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Archive for November, 2010

Greenbuild Chicago

Hey bloggies – It’s been a crazy week in Chicago at the Greenbuild conference! This is the professional highlight of my year, when I get to reunite with old friends & coworkers & fellow greenies to check out the latest trends in our green building industry (aka my 9-5). In case you don’t know what LEED is yet, it’s a green building rating system that showcases building projects with high performance, sustainable designs (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and it’s what I do all day every day.

leedsilver

The week was jam-packed with educational sessions, product demos and social time, so I’ll give you the highlights. I packed really light for a week of cold weather (anything to avoid checked baggage!)

And as soon as we got into Chicago, we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed to the Art Institute’s Modern Wing for a fancy reception with old friends from the Orlando Magic Arena project.

The event was too fancy for me to whip out the camera and start photographing the build-your-own-mac-and-cheese-sweet-potato-sundried-tomato bar (not even kidding), but you get the idea 🙂 After getting full bellies, we headed over to RockIt Bar & Grill for the second event of the night (Pub Night) to reunite with old friends and meet new friends – I love the networking aspect of this conference b/c it’s the only time of year when I get to be surrounded by a bunch of hippies 🙂

The breakfast options at the convention center were slim to none, so we headed to a cute place near our hotel called Eggsperience and filled up on hot coffee,

Gigantic egg scramble with tomatoes and artichokes, fresh fruit,

and potato pancakes with sour cream & applesauce (yummm!)

On the second day of the conference (after racing around the expo floor in these heels and getting blisters…)

I rolled with tennis shoes + my biz casual clothes 😛

Then we relaxed in the hot tub at the hotel to calm our sore feet down

The big night out is the awards ceremony, which we started out in high style at the Signature Lounge inside the John Hancock building. “We” is me + Kellie the BFF (she’s also a LEED geek), plus our friends Ian

and Nate (I can see how you would mistake him for Derek Zoolander)

 

After the sky-high fancy martinis, we went to the awards party inside the Merchandise Mart (a gigantic building, like a party inside the mall). We hunted through the showrooms for food but couldn’t find much more than crackers & cheese, until we found the main event area with pizza, a crepes bar, pretzels, and an open bar. All-you-can-drink red wine leads to lots of hugs 🙂

  

and dancing – un-cha un-cha un-cha un-cha 🙂

After the last day of the conference, we kicked off our girls’ weekend (Kellie turned 25!) with lunch at Uno Pizzeria. The salad was a little underwhelming,

But the deep-dish pizza rocked my world – this is just the individual sized spinoccoli (spinach + broccoli) – I loved the cheese inside with the sauce on top!

nom nom nom… saved the rest of the pizza for late night dinner!

Since our other friends went back to Orlando, it was just Kellie & I in Chicago for the weekend, so we went to the Rock Bottom Brewery for a casual dinner of hummus, pita, veggies, 

beers… and peanut butter pie so good I wanted to curl up in bed with it 🙂 It was a peanut butter mousse, with a fudge layer and PB cups on top, with fresh whipped cream and placed on top of fudge sauce – I’m drooling now just thinking about it!

On Saturday we went to a spa and got massages – walking the expo floor for 3 days takes a lot out of you! Check out the hair (the masseuse went to town on my scalp, thaaaaaaaaaaaank youuuuuu Swedish masseuse lady)

I could have stayed in that spa all day long, but my wallet wasn’t gonna let me, so we headed to Big Bowl for a filling lunch. This place was AWESOME – sort of like Pei Wei that we have in Orlando, but fancier – we got veggie summer rolls,

stared at the cool giant abacus

and got wayyy too full off this tofu curry! 

We ended up taking a food-coma nap before going to the Christmas parade that night. The parade was so much fun with all the families out, and seeing how the kids get so excited seeing Mickey Mouse made me miss Orlando.

After the parade, we got dolled up for our last night in Chicago

I got this awesome bracelet from H&M, my new favorite store!

