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Solitary Adventures

Andy and I were up in Lake Placid a few weekends ago so he could do a full ride on the IMLP bike course (all 112 miles of it!)  We always have such a nice time up there, and as I had most of Saturday to myself while he was riding, I was able to do some things on my own.

I stopped by 3 garage sales and found a few little treasures to bring home.  Probably my favorite purchase of the day was this set of Haviland Limoges china dessert plates.  Six beautiful little treasures for $5!

Haviland Limoges

Haviland Limoges

I saw so much nice glassware, china, crystal, etc, but the only other thing I came home with was an adorable set of blue milk glass dessert bowls.  They are just darling and I can’t wait to use them for something!

Milk Glass

Milk Glass

I hit up a couple antique stores as well — one of them had true antique pieces, and if I had several thousand extra dollars to my name I would have easily come home with an early 1900s Craftsman desk, two Mission-style rockers and the most beautiful antique dresser I have ever seen.  The other store had some more budget-friendly items (of which I only brought home a 12 1/2″x12 1/2″ wooden milk crate to start my collection for this bookshelf that I saw on Pinterest (thanks, Rachel!) Sidenote: If you’re a member of Pinterest, follow me here!

Vintage Crate Bookshelf

I also found the most gorgeous vintage clutch — black velvet beaded with white and green crystals and green and red beads — it was really amazing, but the price tag forced me to walk away… Ah, to be rich and carefree 🙂

The triathletes-in-training were out in full force this weekend and it started getting me (and of course, Andy) excited about Ironman LP which is now only a few weeks away.  It was nice to enjoy a little time in our favorite weekend getaway spot while it was still relatively quiet for the summer and the throngs of racers and families are still at home.  The next time we go will be very different.  We had a nice dinner at  Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood, a place we’ve seen a million times but have never tried during any of our visits.  And of course, we stopped by Big Mountain Creperie and Deli before we left (we affectionately call it “The Creperie” and in fact, I didn’t even know it’s actual name until I looked at the receipt this weekend!)  They have the most delicious sandwiches (46 of them — named for the Adirondack high peaks) as well as sweet and savory crepes and salads, smoothies, and breakfast sandwiches.  We stop by at least once during every trip to LP.

As much as I love and cherish my time with Andy and as much as I look forward to time with my favorite girls, there’ s just something special about spending time with yourself, doing the things that you love.

On Being an “Ironwidow”

IM70.3

Andy finishing the Syracuse Ironman 70.3

I would imagine that most of you who know me know Andy and the crazy athlete he is. He’s done 4 marathons (including Boston twice) and countless other races… he doesn’t just love to run, it’s his passion and he’s fast too!

A while back he started getting bouts of Achilles’ Tendinitis and had to take some time off of running. It made me sad to see him have to be idle, because I knew he missed his nightly runs, and for him that was his outlet… to let off steam, unwind after a day’s work, relax and de-stress. Since he wasn’t able to focus solely on running without being in pain and aggravating his injury, he decided to add biking and swimming to his repertoire. Little did he know the monster he was creating. His Achilles’ eventually healed enough so he could run consistently, but by then he was already a budding triathlete.

Once he got bit by the bug, he was swimming, biking and running on a consistent basis. We went up to Lake Placid in 2009 to volunteer for the Lake Placid Ironman and Andy had the intention of signing up for the next year’s race. However, right before we went he got injured again and knew that he wouldn’t be able to train in time. We went and volunteered anyway — and it was such a special experience for both of us. I always admired the effort it takes to be an endurance athlete, but to do an Ironman takes a special kind of crazy. 🙂  Our volunteer shift was the very last time slot of the day (8pm – midnight) at the very last aid station on the course. We chose this specifically because we knew we’d be part of cheering on and encouraging those people who were struggling to finish, those who needed it the most. We saw average looking people trudging along, at the end of their rope, struggling to make it to the finish. We saw Matt Long, the NYC Firefighter who got hit by a bus while riding his bike to work, pushing forward with his team of supporters, completing his race after spending 5 months in the hospital and enduring 40 surgeries. We saw a man walking with minutes left before the time cut off (you have 17 hours to finish the race or you are technically not considered a finisher), and seriously doubted that he could make it. Some of our aid station took off running along side him, spurring him on and we heard the crowd a half mile away as he crossed the finish line in exactly 17:00:00. It was really a special time. I knew at that moment that even if Andy couldn’t compete in the following year’s race, he would compete some day and it would be one of the most memorable days of both of our lives. (You can see both Matt Long and the 17 hour finisher here.)

