Friday, January 29, 2010

Guest Blogger: The Newbie is Back Again!

So I am perhaps the most unreliable guest blogger ever, oops! Last week I came down with what I like to call "the sickness." This is when you not only get the sniffles, coughs, sore throat and fever---but it all comes down like an ax to, quite literally, knock you down. I work with kids so an attack of "the sickness" at least once a year is requisite. Unfortunate side effect of getting "the sickness" is that you have either have to abstain or cannot physically handle a lot of exertion, hence I've been a bad, bad runner and have missed a lot of days of running. A lot of gorgeous, sunny days too! Grr. 

As I look at the calendar I am feeling a bit of apprehension and excitement---just about 7 more weeks until my 1/2 marathon. Unfortunately I have been a bit more like Rocky IV than Rocky I in terms of dealing with injuries and what have you. So I'm looking to find more ways to make my running fun and also re-dedicate to preparing for this race

There are lots of excuses and ways to get discouraged when venturing to do anything new---there's the fear of failure, the expectations and sometimes the childish voice that just says "I don't wanna!" because it feels hard or you experience setbacks. 

At the same time, I think of the movie A League of Their Own and this quote: "If it wasn't hard than anyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great!" (Watch it here.)

There's fun in doing something that is difficult because it's a challenge, a double-dog-dare that gets your goat and keeps you from giving in. 

Now there are a lot of reasons to stay motivated to run: the peace of mind, the better nights of sleep, excuses to make new playlists or browse running blogs (I LOVE blogs!). 

Something new that I'm dying to try is Hashing

"Hashing . . . it's a mixture of athleticism and sociability, hedonism and hard work, a refreshing escape from the nine-to-five dweebs you're stuck with five days a week. Hashing is an exhilaratingly fun combination of running, orienteering, and partying, where bands of harriers and harriettes chase hares on eight-to-ten kilometer-long trails through town, country, and desert, all in search of exercise, camaraderie, and good times."

If you've never heard of hashing, let me enlighten you: the "hare" for the week sets a trail for the "hounds" to follow. The hash run follows an unpredictable trail laid with simple trail-marks showing the way. A crafty hare will set "false trails," trying to foul-up the front runners in the group, thus allowing the pack the opportunity to catch up. To make sure that the group stays together, harriers yell "ON-ON" when they see a trail-mark and are heading in the right direction. Shortcutting is a well respected skill of the seasoned harrier! 

So the "hounds" follow the trail laid by the "hare" with the ultimate goal of reaching the end. Now hashing has become an excuse to run and drink, therefore the end tends to land at a bar. While this may sound blasphemous to serious-minded runners, I'm thoroughly looking forward to trying one out after my 1/2 marathon. 

It sounds like such an exciting and entertaining way to get your run in as well as a great way to get friends into running with you (especially those who are perhaps a bit reluctant). Plus, after running the NYC NYE's Central Park run I can testify that it is a great thing to be with a ton of people in spandex in a bar because you are obviously not vain (unless you're willing to lug a makeup bag and change of clothes while running!) and there to just enjoy yourself and company.

With every new experience you get exposed to more and more that you never knew about before---I'd love to know what helps you stay motivated, especially with winter's diminished daylight hours and cold. In the end, the spirit of adventure and trying new things keeps me going. Every time I run a distance a little farther or a little faster---I'm doing something I've never done before.

Sometimes it's all about the baby steps and small victories.

Much love and happy running,


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Literary Bite: Julie and Julia

I saw the movie Julie and Julia when it came out this summer, but I didn’t blog about it then because: a) that was the weekend of the Run of Death; and b) to be a blogger who writes about food and books, blogging about a movie about a blogger who wrote a book about blogging about food? It’s just too much…

But Mer recently lent me Julie and Julia, the book by Julie Powell (supposedly in exchange for my copy of My Life in France…but I can’t find it…I think I lent it out…LLC’s friend, if you’re reading, I’m looking at you!).

