A not-so-skinny Christmas

Happy Christmas!

I hope everyone forgot to sleep in so they could open presents as early as possible! No one sleeps in on Christmas.

I slept until 8; I got up a little after Husband who waited SO patiently to open his presents. It was like he wasn’t even excited!

Well, I was excited so I quickly initiated the present-opening ceremonies. I sat patiently while he opened one of his gifts: Irish Pub Cooking, which won’t do us much good on our new eating plan. I’ll have to figure out how to skinny every meal!

I cannot wait to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so I can see the movie. Is that terrible? I’m reading the book first! By the time I finish, it should be out on DVD to rent. Husband also got me A Grammar of Motives by Kenneth Burke and Transforming Qualitative Information: Thematic Analysis and Code Development by Richard Boyatzis.

Yes. I am a giant nerd.

Husband opened his second present. He liked his new sweatshirt, pair of sweat pants with fleece inside and wallet. Husband’s old wallet was in the process of falling apart; it’s a good thing I got him a new one.

Mark it: Sunday, December, 25, 2011 – The first time Husband has made a blog appearance. The dog is in the corner.

Note: Husband is an awesome gift-giver. I am a TERRIBLE gift-giver. The next image should now make a lot of sense to you.

For my second gift, my amazing, wonderful, handsome husband gave me the most beautiful necklace.

So now you will believe me when I say I have the best husband on earth.

Because I totally do.

Yesterday, Husband and I joined his parents, sister and her husband and ADORABLE baby boy (who isn’t much of a baby anymore since he wears sweater vests, walks and makes noises that sound like words).

He is playing “stackable buckets” with his mommy and daddy. Husband and I got him building blocks and a boat load of clothes because he’s gigantic.

I remember saying that Father-in-Law’s cooking would win.

It did. It won so hard I forgot to take pictures because I shoved it in my face a little too fast. On the menu: turkey and stuffing like I’ve never tasted, sweet potatoes with apples and raisins and the best green bean casserole ever. Sister-in-Law made her Spice Cake.

The night before Christmas Eve, she sent me a text message asking what I was bringing for dessert because she burnt the first Spice Cake. I am really really happy she made another spice cake.

I even ate a piece for breakfast this morning.

On Christmas Day, it is OK to eat cake for breakfast. I am the Law.

I made Yes, I want Cake’s Vegan Monkey Bread (without the vegan part).

Finding vegan butter at Dillon’s is impossible most of the time but even more impossible when everybody and their mother is at the store.

The first time I mixed the dough, it did not go well, so I had to trash it and start all over. I am glad I did because it was amazing!

Inside of a Cinnamon RollAfter lunch, we opened gifts!

In addition to his blocks and buckets, the little guy got a fun tent, a tree swing and some turtlenecks from his Aunt Shae. Yeah, I’m that Aunt.

Next year he’ll be old enough for violent toys like Nerf guns :) <— ’tis an evil smile

Husband got a set of tools (with a power drill so we’ll stop borrowing his dad’s all the time) and a new holster.

I got more books! Giant nerd, I already told you. Added to my library: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The conflict between word and image.

Sister-in-Law got me a teapot! The gift is really for both of us – Husband and I – because Husband dumps out my coffee to make tea. Not OK. Ergo… teapot!

The teapot is also going to be a source of endless entertainment: When it whistles, the cat freaks out and takes off to hide in the bathroom. Hilarious.

I hope everyone liked their gifts! I am so glad they got here before Christmas Eve.

For Christmas dinner, Husband made Alton Brown’s Fried Chicken and Waffles, and I ate too much again.  New tradition? I think so.

Now, I am going to my mother’s house to play Pitch with good friends. Every year Jared and Mark come to Kansas for Christmas, we get together and play Pitch. Jared and I are Team ShaJa and Mark and my mom are Team MarMa.

We are so going to win.

Happy Christmas again! I hope it was lovely!

A very skinny Christmas

A skinnyshae Christmas :)

And this is how we decorate!

When I was a little girl, my grandmother filled Mrs. Claus’ apron with chocolate kisses. I showed up a little too early this year.

