May I Have Your Vote?

This past Saturday, I participated for the second time in the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Annie at An Unrefined Vegan was once our host and organizer and did an amazing job at it!  It truly is a fun and exciting feeling to be connected to so many bloggers from so many different places.  Plus, my meal-making inspiration is now overflowing with ideas from all the other delicious looking dishes that were shared!

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

Now, I don’t do much self-promotion, but I am here today to ask you for your vote.  You see, for the potluck, I made and virtually brought this Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze.  Remember it?  I’ve been wishing I had some more of it myself!  While it may be long gone (for now), it is time to honor those potluckers who made everyone’s favorite dishes.  If you liked my cake, you can vote for me here under the desserts category.  If you are also inclined, head on over to the Virtual Vegan Potluck’s featured ingredient page and re-pin my cake.  The dish featuring the secret ingredient with the most re-pins is also a winner.

Thank you for your vote (or for just reading this far) and for joining me in another blogging adventure!

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple-Caramel Glaze

One of my favorite things to do these days is to spend an afternoon home alone baking, feed the finished product to Mr. Move Eat Create when he returns, and then ask, “Do you know what was in that???”

Whole on cake stand from above - edited

Of course, I know that its unlikely he’ll guess correctly, but I wait and anticipate his answer.  Then, I excitedly share what the secret ingredient actually was, basking in my sneakiness and healthy baking subterfuge.

I first discovered the odd fun of this little game when I made zucchini brownies.  I reached new levels of enjoyment with it after sharing my batch of Chocolate Covered Katie’s black bean brownies, and totally had a blast with it after making this creation here.

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

This cake was a perfect opportunity for me to:  a) practice my gluten free baking skills, b) use nutritious ingredients (like vegetables) to make something traditionally lacking in health promoting properties, and c) eat chocolate.

As an added bonus, I was already in the process of fine-tuning this recipe when the Virtual Vegan Potluck sign-up and announcement came out, indicating they’d be featuring a key ingredient this time around and that the key ingredient was beets!

Perfect!  I had clearly earned some good food blogging karma somewhere.

slice on plate - edited

For this final version I added a maple-caramel frosting which was so good that I may have scooped up and eaten much of the excess drizzle with my fingertips.  And it may have made me so happy and weak in the knees that I had to sit down.

If all that extra sweet drizzle isn’t you’re thing, I also made a version that was topped with a simple dusting of vegan powdered sugar.  It, too, was wonderful.

________________________________________________________________________

Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze

Makes one bundt cake

A Move Eat Create original recipe

(but inspired by various recipes throughout the Internet)
                                                      Sliced into on cake stand - edited

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 medium beets, diced
  • 2 ¼ cups gluten free all purpose flour (I like Pure Pantry for baking)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 ½ tspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ cup vanilla (or plain) coconut milk
  • 1 tblspn apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 small very ripe mashed bananas
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

For the glaze:

  • ½ cup vegan brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance
  • 2 tblspns coconut milk
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tspn maple extract (optional: If you don’t want the maple flavor, sub additional vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup vegan powdered sugar

Directions:

To make the cake:

  1. Place diced beets in a pot and fill with enough water to cover by an extra inch or two.  Bring to a boil.  Let beets boil for approximately 7-8 minutes to soften.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or oil your bundt pan and set aside.
  3. Prepare dry ingredients.  Place flour, cocoa powder, flax seed, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.
  4. Place boiled, drained beets in a food processor or good blender.  Add coconut milk and apple cider vinegar.  Puree until smooth.
  5. Pour beet mixture into a medium bowl.  Stir in vanilla extract, turbinado sugar, and mashed bananas.  Mix well to combine.
  6. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in.  Mix well by hand to combine all ingredients thoroughly.  Pour in your chocolate chips and stir a couple more times to distribute them throughout the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

To make the frosting:

  1. Melt brown sugar, Earth Balance, and coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk/stir frequently during this process.  Once they melt, the mixture should turn a nice shade of brown.  This should only take 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and maple extract.  Let sit to cool for a few minutes.
  2. After the sauce has cooled for about 5 minutes, stir in the powdered sugar.  This will thicken the sauce, making it a more substantial frosting/glaze.  Stir/whisk well until all powdered sugar has been incorporated into the sauce.  Let cool completely before drizzling over cake.

And now, please check out other dishes in the potluck!

