Friday Faves #2

YAY! We made it! I’m headed to my friend’s bachelorette in a few minutes, and I can’t wait!

Thanks to Heather for today’s link up! Counting down some of my favorites from this week:

1. Missouri sunsets: Since it’s been so hot lately, I’ve been escaping from the house around 8:30 every night for a quick walk. It’s the perfect time of day–it’s calm, slightly cooler, and the lighting is so beautiful!

Sunset in Missouri

Sunset in Missouri

2. My American flag tumbler from Wal-Mart. First, the disclaimer: Wal-Mart is basically the only large store within 45 minutes of my home. I really do appreciate having one here, but I can’t wait to have access to more shopping again! I found these tumblers in June when Hubs and I went to Table Rock Lake outside of Branson, Missouri. They were perfect for keeping drinks cold on the boat, but for some reason we ditched them after we got home. Well, I found them again over the weekend and haven’t stopped using it!

Hydrating, American style.

Hydrating, American style.

3. My philosophy: truthfulness. I ordered this philosophy my philosophy: truthfulness scent from Sephora last week, and it came in on Tuesday. I love it! It is sweet and fruit, and not overpowering at all. I am very, very happy with this purchase. I also love that Sephora lets me select three samples every time I make an online purchase, and I even got a bonus sample beauty mask!

IMG_15714. Silk Almond Creamer: For the past four years, I’ve been weaning myself off coffee add-ins. Ha. But really…I used to load it with Splenda and creamers. Last fall, I cut out Splenda and other artificial sweeteners, and started using honey. And recent, I kicked the not-so-wholesome creamers for this Silk Almond Creamer. It is super creamy, and subtly sweet. There’s only 6 ingredients, all of which I can pronounce! While I hope one day to actually enjoy a cup of black coffee (again, ha), I’ll take theses little improvements for now!

IMG_16055. Iced Cinnamon Zucchini Muffins from Picky Palate. I mention that I got a massive zucchini in my Monday post. And after three straight days of zucchini for dinner, it was still there. So I whipped up the Picky Palate’s Iced Cinnamon Zucchini bread in muffin form. These are delicious! The cinnamon flavor is perfect for breakfast, and the glaze feels so indulgent. 

  
Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend!

-Erin

Thinking Out Loud #2

Happy Thursday! The week is almost over–yipee!

I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud today. Today’s musings:

1. I am so excited because I only have ONE class today and will be done before lunch! It’s definitely nice to be back in school, but between classes, homework, and just general living, my days are pretty full.

My view this weekend...I'll take it!

My view this weekend…I’ll take it! (SOURCE)

2. Fortunately, I am heading out on a mini-vacation this weekend. One of my best friends is getting married in October, so we’re celebrating her bachelorette weekend! Her maid of honor set us up with a house on Lake Michigan, and we’re going to celebrate with some quality girl time. On my drive up, I am picking up friends who are flying in from Alaska and El Paso, Texas…seriously, my  girlfriends are amazing, and I can’t wait to spend the whole weekend catching up!

3. Speaking of my awesome friends…many of you may not be following this, but the military is really working to open more doors for women lately. One of the headlining issues has been sending female Soldiers to the notoriously-male Ranger School. Ranger School is historically the most challenging school the Army has to offer. It’s 61 straight days of intense training, patrolling, sleep and food deprivation. Each “phase” is 20 or 21 days long, and many Soldiers have to repeat one or more phases in order to graduate. Just over twenty women qualified for the chance to attend this spring, and last week three highly qualified women passed the first phase and moved closer to graduating. I personally know one of the three, and she is not only tough as nails but also an awesome person! Please keep these women in your thoughts and prayers as they complete this journey.

The watermelon in Afghanistan didn't look this good, but it taste like a million bucks!

The watermelon in Afghanistan didn’t look this good, but it taste like a million bucks!

