Thursday, August 27, 2009

Desserts and Indecision

I like options. Okay, correction. I LOVE options. Why be so narrow and focused? Options give you the chance to explore alternatives without making a specific commitment. P.S. - This side of me drives my husband crazy! It's inherited, I can't help it. My family's favorite meal is Brunch - the meal of indecision. It's not lunch. It's not breakfast. It's one giant option. And really, few things make us happier.

As I prepare for my first 19 mile run this Saturday, I'm considering my options. Not of my route, my coach will tell me where to run. More importantly, I'm considering dessert. I feel that 19 miles is a huge accomplishment and should be rewarded a such. My dessert motivator must be worthy of completing 19 miles. As of right now, I am lost on a buffet of options:

What dessert is worthy of 19 miles?

Should I bake a dessert myself?

Do I go back to get a dessert in LA that I know I love, or do I branch out and try something new?

I am lost in my indecision, which is the downside of operating in options.

Help me find my way! Please leave suggestions, links or comments below!

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Book" Club

On Sunday I hosted my "Book" Club at my house. What's with the quotes? Let's be honest, we may as well be a wine club who discusses a book occasionally. I LOVE these ladies. For this themed gathering, we made Julia Child's Crepes, and I had a little crepe bar. It was a delicious blast!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sing Out Loud! just not in front of your brother’s cute best friend

When I was in the 7th grade, my family was living in Newport, R.I. I love this town. We were living in one of those charming little duplexes that can only be found in New England. My room was smaller (my brother always tricked me out of the bigger room), at the back of the house on the second floor, and closest to the bathroom with the claw tub. Sigh. What I wouldn’t give for a claw foot tub.

During these years, I was incredibly awkward, shy, and had little self-confidence. My brother was the opposite, in my eyes at least. He was COOL! And, a popular athlete, which for the little sister meant he had very cute soccer player friends.

So, one day I’m in my room. Home. Alone. And taking advantage of it. I put my favorite (cough) cassette tape in to do the kind of singing you only do when you are home alone (or that later in life you will do, in your car, with your college roommate and fake microphones). The song of choice – Debbie Gibson “Lost In Your Eyes” from the Out of the Blue album. I rocked that mother. Heart. Soul. And High Notes. It was so good in fact, that I hit stop to rewind and do an encore. I was that good. (in my mind of course)

As the rewinding of the cassette player whirred, I hear a voice. My brother. “Erica?” Well that’s embarrassing. Nothing worse than someone overhearing your soul solo. However, the next, crawl into a hole, sentence came from none other than my brothers bestie, Shawn.

Shawn was THAT guy – the perfect mix of hottie, handsome and adorable, lovable, approachable guy next door, make you forget what you were saying the minute before, brother’s friend that you have a secret crush on. Yup. That guy.

So there I am, post house is empty solo, and the guy I can hardly say an intelligent sentence in front of, says, “Breaking the windows up there, huh Erica?” M.O.R.T.I.F.I.C.A.T.I.O.N. Where in heaven’s name do I crawl up and die? I couldn't even come up with a dignified response. In fact, I don’t remember if I ever answered. I just remember that I jumped into my bed and pulled the covers up over my head (because clearly it had the power to make me invisible), begging to rewind the last 5 minutes of my life.

This memory was all I could think about this morning on my run. Since my birthday run, I've taken up the regular habit of singing at random while running. It’s no Debbie Gibson solo, but it gets me through the next few miles. The fact is, I can't listen to "Are We Human or Are We Dancers" and not sing. It's impossible. And that goes for most of the other songs on my playlist. At one point this morning, several cyclists riding past me gave me the WTH look. I just smiled. I really didn’t care.

Sometimes a girl has just got to sing.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tasty Eight

Eight Easy Miles. Two Delicious Cupcakes. One Happy Saturday.

from Yummy Cupcakes - Red Velvet with 1/2 Cocoa, 1/2 Cream Cheese Frosting for me
and Summer Lemonade for Seth

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Ask any elementary school kid what their favorite part of the school day is, and 98% of them will say Recess!* (*This statistic has no scientific value or proof and should not be used for research.) And ask any adult what their favorite day of the week is, and 98% of the answers will relate to the weekend.* Does anyone really like to work? True, you may like your work and love the work you do, but when Friday rolls around, be honest, you're happy to close up shop. We need time to play!

