Jump to What Interests you Most

Search This Blog

Monday, August 29, 2011

Next stop....USA!

This is it. Today is our last day in Córdoba. We catch the train to Madrid tomorrow at 12pm and spend the rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday with some in laws that live up there.

Then we fly to the US at 930am on Thursday.

We are all packed, have said our goodbyes to everyone, and are ready for the next adventure. I've already discussed my feelings in Unforeseen Circumstances and I pretty much feel the same.

As far as training goes I won't be able to start again until September 4th at the latest. Just with getting things together and settled and maping out new routes.

As far as our lives go, I'm excited for this new stage and hope we have lots of success.

This is probably the last blog post until September! 

I will try to write again in Madrid but I'm not sure about the internet access. Plus we're planning on sightseeing (although I've been to Madrid a thousand, million, times) and spending time with Chema's family.

So maybe I'll post some pictures.

If not, then see you all in the US of A September 1st!

Here are some of the faces we're going to miss:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week 14 Hair

Este corte de pelo viene de la inspiración de mil millónes de videos en youtube. Yo no soy ninguna experta (ni mucho menos) pero lo intenté, 

¡y la verdad es me salió bastante bien! 

Parezco varios centímetros más alta (es lo que dijo mi suegra, bueno, había dicho "¡Oi, Sam, ese pelo que tienes! Pero es lo que estaba pensando seguro) pero estaba yo tan fresquita con el pelo recogido así, y además fue un buen cambio del peinado que normalmente pongo durante la semana.

En fin, no tengo mas comentarios, esta semana era igualita que la semana pasada. 

Nos vamos el martes para Madrid, y Chema y yo nos quedamos ese día y el siguiente con sus familiares, luego cogemos el avión el jueves. 

Durante una semana no voy a poder hacer nada con el pelo, que no me importa en absoluto, pero  

¿cómo lo llevo en el avión? 

Es un asunto imporante aunque parece una tontería porque si lo llevo recogido en una coleta, no puedo dormir bien. Es decir, no puedo reclinarme en la silla y luego me duele la cabeza por todo el viaje.

El otro día estaba viendo algunos videos más en youtube y encontré el peinado pefecto:

Voy a usar un pañuelo y andando! Será un peinado super fácil y super cómodo. Así que hoy mismo voy a ponerme los twists y luego me los quito el miércoles noche para el jueves.

Bueno, el próximo post vendrá el 4 o el 8 de Septiembre. ¡Nos vemos en los EEUU!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekly Recipe: Appetizers

As many of you know I'm in the middle of an important move. So instead of Weekly Recipe Thursdays, we have Weekly Recipe Friday this week. I didn't actually make any of these recipes, but they were so good I had to share. Wednesday Chema and I had lunch with his aunt and uncle (he has 3 aunts and 2 uncles) as a sort of farewell. Here's a sample of some of the things we ate.

Bottled artichoke hearts with a spread of some type of homemade sauce (I forgot to ask what it was) and an anchovie. The sauce didn't have much of a taste but it didn't need to since anchovies have a strong flavor. Don't sleep on anchovies! They are so good!

Salad: Your preferred lettuce or field greens, tomato, pineapple pieces, tuna fish and shrimp. You can season this with any kind of salad dressing you like. This one was creamy, very similar to Thousand Island. I don't like shrimp. So I picked mine off and gave them to my husband!

Strangely, this was my favorite appetizer and I don't typically like blue cheese. Just cut up some tomatoes in thin wedges, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, and top with slices of blue cheese. Super easy and super delicious! I think I ate up half of the plate all by myself.

We also had huevos rellenos, a Spanish version of deviled eggs, but I didn't get to take any pics of that. Chema's aunt also served pork chops (I don't eat meat much, maybe chicken once in awhile) as well as homemade french fries. I don't eat fried foods often but I had a couple. They were good!

So nice not to have to cook!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Marathon Training: Updates

How I map my routes sometimes. I ran to the end and back for a total of 14 miles.