4. Now, speaking of military things…I had a little flashback yesterday while slicing some watermelon. At this point in 2013, I was deployed to Afghanistan. And it was HOT. I had one particular mission in June where my unit was about 100 miles from the nearest base for 6 days straight. We could not get enough water! Even though we had water air-dropped daily, it wasn’t super satisfying at 100+ degrees. One afternoon, an Afghan man pulled up with a truck of watermelon and started bartering with us! Every Soldier had something different to give the man–pens, energy drinks, Skittles, instant coffee–but everyone ended up with a watermelon! That had to be the absolute most satisfying watermelon I ever ate in my life!

The very last Krispie Treat :(

The very last Krispie Treat😦

5. And finally, since Amanda’s hosting today: Your Protein Rice Krispie Treats are awesome! I made them with Cascadian Farm Honey O’s instead of rice cereal, and Hubs and I devoured them! Definitely a keeper!

Are you a beach person, or a lake person? I prefer the beach in the winter, but I’m a lake girl in the summer!

What’s the most refreshing thing you’ve had this summer? 

-Erin

What I Ate Wednesday: Pizza Night!

Happy Hump Day!

I am linking up with Jenn for What I Ate Wednesday. This is a look at my food from Friday!

Breakfast: I started my day around 7am with coffee and overnight oats. I was going for a “Lemon-berry cheesecake” feel on this one, so I mixed a tub of Chobani Greek Yogurt, instant oats, and added some fresh lemon juice, a tiny bit of lemon zest, and some cinnamon. In the morning. I tossed in some strawberries and blueberries. I didn’t add any sweetener to balance out the lemon, which may have been a mistake. The oats were kind of tart…but definitely a good breakfast to power me through a long run on a hot morning!

My attempt at Lemon-Berry Cheesecake Overnight Oats...not quite there yet!

My attempt at Lemon-Berry Cheesecake Overnight Oats…not quite there yet!

Lunch: After my run, I came home, showered, and made this BLT Salad via The Londoner for lunch at 11:30. It was so simple and delicious! Just some grape tomatoes, bacon, and feta on a bed of spring mix and chopped romaine. I added some grilled chicken to mine for extra protein. I really don’t love the sharp acidity of grape and cherry tomatoes, so I broiled mine from about 10 minutes with a splash of olive oil. It really cuts the acid and makes them more palatable, in my opinion. For a dressing, I just whipped up some Fast and Easy Marinade, but it would really taste great with any dressing you like.

BLT Salad, via The Londoner

BLT Salad, via The Londoner

Snack: Around 3, I took a break from cleaning and snacked on a few pretzel thins with pepperoni and cheddar cheese.

Snack #1: Cheese, pepperoni, and pretzels!

Snack #1: Cheese, pepperoni, and pretzels!

Snack, again: At 5, Hubs called to let me know he was running late. So I grabbed an apple to hold me over until dinner…not pictured.

Dinner: Friday night = pizza night for us! I had been dying to try this Sausage, Manchego, and Pepper Pizza recipe from Cooking Light. Since I couldn’t find manchego cheese at the store, we opted for some smoked gouda paired with Alfresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage. I used this recipe on half the pizza, and I also made half  a traditional pepperoni pizza. I definitely failed to account for marinara sauce, so it was topped with tomato slices, mozzarella and fontina cheese, pepperoni, and basil. It took about 20 minutes start-to-finish to assemble and bake, and both halves were equally good!

Pizza

Out fantastic Friday night pizza!

Hubs and I finished about half the pizza while watching The Lady in Gold–which is a fantastic movie! He likes action; I prefer drama and romance. So when it’s my turn to pick a movie, Hubs usually ends up a little bored. Not this time! The Lady In Gold is based on the true story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish American who fled Austria in the late 1930s. The subject of the painting The Lady in Gold was her aunt Adele, and the painting was stolen from her family home by the Nazis at the outbreak of World War II. Over the years, The Lady in Gold became an iconic Austrian masterpiece and was housed in the Austrian state gallery. In 2000, Maria Altmann sued the Austrian government for ownership of the painting, and won after 6 years navigating through US and international courts. The story is incredible, and drifts between the present-day struggle and Maria’s adolescence in Austria.