Secret – it’s not tight, it’s a loose leather buckly thing – so comfy!

And this sweet 80’s hair clip 🙂

Ra-cha-cha!

The last day in Chicago we went on an architectural river boat tour

 

Saw so many cool buildings… too many to post here!

Dreamed of living in one of these apartments…

Here’s the Merchandise Mart again, the 2nd largest LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance building in the world (that’s what I was told anyway) – that’s a LOT of square footage to keep track of! Imagine sorting through the waste in this place to track recycling rates – the building used to have its own ZIP CODE!

Great view of the skyline from the boat

And warming up with some soup before heading back to the airport

I was so happy to find a Cosi restaurant here b/c I used to eat at Cosi all the time when I lived in DC – mmmmmemories 🙂

Obligatory toilet picture 😛 The airport had these automatic plastic seat covers that rolled out when you waved your hand over the sensor – sanitary, but that’s a lot of plastic waste!

I read this entire book on the plane ride back to Orlando…

David went to Stanford and had the same advisor as me (Gil Masters), then went on to found the US Green Building Council and a bunch of other non-profits & start-ups, so yep – it was pretty cool to meet one of my role models 🙂 I still remember the day he came to Stanford to give a guest lecture to my class!

And that’s it for Greenbuild 2010. Next year it’s in Toronto, so I’m psyched to go out of the country! Now we’re back in Orlando, recharged and rejuvenated for the crazy holiday season 🙂

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Hey bloggies – just giving you the heads up that today I’m leaving for Greenbuild in Chicago (WOO!) and staying through the weekend, so I won’t be posting in the meantime – learned my lesson last year that hauling around the laptop is a major inconvenience on trips like this. I promise one day I’ll get a smart phone so I can blog while traveling!

Greenbuild is an annual conference where the green building industry gets together and holds educational sessions about the latest trends in sustainable design, plus a gigantic expo with tons of green products – so needless to say, I’m super excited 🙂

In case you’re looking for something to read in the meantime, hop on over to the Running page to check out my race recaps, or take a peek at the Blogroll to see what blogs I read (and who inspires me :)).

I’ll be taking TONS of photos on this trip, and Kellie the BFF is coming along too! I’m psyched to see a bunch of old friends and former coworkers, plus a few Stanford alumni will be there too – and don’t get me started on the FOOD! I have been dreaming about ooey gooey deep dish pizza all night – can’t wait! We’re also going to run around Chicago to get ready for the OUC 5K in a few weeks.

Everybody have a great week and I’ll fill you in as soon as we get back! 🙂

P.S. Wedding sneak peek – we are going in a few weeks to check out Sanibel Island for a potential wedding site! 🙂

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Gooooood morning 🙂 We woke up at 6am to get ready for the longest race of my life… the Celebration Health Founders Day 10K.

Breakfast was a slice of toast with PB&J – perfect pre-race fuel… then we were out the door on the way across town. Here’s a tip: if you’re driving half an hour away for a race, make sure your car is gassed up the night before 😛

The 10K started at 7:30am and a lot of people were dressed for the warm weather

Including me, sporting my cold weather running jacket & knee pants (love this outfit in the cold!), with my Spibelt full of Powerbar energy gel blasts…

 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I was ready for the 10K until halfway through it… having taken a 2 1/2 week break from running for Hawaii & then getting sick, I felt like the 5K was a better race… until I saw on the registration page that the 10K racers got the long-sleeved shirt. Yep, I doubled my race distance for a shirt (hey, it’s not every day they offer long-sleeves!).

The whole way to the starting line, I was playing that rap song in my head “what am I doin’, what am I doin’…”

When the fiancé asked how long a 10K is and I said 6.2 miles, he replied “you’re f$&!#d

*Note – he is actually VERY supportive (and has the same sarcastic sense of humor as I do) and picked up my race packet while I was stuck at work, took all these photos, and camped out at the finish line – I couldn’t ask for a better fan 🙂 Thanks baby!

