Monday, 29 July 2013

Another milestone

My wee boy headed off on his first ever overnight camp this morning, and he won't be back until Wednesday afternoon.  A little unusual, starting camp on the first day back at school, but he was very excited and got up at 7am on the dot, hoovered up his breakfast, then got dressed and brushed his teeth in record time.  After he'd made his bed (terribly) he asked, "how long until I have to be at school?"  Sadly, I had to tell him he didn't need to be there for another hour...

I had been asking him occasionally over the last week if he was looking forward to going on his first real camp, and he declined to answer.  My T is not the most loquacious child.  But in his own quiet way, his excitement was very evident in his eagerness to complete his school morning routine today.  To be honest, that made me feel a little less anxious about the experience myself.  All manner of thoughts kept drifting through my mind - would he like what they serve for dinner, or would he not eat anything and then be crazy hungry until the next morning?  Would he wake up in the night and be upset because he couldn't just wander down the hallway and jump in to bed next to me for a cuddle?  I'm still wondering these things, but they're not weighing quite as heavily on me now.  He was happy, smiling and pulling faces when the bus pulled away, and I managed not to turn into a blubbering mess.  I look forward to his stories when he gets home.

We had a busy/not busy weekend - ie: my weekend was busy, everyone else's was not.  That's fairly standard for the kreachr household.  While all three male family members lounged on the couch or upstairs playing one game or another, I 'got on with things'.  Namely, baking up a storm as planned.  Behold, my breakfast goodies, that I have named the 'freezer breakfast stash':

Giant stack of waffles (I only use a pinch of salt, and don't grease the waffle iron since mine's non-stick.  These were made with buttermilk, but I often use yogurt and/or milk)

Breakfast burritos made with flat bread, scrambled eggs with black beans, bacon, tomato salsa and grated cheese.  Our favourite salsa is this one.  It is amazeballs

Blueberry and cranberry bagels (they would've been just blueberry bagels, but I didn't have quite enough dried blueberries)

White bread (I used the basic white bread recipe in Allyson Gofton's 'Great New Zealand Baking Book')

I had a lot of fun making everything over a couple of days.  I could've done it in one day if a) I had more mixing bowls, and b) I didn't run out of various ingredients and have to wait until I went to the supermarket.  I'm pretty sure Deane snuck out of the house with not one but two breakfast burritos in hand this morning!  I guess he's missed having the freezer stocked with them.  I stopped making them because I couldn't find a tortilla or wrap that didn't rip or fall apart when you rolled it up.  Solution?  Make my own, of course!  Nothing beats fresh home made :)  I'm getting the rolling out part down to a fine art.  One day my flat breads and tortillas might actually be round, instead of misshapen and lop-sided ;)  We taste tested the white bread and the blueberry cranberry bagels (awesome, of course).  I know from experience that the waffles and whole wheat bread is delicious, as are the burritos.  I haven't tried a whole wheat bagel yet though...

I'm really happy to discover that making bagels isn't nearly as difficult or complicated as I thought (mostly because Deane told me they were really difficult and complicated to make.  Pfft.)  I can see myself making this weekend baking 'freezer breakfast stash' a regular thing.  Sometimes being organised really is a good idea :)

On Saturday morning I was up bright and early so I could make my way out to Barry Curtis Park for my first park run.  I got there early, and had a chat to a couple of other first timers who are training towards their first half marathons.  We milled about as others turned up (30 in all), and at 8am we were off.  My run wasn't too bad considering my laziness over the last few weeks, and I finished in 26:20, 13th overall and 4th 'lady' (their word, not mine!).  I pushed myself just a little too much though and felt rather nauseated when I finished, but just walked around a bit and the gurgly tummy subsided fairly quickly, enough for me to grab a cup of tea and have a bit more of a chat afterwards before getting back in the car and heading home (getting lost on the way.  Never ask me for directions, that's all I'm saying).  I'd never been out to Flat Bush before and quite enjoyed discovering another area of Auckland. Barry Curtis Park is quite lovely, and the course was a relatively easy run - a mixture of footpath, grass and trail.  I'd love to be able to do a real trail run through the nearby Hunua Ranges some day soon.  Which by the way is actually quite far from the park.  I got a little confused last week and thought the park was essentially right next door.  Yeah, it's not - try another 40 minutes drive away... (I repeat, do not ask me for directions!!)

Sunday was the usual 'knitting in public', although this time my friend and I went to Mozaik Cafe instead of our usual haunts.  We were quite happy with our decision - the food was great.  I, typically, over-ate.  I'd made some gluten free waffles with caramelised pears for breakfast, so really should've just had something small for lunch.  Silly me.  Thankfully, I'd recovered enough by that evening to enjoy the roast lamb we had for dinner ;)  I'm now 3/4 done with the Kai-mei socks, and should have them finished within the next two or three days.  Next on the to-knit list?  The Cloud Illusions shawl in light grey mink I think...

