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September 10, 2011

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Dear City of Frisco,

Please fix your roads. 

Cracks such as the one in the photo above are ridiculously deceptive and therefore difficult to adequately avoid. I realize this has been the summer from hell, with temperatures regularly hitting 110*, but cracks in the street such as the one shown above (on Parkwood Dr.) are disastrously hazardous, evidenced by the excessive amount of cyclists that have gotten caught in the crack only to have to be taken by ambulance to the hospital, and should not stay unrepaired for long. 

You are the fastest growing city in America.  Surely you have the tax revenue to fix these cracks.  If you need to, justify it as an offset to the mandatory cost of sending a fire truck and crew each time there is an injury.

Add 2 more to the list of injured cyclists as of this morning – 1 with a broken collarbone, 1 with yet undiagnosed injuries.

As the Redman half iron is 2 weeks from today,  we would have had a big problem had one of those cyclists been me.

Sincerely,

Lucky To Be In One Piece Today

The 4.5 hour ride that wasn’t

August 21, 2011

Oh, the comedy of errors that resulted in a big fat DNF for this week’s long ride.

Last week, I visited the good old dermatologist to figure out why a multitude of skin problems had suddenly attacked my face.  This isn’t the first time – I seem to be one of the fortunate few that has worse skin in my 20’s than I did in my teens – but I seem to have reached the breaking point with what I am willing to do to have skin that looks like I’m 26, not 14.  Fortunately, this dermatologist seemed to have an arsenal of ideas for things to try, including a prescription for spironolactone, which is a medicine for hypertension that apparently comes with a side of awesome skin.  Great!  Awesome skin.  I filled the prescription that day and starting taking it 2x/day, no problem.

On the schedule for Saturday was a 4 hour ride. My friend Tara texted me earlier in the week asking what my plans were, as she had 4.5 hours on her schedule. 4 and 4.5 is close enough and she knows some great routes, so I decided to join her at 6:30 Saturday morning for 4.5.

I woke up on Saturday feeling a little thirsty and a bit dehydrated, which is strange because I hydrated like a champ on Thurs & Fri like usual.  Had coffee, ate my yogurt/oat mix, drank some OJ and hit the road to Tara’s house. 

The first few miles were uneventful.  The plan for the day was to head up towards Celina for a straight out and back.  The great thing about the Celina route is that you can make it about as long as you want it to be since the road practically goes North forever, and passing through Celina is fun because it is the quintessential small Texas town.

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I don’t know why I find rusted-out, broken-down buildings to be so charming, but I do. 

The first mishap happened about 10 miles from Tara’s house.  We went over a bump and I felt/heard/saw something fly from my bike.  Usually that means it’s a water bottle, but I looked down and both of my bottles were still nestled in my seat tube and down tubes.  Then I checked for my Garmin.  Yup, still there.  And then I remembered my phone and the fact that I likely forgot to zip up my bento box. 

Turned around and half rode/half walked on the sidewalk back to the intersection in which I had sent Mr. phone flying, praying it wasn’t in 2 million pieces because I paid about 2 million dollars for it less than 6 months ago (thanks AT&T for refusing to give me an upgrade).  As I was ride-walking towards the spot I heard it drop, there was a car sitting at the stop sign and a woman in the passenger seat yelled out to me: “Did you lose your phone?”.  Then she leans out the window with it, in one piece, in her hand.  Apparently, they had seen Mr. Phone commit suicide and had stopped the car to get out to get it so it didn’t get run over.  How cool is that? 

Mishap Two happened when I leaned over to grab it from them, a little too much for my precarious grasp on Torch (bike).  My crankset sliced my ankle in 3 places, doing a far better job of “clawing” me than any of my 3 cats could.  No big deal, I hopped back on the bike and caught up to Tara.  Only after a few more miles and a good 3 liters of blood poured out of my ankle, into my shoe, and dripped onto the road did I notice that I had a slight problem and we had to detour to a gas station.  A bottle of water to rinse off and a $4.99 pack of bandaids (thanks gas station prices) and I was somewhat good to go… again.

Mishaps one and two over and done with, miles 15-40 were rather uneventful.  We had several hay bale truck drivers that were very happy to see us (read: several attempts to run us off the shoulder of the road and more than a few “friendly” honks) despite the fact that we were riding on the (generously sized, which is why this is a good route) SHOULDER of the road and not in their way.  I drank my Perpetuem, ate my salt pills and drank water.  At 35 miles, we urned around to head home and all was good.

