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The Fast and The Finishers January 31, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Running.
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Yippee! Hardcore proof that we actually made it to the finish line.

ING Miami_Pic 1 ING Miami_Pic 2

ING Miami_Pic 3 ING Miami_Pic 4

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Feeling the Burn January 30, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Running.
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This past weekend was the ING Miami Marathon, and boy are we feeling the burn! We had a great time and got great times!

Casey = 4:54:48 (full marathon)
Joy = 4:51:14 (full marathon)
Brett = 2:28:55 (half marathon)
Susan = 2:28:56 (half marathon)

2008 Miami MedalThe course was nice and flat, and the weather was perfect. The race was very well organized from the expo to the shuttles to the aid stations, etc. Now that I’ve completed my first half marathon, I have a deeper appreciation for those individuals who ran the full marathon. I also came to the conclusion that I NEVER EVER want to do a full marathon! By the way, the finisher medals were pretty snazzy! Once race pictures are posted, I’ll be sure to share them with you.

I also have to give a plug for Cytomax Energy Gels. Our running guru at Run-In in Greenville, SC, recommended this particular energy gel over everything else citing how easy it is on the stomach (I had a bad experience with Clif Shot Bloks once).  I was feeling my tummy grumble around mile 5.5 (of course, the smell of bacon and eggs cooking at some of the local cafes we ran by didn’t help).  I took half the packet at mile 5.5 and the other half around mile 8 and, without a doubt, it gave me the boost I needed to push through to the finish. I have only used the vanilla flavor which tastes pretty good and more like pina colada than vanilla, but they also make orange flavor.

Now, what’s next on the list? San Francisco or Las Vegas. Two of my favorite cities. A half marathon makes a good excuse for a little getaway!

Red Rocks January 29, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in General.
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Go RedThis Friday, February 1st, is National Wear Red Day. Heart disease is the number one killer of American women. The Go Red for Women campaign helps raise awareness of the risks associated with heart disease and the preventative measures available. Wear something, anything, red and show your support for the American Heart Association and their efforts to prevent heart disease.

Need a little extra incentive? Wear something red and head to Macy’s to get an All Day Savings Pass which will get you an additional 15% off apparel and accessories.

Flying South for the Winter January 25, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Running, Travel.
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…or more like for the weekend. We’re heading out on a jet plane bright and early tomorrow morning. This is it. This is THE weekend. It’s make it or break it. We’re heading to Miami for the ING Miami Marathon/Half Marathon. We are running the race with my sister-in-law and her husband. This is Casey’s second marathon and Joy’s first. Of course, Brett and I are total newbies. We have high hopes that we will win…in our own minds! Wish us luck. I’ll be sure to post pictures upon our return.

“I don’t think jogging is healthy, especially morning jogging. If morning joggers knew how tempting they looked to morning motorists, they would stay home and do sit-ups.” ~Rita Rudner

Diary of a Travel Guide Junkie: Adventures in O’ahu January 24, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food, Shopping, Travel.
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If only we’d had more time to explore, we could’ve covered all the places listed in Frommer’s. Alas, I live in the real world where there is never enough time.

First stop, shopping in Waikiki baby! Waikiki is truly a shopper’s paradise. There is every store known to man, and not just stores, but designer boutiques like Gucci, Prada, Tiffany’s, D&G, Fendi, Tod’s, Burberry, Coach, YSL, Louis Vuitton…enough name dropping. Pretty much all the stores where I leave a mark on the window because a face plant against the glass and drooling is free of charge! Two things that I noticed are huge on the islands are Crocs and LeSportsac. I don’t typically do Crocs only because I’m short with small, yet wide, feet. Put me in a pair of ‘beach’ or ‘cayman’ and I look like I have Barney Rubble feet. Yabba-dabba-do! Recently, Crocs has come out with much cuter designs for women, like the ‘mary jane’, ‘celeste’, and ‘alice’. For those who know me, you know that I seriously heart LeSportsac. The crappy thing is that there is no LeSportsac boutique in the DC area which is what makes it hard to believe that there are probably ten LeSportsac stores within a five mile radius in Waikiki. Our closest store is in NYC, and it’s hard to convince Casey to travel to NYC just so I can snag a new bag! You can always shop online, but then you don’t get access to the exclusive designs sold only in the boutiques. That being said, I picked up two bags during our trip in patterns exclusive to Hawaii. Next up are the ABC Stores. These are not the liquor stores that most mainland folks know. These are a cross between a 7-11 and a souvenir store.  A great place to pick up those random oddities.