And just because no post would be complete these days without a little oatmeal goodness, I have now also tried the fruity tea-steeped oatmeal with kiwifruit:

I used strawberry and lime tea, and I added a tablespoon of ground linseed and some coconut thread on top.

And cream cheese oatmeal with dried fruit:

The only dried fruit I had left in the cupboard after the weekend's baking efforts was dried apricots and raisins.  I also added a tablespoon of white chia seeds.  This was cooked with unsweetened almond milk, my new fave dairy-free milk.  Aside from this one of course.

Day one of the new regime went well I think.  I got up at 5.45am and did 40 minutes of yoga.  Not quite the hour I was planning, but for reasons beyond my early-morning-brain control (eg: not being able to get the first yoga video app to play with sound so having to use the other one, then later discovering it was because I had my phone on mute O.o) I ran a little short on time.  But the daily housework chores were done, everyone was fed, statistics were analysed, and I am now enjoying my 'free time'.  Let's hope it continues ;)  Enjoy your week!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Try to keep up

Alright y'all, fair warning: this post is going to be choc-full of all sorts of mish-mash bits and pieces.  Just letting you know so if/when confusion sets in and you get a little lost, you'll know why ;)  I'll try to keep it as orderly as possible with the use of subject headings (perhaps I've been spending too much time writing assignments...)  Let's get on with it then.

First on the list because, y'know, food.  Food is awesome.  Especially breakfast food.  So the roll call for this week's 'oatmeal trials' (which is what I've started calling it) is:

Double chocolate, orange and cranberry baked oatmeal.  Recipe below - yep, I made this one up!  It was pretty good too!

Orange, maple and pecan  I added ground flaxseed (linseed)

Dark chocolate and orange - meh.  Perhaps it would've been better lightly sweetened.  I think a lot of American cocoa powders have sweetener in them already, whereas ours don't.

French toast  Not bad, would happily eat it again.  And yes, I have a tendency to drown things in maple syrup.  I looooooove maple syrup!

Sticky date porridge with 'caramel sauce'.  Recipe below - I made this one up too!  And guess what?  More maple syrup!

Berry kiwi - the colour is due to using frozen blueberries, and I added some cashew nuts.  I felt like something a little chewier, so I used wholegrain oats instead of regular rolled oats.

Blueberry muffin baked oatmeal - I was nice and shared with Deane.  Served with a giant blob of yoghurt, and again made with wholegrain oats.

Green monster oatmeal - I was... unimpressed.  It tasted fine, but I wouldn't rave about it.  Served with dark and white chocolate chips.  Would've been boring without them!

Coconut cream pie oatmeal - my favourite of the week I think.  Although my tummy is a little angry about it...

As you may have guessed, I'm still really enjoying trying out new porridge flavours.  I'm keeping a list in my head of all the ones I really liked (such as the carrot cake porridge, coconut cream pie oatmeal (with an asterisk next to it to denote possible digestive issues), cinnamon banana latte porridge etc).  With over a hundred different recipes already on the list to try, I didn't think I'd be coming up with my own recipes any time soon.  But that I did, while in Napier and in need of using up some dried cranberries, along with the urge to try orange in a porridge.  Thus was born the:

Double chocolate, orange and cranberry baked oatmeal
1/2 c water or milk.  You could also use orange juice if you want a stronger orange flavour.  I used milk.
1/2 c rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 orange, segmented
handful of dried cranberries
handful of chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and lightly grease or spray an individual serve ramekin.  In a bowl, mix together the liquid, oats, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.  Fold in the orange segments, 3/4 of the cranberries and 3/4 of the chocolate chips, then pour into the prepared ramekin.  Bake for 25 minutes, then serve topped with the remaining cranberries and chocolate chips.

I rather enjoyed the bursts of flavour when there was a chunk of orange on the spoon.  You never knew when you'd get one.  Unlike the stove top orange oatmeal recipes where the little pulpy bits break up and disperse throughout the porridge, these orange chunks don't get a chance to fall apart and have more of an impact.  Yum!

Then the other day I was contemplating what to have for lunch, while lamenting the fact that I don't get to make date scones or sticky date pudding because the kids would never eat it.  Hunger and cravings overtook my brain, and everything all kind of melded into the:

Sticky date porridge with 'caramel sauce'
1/2 c rolled oats
1 c milk (I think I used unsweetened almond milk, although it could've been 'lite' cow's milk...)
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 c dates, roughly chopped (I cut mine into quarters)
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp plain, unsweetened yoghurt
1 tsp maple syrup
Combine and use for topping

Bring the milk to a boil with the chopped dates (you'll want them to soften up so add them right at the beginning).  Add the oats, then turn the heat down to medium-low.  Once most of the liquid is absorbed, add the maple syrup, vanilla and salt.  Once it is cooked to your preferred glugginess, serve topped with the 'sauce'.