There you have it–my Friday in food.

What’s you favorite Friday night treat? Do you have a go-to pizza recipe, or do you like to try new combinations?

-Erin

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m linking up with Her Heartland Soul for a Weekend Recap today!

It was definitely a hot one here in Missouri! Friday wasn’t terrible, but by Sunday it nearly hit 100 degrees!

I started my Saturday with a quick trip to the local farmer’s market. I was super bummed to learn that blueberry season has ended in Missouri, but I did snag a few pints of blackberries. I also got banana peppers, green beans, a yellow squash, and a massive zucchini!

Farmer's market

Mini farmer’s market haul

When we got home, I went to our basement gym and did a modified version of the Crossfit workout Fran. Typically, Fran is 21-15-9 of 65-pound thrusters and pull-ups. Since a) I definitely can’t do 21 pull-ups and b) We don’t have a good place to hang the pull-up bar in our current home, I did TRX rows instead of pull-ups. I finished with 50-30-10 hand release push-up and sit-ups. Hubs joined me to suffer through 3 sweaty miles around the neighborhood. We have a fitness test coming up, so we needed to do a few short, fast runs to prep.

Then, I moved on to the most dreaded activity of all–cleaning out my closet! With another move on the horizon, it was time to purge a little.

Results of the closet purge

Results of the closet purge

I spent a SOLID 2 hours in my room cleaning…sorting…trying on…and finally dumping 2 boxes of clothes to donate and 1 bag to toss. Phew!

IMG_1524

SO much better!

But, my closet looks awesome now! Just in time to pack it all up😦

By about 2 pm, we were getting restless so we went to see Minions! Not our best move to go see the matinee showing of a kiddie movie opening weekend–we were the only people without kids there–but it was so funny! Afterwards, we stopped by our godchildren’s house for about an hour and met another set of friends for dinner at their house.

Sunday was significantly less exciting. We filled our day with Tour de France and homework…just a few more weeks until we are done with grad school!

Hope you all had a fun-filled weekend!

-Erin

This Week’s Challenge: Be The Change

Like most people, I absolutely loved watching the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team win the Women’s World Cup last Sunday. The athletes played hard, had fun, and put together a great performance. More unforgettably, they were raw, passionate, and human. For example, take Abby Wambach. That woman has given everything to women’s soccer. Yet she was willing to take on a lesser role when she was asked because it benefitted her team. It’s the greatest sacrifice an athlete can make, and it wasn’t lost on the USWNT. My heart nearly melted when Carli Lloyd handed Abby the captain’s armband late in the World Cup final. And it felt Abby’s excitement as she rushed the stands to celebrate with her wife after the win.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who fell in love with that game. Another 25,399,999 other Americans tuned in to watch the USWNT win the World Cup last Sunday. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were plastered with score updates, hashtag chains, and pictures of friends still rocking their 4th of July finest as they cheered on the women.

Come Monday, though, my social media feeds turned negative. Focus shifted from the amazing win to the pathetic prize gap. It’s a legitimate concern. Why does the USWNT, World Cup champions, receive $2 million from FIFA while the men’s 2014 champion is awarded $35 million? How is this fair? How can we allow a terribly corrupt FIFA to get away with this?

But here’s the thing: We not only allow it, we drive it.

We create the terribly pathetic pay gaps between male and female athletes. Every day, we make decisions that allow organizations like FIFA to justifiably sustain this tremendous disparity.

When I graduated college, I stayed at West Point to work in the athletic department for a few months. I had two primary duties as an athletic department intern: working with women’s basketball, and working football game day operations. I went into the position a little unsettled and annoyed. Why wasn’t my role with women’s basketball valuable enough on its own? Why did I have to contribute so many weekends to football when none of the football interns had to work at women’s basketball games?

But within a few weeks, I understood. College athletics is just as much a business as a pastime. Professional and international sports are no different. And guess what? In the collegiate world, very few teams turn a profit. The ones that do—at most schools, this primarily includes football and men’s basketball—essentially fund the other sports. Therefore, it was important for me to contribute to football, because it allowed the athletes I supported to continue playing the game they loved. Fundamentally, sports are a business. And believe it or not, it responds to consumers and their demands.

