Sunday, October 30, 2011
How appropriate that just in time for Halloween I've turned into a Vampire. I'm fully adjusted to the night shift, so I'm up all night and sleep all day. In some ways it stinks- it's creepy in the command center at night, I miss the sun, and it's hard to sleep during the day because the hotel is so loud. On the other hand, it's nice because when I wake up at 3 pm before my shift, it is light and I run outside. Yesterday I checked out the Hammond Trail I parked on the Arcata end because it was closest to my hotel. It took me a while to get into my run. The first mile or so is on a really rough road, it's hilly, and you are surrounded by smelly cows on both sides. There was also a roaring headwind. But then the trails turns into a lovely paved bike/pedestrian p[ath through the woods and then by the ocean. Once you get to the long ocean the path splits, a dirt trail runs right along the water, while a paved trail goes more inland. I ran 30 minutes out and then turned around. Next time, I'd park in McKinleyville to avoid the first mile of rough road.
Friday, October 28, 2011
So I should have been sleeping during the day yesterday and today to switch acclimate my body to working the night shift, but I was too used to getting up at 4 am! And there was just too much amazing stuff to see here! I started off with a run at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Refuge. It was stunning and my run just flew by! There were little pools completely grown over with bright green algae, little inlets filled birds, and then the giant sweep of Humbolt bay. There was that great earthy,salty smell that you only get where the land meets the sea. And there were so many birds- from hundreds of little pipers to giant pelicans. Trinidad, a tiny little town nestled in the cliffs. I got out and admired the lighthouse, and then hoofed it the down the hundreds of steps to the water. I loved the cool shapes of the giant rocks sticking out of the water. And I even saw a little seal swimming around. Ramone's Bakery and Cafe was great! They recently started staying open for dinner and have a great selection of small plates. I had gnocchi with pesto, and each batch is made to order. They were so light and fluffy. And after salivating over the amazing dessert case for nearly 20 minutes trying to make up my mind, I finally decided on a pasty filled with almond paste, covered in roasted almonds and dipped in chocolate. Perfect ending to a perfect day!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I am in the Eureka/Arcata area of Northern California this week for work. It is stunningly beautiful for sure. I took a little plane in from San Francisco and we were just feet above the rugged mountains. And then we landed at the tiny airport (and I mean tiny- no gates, you just land on the runway and walk across the tarmac and out a gate) and I was hit with a blast of cool wind. The ocean here is wild, dark blue and constantly whipped up and white-capped. The people are definitely free spirited. Walking around Arcata I saw a lot of dreadlocks, tie-dye, hula-hopping, and crazy things. I thought I had a hippie spirit, but this town makes me feel pretty straight laced. Folie Douce. The restaurant is tiny, but cozy with bright blue and yellow walls and ceilings. The kitchen is exposed and the wait staff are extremely knowledgeable about the food. Nearly everything is organic and locally sourced. I abstained from the wine because of my cold, but everyone else had a blended California red that they said was amazing. We were offered tastes of any of the wines we were interested in. The bread they served had a great texture, in the middle and crunchy on the outside. I couldn't decide between the many yummy sounding pizzas, so they nicely offered to do half and half. I had half with chanterelle mushrooms, carmelized onions, fontina, garlic, thyme & a drizzle of white truffle aioli and half with pancetta, blue cheese, figs, and arugula. The mushroom was definitely my favorite. The blue cheese was too strong for my linking on the other half, but the figs we nice and sweet and juicy in contrast to the salty pancetta. We were told we had to try to flour-less mocha fudge cake for dessert, and I am so glad we got one to split. I was just going to have one bite, but once I started I couldn't stop. I have had a lot of chocolate cakes in my life, but this was one of the best. It was mousse like in consistency and so flavorful. The creme fresh with violets and mint on the side was a good contrast. I could barely take a picture we were gobbling it down so fast!