To visit the dish presented before mine click this link:  go_bck-300x257

To visit the dish next in the line up click through here:  go_forward-300x243

 

** I am also submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Friday, hosted over at The Veggie Nook.  A wonderful weekly gathering of delicious vegan recipes!

Recipe: Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

I can’t believe that it’s the middle of November and I haven’t waxed poetic about fall yet.  I haven’t even extolled the beauty of Portland this time of year or praised the glorious weather we’ve been having, because we absolutely have been having the most glorious season.

Filled Squash Half on plate with broccolini

We’re known for our rain and gray skies, of course, but they’ve been few and far between the last couple of months.  It’s been perfect.  Perfect for running and strolling.  Perfect for sightseeing and adventuring.  Perfect for autumnal baking and for hard apple ciders enjoyed while firing up the oven for a good meal.

As cheesy as it may sound, I frequently find myself being struck by the beauty of the nature that lies right outside my door.  Very often these last few weeks, I have been out on a seemingly ordinary run only to turn a street corner or look up from making sure I don’t trip over fallen branches and I have felt taken aback by just how gorgeous it all is.  And, let me tell you, there’s nothing like a breathtaking view to rejuvenate tired legs.

Whole Squash

I know that it’s common for many people to think of spring as a season of rejuvenation and hope, but I think differently.  For me, it’s that magical time between mid-September and December, when cooler temperatures refresh me and warm foods nourish me.  It is this time of year when I feel the most in touch with my own sense of optimism, accomplishment, hope, and gratitude.  I hope this dish conveys even a bit of that to you.

Stuffed squash recipes abound, but what makes this one a bit different for me is its straightforward savory nature.  Rather than playing up the sweetness of the squash with fruit or similar ingredients, I’ve countered it with a bit of spice and bundles of warm, comforting flavors.  It is a meal best enjoyed with a view of the leaves and the laughter of others.  A crackling fire and a bottle of wine wouldn’t hurt, either.

___________________________________________________________

Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash Filled Squash Halves

Serves 4

A Move Eat Create Original Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 cup uncooked brown wild rice mix
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tblspn olive oil + extra for brushing squash
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 1 medium leek, white part only, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • ½ cup diced parsnips (or other root vegetable)
  • ½ tspn each salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes
  • 1 tspn each dried oregano and basil
  • Cayenne pepper (optional for those that like a little bit of heat)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place squash (cut side down) on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray or oil and bake for 30 minutes.
  2. Place rice in a small pot with the water.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and continue cooking, covered and undisturbed, for approximately 30 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  When water is absorbed, turn off heat and let rice sit for 10-15 minutes before uncovering and fluffing with a fork.
  3. Warm ½ tblspn olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add onion and leek.  Saute for 5-7 minutes, until they are translucent.
  4. Add garlic, bell peppers, parsnips, herbs, and spices to the pan.  Stir well and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, until all vegetables have softened.
  5. Turn off heat.  Stir cooked rice into the vegetable mixture and toss to combine well.  Taste for seasoning.
  6. After the squash halves have cooked for 30 minutes, flip them over on the baking sheet.  Brush the flesh lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, if using.  Spoon prepared rice and vegetable filling into the squash generously.  Return filled squash to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

On Stepping Back and Shutting Off

I am of the belief that there are different levels of tired.  At the bottom is the kind of tired that falls upon us after a poor night’s sleep or a particularly busy day.  As you move up, the levels get more intense.  There are levels that come when those sleepless nights have started to pile up, when life is hitting us extra hard, and when our health is poor.  And, of course, there is level that one might reach when many of things collide.

Given that I’ve had chronic insomnia and poor sleep since puberty, I’m used to the low-grade levels of tired.  I live in them.  It’s my normal and I’ve made peace with that.  Sometimes, though, my level rises and I know I need to permit myself some extra care and rest.  Generally, it’s dealt with quickly and I return to my norm.  But, lately, that hasn’t been working.

I am tired.  Like, really tired.

josh on beach black and white

My body is okay – better than okay, actually.  Running still feels good.  I don’t have any weird aches or pains, but as for my brain?  Well, that’s a different story.  I’ve been the kind of tired that I most feel in my head.  I’ve been feeling scattered.  I have trouble focusing on things.  I’m quick to be irritated (okay, I may be quick to be irritated most of the time anyway).  And, my creativity is waning.