In our eyes, the 24.5 million Americans who watched the Women’s World Cup final set a record. It showed that we demand women’s soccer in the U.S. It certainly surpassed the 18.2 million who watched the U.S. Men play Portugal in Brazil last year, and shattered the 2011 Women’s record of 18 million viewers during the World Cup final.

FIFA’s eyes, that’s nothing. Because in 2014, the Men’s World Cup averaged 188 million views per game. In 2014, the 18.2 Americans who tuned in to a group play men’s game. The USWNT opener against Australia in 2015? It only drew 3.3 million American viewers. Where did the other 22 million fans come from?

So here’s my question: If our behavior as consumers drives how athletes are paid, why do we only choose to support women’s sports when it’s convenient and high-profile?

Think about it.

What if every person who posted, tweeted, or otherwise shared an article about the USWNT pay gap had watched that first group play game?

What if we paid $75 to sit court-side at a WNBA game instead of shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars to see NBA games?

What if the college kids who flock to football games also sponsored a student spirit section at the Monday night women’s volleyball game?

What if you watched the LPGA final on Fox tonight instead tuning in to the PGA’s John Deere Classic?

I’m not saying that FIFA and all the other sports organizations, leagues, and associations don’t need to make changes.

But what if we changed their minds?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Happy Sunday!

-Erin

Friday Faves

Happy Friday, everyone!

We’ve had an ugly, rainy, cold week here in Missouri. Of course, cold means 65 degrees right now, so it’s really not that terrible. It’s more the lack of sunshine that gets me down. After weeks of basking in natural light from dawn ’til dusk, it’s pretty depressing to have all the lights in the house on at 3 o’clock in the afternoon! Fortunately, it’s supposed to be 90 degrees and sunny all weekend, and I can’t wait!

Today, I am linking up with Heather at Life in Leggings to share my favorite things. Here’s a look at my Top 5 from the past week:

Team USA. How amazing was that Women’s World Cup final? As an American, I love seeing our teams dominate in international competitions. As a sports fan, I love when games are action-packed and emotionally charged. And as a female athlete, I love when ladies not only get to showcase their talent, but also get the attention and recognition they deserve. #SheBelieves!

Cooler weather. Yes, I know I just said the weather this week was miserable. But it’s been awesome to get outside and work out without drowning in sweat. I am taking advantage of one last day of cool weather and meeting up with my friend Tara for a 10-mile run. Tara’s running the Rock’n’Roll Chicago Half Marathon next weekend, so this is her last big training run. I’m so glad she invited me!

I loved these Sperry Top-Sider Virginia sandals from Zappos!

I loved these Sperry Top-Sider Virginia sandals from Zappos!

Zappos. Here’s some simple math: 1 girl. Size 11 feet. Town of 4,000 people. What doesn’t add up? For me, any hope of finding good shoes that actually fit! Thank goodness for Zappos. I’ve been shopping for a high-quality sandal to get me through the rest of the summer, and thanks to their free overnight shipping, free returns, and great customer service, I’ve been able to try some fun options. I loved the look of these Sperry Top-Sider Virginia sandals, but they were just a bit too small. No worries–I have a size up coming to me in the next 24 hours!

Clean, bright lilies helped brighten my days

Clean, bright lilies helped brighten my days

Fresh Lilies. Nothing beats fresh flowers! They really brightened up the house during this dreary week.

Delicious cherries, you bring me great ZzzzZzzz's!

Delicious cherries, you bring me great ZzzzZzzz’s!

