Friday, September 30, 2011

Flashback Friday - There was a farmer....

Yes, that is a young me throttling a chicken.  See that goose in the background? No this was not on a farm, this was my grandma's house in the middle of Highland, where at any given moment they were raising dozens of chickens, geese and ducks, numerous dogs, and what seemed like 50,000 cats.  *cue Elvis singing* In the ghettooooooooooo.....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Flashback Friday and my "Back to School" Manifesto

The campus of USIU - Nairobi, where I obtained my BA.  Those buildings in the distance are the hostels (dorms).  I miss that beautiful campus.  And the near-perfect Kenya weather.
  I had my first class of the quarter last night.  As I was sitting in my Microeconomics class with a bunch of 18-year-olds, trying to stay awake as while learning to calculate the slope of a graph for the 5,204,879th time in my academic career (oh the joys of prerequisites), I had plenty of time to look ahead and ponder what is in store for me over the next 10 weeks.

 I must confess, maintaining a work-life balance has not always been my strong point.  My life without school is hectic but generally carefree, but academics is always the straw that breaks my back.  You'd think after 20ish years of school (oh. my. god) I'd have some things figured out, right?  Ha!  So this year I've decided to be proactive and create a manifesto of sorts that I can refer back to.

In order to make this quarter a success.....

I will NOT:

1.  Let running become a source of stress, and instead rely on it as my relief from stress.  Yes, I want to progress with training for this marathon, but I must keep things in perspective.  I am working full time, taking two classes, moving to a new apartment, helping 5 in-laws move to a new apartment, and hosting my parents-in-law for a month that happens to overlap with my final exams.  And training for a marathon.  AND keeping up with normal domestic wifey obligations (which includes a LOT of cooking) So you know what?  In light of all that, if I find that I can't keep up with the training and have to drop down to a half marathon?  I will NOT be disappointed.  There is a fine line between pushing your limits and crossing your own boundaries - I will try my best to distinguish.

This is my "5:30am" face.

2.   Be overwhelmed by my classes and begin to doubt my own intelligence.  I'm taking a class in Information Security, and I'm going into it very un-knowledgeable about IT in general.  This is a crisis of confidence waiting to happen.  I tend to be very impatient with myself when I don't catch on to something right away, which was fine in high school/undergrad because I didn't find the material very challenging.  This grad program is different though - these are concepts I don't really understand after one reading.  I have to work for it, and that's good for meI just have to remind myself that working for it is normal, and I'm not just dumb.

3.  Place undue strain on my marriage.  My husband is under a lot of stress too, with his last class this quarter and a big scary comprehensive exam that he has to pass to get him Master's.  Unfortunately, we handle stress in very different ways - he becomes obsessed with one thing he's working on (a paper, studying for an exam, etc) to the exclusion of all else (meaning me and most other household considerations);  I, on the other hand, become obsessed with keeping all my balls in the air, give everything equal priority instead of making school (or whatever) top priority for a little while, and fall apart when I can't keep it all together.  Fundamental incompatibility.  Instead of being frustrated by the perceived lack of support, I will be patient, stop pressuring myself so much, and try to enjoy some stress-free time together whenever possible.


1.  Try and get most of my school work out of the way before December 1, so I can enjoy the time with my husband's family.  They are traveling a long way to stay with us and I have no idea when we'll be able to make a trip like this happen again, so I'm going to make the most of it.

2. Take time away from the day job if I need to.  They give us vacation time for a REASON after all.  I should stop hoarding mine like it's leprechaun gold.

3.  Be frugal and shop sensibly.  I admit, the thought of getting a new apartment is super exciting, and my list of things to buy keeps growing exponentially.  I will keep it under control and not enter 2012 sans a savings account.

4.  Take enough time for myself to relax.  Keep up my twice-a-week yoga habit.  Run for the joy of running.  Read a non-school-related book.  Keep up with my obligations joyfully and, if I find that I can't, not feel like a failure for stepping away for a little while.

Now that that's said, let the quarter begin!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flashback Friday!

Today we're going waaaaaay back:

My grandparents, kicking it poolside.  This had to be in the '40s sometime.  Those bathing suits just rock my world!
So I ran 4.46 miles this morning, and it didn't even feel like trying  :)  It's been a rather... challenging week, on so many levels, so this was a much needed boost to my confidence which I hope to elaborate on later. 