I know I said that I would start giving updates weekly with my training but I just found that it would be kind of boring. 

I also lost track of the weeks and just realized that this Saturday, August 27th 2011 marks Month 2. Incredible.

Sunday, August 21st: I ran 14 miles, which is the longest run (not counting Day 1 where I ran 16 miles) I've done since starting training. I ran it in 1 hour and 52 minutes.

I've been trying to run my long runs slower. I didn't feel burnt out or anything during my run. I just want to try and run slower so I can focus more on my running form and my breathing.

Sunday, August 14th: I ran 8 miles in 1 hour and 6 minutes

I really tried hard to run slower and it worked out. I typically run at a pace of 8 minutes per mile. So I should have run it in 1 hour and 4 minutes. That's my steady, not even trying pace. 

When I do shorter runs I try to run a bit faster (avg. 7 minutes/mile) and Fartlek I sprint.

The 14 miles I ran 8 minutes/mile so I didn't really accomplish what I wanted. 

This Sunday, August 28th: I have 5 miles to run. Since it is a distance I can run easily, I figure it'll be no problem running at a slower pace.

Last week and this week I've been incorporating Fartlek into my routine. I did 20 minute circuits last week and 25 minute circuits this week. I still have the last one to do on Friday. I like them because it breaks up the monotony of running for distance. Plus they are an incredible workout!

Tuesday, August 30th: My last day of training until the move. 

I'm a bit nervous about it because I have to miss a week. I get to the States on Thursday, September 1st but I can't exactly start running right away. I have to map out another route. 

My goal is to continue my training Sunday, September 4th.

All in all I feel great and can't wait until my half marathon in November. (I plan to talk more about my half marathon once the date is closer but I am not aiming for a PR.)

I ran my first half marathon in 1 hour 36 minutes and I was happy with that. This race is just preparation for the marathon in February where my goal is simply to finish.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

To eat sweets, or not to eat sweets...?


I decided a few days after my birthday that I would  

cut out all sweets for the entire month of August.  

I did it because I felt I had been eating too many lately, and to give myself a challenge. 

I say "too many" but I guess everything is relative. No one I know thinks I eat "too many." 

However, I felt I was indulging too much so I wanted to make myself more aware of what I was eating.

Today marks 2 weeks and 4 days

Last night I had a small ice cream bar. So yea, I cheated. I'm not beating myself up about it because I know it's not the end of the world. It just got me thinking.

These two weeks have been long! I haven't craved sweets exactly, but I feel like I've been doing this for at least a month already

The good thing is that I have super strong willpower. 

It's also good that I don't like candy, cake, pie, cupcakes, donuts, cheesecake, cream-filled things...I'm picky. I stick mostly to ice cream and cookies. (Spain doesn't produce any quality cookies, in my opinion.)

However, there are a million and one opportunities to binge on sweets at the in laws. They love sugar!

My husband and I went out with two of our friends last week. We went to my favorite ice cream shop (Piamonte) in Córdoba. A few days later we went with my mother-in-law, brother-in-law and his girlfriend. 

Tons of ice cream in my face and I wasn't tempted once. 

Last night I just felt like treating myself. So I said, what the heck, and enjoyed my ice cream.

Last year, when I was training, it was a lot easier. I would only eat sweets once a week: either Friday or Saturday. I scheduled them in! When I did eat something I would respect portion sizes. 

I was a no-sweet nazi! (That's what my husband liked to call me).

I mention it because I'm not even sure why I did it. It didn't help me run faster, or better, or longer. I have maintained my weight for two years now and have no problem doing it. I'm not on any kind of diet whatsoever.

Sweets are "bad", we should only eat them in moderation, some sweets are worse than others... 

We hear this all the time...maybe that's why I did it?

What would happen if I ate sweets everyday? 

I, personally, prefer to leave room in my daily caloric intake for something sweet. (Although I don't even pay attention to calories). Not to binge but to have an ice cream, or a baked good or some pudding or whatever I want.

