Today has been pretty low key. The Boy & I took The Dog for a walk this afternoon & it was COLD. The walk was not a long one.

We watched some stuff, I knitted, and I took a bunch of pictures of The Dog.


I took a bath, took a nap, then made dinner. I didn’t know what I wanted but I knew I wanted cornbread for some weird reason. So I made some.



I decided to pair it with something mildly spicy & I remembered that I had picked up some apple chicken sausage at Trader Joe’s about a week ago. I sliced up a couple of links along with a skinless boneless chicken breast. I sautéed the meat to brown it, then I added some Beaujolais & beef broth. I brought it to the boil and let it thicken.



In the meantime, I cooked some brown rice in beef stock.

I added leftover salad for me.



It was easy & super yum!

During & after dinner we watched SHERLOCK. So much fun.

I’ve got a lot on the schedule for tomorrow. Today was such a lazy day that I’ll have a ton of things to do tomorrow. Fortunately I have the day off tomorrow. Hooray for closed libraries! On the list of things to do:


Taking The Dog to PetSmart to get dogfood


Taking down Christmas decorations


Dog walking

Grocery shopping

Weekly meal planning

But first, I believe Chocohotopots are calling my name ; )


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Happy 2012!

The day started off with a workout at the gym. I’ve been feeling poorly for the last couple of weeks & haven’t been working out as much. First, I caught a bug that developed into a pretty disgusting sinus infection. I felt so miserable for about 10 days that even thinking about going to the gym made me want to take a nap. Right about the time I was finishing up with my antibiotics, I developed an especially painful ovarian cyst. As expected, the Saturday morning run was less than fantastic. I made it through, though, and felt better for having made the effort. Later on, The Boy & I took The Dog for a walk to visit J’s folks.

Last night The Boy, The Dog & I enjoyed a quiet evening at home. I made Boeuf Bourguignon  served with a salad, baguette & lovely bottle of Bordeaux. Several hours later I baked a couple of Chocohotopots. I could eat that stuff raw! We celebrated the turning of the year with a bottle of cava.

We stayed up pretty late (for me), and I got to sleep around 1:30 a.m. Still, I managed to wake up shortly after 9:00 a.m. this morning & made it to the gym for an easy 2 mile run.

When I got home, I made a special New Year’s Day breakfast.

It was special because it featured a mimosa made with the cava we couldn’t finish last night (pathetic, I know).

Otherwise it was a standard bowl of rolled oats cooked with pumpkin & topped with homemade trail mix & a luscious dollop of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter to give the oats some staying power.

I paired it with a sunny dish of Clementine slices.

Isn’t that a cute little bowl? It was a holiday gift from a friend who always manages to find unique pottery. I’ve benefitted from her keen eye & generous spirit in the past.

The Dog, waiting for his special New Year’s Day “Mommy dropped this from the table so it’s MINE” treat.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. Every morsel of food went straight into my belly.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about things we accomplished in the past year, things that went unfinished & things I’d like to work on in the coming year. Some notable milestones in 2011:

I went to the gym an average of 3x/week from the end of January until the end of December.

I started running for the first time in my life.

I finished 7 races.

We got a new water heater.

We had our chimney rebuilt.

I survived New Orleans in late June.

We got a new refrigerator.

The Boy installed a new faucet in the kitchen.

I started therapy and began the long process of finding & maintaining balance in my life.

The Boy and I went dancing at a club for the first time since we’ve been together (strange, considering how much we both enjoy dancing).

This year was packed with happy times, long walks with The Dog, as well as some sad times, some unforeseen family illness & a few loved ones lost.

So what’s coming up in 2012?

For me, this will be the Year of Mindful Eating. I’ve been on a diet pretty much my whole life. I think about food all the time. Really. Either I’m thinking about what I want to eat, or I’m thinking about what I should eat, or I’m regretting something I did eat. Now that I’ve made exercise a regular part of my life (I need to exercise now to feel centered and less stressed), it’s time to focus on my relationship with food. Of course, I’d still like to lose those 20 lbs. I meant to lose last year, but my focus is going to be on having a healthier relationship with food.

In an attempt to eat more mindfully, I’d like to do more meal planning. I find that I definitely eat healthier if I plan out what I’m going to eat for the day or week. My intention is to post what I eat here. We’ll see how well I do with that.

It is also my intention to plan my workouts for the week, which I also plan to do here. For example, this week my plan is:

Sunday (New Year’s Day!): 2 mile run (done!); walk w/The Dog & The Boy (also done!)