I also worked a full day, came home, and cleaned 75% of my apartment in less than an hour.

Sometimes, don't you just feel like a rockstar?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cinco millas

I haven't done a workout recap in a while, so here are my stats for the last couple weeks:

8/29 - Yoga, 1 hour
8/30 - Ran 3.09 miles, Body Pump 1 hour
8/31 - REST
9/1 - Ran 3.93 miles
9/2 - REST
9/3 - Ran 2.5 miles, walked 3 miles
9/4 - Walked 7 miles
9/5 - REST
9/6 - Ran 3 miles, Body Pump 1 hour
9/7 - Yoga, 1 hour
9/8 - Ran 3.75 miles
9/9 - REST
9/10 - Elliptical 2 miles, weights
9/11 - RAN 5 MILES!

I'm super excited about that 5 miles, both because it's the further I've ever run, and because it was easier than I expected!  It was a much needed confidence boost, because we're increasing a mile a week for the next couple months, and I now think I just might be able to hang with it.  Happyhappyhappy.
That's how happy I am.  Yes, I have too much fun with Picnik photo editing.  And yes, my forehead really is that wrinkly.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Breaking the fast

It is NO LONGER 110 degrees outside.

In fact, it should only get up to 85 today.  I woke up itching to get in the kitchen, frantic to turn on the oven and make some magic happen.  Visions of chocolatey cupcakes and savory quiches danced through my head.

But, since it is the end of the week and our fridge is barren, I settled for a simple breakfast:

My friends, meet the plaintain:

It's like a banana that you must cook first, and it's incredibly versatile.  It can be eaten when green or bright yellow, and then it tastes like a starchy, slightly banana-flavored potato.  Or you can eat it when it's so ripe that the skin turns black, and then it is soft, sticky-sweet and flavorful.

Last night my husband took some unripe (bright yellow) plantains, sliced them in half (with the skin on), and boiled them until they were soft.  We sliced and ate them with stew like a potato.  There was a whole boiled plantain left over which we stuck in the fridge.  Since one of my favorite kitchen activities is taking foods unfamiliar to me, usually my husband's traditional foods, and turning them into something unusual, I give you:

Plantain Pancakes

1 plantain, boiled and cooled
1/2 cup flour (I used a Gluten Free whole grain blend 
that I whipped up myself, based on this recipe)
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk (I use almond milk)
1 egg
splash of vanilla extract

Mash the plantain in a bowl until it is fairly smooth, though some chunks are okay.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.  The batter was slightly thick, so you may want to add a little more milk if you prefer thin pancakes.  Grease a pan with butter or cooking spray and heat it on a medium flame.  Plop a pancake-sized scoop of batter, spread around a bit, flip when necessary (you know the drill).

They came out think, dense, yet still fluffy and flavorful.  We were working with an unripe plantain so they were not very sweet, but a little maple syrup on top fixed that.   Next time I think I'll use a riper plantain, and swap out the vanilla for cinnamon and cardamom. 

Deeeeelish.  Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Flashback

So, all the cool blogs these days have "features," right?  Weekly themes with cute names that readers (all... 3 of you?) can look forward to?  Well, since I happen to have a LOAD of old pics on my computer and am making it a goal to upload lots more, here's introducing.... FLASHBACK FRIDAY!

This is not so old actually, I think it was taken back in 2007.  Here I am standing on the railing of our 4th floor apartment in Kenya, watching a truly epic thunderstorm roll in.  I was having a wonderful granola one-with-nature moment... then Kunle came out, asked if I was trying to commit suicide, snapped a picture, and made me come inside before I was struck by lightning.  Thank goodness I married a sensible man.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Long overdue

This weekend the Husband and I spent a much-needed weekend at the beach.  Long Beach, to be precise.  It was lovely  :) 

Kids chasing seagulls... made me nostalgic

The Queen Mary, and.... paddleboarders?  Is that what this funny looking hobby is called?
Monks need their exercise too
Lighthouse on a gorgeous day
Long Beach is such a hodgepodge of busy harbor, oil rigs, tourist destinations, and beautiful residential areas.  Chaotic, yet peaceful.  We walked over 10 miles in two days, just taking in the sights and breathing in the cool salty air.  It was restorative.

And just in time too, because school starts up in... two weeks?!  And so will begin the busiest 10 weeks of my existence.

Till then, I'm going to close my eyes and pretend that I'm on a sandy beach, instead of in a cube.