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I am so in love with the running near my new house. Today I was determined to shake off the pain in my head and general laziness so I made myself go out and go for a run this morning. Being out on the Greenbelt by the water looking over at the city skyline made me so happy. I decided to share the wealth and contribute to Runner's World's new travel running wiki. I always appreciate being able to look up potential routes when I am traveling, so it's only fair that share some of the best runs in Portland. Here is a link And the text of the article.... Portland has some great running! The Back Cove trail in Portland is one the most popular trails. The 3.5 mile dirt and crushed stone loop is mostly flat and goes around a lovely cove. There is plenty of parking at the Preble Street Extension (across from the Hannaford store on Forest Ave) and on the north side of Baxter Boulevard at Payson Park. The back bay trail connects to the Eastern Prom Trail which leads to the Old Port area. This is a lovely rolling paved path that runs along the water. If you are really motivated, you can branch off the path and run the stairs or steep roads that lead up to the Eastern Prom for sweeping views of Casco Bay. Another option is to run (or drive) over the Casco Bay Bridge and into South Portland where you can pick up the South Portland Greenbelt. This is a paved bicycle and pedestrian path that runs from the Wainwright Recreation Complex to Bug Light Park and the Spring Point Shoreway. Parking is available at Bug Light Park, in the Mill Creek shopping center, and the Wainwright Recreation Complex, which can be reached via the Gary Maietta Parkway off Highland Avenue. For a map of available trails and maps visit http://www.trails.org/map_files/existingtrails.html
Saturday, October 22, 2011
One of the best things about having my own house is that I can have lots of visitors without feeling like I am imposing on my room-mates. My cousin Lindsay came down from College of Atlantic for the weekend, which was a great chance to scope out the vegan food in Portland. In advance of her arrival I got great sourdough Maine grain bread at The Standard Baking Company (and a chocolate croissant for myself for breakfast) and dark chocolate sorbetto at Maples (and caramel and sea salt gelato for me for later!). Then Friday we spent the day wandering through the city. We had a great lunch at the Public Market House - wild mushroom and barley soup with 7 grain bread from Big Sky Bread Company and then a sweet potato quesadilla. For dessert Lindsay struck out at Bam Bam Bakery- they have a lot of dairy free and gluten free options, but nothing was totally vegan because they use honey. But I got an AMAZING Peanut Butter Delight Bar - shortbread crust topped with layer of chocolate then fluff then peanut butter with a light crunch and topped off with just a wee bit more chocolate. Too bad for her! In the late afternoon my Mom, my aunt, and my Mom's friend Cat joined us and we headed out to Brownfield to the Stone Mountain Arts Center for dinner and a Dar William Arts Center. It was a lovely drive out through the country. The sun was shining on the bright red, yellow, and orange leaves all up the sides of the mountains and along the edges of the ponds. The venue was just as beautiful. It's an old restored barn, with towering ceilings and natural wood beams. The wall behind the stage is painted a dark green with a design meant to mimic birch trees which twinkle with white lights. Tall long windows further the illusion that you are outside. And the
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Owning a house is definitely pushing me to expand my handyman skills. I don't know a lot, but I am always willing to try. My Dad had been saving my great-grandmother's dining room set for me. It is a beautiful old dark wood in an Italian style. However, it's old, it has been moved around quite a bit, and it's been in storage for quite awhile. It needed some serious work. I got the right screws for the table and the right stuff to clean the wood last week, but the chairs were this week's project. They desperately needed to be reupholstered. So, after a great run and a yummy pumpkin apple waffle, I learned how to upholster! Yesterday I took the chairs apart and took off the old fabric. I was really careful to pay attention to how the chairs came apart and keep all the parts together!
