Oats for two, pizza for one.

Hello hello! Today was my first official day without Jacob around. It still hasn’t really sunk in. It just feels like he’s off at work or out of town for a few days. I wonder when it will all seem real?

I didn’t sleep well last night, most likely because of my late afternoon nap yesterday. Unsurprisingly, I rose on the veeeeeery late side, which just means my system will continue to be off. Errgggggg. Heidi hadn’t eaten yet when I got up, though, so I made a big pot of oats for the two of us.

Coco-Banana Oats for Two

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1.5 cup water
  • .5 cup lite coconut milk
  • sprinkles of salt (just to bring out the flavors) and cinnamon (can be as generous as you like here)
  • 1 banana, sliced into small chunks
  • scoop of PB for the top

Serve with a side/backdrop of magnolias and sun.

So much for this rainy forecast! This day is turning out to be beautiful. Spring, welcome to Portland. I think seasons are among the things that are not counted as “fashionable” when they’re late…

I spent some time editing photos in Picasa of the Brennan kids for Heidi, for which she was really grateful. I’m so glad I downloaded Picasa. What a great program for free. Sure, it isn’t as high powered as Photoshop (you get what you pay for) but it definitely makes a difference. It’s fun playing around with all the effects, retouching, tuning, etc.

I ate leftovers from last night before leaving Heidi’s to head into Portland. I served it over slightly nuked spinach for more vitamins and it all tasted just as great today as last night.

My workout today was an hour of spinning followed by a brisk 30 min walk on the treadmill at 4% incline, 4.3 mph. This was my first spinning class in at least six weeks, so I was really looking forward to a heart thumping, hill climbing, sprint interval class. I got those things out of the class, but I did not at all care for the instructor. My enjoyment of any class – be it spinning, yoga, Body Pump, whatever – totally depends on the instructor. This woman was the kind who tells you, “you’re almost there!” when you’re halfway through a 1 minute sprint; who, when telling you that you’re about to begin climbing a six minute hill that gets progressively steeper (i.e. up the resistance), “I think you guys can do this!”; who forgets what number interval you’re on. I tried to channel my frustration with the instructor into my workout, but it was tough! What do you do to get yourself through a class or workout when you have a bad instructor or coach?

After my workout, I actually got to connect with Jacob again via the Skype app on my iPhone! I tell you, technology is amazing. He was on his computer in Philadelphia and I could see him on my iPhone screen. We talked for about 20 minutes and then he had to head to dinner with his new colleagues. It’s crazy to think that in just 12 hours from now, he’ll be in Guatemala! Lucky kid though, the weather looks fabulous – 75 and sunny. No fair!

I met up with my TNT team at Old Town Pizza for their last Tuesday workout and dinner together before the marathon. Instead of track, they did a quick 3 mi around the Esplanade. It was beautiful out and I really wished I could be out with them 😦 I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it, but the marathon is 100% out for me. I asked my TNT staffer to drop me to the half in the hopes I could do that, but at this point, I think it would be unwise to run. So, I’m going to walk instead! I can’t say I’m thrilled about this, but walking is better than nothing, right? Editorial note: There is NOTHING wrong with walking. It’s fabulous exercise and I’m still participating in something for a good cause. I’m just bummed to not be running because it’s such a love of mine.

Once they were back, we chowed down. My spinning and walking had left me staaaaarving, so I went with the build your own pizza option. On mine: thin crust; tomato sauce; mozz; zucchini; kalamatas; and Italian sausage. (Sorry for the flash, it’s super dark)

It was a little pricey, but I can make 3 meals out of this beast, so I’ll call it good. I’m spending the rest of the week at Tyler’s house, and I’m sure she’ll appreciate me not eating her out of house and home πŸ™‚

Now I’m over at Tyler’s, snuggling with her sweet whippet Gertie on the couch and catching up on blogs. It’s been so long since I had a little dog friend to hang out with. Should be a good relaxing week!


Leaving on a jetplane

And just like that, Jacob’s gone.