I loved my grandparents’ house at Christmas. Even with fewer decorations, I still love it.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus

My mother put up a real tree. It’s quite pine-y! And so colorful!

We decorated the cubicles in shiny stuff at work!

Finally, for our second Christmas married, Husband and I have a Christmas tree.

It’s a wee one, smaller than me, but I love it.

We decorated with Husband’s hand-made decorations from childhood and decorations my grandmother gave me.

Oh, and Santa heads.

Another Santa head!

My grandmother, if you couldn’t tell from above, decorates with Santas. She gets a new one every year. She couldn’t remember what Santa she’d purchased the year before and accidentally bought one just like it this year.

She gave me these Santa heads last year because Husband and I had zero decorations. I grew up with them. I love decorating with them.

My Christmas balls are also decorated with Santas, and Husband donated Santas to our Christmas decor this year, too.

Santa looks like Gandalf <— Nerd moment

Happy Christmas! (Hanukkah! Winter Solstice! Wintertime Feast!)

For whatever reason you love this time of year and for whatever holiday you celebrate, remember the reason why you celebrate and do it for that reason.

Christmas has always meant family for me. I am thankful and blessed for that.

Treadmill Urban Athlete Workout

Remember how I said I wanted to do this workout?

Well, it took me a while to get around to it, but I finally did Workout #1!

Well, half of Workout #1.

I went to the gym with the intention to run two miles on the treadmill, complete the hill-sprints, and then run two more miles.

Less than half a mile in – not even kidding – my knee started locking up and my hip started whining.

Seriously?!

I was jogging at what I consider 40 percent with the intention to sprint uphill at my 80 percent. So I wasn’t even moving that fast.

I did not want to quit. I wanted to keep going because the rest of me felt great! I decided to do half the workout: one mile, five hill-sprints, and then one more mile for a total of 2.63 miles and 35 minutes.

My knee is so mad at me.

However, good note, my cardio outlasted my knee! I’m not hopeless yet! I really only felt winded and out-of-breath while I was sprinting and through the last half mile.

My heart rate was pretty steady at 178 while sprinting, 163 while running and 137 while jogging. I slowed it down to a cool 78 before stretching.

I. Am. Awesome.

(Of course, I was using the treadmill heart rate monitor, and we all know how great those things work.)

Why did I do such a stellar workout on a treadmill when it would have been easier to map out a trail in my neighborhood?

It is rainy and wet and cold and December. I thought it better to stay warm and dry and clean inside.

Do not get me wrong! I love winter. I love snow. I love the cold. I love, love, love this season! I love it even more when I am inside, and it is outside.

So I plan to be in the YMCA for the remainder of the winter because – like this weather or not – I am a giant baby. I thought I should get a better treadmill workout because I can get burnt out real quick on that machine.

Lucky for me, Women’s Health Magazine has some neat-oh! treadmill workouts for me to try :)

Treadmill Workouts
Plan by Numbers

First, calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Why 220? Not sure. Just do it. Hit 70 percent of your max heart rate. When you get tired, rest for a few minutes at a jogging pace. Then, hit 85 percent, and see how long you can last.

Random Pickup
Watch a 30-minute TV program. Increase your speed so that you’re running at 80 percent of your max heart rate during the commercials. When the show comes back on, slow does for an easy jog. If you’re hardcore, jog during the commercials ;)

At the YMCA, you are watching 24-hour cable news unless you get a machine with its own TV. I watch the news, but then I get off track by having opinions and things to say. Oh, 24-hour news…

Take a Hike
Walk or run on an incline to mimic hiking. Walk at 3.5 mph on a flat surface. Increase the incline every minute until it reaches 5 percent. Stay for 3 minutes. Next, lower and raise the incline every 2 minutes until you’ve been exercising for 25 minutes. Lower the belt gradually and decrease your speed for a 5-minute cool down.

Weight it Out
Short on time? Grab a pair of 2- to 5-pound dumbbells. Do bicep curls and military shoulder presses as you walk. Do 10 reps each.

Find a WHOLE LOT MORE treadmill workouts here.