So delicious!  And I no longer have the urge to bake an entire sticky date pudding with toffee sauce.  Win!  And yes, I ate porridge for lunch.  Nothing wrong with that ;)

Other experiments
While we're on the subject of trying out new recipes, I created another, non-oatmeal recipe last weekend in honour of the new Whittakers' L&P White Chocolate release.  Jill, I'll be sending you some very soon ;)  I had a laugh when my sister and I were trying this chocolate for the first time.  We were happily munching away, and I commented "it's a bit different, aye".  Then I later noticed that it says exactly that on the packaging!  Haha, proof that I must indeed be a true-blue kiwi :)

I recall flicking through my twitter feed and glancing at a comment from somebody regarding the length of time it would take for people to start creating recipes for this new chocolate, which got my brain ticking once again.  I was originally fixated on scones.  You know the lemonade scones that everyone makes - that's the recipe I use when I'm making scones for a weekend lunch.  So quick and easy, and completely fail safe.  And you can use different types of carbonated soft drink depending on what flavour you're going for, such as ginger ale.  I thought some of these scones made with L&P and chunks of the chocolate would be quite nice, since I'd made some chocolate toffee scones recently that turned out pretty good.  I suggested this to my friend while at knitting that Sunday, and she commented that some muffins would probably work quite well also.  (Just quietly, she also gave me a good bagel tip - slice the bagels in half before putting them in the freezer, so you can just grab one out and pop it straight in the toaster when you need it, rather than having to defrost it first and then slice it.  Awesome!  I've already utilised this brilliant 'why-didn't-I-think-of-that' pro tip ;)  Cheers Zoe!  Of course, now I feel the need to experiment with making my own bagels and filling the freezer with them...  More on that soon).  I agreed, and decided to try it out when I got home:

Lemony L&P White Chocolate Muffins
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g Whittaker's L&P White Chocolate, chopped into chunks (can't really avoid product naming here!)
zest of one lemon
2 eggs
3 tbsp melted butter
1 c L&P, aka Lemon & Paeroa (or here!!)  For my non-NZ friends, this could be substituted with lemonade, or the drink we call lemonade and you call by brand-name (ie: Sprite or 7Up).  I'm looking at you, America.

Optional glaze
Using the juice of the lemon you just grated the zest off so as not to waste it (I usually end up throwing out the lemon because it sits there all naked and dries up, then becomes useless), mix in 2 tbsp sugar and warm in the microwave for about a minute after you've taken the muffins out of the oven, and brush over the tops for extra lemony-sweet flavour.

Preheat oven to 190ºC and prepare a 12 hole muffin pan.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and chocolate chunks.  In another bowl lightly beat the eggs, then add the lemon rind, butter and L&P or lemonade.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined, then spoon into muffin pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

You'll notice that there is no sweetener added to these muffins - I decided to omit the sugar because of the chocolate and fizzy drink.  Feel free to add a couple (or three) tablespoons of sugar if you prefer a sweeter muffin.  These are best served warm soon after they're made, or re-warmed for about 20 seconds in the microwave.  Much like the lemonade scones, I would recommend eating them within two days.

More food stuff.  Yes there's more.  Food is important, y'all!
While in Napier I got to use my mother's waffle maker.  We were on holiday, the kids love waffles, and I'd specifically bought some buttermilk at the supermarket so I could make some.  I'd imagine her waffle maker doesn't get used terribly often since my dad has a bad habit of not eating breakfast, and mum usually sticks to cereal or toast.  While using this waffle maker, I decided it was better than mine.  Don't get me wrong, I love my waffle maker - I've said before that it was the best use of Fly Buys points ever, and we use it ALL THE TIME.  However, mum's waffle maker does two waffles at a time, and it has the deep holes that Deane likes to fill up with ridiculous amounts of syrup (hmmm, must make that coconut syrup again soon...)  I asked mum if she'd mind swapping waffle makers with me, but she did one better and kindly bought me one instead.  Woohoo!  It's already been used a couple of times in the past week, and I'm planning on making a double batch of waffles to put in the freezer (along with the bagels.  I'm getting there).  I sent my other one to my sister.  Not sure she'll ever use it...  By the way mum, I found a couple of 'single serve' waffle recipes you might like to try (here and here - we tried this one and it was yum!  Although a pinch of salt would be more than enough, just quietly) - can't imagine it'd be too hard to substitute ingredients for what you have in the pantry.  Or you could try one of these...