In 2010 we volunteered at IMLP again at the same aid station (though at an earlier time slot so we could go watch some of the late finishers cross the line.) Thankfully, Andy was injury free that year and without having ever competed in a triathlon, he signed up to do Ironman Lake Placid in 2011. His first competitive triathlon was the Syracuse Half Ironman last year. It’s a 70.3 mile race broken down as follows: 1.2 miles of swimming, followed by a 56 mile bike ride, followed by a half-marathon (13.1 mile). Not only did he finish injury-free, he exceeded his personal goal and had a GREAT time. And remember, that was a half Ironman. The full Ironman distance is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon (26.2 miles). We are now only 7 weeks and 3 days out from Andy’s race and he has been training regularly since November. Neither of us really knew exactly what we were signing up for. 🙂

During Ironman weekend, Lake Placid is overtaken by triathletes and their families. Every where you look, there are groups of people congregating in coordinating t-shirts, like family reunions at Disney World. Some shirts are sentimental and serious, like the group supporting Matt Long’s I WILL foundation, some are funny (“I don’t do triathlons, I do a triathlete.”)… even babies get in on the deal (“Cryathlete: Sleep, Eat, Poop”). There were more than a few spouses and significant others wearing “Ironwidow” shirts like a badge of honor and I now know why.

Someone cleverly coined the term “Ironwidow” for those companions who are in a relationship with someone who is training for an Ironman. I’ve also heard the term “Bag Bitch” (yes, we are the ones who get stuck lugging around all the gear and keeping track of stuff on race days), but I don’t really care for that one as much. I didn’t really know what being in a relationship with someone who was training for such a hardcore athletic event would mean, but I know now that it’s not easy. You get accustomed to being alone for hours on end (which is even harder for me, since I work at home alone all day… and it does get lonely). You learn that most of your conversations will have the words “swim”, “bike” or “run” in it (and hey, I’ve learned a lot — I feel like I know all the lingo now!) You know that you’re either eating dinner at 8 pm or you’re eating by yourself (oh, and you’re probably cooking every day now too, if you weren’t already). You learn to be your partner’s partner and to support him (or her) in whatever way you can for their training… date nights might be grocery shopping at Walmart on a Friday night instead of going out to eat. If you’re lucky, you might get a trip to the bike store thrown in there as well. (Kidding). Triathlon is an expensive sport, so you know for sure that you’re not getting any fancy diamond jewelry this year. 🙂 Racing bikes, wetsuit, gear, clothes, supplements, entry fees, hotels… it really adds up fast!

They say that Triathlon is not a team sport — and I understand what they mean by that, obviously. But in my experience, it takes a lot of support to make someone a triathlete. It’s a sacrifice on the part of the athlete of course. Andy trains 6 days a week. His workouts can be as short as 45 minutes for a “short ride” during an easy week or as long as 7-8 hours for a “long bike” during the peak of his traning. (Yes, that’s true — he rode 100 miles last weekend, then raced in a sprint triathlon the following day). A big part of me wants to (and sometimes does) complain about never seeing him, about having to plan weekend activities around long bike rides and long runs, about having to drop what I’m doing on a Saturday and drive 40 miles to pick him up when he gets a flat tire. Yes, that is all part of my life right now. But the symbolism behind all the practical things is what’s more important. Andy knows that I support him and that he has someone who is here for him, no matter what. I support him in the best way I know how – and that is by letting him do the things that he loves.

Last weekend, while I was waiting for Andy to finish his race, I read an article by Lee Gruenfeld that really touched me. The article, called A Word to the Triathlon Widow(er), really hit home and provided some much needed perspective. After Andy was done with the race and we were in the car getting ready to drive home, I read it to him and we both sat there when I was done, tears in our eyes and just reflected on the words we had just heard.

Here is a snippet from the article, though I’d really encourage you to read the whole thing. (You can right-click on the link below and save the word document.)

“The answer to the question of triathlon widowhood doesn’t lie in logistics. It isn’t about scheduling appointments with each other or apportioning the household tasks or ensuring parity or fairness or equality. It’s about first realizing that, if your loved one aspires to be a triathlete, and
especially one of the long-distance variety, you are linked to someone extraordinary and
should be mindful of the privilege you’ve been afforded. You need to trust me on this one: when you see his face as he crosses the line, your life will change forever…”
A Word to the Triathlon Widow(er) by Lee Gruenfeld

I’ve always admired Andy’s dedication, perseverance and motivation. I wish I had his energy, his willpower, his passion. But so often, I get caught up in how this experience has affected me negatively that I forget to see the forest for the trees. The man I love is going to be an Ironman. That is SO SPECIAL and I’m insanely proud of him. I find myself trying to work Ironman into conversations with people all the time, just so I can brag about him. He is going to experience something that only .01% of the population can say that they have experienced. And you know what?? That means, I’M going to experience something that only .01% of the population has experienced. I’m going to be right there when he finishes and it’s going to be a special moment for me too. Truth be told, it’s hard to explain the magic of Lake Placid during Ironman. It sounds silly, but there is really something special about being in that place at that time for that event. We felt it when we were there volunteering and I can only imagine what it will feel like for us to be there when Andy is competing, the culmination of nine months of hard work and sacrifice. I’m excited. Has it been hard? Yes, at times. But even the hard times aren’t that bad and it’ll all be worth it when he crosses that finish line on July 24 and he hears the announcer yell “You… ARE… An….IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!” And I’ll be there front and center.

