Saturday, August 30, 2014

Garden Update 2.0

* I wrote this post back in early July and am now just realizing that it was never published. I'm publishing it now (even though it's outdated) because I have an updated garden post I want to share. But to see the "after" pictures, I think it's necessary to show the "before" ones too. Sorry for my tardiness, guys. 

Since it's been a very, very long time since I shared anything about our garden, I thought some pictures and updates were in order!

I have to start by mentioning that Lauren and I moved into her mom's house for several months, so I'm so happy and lucky that we planted our very first garden in containers. This allowed us to "easily" move our little plants from our apartment to Leti's house without any digging or real issues. Knowing that this move was highly likely, we also helped plant a garden in Leti's backyard back in April. We planted several varieties of cucumbers (including lemon cucumbers) and tomatoes, strawberries, crook-neck squash, zucchini, green bell pepper, jalapenos, serrano chili peppers, and more basil. The three of us also built the planter boxes all by ourselves! That was a project in and of itself!

So how have these gardens fared so far? Well, speaking as someone who dislikes cucumbers and pickles, I can say we planted way too many cucumber plants. We're drowning in them and we have to throw away many of them because Lauren and Leti can't eat that many that fast. Lauren's already whipped up several jars of pickles to help use up some cucumbers, but I don't think we'll ever catch up.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who eats the strawberries. They're either too small or not sweet enough for the others, so about once a week I'm able to eat a bowl full of homegrown strawberries that aren't so bad.

Unfortunately, being beginning gardeners we didn't put the tomato cages in soon enough. The tomato plants quickly took off and by the time we got to putting up the cages, it was way too late. Leti and Lauren somehow macgyvered a system to hold the plants in their upright positions using string. This worked for a few days, then the weight of the plants took over and now the tomato plants are at a 45 degree angle. Our first tomatoes were a let down; they were completed rotted on the bottoms. We quickly learned that when watering, you must water only the soil rather than the plant itself. After that we've had some success and managed to pick about a dozen good tomatoes: Early Girls and Romas.

When our garden was first starting to yield crops, we managed to grow several crook neck and zucchini squash like every other day. However, since the tomato plants have taken off, their tall height has blocked the squash from getting enough sun. So now we're lucky to get 3-4 squash per week. Lesson learned: plant your tomatoes in the very back so that they don't block the other plants from getting necessary sun.

The tomato plants have also hindered all of our bell peppers from growing. We've been able to pick a few jalapenos, but haven't used them yet. We finally have three very tiny bell peppers growing.

Both basil plants have been doing wonderfully. I love going to the backyard and picking basil as we need it for dinners. So far we've added basil to our pizzas, pasta, and made our own creation of ciabatta bread, garlic butter, tomatoes, and basil. Lauren also made several batches of vegan pesto which have been a huge hit!

As for our container garden, things haven't been doing as well. The zucchini, cucumber, and strawberry plants have all produced some fruit/veggies, but nothing compared to the larger planter garden. The plants in the container garden have started turning brown and droopy. I'm assuming it's because the containers weren't large enough.

On the other hand, the baby sweet tomatoes have done pretty well until recently. Every few days we were able to pick a dozen or so tomatoes from the plant. But lately, new tomato growth has slowly decreased. The plant still looks healthy, so I'm not sure why it's come to a standstill.

Despite not getting a ton of fruit and veggies from our container garden, I'm so glad we went through with it. I'm also happy to have had the opportunity of planting a garden in Leti's backyard that we're able to enjoy as well. I've never planted anything before so this whole experience is something completely new to me, and I'm still learning and figuring things out. The best feeling is being able to walk outside and pick fresh produce that you yourself grew; collecting our bounty as we like to call it! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Running Playlist

So, I have a confession. I don't actually run with music, but if I did these songs would totally be on my playlist. The majority (if not all) of these songs are pretty old, like my high school years old, but whatever. If you don't like music or don't care which songs I like, then you could totally just skip over the next part and read yet another of my running stories.