Monday: 20 min elliptical; strength workout (legs + arms); walk w/The Dog; BONUS – 45 min yoga

Tuesday: 2 mile run

Wednesday: 20 min elliptical; strength workout (legs + arms)

Thursday: 3 mile run; walk w/The Dog

Friday: 20 min elliptical; strength workout (legs + arms); walk w/The Dog

Saturday: Rest OR 45 min yoga

In terms of eating, my goal is to not snack between meals on the days that I work, and make healthy eating choices most of the time. My eating schedule is much more erratic on the days I don’t work, so I’m not making any promises about those days.

I have some running goals. First, I want to run the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle (8K). After that, I’m not sure.

Finally, I really really REALLY need to get more rest. I absolutely need to get more sleep on a regular basis.

I have a bunch of goals related to popular culture, specifically music, but this post is long enough now. I guess that means more tomorrow. Maybe.

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So I ran a race on Thanksgiving morning. Original, I know. But it was a Pie-K! How could I resist? Also, this race had the best swag out of any race I’ve done so far (you know, out of the 5 races I’ve done so far).


So I ran that race (my best time yet, but still remarkably slow)….

And got a pie.

Oh, wait. That’s a puppy.

I got a pie.

The puppy was excited about the pie.

Unfortunately, neither of us got to eat it. I brought it to our Thanksgiving dinner but it was never deployed. And I didn’t get to take it home with me again either. That’s what I get for being overly generous and then saying explicitly, “We don’t have to eat it today.” Sigh.

So it was a pumpkin pie-less Thanksgiving. I’m running the Grant Park Turkey Trot tomorrow morning, so I guess I should stop drinking and get to bed. There is no pie to be had at the end as far as I know, so I may have to find a piece somewhere along the Blue Line on the way home. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Awhile back I talked about the idea of mantras and what they mean and whether or not I felt they were appropriate for me and jive with how I define myself.

Of course, how I define myself was the real question.

I believe that there are certain things that automatically define a person due to the nature of the thing. An example is being a mother. I can’t say for sure as I have no children, but my impression is that no matter how many other things a person does or is interested in, no matter how many other responsibilities a person has, having children means that motherhood – to a certain extent – defines that person.

I don’t have a thing like that. I’m a daughter, a friend, a wife, a dog owner, a librarian, a reader, a listener, a knitter, a runner, a watcher. But for me, none of those things define me exactly. I’m certainly dedicated to many of those things, and I enjoy or have to do many others. I’ve changed so much in the past 10 years – even the last 12 months – that it’s difficult to say how much of myself will be wrapped up in a certain identity. Being a wife, of course, is something that I do not intend to alter. I also trust that The Boy isn’t intending to change that. As a woman with a divorce under her belt, though, I know all too well that being a wife isn’t necessarily by definition a permanent state of being, no matter how much one wants it to be. To find something that defines me I feel that it must be something that no matter what I do I can’t quite get away from it, good or bad.

For me, that key component is my existence as a human being.

I think that in the past, the concept of “being” would never have been enough of a definition. After all, every person on this planet is a human being. It was too static. Too boring.

But I’ve felt a subtle shift in my perception of the concept of being over the past few months. It is no longer static. In fact, it’s incredibly dynamic and fluid. It’s different for everyone. At the same time, it’s a constant. You don’t escape being human. What changes about it are the components that make up what it means to each person to be human. And even more specifically, to simply be.

I’m not sure when this shift occurred. I think I know why. The process of therapy has made me so much more in touch with my emotions, thoughts and feelings. It has opened me up to experiencing life in a way I never thought possible. I’m still working on many, many things, but I have never felt more alive, more present, and more willing to let go. I can’t release myself of the responsibilities of day-to-day life and in many cases, I don’t want to. Things still stress me out, I still get angry and frustrated. I’m learning, however, that these feelings are normal, natural and part of being me. Part of learning to do that is understanding why I react the way I do.

Yes, I’m a daughter.

I’m a friend.

I’m a wife.

A dog mom.

A librarian.

(Okay — so that’s not really a picture of me librarianing, but I think I *look* rather librarian-like here)

A reader.

A listener.

A knitter.

A runner.

A watcher.

But the one thing I have not chosen, the one thing I can never escape until the day I die, the one thing that can change with me and help me change, is being.

I feel good about that.