(With all that said, I still think a puppy and/or some sparkly diamond jewelry would be a nice “thank you” gift. :))
PUPPY!

Triple Jump Pizza

Tuesday night is family dinner night at my house… my mom, sister-in-law and nephew come over while my brother works his second job and Andy works his “second job” (i.e., training for IronMan).  I cook dinner and we have a good time.  I’m hoping to share our meals with you every Tuesday — that will be a good incentive for me to come up with some new dinner ideas!

I’m always on the lookout for healthy recipes that mimic stuff we love to eat and this pizza fits the bill perfectly.  Andy is an avid Runner’s World reader and he came across the recipe a few years ago.  We’ve been making it ever since.

Check out Runner’s World’s Triple Jump Pizza here.  We usually leave out the provolone cheese, but only because we don’t typically have it in the house.

Here’s my favorite recipe for Whole Wheat Pizza Dough in the bread machine:

1 tsp honey or agave

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups hot water

3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp active yeast

Throw it all in the bread machine on the dough setting and in an hour and a half you have dough!  If you don’t have a bread machine and want the rest of the recipe, I’m sure I could be persuaded  to dig it out for you.

Yum, yum, eat it up!

Triple Jump Pizza

 

Kitchen Makeover Ideas

Over the past year and a half, we’ve pretty much done anything major that has needed to be done in all our common areas.  The bathroom got paint, new flooring, new medicine cabinet and some paint on the vanity/shelving.  The living room and dining room both got fresh paint.  All that’s really left is the kitchen.  We got new hardware for the cabinets pretty  much right away and finally picked out a paint color and got that on the walls (though we’re not in love with it).  But still, there is major work to be done in that space.  We need new floors, counters and a sink as well as some additional work space that will come in the form of an island… thank God for IKEA!

Here is our working “mood board” for the kitchen.

I’m absolutely dying for cork floors but I don’t know if we can make them fit in the budget.  They aren’t terribly expensive, but at roughly 3x the price of vinyl or linoleum, it may not be something we can do.  My goal is always to stay true to bungalow style while also being as eco-friendly as possible.  Because of that, we might end up choosing two neutral shade linoleum tiles and laying them out in a checkerboard pattern.  We also are incorporating a lot of natural wood (the island top and countertops will both be butcher block).  I’m hoping it will have a cottage feel but with some modern touches, like the stainless appliances and chrome baker’s rack and cart.

Check out these gorgeous cork floors!

Cork checkerboard

Cork checkerboard

Gorgeous cork pattern

Gorgeous cork pattern

Cork cork cork!

Cork cork cork!

We still have not decided on a backsplash — The Man likes 1″ glass tiles, but I feel like it’s so overdone.  I would like to incorporate some color though, and am considering colored subway tile or 1×3″  tiles, like this

Cameron Tile backsplash

Cameron Tile Works Backsplash

Susan Jablon Designs

Susan Jablon Designs Backsplash

Decisions, decisions.  What would you do?

Things I want….

… that The Man has vetoed.

I love having a guy who likes to have a say in how we decorate the house.  But there have definitely been a few times when I wish he didn’t have as much of an opinion… like when I wanted these things and was brutally rebuffed.  Bonus points for knowing that cinema reference.

Painted kitchen cabinets

When we first bought our house, the kitchen was the one room that very obviously needed updating.  We bought new appliances, since there were none, but that was all.  I wanted to paint the cabinets (NOT hot pink), but The Man is anti-painting wood, so he nixed that idea pretty quickly (um…. they were already painted white when we moved in, so I don’t see the difference, but…)  We settled for just changing the hardware.

Wallpaper

Maybe it comes from my love of fabric and patterns, but I LOVE wallpaper.  I know it gets this bad rap for being tacky and outdated, but there are some seriously beautiful prints out there!  I would put it in every room if I could.  Unfortunately for me, The Man disagrees.  I’m still dying to use it and I think he has agreed to painting the inside of the kitchen cabinets, so I’m hoping I can convince him to use wallpaper inside instead.

Surprise!

Isn’t it pretty??  I love how it’s unexpected and since we don’t have glass front cabinets, it would be hidden most of the time.  But I would still know it was there!

Mounted animal heads??