Today came so much faster than expected. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of gathering everything he’ll need for the next two years, from dri fit clothing to sunscreen to his favorite comfort food, gummy bears πŸ™‚ I can’t express how proud I am of Jacob for enrolling in the Peace Corps. I’m sad he is leaving (that is an understatement!) but know that he is such a perfect fit for this job and it will be a life changing experience for both him and all of the people he serves in Guatemala.

5:30 came abruptly this morning after just four hours of sleep. We stayed up late into the night talking and getting our final snuggles in but Jacob hopped right out of bed at 5:30 with the adrenaline of getting ready to go. At 6:15 on the dot, we were out the door to the airport. I drove Jacob in my car and his dad, stepmom, and older sister followed. His mother, brother, and younger sister met us there as well. Check in took all of ten minutes and then it was time for pictures. Here’s the entire Brennan clan:

We were all able to grab coffee together and spend a few more minutes with Jacob since check in was so brisk and the security line was negligible. It was so strange to be just sitting there in the airport, with everyone he loves gathered around him, trying to figure out what to say before he leaves the country for 27 months. Everyone was in good spirits, though, largely because we all know this is the right path for him and are so happy he has this great opportunity.

But of course, he had to leave sometime. We hugged and kissed multiple times and I was able to keep the tears back, though there was a bit of a lump in my throat, but even standing in front of the security gate, this all doesn’t seem real! Jacob’s mom, who is a flight attendant and had security clearance, went through security with him, and he turned around and waved, and that was it.

I stood around with the rest of the family for a little while, trying to digest what just happened, and then there was nothing to do but drive home, one person lighter. Jacob’s mom was kind enough to Jacob’s sisters, his brother Kiernan and his girlfriend Jamie, and myself out to Biscuits for breakfast, which was a great treat after such an early, hectic morning.

I made it through one of those flaky warm biscuits and half of my “Joe’s Scramble” – egg whites, red potatoes, bacon, onion, and spinach topped with parm – before giving up. It was delicious and my belly was at least happy, even if the rest of me was less so!

After brunch, I came home and crashed out for two hours – even after drinking loads of coffee all morning. Four hours of sleep + emotional exhaustion = naptime. I also was delaying the fun process of putting the rest of my possessions from the Brennans’ house into my car, but once up, I couldn’t put it off any longer. Everything of mine, and a few things Jacob had left behind, went into my little Hyundai. I’ve got to run back next Monday to grab my bike and Jacob’s desktop because I didn’t want them with me while I’m moving around this week, but otherwise, I’m moved out. Can’t believe I’m moving… again. It’s the sixth time in three years. Oy vey.

Anyway, I got in a great one hour workout on the elliptical before heading to Jacob’s mom’s for the night. Due to all the last minute errands we had to run and the big family dinner on Sunday, I had no time for exercise, so it felt great to be back in the gym after such heavy eating the last few days.

Since Heidi took us to breakfast this morning, I offered to make dinner. It was a treat for me as well as for her, since I haven’t really had the opportunity to cook much the last several months while we were at Jacob’s dad’s house. One of my favorite go-to meals is a stir fry; it’s pretty difficult to go wrong.

I sauteed chicken, broccoli, snow peas, onion, and broccoli slaw in a little bit of oil on the stove…

While that was going, I made white rice on the stovetop and created a sauce of lite coconut milk and Peanut Butter and Company’s The Heat is On peanut butter by heating them together in the microwave.

While cooking, we cheers-ed to Jacob with some Pyramid Curveball.

And voila! This was perfectly spiced with little to no additions from me, thanks to the special PB. The Curveball paired well with the spicy food and refreshed my mouth after each bite.

Heidi and I wiled away the evening chatting, since we haven’t actually spent that much time together one-on-one, and a few hours later, we reached Jacob at his hotel in Philadelphia! He sounded upbeat and thrilled to hear from us, but tired. His plane from Phoenix –> Philly got rerouted around the St. Louis tornado, which took an extra hour, and the poor kid hadn’t planned for that and so was without adequate food 😦 Once in Philly, he met up with his fellow Peace Corps volunteers and had dinner and drinks but it had been a loooooooong day. We tested out Skype for a bit and then said our second goodbye for the day. He said it could be as long as two weeks before we talk again, since he’s not sure when he’ll get his cell phone in Guatemala and he’s busy tomorrow with orientation before flying out. That will be by far the longest we’ve gone without talking to each other – we’ve probably not gone more than 48 hours without communicating by phone or text for two + years.