This is all stuff I don’t like one bit.  Nope.  Not a fan of it at all.

This is also why I’ve only posted a few times over the last month.  Such minimal blogging isn’t my norm and I know it won’t become my norm – but it may be one temporary part of giving myself a bit of much needed down time.

I know that one of the major causes of my current funk is my state of chronic busyness.  I am always busy and my mind is always racing.  I jump from a full day’s work to a workout to my second job to cooking meals to blogging to running errands to appointments to housework and so on – with little time to just stop and breathe.  Some of this is absolutely necessary (work and more work) and some of it is self-induced (me trying to squeeze in the activities that actually bring me joy and satisfaction) and some of it is just, well, dumb (me believing that I always have to be multitasking – one project at a time is never good enough).

So, in light of all this, I’m trying a few things to take a little better care of myself, get my spark back, and clear my head.  They include:

  1. Shutting off/Disconnecting – I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels constantly tied to an electronic device.  Frankly, I love them but sometimes they’re draining.  Between two computer-heavy jobs, blogging, and general news and communication, I too often am staring a screen.  This is why my blogging has been a bit less lately – I need a little break from those screens right now.  And, maybe I won’t read ALL the news of the world and it will still be okay.   
  2. Less multi-tasking – Building off of #1 above, I am always juggling multiple things, taking in and shooting out information and energy from a variety of sources.  I am really feeling the need to ease up on this.  It’s good to give one project (and only one project) my attention sometimes.  And if that means something else has to wait a while, that will just have to work itself out.
  3. Re-prioritizing – Often in my brain EVERYTHING IS SO IMPORTANT.  But, really, it’s not.
  4. Being kind to myself – Oh, I’m so bad at this.  So very bad.  I expect way more out of myself than I would ever expect out of others, setting high expectations and then becoming angry when I don’t always meet them.  This is an ongoing project.  If you have tips, I’m happy to hear them!
  5. Allowing space for nothing – This is also extremely difficult for me.  If I sit and do ‘nothing’ for even 30 minutes, I generally become anxious, thinking about what needs to be done and feeling lazy for doing those things.  Recently, I’ve been trying to put everything else away and either enjoy a television show that makes me laugh or lose myself in a book (I read often – but generally on the bus, while eating, or waiting for something – rarely just any old time of day).  These are simple pleasures that help me unwind and disconnect and I’m trying to remember that they are just as valuable to my life as finishing the next task.

What I won’t change is finding small spaces for the things that already work to rejuvenate me – running, connecting with you all kind people, enjoying a nice meal with others.  These things are keepers.

So, this is my plan, friends.  I’m feeling optimistic about it and am hoping that it will help me get my mojo back (Yes – I did just say that.  Give me a break, please, I’m tired!)

Non-GMO Goodies Courtesy of Bestowed

When the kind folks at Bestowed contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their snack boxes, I initially put up a mild protest.  With my food intolerances, I have stopped receiving any such subscription boxes because I just don’t know what I’ll be able to enjoy.  Understanding my limitations, Bestowed’s team assured me I could enjoy and review the items that were safe for me and gift the other items.  Plus, October (the box of the month they sent me) was non-GMO month, which meant all products included were non-GMO verified.  Since I am a sucker for non-GMO products, I was in!

Provided box photo

And I really am, you know.  A sucker for non-GMO products, I mean.  The issue of genetically modified organisms, and most importantly, of clear and accurate labeling and identification of GMO products is one I care a great deal about.  I personally do my best to avoid GMO items, but beyond that I strongly believe that consumers should be able to identify GMOs and make those informed decisions for themselves.  So taking the opportunity to learn more about and support companies in alignment with these values seemed like the right thing to do.

As you likely have gathered by now, Bestowed is a subscription snack box service that delivers packages directly to your door each month.  One thing that makes Bestowed unique from other similar services is that the company was founded by a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist, Heather Bauer.  Heather draws upon her knowledge and passion for nutrition to guide the selection of Bestowed’s featured products.