Anywho, Julie and Julia is no work of literary genius. Not that I was expecting genius prose - I mean, we all know that the girl’s a blogger.

The book is a quite a bit darker than the movie. People told me I would like the book because Julie in the book had much more character/sass/pizzazz. (Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie a lot. I just wanted to see more of Julia Child than Julie Powell.)

Julie is kind of angry and depressed, and not because she didn’t fulfill her potential to be a great writer (like the film implies). It turns out that in real life, Julie moved to NYC to become an actress, but then never really auditioned, and that’s how she ended up in a crappy temp job. So though the real Julie has more character than the movie Julie, I don’t really like her. I mean, she has hissy fits. Sometimes in public.

Those things aside, I really liked the book. Julie writes about her life in New York, as well as anecdotes from her childhood. As a cook, I really liked her incorporation of recipes in the narrative. Not that she actually gave recipes, but she often described the process of whatever she was making (e.g. “Set the seared slices aside while you beat together three tablespoons of mustard, minced shallots, parseley, garlic, pepper, and the bit of fat from the sauté pan, which makes a sort of creamy paste (256).”) 

My thoughts on French cooking? Not really for me. Sticks of butter my friends, literally multiple sticks.

Julie loves Julia Child. But, unlike Julia Child, Julie does not think too highly of the French. When talking about her 20-lb butter weight gain (!!!), she writes, “It’s all about the “French Paradox,” that much-publicized puzzle of how French people eat all the fatty food and drink tons of wine, yet still manage to be svelte and sophisticated, not to mention cheese-eating surrender monkeys (318).” Touche Julie!

She also makes a surprising number of political comments (for a food-blogger). She works in an office full of republicans, and hates them. That’s always amusing, but kind of out of place in a book about blogging and cooking…I don’t mind, but some people might be a bit put off by that type of thing.

Conclusion? Read it. If you liked the movie, you’ll like the book. But if you haven’t yet seen the movie, read first My Life in France, then Julie and Julia, then go rent the film.

As Julie talked about food she was making, I felt the urge to see her dishes. Here are some examples:

Egg in Aspic:

Cervelles au Beurre Noire (Calf's Brains in Black Butter):

Pate de Canard en Croute:


Boeuf Bourguignon:


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

“If you were a horse, we would have shot you by now.”

That statement (written by my coach) is both hilarious and upsetting.

Don’t you worry – no animals were harmed in the writing of this post. My fitness, however, may be counted as a casualty. Ditto regarding my sanity, self-respect, and justification to eat cake (actually, who am I kidding? Nothing can quell my cake-hunger!).

So what’s wrong with my hamstring, you may be wondering? I WISH I KNEW. It hurts when I run. It hurts more when I take time off running. It hurts when I stretch. It hurts when I leave it alone.

I won’t bore you with the details - sorry to be such a Debbie-Downer. I’m just in a state of major long-term bummed out-ness.

Thus, I will clue you into parts of yesterday’s email exchange with my coach, because though I’ve *almost* lost all hope, it may not be too late for you to save yourselves. So take a lesson from me:

On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 10:04 AM, Molllie wrote:

Hi  Coach,

"Broken down and injured"...sounds familiar.  



01/26/10 10:20 AM from Coach

If you were a horse, we would have shot you by now. :)

Just ease your way back into the running and keep babying your hammy until you're sure you're ready to do some fast stuff on it. Have you been using a foam roller or massage stick to work on it? If not, you should.

I hope to see you soon.



On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 11:19 AM,Mollie wrote:

Haha, that is HILARIOUS (and upsetting).

I've been foam rolling, icing, and getting sports massage once a week. I'm definitely trying to be "smart" about dealing with there's that. I'll let you know when I'm functioning again!



01/26/10 11:42 AM from Coach

Are your shoes in good shape? Also, be careful about how you remove your shoes. (*bold emphasis added by me*) By that I mean make sure that you untie them, bend over and remove them by hand, rather than kick them off by using the opposite foot to put pressure on the heel of the shoe and then yanking your foot out. Believe it or not, a lot of runners injure their hamstrings by consistently kicking their shoes off like that (myself included before I wised up to what was going wrong with my hamstrings).