All right, this girl is tired. Night night!


Holy moly. Stuffed. to. the. gills.

Pictures describe today better than I ever could (plus, Jacob leaves in 12 hours…) so I’ll let the photos do the talking. Let the mouth watering begin.



Pre-dinner fun and prep:

The main event:

What a beautiful day, in all senses of the word. It was lovely for Jacob to have a big, festive last meal with friends and family gathered around.

The task at hand now is to complete packing and double check EVERYTHING… and say our goodbyes 😦 I can’t believe this is our last night together for a loooooong time! We’ll get to experience first hand if home truly is where the heart is.

I hope you and yours had as wonderful an Easter (or just a Sunday, if Easter isn’t your cup of tea) as we did.

Rise, Rinse, Refresh

I am slowly but surely achieving success in moving up my rise-n-shine time. Today I managed to get up at 9:30!

I was talking to Jacob’s dad and stepmom, and both said that they’re exhausted and have had trouble getting out of bed for the past few weeks too. His dad’s theory is that we’re all overstressed about Jacob leaving, plus they’re worried about the house selling. I’d say that between Jacob leaving (in just 4 days!!), me getting ready to move back up to Seattle, going to grad school in a few short months, and having marathon/injury worries, I’ve got enough stuff swirling around in my head to prevent me from really sleeping. Oy vey.

Nothing to get you raring like a good breakfast, though. On the menu today: a slice of Cinnamon Chip bread with PB, topped with a baked cinnamon apple and a dollop of vanilla yogurt.

This breakfast looks quite elegant, but it actually came together in less than 5 minutes.

1. Pop toast in toaster.

2. Chop small apple.

3. Place apple in microwavable bowl, sprinkle on cinnamon. Microwave for ~ 1 min or until apple is tender.

4. Spread PB on toast. Top with microwaved apple and a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Voila. Breakfast!

See? No reason that a delicious, nutritious, and pretty (most important, of course) breakfast can’t be fast.

Between spending a good deal of time with an ice pack and foam roller while watching cooking shows and discovering the amazingness of younghouselove, my early afternoon disappeared.

Lunch was a hodgepodge of leftovers from Screen Door last night. I was guessing that the fuji apple salad and jambalaya would be just as good, if not better, the next day, once the flavors had even more time to meld together. I was right; even the cornbread didn’t dry out when I zapped it in the microwave to warm it back up.

I’m going to have to recreate this fuji salad sometime soon with my own spin on it. It seems simple enough – greens, raisins, fuji apples, a light cheese (feta or a white cheddar?), walnuts, and a marinade of perhaps apple cider vinegar and greek yogurt? Hmm, food for thought…

I had every intention of making it to the gym, but took the afternoon sun break as a chance to give my car a MUCH needed wash. I got sprinkled on a few times (what weird weather we’re having lately!!!) but was able to get my little Hyundai Elantra clean and sparkling without too much trouble. My right arm and shoulder are going to be SORE though from scrubbing the sap spots off my roof!

Yoga was in my plans for later, anyway, so skipping the elliptical didn’t sound too bad. Jacob had plans to meet up with a former colleague for a drink at 7 and I found a Candlelight Power Yoga class at 7:30 that sounded like a perfect antidote to my late night worrying habit. The other half of my turkey and avocado panini from yesterday was dinner, though unpictured.

The yoga class was GREAT. It was a flow style class and moved pretty quickly, but I focused on matching movement to my breath and instead of changing poses based on the instructor’s words, I followed my own rhythm. I came out an hour later sweaty and refreshed… and STARVING.

Jacob is trying to squeeze in his last visit to all his favorite places, so we stopped by Swirl, a self serve froyo shop, for a late evening snack. We used to visit Swirl at least once a week last summer when we lived in Portland. It’s one of the better self serve places in PDX based on range of flavors and the toppings offered – and all for 45 cents per ounce. Plus you get great hipster watching (one of Jacob’s favorite pastimes) based on the Hawthorne location πŸ™‚

I tried my best to be conservative, which is hard to do at anything self serve, but held myself to just one splurge topping. I split my cup between honey lavender tart and cookies and cream froyo, and topped my selections with blueberries/raspberries/coconut and oreo pieces respectively.