 - Action: Blink 182
- Afterlife: Avenged Sevenfold
- Anywhere But Here: Rise Against
- Be My Escape: Relient K
- Best of Me: The Starting Line
- Break Out! Break Out!: All Time Low
- Coffee Shop Soundtrack: All Time Low
- The Curse of Curves: Cute is what We Aim For
- Damn Regret: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
- Dancing for Rain: Rise Against
- Hands Down: Dashboard Confessional
- Dear Maria Count Me In: All Time Low
- Do You Feel: The Rocket Summer
- Everything is Alright: Motion City Soundtrack
- Face Down: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
- First Time: Lifehouse
- The Great Escape: Boys Like Girls
- I Don't Care: Apocalyptica
- I'm Ready: Jacks Mannequin
- I'm Real: The Starting Line
- Justify: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
- LG Faud: Motion City Soundtrack
- A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More "Touch Me": Fall Out Boy
- Lullabies: All Time Low
- Meant to Live: Switchfoot
- The Mixed Tape: Jacks Mannequin
- Mr. Brightside: The Killers
- Ocean Avenue: Yellowcard
- One Year Six Months: Yellowcard
- Paper Wings: Rise Against
- Pulp Fiction: Motion City Soundtrack
- Running from Lions: All Time Low
- Save Tonight: Eagle Eye Cherry
- Seventy Times Seven: Brand New
- Since You've Been Gone: Kelly Clarkson
- Slow Dance with a Stranger: Danger Radio
- Swing Life Away: Rise Against
- Teasing to Please: Cute is What We Aim For
- There's a Class for This: Cute is What We Aim For
- This is for Real: Motion City Soundtrack
- Time After Time: Quietdrive
- We Used to be Friends: The Dandy Warhols
- Where is your Boy Tonight?: Fall Out Boy
- Who I am Hates Who I've Been: Relient K

I hate getting asked what my favorite type of music is, or what's my favorite band. I don't know what type of music I like, and I have absolutely no clue what my favorite band is. Those are seriously the worst icebreaker questions. Just so you know.

I know you must be thinking, "Courtney, if you don't run with music, then why the heck do you have a running playlist?". Well, that's simply because when I'm driving I connect my iPod to my car's stereo and everyone once in awhile the perfect upbeat song comes on and I immediately have the urge to go running.

I'll admit though, I used to need music to run. But it was much easier then because I was already running with my phone to track my pace/distance, so bringing a set of ear buds with me wasn't that difficult. Now that I track my runs with a watch rather than my phone, I no longer have a music device attached to me. Yes, I could still put my phone or iPod in an armband in addition to wearing a watch, but I truly don't have the desire to do that. Wearing an armband has always bugged me; it slips and slides, and I was constantly readjusting the Velcro every mile or so. Armbands aren't for me.

I've learned to enjoy running with no noise. I do enjoy talking to people on my runs (it's also a good indicator when I can carry a conversation without being out of breath!), but I also appreciate silence and fully taking in my surroundings. When I first starting running last summer I was dumbfounded to see how few people actually listen to music. I thought they were crazy. How could someone make themselves run for an hour and be bored!?! Well, slowly I stopped listening to music and being music-less has never been an issue for me since.

Basically, when I started running I needed to run. I ran because I needed to exercise; I needed to be physically active even though I despised cranking out miles on my feet. I needed something to distract me from how much time was still remaining. Slowly though, I've come to actually like running. I love lacing up my running shoes (because they're so comfortable and squishy!) and getting my miles in. Even though running still feels like a chore sometimes and I skip more midweek workouts than I should, I actually (usually) enjoy each experience.

Back to music though. While I have sworn off music while running for awhile now, I'm considering buying an iPod Shuffle for those times when I just need that extra push to get out there. Plus, they're so tiny and cute! An added bonus, they're so lightweight!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Right Now

 - Eagerly anticipating fall weather and layers of clothes
- Thinking that track workouts are a little bit fun, but also torturous
- Scheming ways to use the dates we bought at the farmers' market
- Eying my cute floral nails (thanks for buying nail stamps, Lauren!)
- Wishing I could eat chocolate chip cookie dough Larabars all day long (and Sour Patch Kids too!)
- Hoping to get my midweek runs in while it's still light outside
- Loving my new cords from Gap, mainly loving the color though
- Surprisingly getting a good night's sleep despite sleeping on an air mattress
- Telling myself to get a move on with my August goals
- Debating whether or not to run a marathon in November
- Trying to use up as much "pantry" food as possible
- Becoming smart, buying chopped kale instead of wasting hours prepping it myself; ain't nobody got time for that
- Starting to appreciate black and white photos

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Running Realization

This past Sunday I joined a group of SacFit Ultra runners for a training run up in Sly Park. About a dozen of them decided to camp there for the weekend, but I just visited for the day. The majority of them are training for Run on the Sly 20 miler or 50K in two weeks, and I've been on the fence about signing up for the 50K for the past two months. I really want to run another ultra race and I truly enjoy trail running, but I haven't been putting in the necessary mileage. I figured I would see how I felt during this practice run and make my final decision based off that. The plan was to run 26 miles of the Run on the Sly course, and I was really hoping I would feel great doing it.