Until it wasn’t.  Mishap Three.  All of the sudden, I was hit with extreme nausea accompanied by a puking session, dizziness and a throbbing headache.  We pulled off to a shady patch under a tree, where I was promptly bitten by some scary bug that left a huge welt, and I sat down, drank some water, and ate a Gu.  I reviewed what I’d eaten, how much I’d drank, how many salt tabs I’d taken… basically, what could be wrong.  And I couldn’t come up with anything.

So we continued on, heading back home because there was no other option.  Out in the middle of nowhere means that if you’re going to die, you better find a way to hold off till you reach civilization.  Poor Tara was nice enough to ride slower than molasses to drag my sick butt back to a gas station, where I called Matt to come rescue me.  Tara stayed with me until Matt was on his way and then she left, at my urging, to finish her ride.  I laid on the cement outside for 45 minutes, drinking Gatorade, until he picked Torch and I up, took us home, and deposited me on the couch.

128 ounces of Gatorade and a few google searches later, and I figured out what the major malfunction was.  That medicine that was supposed to clear up my skin?  A diuretic.  Diuretic = severe dehydration.  Severe dehydration + 3 hours in 100+* temperatures = a very sick me.

Who gives an endurance athlete training in 100+* temps a diuretic? 

And what idiot takes a medicine without looking up the side effects?

I think next week’s ride will be a lot better.  After all, I think in the last 24 hours, I’ve consumed enough fluids to have properly hydrated for the next 3 months.

Where I’ve been… and crazy things to come

August 14, 2011

A few weeks ago, I did something a little crazy.

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Yep.

In approximately 9 months, I’ll be racing Ironman Coeur d’Alene (aka IMSpud).  I’m uber super excited and (what I feel is an appropriate level of) nervous.  But most of all, I’ve been praying one thing over and over: Please dear Lord, let the water temps be at least 65*.

Since I left you last a few months ago (with chocolate cake, no less), I’ve been doing a whole lot of swim-bike-run and a lot of eating.  The more I train, the more I eat, but because the more I train leaves me with less waking moments spent NOT training, the less made-by-me food I consume.  Thus the lack of posts.

Yesterday, as I was trudging up the last hill on the (rather hilly) course of the Red River Rally up in Sherman (which is my idea of the perfect “small” Texas town), I thought about that conundrum.  Since I spend a good chunk of my “free” time torturing myself training, I consequently spend a lot of time eating out these days – something I never thought possible when I first went GF.  And most of the emails I receive via this blog are about where to eat out in Dallas.

By the time I’d reached the top of that stupid hill, I had an idea for a series:  Dining (out) in Dallas.

My plan is to create a repertoire of restaurant reviews – of the chain and non-chain variety – that will serve as a dining guide for those visiting Dallas and hoping to eat out safely.  Oh, and you know, give myself more excuses to not lift a finger in the kitchen. Winking smile

Enjoy!  And I promise I’ll be checking in more, especially as Ironman training officially begins.  Until then, I have a half-iron race in OKC in September (Redman) that gets my total focus!

The Cake Mix Doctor bakes GF

April 24, 2011

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, by Anne Byrn to review.  Anne takes typical boxed cake mixes and adds in other ingredients to make a boxed cake homemade. 

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m not a baker.  Sure, I can produce a decent cookie every once in a while (provided the recipe is simple enough a 4 year old could make it), but I don’t have major baking skills.  Which is why I was pretty stoked to play around with this cookbook, which has 70+ recipes from muffins to brownies to cake.

The first recipe I made was the Devil’s Food cake with buttercream (although I opted for chocolate frosting since Matt claimed he wouldn’t eat anything vanilla and I was counting on him to eat at least half the cake so the rest didn’t end up going straight to my butt).

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Yes, I know my cake is lopsided, the top layer is larger than the bottom, and there are weird holes in it.  That isn’t Anne Byrn’s fault, as she couldn’t have anticipated that I would forget the timer on the oven because I was engrossed in the newest Angry Birds.

But the taste?  Definitely better than just box mix chocolate cake (I used Betty Crocker’s GF chocolate cake mix, by the way).  Matt even ate his fair share.  Smile

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Cake holders?  Not at this house.  Frosting spreading skills?  Nope.  (More frosting in the mouth than on the cake? Yep.)

All in all, a good shortcut book for those of us that who would rather pay Betty Crocker to measure the flour, sugar, salt, etc. and save some time, but don’t want to simply eat boxed cake mix cake.