I was thinking about this after my run Tuesday night. To be honest, I wasn't really looking forward to the run. My left leg has really taken a beating during this marathon training. The biting pain in my left hamstring was not motivating me towards a workout. But, I had told my friend Melissa that I would meet up with her and a group from a local running store for a 5 or 6 mile run.

The great thing about running with friends, even if you only pass
each other on your route - is that it takes the "work" out of it and makes it social. Because I was having so much fun running, talking, joking and laughing with this group, I forgot it was a workout! I forgot my pain, forgot that I "had" to do 6 miles, and I started to want to do 6 miles. (although technically my route ended me at 5.6 miles)

The second best thing about a social run is dinner after! Eight of
us went around the corner to a Pizza place for pizza, salad and beer. I got to know 5 new people that night. Got in 6 miles. And of course, ordered dessert.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dressing Out

I hated P.E. in high school. HATED. P.E. As if I wasn’t awkward enough in high school, P.E. brought every one of my insecurities into the open like one of those magnifying mirrors that we all love and hate. At our high school, we had to “dress out” for gym. Dressing out equaled a pair of very long, green and gold, scratchy synthetic shorts and a grey t-shirt. Of course, there were some girls who managed to make this drab, baggy poly-blend look cute. Regrettably, I was not one of them. Already feeling “less than,” this uniform only added to the problem. The phrase “look good, feel good” can also be the opposite. “Look bad, feel worse.”

Dressed in this sorry get-up, we were led out to a track like lambs to the slaughter. Too dramatic? You weren’t there. You don’t know. We were forced to do “fitness tests,” and I was not fit. We had to do sit-ups, sprints, pull-ups, push-ups and run that blessed mile around the track. I hated that friggin mile. I would almost always come in last. I hated to run, and actually refused to do it. Instead I walked the whole thing, cursing under my breath.

The truth of it is that I believed that I hated to run. And to dig deep into my teenage psyche, my insecurities about myself generated the lie that I was not capable of such a task. But I was, and I am. A year ago I found out that I can run, that I can finish races, and that in fact, I really, really like it. I don't have to be the fastest, or the smallest, or have done the most races. I just have to run. Just for me.

Today I ran 16 miles. SIX.TEEN. miles. So, Take That Coach, whatever your name was, that frowned at me for my 16 minute walk around the track! There were several points on this morning's run that I thought I couldn’t make it. That I wanted to stop and hitchhike back to my car. The insecure girl in the ugly uniform would have stopped, but I’m not that girl anymore. Instead I believe that, in the words of my husband, or whoever it is that he is quoting, “You can choose to be the victim. Or you can choose to be anything else you want to be.”

I choose to be a runner.

And, I run for dessert.

Today's dessert:

Red Velvet Whoopie Pie from Alcove Cafe in Los Feliz, CA

*I am 11 short weeks away from my first marathon. On October 25th, I will cross the finish line of a 26.2 mile race.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Birthday P.R.*

*for you non-runners or newbie runners, P.R. is runner speak for personal record

I typically love my birthday. LOVE. Love. Love. My birthday. This year, not so much. As the day approached, I had a solid mix of let’s pretend this isn’t happening and please let me wallow in my self-loathing & self-pity. I was not fun to be around. It all came to a head at about 9:30pm PT on my birthday-eve.

I was sitting on the couch in my Eyore state, when my text message alert chimed. It was a “happppppyyyyy birthday!!! I LOVE YOU!” text from my mamma. She, very sweetly and innocently, had stayed up until midnight to wish me a happy birthday. Something in the past, that would’ve made me smile, put on a tiara and deem myself a birthday princess. But, not this night. This night went something like this. My brain begins to register the text. On the east coast, it was now my birthday. On the east coast, I was now – thirty-ONE. No longer the mile marker of 30, I was now IN my THIRTIES. And, that’s when I broke. Heart wrenching, crocodile teared, gasping for breath, fetal position crying had commenced. I am thirty-ONE.

My husband was in the shower and totally unsuspecting that the birthday depression had moved to full breakdown. He knew I was in a delicate state, but it had turned epic with one text. Upon exiting the shower, he hears the sobs. He comes over to me. Hugs me. (I’ve tried to train him. No questions. No fixes. Hugs first. Then gently, gently begin to tiptoe towards asking questions. He did good.)