Even though running in the cold is entirely un-fun, breathing fresh air benefits your body, according to Women’s Health Magazine. Normal outdoor fitness activities decrease tension, frustration and depression. The benefits increase in the cold because cold weather is invigorating.

That makes sense to me! I take cold showers in the morning when I cannot wake up with just a cup of coffee. I have coffee, too, but the shower helps. I also take cold showers after workouts in the heat of the summer. Heat is probably less fun than cold.

I suppose, as a runner, I wish it could be spring year-round.

The article also said that the body works harder in the cold so you produce more endorphins for that runner’s high!

A final benefit of cold-weather running: You burn more calories!

Check out the cold weather workout guide here.

Invigorating or not – see above – I am going to the gym.

Right now I am going to DECORATE MY CHRISTMAS TREE.

Finally.

What do you do at the gym? I have always wanted to get on the elliptical, but they’re all always taken!

Not that I need anymore, but got any treadmill workouts?

Power Yoga + Hockey

My pleasant Saturday not only included shopping. I also worked out and spent the evening with friends!

I have a YMCA membership again!

Do you know what that means?

skinnyshae and YMCA Jill doing weird yoga moves in classPower Yoga on Saturday mornings.

Epic happiness.

Yesterday, Saturday, December 17, I went to Power Yoga for the first time in six(ish) months.

In that time, I had not performed a single asana or salutation. Add to that the fact that I have not seriously exercised since Thanksgiving and welcome to my Sunday morning.

I am so sore.

During practice, my hips were too tight to go deep in any twist or pigeon (and I love pigeon). My shoulders and arms were too weak to do a full vinyasa. I cheated and put my knees on the ground every time. No up-dog, just cobra.

I am surprised at how well I did, though. The last time I went to Power Yoga, I did not do well. I figured after my hiatus that I would not be able to keep up with the class whom I recognized as regular Power Yoga people.

But I did.

Now, in all honesty, I had to hang out in Child’s Pose a few times, and none of my poses were as perfect as they used to be (see above photo – That is a nice Downward Dog Pose).

After Yoga, I went shopping. Remember?

And then Husband and I went to dinner with friends!

We went to P.F. Chang’s and had a GREAT server. She was awesome, but busy, so other people brought us our food and made our drinks… incorrectly.

I felt like one of those people who complained at restaurants about everything. I used to be a server and bartender, and I acted like those people who drove me nuts. I just felt awful about it.

However, when everything was correct, our food was awesome. I ate Orange Shrimp for the first time.

So good.

And we ate too much.

After dinner, we went to a Wichita Thunder hockey game! I have not been to a hockey game since I was about 13.

Thunder won 3-0! And I saw about four fights because that’s what boys do when they get frustrated.

They hit each other.

If it weren’t for hecklers, I would have enjoyed the game so much more. (The profanity and loud screaming was mildly annoying, but I was surrounded my hockey fans. Husband and his friend controlled themselves well, I thought!)

Note: Don’t get me wrong. I do not usually care about profanity, but screaming it in an arena full of child hockey fans doesn’t set well with me. They repeat EVERYTHING they hear.

Everything.

Overall, I had a really great Saturday! Even the late night cleaning I did when we got home!

This girl vacuums at midnight :)

Hockey fan? I used to be obsessed, but now I just enjoyed watching the game and making Husband explain what was going on. He does the same thing with UFC. “What’s a Kimura?”

Hope you have a lovely Sunday!

Shopping Trip #2

Guess what I did to my hair today!

Curls!

Don’t worry. That was step one. Step two ended like this…

Curly and girly! Husband said I looked like a Disney character. I tried to find which one. Suffice it to say that I don’t look like one of the princesses… Not enough hair.

On to shopping! I did ALL my Christmas shopping last night…

on Amazon.

Yesterday, after attempting to navigate Barnes & Noble in the afternoon, I decided that gift shopping should happen in the safety and sanity of my own home.

I just hope the gifts arrives before Christmas.

Shopping Trip #2, however, occurred this afternoon. I started at noon at PetsMart and ended at 2 at Target.

I bought dog food at PetsMart. Big spender right here, but the dog’s gotta eat!

