summer food // zucchini muffins

This year has been keeping me more busy than expected, which means it is mid-July and I haven’t yet made any jam. It’s a different busy from last summer, since I have no running races to train for, which means I’m not exactly sure where all my time is going but I am glad it isn’t all going to running insane weekly amounts. Relaxation-Summer-2016 is pretty alright.

In a recent inventory of my freezer, preparing for the upcoming purchase of many bushels of peach seconds and tomatoes and other summer likelies, I discovered a ziplock bag tucked away in back…full of frozen zucchini from the end of last summer. After a defrost and a quick blend in my food processor, I whipped most of the zucchini puree into so many of the most delicious muffins…while drinking coffee and listening to the news before work. Honestly, why don’t I do this more often? I’m not one to usually eat sweet baked goods for breakfast (I prefer eggs or oatmeal, if we’re being specific here), but I’m also not one to turn down a delicious baked good when handed to me (I see you, donuts).

There is nothing earth shattering about these muffins – but I inevitably get asked for a recipe when I post a photo of food on Instagram or Facebook, so here you are. THE most basic zucchini muffins ever.

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zucchini puree muffins

yields an approx 2 dozen (that was unexpected!)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. coconut oil (veg oil works fine)
  • 2 c. zucchini puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together wet ingredients and sugars until well blended. Fold in dry ingredients (sift together if you want. I never do.). Mix until uniform and no lumps exist. Pour into greased or lined muffin tin. Basically, do exactly what you would do with all muffins. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

(I originally baked for 15 minutes and they were still a bit too wet, so I added 5 more minutes. They could have taken a couple more minutes after that, if you like a more overbaked baked good)

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, cold or hot.

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february goals

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In general, I detest new year resolutions as I like to try to be the best me on any given day, not just because a new year has begun. That being said, this past year has been fairly transformative for me in terms of happiness levels, mental/emotional strength, as well as so many other ways professionally and personally.

When I think about 2015, the things that stick out are the big hitters in terms of change – leaving my job as an environmental consultant and starting a new job, PRing at 2 half marathons, walking into a brand new muay thai gym last March and becoming increasingly in love with it, running a whole helluva lot more than I ever expected or wanted, etc. It’s funny how the things that I think about are all the physical, tangible items, when in reality the biggest hitter of a thing from 2015 is just loving life again, for real, in a most serious and epic way. I’ve made some killer new friends, and strengthened some really important long friendships, disposed of some lingering unproductive emotional baggage, and even when the year vacillates between “things are hard” and “things are magic,” as any year is bound to, I have to say that last year was pretty damn great with a lot of laughter and a good amount of tears.

The holiday season was a little too sugar and boozy filled than I would have preferred, and since then any amount of alcohol in general has been making me wicked depressed the day after. While I’m not a heavy drinker by any means, even just a couple of beers have been kicking my brain down the toilet and making me fuzzy. This, coupled with coming off a year where I managed to cut my running time down by a significant chunk, both in my splits in general and as a long-distance runner, have fueled my desire to be completely and utterly insane this February. The Philadelphia running community is partaking in #runstreakPHL, where you run at least 1 mile every day for 29 days straight. THIS is what I need after basically not running much since tonsillitis-gate of 2015, especially since I have a couple of races coming up, including a half marathon in June where I have a PR goal that I’m going to be attempting. (I’m also using this as an excuse to again try to get my 2 year old border collie mix laziest puppy ever to be into running.) So, in order to really shake things up for myself, and because why not just do everything in extremes, I’m also not drinking at all this month and going to as many back-to-back muay thai classes as possible.

wprladies

So far, on Day 4, I have had a tough time getting up at 6am because I collapse into my bed in wonderful exhaustion every night. I’m calling that a win so far.

 

 

the tipping point

Prior to today, I’ve completed 4 half marathons. The longest distance in one go that I’ve ever run is 13.1 miles.

14.5run

Today I completed 14.5 miles. I’ve officially crossed the threshold that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Once I cross the 13.1 distance, the full marathon is more real. It’s sort of like the moment I crossed the 50% completed mark, in grad school. At that moment, I knew that I couldn’t drop my program. How can you drop when you’ve gotten than far?

strava14.5

This morning, I woke to 66F with light breezes. I leisurely enjoyed my morning coffee before heading out the door. There was no need to race against the rising sun today – real early fall weather had arrived. The first 9 miles of this run were joyous and dance-like. I didn’t follow my exact path in West Fairmount Park, instead opting to noodle around a bit before taking the road down to West River Drive. Once I hit the Schuylkill River Trail, my pacing fell apart. I’m not sure if it was the distance at that point or the utter boring familiarity of the East Falls Bridge to the Art Museum. I’ve ridden my bike down that section more times than I can count, in my decade in this City. I’ve run that section so many times. This is the second half section of the Philly Marathon and I am not excited for it. Some people like running the same routes and find the familiarity a comfort. I am not those people – I prefer a bit of the unknown thrown in, otherwise it ends up acting like watching the timer on a treadmill (also a boring way to run, in my opinion). I managed to pull it together and run through to the end of the long run, and for that I am thankful and can honestly see major growth in my running life. I started running again 4 years ago in order to push through those mental barriers and emotional walls, and it used to feel harder than it does today. Today, on good days in beautiful weather, even 14.5 miles feels easy.