Provided item photo

Let’s take a look at what I received in my non-GMO Bestowed box:

  1. UNREAL Peanut Butter Cups – I gifted these to Mr. Move Eat Create since they did contain quite a bit of dairy and I’m trying my best to live dairy-free these days.  He thought they were delicious (and he is somewhat of a peanut butter cup aficionado).  I love the concept that the UNREAL company is working with – recreations of classic candy made with natural ingredients.  It’s certainly something I can get behind.
  2. Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mix – Yum!!  I am a huge fan of Enjoy Life products.  This brand is made for people like me (people with food intolerances) and is always satisfying.  This mix was a terrifically healthy snack by a brand I already trusted.  Score!
  3. FiberLove Cinnamon Raisin Bar (Gnu Foods) – I’ve got to admit this made me a little sad.  I actually used to eat these bars all the time in my pre-gluten free days and it made me nostalgic.  Needless to say, it was gifted.  However, I can attest from good, recent memory that these bars are delicious, satisfying, and make for a great afternoon bite on the go.
  4. The Good Bean Smoky Chili & Lime Chickpea Snacks – Eh.  I don’t understand the thrill of roasted chickpeas.  If you like this sort of thing, they’re great – they’re just not my favorite.
  5. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder – Fantastic.  Love it.  Hemp powder is amazing.
  6. Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate Macaroon Granola – Sigh.  Something else I used to love, but sadly this granola is not gluten-free.  If you can eat gluten, I do highly recommend Nature’s Path Love Crunch products.  They’re excellent on their own, in yogurt, soy or almond milk, et cetera.  It’s good stuff.
  7. Ultima Replenisher – Always an excellent choice for a runner, such as myself.  Makes a great drink on a long run kind of day.
  8. Way Better Snacks Black Bean Tortilla Chips – These got me very excited.  I recently discovered Way Better Snacks and am a big fan.  These come as close to clean eating as you can get in a chip and I really love these when I’m craving something salty.  Delicious and packed with super foods.
  9. Bonuses: A recipe and a Women’s Health Magazine voucher.

Overall, I was impressed by the contents of the Bestowed box.  There was a variety of quality products and I loved that the box came with a printed booklet that included information about each of the items and the companies featured.  I also appreciate that most of the items are available for individual purchase through the Bestowed website in case you love something that you can’t find available locally.  For me personally, solely because of my food restrictions, it wouldn’t be a good idea to invest in a monthly service.  I feel it might be a bit risky and am afraid I wouldn’t get to enjoy all of the items.  If I didn’t have those restrictions, however, I would most definitely consider joining up with Bestowed on a regular basis.

Of course, when I do a review of a product or service I support, I want to be sure that you all can benefit, too.  So, if you are interested in trying out Bestowed for yourself, you can do so with a discount of 50% off your first box!  To order your own shipment, visit Bestowed here and enter coupon code HELLOTEN103 (offer valid only until 11/20).  Happy snacking!

What Running Has Taught Me About Patience

I am, by nature, a most impatient person.  And, I really mean that.

Traffic lights feel like an eternity to me.  I’m usually convinced that all the other lines at the checkout are moving faster.  When I find something I want, I feel the need to have it RIGHT NOW.  And, I’m still a bit like a kid on my birthday – antsy to open presents and eat cake.

This is just one of the reasons that running has been so good for me.  Running, you see, has taught me about patience like nothing else ever quite has.  It’s true that when you begin running, you do see some changes and results quite quickly.  Those first few months (with practice and training) can fly by with increases in mileage and speed happening all the time.  That 3 mile run becomes 4 miles and that 9:30 pace quickly can drop to 9:00.  But, the truth of the matter is, that running takes a lot of patience.

Sky and Top of Reed Buildings

Building one’s self into a consistent, skilled runner requires persistence and work ethic that have to be sustained over years to truly accomplish specific goals.  I don’t think I ever realized this when I first started running, probably because I just didn’t think about it much.  But, I’ve been at this for nearly two years now and I’ve come to be humbled by and appreciative of the amount of time it takes to improve as a runner.

Sure, anyone can set out to run a 5k, or hell even a marathon, and get through it with only a few months of training.  But, if you want to drop your pace, run injury free, or build stronger muscles for hills, for instance, it takes time.  Serious time.  I read a lot of running related books and this theme is consistent across all of them.  Elite, top notch runners that one might imagine were just born with the gifts of speed and endurance, all talk about this.  They speak of years of training cycles to slice just a minute or two off of their race times and they clearly acknowledge that nothing is more important to improving one’s running ability than simply working hard over long periods of time.