Okay, this is one of those items that will be polarizing…  You’ll either love it (me) or you’ll hate it (him), but I seriously die over this glossy white deer head, like this one from Z Gallerie.  Does anything scream “Modern Adirondack” any more than this??!  Ahhh, I want it over my fireplace immediately, but it ain’t happenin’, folks.  When I showed it to some other friends, they pretty much all hated it too.

He’s not all that bad though. 🙂  There have been a few things he’s let me have (I’ll share them in another post) and they’ve all worked out better than he thought… so I’m not necessarily giving up on these three!

Thai Basil Chicken

I am obsessed… OBSESSED with this dish.  The first time I had Thai food was years and years ago in New York City with a friend of mine at a trendy little place called Peep.  Liz suggested the Basil Chicken dish and since I didn’t know anything about what I was getting, I took her advice… fast forward to today and that’s still the only thing I ever order when I have Thai food.  I always say I’m going to try something else, since I love all the traditional Thai flavors like coconut, peppers and lemongrass, but I never waver from my first choice.

The ingredients were simple, so I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to replicate at home and I’m always up for a challenge.  I got a recipe from a friend, let it sit in my inbox for a few months, and finally got around to taking a trip to the Asian market for the most important ingredient.  The key to making good Thai basil chicken is, wait for it… Thai basil.  And it’s cheap!  One trip to the market, $3 later, and I’m the proud owner of a HUGE bag of Thai basil leaves.  (Note:  Thai basil doesn’t taste or smell like the regular basil you’re used to… make sure you get it if you want to make this recipe!  I’ve read that if you can’t find Thai basil the best substitute is mint.  You’ll notice Thai basil has a really wonderful minty aroma!)

When I say this was easy, I’m not exaggerating.  It’s not like mac and cheese easy, but if you can chop some vegetables, you can make this.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your house right now.  If you don’t love it, then I don’t know if we can be friends anymore.  I’ve made a couple changes from the original recipe, but nothing to alter the flavor!

Here’s the recipe:

NOTE:  I use grapeseed oil, because it’s one of the healthiest oils, but you can use any high-heating oil, like peanut, safflower or sesame.  I also chiffonade the basil leaves, but you can leave them whole if you’d like.

6 garlic cloves, minced or sliced very thin

1/2-1 yellow onion, sliced

1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced (substitute green peppers if you don’t want heat or add them in addition to the jalapenos. Two peppers with the seeds will be pretty spicy!)

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon oil

1 lb. sliced chicken

1/4 cup fish sauce (you can find this in the Asian section of most supermarkets)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup hot basil leaves (bai-ga prow)

Place the garlic, peppers and peppercorns into a mortar and mash with a pestle until a paste is formed.

Heat a large saute pan to medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the garlic paste and stir for 1 minute, then add the chicken, onions, fish sauce and sugar. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked and sauce has reduced. Toss in the basil leaves, serve over rice and ENJOY!

If you make this, let me know!  Excuse the poor cell phone picture…I really have to keep my camera a little closer!

Welcome!

So I’m blogging and I can’t believe this day is actually here.  It’s been a long time coming, to be honest.  I’ve contemplated starting an “online presence” for a while, but could never really find the time or energy to set one up.  Who knew it wasn’t that hard!?  I still don’t really have the time … but I don’t think I ever will.  Right now I am working full time and completing my Master’s degree.  In between all that, I really truly enjoy sewing and crafts and wanted a place to document all my little projects.  I’ve posted many of my craft/sewing pictures on Facebook and had a lot of positive response which led me to wanting to create an Etsy account to sell some of my wares.  Blogging and Etsy go hand in hand and I didn’t feel like I could have one without the other!

I also love cooking and baking and making our 1929 Little White Bungalow a cozy and warm place to relax.  We’ve taken this place, full of character and creaky floors and turned it into a lovely home (though there’s still plenty to do!)  I don’t know that I actually have a design aesthetic, but I think I lean towards traditional, but with clean lines (if that makes sense).  I’ve always loved the Craftsman style and am thrilled that a bungalow is where we ended up…. I love the clean lines of all the molding and baseboards and no frills style of architecture!  Andy and I also love all things nature, so we’ve tried to keep things in “earthy” colors without making it too dark.  I think I once described my living room as Modern Adirondack.  Ha!

When it comes to sewing and crafting, I still consider myself a beginner, but am inching my way towards Intermediate.  I’ll document my projects as they happen and when I have time I’ll revisit some of the ones from my past.  And when my Etsy shop is up and running, you’ll be the first to know!

What will you find here?  Probably some really great recipes from time to time, some craft tutorials, before and after pictures of the house, worthwhile sewing projects and any tips I might come across in my travels.

Thanks for reading … can’t wait to share my little world with you!

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