Breakfast has become such an important part of my day, I've ended up adding it to my kitchen menu board:

And yes, Monday also has dessert listed.  I had to use up the rhubarb :)

I've been thinking about spending a day in the kitchen making breakfast freezer-fillers in preparation for next week's new schedule, with the start of the new trimester.  Statistical Analysis is kicking my butt, so I'm going to spend a little more time with it.  Luckily Accessing Information is comparatively quite easy.  (Ooh, by the way, finally got my grades for the last two papers - B+ for Library Systems and Processes, and A for The Information Industry.  I was 1% away from an A+!  Boo).  I'll be starting my days fairly early (5.30am?  We'll see how long that lasts...) in order to get my exercise done first, then I can get on with study without distractions, and still have time to do everything else (namely, knit and read, and watch stuff with Deane.  Oh, and housework I suppose...).  Things on the list are:

  • Whole grain bagels
  • Breakfast burritos made with flatbread, scrambled eggs, bacon, salsa, grated cheese and maybe some black beans.  I'm going to try this recipe using wholemeal flour, or a mixture of white and wholemeal.  I've had good results with just white flour, but I'm trying to move away from eating too much of that.
  • Waffles (for the kids, of course ;P)
  • Wholemeal bread, pre-sliced (I have the Alison Holst cook book with this recipe.  I'm thinking that typing out and sharing this recipe on a blog is a copyright breach, but since it's there I'll link it)
  • I guess I'd better make some white bread (or white with some oat or whole wheat flour) for the kids, in case they decide they want toast one morning.  Or for T to have toast soldiers with his eggs.
All these can be quickly reheated in the microwave or toaster, which is an added bonus for when Deane is in a hurry and has to dash out the door, usually because he gets up far too late and doesn't have time to get ready.  The man's time management skills are severely lacking.  Although most mornings I make him breakfast anyway.  Plus they'll be really handy for when I've been on a long run and am so starving when I get home I don't want to spend time cooking and just want to eat.

I think that'll do for food for now (although I did finally make this bread and butter pudding after contemplating it for years (seriously) and it was just as good as I thought it would be.  Yay.  Thanks to my mother-in-law Alison for buying the Rosedale apricot fruit loaf while in Napier and prompting me to buy my own to make it!).  Moving on...

Crafty things
Sadly, I didn't get any more spinning done after plying and skeining the first lot of cormo.  Well, I did a little spinning, but not a significant enough amount to do anything with.  The Tour de Fleece finished last Sunday, and I did not achieve my goal.  I'm okay with that.  I was busy knitting stuff for mum's birthday:

Wurm hat, knit with two leftover balls of Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport yarn from Deane's Doctor Who scarf in the colours Charcoal and Red Fox.

Mum had asked for a hat for her birthday, since I had already knit her some fingerless mitts and a shawl.  However, this hat would clash horribly with said mitts and shawl, so I decided some new mitts and neckwear were in order.  Hence, she also got:

A mock brioche cowl, knit with Indiecita DK 100% baby alpaca yarn.

And a pair of Susie Roger's reading mitts, also knit with the Indiecita DK 100% baby alpaca yarn.  Because it is soft and warm and just full of awesome.

With all that grey knitting, I figured it was time for a happy, colourful knit.  So I cast on some Kai-mei socks (yay Cookie A!) in my Needle Food 'There's Flowers in My Salad'.  I've finished the first one, but it's really hard to photograph.  Here's a picture of the foot patterning:

Pretty!  Although sadly, the colours look rather garish in the photo :(  It's actually a really nice colourway, and I think you all know how much I love my Needle Food yarn (sadly, no longer available.  I have one skein left after this one.  I'm saving it up for a special occasion).  Once they're finished, I'll try to get some decent pics to share with you.

I managed a weak little 2.5km run on Sunday, a few laps around Victoria Park on the grass.  I was being overly conservative due to the shin splints still hanging around.  The 'one week miracle cure' didn't work (no surprises there), so I'm continuing this week with more stretches and exercises, icing once a day and resting.  However, this weekend (tomorrow in fact) I'm going to go for a 5km trail run near the Hunua Ranges.  I found a group that does 5km park runs through either Cornwall Park or Barry Curtis Park every Saturday at 8am.  I'm really looking forward to it!  I'll try the Barry Curtis Park run first, but if it becomes a regular thing for me, I'll most likely do the Cornwall Park run more often just because it's closer to home.  But I was really in need of some running buddies, and somewhere to run off-road since running on concrete was likely one of the main reasons I got shin splints.  I've printed off my barcode and I'm rearing to go.  I have the next Unitec race next Sunday which is 10km, and the thought that my fitness level has decreased with these few weeks rest is making me a little anxious.  I've been lazy and haven't done any cross-training.  One of the reasons why I decided to resurrect the (slightly modified) daily schedule:

I've put aside the half marathon and marathon training plans for now, and for the next little while I'll just run what/when I can.  Those half marathons are looming, and as much as I'm looking forward to running them, these injuries are digging their toes in and don't want to budge just yet.  I'm trying to be patient and work around that.  Not sure how well I'm succeeding...