So now you know how the tone of this whole day started out… not exactly the typical pre-race pumped-up feeling, but I had it in my mind that I could do the first 3 miles and then walk the rest if I needed to – after all, any time is a PR if it’s your first time racing that distance!

I started in the back directly in front of the walkers b/c we showed up at the last minute, which was fine b/c I wanted to pace myself at first and not use too much energy in the beginning.

My strategy for this race was to keep a 5 mph pace (12 minutes per mile), which I thought would be good for this distance since my 5K pace is about 5.2 mph, and I wanted to slow it down for the longer distance.

What I did was run at a comfortable pace until I got to the 1-mile marker, and then if my watch said I was early (which I was at each mile marker), I would walk the beginning of the next mile until my watch caught up to 12 minutes. This gave me about 1.5-2 minutes of walking time at each mile, so I guess I probably walked less than 1 mile in this whole race (not bad!!!).

The course took us all throughout the town of Celebration, past a bunch of beautiful houses decorated for Christmas, and through their downtown with a cute movie theater, Irish pub, and other charming businesses. It looked a LOT like Baldwin Park, but older (aka the trees were fully grown).

I originally thought only 2 water breaks in a 6.2 mile course wasn’t going to be enough and I’d be really thirsty, but it turned out to be just enough with the cooler weather. My running jacket got warm around 1 mile, so I tied it around my waist. At miles 2, 3, 4 & 5 I munched on the gel blasts to keep the party going, and it was just the right amount of fuel.

Here’s what was going through my head…

Mile 1: It’s chilly out here! Still can’t believe I’m doing this, but I know I can at least run the first mile without stopping.

Mile 2: Woo! Made it the first mile, time for a quick walking break – how far until that water stop? I don’t know if I can keep this pace up the whole time.

Mile 3: Double-fisting at the water station was a good idea, and I’m almost at the 5K distance – this isn’t so bad. My right shin is starting to hurt a little but nothing I’m not used to.

Mile 4: OK, just did a 5K distance, now it’s time to do it again. I’m starting to get a little exhausted, and walking more than before (probably b/c I’m running faster to keep up with these girls around me). Is that girl in my age group? Must beat her, must beat her… (*yes, I did beat her!)

Mile 5: Wow, am I really still doing this? And my legs haven’t given out yet? Hey, that’s the Lululemon crew – they have cool signs and are dancing to live music – the energy is back up and the end is near – I can do it! I can do this!

Mile 6: Only one more mile left – do NOT stop running! Don’t even think about it! Your foot hurts? So what – KEEP RUNNING!!! Hello bagpipe player – these buildings are looking familiar, I know we’re near the finish line – KEEP RUNNING!!! Can’t breathe? Who cares – KEEP RUNNING! Oh there’s the fiancé holding the camera!

Hey! Watch me pass this lady!!

I got this!

GO GO GO GO GO!!!

Aaaaaaaaand done!!!!!

I finished in 1:10:54, with an average speed of 5.25 mph (about the same as my 5K pace!). My goal was to finish under 1:12 – BOOYASHAKA – SLAMMED IT!!! 🙂

Stretching out and glowing 🙂

At this point I’m still in shock that I’m not EXHAUSTED (typically after a 5K I’m falling over in the grass trying to catch my breath) – I can’t believe I maintained that pace for that long! I thought I’d be more worn out, but I feel like I gave it all I had, and now my legs are just tight from all the movement.

My $9 Target sports watch saved the day – this is how I keep my pace in check. I’ve wanted a Garmin GPS watch for a while now, but honestly, in today’s race – I was REALLY getting annoyed by all the beeping around me – I think half the folks in this race had those watches and the beeping was driving me nuts! I probably noticed it more b/c of not using headphones, but seriously – how can anybody listen to their body when you’re surrounded by a swarm of beeping watches?

This was my 5th race, and YES, I would do this race again 🙂 The course was beautiful, flat, and the weather was perfect.