It hit the spot. Now I just have to find a comparable shop in Seattle…

Hoping to get a good night’s sleep now. Buona noche!

A Date with the South

I don’t know what it is lately, but I have not been able to get myself up in the morning. I haven’t been going to bed all that late – 12:30ish. Ok, that’s late, but even so, I should be able to reasonably get up after 8 hours, so in theory, 8:30 am. When my alarm goes off, though, I keep snoozing… and snoozing… and snoozing. I wonder if this is a side effect of tapering? All my fellow TNTers have been talking about how emotional and exhausted they’ve been during the taper.

I didn’t get up until 10am and had lunch plans at noon, so I just ate a beautiful red D’Anjou pear to hold me over. Lunch was with my former office manager and another colleague at the Daily Cafe, which is right near my old office on the east side of the river. It’s a great little cafe with an excellent selection of sandwiches, paninis, and salads, as well as rotating quiche and soup options.

I ordered the turkey, avocado, and caramelized onion panini on ciabatta, which came with a green side salad.

I had so much fun catching up with them. My job was stressful and hectic a lot of the time, but one of the things that made it worth it was the people I got to work with. We passed the time with typical office gossip and discussing my former co-worker’s upcoming wedding.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was jampacked. I managed to squeeze in 45 minutes on the elliptical before rushing home to shower and head out again. As Jacob is packing, he is realizing the other stuff he needs for Guatemala and we end up with a lot of errands to run. Yesterday’s task was to find lightweight business casual pants, and we scored a great pair at Macy’s. I also talked him into his first pair of Docker’s chinos and he looks goooooooood in them πŸ™‚

Next up was the TNT sendoff for the Eugene team! All the half marathon and marathon runners and walkers, about 50 people in total – gathered for a potluck, to get our official shirts, and go over race weekend information. Coaches Mike and Julie gave us the rundown on the course as well, from everything to elevation changes to where to expect the best race support). I’m still holding out hope that I’ll be able to run this marathon, and just thinking about it puts my stomach in knots. In a good way, of course πŸ™‚

I tried to save my appetite at the potluck, because Jacob and I had already made plans for our last dinner out together before he leaves. Our restaurant of choice? Screen Door, “the best Southern cuisine in Portland.”

Screen Door is, in a word, delicious. It is true Southern cuisine, but made with the best fresh, organic, and local NW ingredients possible. They’ve got everything on their menu from low country shrimp n’ grits to fried catfish, and also have a lot of vegetarian options as well.

It being a special occasion and all, I began with a drink that I sipped on veeeeery slowly. It was the Rhett Butler – Maker’s Mark, ginger puree, and lemon juice.

After we ordered, I presented Jacob with my gift I’ve been working on for the past few weeks – a scrapbook and picture album of all the fun things we’ve done together in the past two years.

In such a short time, we have done A LOT. Numerous trips up to Seattle and others around the Northwest (including twice each to the beach and Central Oregon); a week in Cancun in December 2009; and 10 days in Italy this past September. I tried to save ticket stubs and other small memorabilia when we were in Italy just for this reason and I think the book came together nicely. Here’s to more memories in the future!

back to the food πŸ™‚ We aren’t normally in the habit of ordering appetizers, especially if we’re not starving, but with hush puppies on the menu, how could we not??

These perfect little fried balls of cornmeal with a honey mustard dipping sauce were served just right – not overly greasy, but they had that amazing crunch to them that you only get with a deep fryer. Mmmm.

My entree was the Screen Door plate, which is always my go-to option. You get to choose three sides from their regular menu, or from the “local/organics” menu which rotates nightly. I went with the andouille sausage and chicken jumbalaya; fuji apple salad; and cauliflower and fennel gratin for my choices.