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Race Number Two

My mom’s birthday was Friday (Happy Birthday again, Mom! Love ya!) so I made her a pan of lasagna which The Boy, The Puppy and I brought to her and shared with her this afternoon, along with a store-bought tiramisu. The lasagna was yum, if I do say so myself, cheesy and dense and rich. The tiramisu  was okay, but I’m definitely going to try to make my own next year. Or convince my mom she wants a sour cream mocha chocolate cake instead : D

Did I take any pictures of the lasagna, the tiramisu or even of my mother? No, I did not. This is because I was completely preoccupied with keeping The Puppy from antagonizing my mom’s 150 lb lab so that the lab wouldn’t eat The Puppy. Or sit on him. So no pictures. Sorry.

However, I do have a few hastily taken and shakily executed phone pics from this morning’s Run the Pier race!

This was my second race. I was super excited about it because it takes place on Navy Pier. Nnot that I’m in love with Navy Pier. Quite the opposite. The only good things about it in my mind are the Chicago Shakespeare theater and the lake. And really, there’s A LOT of lake to be had in Chicago without resorting to subjecting onesself to The Pier. I was happy that it was on The Pier because it’s relatively easy to get to, the course is kind of predetermined so there’s no guesswork (the course is running around The Pier. Doesn’t really get simpler than that) and I’ve had some pretty good times at The Pier with friends in the past, and it is a Chicago landmark.

Anyway, my heat started at 8:20. I wanted to be there by 7:30 to have a chance to check in, warm up, find the bathrooms, and cheer everyone else on as their heats took off. I got up at around 6:10, took a quick shower, got dressed, grabbed my gear and made breakfast. Around 7:00 I left for Navy Pier. Before I left, I checked in with The Boy, who had mentioned the possibility of him and The Puppy going with me. He was too out of it and I didn’t really leave him much time if he had roused himself enough, but before I left he said some nice stuff in his half-awake-ness : )

Usually the expressway is a total disaster heading Downtown, but today the scene was more like this:

Awesome sauce! I arrived at The Pier with no trouble and right on time. I checked in and picked up my t-shirt and bib, stashed the shirt in my car, and proceeded to warm up and get the lay of the land. While I was lurking and listening (two of my favorite activities when I don’t know anyone and no one knows me), I overheard a conversation between two young men with British accents and an extremely intense 30-something woman. The boys (they were probably in their early 20s) were wearing what appeared to be street clothes and extremely hip street shoes. As in, these are my ironically grown-up brown patent leather Rob Petrie Big Boy shoes!

They told Ms. Intense With A Side Of Intense that they were on The Pier to find breakfast and thought that it would be fun to “have a run.”


It was pretty drizzly the whole time I was waiting, but it started to full-on rain when they called my heat. I still managed to snap a few pictures.

The north side, shortly after the start.

East side. Just around the bend was a woman holding a cow bell. Fun stuff.

South side. It was raining harder and I was running into the wind at this point, so it was harder to snap a steady picture. You can’t really see it, but the blue smudge towards the middle of the picture indicates the half mile mark.

As you can see, there is NO ONE in sight ahead of me. That’s not ’cause I’m ahead of the pack, oh no. I was firmly towards the back. There were a few stragglers behind me, but really, this chica is SLOW.

According to the race results, I finished in just over 9 minutes, but I have NEVER run that fast, and I have trouble believing I did it today. I’m guessing I was closer to just under 12. Most embarrassing/exhilarating moment in the race was when I crossed the finish line. I know, I know, huge “duh,” but made all that much more of everything because THEY ANNOUNCED MY NAME. Whaaaat?

A couple of minutes after I crossed the finish line, The Boy called to see if I was finished and alive. I was both, and once again, he was very sweet and worried about me. Aw.

I treated myself to a nonfat salted caramel mocha from Starbucks. Ridicu-yum.

I could get used to this.

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Wasn’t that the name of a gameshow?

Yep. It was.

Which doesn’t really matter. I’ve just been thinking about catchphrases, aphorisms, mottos, and mantras lately, and the purposes they serve, if any. I know some people really do find comfort, strength, or power from having a personal motto or mantra. Some of the work I’ve done in therapy this year is to repeat positive phrases to myself, like, “I’m perfect the way I am.” But adopting something like that as a mantra? Not for me.

Then I got a gift from a friend in the mail today. It’s a Road ID tag for my shoe, and the tag says, “I believe in you!”

Wow. I have been working really hard at understanding that I don’t need external validation to understand that I am worthwhile, but having someone I really care about tell me she believes in me like that, unexpectedly, felt amazing. I’ve been repeating those words to myself all day. Thanks, Mary. I believe in you, too.

So! I haven’t posted in awhile. Things have been crazy in Casa McWittmann. But also good.