This has been an incredibly important lesson for me to learn.  I expect a lot of myself and I don’t usually give myself much allowance for mistakes or failure.  I tend to believe that I should have accomplished this or that very quickly, without error, faster than others have.  But, when it comes to my running, I know that there are no quick accomplishments – no super fast results.  I head out, day after day and run miles after miles knowing that eventually, over time, it will result in me meeting more of my goals, and I just have to be patient with it.  Because there’s no other way.

street crossing 2 - cropped

Of course, I do see certain types of results all the time.  For example, I’ve been keenly aware lately how much easier it is for me to run longer, more often.  Runs that once left me exhausted often feel fairly run of the mill these days.  I used to be impressed with myself when my weekly mileage totaled 25 and now I easily hit 40 most weeks.  But, it’s been a gradual process with small advances along the way.

Like so much else that running has taught me, I’m trying to remember this lesson in other aspects of my life, as well.  I had a birthday recently.  My birthdays have always been a time when I tend to reflect on what I haven’t yet accomplished.  You know that process, right?  It’s the “I can’t believe I’m already XX years and I haven’t done XX yet!  I’m so far behind where I thought I would be!”  Well, when this birthday came, I certainly had some of those thoughts creep in, but I do like to think I did better with them this year.  And, I like to think that’s yet another thing I owe to my little running regimen.

Recipe: Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (and a confession)

I have something very important to own up to here today.

Are you ready for it?

I don’t understand the full-on pumpkin obsession that is happening right now.

I just don’t.

in skillet with handle - edited

As a foodie, a blogger, and a huge fan of fall, I feel a little bad about this.  I mean, anyone who has browsed through a blogroll lately, walked past a bakery or coffee shop, or even taken a trip to the grocery store has surely seen the pumpkin explosion that is taking over the food world.

Pumpkin is a big deal, y’all.  And, I just don’t get it.

It’s fine, I guess.  It’s alright. It’s O.K.   But, honestly, it’s not a flavor that I get excited about.  I think my pumpkin gene never fully developed.  I get excited about other fall flavors, namely apple, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon.  I go nuts for steaming bowls of soup, rich broths, and earthy aromas.  I’m crazy about casseroles, root vegetables, and pots of warm chili.  But, pumpkin?

Eh.

I could take it or leave it.

cooking - edited

I realize I probably just lost a lot of cred with you all, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I felt it needed to be said.

In that vain, I hope you enjoy this dish.  It is perfect for a chilly autumn evening, eaten in a setting where you feel comfortable and cozy, in the company of those you’re most at home with.  And with nary a pumpkin in sight.

For those who are disappointed with me and think I’m missing out, don’t worry . . . I’ll probably cave in and bake some pumpkin bread soon.

______________________________________________________________

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie bowl - edited

Tweaked just a smidge from the wonderful Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  •  2 lbs potatoes (I used red), cubed (peeled or unpeeled – it’s up to you)
  • ½ cup soy milk creamer
  • 1 tblspn Earth Balance (or oil or butter)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups green beans, chopped into ½ inch pieces (I used frozen)
  • 2 cups packed spinach, chopped
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tblspn Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (could sub soy sauce or tamari)
  • 1 tblspn red miso
  • 1 tblspn fresh thyme (or 1 tspn dried)
  • 1 tblspn fresh rosemary, minced (or 1 tspn dried)
  • 1 tspn fresh oregano (or ½ tspn dried)
  • ¼ tspn dried, ground sage
  • 1 1/2 tblspns corn starch
  • 2 tblspns water
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Prepare the potatoes by boiling them in a large pot of salted water until tender, about 15 minutes.  When tender, drain and toss into a large bowl (if using a hand mixer/masher) or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add soy milk and Earth Balance and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Mix/mash until soft and creamy.  Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, spray a large cast iron skillet or large sauté pan with cooking spray and warm over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until they are soft and begin to brown.  Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring regularly, about 5 minutes longer.
  3. Next, add the vegetable broth, Bragg’s, miso, kidney beans, green beans, and herbs.  Bring the broth up to a low boil and then reduce heat.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender and cooked through.
  4. Add the spinach to the skillet and mix well.  Let the spinach wilt over the heat for 2-3 minutes.  Finally, mix together the corn starch with the 2 tablespoons water until smooth and stir into the skillet.  Cook for a few minutes longer, until the sauce has thickened up a bit.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove from heat and turn on your broiler to high.  If you used a cast iron skillet, leave the vegetables in the skillet at this point and spoon the mashed potatoes evenly onto the top.  If you used another sauté pan, transfer the vegetables into an oven-safe baking dish and then continue on by spooning the mashed potatoes onto the top.    Place skillet or dish under the broiler for approximately 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

My Birthday Weekend In Pictures

On Friday I turned 33.