We then went to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. It was a very educational and moving experience. We purchased a book while we were there and the author was on site to give autographs. Not only that, but there were four Pearl Harbor survivors on site the day we visited. We were able to get one of them, Robert Kinzler, to autograph his photo in the book we purchased.

Following the visit to Pearl Harbor, we went to Diamond Head. I think the total hike to the top and back is less than 3 miles and it took a little under an hour. While the distance of the hike wasn’t bad, the trail can be somewhat difficult to navigate with approximately 175 steep stairs to climb. With that being said, it is WELL worth it for the spectacular views. We even got to see a double rainbow (see pictures in sidebar).

At the completion of our hike, it started to rain. We decided to drive around to Hanauma Bay and then to Kaneohe Bay. The drive was nice and offered spectacular views of the eastern side of the island.

The following day we decided to visit the Dole Pineapple Plantation and then continue on to the North Shore. The Dole Plantation was so much fun. I had heard mixed reviews about it, but I am certainly glad we went to check it out for ourselves. I’m a bit of a gift shop fanantic and this one takes the cake! It is HUGE. They have pineapple everything, and I did purchase some pineapple coffee that I’m excited to try. There is a pineapple garden maze that covers approximately 3 miles. They even offer a garden tour which shows the various crops that are grown on that part of the island including coffee and chocolate. They also have a small pineapple garden that shows the different types of pineapple and the various growth stages. If you can’t tell, I seriously *heart* the Dole Pineapple Plantation!

We headed on up to Waimea Bay and watched people jump off “the rock”. It was unbelievably crowded, so we continued north to Sunset Beach and Shark’s Cove. We also pulled off briefly at ‘Ehukai Beach, home of the Bonzai Pipeline, to watch the surfers. Our pictures do not give justice to the size and power of the waves!

On our final day, we visited the Valley of the Temples which is home to the Byodo-In Temple. It was quite stunning and the Ko’olau Mountains were just unbelievable. You felt like you were in a movie or in some faraway land. Supposedly the temple was built without using a single nail. Pretty cool, huh? Also, I read that it has been featured in the show Lost. Casey and I both rang the enormous Peace Bell before entering the temple (which is supposed to bring you good luck). The sound was quite peaceful until you had some idiot who felt like they were trying to keep tune with the song “Get It On (Bang A Gong)”, then it got to be a little annoying! The grounds are also home to wild peacocks; however, we didn’t see any.

From the Valley of the Temples, we traveled to Punchbowl National Cemetery aka National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The grounds are beautiful and they also offer a wonderful panoramic view of the entire city.

We then spent the remainder of the day sprawled out on the beach in Waikiki. I couldn’t bear to go any deeper than my knees because the water was just too cold.

We had a wonderful time and I certainly hope to go back…maybe to visit Maui or the Big Island…a little Rusty’s Hawaiian anyone!?

Finding a Purpose to Repurpose January 23, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Art, Eco/Green, Fashion, Shopping.
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Mixed Glass EarringsDuring a recent online shopping adventure, I came across an Etsy shop called Bottled Up Designs. Living in Pennsylvania, Laura Bergman has found a new purpose for old glass. Her creations range from earrings and necklaces to candle holders and ornaments. Each of her pieces has a story behind it such as where the glass came from and how it was previously used. Can you think of a more beautiful way to help our environment?! She certainly puts new meaning behind the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle).

Why, Oh Why? January 21, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food.
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GS SamoasYou’re seeing them pop up everywhere. Those little uniforms. Those tables strategically placed so that they can’t be avoided. Boxes upon boxes of sugary goodness. Cute little children begging you to help them. That’s right, we have now entered the official season for Girl Scout Cookies. Why? Why must they be so delicious? Why can’t I escape their enticing presence? Those Girl Scout’s could’ve been torturers in medieval times…dangling those cookies in front of us for only a few weeks a year and then disappearing into thin air!