For those of you in the Dallas area, Anne Byrn will be in our area:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

7:00 – 9:00pm

A Real Bookstore

113 Prairie Road

Fairview, TX 75069

 

Hope to see you there!

Disclaimer: I received the book to review for free, however I purchased the cake mixes and other ingredients with my own money.  All opinions are my own.

A blueberry muffin walks into a bar

February 20, 2011

One of the reasons that I don’t do the food diary thing on here (any more) is that I’m really a creature of habit laziness.  I happily eat the same thing several days in a row and usually when figuring out what to eat for a meal, I default to the easiest option.  It’s a priority thing – after a late night at the office, I’d rather save time prepping food to have a longer night with my husband.  Maybe one day I won’t have to pick, but for now, it is what it is.

One of my favorite quick foods (note: I did not say ‘meal’) is a Larabar.  I’ve eaten Larabars since before I went GF, but they became all the more valuable once I had less options. And for the sake of convenience, they’re amazing – I keep one in my purse at all times so that if I’m stuck somewhere where GF options are scarce, I won’t starve.  Because sometimes it feels like that will happen when you’re hungry, there’s nothing safe to eat, and the gluten-eaters of the world are chowing down in front of you.

Going back to the convenience factor, I tend to go the quickest route with breakfasts – Vega Vanilla Sport Protein shake and a Larabar of some kind.

A few weeks ago,Larabar sent me a surprise.

(Disclaimer: I received this product for free; however my opinions are all my own)

The box was a tell-tale sign that I was going to be interested in what was inside.

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I can’t tell you how long it has been since I had an actual blueberry muffin (even GF), so take this with a grain of salt, but I thought this was pretty spectacularly muffin-like.

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Typical Larabar base:  smooshed dates and nuts – 2 (or so) ingredients that somehow manage to taste magical when formed into a bar shape, but otherwise forgettable on their own.  Plus dried blueberry bits, lemon juice, blueberry juice and a touch of vanilla.

When I eat particularly good Larabars (Key Lime Pie and Coconut Cream Pie are my favorites, but I’m not a fan of Cashew Cookie or Gingersnap), I imagine that the Larabar factory is akin to the Willy Wonka factory in the classic movie, and that there is some super cool machine that takes the smooshed date and nut base and adds a drop of (insert flavor here) essence and WHAM! you have a (insert flavor here) Larabar.

I’m sure it’s a bit more scientific than that, but magical, nonetheless.

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I thought these were pretty good – not overly blueberry-y with plenty of lemon and vanilla to balance it out – but they are not my favorite flavor. 

Still, I appreciate the variety, and since my breakfast has to be shelf stable, mold-resistant, and fit into my desk drawer next to 3 year old packets of tuna, this is probably the closest I’m going to get to eating a blueberry muffin most mornings, so it fits the bill.

So, lovely people at Larabar:  Can I request a chocolate old-fashioned donut Larabar next?

Subway: GF sandwiches for the rest of us?

February 6, 2011

Welcome to Dallas, where it is 18* one day…

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and 50* the next.  (Seriously – I wore a t-shirt and shorts to the gym today.)

I love the Dallas metro with all of my heart.  I love the southwest meets big city culture.  I love the sports teams.  I love the food, especially good Tex-Mex.  And I especially love the shopping.

But I do not love the crazy winter weather we get.  And by crazy, I don’t mean blizzards (although to many Texans, the snow you see above might as well constitute a blizzard) – I mean that it can literally be jacket-free weather one day and well below freezing the next.  That’s insane.  And that is precisely why I have an office full of sick people each winter.

When I lived in Oklahoma, I really began to appreciate winters.  In Oklahoma, it gets cold and stays cold.  In Texas, it gets cold, gets warm, gets cool, gets warm, gets freezing, gets cool, etc.  No one I know ever rotates their seasonal clothes to the back of the closet because you never know what you’re going to get.

But one thing Dallas has on the rest of the country right now? Gluten-free sandwiches from Subway.

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About a month ago, I was contacted to give a quote for the press release for Subway’s gluten-free sandwich buns that would be tested in the Dallas market beginning at the end of January. (You can read the press release here.)

As I told them, I was initially concerned about the cross-contamination issues because, afterall, Subway does make their living by making people sandwiches on gluteny bread.  And anyone that has been to Subway since going GF can’t help but notice that there is literally bread everywhere.