I’m pleased to say that my (usual) birthday anxiety this year was fairly minimal, so I was able to enjoy it mostly stress free.

I took the day off work and enjoyed a (well earned) long weekend.  It was three days filled with amazing food, good people, and fun outings.

Since everyone else was at work on Friday, I enjoyed a leisurely day about town on my own.  It started with a morning run (of course) and then I headed to one of my favorite breakfast spots, the AND Cafe, for an absolutely delicious vegan, gluten free waffle covered with mushroom-dill gravy and savory tofu.  I scored a deeply discounted frock at J. Crew and returned home in time to rest up before heading back out with Mr. Move Eat Create and a good friend to catch The Pet Shop Boys in concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.Friday Collage

When I returned home, the night was finished off with birthday cake!  If you’re ever in Portland, by the way, do yourself a favor and pay a visit to Back to Eden Bakery.  This 100% plant-based, gluten free bakery is amazingly delicious and my toasted hazelnut cake with vanilla bean frosting was so good I can’t even do it justice.

Outside - edited

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day for my weekly long run (15 miles this week).  Coffee and my favorite oatmeal from Harlow re-fueled me afterwards.  Enjoyed along with a good book to read over breakfast, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day.

Oatmeal and book - edited

Saturday evening was my official birthday dinner at Portobello, my favorite place in town for an upscale, yet relaxed meal.  My delectable (vegan, gluten free) feast included an appetizer of pommes frites, a couple of whiskey drinks, the first pizza I’ve had in months, and a salted caramel hot fudge sundae.  In my excitement to eat it, I forgot to take a picture of the sundae!  You’ll have to take my word for it that it was beautiful and amazingly tasty.

What a meal!

Oh, and of course there was presents!  Here are a few of them.  Can you tell I’m a reader?

A few of my gifts.  Can you tell I'm a reader?

I wish I could do it all over again.  Here’s to another year!

I Think The Wind Was Out To Get Me . . .

I do.  I think the wind was out to get me during yesterday’s run.  My day started off on a sour note when my regular Saturday long run was delayed.

I was not pleased.

This is my favorite time of the week, you see.  Just me in the early morning running silently and peacefully for miles and miles.  It clears my head and sets the tone for my whole weekend.  But, when I woke on Saturday the weather was bad.  Really bad.

photo credit: heanster via photopin cc

photo credit: heanster via photopin cc

I can run in rain.  I can run in wind.  I can run in the dark.  But, combine hard rain with wind gusts up to 23 mph and the pitch black darkness of the very early morning and things felt a little dicey.  I put on my gear and waited.

And waited.

And, eventually, I grudgingly decided it wasn’t wise to head out.

After breakfast and errands, I felt renewed hope for making my long run happen.  It was light enough to see and while the wind gusts were still happening, the rain had mellowed to a light, but consistent, drizzle.  I figured I would work through the head winds for the first part of my run and then use the tailwind after I turned around for renewed energy.  But here’s what actually happened.

I headed out east with the hard wind coming straight at me.  I reached a point where I turned around and headed back west.  And the wind was still coming straight at me.  WTF?!  How could it be blowing in two opposite directions?  After another few miles, I made another turn to head south.  I figured I must be in the clear, right?

No.

No, I was not.  The wind was still coming straight at my face.  How is that even possible?  Was it magic wind?  Did have some vendetta against me that I didn’t know about?

Finally, after making my final turn north, I found it at my back and it ushered me home.

I think it finally had its fun and decided to cut me a break.  It had toyed with me enough and moved on to some other poor runner heading in the opposite direction.

Damn wind.  There is a reason (okay, many reasons) why it’s my absolute most dreaded weather element.

But I am glad to say that it didn’t stop me.  I ended up finishing my long run about 2 miles short of where I’d like to have been, but it still added up to another 14 miles in the books.  Let’s hope tomorrow is better, shall we?  (Though the forecast seems to think it won’t be.)  Damn it.