 On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 11:46 AM, Mollie wrote:

That is EXACTLY my problem. I didn't think of taking off my shoes as a cause of the injury...but when I try to describe it I say "it's the muscle you use when you take off your shoes."

So I will reform my shoe ways and see how that goes.

Thanks for the advice!



01/26/10 11:53 AM from Coach

Aaaarghhh!!! I'll bet anything that once you get out of that habit, your hamstring will be fine (and then you'll be pissed that you wasted a couple of months trying to figure out what was wrong). Did they not offer a course in remedial shoe removal at Boston University?!?! I'll bet the football players all took it. :)



So, dear readers, take a lesson from me. BEWARE OF YOUR SHOE REMOVAL TECHNIQUE. And that is all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cake of the Week: Cookie Monster

Mmm, cookies. I’ve been quite the Cookie Monster recently. For some reason, those little disks of awesomeness have been calling my name…and my response? Me want cookie!

I know that nowadays Cookie Monster is changing his ways. With the problems of childhood obesity, Cookie Monster now says that "cookies are a sometimes snack,” 

and that fruits and veggies are good too (as of an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show in 2007). Sesame Street VP says that they are “teaching him moderation.”

Hmm…that doesn’t sound like the Cookie Monster I know and love (oh please, click on that link - C is for Cookie!). I mean, I get that kids should be healthy, but I find it hard to believe that Cookie Monster is any type of significant contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic.

To quote my Mama: That is just ridiculous. Cookie Monster eats telephones and typewriters too. Inanimate objects!!! That’s way more dangerous than cookies! Are we worried about kids eating those??? (Again, PLEASE watch this video!)

Cookie Monster, he’s the Id (psych. anyone?). He wants cookies, he needs cookies, he eats cookies. He consumes shamelessly, whole-heartedly. And I like that. Go you Cookie Monster – go get yourself some cookies!

Nom nom nom!!!

First I made Chocolate Cookies. They are from this Homemade Oreo Recipe, but I skipped the filling, and added walnuts. 

Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Wafers Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter

1 large egg
½ cup chopped walnuts


1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Add the walnuts. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

Then I made Chocolate Butterscotch Chip Cookies. Thanks to a family full of Cookie Monsters and a childhood kitchen where the cookie jar was a permanently full fixture, I know this recipe by heart:

The Cookies

1 stick butter (softened to room temp.)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla (also good with rum, if you have it on hand)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ cups flour
 1 1/2 cups chips (this time I used semi-sweet chocolate and butterscotch chips)

1.Preheat oven to 375*
2. Thoroughly mix butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smoothe.
3. Mix in dry ingredients.
4. Mix in chips.
5. Drop tablespoon-sized balls onto cookie sheets.
6. Bake 8 minutes. Remove from sheet and cool on wire racks.

You'll have a lot of cookies, but just seal them in bags/tupperware and pop them in the freezer. Then you'll have a cookie whenever you need one! (And don't even get me started on my love of cookie dough...)


Monday, January 25, 2010

The Weekend Report: Library Card!

This weekend, I finally got a library card. And I am psyched out of my mind about it!

You’re probably thinking Duh, Mollie, library cards are pretty standard

And I know that. I’ve been meaning to get one for quite a while now, but just haven’t gotten around to it. So finally on Saturday I went to the West End Library in Foggy Bottom, my bank statement in hand (as proof of my residence), and signed up for a DC library card. I filled out my info, and the bored-looking librarian offered me three cards to choose from, as if this wasn't an important moment in my life. I picked one with a tree frog on it, saying "Hop Into Your Library." And I felt like a new woman.

I’ve had library cards before. My Sonoma County Library card is still in my wallet, my wobbly first-grader signature scrawled on the back from the field trip we took to that illustrious institution at the very beginning of my academic career.