Monday, October 17, 2011
So after my great run yesterday, I have been striking out majorly on the fitness front. My Mom came down yesterday afternoon and I tried to take us to a yoga class. The class was called relaxation yoga, which sounded nice. However it turned out to be basically lying on the floor for an hour. Which is great for some people, but not my cup of tea. I know I should work more on being able to quiet my mind and be still, but I don't do well with still. The only way I can quiet my mind and stop the constant barrage of thoughts is through movement. Strike one. Then this morning, I tried the kickboxing and strength classes at my gym. Kickboxing was okay, but the instructor just didn't seem that into it. It's hard to have fun and get excited when the instructor seems bored. Unfortunately she taught the strength class and was even less inspired in that. It was so slowly paced and we never did enough reps for me to feel it. Strike 2. Strike 3 for the day was not fitness related. It was the DMV. Enough said. To get myself back into a better mood I decided to do some cooking when I got home. I had been to BJ's, which always means buying things in a larger quantity than I will ever need. This is a problem with things that expire, like greek yogurt. Luckily, I had my hand greek yogurt recipe booklet that the Stonyfield Yogurt people were handing out at the Life is Good Festival. Cooking with yogurt is a great way to lower the fat and increase the protein in your food. The first thing I made was this: Fall Vegetable Casserole This is a great way to use up any extra fall veggies you may have lying around. I used brussels sprouts, carrots, eggplant, and onions. I used way too many veggies so it wasn't quite cheesy enough for my liking. But what sauce there was, was rich and garlicky. YUM-O. And for dessert: Spiced Apple Cakehttp://www.stonyfield.com/recipes/spiced-apple-cake SOOOOOO Good! I've eaten half of it already by myself (in my defense I halved the recipe). I made it even healthier by switching half the oil for apple butter. The apple butter also made it a great dark color.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I can't believe I have already been in my house for a week. Last Sunday I remember waking up feeling slightly disoriented. I wasn't used to the sounds of my new neighborhood or the way the light came in my windows. Today though, I woke up feeling right at home. In just a week, I have settled back in. Yesterday morning I went to the kickboxing class at my new gym, Lifestyle fitness in Scarborough. It was hardcore- so obviously I loved it. I had planned on staying for the Zumba toning class afterward, but I just wasn't feeling it. The sun was calling me. Just because I could, I headed down to Pine Point beach and went for a wonderful, but windy, walk on the beach. The wind was really whipping- the surf was huge and the sand was flying all over the place. But the sun felt great on my face, and there were plenty of other intrepid Mainers out there with me. I LOVE being able to see the ocean multiple times every day. After lunch I headed over to Breezy's to watch the world championships. What a treat to watch gymnastics with someone who knows as much as I do about it. And who also sits in a split while watching! Then for dinner, I caught up with one of my friends from my Ghana trip at a cute little cafe, Verbena, right down the road from my house! I had a great salad with butternut squash, cranberries, amd sunflower seeds. I am trying to do a long run of at least 12-13 miles once a month to keep myself in shape just in case a race comes up. It is so much easier to stay in shape than to get back in shape. I was thinking about where to run as I fell asleep last night and a great route came to me. I ran over the Casco Bay bridge which is pretty exciting because you are so high up and have a great view of the city skyline and Casco Bay while the wind howls around you. Then I ran down Commercial street which is right on the waterfront. You can see all the ferries gearing up for the day, and today there was a HUGE cruise ship docked as well. Then I hopped onto the Harbor Walk trail, the East End Trail, and ended up running around the Bay Back trail before heading back home. How amazing to have so many trails that run right along the water. It was another windy, windy day but I hardly noticed because I was too busy looking at the views. 12 miles absolutely flew by! Now I am settling in with pumpkin pecan pancakes and some coffee to watch some more gymnastics. Happy weekend!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Now that my house is looking more like a house and less like a disaster zone, I'm making an effort to get out, explore the community, and make new friends. This is the first time I've ever lived alone, and given my hermit tendencies, I could quickly become a recluse. Last night I joined the Southern Maine Fit Club for some turbo fire. We had a big room with a giant screen and followed along with a turbo fire DVD. It wasn't the hardest workout ever, but it was fun and got me off the couch (where I had been enjoying too much biscoff spread all afternoon). Even better was that afterward I invited everyone to join Breezy and I at Jimmy the Greek's for $5 martinis and free manicures! Unfortunately we got there too late for free manicures, but I enjoyed my Gossip martini and conversation with new friends! This morning I ventured out in the rain for Punk Rope at the Portland Y. Punk Rope is a jump rope based interval class. They used to have it at the Y in Framingham, and I love it! I was a little frustrated at the class today because every time we got up to a hard work level, we stopped. I like to get my butt kicked, and I didn't get that. Oh well! Since I still had plenty of energy, I used a groupon I had gotten to go to a yoga class at Breathing Room Yoga. The studio is less than a mile from my new house, and super cute. They have a little sitting area with tea and comfy chairs, and then the open area in the back for the practice. It is an old building, with a great pounded tin ceiling with a star design. It was fun to look during class. It wasn't the most challenging class I've ever been to, but it was a warm, relaxing way to spend an hour on a dreary day and helped to get out the remaining kinks from moving. And fitting with the theme of wonderful things for rainy days, I will share this recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal from the New York Times that I have been totally loving this week. Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Adapted from Olives NY TOTAL TIME 50 minutes Ingredients * 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice * 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg * 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon * 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger * 1/4 cup packed brown sugar * 1 cup canned pumpkin puree * 4 1/2 cups low-fat milk or water * 1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats * 3/4 teaspoon salt * Warm apple sauce, optional * Chopped fresh apple, optional * Apple cider syrup, optional Preparation 1. In a large saucepan over low heat, toast allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, stirring occasionally until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, then add pumpkin and stir to combine. Add milk or water, raise heat and bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in oats, and simmer over medium heat until tender but not mushy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in salt. 2. Serve with applesauce, apple and syrup if desired.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Hello, I am finally emerging from a very long weekend of moving. I took the red eye home last Wednesday night, packed like a maniac Thursday and Friday, loaded the truck in Framingham Saturday morning (with only the help of my Dad and Brother, since none of my other helpers showed), unloaded in Portland Saturday afternoon and then have been unpacking ever since. Well not exactly non-stop, I did take some time out to enjoy the amazing Indian summer we were having. Sunday I did a bike ride out to Portland Head Light, Two Lights State Park, and Crescent Beach. Getting used to the Maine hills again is going to be a challenge! Monday I did a wonderful run along the Maine Greenbelt out to Bug Light and then met my friend Breezy for a sunset walk at Kettle Cove. I just LOVE how accessible everything is- the beach, the city, my old friends. I really feel at home!
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I go a little stir crazy sitting in the office all day, so I like to get out for lunch. Today, I organized an outing to Bruxie, a waffle sandwich shop a co-worker recommended. It is down by Orange Circle, which is a cute, old fashioned downtown area in Orange. The restaurant is an adorable little hut with outdoor seating (luckily the rain had stopped by the time we got there.) The staff was super helpful and friendly, and we had our food in no time! I had the wild mushroom, goat cheese, arugula, and sun dried tomatoes. It was great. The waffle was thin and crispy with a light cornmeal texture. The goat cheese melted into the squares of the waffle, tangy and sour against the sweet waffle. I gobbled it up in about 3 minutes. Most of my co-workers went with the Bruxie special- the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Sunday I was looking forward to sleeping in, since I was out waaay past my normal bed time Saturday night. But when 7:30 am rolled around I was wide awake. I laid in bed for awhile, just because I could, but that didn’t last long because I was super thirsty. After downing a good liter of water, I headed out on a run. I’d spent some time with the map the day before and scoped out a good route. I decided to basically run the square perimeter of the French quarter. Each of the 4 streets had a very different character. Canal street had a big city feel with high rise offices and hotel. North Rampart was leaning towards seedy and run down. Esplanade was residential with gorgeous houses and a canopy of moss covered oak trees. Then N. Peters was people clogged and touristy. The sun was bright, the wind was cool, and it felt so good to run off the excess of the night before. My garmin had trouble finding a signal, and I was too impatient to wait, so I ran just by time, which made it even more relaxing. On my run I passed a Lousiana State Museum, the Presbytere, that had an exhibition on Katrina that I really wanted to see. So after a quick shower, I headed straight there to make sure I had time to see it. Holy moly. What a powerful exhibit. I was in tears a few times. They had a lot of personal stories, either on video, or narrated by the real people, so it really came alive. They had a room with huge movie screens and powerful fans showing footage of the storm. It made you feel like you were right there in the wildness of the worst of the storm. But then they also had the stories of all the regular people who acted so heroically to save their friends and neighbors, and how the city worked so hard to rebuild itself so quickly. It was truly a story of hope and resilience. I could have stayed forever, but I was absolutely starving, and the airport shuttle was picking me up in an hour. So, I made a quick stop for the one thing left on my list- a po’ boy. I got a huge oyster and shrimp po’ boy with sweet potato fries and an ice coffee. Heavenly.
Saturday morning I woke up feeling much more rested than the day before and headed outside for a run. I had seen a path along the river while at dinner the night before that looked promising. It was a great spot for running- there was a strong breeze, the sun was incredible rising over the river, and there were lots of other runners. The only draw backs were that it was only 1.5 miles long and it was brick. I had to go back and forth quite a few times and the bricks were unforgiving on the body. But, getting outside was totally worth it. I started the day in a great mood. During the morning meetings, our practice finished early. So we decided the absinthe bar would be a good activity for 11 am.