The first 10 miles of the run were great. There was one pretty big hill to climb, but even that wasn't too bad, I could handle it. We even stopped to eat blackberries alongside the trail.

These 10 miles completed the first leg of the run and brought us back to our starting point, the campsite. I stopped here with a few others to go to the bathroom, gather more fuel, and refill my Camelbak. No biggie.

The next 4 miles were the toughest for me. The terrain was about as flat as trails get, the view was beautiful; we were running alongside Jenkinson Lake. I was really struggling though. I figured out I was having a rough time because I was hungry. I ate 8 Clif shot blocks within 5 minutes...that's more than I consume during a normal long run.

We approached the Bumpy Meadows parking lot, where we just so happened to have our car parked, and I decided that I would end my run short with Lauren and Leti. I was pretty bummed that I didn't make myself run all 26 miles, but 14 miles isn't too shabby either. That's the farthest I've run since AR 50 so I was okay with it.

We drove back to the campsite and chatted with those were also finished running and those that didn't run due to injuries. I didn't change into clean clothes or take my trail shoes off though. In the back of my mind I knew that I wanted to get back out there and try to add some more miles in. After about a 30 minute break, I headed back out on the trails by myself. The plan was to start at the finish and run in the course in reverse, hoping to see other SacFit members running towards the finish. In which case I would turn around and join them back to the finish at the campsite. 3.3 miles in I hadn't seen anyone. I forgot to refill my Camelbak and grab more food before heading back out, I was bored from being alone, I was walking a lot instead of running, and I just wasn't feeling it. I turned around at that point and started heading back to the campsite. At that point though, I didn't care how many miles I going to put in that day, I just wanted to be done. I wanted to be back at the campsite and socializing. So I did something I never thought I would do. I texted Leti and asked her to pick me up and give me a ride back to the campsite. Best decision of the day right there.

I got back to the campsite, loaded up on tons of vegan chocolate chip cookies and grapes, and I had fun. Don't get me wrong, there were definitely times out on the trail I was enjoying myself too, but those last few miles I ran by myself just weren't cutting it.

I'm so glad I turned around when I did. I wanted to keep running to feel more accomplished, to finish what I had gone out there to do that day. But I'm okay with running only 17.75 miles. Again, that's farther than I've run in 4 months.

Even though I wanted so badly to do the Run on the Sly 50K I decided it's in my best interest not to. I'm still going to be so jealous of everyone who is running the race, but they've been training since the beginning of June for it, and I haven't. That's my own fault. I know there will be other races, and after this I'm going to make myself stick to a training schedule.

Despite my decision to not participate in Run on the Sly, I did enjoy the rest of my day trip in Sly Park. I ate so much good vegan food: sausage, more chocolate chip cookies, and s'mores!

There are so many fun and interesting races out there to choose from, but this year Run on the Sly isn't my race, and that's okay.

Friday, August 1, 2014

08.14 Goals

 In an effort to be more productive and accomplish my goals during my 24th year of life, I've decided to post a "to-do list" of sorts at the beginning of each month. At the end of the month I'll go back over my list and talk about what I was able to conquer and note the tasks I have yet to tackle (which will probably show up on the following month's list).

Here it goes!

1. Finish Marissa's birthday present from last year.
2. Sign up for a race, and seriously stick to a training schedule.
3. Go through and toss my ENTIRE magazine stash.
4. Go to the library.
5. Finish the first 10 blocks of my Summer Sampler.
6. Cut out lots of fabric for clothes, so I can have a "sewing weekend".
7. Unpack the boxes in my room at my parents' house.
8. Keep and organize all of my receipts for the month, in order to figure out where I'm spending money.
9. Go on a bike ride.
10. Paint pottery at our local ceramics shop.