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April 2, 2012 / fionarwbl

Music Free Miles and Home Cooking

Q1 done! Sometimes I can’t help my corporate self. I had an awesome weekend to round out the quarter. As I was watching Mad Men on Sunday night, I was also feeling pleased that this weekend was one of those weekend with the perfect amount of friends, sweat, and food.

Yup. Do it.

What better way to kick the evening off than with dinner cooked for friends in a mad dash after work? It wasn’t such a mad dash that I wasn’t able to squeeze in a 3 mile run before starting to cook though. I couldn’t resist the bright spring sunlight and trying out a new, super soft t-shirt from Oiselle. Don’t you just love that slogan? The t-shirt is super soft and comfortable, but wouldn’t be good for long sweaty runs, just short-ish easy ones. I love the graphical design of the Oiselle shirts though. They have a pretty funny sense of humor as well – check out this blog post below about layering.

I wanted to cook things that were (a) easy and fast to cook and (b) had plenty of spring flavors. After playing around on for a while, I came up with the following menu:


A trip to Trader Joes and Fairway the night before had come up trumps on all the ingredients, so at 6pm on Friday the kitchen  became a mad chopping zone. These were actually pretty easy to put together. Slicing 2lbs of fingerling potatoes was a little tedious, I’ll admit, and having the simulate the finely chopped-ness of a blender for the marinade for the chicken was a stretch, but it all worked out really well. We had doubts about what a Rhubarb and Cucumber salsa would taste like, but actually, pretty good, although a little sweet. Roasted potatoes are, frankly, always delicious. Can you tell I’m Irish? I’m pretty sure that every time my husband invites friends over I cook potatoes to remind them.

Picture from Who would have thought to have rhubarb and cucumber together, but delicious!

By far the best part of the meal was the dessert which was crazily simple – slice a pineapple into wedges, marinade in an orange juice, brown sugar, and honey mix for 10 minutes, bake for 10 minutes, brush on some more of the orange juice / sugar mix, and bake for 10 more minutes. Serve with crème fraiche, mint, and pistachio. Amazing. And looks really pretty too. I regret not take pictures, but it’s an excuse to cook again. Mine really looked like the picture below. Promise.

If I had beautiful plates and a granite tabletop, this is how my version would have looked. Photo from

Saturday morning was damp and drizzly. As I’m used to doing almost everything in this weather, I volunteered to take the dogs (we were dogsitting this weekend) for a walk, so we trudged in the rain along Riverside Park for an hour. It was strangely meditative. The dogs were well-behaved, but since I had two of them, I couldn’t check my phone or listen to music, so I had no distractions. I wish I could say that I had deep and epic thoughts, but I didn’t. However, I was strangely not bored or frustrated or rushing home when I headed back for home.

That rain walk really tired Moose out. Charlie bravely continues to chew.

Another novelty was actually looking forward to my weights workout, but I was. I had a class booked at Refine Method at lunchtime. The class moved at a little bit of a slower pace than usual, as we were doing some moves which required some balance and concentration (single leg deadlifts? Not my best move), but given the soreness in my glutes and back on Sunday, I’d say it worked. After just three classes I can already see improvements in my push-up abilities. I’m sure some of it is psychological, but I’ll take it.

After class I went over to Paragon Sports to swoon at pretty running tops from Brooks like this one. I then got some frozen fruit dessert from Soft Serve Fruit Co – I got the pear and banana with chocolate chip and marshmallows, which was pretty delicious. If only they would open an UWS branch please. I couldn’t really hang around though since I was heading back to the UWS to try out a new yoga class. Yeah, that’s right, ripping up the schedule and getting out of my comfort zone with a 1hr 30 minutes Vinyasa 2 class. Or, as I was informed by the instructor when I got to class, Vinyasa 2/3. Unfortunately, by the time he said that, it was too late for me to make a dash for the exit, which is what I really wanted to do. I should have been warned by all the people meditating before class.

But then it turned out to be one of the greatest classes ever.

The instructor was Matt Lombardo, and he didn’t exactly fit the usual yoga instructor image. He also made jokes about his butt crack, encouraged us to use multiple props while admitting that he himself falls victim to not using them as he should, and struck the perfect balance between zen, irreverence, the physical practice and the mental experience. The standing series of the class lasted for about an hour, and then the last half hour was mat-based, including bridges, wheels, shoulder stand, and some happy baby and shavasana. Plus, his modifications were amazing. None of this gentle back stroking; this was full on weight applied to take your downward dog to a whole new level. I was inspired by the class to commit to my wheel. This didn’t mean that I actually got anywhere near wheel pose, but at least I was trying very, very hard to get that push off the ground. I left the class sweaty, stretched, and calm.

I was meeting Ori at the Apple Store for multiple reasons: exciting technology purchases, and finally getting some long-standing issues, like a non-functioning button on my iPhone, fixed again. After a very seamless iPad purchase, we headed downstairs to the Genius bar, where all of my issues were magicked away by some very dedicated and funny guys who dealt with my technical malfunctions without making me feel like a complete idiot. Every time I go there I’m impressed with, well, their genius. Well, apart from the first guy I spoke to, but since he couldn’t fix my stuff, I’m going to go with he’s the idiot here, not me and my home button wrecking skills.