This post has become ridiculously long so it is definitely time to sign off.  I have some probability and statistics to study, and a bunch of laundry to get stuck in to.  Not to mention, two boys who need their hair cut!  Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Haven't seen that in a while

Here we are in Napier, enjoying the sunshine during the school holidays.  This morning there is a rather lovely thick coating of frost on the ground.  You don't get frost in Auckland.  Funny, the things you miss...  I was driving home in the wee hours of the morning after having spent an evening with my bestie watching ridiculous movies (Warm Bodies anyone? We had such a laugh) and there was already frost on my windscreen.  Which reminds me, I must put more water in the windscreen wiper reservoir.  You know, the squirty thing...

Anyway, you may recall that last weekend was the first Unitec race for the year, a 5km.  I got to meet my blog-friend Sherry from Run to the Mountains (hello!).  She's more onto it and has already blogged about her experience.  Me?  I'm a little slower-moving this week, what with the school holidays and driving out of town and all.  Visiting with friends and family takes up a lot of time ;)  So, the race.  Well, I got up at 6.30am so I could make a hearty breakfast and leave plenty of time for it to digest and become awesome running fuel - that morning it was banana berry and white chocolate, using some frozen blueberries, since berries are out of season here (sad).

It was delicious, and just what I needed to kick-start the day.  At around 7.45am I headed out the door to the race venue after having decided that it was just too cold to wear shorts, bearing in mind that I would be standing around waiting for the race to start for about an hour.  We had to pick up our race numbers, timing chips and race shirts since it was the first event, and registration closed half an hour before the start of the race.  I'm always paranoid about trying to find a park (parking is not my strong point, just saying), getting lost on the way (directionally challenged), or getting there when everyone else does and having to stand in line for ages (that's just boring).  I unsurprisingly got there with plenty of time to spare, which gave me time to chat with a few other race-goers.  I'm not generally overly social at events, particularly with strangers, but sometimes small-talk is okay.  Especially when you're all having to deal with the same chilly conditions and want to have a bit of a whinge.  Auckland weather had up until that point been unseasonably warm, so I don't really know why it chose that particular day to be stupidly cold.  When I say cold, I mean Auckland-cold.  Not everywhere-else-that's-actually-having-a-proper-winter cold.  It was about 10ºC.  They did a bit of a warm-up, then the local MP did a wee speech allowing all those people that had just warmed up to get cold again, then the countdown began.  10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... and we're off!  I found myself a little annoyed that I started so far back in the pack because I ended up lumped in with a bunch of joggers, but fairly quickly managed to escape the pack and get moving.  I'm happy to say that every person I passed during the race stayed behind me.  We ran two laps around the Mt. Albert Unitec campus which was mildly hilly and not overly strenuous (possibly due to all the hill work I've been putting in), allowing me to have a negative split time (second lap faster than the first) despite being plagued with the dreaded shin splints for the whole of the second lap.  Yes, they are still here and didn't come right after a few days rest.  I didn't really think they would, but I was quietly hoping all the same.

I enjoyed the race, but didn't quite run it as fast as I'd have liked (stupid shin splints).  I am still happy with my result though - out of 215 finishers for the 5km/two lap race, I finished 32nd overall, and was the 6th female finisher.  With a net time of 25:48 I was only 2:48 behind the first female finisher.  Woohoo!  Of course, 215 is a relatively small field of competitors, but I always just run for the joy of it, not to beat everyone.  I'm never going to be the leader of the pack, and I'm okay with that.  This week is all about more rest, stretches and exercises, anti-inflammatories and ice to try and shift these shin splints so I can get back to running four to five days a week, and can run the next race pain-free, which is on 4th August.  Fingers crossed!  I'm trying out this exercise to see how it goes - reading the comments it appears to have worked for many runners, so I figured it couldn't hurt to try it.  Seems a bit like one of those cons - 'take this diet pill and watch the pounds melt away' or 'do this one exercise every day for a week and lose 20 pounds'.  'Do this one amazing exercise and your shin splints will disappear'.  Hmmm... I'll let you know how that one pans out.  As for the others, you're on your own ;)  Yoga would undoubtedly help as well, but I haven't really managed to fit any of that in for the last week or so.  Perhaps once I'm back home and into a more normal routine, I'll get back to it.  May have to pull out the daily schedule again, since study has started for the second trimester.  That's next week for me though.  This week is all about spending time with friends and family and enjoying sunny Hawkes Bay.