German Shepherd DogAfter PetsMart, I went to Gordman’s to find the one other sweater I need, and didn’t have much luck…

The fit was funny.

I never pass up an opportunity to try a new… one of these shirts… because I like them so much, but I asked myself: “Do I really need another one?” Not super awesome anyway.

Another attempt to find a red shirt for Christmas. This one had black lace accent on the sleeves that you COULDN’T see through.

Finally.

But it was loose and tight in all the wrong places.

I give up!

Gordman’s was a flop! All of the shirts were see-through or full of holes or were missing half of the actual shirt. My next stop was Target.

Argyle!

I loved this sweater! I did not, however, buy this sweater. I did not want to spend $20 more because I decided to buy this shirt…

The sign said: “It’s all about the peasant shirt!” which is why I tried it on.

So it is :)

I tried on a great looking (on the hanger) pair of gray slacks. The pair fit every where but in the back… a big gap between my skin and the fabric.

Every. Time.

So… dog food, shirt and wrapping paper. Oh, and socks!

I planned to go to Von Maur and hunt around in the Clearance section, but Target is right across the street from the mall… I saw the parking lot.

No.

How are you doing your holiday shopping? In a rush!

Chicken with Long Beans & Walnuts

Just another recipe blog…

Chinese Chicken Recipe

Chicken with Long Beans & Walnuts
Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce  skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons  hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon  soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon  water
  • 1/2 teaspoon  sugar
  • 8 ounces  fresh Chinese long beans, cut into 4-inch lengths, or 8 ounces fresh whole green beans
  • 1 tablespoon  cooking oil
  • 3   cloves garlic, minced
  • 1   medium onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/2 cup  coarsely broken walnuts
  • 2 cups  hot cooked rice

Directions
Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

For sauce, in a small bowl stir together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water, and sugar. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan pre-cook long beans, covered, in small amount of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes (cook whole green beans about 10 minutes) or until crisp-tender. Drain. Set aside.

Pour cooking oil into a wok or large skillet. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Preheat over medium-high heat. Stir-fry garlic in hot oil for 15 seconds. Add onion; stir-fry about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove onion mixture from the wok.

Add walnuts to the hot wok; stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Remove walnuts from the wok. (Do not forget about them and burn them to pieces.)

Add chicken to the hot wok; stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until no pink remains. Return onion mixture and walnuts to the wok. Add beans.

Stir sauce. Add sauce to the wok. Stir all ingredients together to coat with sauce. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes more or until heated through. Serve immediately over hot cooked rice. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Yard-long beans, more commonly called Chinese long beans, can grow to a length of 18 inches, but they cook in much less time than regular green beans. Look for them in Asian markets and some supermarkets.

Make-ahead Tip: Prepare vegetables; cover and chill up to 4 hours.

I forgot about the walnuts and burned them to ashes.

Chinese Chicken RecipeWithout the walnuts, the dish was still pretty tasty.

Chinese Chicken RecipeI claim success :)

Bean-Potato Chowder

And another recipe blog…

Lazy Day RecipeBean-Potato Chowder
Ingredients

  • 1 20-oz. pkg.  refrigerated diced potatoes with onions
  • 1 14-oz. can  vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup  shredded Swiss cheese (4oz.)
  • 3 cups  milk
  • 1 tsp.  dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 15-oz. can  navy beans, rinsed and drained
  •   Bottled roasted red sweet pepper (optional)
  •   Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (optional)
  • 8 slices  toasted bread with cheese (optional)

Directions
In Dutch oven combine potatoes and broth. Cover; bring to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 4 minutes. In bowl toss together flour and cheese. Gradually stir in milk. Add milk mixture and Italian seasoning to potatoes. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir in beans; cook and stir 1 minute more. Top with roasted pepper and parsley. Serve with toasted bread. Serves 4.

I consider Bean-Potato Chowder to be an I-am-really-tired-and-I-do-not-want-to-cook recipe. Simple and decently tasty.

A little plain… I added Sriracha. And it was awesome.

Chowder Soup RecipeWe had chicken, too.

Chicken recipeI dipped it in Sriracha, too.

Sriracha: Yes, no? Add it to anything and everything = instance success!