That’s kind of awesome.

10 weeks to go…

fa·tigue / fəˈtēɡ / noun

15 weeks away from 26.2 miles. I’m burnt. I’m burnt on summer. I’m burnt on heat. I’m burnt on having to eat constantly. I’m burnt on having to run so much. I’m burnt on wanting to sleep all the time. I’m burnt on thinking about it.

fa·tigue
fəˈtēɡ/
noun
  1.  
    extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.
  2.  
    a group of soldiers ordered to perform menial, nonmilitary tasks, sometimes as a punishment.

When I say I have training fatigue, most assume I mean the first. I should probably mean the first, but in my heart I really mean the second. 15 weeks out, I’m wondering what the hell possessed me to decide to do this and why the hell I’m basically already mentally committed to doing this again next year on my birthday, in Anchorage. Ok well really, that one is more about going to Anchorage, but you get my point. I feel fortunate that so many of my friends and loved ones fall into 2 camps – runners who are all “hell yes” about me training for and completing a marathon and non-runners who are all “hell yes” about me training for and completing a marathon. It makes it easy to have such a supportive social network, when usually my excuses for things are “I’m too tired” or “Sorry, I have a long run tomorrow…” or I’m talking about how much I hate running in the heat or how hungry I am all-the-freakin-time. I sound like a broken record that is slowing getting deeper in this hole of mental fatigue. I need to figure out how to change my mindset, but really this is where we are right now. From internet-ing, this is all normal. For me, this is not normal and is indeed a big ole downer on my usual happy life. My weekly runs vacillate between the awesome and the sucky, and therefore my moods are also up and down in direct correlation.

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I wonder what life post-marathon will be like. Will my days feel full of empty hours to gloriously do non-running things? Or will I merely find myself hitting the streets for 5+ mile runs for, horror of horrors, the fun of it? Will running have officially replaced some of my more time consuming hobbies? Will I start printing again? Will I actually finish knitting some socks and sweaters that are on my needles? Will I cook elaborate meals that have nothing to do with “fueling” again? Since I’m pretty self aware, I have a feeling I’ll be embarking on a whole new playing field of winter running this year, so in all honesty I should probably start up’ing my winter running gear wardrobe from the 2 items I currently have to maybe 3 or 4 items. I would say that I look forward to running without a mileage goal or a pace goal or a specifically orchestrated calendar balancing running and cross training, but then again I actually like competing against myself with every step of the run. Not sure I can give that up so easily.

run3

All that being said, quiet hours spent watching the sunrise or sunset while having little else to focus on and having to be entirely in the moment, is a pretty great way to pass the time. So I guess there’s that…

Waning Summer Sun

sun1

I noticed the change in the light, on August 1st. It started subtle, and now by the 12th it is very distinct. I am looking forward to the change in seasons, but have enjoyed the weeks of summer immensely. I completed my introductory period at a new job, PR’d like crazy at my 4th half marathon, grew new friendships from my muay thai school, put energy into existing friendships that are important to me, spent copious amounts of time outdoors, and have been eating much ice cream. (The work on my house has, essentially, been halted since the temperatures rose to hellish levels.)

In the midst of all these activities, I rediscovered my love of knitting (it had gone missing for the past year) and started training for my first full marathon. I’m about 6 weeks into working with a running coach, and about 15 weeks out from the day of 26.2. I’ve talked about running before and much of those feelings still hold true. At this point, I’ve been committed to this activity for 3.5 years, consistently – since the end of my last long-term relationship. At this point, I’ve completed 4 half marathons, a 5 miler or two, and more 5ks than I can remember right now. It seemed about time for a new challenge, and though I knew it would be mentally difficult, the motivation lull of last week still hit me like a ton of bricks.