I'm inflicting my porridge obsession on everyone here too, and making my mum try out the different recipes with me.  This morning was coconut banana baked oatmeal (urgh, blurry pic):

I rather enjoyed it, but sadly, mum did not.  Probably the coconut milk.  Yesterday we had cran-apple oatmeal.  I liked that one too, although it was a little more bland than some of the others I've had.  It tasted pretty good with some apple syrup drizzled over the top though.

The serving looks rather pitiful, but that's just because it is in a giant bowl.  Seriously huge bowls here, don't know why...  Last week, before heading to Napier, I also tried blueberry cashew oatmeal (much smaller bowl, comparatively):

It was delicious, and I was rather delighted with the colour :)  I'm not sure if you'd get that with fresh blueberries.  Perhaps to a lesser extent.  There was also apple cinnamon porridge, with a delightfully creamy blob of creme fraiche on top (YUM!!):

I got to meet this ridiculously delicious carrot cake oatmeal, and with some raisins and walnuts added, I think this would have to be one of my favourites so far.  I rather enjoyed the 'frosting' as well:

Yes, there was an extra dollop of frosting on that oatmeal.  It was really good.  I was a little dubious about the cinnamon banana latte porridge, but was pleasantly surprised - it was really quite yummy.  I will definitely be trying some more of Cinnamon Soliloquy's coffee porridge recipes.  I had my cinnamon banana latte porridge with some chopped pecans and maple syrup:

And on the Monday morning before the boys and I headed to Napier, Deane and I shared some pina colada oatmeal:

I added some white chia seeds to this one.  Lovely.  Gosh, that's quite a lot of porridge!  I'm showing no signs of stopping yet though, there are just so many good combinations to try!!  I'm having so much fun :D

I'm still kind of ticking away at the Tour de Fleece.  I brought my spinning wheel to Napier as planned, and managed to ply the two finished bobbins on Monday night.  It resulted in three skeins of two ply fingering weight (I think, haven't checked) yarn, approximately 777m in total:

I don't have my digital scales so I can't weigh the skeins until I get home.  But let me just tell you, they are ridiculously squishy.  I am madly in love with them and I can't wait to spin the rest of the fibre so I can have EVEN MORE of the squishy yarn - enough to make a super squishy warm cardigan.  Yes, I think that most definitely has to happen.

As always when I'm updating y'all on the happenings in the land of kreachr, time has gotten away from me again.  I must get dressed (yes I'm still in my cosy slippers and pyjama pants at 10am.  I'm on holiday so shush) so I can go join my boys and their nana.  We're heading out for lunch and a game of mini golf.  Fun times :)  Have a fabulous rest-of-the-week, and stay warm and dry wherever you are.  I'll be back here next week.  See you then!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Pride cometh before a fall

I just knew when I posted that last post bragging about my good half marathon time that something was going to happen.  In fact, I felt a wee tremor even before then.  You know the feeling, when something is going really well you just know it's all going to fall over pretty soon?  Yeah, that.

I went for a run on Tuesday, one of my usual routes around Herne Bay, Coxs Bay, Westmere and Grey Lynn.  Fairly early on in the run my right shin, and then a little later my left shin started feeling really sore.  My feet seemed to be dragging a bit, and I was in danger of tripping over because every now and then they'd catch on the footpath.  I mentally berated myself for it and figured once I got moving on some of the uphills my ankles would remember how to flex a little better and I'd be good.  Well, that kinda didn't happen.  Sure, by the end of the 11km run my legs were feeling okay, but they weren't 100%.  I've had this feeling before, and just figured it was a little muscle fatigue.  But the feeling continued over the course of the day, mostly while I was sitting around, so I decided to do a little research.  Clearly I am not a doctor, and people always say you shouldn't self-diagnose (especially via the internet!) but I'm fairly certain I have shin splints.  Sure, I could go to the doctor and pay $45 for them to tell me something I've already figured out for myself and know how to treat, but I don't think I need to.

I'm just a little bummed that I have to cut back on the training again.  Sad face.  So today, instead of running 12km, I'll be trying to force myself to spend an hour on the stationary bike.  I'm happy to have alternative exercise options, but dude, that thing is boooooooooring!  And I think I'll have to skip Saturday's fartlek run as well.  I'll still run my 5km race on Sunday with my fingers very tightly crossed that a few days rest will have made a significant improvement, but I'm not holding my breath.  I guess I'll also have to reassess my training program and slow it down a little.  Adding hills to all but my longest Sunday runs sounded like a good way to get over my fear and dislike of them, but this has likely contributed to my current injury.  Also, wearing not-so-good shoes.  Then of course there's the whole running-on-concrete-all-the-time thing...  Yes, I am my own worst enemy.  I am starting to wonder though, if the injury-free 50km+ per week runner is a mythical being, only found in legendary tales intended to inspire average runners to greater achievements.  Or maybe I'm just an idiot, whose body was never meant to run long distances on a regular basis ;)  I'd very much like to get some new running shoes so I have two good pairs, instead of one good pair, one mediocre pair that's half a size too small, and one crap pair that I bought because they were cheap.  One day perhaps...

