Birthday Celebrations

I am now officially 29 and have had a great time ringing in my new year! I wanted to take some time to recap the birthday celebrations especially since I finally learned how to make BBQ ribs as part of it!

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My birthday itself was a pretty low-key day since it was a Monday – my coworkers decorated my cube so that made me smile all day. After work, I went for a run (right before it started to rain!) and then treated myself to some delicious cake, lemon (limonata) Sanpellegrino, and flowers. I don’t know what it is about the Sanpellegrino, but I can’t get enough! I’m loving the lemon flavor but am really pumped to try others (I’m looking at you grapefruit and blood orange – how good do those sound?!). I’m not really a soda person, but these make a nice treat every now and then. IMG_20140707_194318 IMG_20140707_193737For any locals – the cake was from Peaches Cafe and it was amazing! I think it was called chocolate explosion and was some combination of chocolate cake, brownie bites, chocolate cream, and chocolate ganache. While I was there I also picked up a chocolate peanut butter mousse dessert, but we’ll get to that later.

Friday I took a half day and went out to “lunch” with a coworker of mine to TCBY and got myself a delicious fro-yo concoction:

IMG_20140711_130509This is always one of my favorite ways to celebrate because I love frozen desserts! Ice cream, frozen yogurt, dippin’ dots, sherbet, gelato, sorbet, frozen custard, dole whip, etc. are all good in my book! Throw in some fresh fruit and other toppings, and I’m one happy camper.

That evening I headed up to Saratoga to go out to dinner with another friend of mine at Wheatfields (delicious if you’re a pasta-lover!). We grabbed some drinks at the bar – their seasonal white wine sangria is fantastic – before heading out to the patio for dinner. Dinner went unpictured because it was too delicious to pause for a picture.

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Then on Sunday I had a group of friends over for an amazing cook out. I made butterflied chicken on the grill (and didn’t burn anything down or give anyone food poisoning – #winning) AND cooked BBQ ribs in the oven. I had never tried either recipe before and I think both were a success! Originally I planned to do a beer can chicken, but wasn’t positive my grill could accommodate the height of the chicken. A few weeks ago I picked up a magazine – Cuisine at Home (Issue no.105 May/June 2014 for anyone interested) - while in line at the grocery store. It had a lot of good looking recipes in it but I was really excited to try the butterflied chicken.

I’ve never cooked a whole chicken before so the whole thing was a new experience. The tutorial on how to cut and “butterfly” the chicken was incredibly helpful. I seasoned under the skin with some butter mixed with Weber’s Beer Can Chicken Spice, and then rubbed the spice over the rest of the chicken – both top and bottom. I used a packaged spice, but if it isn’t available in your area there is a recipe for it on Weber’s website (here). Next time I make the chicken, I want to let it marinade with the spices ahead of time for more flavor, but even putting the spices on right before going on the grill, the chicken was so good.

I was probably most excited to try out the ribs recipe. I have loved ribs since I was a kid but have never made them! It was high time that changed, and it couldn’t have been easier! I followed this recipe (called Easy Baked Ribs) from Iowa Girl Eats pretty much to the letter and they were delicious! I have no idea why I was so intimidated by them because there really isn’t much work to do at all.

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Here’s my plate loaded up after all the food was cooked and ready! In addition to the ribs and chicken, we had homemade macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, and grilled veggies. Everything was amazing and the company was the best! I had such a great night; lots of laughs and good conversation.

Oh! And I can’t forget what I had for lunch on Sunday:

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The chocolate peanut butter deliciousness that I mentioned above.

Overall it has been a great birthday and I feel so happy and blessed to have such amazing people in my life. I think this is an indicator of a great year ahead of me and I’m so excited for it.

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How do you celebrate your birthday? Are you a go-big-or-go-home kind of person? More low key? Do you like trying out new recipes or prefer to go out to eat?

PS – I apologize for the cell phone pictures – I didn’t feel like taking the time to grab my point-and-shoot and just snapped all the pictures above in-the-moment. 

 

 

Run Kate Run

For a couple of years now I’ve really wanted to “become a runner”. I like the idea of being a runner, but have always been horrible at it (legitimately awful). I would dread runs after work because they made my lungs hurt and were not enjoyable at all. And finding the right playlist for running? Forget it – I never struck the right chord (pun totally intended) when it came to finding upbeat songs that kept me wanting to run rather than dance. And I LOVE biking so it was hard to devote time to running when I could be biking. Despite all of this, I still really liked the idea of eventually being a runner. I was making some progress in the summer/fall of 2012 right before I started grad school, but once classes started the running stopped; I just didn’t have the time. Fast forward to the present day – I’ve hung onto the runner wannabe mentality so I’ve decided it’s time to make it happen. The final straw to get myself into gear was a few weeks ago. I was meeting a friend after work to go for a walk and catch up, and while I waited to meet up with her I decided to go for a little jog. After running about 30 feet I wanted to collapse. My lungs burned like crazy and I was mortified with myself. I made up my mind to finally put in the effort and get running. I put it on my 30 by 30 list and I’ve tried to get out pretty regularly after work to start building my endurance.

2014

I had a breakthrough a day ago at work. While sitting in a meeting I actually had the thought “it seems like a really nice day today, I can’t wait to get outside after work and go for a run”. I actually wanted to go for a run! And not because “I should go for a run” but because I actually enjoy the feeling of running (or maybe more specifically the feeling of accomplishment afterwards). Never in my life has that happened before. My next step now is to follow the “Couch to 5K” training plan to get myself into running shape (the full plan is located here):

Couch to 5k snippit

I downloaded the app on my phone too (this version by Zen Labs) and apparently it keeps time as I run so I’ll know when to jog and when to walk. I plan to start Week 1 next week and I’m really excited about it. To keep myself motivated I have signed up for two 5K fun runs in October (Color Me Rad and the Electric Run) and promised myself I would run without stopping for both. I don’t think either are timed which is good since my goal is just to run them, not to be fast; but at the same time they’re both a lot of fun which keeps my interest. I’m really excited about this goal and happy that I’m making it a priority for myself. I think it will be a great stress reliever and open a lot of fun opportunities.

Any new or veteran runners out there? Any advice for keeping with it? Any pitfalls to be aware of? Anyone want to commiserate about the burning lungs moment of truth?