Cherries. First off, cherries are finally in season. I can’t get enough of their sweet taste! Since we’re in school right now, Hubs and I aren’t following our typical “Army regimen” that beings with waking up at 4am and results in falling asleep at 9pm. While we love this little spell of freedom, we also have fallen waaaaay off the boat in terms of having a good routine. A few nights ago, I went to bed at 11 and was STILL awake at 2am for no good reason. This week, I’ve been trying to get back on a (slightly less strict) routine. I’ve also been enjoying a handful of cherries every night to get some melatonin in my body and help me drift off more easily. It’s a good excuse to keep my supply of cherries up, right?

Do you have a nightly routine? What helps you fall asleep when your mind absolutely refuses to shut off?

Thanks for reading!

-Erin

Thursdays are For…Thinking Out Load #1

Since I’m new to this blogging thing…I’m going to link up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursdays!

Thinking-Out-Loud2

Have you managed to get caught in a summer storm? I did on Tuesday…by accident.

It all started when I decided it was “too rainy” to run in the morning. So as my afternoon class was wrapping up, I checked the weather. Perfect! The rain was stopping from about 3:30 to about 6pm.

I got home and laced up….

Ready to Run!

Ready to Run!

But a mile and a half in, the skies opened up and it started to pour.

My first though: I can’t believe I ditched my Lifeproof iPhone case last week.

So, here I am, about 2 miles from home, PRAYING that my phone will make it through the run. I pulled out my headphones, rolled them up in my armband, and stuck the whole thing in my sports bra. Because it was truly the only slightly dry place to put it.

I then proceeded to run the next 2 miles sans music, which isn’t something I hadn’t done in months. Since we can’t use headphones in our military uniforms, I’ve been enjoying my time as a full-time student who doesn’t have to work out with a unit every day.

It was amazing. It was me, soaking wet, blazing through the warm raindrops, sopping wet braid flapping back and forth, shoes squeaking with every step. It was peaceful, relaxing, and nostalgic. It was everything I remember about being caught in a summer rainstorm.

It wasn’t the rainstorms, per say. But I have so many memories of being caught in the rain. My first true memory of childhood involved sneaking outside with my baby brother to splash around the backyard—in a summer rainstorm. [Side Note: My baby sister was born that day, and we got caught by our grandpa. This may explain why I remember it so well, despite being 4 years old.]

When I finally made it home, my iPhone still worked! So I ditched it, and went back out to finish my 5-miler. It felt great to throw aside my inhibition and just run again. The rain had slowed to a drizzle, and kids were racing outside to play again. I watched a pair of toddlers splashing in the little puddles in their driveway. Just like I remembered. It was so perfect.

Post run...soaking wet, but feeling awesome!

Post run…soaking wet, but feeling awesome!

And, to make it even better, I CRUSHED my run. Five miles in 37 minutes, something I haven’t done in months. Good things happen when you really, truly love what you’re doing!

Have you been caught in a summer storm yet?

-Erin

Healthier Lunchmeat at Home

Happy Tuesday! Or is it Monday? If you’re like me and enjoyed a full four-day weekend, it sure feels like Monday today!

Hubs has a big test on Friday, so he spent most of Sunday and Monday holed up in the home office studying. I got the chance to dominate the remote (Tour de France! World Cup! Netflix!) for most of the day Sunday. On Monday, though, it was time to switch gears. I (finally) finished our wedding thank you notes, took care of some bills, and knocked out some food prep.

Confession: Any level of food prep is relatively new to us. When it was just me, it was easy to throw together a quick lunch of salad with some bagged lettuce, pre-packaged deli meat, and a few toppings in the mornings between my workout and the start of my workday.

When Hubs came into the picture, we blew through the pre-packaged deli meat in a matter of hours. Apparently, two people eat a lot more than one person. Whoops. To adjust for his appetite, I shifted to the deli counter. We each had a “go-to” meat: he loved Boar’s Head Buffalo Chicken, and I always got Boar’s Head Cracked Pepper Turkey. Then fate (in the form of the Defense Commissary Agency) intervened.

In January, the contract for the deli counters in all military grocery stores (aka “The Commissary”) expired. And, if you live at a small base like us, the supply of Boar’s Head was cut off entirely. WHAT NOW?????

