Sunday, March 28, 2010

I look for the light through the pourin' rain

A couple of weeks ago Jane and I went to New York City to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We walked around Times Square, visited Saint Pat's, took in a show and visited Ground Zero. It was a great time and a wonderful way to mark our first year as husband and wife. We both wrote about it for 52 Projects. So what does that have to do with this week's 52 Projects? I'll tell you...

When we went to NY it rained

A lot

For two days

There were heavy winds, torrential rains, flooding, power outages, and all manner of mayhem all over the tri state region. Go ahead, Google it.

After visiting Ground Zero on Sunday we took a walk in Battery Park

Right there in the North Marina on the Hudson River...

We saw the remnants of the storm; a whole bunch of drift wood

We picked up several pieces. So many in fact that we had to grab some umbrella bags (plastic bags used to keep umbrellas from dripping indoors, conveniently located inside the big building right by the marina) to carry away our loot. Funny thing is, I'd never seen these umbrella bags before this trip. Hmmm...

Here's a look at things laid out to dry once we got home.

I know we (I) will have many more projects born out of this haul ,but the first are the City Scape and Lady Liberty we built and Jane wrote about on the main 52 Projects site

And the candle holders I fashioned out of a cylindrical piece of wood

Isolation on the original piece from the pile

Seems like all our pieces this week have candles. Go figure.

It was such an honor and a privileg to be able to work with Jane on this project. I feel like we brought it to life together in so many ways. I first noticed the wood and started collecting pieces. That inspired her to grab a few too. I've always been fascinated by drift wood and flotsam and jetsam and now I have 52 Projects to really get me thinking and creating. I knew I wanted to do "something" with the wood but Jane knew right away that she wanted to build the city scape to commemorate our anniversary but also to honor those who died as a result of the attacks on September 11th. So, she had the idea and the vision but wasn't sure about how to make some things work. That part was easy for me; drill here, screw there, bada boom bada bing - City Scape and Lady Liberty.

The whole process was like the miracle of birth. I had the seed of the idea for using the driftwood to create something. This seed found fertile ground in the womb of her imagination and the city images began to grow in her mind. When the time came to bring them to life I was able to coach her some and pull just a bit to bring them into the light of the world. We really are a great team and I am so excited to see what we do next!

Bonus points for anyone who gets the reference in the post title. And NO GOOGLING!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Yea for me; I'm running again.

I've been nursing an Achilles tendon injury since mid January. At one point I went 4 weeks without running which for me seems like forever. I've been running 3-5 times a week since 2005; to go without was torturous. I'm on my way back now, slowly ramping up my mileage, but I had to bail on a half iron distance race I had scheduled in May. I'm going to do an Olympic distance race instead and should be able to train for and complete that one just fine.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Roasting my nuts

This week for 52 Projects I've taken on a culinary challenge; cashew butter. I LOVE cashews and have always wanted to make my own nut butter, so I did. It was pretty easy and there were quite a few "How to's" online.

I wanted to start with raw pieces and roast them myself. My wonderful wife volunteered to pick them up for me as she was making a run to Wegmans and they have a nice bulk section. I wanted 3 cups of raw cashews. She came home with 3 pounds of roasted cashews :) Good thing we like cashews!

She redeemed herself by going to a local nut store, The Head Nut, and got the 3 cups of raw pieces while I was out on a bike ride this morning.

So here's the process:

Get nuts (I swear, it was full!)

Roast them @ 350 for a few minutes until brown (mine went about 9 mins)

Have food processor

Throw them in the food processor and let it do its thing.

Add some extra virgin olive oil as needed for creaminess (I used about 3-4 teaspoons for 3 cups of nuts.

You'll need to keep checking the consistency and scrapping the sides. Mad scientist face is optional.

Put it in an air tight container to keep it fresh


We spread some on fresh apple pieces using the sunshine plate Jane created. Yummage!

Things I learned:

* Don't put 3 cups of nuts on a single baking sheet. Only put on enough to cover the pan in one layer.

* Make sure to stir the nuts every few minutes while roasting. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

* Let the nuts cool before using the food processor.

* Be patient. Let the processor do its thing. It will take a while and you'll need to scrape the sides often. At first the nuts will just get chopped into bits. Eventually the bits will start to clump. This is when to add the oil, but remember the Brylcreem adds; a little dab'll do ya. Use as little oil as possible to get the consistency you like.

I will be enjoying this project for days to come. Yea for nuts!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Visit

Today is the first anniversary of our wedding. Yea! Hard to believe it's only a year. Seems like Jane and I have been together our whole lives. Such a good feeling; so connected, so united, such the Same.

We went to New York Saturday morning and spent the night. We did all the touristy stuff; Times Square, 5th Avenue, St. Pat's. The highlight of the day was seeing Avenue Q. That was fun! It was a great trip and we had a great time, but none of it was really new for me. Not that familiar is a bad thing, but I was planning on using parts of the trip for 52 Projects.