Everything was delicious, especially the cornbread – it had whole corn kernels in it that popped in your mouth. The only thing I didn’t care much for was the gratin, which had far too much cream for my tastes. I only made it through about half of this meal before I cried uncle and am already dreaming of it for lunch πŸ™‚

Despite being STUFFED, I conned Jacob into ordering the Ban-Offee Pie for dessert. This is one of the best desserts I have ever had, and that’s out of a loooooooot of past options! “Shortbread-pecan crust layered with bananas and caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream” is not something you say no to.

I’m salivating just looking at this photo.

We basically had to roll ourselves to the car and lie on our backs for awhile to digest this incredible meal. I think meals like this are worth the uncomfortable stuffed feeling every now and then… though I have a feeling I’ll be on the elliptical for awhile today working this one off. I’ve been feeling a little “fluffy” lately, and am really going to watch what I’m eating for the next week. My clothes aren’t fitting any different and I don’t think the scale has changed much, but I’ve been eating a lot of sugar and rich food lately and that does not a fast marathon make. If for nothing else, cleaning up my diet for the week beforehand will make me feel more mentally ready for this thing. Start wishing me luck now – I’ll need it!!

Breaking the cycle. (you’ll see)

Our late night last night kept me in bed far past my usual rising time. I’m not sure if I really needed to sleep until after 11, but it sure felt good πŸ™‚

Per usual, I had coffee and banana oats with PB to get me up and going. I was also cheered when I saw there were FINALLY no dark rain clouds in the sky! Could it be??? SPRING???

Sunday is always a day of errands, so I took Jacob to get his hair cut and pick up a few things at TJ’s. I don’t normally feel compelled to accompany Jacob to get his hair cut, but he can’t drive right now because he sold his car last week and discontinued his insurance coverage and so I am his de facto chauffeur until he leaves.

When we returned, I dinked around for a bit (i.e. read blogs and daydreamed about the Eugene Marathon) and whipped up a fast, and clearly photogenic, lunch. I had the last 1/2 of one of those huge apples I bought last week and a mix of spinach, broccoli slaw, and snow peas topped with hummus. It doesn’t look like much but it was tasty!

Since the weather was so beautiful, I really wanted to ride my bike to the gym and got all decked out in my cycle shoes and helmet to go. Sadly, when I was pumping up my front tire, the stem of the inflation tube broke off in the pump and my whole tire deflated 😦 Jacob was powerwashing the sidewalk, so he didn’t have time to look for a spare tube and change it out. I didn’t have enough time to walk, but I swear I tried to do the environmentally (and healthfully!) responsible by cycling the 1.5 mi to the gym. It’s the effort that counts, right?

Check out the obnoxiously clashing colors I wore to the gym:

(Also obnoxious: taking a pic of myself in the 24 Hour Fitness locker room mirror.) Those are my super cheap new tempo shorts. My rationale is that they’re so bright that they could pass for nighttime reflective gear… maybe? I’m also wearing my new Mizuno Elixir 6s that I bought early last week. I have run 9 mi in them (sad that 9 mi is all I’ve run in the last 6 days…) and so far, I love them!

I was skeptical of the colors since they’re so bright and bold but I think they rock now.

My workout was 50 min on the elliptical with arms, 2 x 30 crunches on a stability ball, and 2 x 15 hamstring flexion with the ball. I just subscribed to the NPR podcast of Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and listening to one of the episodes made my workout fly by. Yes, I was that girl giggling to myself (about funny news items, nonetheless) while working out. You say nerd, I say informed! So there.

I could have stayed longer, but we had dinner plans! Jacob’s brother and his girlfriend invited us over for dinner, which ended up being really fun and tasty. They only live just over a mile away so I convinced J to walk there instead of drive. We showed up HUNGRY, and the meal of steak and parmesan mashed potatoes did not disappoint.

Jamie (J’s brother Kiernan’s girlfriend) made brownies for dessert and set out FOUR kinds of ice cream to go with the brownies… so unsurprisingly, I went a bit overboard and was really glad we walked home just so I could digest! My knee started to ache a bit on the walk (flats were not a smart footwear choice) so I spent some QT with ice packs and bags of frozen peas.

Time for bed – I’m getting up WAY earlier than usual to watch the Boston Marathon on TV!!

Bummed about bum knee.