In the meantime, I managed to finish Deane's socks (apologies for crappy evening phone pics):

Despite having to untangle a yarn barf of epic proportions:

This is the reason why I don't usually use the centre strand of a centre pull ball, most often opting for the outer strand which gently unwinds as you knit, rather than dragging with it the contents of half the yarn cake all tangled together.  However, I started this pair two at a time using both the outer and centre strands, so I had no option but to painstakingly re-order the yarn into a workable state.  Aside from this little hiccup, I am very happy with both the yarn (gorgeously soft!) and the socks (great pattern!).  I was in no danger of having to play yarn chicken, and still have a little mini-ball about the size of a ping pong ball left.  If I had knit another cabled pattern repeat in the legs as suggested in the pattern (leg length of 8" for the large size), that would quite likely have been a different result.  They fit Deane perfectly and he didn't complain that the legs weren't long enough, so all is well.

I have also been spinning a little more in the last couple of days - the creak in the left foot pedal is intermittent, and appears to be dependent on where my foot is placed on the pedal, and the speed at which I am pedaling.  I will replace the missing screw, but at least there's no urgency and I can happily spin while watching TV in the evenings without driving everyone batsh*t.  The second bobbin is nearing completion, and I will be able to do a little plying soon:

Actually, now that I look at it, there's still quite a bit to go on this bobbin...  Ah well.  I guess I can pack up my wheel and take it with me to Napier next week to continue with the Tour de Fleece.  Yes, I think that's an excellent plan!  Hurrah!  As for knitting to take with... hmm...  I still need to knit the other argyle sock to match this one:

Might be too fiddly... maybe another cowl, or some mitts.  A shawl perhaps...  Decisions, decisions...

Still going on the porridge trials too.  The last few days I've had some kiwifruit and banana porridge with maple syrup and pecans:

Then to use up the other half of the banana, I had pear and banana porridge with maple syrup and walnuts:

I had a small half batch (1/4 cup of oats) of some creamy yogurt porridge as an afternoon snack, to use up a pot of berry yogurt X decided he didn't want for his lunch, but I didn't take a picture.  It was yummy :)

And the other day we tried coconut grapefruit porridge.

I'm not a fan of grapefruit as I rather dislike bitter flavours.  However we got two large grapefruit in our Foodbox this week, and since Deane insisted we didn't swap them out for something else, I had to figure out what to do with them.  This double batch of porridge used one, and the other I think I'll leave for Deane.  It was quite nice - cooked in coconut milk, with flaxseed, ginger and cinnamon in it, served with honey and coconut thread on top.  But that grapefruit bitterness was still quite prevalent.  Not so much that I couldn't eat it, but enough that I'd think twice before making it again.  Of course I still devoured my entire bowl, whereas Deane ate about three quarters of his before proclaiming he was full.  All this running has turned me into an eating machine!  Not that I'm complaining ;)  I have put on a few kilos though, sadly, still no boobs...  I digress.  It was a nice looking oatmeal, with the little flecks of grapefruit throughout and mixed with the flaxseed.  I might give orange a go some time and see how it works out.  This one sounds pretty good, as does this one.

This morning there was no oatmeal.  We had buckwheat waffles.  They were supposed to be pancakes, but it appears my ability to flip a pancake has abandoned me so rather than persevere and mess up the whole batch, I just pulled out my trusty waffle iron (seriously the best use of FlyBuys points evar!!!).  T had scrambled eggs, because the waffles didn't look right.  Ugh, that kid...  I'm baking everything with wholemeal flours from now on.  He'll just have to get used to it.  The loaf of bread I baked this morning was 1:3 wholemeal/white flour.  Mwahahahahaha!  It'll most likely come home uneaten in his lunch box though.  My kids do interesting things with their bread.  X brought his baguette home one day like this:

It's misspelled, but I'm sure you can understand that it says 'diseased'.  He refuses to eat anything that's been wrapped in plastic wrap, got it into his head that the plastic wrap breeds germs.  Whatever.  Cheeky monster.  T brought back one of his bread rolls like this:

Completely hollowed out.  Guess he didn't feel like eating the crusts...