I read a lot of blogs about people who make their own sweets or are really conscious about what sweets they eat. I definitely want to start making my own if just to know what I'm putting in my body. I also enjoy stores like Trader Jo's that have all-natural goodies.

In summary: I'm not sure whether to continue on my no sweet quest, schedule in sweets (meaning once or twice a week allotments), or have something small everyday. 

What is the magic answer?

On a side note I got this wine as a going away gift:

Pedro Ximénez: vino dulce de pasas

It's a sweet, after dinner wine, made from raisins.

We already have a lot of luggage so there's no way I can bring it with me. It's my favorite Spanish wine, period. So I have about (counting today) 6 days to drink it. 

Does that count as a sweet?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week 13 Hair

You can't see it well because of the lighting and the angle. But my hair is clipped with a banana clip and then twisted in individual twists. I pinned the ends under the clip to make it look like a bun.

 The edges are gelled and pulled back.

I gave myself a bang. It's nice and crinkly from my twist out and gives the front some volume so my hair doesn't look flat.

Nothing too interesting to update about my hair this week. I didn't change a thing. I am really 

LOVING my hair! 

I hope I can keep up this rhythm once I start working a 9-5 and have things to do like decorate an apartment, buy a car and get my driving license!

Week 14 Hair

  • Shampoo
  • Detangle with conditioner
  • Deep condition
  • Kimmaytube leave in
  • Twists

Friday, August 19, 2011

Set in my ways

Typically this is something said about old people (whoever in your life you think is really old):

They are so set in their ways! They won't try new things or compromise or admit they're wrong...

I do like to try new things and I'm really not stubborn but... 

I have a teensy, weensy, problem with compromise.

As many of you know, my husband and I are in the process of leaving the country (check out Unforeseen Circumstances for more details).

So we've been at my in laws' house since the beginning of August and leave on the 31st. Being here has made me more aware of how uncompromising I am with certain things.


I am not on a diet or anything of the sort. However, I like to eat healthy, well and when I want. In Spain there is this (silly) custom where everyone eats at 2pm. My mother-in-law even stretches it until 3pm!

Ok fine. But after a long run, even when I eat a balanced breakfast, I'm starving well before 2pm! When I do eat, I don't want to eat white bread (another custom), meat or fried foods.

I don't want to eat the same thing day after day, week after week. I want to have my whole grains, fruits, vegetables plus some kind of protein like beans or fish.

What I eat is NOT weird! No, I don't want seconds and no, I don't want dessert!

Is that so much to ask?


    Spaniards are night owls. I, also, like to have a good time and stay up late and go to a bar or two.
    But not on days that I have a run the next morning. 

    I run on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. So that means that Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evenings are off limits!

    I will have to eat before 11pm (no carbs, thanks) and no, I can't go to the aunt's country house.

    I wake up at the crack of dawn to run and don't sleep siesta so I can go to bed on time. It's natural and normal that I will be tired around 12am.

    I'm not being the weird American.

    Working out

    I sweat a lot. More so when it's hot and when I'm exercising. I need to wash my workout gear immediately after working out. If not, they will smell and get those little moldy black spots on them. I can't wait until next week or the next day or whenever the wash day is. I need to do it NOW!

    I don't go to a gym to do my weight training because I have all the gear I need at home. Now all of this gear is at the in laws' house. It may seem weird for me to be squating and lunging and flexing at 7am in the morning but I have to do it.

    Stop looking at me like I'm a weirdo!

      Now, don't get me wrong: I appreciate my mother-in-law letting us stay with her until we move. I really, really do. I just get frustrated sometimes because I'm so set in my ways, I guess.

      • I don't like to have to explain myself to anyone. 

      • I want to eat what I want and when I want. 

      • I want to do my exercises without getting a million stares and wash my clothes when I want.

      In general: I WANT MY OWN SPACE BACK!!

      Is that wrong?

