of piles of stuff. If someone moves my piles, I get stressed out because somehow I know what is in each of those piles.

After the meeting, I had to return back to my room to tackle the stacks of papers that I neglected to grade over break. As I graded papers for the rest of the day, I had to smell that horrible smell. Our janitor came in and sprayed some odor neutralizing spray, but it was no match for whatever was in that water bottle. By the end of the day, my room was almost back to normal and I mentally prepared for the students to come back. Tomorrow the students return, knowing that we are half way to summer break.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2nd

Today I am grateful for the ability to be active. I went swimming today and was able to swim for 35 minutes. I almost swam a mile. I haven't been swimming in months! It felt great to start the new year with some exercise. Hopefully I can  go swimming at least once a week after work. I love swimming because it works muscles in the arms, legs, well pretty much every where. Going to the local rec center is also a reminder that I need to keep fit and active now. I saw what happens to you if you don't and it is scary. So, here's to being fit and active in 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome to 2012

A couple of months ago I joined Pinterest. I heard about it from some friends and decided to check it out. Well, I have found so many craft ideas to keep me busy for the rest of the year. I even used some of the ideas for Christmas gifts. One of the ideas that I came across was a journal to keep track of something that you are thankful for everyday. I started this blog with the intent to write about running. But, I think I will morph it into a blog about crafting, running, teaching,cooking/baking, and all the other things that define me. Rather than keeping a paper journal, I think I will use this blog as my 365 days of gratitude journal.

Today I am thankful for great friends. Chris and I went over to our friends' house for a New Year's party last night. I met some new people, caught up with friends, played Band Hero, and made a new friend over a common hobby, knitting. Chris and I tried some new beers so that he could write about them in our blog and review them for Examiner. One of the great things about trying new beers, is trying them with friends. Chris enjoys critiquing beers with friends so that he can get multiple opinions about color, aroma, flavor, and other qualities of the beer. When he moved to Denver, two and a half years ago, we decided that we would make it our mission to visit every brewery in Colorado. I haven't made an official count recently, but I estimate we have visited 76 Colorado breweries.

Chris and me, with his sister photobombing in the background

My most recent knitting project - I knitted this hat for my friend Robin.

Today I am also reminded that I have 124 days until the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon in Indianapolis. I ran this race for the first time last year. It is amazing how running at lower altitude improves your time. Running at a mile high is great training! So as the new year begins, so does a new training program. I really want to get a personal record when I run this race in May. Every time I run a race my goal is to get a PR. But, every time something gets in the way of training. The last race was two months after I bought a house. Needless to say, my time was devoted to toward home improvement projects, not training. This time, I am dedicated to getting the time I want. My goal is anything less than 2 hours and 17 minutes. Someday, I hope to run a half-marathon in 2 hours and 15 minutes.