Dinners in the kreachr household are getting a little more manageable in that at least one of the kids (X) is eating the meal.  The other one (T, of course) generally is not.  But I have stopped making him different things just so he'll eat.  He gets what everyone else gets, perhaps without sauce or garnish (ie: as plain as possible).  If he doesn't want it, too bad.  The other night I had a wee laugh to myself.  I had made a pork and cabbage stir fry and served some noodles on the side.  Both kids happily ate the noodles, and T refused to eat the stir fry.  I expected that.  X and I had a conversation that went a little like this:

X: Is that cabbage?
Me: Yes
X: I'm not eating that
Me: It doesn't taste like anything.  All the flavour is in the pork and the curry, and you like them.
X: I'm still not eating it.  It's too green-looking.
*walks away from the table*
*comes back seconds later*
X: I'm hungry.  Fine, I'll just eat it then.
*proceeds to eat most of his dinner, only leaving a little bit because he was full*
Me: *laughing quietly on the inside, saying nothing*

If only T would try more things, he'd probably like most of them.  I'm guessing a lot of his dislike of foods is more to do with texture rather than flavour.  I may have to experiment a little more with this.  I would almost consider him a vegetarian with his aversion to red meats, but then he doesn't really eat vegetables either.  Quite the dilemma.  Karmic payback for my fussiness as a child - it says in my Plunket book "will not eat green food".  My, how things change...

The day is escaping me yet again, and I have laundry to catch up on.  Not to mention that stationary bike in the corner of the lounge, staring at me malevolently.  Time to call it.  Have a great weekend everyone, and if you're in New Zealand and have school-age kids, I hope the school holidays are bearable for you!  Mine should be relatively uneventful with the usual trip to Napier, and perhaps a little study if I can fit it in.  Apparently we're going to Inflatable World during the second week, or so says Master T.  Should be fun ;)

Monday, 8 July 2013

I lied...

I didn't stop making oatmeal like I said I would.  Since last post, I've made three more batches.  Salted brownie baked oatmeal:

Cinnamon bun baked porridge:

And creamy yogurt porridge with raisins and honey:

I think the favourite out of those three would have to be the cinnamon bun baked porridge, but the yogurt porridge came a very close second.  And yes, I have been eating other food.  The other day I had bacon and eggs for breakfast, and yesterday Deane made some banana pancakes while I was out on my run.  This morning I had leftover steamed date pudding with cream.  Well, somebody had to eat it.  If I'm having breakfast for dessert, why not have dessert for breakfast?  I'm such a rule breaker... ;)

The spinning came to a grinding halt over the weekend, as the left foot pedal on My Lovely has developed a rather annoying creak.  Upon inspection I have discovered a missing screw in one of the hinges, which will have to be replaced before I can go any further without driving myself crazy with the noise.  I could put headphones in and crank up some music or a podcast, but the screw needs to be replaced regardless and this spinning break has given me a chance to make good progress on Deane's socks.  I've finished the legs and heel flaps for both, which means all the cabling for the back is done:

Oh, so pretty!!!  Now I just have to turn the heels and knit the gussets and feet.  This yarn is divine, and I think it's a crime that it will be going on Deane's manky feet, but I'll just have to remember it is worth the expense and buy some more next year.  For me.  The tough decision for today is whether to knit more on these socks or do the podcast/spinning thing, since today is a rest day for training.  And I am more than happy to have this rest day, because yesterday's run kicked ass!  I am very proud of it, and here is why:

It's a little hard to see perhaps, but that there is a half marathon, with my fastest ever 5km (24:47) and 10km (49:42) times.  And not just that, my half marathon time was:

My previous half marathon time back in January was 1:53:29.  I dropped a whole eight minutes off my time! I was very happy to be able to maintain a 5'02" average pace for the whole run.  It was hard work, but I did it.  Yay me!  It felt even better knowing that on Saturday I had quite a sluggish run with an average pace of 5'47".  It was an afternoon run, something I'm not used to.  I had to wait for Deane to get back from his run (10.89km!!!  Can you believe it?  I was very impressed, and very proud.  Way to go Deane!)  Plus there were hill repeats - three sets of five 200m hills.  I just ran around Westhaven Marina and did my repeats on Curran Street and the corner of Sarsfield Street  (which looks quite comical on the run replay).  A man and his wee girl biked past while I was on my first set and probably thought I was a little loopy, running up and down the same hill.  Their suspicions were likely confirmed when they were on their way home a little later and I was still at it, having just started my third set.  He commented "you're keen" on his way past.  Heh...

I'm a little annoyed with my Nike account at the moment though, for some reason it hasn't added my Thursday run into my totals.  How do I know this?  Have a look at this picture and see if you can figure it out:

Does that look like three runs to you?  I see four.  I'm pretty sure I did four.  And I'm pretty sure those four runs totaled 60.61km.  It seems to have completely ignored Thursday, as if it never happened.  And yet, there it is in the bar graph.  But not in the total distance.  Weird.  And rather irritating.  I've emailed the support team and am awaiting a response/fix.

In the mean time, I think I'll go practice some yoga.  I was a little slack last week and didn't do any extra workouts or yoga - spinning kinda took over a little bit.  My legs need a good stretch out after the weekend's efforts, and I have a race this weekend.  Yoga sounds like a very good idea.

Have a fabulous week!