What I really wanted to do was go out for a run on Sunday morning. I've always wanted to run down the middle of Broadway and run in Central Park. I was going to run through Times Square, run up 7th Ave to Central Park, and take a loop around the park. But my ankle is sore from running Friday and walking a lot on Saturday and as much as I want to fulfill a fantasy, my long term healing is more important. So, no NYC run for 52 Projects. This time. It WILL happen!

The other part of my plan still came to be. Jane and I drove down to lower Manhattan to visit the site of the World Trade Center. Ground Zero. I have never visited and have always wanted to. Now I have.

I will never forget that Tuesday in September. I was to fly out to San Diego that afternoon and had gone in to the office to get a few things done. Of course, I never made my flight. We crowded around TV's and radios. We surfed the web for news. We called loved ones. We went home to be with family. We prayed. We wept.

I became very angry in the days after the attack. I wanted someone to blame. I wanted someone upon who we could seek revenge. I was confused and twisted inside. As twisted as the steel that melted that day. I wanted to forgive and hold thoughts of peace and love but I was livid. I wanted to fight. I even called the National Guard to volunteer but I was too old. Eventually I calmed down. The anger subsided and the grief stung less each day.

This morning I started to feel it again. As we parked the car and walked towards the site my heart began racing and I felt my throat tighten. Tears came to my eyes. The memories of the horrible day come flooding back into my mind. Yes, we will never forget.

To honor those who lost their lives on that day and in subsequent days as a direct result of the attacks, and to never minimize the huge impact that event had on our country, I will always refer to that day as September Eleventh. I do not say nine one one. I do not say nine eleven. Do we call Independence Day seven four? Do we call Pearl Harbor day twelve seven? Why shorten, or abbreviate, or minimize in any way the day we experienced the most horrific attack on our own soil?

In Memory of September Eleventh Two Thousand and One

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I went for a run today

First run since Feb 1. It was short, and slow, but I did it. The weather was beautiful and I felt really good. Some discomfort in the Achilles but no real pain. It didn't get any worse as I went along and it feels no worse now than it did before the run. I stretched well before and after and iced it for a bit.

2.2 mi
10:11 avg

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fast - Ease Out

Today marks the first day on the road back to normal eating. Well, what I hope to become normal for me because normal for me usually means too much crap. I intended to limit sugary foods, dense high calorie foods, high fat foods, and highly processed foods. Damn, I'm hungry just looking at the list of stuff I want to limit.

Weight this morning was 157.8. Interesting that it went up a bit from yesterday. For breakfast I had some red grapes, a red grapefruit, and ate some of the steamed veggies I made to take for lunch. I took the grapes in to work along with some baby carrots and the aforementioned steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. These were steamed with low sodium chicken broth from Wholefoods (365) and I added the warm stock from steaming to the veggies with a chopped up boiled egg. Had to nuke it for lunch at work but it was pretty good. I have a small piece of catfish to eat for dinner and I'm thinking of adding some brown rice. I wasn't going to originally but I think I want to eat something with some substance.

I felt really good this morning. I'm glad I did this since I've been wanting to for some time. I think I could have stayed on for a few more days, but that was not the intent and I want to my triathlon training. Can't do that and fast at the same time.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Out of the Fire

This week for 52 Projects I've ventured into new territory, dabbling in some natural material art. Wood, to be exact. Last fall Jane and I went in with her parents on a cord of wood. We have a fireplace in our house and we love fires. I had never bought a cord of wood before so I didn't know that it's a lot of wood. We stacked a bunch of it for her folks and loaded up her Santa Fe with as much as we could manage. We've had lots of fires this winter and we still have more to burn. And there's still some sitting in her parents driveway. We'll get it out of there eventually.

So, how did I get from there to here? A particular piece of wood caught my eye as we were stacking it on our porch. It was a log with a sort of hole in it. The hole was round and was probably from a branch that grew out of the tree at some point. I remember thinking how cool it was and that I should do "something" with it. I had no idea what, but I was drawn to it. Skip ahead to cold, snowy, winter night. A fire is going and needs more wood. I grab this particular log and figure, what the hell. Might as well burn it since I'm not really going to follow through with doing "something". In it goes, and begins to burn. In a few minutes I have a surge of regret. I beat myself up for putting it in the fire, for not following through with things, for not listening to that voice within; again. So I pull it out of the fire and it's charred pretty good but still intact. I take it outside and cover it in snow. I figured it would put of the flames and maybe have some magical effect on the wood. What the hell do I know. Well it snowed more this winter than we've ever had and the wood got buried and almost forgotten. Almost.

Once the snow started to melt I dug out my little charred friend and set him out to dry. By then Jane had already begun 52 Projects and that was exactly the push I needed. Now I had a reason to actually do that "something". This was to be the week. I cleaned all the loose bits off, sanded it down, and washed it. Then I set it out to dry in the sun; the beautiful sun we've been having for the last several days. I knew I wanted to mount it vertically somehow, maybe on a wood base like a trophy. Jane needed to go to Michaels and suggested I might find something there. I was going to just go to a trophy shop and get a base but my beautiful bride was right; I found just the right thing at Michaels. A bit of drilling, some Sedona Red 222, and a squirt or two (or six) of polyurethane later and I give you...