So I was very happy to hear that they had taken major measures to ensure that the GF buns would, actually, stay GF.  Because, as you and I know, there is no point in a place offering something that starts out GF if it doesn’t make it to your plate GF.  

Here are a few things Subway is doing to ensure the GF sandwich bun makes a GF sandwich:

  • Subway has issued training materials to each of their “sandwich artists” on how to prepare a GF sandwich
  • The buns come pre-wrapped
  • The “sandwich artist” will make your sandwich from beginning to end (My husband tells me that regular sandwiches are made assembly-line style with multiple employees touching the same sandwich)
  • The person preparing your sandwich will first wash her hands, use sanitizer, then put on fresh gloves before touching the GF bun
  • The knife used to cut the bun in half comes pre-wrapped and will only be used once, for your sandwich
  • All sandwich artists are “taking measures” to ensure that the meats, cheeses, and vegetables are not contaminated with gluten during regular sandwich making

Based on this info, and because I find myself more and more interested in finding lunch options that do not come from my own kitchen and are not prepared by me, I sought out a Subway last week for lunch.

At first, I wasn’t sure if all Subways in the D/FW area would be carrying the GF buns, but as soon as I walked up to the door, I noticed a sign pasted on the door noting that there was now a GF bun.  Awesome.

When I walked in, I told the first available “sandwich artist” that I wanted a gluten-free sandwich.  She immediately took off her gloves, washed her hands thoroughly, sanitized them with what looked like a Purell-like substance, then put on fresh gloves.  She got out a clean piece of sandwich paper, the pre-wrapped bun, and a pre-wrapped knife.  She opened the bun and placed it in the middle of the clean paper, then opened the knife and cut open the bun.  I was watching like a hawk (I may or may not have been on my tip-toes, peering over the glass counter), but my sandwich never went anywhere near any offending crumbs.  She then made my sandwich per my instructions, including toasting it (still on its protective piece of paper), wrapped it up for me, and took my money.

So, I had a sandwich.  And it appeared to be something I could eat without having to go home from work sick later that day.

But was it edible?

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Why yes, yes it was.

I had a turkey blt (basically just turkey breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a little regular mayo).  And it was good.  Not earth-shattering, but good.

The bun itself was a little spongey for my preference, but I think part of that was that it wasn’t toasted as long as it could have been.  I’ve been a loyal Kinnikinnick fan for many years, so I’m used to that version of GF bread, which is awesome when toasted.  As far as taste goes, it had a pleasant flavor with no aftertaste.  I really think it would have been pretty good had it been toasted longer.

And most importantly: I didn’t get sick after eating it.  Not in the slightest.

So, add Subway to your GF fast food listing.  Is it gourmet?  No.  But it’s another GF option in a gluteny world. 

And that, my friends, is something to celebrate.

Sunday night rituals

January 23, 2011

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I’m a structured person.  I subdivide my to do lists into this month, this week, today.  I stress about missing deadlines, so I set earlier deadlines for myself so I couldn’t possibly miss the real deadline.  I don’t do “relaxation” well. 

So you’d better believe I have a Sunday night ritual. 

It hasn’t always been the same.  That’s the beauty of a ritual.  What the ritual involves can change, but it remains a ritual.

Lately, I’ve taken to spending Sundays at the office, getting caught up and working on homework.  For the last several years, I’ve always spent a good portion of Sundays “working” – but doing so at home proved to mean I got far less done than I should have given the hours I was putting in.  So after coffee and the news, I head to the office and enjoy the quiet.

What this also means is that by the time I get home on Sundays, I’m ready to get started on my routine – laundry, light cleaning, nice dinner (I can’t lie – Matt does most of the dinner prep), meals packed for the coming work week, and then finally, some quality time on the couch with the kitties, husband, a movie or Desperate Housewives, and a big glass of wine.

I also find that having a structured Sunday means that I can actually relax when I am finally done with everything, versus puttering around all day, never really getting anything done, thereby not really being able to relax.

Tonight’s “nice dinner” comes courtesy of a recipe we used to make all of the time, but haven’t made since we moved to Dallas, 2-1/2 years ago.

Southwestern Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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Plus grilled asparagus – simple with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.

And a big salad of spinach, red leaf lettuce (my very favorite), red cabbage, fresh grated parm.

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Plus cherry-white balsamic vinaigrette (inspired by Gena’s Fig White Balsamic)

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And now it’s time to enjoy the rest of the Sunday night ritual – cuddling with the kitties, husband, and a fishbowl-sized glass of wine.

Have a great week!

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