      Thursday, August 18, 2011

      Butternut Squash Lasagna

      Butternut Squash Lasagna
      1 Tbsp. olive oil
      1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
      Salt and pepper
      1/2 cup water
      3 amaretti cookies, crumbled
      1/4 cup butter
      1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      3 1/2 cups whole milk
      Pinch nutmeg
      3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
      12 no-boil lasagna noodles
      2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
      1/3 cup grated Parmesan

      Heat the oil in a pan and add the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the water and simmer until the squash is tender. Cool and then blend the squash until smooth. Add the amaretti cookies and blend again until smooth. 

      Melt the butter in a pan and then add the flour, whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Be patient with this step because you don't want your sauce to have lumps in it. Bring the sauce to a boil so it thickens slightly. Add nutmeg and cool  just enough so you can blend it. Put half the sauce in a blender and add the basil. Blend until smooth. Then add it back to the rest of the sauce. Season to taste.

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190C)

      Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2 inch pan. Spread some sauce on the bottom of the dish then add 3 lasagna noodles. Spread the squash over the noodles and then sprinkle with mozarella cheese. Pour more of the sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.

      Tightly cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Take it out and add more mozarrella cheese and the parmesan cheese. Continue to cook 15 more minutes uncovered until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

      Now, this is definitely one of my INDULGENT recipes! I found it a few years ago on Foodnetwork.com and made it when I was living in England. My husband loved it and from then on wanted me to make it everyday! (I didn't of course). 

      TIP: If you can't find amaretti cookies add a pinch or two of cinnamon and a little brown sugar. I did that this time around because I couldn't find the cookies here in Córdoba.

      This is the first time I've made it since then. I made it for an inlaw gathering. It was a sort of farewell party since we're leaving the country in September. So I wanted to make them something "American" and different.

      I'm sure you can lighten up this recipe by adding skim milk and low fat cheese, possibly less butter, but I didn't. Instead I just tried it, meaning ate a miniscule piece. But, hey, you have to indulge sometimes!

      Tuesday, August 16, 2011

      Debate/Discussion: Cardio vs. strength training

      Womens Health Magazine

      When I first realized the importance of a healthy lifestyle combined with eating right and exercising:  

      I was a cardio fiend! 

      I'd go to the gym and spend hours on the elliptical trainer, the static bike, the treadmill, the stair stepper...anything cardio related really.

      Not until I lost some weight did I venture into the weight room. In my mind:

      cardio was for losing weight and strength training was for toning muscles. 

      Once I had burned the fat hiding these areas I then started toning them. Sounds logical right?

      Fast forward 8 years and I would say that the information out there isn't definitive one way or the other. Personally, I'm no longer one of those people who only goes to the gym for the cardio machines. I also have a real interest in strength training.

      I use them both as part of my exercise routine and value them both

      However, after a snacking binge, I think first about running to burn off some of those calories and not about pumping iron.

      Is this from fact or fiction?

      Last week, while browinsg twitter, I came across an interesting tweet from @WomensHealthMag. The article gave a breakdown (based on your needs) on whether cardio or strength training was "better".

      • To burn fat and keep it off = strength training
      • Combat stress = cardio
      • Increase self-confidence = strength
      • Reduce exercise related injuries = strength
      • Live longer = cardio
      • Increase your speed = it was a tie

      Yesterday, I read another tweet posted by @katieRUNSthis. She wanted to know how much strength training we runners incorporate into our routines. As well as how much we think we should be doing. So, maybe we only do strength training twice a week but think the magical number is three times a week.

      Honestly, I don't know how much I should be doing.

      Is there a magical number? 

      All I know is that I need both to be a stronger and more efficient runner. Even when I wasn't training I would do both cardio and strength everytime I hit the gym.  I felt I couldn't have one without the other. Yet, in the past I was convinced that cardio was the answer to my healthier lifestyle goals.

      What do you think? Which is "better", cardio or strength training? Do you agree with Women's Health Magazine? As a runner, if you do incorporate strength training into your routine, why? If not, why not?