“What happened,” he asks trying hard to control the my wife has lost her mind tone in his voice. I respond with a high-pitched sequence of words, made completely unintelligible by the sobs between each one. I try again. “I’m thirteeee ONE (gasp for breath) on (hiccup) the (gasp for breath) east (sob) coast.” More crying. More hugging. I don’t’ see his face, but I’m pretty sure he’s trying not to laugh. Finally he says, (in the same voice your mom used when you woke up with a nightmare and she brought you a sip of water,) “why don’t you go take a shower. You’ll feel better.” I cried in the shower. I cried out of the shower. He hugged me again. And, I finally sob out “I just want to go for a run.” In that moment of my despair, the only thing that could possibly make me feel better was a run. It was 10:30pm. He sweetly asks, “Do you think you can wait for the morning.”

I couldn’t get out of the house fast enough the next morning. Headed to my favorite route, I started to run it out. I began to feel better as Alicia Keyes, Feist, and The Killers, helped me clear my head. And then, at mile 4 Matchbox Twenty pulled me out of my funk with “How Far We’ve Come.” Have I accomplished all that I want to in my life? No. Am I where I want to be? Not necessarily. “Oh Well. I guess we’re gonna find out. Let’s see how far we’ve come.” I smiled. I played the air drums. (No kidding. I really did.) I sang out loud. I didn’t care who was watching. This was my moment of clarity. I am where I am. I can either be disappointed by it, or accept it, and focus on what I have done and far I have come.

Mile 5 rocked.

I returned home ready to embrace my 31st birthday. My husband treated me with the best gift ever – a day of dessert. It was a 6-dessert day. My best dessert P.R.

Dessert #1 - Post-Brunch

Nutella and Bannana Waffle at Tart
you had me at nutella.

Dessert #2 - mid-afternoon snack
this was Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Frosting - Joan's on Third
tasted like a slice of grandma's house. a cold glass of milk would have made it perfection.

Dessert # 3 - post dinner dessert
Red Velvet Ding-Dong - Aroma Cafe
good. sweet. heavens. a square of perfection. moist red velvet cake with a light, creamy frosting between layers, encased in solid milk chocolate.

Dessert #4, 5 & 6 - bedtime snack
Lemon Cupcake, Raspberry and Vanilla Cupcake, Chocolate Cupcake with Marshmallow Center - Joan's On Third
incredibly rich, but delicious cupcakes. so rich, we could only eat a couple of bites of each one. seth fell in love with the lemon cupcake.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Can't Run Away From It. Or Can I?

I love dessert. It really is that simple. Some people love savory. Some love salty. I love dessert. I think in terms of what I can have for dessert - daily. I've tried to change my way of thinking. I've tried to substitute a bowl of strawberries and yogurt for say, strawberry shortcake.  I've bought the 100 calorie packs of cookies to allow myself a limited amount of sugar.  But three packs later, I've defeated the purpose.  My craving, my addiction cannot be outsmarted. 

As my husband constantly says, "All suffering comes from resisting what is."  I don't think he means this to be my excuse to eat dessert to my hearts content, but it has some relevance here.  If I resist what is, then I beat myself up when I have dessert. I secret eat, so that nobody knows that I'm eating a brownie that I "shouldn't" be eating.  So, what is? I love dessert. Trying new desserts, finding shops that have exceptional sweets, tasting "the best" cupcake ever, are all things that bring an absolute smile to my face and joy to my heart.  I accept that.  But it comes with a heavy (pun intended) price.  Here's what I don't accept - back fat, jiggly triceps and the constant battle with my muffin top (and I don't mean the pastry). 

Thankfully, over the past two years, I've made some changes to my lifestyle that include daily (okay, sometimes daily, but definitely regular) exercise. And in May 2008, I started running. Two half-marathons later, and mid-training for my first full marathon, I'm proud to say that I have a running habit.  Running gives me time for myself. Time to think, to dream, to sing, to clear my head and to just be. There are no phones, no emails, no expectations. It's just me, my shoes and an open road. 

There is a moment during my long runs where I feel the same euphoria as I do when I take a bite of an amazing chocolate cake.  I run for those moments.  And, I run for dessert.