Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bored Games

In order to beat the cabin fever that has set in with our determination to not contribute to the brick-and-mortar retail madness, we had some like-minded couples over for a night of Cranium competition. We were the oldyweds of the group. Stephanie and Matthew have been married for one month and Ben and Melissa are getting married right after Christmas. We had a fun, lively night which resulted in David and I keeping our title as reigning Cranium Champs.

One thing that contributed to the night's success was a ramped up version of good old Rotel Velveeta dip. "How can you improve on perfection?" you might be thinking. Just trust me on this one! I modified a recipe I found online, and it got rave reviews from all.

Better than Just O-Queso (read it aloud!)

Ingredients
one very small onion, finely chopped
1 lb. spicy bulk breakfast sausage (we used Jimmy Dean's Hot version
1 large box Velveeta, cut into chunks
1 can hot Rotel tomatoes
1 can regular Rotel tomatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup

Instructions

Brown the onion and sausage. Drain. Mix all ingredients together in a slow cooker, bowl for microwave, pan for stove...however you typically cook your Velveeta dip. Heat until melted, stirring often.

The soup keeps a film from forming on top of the dip as it cools and also gives a nice, creamy consistency.

Friday, November 28, 2008

An Organized Closet is a Happy Place

Out of sheer determination to not get caught up in the Black Friday madness and a little inspiration from The Hyper Homemaker, I decided to embark on some home organization projects. Our house stays pretty clean, but most of the closets (ahem, ok, all of the closets) are embarrassingly disorganized behind the pretty, antique closed doors. I am really determined to become more organized, but I do have to start small. The perfect area for this is the pantry-style cabinet next to our back door.

Behind these cute, floor-to-ceiling closet doors is a broad assortment of stuff that has piled up since we have no other place for it: laundry supplies, Oliver's food and toys, bug spray, flashlights, extra rolls of paper towels and canned goods from our last trip to Costco. I decided what type of items I wanted to devote each shelf to, removed everything from the shelves and got to organizing. It only took about twenty minutes and left me feeling a big sense of accomplishment!

The before picture is labeled to show the vast array of junk):

I ended up throwing away a bit of stuff, but not too much. I also found two bags of dog treats and a bottle of puppy shampoo. Also a pair of dog nail clippers and a dog toothbrush that have never been used (Oliver is almost two years old). It's amazing how things can get "lost" in such a small space! I was also able to move three Costco boxes of food (tomato sauce, black beans, Fuze drink) inside from the garage, which means I created quite a bit of space. The end result, although my awesome photo cropping skills managed to cut off the top shelf:



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day...Munn Style

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving together in our own home! For the past six years, we have traveled to one set of parents or the other. This year, we signed up to run a 10-K on Thanksgiving morning (more about that later) and decided to stay here for the holiday. We are pretty non-traditional about holiday meals...we usually go out to eat and don't care to cook a big slab of meat that we'll never finish. However, this year I started feeling nostalgic (and maybe a little homesick) and decided we should have a cozy meal at home.

Rather than spending all day roasting a large turkey, we decided to have a turkey breast. That choice turned out to be a really good one, since we did not have to carve a turkey, pick meat off bones, or feel bad for throwing away what we did not eat. The turkey breast was super; it roasted nicely, had a good caramel color and was very moist. We also had mushroom dressing, gravy, Gruyere gratin potatoes, green beans almondine, corn, orange-cranberry sauce, and rolls. We had pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert. A ton of food, but it included most of our family favorite holiday dishes.

We both ended up eating way too much, but what the heck, it is Thanksgiving, right? And I didn't feel too guilty at all, since I got all of my exercise for the day in before 9 a.m.! David and I had previously signed up to run a 10-K...that's a little over six miles. As luck would have it, David has been sick all week and was not able to run the race. He was, however, a fantastic cheerleader. He got up early with me and loaded up Oliver and drove to Uptown to watch the race. I was hoping to finish the race in about 1 hour, 15 minutes in a best case scenario. I started out running a pretty good pace and by the time I looked at my watch, I was halfway through the race course. The weather was great. It was about 70 degrees, and not too humid by Houston standards.

I didn't worry about finishing fast, I just wanted to finish feeling good. I kept my pace consistent and was actually surprised that I did not get super winded and sweaty. Until today, the longest distance I had under my belt was five miles, which I have done once, and it was not really a pretty five miles! I knew I could make it five miles, but was unsure as to how I would be feeling at the end of the race. David and Oliver were cheering for me about a half mile before the finish line. After I passed them, I sped up a bit and ended up skipping over the finish in an hour and a few seconds!


I do have a few words of wisdom I have learned since my first 5-K. My first race, by the way, was in June 2008. I could not even finish the 5-K without walking. When my 60-something-year-old father in law finished it in much less time than I did (I'm talking more than a 10 minute spread, here), I thought I had better get my butt in gear. I've never been a runner. I'm not athletic, and I prefer to do the laziest, easiest forms of exercise I can find! I started thinking about taking up running. After talking to my friend Cody Hampshire (the husband of one of my super girlfriends) I decided to make it a habit. A year ago, Cody could not run three miles without stopping for breath and water breaks, much like myself. He, just like myself, thought it was ridiculous that someone in their twenties in good health could not pass this test of fitness. So he got his rear in gear and ran a freaking marathon! Cody is a big inspiration with me and will be running the half marathon with me in about six weeks. Yep, that's right! After not being able to run three miles, I am now training for a half marathon....13.1 miles of running...without stopping! Today's 10-K was part of the half marathon training schedule, so I have spent four weeks working up to this. Today's race made me think (no, it made me know) that I will be able to run the half with no problem. If I can work up to six miles in an hour in just four weeks, I will be able to complete the half marathon. It's amazing what your body can do when you condition it and put your mind to it.
Oh yeah, back to those words of wisdom... Before the 5-K in June, I drank a latte before the race. They were giving them away at the race, and my thought process was that they would not have them there, free, for runners, if we were not supposed to drink them. I promptly threw up behind a tree right after crossing the finish line. But if you know me, you know I am impossible in the mornings without my Starbucks or green tea jolt. David's sister Ann told me about these energizing Jelly Bellys for runners. If you know me, you also know what my favorite candy is. Needless to say, I ran to Luke's Locker last night to check out these Jelly Bellys. One little packet has 50 mg of caffeine, so these got me going without jarring my stomach. Plus, they are made for runners and have electrolyes and all the good stuff of Gatorade-like drinks, without the sodium that leaves me feeling like a cow. A little breakfast of half a blueberry waffle with peanut butter, a bottle of water, and some Jelly Bellys kept me running like a champ. And having such a light breakfast meant that I was able to stuff down a kolache ("ko-lotch-ee" for you non-Texans) at the post-race festivities. Oh yeah, and all that Thanksgiving food!