      Monday, August 15, 2011

      Week 12 Hair: 3 MONTH LENGTH CHECK!!

      Before I get into the length check and pics, here's another style that I wore when I took my protective style (twists) down at the end of the week. I just used gel to slick back the sides and then twisted the ends. Simple and got the job done.

      Now for the length check. When I started my HHCJ back in May, I took pics but I didn't actually measure my hair. Go figure. The good thing is that I can tell that my hair grew, especially the bangs. 

      However, I don't have any actual numbers to compare the growth to. That'll have to wait until my 6 month mark on November 6th (when I'm running my 2nd half marathon coincidentally).

      My "sister-in-law"* took these pics because my husband was otherwise engaged. So they aren't identical to the ones I took in May. I did wear the same shirt though, so you can look at Hair Regimen Part 2: application to compare. 

      *I put that in quotations because my huband's (Chema) brother (Bruno) isn't actually married. But I digress.

      This side reaches my nipple. I was (am) super excited about that! I could definitely tell that it grew just by tugging on it.

      Left-side back: 12.6 inches (32cm)

       For some odd reason, the right side is shorter than the left. Maybe because I sleep on my right side? I could be making that up but I don't know what else it could be. I realize that when I'm doing my hair this side does tangle more than the other. So I guess I need to be more patient with it. I'm not even sure if it's grown since May. I'll have to take another look at the pictures.

      Right-side back: 10.6 inches (27cm)

       I can definitely tell this side grew. It was like halfway down my collarbone in May.

      Left-side front: 10.2 inches (26cm)
       The same for this side. As you can see the measurements don't differ for either side.

      Right-side front: 10.2 inches (26cm)

      My bangs are where I noticed the most growth. In May my bangs only just reached my chin. In this picture you can see how I can pull it under to about the middle of my chin. It doesn't reach my neck just yet.

      Bangs: 9 inches (23cm)
       To me the back looks comparable to the pictures from May. I'll have to see in November if there's any growth.

      Back: like a silly person I forgot to measure it but it's past my shoulder blades

      In general I'm happy with my progress and my growth. Now that I have the measurements I can be sure in November how much length I've retained. My hair is softer, healthier, more manageable and sheds less overall. I can't wait until the 6 month mark!

      Week 13 Hair
      • Shampoo
      • Detangle with conditioner
      • Deep condition
      • Kimmaytube leave in
      • Twists

      Friday, August 12, 2011

      Quick! I need some advice, stat!

      Here the hubby and I are at La Alhambra in Granada
      I hope that got your attention. It was supposed to! Now, on to the serious part: I need some advice.

      I am not one of those people who has a hard time asking for help, so this is nothing new. I do like to think that I'm pretty independent. Plus, I'm definitely stubborn and set in my ways when it comes to certain things (food, exercise, running, my things...). So get ready, because this one is a doosy.

      I've had no success in the past 3 or so years I've been attempting it. That's a long time in my opinion, and the years keep rolling by. This has to work because I'm afraid of the ramifications!

      How can I get my husband motivated to exercise?

      He's lucky that he has a fast enough metabolism. If I ate like he did I would have gained 50 or more pounds instead of the 20 or so he's gained in 5 years.

      I ask for help only because my husband (Chema) is not content. He is definitely NOT depressed or ashamed of how he looks. But he makes off-hand comments sometimes like: I'm fat, my gut is humongous, I need to lose weight...

      We're fancy, huh? At a bar in the US.

      So, obviously, he's not content. Chema doesn't like to ask for help. I mean he is married to someone who loves exercise, would gladly go with him running anytime of the week, or to the gym, or whatever. Yet, he doesn't do it! He is the KING of excuses.

      My husband is a bike person. I fear bikes. Hence, that's not a sport we can share at this point in time. But he can go by himself, right? No.

      • It's a lot more fun with someone else
      • He doesn't feel like it right now
      • He has to run some errands
      • He's tired
      • He just ate
      • It's raining
      • It's too hot .....