The crumble disappeared in less than 24hrs. It was THAT GOOD.

We can call this the weekend of Fiona cooking, because I went 2 for 2 on the homemade dinner front, and cooked up my standby balsamic mushroom pasta for dinner, along with a rhubarb crumble that I threw together in 9 minutes. I know that it was 9 minutes because I decided to do it when I put the pasta in, so I had finish by the time the pasta was done. If that’s not the definition of quick and lazy dessert, I don’t know what is. I learnt how to make a crumble when I was 9 in Home Ec, and the high tech recipe of “dump some sugar, some flour, some oats, and some butter into a bowl and rub together” has stayed with me for a lifetime. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll through in some almond flour too. Eaten with vanilla ice cream, or cream, or, the best, Devon Custard (I don’t know how to make this and I really want to), and it’s that perfect tangy, sweet, crunchy dessert. And, of course, rhubarb is bright pink, which makes it a winning food for me.

I woke early (for me) on Sunday, probably because I was being denied bedding by the two dogs. I had a doggie walking date with my friend Melissa. She’s a former neighbor whom I definitely do not see often enough. She works in lingerie operations, which fascinates me, because she literally spends her day talking about lace trim for panties. Oh good, I think I just boosted by blog SEO with the word panties. Let’s throw it in again.

After that, I actually went running. Oh yeah, that’s what I’m supposed to write about. On Friday I ran my easy 3 miler without any music, and I decided to run my 11 miles again without any music. I’m a big fan of doing this every so often, for a couple of reasons.

  1. It stops me from being music dependent. I don’t want to be in a race and not able to race well because I don’t have any music.
  2. It allows me to focus on how I’m actually running, including checking in on my pace, my breathing, how my legs are, what my form is doing.
  3. It gives me a break from my playlist. I am super bad at finding new music that I want to run to, so my playlist has been the same 50ish songs forever. I know, I need new music. Maybe it will be a vacation task. Music is also a known endorphin kick, but is most powerful when there is a novelty to it. I’d like to be able to have that extra trick in my back pocket when I need it.
  4. It gives me more time to think and let my mind meander. Mostly I think about running, but I also did some wardrobe planning, blog post planning, and thought a little bit about work.
  5. I get to listen to other people’s conversations. I’m nosy.

I have a new favorite 11m route in the park. I run a 4 mile loop counter-clockwise, a clockwise loop of the Bridle Path, skipping off just before the bridge to run a counter-clockwise loop of the Great Lawn, and then run over to where I started, and run another 4 mile loop clockwise. Along with the 0.6miles it takes between my park and the apartment, it’s just over 11 miles. Plus, it’s broken down into little chunks, so instead of thinking. “oh God, 9 more miles to go”, I can instead think about finishing one loop at a time. All mental tricks, people.

Sneaking in under 9 min/miles

My music free miles were done in a surprisingly spritely 1:39:09, or 8:58 min/mile. I did have a 2 minute break for water and Gu Chomp munching as well. The break was entirely necessary because the chomps were less chomp like and more hard candy or caramel. I opened this packet in February and hadn’t finished them because there had been no water in the park. Now the fountains are back on, I can fuel again. Happy times. Anyway, I needed some serious chew time to eat my very old candy. It tasted fine. I’m pretty sure there is nothing natural in Gu anyway, so I figured that eating them would do me no harm. They even tasted pretty good. Blueberry pomegranate flavor. Looking at my splits, I do get a little bit faster at mile 8, so I’d say that they kicked in pretty good.

I also learned that the self-checkout machines at CVS do NOT like sweaty money. I thought I’d do the decent thing and avoid giving a human damp, sweaty cash for my chocolate milk. The machine spat my money out several times before I gave up and asked for help. Exchanging my nasty money for clean, dry money did the trick. Oh, and the CVS on 86th and Amsterdam has lots of Cadburys Mini Eggs. I’m going tonight to stock up. And when I say stock up, I mean buy in embarrassing bulk that I’ll have to pretend I’m buying for an entire elementary class or something.

After my recent Soul Cycle experience, I decided to continue the post long run spin thing, and headed out to Flywheel. Unfortunately I was late, and since I’m such a spin newbie, this was a disaster. Bike adjustment in the dark to the blare of music is just not my skill. And can some one please tell me how to unclip at the end of class? Apart from that, it was a great class, and despite the 11 miles, my legs felt good. I don’t have any soreness today, so I think spinning might just work as a way of working out the kinks in them. When marathon training starts, I’ll probably do it the day after long runs though, rather than the day off.

After coming out of class, it was a mad dash home to get pretty for going for drinks with Shaya, where we discussed how sore we were from too many classes, while refueling with beer and cider, and then some more Soft Serve Fruit, before heading home for Game of Thrones (confusing!) and Mad Men.

Kind of an awesome weekend. What did you do? Make any exciting food? Discover Mini Eggs? I’d love to hear it!

One Comment

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  1. Mauro Sulcis / Apr 2 2012 10:21 pm

    Nice blog

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