Hubs and I tried a few different delis in the area. The problem was that a) No one carried Boar’s Head, b) No other brand satisfied our cravings, and c) We had to make special, separate trips just to use the other delis. So, we went to Plan B: Prep our own “lunch meat” every week.

Turns out, we made a good choice. Deli meat is a great option for quick, no hassle meals. However, it isn’t necessarily the most nutritious choice. According to registered dietician Leslie Beck, eating 160 grams of processed meat a week puts you at a 44% higher risk for premature death caused by cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other health issues. Just for your situational awareness: 160 grams is roughly equivalent to 0.35 pounds. When I went to the deli, I was buying a pound of deli meat for each of us, each week. That means we were eating THREE TIMES the baseline amount! Yikes!

So, here’s the happy ending: Erin & Hubs start spending 30 minutes a week prepping chicken, turkey, and pork at home. Erin & Hubs slash their saturated fat, sodium, and preservative intake without even knowing it. Erin creates easy, quick, and flavorful marinated grilled chicken tenders to share with you today!

Fast and Easy Chicken Tenders

Fast and Easy Chicken Tenders: Our go-to home made lunch meat!

And, last month, the Commissary delis re-opened, so Erin & Hubs can now occasionally purchase their beloved Boar’s Head…in extreme moderation.

But seriously, these chicken tenders have become our new weekly staple. They are perfect to eat alone with your favorite sauce, or add to salads or wraps all week long!

These tenders taste great with ketchup, mustard, or barbecue sauce!

These tenders taste great with ketchup, mustard, or barbecue sauce!

Fast and Easy Grilled Chicken Tenders

Serves: 3-6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Marinate Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 lbs chicken tenderloins
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, and oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions: Whisk olive oil through red pepper flakes in a medium bowl.

Before...and after!

Before…and after!

Add chicken tenderloins, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

Pre-heat grill to a medium-low heat. Add chicken tenderloins, and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Flip, and cook and additional 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately, or allow to cool and store for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Dinner salad

What’s for dinner? Chicken tenders in a salad!

Tonight, I used these tenders in a delicious salad with spinach, arugula, cannellini beans, and parmesan, all tossed with an extra helping of the marinade!

What’s your favorite lunch meat? Do you have any weekday staples you can’t get enough of?

-Erin

Happy 4th of July!

Hello World! Welcome to Running Erins, Racing Home. And Happy (Belated) 4th of July!

My name is Erin. I am an Army officer, engineer, former college athlete, and most importantly, a newlywed! My husband is also in the military, and we currently live at a base in rural–and I mean 4,000-people-in-our-town rural–Missouri while we spend a few more weeks in graduate school.

Despite the “smallness” here in Missouri, we do have a lot of great friends here. We’re in an Army “hub,” as I like to call them. It’s a major training base, so Soldiers get to start their careers here with basic training, and often come back for schools as they progress through the ranks.

In the nine months we’ve lived here, we’ve seen many friends come and go. This weekend was no different, when one of Hubby’s old bosses and his family (wife, 3 kids, and a dog) were passing through town and another friend from North Carolina moved in to the area. So, we decided to host a quick-and-easy get together. 
Picnic Spread

We didn’t bother going fancy–after all, of the 6 kids at our house, 5 were under the age of 4–but I still wanted to add a pop of functional holiday spirit to our spread. I found heavy-duty red Hefty plates for dinner, and added those cute printed plates for appetizers and desserts.

Blue Solo Cup

I also snagged some blue Solo cups. But since black marker + blue plastic cups = utter confusion, I also grabbed labels so that guests could label their drink.

Gerber Daisies

Finally, Hubby surprised me with these cute colored Gerber daisies! Thanks Hubs! By using festive serve ware, we were able to set up and clean up in a snap and still capture the holiday spirit.

We kept the food simple, and served grilled chicken, burgers, home-made potato salad, and baked beans. My friend Lily made some amazing blackberry crumble bars for dessert, and us ladies enjoyed this sangria, too!

We had a great time catching up with old friends! What did you do for the 4th of July?

-Erin