Not to mention I got a kick-ass long-sleeved race shirt 🙂

I still want to work on my endurance more with shorter races before I take the plunge into the half-marathons (yes, I decided not to do the OUC Half-Marathon in 2 weeks but will still be doing the 5K), but I know I love running and racing – the next personal goal is to run a 5K without stopping… and after doing this race today, I feel like I can do anything 🙂

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I was on my own for dinner tonight, so I wanted to make something easy & fast that would taste good and give us leftovers for lunch… I pulled this recipe from my stack-o-recipes that I keep on top of the microwave. It’s for Peanut Noodles with Tofu from Sunset Magazine.

I just cancelled my subscription to Sunset b/c reading it always made me feel bittersweet and left me longing for California 😦 I still kept every issue b/c they have awesome recipes (Mexican Chocolate Cake, anyone?), but I just didn’t see the point in reading about beautiful California homes and weekend day-trips that I’ll (most likely) never experience again now that we’re settling down and starting a family in Florida.

The recipe called for an English cucumber, and I had a hunch at Publix that that meant the long skinny cukes, but those were labeled as “hothouse cucumbers”, so I just bought a normal one (I really should know the difference having worked in a greenhouse that grew hydroponic cukes…)

Whoops… apparently this is what an English cucumber looks like:

and I’m pretty sure they taste different too, but let’s move on.

The recipe also calls for the cukes to be cut “matchstick style” – uhhhh, what?

I should’ve watched this video first…

 

Instead, I just winged it and came out with this…

Was I supposed to peel it first? Whoops… now what do you call these random cuke strips?

They look more like gum sticks than matchsticks.

So when you don’t know how to chop something a certain way… just go with what you do know – cucumber triangle slices!

Boiled the noodles… (how exactly are you supposed to measure out 8 oz of pasta from a box that has 13.5 oz in it???) Anyways, I drained the cooked pasta and covered it in a bowl so I could use the same pot for the peanut sauce (lazy chef :-P)

Onto the peanut sauce… I had a little bit left at the bottom of the jar, and the natural peanut butter gets really dry at the bottom of the jar (especially when you keep it in the fridge), so it was very chunky…

I searched Publix up and down for “red chile flakes” and came up with nothing, so I subbed this (remember when you used to have to write your name on your food to keep your roommate from stealing it? yes, my spaces are that old)

The recipe called for soy sauce… ohhhhhh soy sauce, wheeeere are you??????

Oh crap. No soy sauce. In an Asian-style dish. Ummmm let’s just add more veggie broth & salt and call it even!

The sauce started out looking kinda funky & chunky,

 

And I managed to get most of the PB chunks smoothed out

Chopped up a little tic-tac-tofu (mmmmmm I love eating the cold chunks before tossing it in the pot)

Toss everything together to coat with the sauce, and put 1/4 of it into a bowl for me, topped with fresh chopped cilantro, 1 green onion, and a small handful of roasted peanuts:

Voila! My masterpiece 🙂

Perfect for a Wednesday night din-din 🙂

The cucumbers had a strong flavor in these triangle chunks – if you’re going to make this I highly recommend doing the matchstick style cuts to even out the flavors. The peanut sauce turned out amazing even with all the substitutions – the sugar was SO GOOD! Eating this reminded me of being in California, we used to cook a lot with fresh cilantro at Stanford and this took me right back to where I first met the fiance 🙂

See? Looks just like the picture in the magazine 🙂

This recipe’s staying on top of the microwave so I can make it again soon! 🙂

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I had big ambitions when I went grocery shopping this week and loaded up on half a buggy of veggies… something in me was craving it (maybe the fact that we went out to eat like 5 times this weekend…) so I picked up more veggies than we typically eat in a given week.

Last night I had a volunteer meeting after work so the fiancee took the path of least resistance and nuked some stew leftovers, which left me not wanting to fire up the stove for just myself… so I rolled with a massaged kale salad from the first food blog I ever read.