Excuse me for skipping over the last few days, but few noteworthy things happened outside of the following:

1. Jacob came home! Hip hip hooray!

2. I seriously overstressed my knee by trying to make up my interval workout from Tuesday on the treadmill on Thursday. I had run my 7 mi on Fairmount on Wednesday with little to no pain after seeing Dr. Howell, but the pain set in on Thursday. I decided to give it a go anyway and winced (that’s an understatement) through my whole 30 minute workout. Do as I say, NOT as I do, when it comes to injuries. Bad news bears. This thing is messed. up. to. the. max. FML.

3. My room is almost all the way in boxes. I guess this whole Jacob leaving, me going up to Seattle thing is really happening?

4. Wednesday’s beautiful weather turned into sh*ttastic stormy weather Thurs and Fri. Hello, spring? It’s Colleen. I thought you were supposed to be here like a month ago? Oh, you’re running late? Inexcusable. Get here ASAP. Thanks, bye.

Clearly, groundbreaking things occurred in my life the last few days.

Now, let’s catch up to Saturday.

I met my TNT group at Grant High School for our scheduled 12 mi workout. (I had a carrot cake ClifBar on the way.) Coaches Mike and Julie saw my faint limp as I walked towards them and started shaking their heads vigorously no at me – meaning NO RUNNING FOR YOU. They told me to take the entire week off of running and bore myself to death on cardio machines stick to the elliptical and bike instead. LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME, just like my knee. Oh yeah, and it’s not just my IT anymore – it’s now the inside of my right hip flexor down into the inside of my right knee as well as the IT and outer right hip. Fabulous timing, leg.

So, I dragged my gimpy self to the gym and busted out 90 minutes on the elliptical – one hour on the one with arms (ouch, chest and back!) and half hour on the stationary one. Not really the same as running 12 miles, but at least it’s something. I also did 2 x 1 min of plank on my right side and 2 x 25 right crunches in the hopes of strengthening my core on that side, since that is part of the issue.

J was with me so we hit up Panera for lunch. I did the You Pick Two with black bean soup and the new Thai chicken chopped salad. It was far better than expected! Slightly spicy and sweet at the same time, with yummy tastes like edamame, cashews, and green onion.

We spent the rest of the afternoon running around doing errands for Jacob. First stop: Costco. I really only went along for the samples and was very dismayed when I found all of the stations to be closed down! Whattt?? They stop at 4pm? Ludicrous. Anyway, Jacob got a new Canon Powershot just like mine and some other essentials, and we split another Costco essential – fro yo. Also known as the tower of dairy.

I was also treated to my first trip to the Nike Employee Store. Nike HQ is here in Beaverton, so they have a special store accessible only to employees and family and friends that employees designate to come as well. The best part is – everything is about 50% off. It’s a way better deal (and better stuff) than at the outlets. I made out with a new pair of tempo shorts and a long sleeved, hooded, heavier weight black running top (good for Boston next year) for just over $40. Score!

Dinner was leftovers from the night before, when we used an old gift certificate to go to Seasons and Regions. I had the remnants of my salmon with mustard and dill sauce, sauteed spinach and onions, and au gratin potatoes (mmmm, cheese, potatoes and cream…) alongside a piece of Great Harvest Cinnachip toast.

Then, we headed out for Jacob’s farewell celebration with his friends. We met up with about ten of his friends downtown at the Thirsty Lion – an English style pub with a decent beer selection and a live band. Drinks and good times ensued, with me as DD per my new drinking rules.

The man of the night had a great time – so many of his friends from high school, college, and past work/volunteer experiences came out to wish him well. I guess everyone loves him as much as I do πŸ™‚

Everyone showed him how much they loved him by buying shot after shot, so by about 1:15am, he’d had enough. I put the boy of honor in the car, sped home, and got him into bed ASAP.

Wish me luck with this knee. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that a week of rest from running and a few visits to the sports doc will get my knee in good shape. I’m being realistic that I may have to drop from the full marathon to the half, and preparing myself mentally for that. I’ve put in so much hard work that I don’t want to drop out altogether and perhaps I can go for a half PR instead. It’s a flat course and I set my most recent PR of 1:40:27 on a hilly course in November. If I can’t BQ, maybe I can bust out a fast half. Fingers crossed.