At 6 weeks in, my long run this past Sunday should have been an even 10 miles. Last week was a hard one, mentally and physically. I have been struggling with lower energy as the weekly mileage ticked upwards, but finally reached a breaking point. There was just no gas in the tank. I took this hard, and took naps instead of running my shorter maintenance runs, and felt pretty low in general about the whole thing. I managed to drag myself to a couple muay thai classes (my cross training for marathon training), but barely. I was still committed to getting that 10 miles in, as the long runs are the most important. Since I was up in my hometown, I had to cobble together a route that was familiar from my childhood (so I don’t get lost) but is also not completely boring (I grew up in the suburbs, so…). It was a roller coaster of “this isn’t so bad..” and “oh my god, I can’t even with this…” over and over. Halfway through I had to stop for a cold sugary drink to get some sort of boost, which did help propel me down the only fun part of my run – a quick section of the Leatherstocking Trail. At 6.5 miles, I was cooked. I grumpily trudged up the hill to my parents’ house and stuck my weary legs in their very cold pool. That helped.

run1

I’ve since recovered, mentally and physically. I needed a running confidence booster, which arrived in a lovely and faster-than-my-usual-pace 3.5 miles with some pals from my running group (West Philly Runners) last night. I’m probably going to audition a few other evening neighborhood running groups in other parts of the City to keep that safety net of running-with-friends-is-better-than-solo, for non West Philly Runner nights. To tackle the food issue and the making sure I’m eating enough, I’m back to trying to figure out power punches of snacks that are made ahead of time and always available, so that I don’t bonk hard.

I guess the upside is, it took 6 weeks of running increasing distances and going to muay thai class before I hit training fatigue. Hopefully my next motivation lull can be swiftly and easily remedied, without as much of a hit to my mental and emotional selves.

(Oh, and I figure actually writing some of this training stuff down would be a good idea since I’m sure that after I complete this first full marathon I’ll be attempting a 50k ultra right away. Cause even though I still don’t love running, I’m somehow also at the same time in love with the challenge of it. What’s that about?)

The puppy excuse

I’ve been trying to get the backyard finished but have run into a few little hiccups – there are 2 trees back there (the quintessential “weed trees” that are all up in the wires and need to be removed (read: expensive). It was early January when I moved into the house, so determining where I was going to plant my summer veggies was a bit premature I am discovering. The leaves started coming in, and then plateaued. The backyard still received mostly full sun, so I happily built some easy cinder block beds and planted some starts and sprouted seeds.

backyardprogress

And then more leaves appeared. And more. The backyard is now mostly shaded. Booo! The front yard, which was mostly shady during the winter is now, surprise surprise, full sun. So this weekend, I will be doing some vegetation juggling and throwing down more grass seed, clover seed, and planting ground covers. Until then, let me show you the real reason I haven’t completed much around the house…

greta1

greta 2

greta vesper

Meet Greta. She is the newest addition to the Hasen Haus – a rescue 4 month old shepherd mix puppy from Justice Rescue. I’ve had her for 3 weeks and she’s already made herself at home, and grown! The cats are not thrilled about Greta’s presence, and Vesper has taken to living under the couch for the time being. I really am hopeful that things get better between the cats and dogs, but until then…this snuggly soft puppy isn’t letting any hissing get her down!

Running + Canoeing

Things have been busy over here in the Hasen Haus. March and April were a little derailed for me, but now after some long thoughts and re-prioritizing my goals and life I feel back on track. So how about some sharing of things I’ve done?

Last year I ran my first half marathon. I do not consider myself a runner but rather a bicycle rider who runs, so long distance running is hard for me. It’s mostly a mental block around the long distance and I discovered that 13.1 miles is a horrible amount. I came in 4th to last (not last!) and completed in a touch over 3 hours. The course was hilly at the beginning and end (and by hills, I mean HILLS) and I didn’t stick to my training plan towards the end of my pre-race training. But, I finished! And then swore I wouldn’t do it again. And then signed up for my second half marathon 4 days later (wait, what?). I was all slated to run in the Love Run at the end of March 2014, but this time sticking to a training plan to appropriately increase mileage.

Well…my body decided that wasn’t going to happen. I will go out on a limb here (pun intended) and say that this running injury is all my own fault. I increase mileage quicker than I should have and when achilles heel pain started at the end of August last year I ignored it…and ignored it…and ignored it. One morning in early 2014, I woke up like normal and put my feet to the ground next to my bed and could barely walk on my right foot. My entire right heel sole felt like a massive bruise, and man did that hurt! I put my feet up and stopped running while contemplating what to do. Ultimately, I canceled my bib number and received a partial refund for my entry fee and worked on swimming and weights at the local YMCA instead of running. I didn’t think I would miss running…

I started having dreams about running.

Many dreams about running.

And it felt like flying.

Weird.