I used the remaining half bag of kale in the fridge, with half an avocado and about 1/4 cup of Italian salad dressing (had it to get rid of, but this ended up being way too much dressing)… massaged all together in a big dough mixing bowl and serve to myself:

roasted veggies (7)

I used to make these at work a lot and I think my coworkers got skeeved out by my “salad hands”… but they liked the salads!

roasted veggies (8)

I even threw a handful of roasted peanuts in the mix for some protein roasted veggies (9)

Today I wanted to get in a run before the 10K on Sunday, aka a distance longer than I’ve ever done… my longest run to this point was 5 miles, then Hawaii came up, then post-vacation sickness & torn back muscles… it just wasn’t in the cards the past 3 weeks :-/

I decided to do 3 miles today (with hopefully a 4 and 5 mile run between now and Friday, and definitely resting Saturday and having a spaghetti dinner!) around the neighborhood. The weather was great – long-sleeves with shorts! The air was a little chilly but not to the point where it would be hard to breathe. Tonight I finished 3 miles in 32:29 – 3.5 minutes faster than my goal!

Usually on my weekday runs, I set a pace goal (mine is almost always 5 mph b/c that seems comfortable and I’m not a speed demon… yet ;-)) and have mile markers along my route, so I know I’m aiming for a 12-minute mile. If I get to the 1 mile marker early (always do), then I walk until my watch says 12 minutes, and start running to the next mile marker… and repeat. This helps me stay on pace (especially when I have 0.5 mile markers with 6 minute interval goals) and gives me little goals to look forward to. I think I’m gonna use this same run-walk strategy during the race b/c whatever time I get, it’s a personal record since it’s my first 10K race and I just want to FINISH!

My hamstrings are still extremely tight from yesterday’s roman dead lifts & lunges in the gym, and running really helped work out some of that tension. For stretching, I did the usual post-run leg stretches (standing on a stair for calves, bending over for hams, pulling your leg to your back for your quads…) and then I did my trusty child pose –> upward dog –> downward dog –> “roll your back up one vertebrae at a time” stretching sequence (I swear every Yoga instructor I’ve ever encountered uses that phrase during sun salutations).

*Speaking of Yoga… guess who just got a pass for 3 weeks of unlimited classes at College Park Yoga for $25… 3 weeks for the price of 3 classes, yes please! This studio is on the pricier side except their Saturday community yoga classes, so I want to try as many classes as I can to find out what feels best for me. I’m going to start my 3 weeks after Thanksgiving since I’m traveling a lot between now and then.*

I was having a conversation with the fiancee mid-stretch and he snapped a few pics b/c I wanted to show my mom that I LOVE the long-sleeved t-shirt she got me from Maui 🙂

And in the background … you know it’s winter when you break out the Crocs with the fur! (do you see them?) LOL everyone in my family has these – they were my Christmas gift last year and I loooove them 🙂

I could barely hold in my excitement while the mound-of-veggies was roasting in the oven…

roasted veggies (14) 

The fiancee made a garlic butter and brushed it across the veggies before roasting in the oven, and served it up with some pan-fried tofu (his specialty!)

He seasons the tofu with garlic powder, salt & pepper, then fries it in a little olive oil until it’s crispy – mmm that’s my sexy vegetarian fiancee in the kitchen 🙂

The veggies included carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts & parsnips – this was both of our first time eating parsnips and YUM! We love them! The fiancee read on the bag that they have more nutrients than carrots, so he’s convinced we should stop buying carrots and switch to parsnips – such an engineer 🙂

The broccoli came out pretty singed & the florets were crispy – I loved it!!! Crunchy broccoli is GOOD! This tasted a lot like when my mom used to make homemade fried okra, because I always liked the charred okra pieces the best 🙂

And I’ll be dreaming of these oven-roasted brussel sprouts for the rest of the week… we actually couldn’t finish our plates (well, could have but wouldn’t be able to fit into my new skinny jeans for our friend’s birthday party later tonight) so I packed up half of each plate for leftovers – YES!