And then my Boston Public Library Card, acquired my freshman year of college when I had to research post-modernist religious and cult philosophy for a writing seminar.

There is something truly glorious about libraries. Rooms upon rooms upon rooms of books, all for the taking. All you have to do is leave your name, and as many books as you can carry are yours. For free! It’s feels kind of like stealing, kind of like winning. Like I can’t believe my good fortune (but at the same time recognize that this opportunity is available to everyone). Ah, libraries!

And libraries can be so much more than books. In addition to two books, I checked out a few CDs (West End has an impressive country music collection). There are also Audiobooks (oh, if only my ipod worked!), movies, and TV shows. Basically everything you need in life. Unlimited and free! (I had to exert some self-control and only check out 2 books and 3 CDs - I did have a long walk home!)

If you’re like me and have not yet signed up for a library card, I HIGHLY recommend it. This new bit of plastic in my wallet pretty much made my weekend!

And you know what else made my weekend? 

Lunch at Agraria: Farmers and Fishes on Saturday. This is the sister restaurant to Founding Farmers (which I've blogged about before), and OH MAN it was delish! Unlike Founding Farmers, Agraria does not have breakfast daily (thought their Sunday brunch is something I definitely want to look into). The menu is very extensive, which makes this indecisive girl's meal-choice very difficult. 

I went with the fish tacos, and was mildly disappointed (they were good, but not goooood, you know?). But the hummus appetizer (Farmer's Hummus with Fresh-Grilled Navajo Bread), on the other hand, beyond surpassed expectations! I want to go back just for that! Usually a hummus appetizer involves some pita, a pile of hummus, and maybe a few tomatoes or some such garnish. But Farmers and Fishes took hummus to a whole new level: hummus drizzled in olive oil, a mound of goat cheese, roasted garlic cloves, roasted red peppers, tomato paste, an assortment of olives, and fresh sliced tomatoes. And of course, freshly homemade flat-bread. Yummilicious! 

My friend got a Roasted Vegetable Pizza, which was fantastic as well. 

And, fyi, they are extending DC Restaurant Week deals through January 31, so you can get a pretty amazing lunch for only $20!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thoughts on Yoga

I am not “trendy.” 

I don’t like to follow the crowd, and I avoid fads/crazes/manias like the plague. (Not that I’m about to dye my hair blue or go Rebel Without A Cause on you or anything…) BUT, I never hopped on the Atkins bandwagon, bought crocs, explored raw foods, or looked into Scientology. (I think this fad-phobia is part of where my mistrust of cupcakes comes from...)

I’m not contrary for the sake of contrariness though. I’m ok with doing the “follow the crowd” thing if it’s something I actually like (e.g. skinny jeans – what can I say? I have runner legs!). But I try to be cautious and make sure that I really do like something before I join the masses.  

All of this is a very round-about way for me to reveal to you all that it’s been 4 days of early-morning classes, and I like Bikram yoga. I mean actually, truly enjoy it. I hate to admit this, but it does get my day started in an energizing way. My body does feel better as I sit at my desk at work. I am calmer and more balanced. I should feel sleep-deprived and cranky to the max (yoga starts at 6:15am…I can’t seem to get to bed before midnight…you do the math), but I don’t.

Yoga is like the epitome of trendy. It went from granola-eating-hippie to new-age-soccer-mom pretty quickly, and since it’s hit the main stream, it seems to get more popular by the day.  Damn. And now I know why.

The only bad thing about this is that it proves that all those self-righteous yoga-lovers I’ve been hating on for the last 5 years (since the yoga-craze began) were kind of sort of right all along. (There, I said it.)

I don’t know if I will continue with the Bikram thing after my week trial is over (Monday). Mostly because I don’t want to pay for it…but I am putting myself out there for all internet-users to read - I  admit that I like it.

And I’m recommending it! Check out the Bikram studios near you and see if you can go a cheap/free trial…

And read this article about Bikram...interesting...any thoughts? Is Bikram "McYoga"?