Come April, I ran a couple of times knowing that I had an epicly awesome race coming with my dear friend J. We were teamed up for a running and canoe race in the Perkiomen Watershed – the Lenape Survival Challenge. Our unofficial team name was/is Teamnacity, cause we are tenacious beasts of awesome. I even whipped up a couple of team uniform cotton flannel cowls, embroidered with our initials and team name of course, from the lovely line of fabrics ‘Take a Hike’ from Jack and Lulu for Dear Stella. I mean, how often do you see fabric with canoes on them, right before you are entering a canoe race?!

teamnacity-1

The race boasted a 4.6 mile run followed by a 2+ mile canoe. Mind you, I have never canoed in my life. My teammate is a native of Cape Cod. She has canoed a lot. Mind you, this also included a 500ft elevation at the end. This turned out to be a ski slope. Literally, running up the backside of the slope and down the front. I kid you not. This was an intense route and this was the first race that both of us had run in 2014(my break due to my achilles, and J’s due to a knee injury). Of course the famed West Philly Runners cleaned up like gazelles while Teamnacity swept up the back end. We completed in 1hr 42min, and were really not all that far behind the pack.

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teamnacity-3

teamnacity-4

Man, was this a great time! I learned to canoe on the fly, while canoeing and steering through some sections with rocks and fast running water and strategically placed dive teams (what!). We did not flip the canoe once! Apparently, lots of other teams had trouble staying in their boat. We came in 2nd to last, but mostly because the sweepers didn’t let themselves beat us.

Teamnacity will be back next year, for sure! That was awesome.

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Now I need to figure out where I can canoe locally and how insane (or smart?) it would be to have my own canoe that I toted around by bike…hmmmm…

a vacation of firsts

first time visiting wisonsin.
first time camping alone.
first time going on a bike tour alone.
first time vacationing alone.
first time heading to a place where i know nobody.
first time i’m going to have to put my bicycle together by myself.
first time i’m planning the logistics, from beginning to end.

unpacked

packed

getlost

i’m nervous and excited to do this trip, which i have deemed my spirit quest. this is going to be a big trip for me, since i will not have the loving and logistic filled embrace of all of the planning that kasy would always do for any of our bike tours. after years of watching him do the heavy lift of logistic planning, i know that i know what to do and i know that i am capable. this is the first time i will force my own hand in doing it all myself.

this is growth.
this is summer vacation.
this is going to be awesome.

see you in a couple of weeks!

a love letter

friday night vegan borscht

I have not always loved soup.
In fact, I downright hated it for most of my life.
I prefer cold foods to hot.
I don’t think food that comes from a can is good.
I like to chew my food instead of drinking it.

….and yet, 4 years ago I tried making my own soup for the very first time.
And everything changed.
I love soup.
All year long.
I make it constantly, freezing it for later use, gifting it to friends, reading soup recipes when I should be doing work.
I make so much soup that I am researching small chest freezers because I have outgrown my freezer capacity.

These days, in post-breakup reality, cooking for one has become more of a chore than a labor of love.
Cooking for one is damn hard, as my default is to cook for 3-4 rather than single, solo me.
Soup has become my go-to perfection meal, especially since it just gets tastier and tastier as the days pass on.

So, dearest soup. This holiday season, I thank you for your warm embrace.

As I end this hellish year of 2012, I am working on some soup recipes of my own to share with the world.

Perhaps you will make them to share with yourself, or your family, or your loved ones, or strangers.

Happy Solstice, internet.

rising and setting

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the sky. Clouds and colors and textures and everything. Riding a bike is one of the best ways to really have time to spend with a sunrise or a sunset. As you move in the environment, you can watch everything above you change second by second, minute by minute.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m so attracted to everything above me and while I haven’t come up with any solid reason, I’ve found a few nuggets of information that I often forget.

The sky makes me feel small. It makes me feel a part of something so much larger and more amazing than the humdrum that society hammers down our throats telling us that it is what we should be caring about. The sky is unpredictable but always there. No matter how many beautiful clouds, sunrises, or sunsets you see, the future always holds more. When you’re caught up in your own spiral of being stressed out or busy or unhappy or unfulfilled or uninspired, you can look up and see something natural and incredible. And it’s free. This is something we can all see, if we just take the time to look up every now and then.

I take a lot of pictures of the sky, and in general I prefer a sunrise over a sunset. Philadelphia has been the host to some absolutely incredible skyscapes over the past few months and I look forward to what the sky will look like this winter, as I enter my third season of my new life at 30.

That’s another thing the sky does. When you begin to wonder how the hell did my life become this, you can look up and be reminded that life isn’t a linear path of logic. It too is a swirling thing full of color, texture, sunlight, and clouds. And if one day it’s unimpressive, the future still holds some amazing sunrises.

good evening, west philadelphia

good morning, philadelphia

the day after

good morning