All I’m saying is that our kids better like vegetables 😛

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Non-Lazy Sunday

I usually have trouble getting motivated to workout on Sundays, but this week was different – the fiancee was gone all day at a friend’s house, so I was on my own and didn’t want to waste the day.

After bundling up and making the 1/4 mile trek to the gym (uphill, in the snow… j/k) I started with a full-body weights session, including:

  • chest presses
  • shoulder presses (front and side)
  • ab crunch machine
  • bicep curls
  • skull crushers
  • bent over rows
  • bent over reverse flys (workin’ my back muscles – they got super tight last week and actually put me in tears during a run!)
  • lunges
  • roman deadlifts

It was a hodge podge workout, and most of the exercises I did 3 sets of 10 reps, with 10 lb dumbbells in each hand (I try to avoid the machines if I can b/c it’s more fun and works my stabilizing muscles).

Then I hit the treadmill and did 2 miles in an easy 23 minutes.

After lifting weights, I made a deeeelicious protein shake:

OK, the picture doesn’t do it justice, but this creamy masterpiece had 8 oz almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 2 big spoonfuls of peanut butter, a dash of cinnamon, 2 tbsp ground flax seed, a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder (the last of it!), and a few tbsp of raw cacao nibs (amazing texture!).

My guess is it’s the almond milk that made this taste so good, b/c I’ve made a similar combo before with cow’s milk and it wasn’t nearly as creamy 🙂

On Sundays I like to make a big pot of soup/chili/stew on Sunday night and eat it throughout the week. Tonight’s stew included:

  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 bag long carrots, chopped
  • about 4 tbsp chopped garlic (from the jar)
  • 1 carton + 1 can of veggie broth
  • 2 cans of white beans
  • 1/2 bag of chopped kale (the bag is BIG, like the size of a decorative pillow)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Follow along with the pics…

I simmered it covered for about 45 minutes on medium, and voila:

The best part… the stew gets thicker throughout the week, so it makes EPIC leftovers for lunch 🙂 This pot made 6 servings of about 2 cups each.

I saved the rest of the kale for massaged kale salads… but that’s for another post 😉

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Hey there 🙂

After a long week of dog-sitting, the fiancee & I wanted to get out on the town and have a romantic date night in College Park. We wound up at K Wine Bar, a place we’ve driven/ran/biked/scooted past hundreds of times but never made it in, and boy I’m glad we finally did!

It was chilly outside so we bundled up in winter coats and hopped on the scooter (so much more fun than driving and makes it feel like the WEEKEND!). The restaurant has a patio but we sat indoors (obviously) – I like the ambiance because it’s clear that the restaurant used to be someone’s house, and it’s still classy inside.

We started out with some brews – the fiancee had the Swamp Head Honey Cream Ale, and mine was the Sea Dog Apricot Ale (EPIC TASTY!!!)

We each got a salad to start out with (he got a wedge salad) – mine was a tomato stack with mozzarella and greens.

Sorry for the dark lighting, the restaurant was dim and I didn’t want to use the flash in a nice place like this :-/

We chowed down on a loaf of fresh baked bread & butter,

and then split the Penne alla Vodka – SPICY!!! The fiancee didn’t believe me that they actually put vodka in the sauce, but it is GOOOOOOOOOOD!

We finished with a cold white dessert wine that was less than a shot glass in size, and cost $8! It was good, but not that good… lesson learned, go for the BIG GIRL glass of wine, not the baby-size dessert version 😛

I would love to go back to this place for a birthday, holiday or any special occasion (it’s a little pricey for our regular date nights) – and we’re glad we finally checked this place out!

We hit up RedBox after dinner and watched Operation End Game – an awesome movie if you’re into spy movies with humor, wit & violence 🙂 It has a great cast too with a bunch of people you know but don’t necessarily know their names.

Have you had any fun date nights lately?

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