      I'm literally looking over my shoulder as I write this so that he doesn't see my post! (We have to keep this between you guys and me).

      In Córdoba having lunch with friends.

      I worry because he is a habitual overeater. Like a lot of people, he also eats when he's stressed. Although, I think that's an excuse too! I also get stressed but I don't eat a half pound of chocolate in a day!

      In general, we eat healthy because I cook and make the grocery list. But he has an insatiable sweet tooth. When he wakes up in the morning he eats something sweet, right before having breakfast!

      Like these truffles or that plate of cookies in the back! Ok, I'm exaggerating.

      Sure, he's fine and healthy now but one day he's going to wake up and look in the mirror and not recognize the person he sees in front of him.

      We joke about it often. Sometimes when I get serious about it he just agrees and then changes the topic. I need help because I love me some Chema!

      La Plaza de España in Sevilla

      My solution: ask all you informed and intelligent people out there! What should I do? How do I get my husband motivated to exercise?

      Thursday, August 11, 2011

      Greek Frozen Yogurt

      Greek Frozen Yogurt
      3 cups greek yogurt (non fat or low fat)
      5 Tbsp. honey
      Walnuts (optional)

      Put yogurt in a metal bowl and add the honey. Mix it so that the honey makes swirls in the yogurt. Freeze it until firm. Then serve and top with walnuts.

       This freezes pretty solid so if you do freeze it all the way you will need it to sit out for awhile so it's soft enough to serve. Try 2 hours and then check it until it reaches the consistency you want. You can do anything with this. You can add fruit purees, herbs and spices. A quick, easy, healthy, dessert! Enjoy!

      Wednesday, August 10, 2011

      A relaxing day in Gibraltar

      Here you can see el peñón de Gibraltar (the rock of Gibraltar) well.

      Yesterday my husband and I went out of town with a couple of friends to relax. We are both not beach people so we decided to take a short drive (about 3 hours) to Gibraltar. While it is technically in Spain, it is a British territory. So to cross the border I do have to show my passport. You can also buy things in either euros (European currency) or pounds sterling (English currency).

      The couple who came with us had never been. So we decided it was the closest thing to England for them. (My husband and I lived in England for one year and a half.)

      Gibraltar is "famous" for its monkeys. People come from far and wide to take a tour where you go to the top of the peak. You have to be careful because these monkeys will steal anything and everything from you! You can be fined 500 pounds for feeding them and are warned that they do bite! I've never been up there to see them and don't think I want to!

      The weather was good to us. It was a nice, overcast day. There was some humidity but it was bearable. I had to run at 645 because we left Córdoba at 9am to get there around 12pm. It took us around an hour to enter since there is always a long line waiting to get into Gibraltar. At the end of the day my legs were sore! Today I plan to rest and recover since I have another 45 minute run tomorrow!

      Enjoy the pics!

      Upon entering Gibraltar and passing the border we see the typical, English, phone booth.

      Here is another shot of the peñón

      I assume this was some sort of political satire. My husband found it funny.

      A well-deserved rest on a bench after walking around from 1pm until 8pm.

       The following three photos are of the botanical garden we visited while there.

      If you look closely you can see another phone booth in the distance. Purely for the tourists, you couldn't make any real calls!

       Big fish

       This is a poppy. It is worn in England to commemorate veterans.

      A shot in one of my husband's absolute favorite supermarkets in England: Morrisons

       This was taken as we were leaving Gibraltar after a long day.

      The fun didn't stop though. On the way back to Córdoba we made a stop in Marbella to eat churros and chocolate! I wish I had a pic of some but they were gobbled up! I didn't partake in the churros or the chocolate because I'm controlling my sweets. But this is one of the best places in Marbella to eat them. I wish I could remember the name!

      The place also makes delicious fresh fruit and vegetable juices. The first time I came I had a tropical blend that was super good. They make all the juices fresh to order.

      And that's the end of our little day trip. We left Gibraltar around 8pm and didn't leave Marbella until 11pm. So it was a long day of walking and eating!