Over the Labor Day weekend, we had a friend over for Cuban food and to watch a documentary we were all excited to see.


So Cuban food is super delicious and fun to make, but it takes me awhile to put a whole meal together since I don’t do it a whole lot. It’s a two day process for me. Day 1: make picadillo to fill empanadas with, and fill empanada shells. Make sangria. Day 2: make congri, fry empanadas, tostones and rice pudding.

A lot of people don’t seem to know what congri is. What it is is AWESOME. Rice cooked with beans and the water used to cook the beans, garlic, and oil. Sometimes it’s also made with bacon and other stuff, but I try to do a healthier congri. Some pics to make you jealous:

(I baked my empanadas and tostones)

Cuban rice pudding is made a bit differently than other rice puddings. It’s made on the stovetop with orange peel and anise seed.

First you cook the arborio rice with the anise seed.

They’re so tiny and they pack such a flavor wallop!

Then you cook it over really low heat for a very looooooooooooong time.

Eventually it cooks down and turns all creamy. Then you add vanilla and spread it in a pan to cool.

I may have added some rum.

It had to go in something!

It was a fun night. Then the next day we did this.

That’s right. Sangria for breakfast. And puppy hijinks.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday weekend! A little late.

What do you think about mantras or personal mottos?

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I finished a race!

Last weekend, one of my best friends (originally from Chicago but living near Minneapolis) came to visit, and we spent Saturday together. We had lunch at the Chicago Diner, a fairly famous (or infamous, if you find stridently vegetarian/vegan places irritatingly self-righteous) restaurant in the city. While my friend is not particularly strident and is definitely not irritatingly self-righteous, she is a vegetarian and I’ve been wanting to take her to the Chicago Diner for awhile. Of course, we were so wrapped up in our conversation that I forgot to take any pictures. We shared pot stickers (ridiculously good), and we each had the Black Mamba burger (good, but a little fussy). I had the sweet potato fries with mine, which were perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. We also shared a pitcher of sangria, which turned out to be one of the best examples of restaurant sangria I’ve ever had, which shocked the hell out of me. The Boy and I are pretty big fans of tapas, and sangria is ALWAYS part of the meal. I thought I’d had really good sangria in the past, but nothing compared to this. I think it came down to the incredibly fresh fruit incorporated into the sangria. There were pineapple chunks, peaches and what I believe to be passion fruit chunks. Delicious.

After lunch, we stopped at Lululemon (best sports bras ever), The Spice House (amazing spice emporium), and a few other stores before stopping at Whole Foods. They had Mission Figs on sale and since I had never tasted a fresh fig before, I decided to give them a try. Poor Friend Who Lives in Minneapolis left without any, which was a shame because they were sooooo good.

As good as they were, though, I did not get a chance to finish them during the week. Each day when I opened the refrigerator to retrieve something that was not a fig, I eyed them and wondered what to do with them before they died a lonely and uneaten death. Then I read this post on Meals and Miles, and decided to try out a lemon fig cake. She used a Martha Stewart recipe, which I quickly Googled and found with no trouble. I made it last night. Wow. Just, oh my god wow.

SUPER easy! I made a few changes to the recipe. I decided that I would substitute the olive oil with unsweetened applesauce, and use whole wheat pastry flour for half of the flour requirement.

I decided to take another page out of the Meals and Miles playbook and add an icing sugar glaze, but instead of using lemon juice and milk, I used lemon juice and dark rum.

I *am* lactose intolerant, after all. And my mother’s daughter. It’s not good unless it has a shot of rum!

The texture of the cake is almost like bread pudding — dense, moist, and a little spongy. Since I loves me some bread pudding, this is just dandy by me. Next time I make it, though, I think I will try it with the olive oil, just to see how different it tastes and how it affects the consistency. I don’t need a crumby cake, but sometimes it’s nice.

And in other news, I finished my first race! It was billed as a 5K, but was really 4. 12 miles. I ran it with another one of my best friends and even though we came in, well, not last but almost last, we stuck together the whole time and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was an incredible feeling to do something I’ve wanted and waited to do for so long with one of my favorite people there right next to me the whole time. While I’ve walked well over 4 miles on several occasions, I’ve never run more than two without taking walk breaks, and while we did take some walk breaks, we ran the majority of it. I felt fine yesterday, but good god am I sore today.

Later on we’re having a friend over for Cuban food and documentary watching, so I’m off to work on the meal. On the menu: empanadas, congri, tostones, rice pudding, sangria and maybe some lemon-fig cake : )


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