There are so many to love: Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Lemon Cremes, Do-Si-Dos, and the favorite among favorites, Samoas. Casey can eat an entire box of Samoas without batting an eye. They are his absolute favorite cookie, so what do you do when they’re all gone? You make your own.

The Unofficial Samoas

• 1 box shortbread cookies
• 6 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 4 cups toasted coconut
• 1 cup chocolate chips

1. Place shortbread cookies on a sheet of waxed paper.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, sugar and corn syrup.
3. Heat to a full boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Slowly pour in sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly.
5. Continue cooking over low heat until candy thermometer reaches 220-228 degrees.
6. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Beat until creamy.
7. Immediately stir in toasted coconut and mix well.
8. Spoon mixture by teaspoonfuls over shortbread cookies.
9. Allow cookies to cool completely.
10. Melt chocolate chips and drizzle thinly in stripes over cookies and let chocolate harden at room temperature.
11. Store in airtight container.

Make the Change, Flip the Switch January 19, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.
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“If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.” – www.energystar.gov

Last year, Casey and I changed every bulb in our house to a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) with the exception of our dining room fixture. It works on a dimmer which has not been compatible with CFLs until now. Over at The Daily Green, they feature a variety of CFLs in every shape and size and those that also work with dimmers. They even have an Anti-Bug CFL which casts a yellow hue that is pleasing to the human eye and, evidently, not so pleasing to the eyes of a bug! I’ll be switching my current CFLs on my patio to these when spring gets near. No more pesky moths and other flying critters fluttering around on my porch!

Elegance Cooked Slowly January 18, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food.
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For New Year’s Eve, we wanted to fix ourselves an elegant and easy dessert. I saw this recipe in a holiday magazine and the picture sold me on it. It’s the kind of dessert that gives the impression that you must have spent hours in the kitchen, yet only you will know that it took less than ten minutes hands on!  Not to mention that it will make your house smell incredible. I used a delicious muscato that we picked up from the Mount Palomar Winery in Temecula. For the caramel sauce, I used T. Marzetti’s Fat Free Caramel Apple Dip. I know you’re thinking, “Fat Free? Yuck.”, but I cannot tell you how delicious this stuff tastes. Heated in the microwave and drizzled over the cooked pears, it’s a “lick your plate” kind of decadence!

Poached Pears with Caramel Drizzle
Serves 6

• 6 medium size fresh pears with stems
• 1 cup sweet white wine
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 3 whole cloves
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• Store bought Caramel Dip for drizzling

1. Peel pears leaving stems intact.
2. Place pears upright in slow cooker. You may need to cut a little from the bottom to get the fruit to stand up.
3. Combine wine and next six ingredients. Then pour wine mixture over pears.
4. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours or until pears are tender.
5. Cool pears in liquid.
6. Place pears in individual serving dishes (excluding cinnamon sticks and cloves).
7. Place approximately 2 teaspoons of cooking liquid in the bottom of each serving dish.
8. Microwave caramel dip according to package directions. Drizzle over pears and serve immediately.

When Bleach Turns Things Green January 17, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, Shopping.
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A few months back there was a real stink made about Clorox purchasing Burt’s Bees. How can a company that produces bleach, plastic bags and plastic wrap, cat litter, and automotive care products now be behind the production of all natural body products? In some’s opinion, this acquisition seems to create a misrepresentation of a product line that consumers supported because of it’s commitment to organic living and the environment.

Well, Clorox has taken it a step further with their new line of home cleaning products called GreenWorks. Clorox claims the products are 99% natural with developments pushing them well on their way to the 100% mark. Each product is biodegradable and comes from renewable resources. Are they just jumping on the eco-wagon or maybe the acquisition of an eco-friendly corporation was a positive influence? Could this possibly prove the old adage that the pasture is always greener on the other side of the fence…at least environmentally speaking!?