Fast - Day Nine

Last day of the lemon maple water. Tomorrow I ease back in to real food. I feel good this morning. I woke up thinking that this isn't so bad and that I could keep it up for a few more days. I'm not, but I feel like I could.

I need to get back to my training. My ankle is still hurting me at times and I don't know if I can run. I had to chase a ball yesterday and I could feel it for sure. I've been doing my stretching pretty regularly but I know I could be more consistent. Tomorrow I go back to see the sports medicine doc. I miss training but maybe I needed a break. I'm concerned that I've lost some core fitness so I have to make sure I esae back in. I still have Harryman in the back of my mind. It may be crazy to think I can do a half iron in late May, but I haven't given that up 100% yet.

Weight this morning was 157.2

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Softballs and Spring in the air

Temps in the 50's, sunshine, and tossing the softball. First practice tomorrow!

Fast - Day Eight

Let the good times roll! Yesterday was not too bad. I took lemon juice, maple syrup & cayenne to work and used the fitered water cooler water to fill a 16o bottle several times. It worked out well. People brought in bagles, lox & cream cheese but I knew it was coming so it wasnt too bad. I went to Borders at lunch so I could get out and get some fresh air. I bought 4 books; two for me and two for Jane. One was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I read that years ago and was inspired not too long ago by a blog I stumbled across to read it again. I also picke op Lewis Black's book Me of Little Faith. That guy is hilarious! I surprised Jane with a cook book and a craft book.

Today we have girls basketball, I will be working on my project for 52 Projects, and I want to read JLS. Weight this morning was 157.8.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fast - Day Seven

First day on the lemon maple water. Weight this morning was 159.2.

As some may know, this lemon maple water thing is from the Master Cleanse developed by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940's. There are all sorts of variations of the cleanse and a whole cottage industry has sprung up around it. I don't take it as far as some and have modified it to fit me and my lifestyle.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fast - Day Six

Getting to this late in the day.

Weight this morning was 159.4. Made the same juices as the last two days. The red grapefruit is really good! I went out to Wegmans and got an Odwalla green smoothie and some Pomegranate juice at lunch then took a short walk. I was going to ride the stationary bike but decided to conserve energy. Tomorrow starts the lemon/maple water portion. Woo hoo

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fast - Day Five

Second day of juices. It took me about an hour this morning to make a container each of grapefruit (24 oz), apple(24oz), and pine/orange/banana(48oz). I also stopped at Wawa and got a "Naked" juice (some green thing with apples and broccoli) and a Nantucket Nectar (peach orange). I am going to workout with Dominic my trainer today and want to make sure I take in decent calories.
Weight this morning 160.4. Again, this is not a weight loss specific thing, but it's bound to happen.

Adding an afternoon update:

Workout today was pretty tough but I got through it. We did "minutes" which is doing an exercise for a full minute, 3 sets of 3 exercise:

cable press
lat pull down
step up w/20lbs

pull over w/ crunch w/35 lbs
push ups
alternating reverse lunge w/20lbs

straight arm pull downs w/blue band
mountain climbers
leg press - not sure of weight but there were a lot of plates

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fast - Day Four

Today is the first day of just juice and water. I got up early and made up 3 containers of juice for the work day; red grapefruit, orange pineapple, and apple. I already finished the grapefruit at my desk. 4 grapefruits made about 20 ounces.

For breakfast I had some grapefruit juice, then I took half a honeydew and some blueberries and threw them through the juicer. Yummage!

Weight this morning was 161.6

Last night for dinner Jane and I made a delicious vegetable "stew. Here's her write up from her blog:

Yesterday was Breen's last day of eating "solid" fruits and veggies on his 9 day fast. So we decided to make a very impromptu "vegetable stew" and I think this turned out to be the epitome of healthfulness. Literally it took less than 15 minutes to put together and there is absolutely nothing in here that is processed or bad for you. Just a big steaming bowl of green goodness.

Breen took 4 tomatoes (raw with the stems pulled off) and put them in the blender on puree. Meanwhile, I took a large pasta pot and filled it with about an inch of organic vegetable stock. I placed the steaming basket in there and filled it with cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. In a separate saute pan I heated up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cooked a chopped onion and red pepper; to that I added the tomatoes from the blender and heated it through. Once the veggies were steamed and tender, I threw them in a bowl and topped them off with the tomato sauce.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fast - Day Three

So far so good. Weight this morning: 162.4. I've been weighing myself as soon as I get out of bed, before anything goes in or out.

First day in the office. Brought in a bunch of grapes and some baby carrots. Will go to the gym at lunch for an easy swim. My back (possibly sacroilliac) is sore again and I'm not sure why. It's been flaring up for about a week now. Between that and the Achilles I am concerned about my fitness level and my future training.

But, on with the fasting!