Wednesday, March 14, 2012

There's always time for dinner, especially when it involves potatoes!

I've been in kind of a rut in terms of food.
It's finals time, so I am just sort of shoveling down whatever will make the growling in my stomach go away as I'm racing from here to there or writing/studying for hours upon hours.
It is so easy around this time to lose sight of what is really important, my health. I don't get as much sleep, I don't eat as well, my stress levels are heightened, I'm not running as much... it all sort of gets put on the back burner.
Today, nodding off in the library after an 8 hour day of brain power I decided it was time to head home.
I went grocery shopping not too long ago with the thought of "if I have good food in my apartment, I'm more likely to eat it."
This is true, except it takes time to make most of it, so I've been surviving off the grab-and-go foods I bought.
I decided that tonight that needed to change. Since I didn't have class tonight like I normally do, I was home earlier than usual and actually had the time to make a good dinner.
So I've got the time, I've got some good potential in terms of ingredients, but I am at a loss as to what to cook!
I decided to wing it and came up with a pretty great recipe and decided it's worth documenting for later.

Red potatoes (the amount is flexible and will depend on how many people you're serving/how much leftovers you want and how big of a dish you're using)
Garlic Salt -to taste
Pepper -to taste
Butter (or butter substitute) - 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons
Vegetable broth -3/4 cup
 Parmesan cheese (as topping)

Preheat the oven for 375 degrees.
  • Slice the red potatoes as thin or thick as you like, keeping in mind that the thicker they are, the longer it may take.
  • Layer them laying flat on the bottom of the baking dish (any old over-safe baking dish will do and again, size depends on how much you plan to make)
  • Season with garlic salt and pepper (or whatever seasonings you prefer on potatoes)
  • Repeat the last 2 steps: (layer potatoes & season)
  • Until you've used up your potatoes. (I had 2 layers in mine)
  • Next top with the butter. (just drop it on top, it will melt)
  • Lastly add the vegetable broth
Put the dish into the oven, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
Stir the contents in the dish, then keep it in for another 5 min or so.
Next, Cover the dish with foil and keep in the over for about 15 or so minutes longer until more of the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork.
(These times may differ depending on the oven, so just be aware of that)

This is how they looked when I removed them from the oven. There is still a fair amount of liquid in the pan, and that is fine.
Put them on a plate and top with some Parmesan cheese.

 Now they're ready to eat!
I paired mine with chicken and green beans, which were all delicious together, but they would be a good side for really any dish you'd normally eat potatoes with :)

I will most definitely be making these again. It was a pretty no-fuss dish, once you get them sliced and into the dish its just a matter of waiting for the oven to do it's thing.
If I can do it with my "grad-school" brain (that is what my peers and I have labeled all the lame mistakes we make in our daily functioning because our brains have turned to mush from all the studying/reading/writing) anyone can do it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

At home banana-avocado hair mask. Beauty on a grad school budget :)

Something I came across recently is the idea of at-home hair masks.
I have dreadfully damaged hair due mostly in part to the massive amount of heat styling I do.
I can't help it, this curly/wavy sometimes flat-sometimes frizzy mess needs to be controlled.
I exert control via heat products and lots and lots of hair spray ;)
That being said, my hair is in dire need of some tender loving care.
A key factor in my hair not receiving the love it needs is because that love....cost $$ !
And this broke grad student doesn't have a whole lot of that.
So I'm drawn to the at-home idea of do-it-yourself hair lovin.
I looked for some hints online as to good products to use and came across a number of different choices.
I decided to go what was already in my kitchen.

Ingredients for at-home hair mask:
1 Banana
1 Avocado
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Helpful hints:
  • Depending on your hair length, you may only need 1/2 banana and 1/2 avocado but I have longer hair, so I used the entire banana and avocado.
  • I found it helpful to use a banana and avocado that are pretty ripe..makes them much, much easier to mash.
  • So, if you have some sort of blender or food processor I would VERY MUCH recommend using this as the banana needs to be fairly liquified. I did not have these tools, however, so I just did my best to really mash the banana up as much as I could.  What tends to happen is you will be left with bits of banana in your hair after if it is not mashed up or blended well enough. Just a thought. I survived this though, with only a few bits to pick out later.

  1. Mash banana (either very, very well by hand or in a processor or blender) until smooth (although, again if this is by hand..there is a limit to how smooth it will actually get)
  2.  Next mash the avocado in with the banana
  3.  Add in the egg, mix well
  4.  Add the olive oil
  5.  Apply to dry hair. Leave on for 20-30 min (I went the full time, my hair really needs it!) 
  6.  Rinse with cool water
  7. Shampoo with your regular shampoo, you may want to repeat to make sure you got everything out. 
Your hair will honestly look and feel and smell so amazing! I even got compliments on how good my hair looked the next day.

The only thing I did not take into account, was my mild allergic reaction I get to bananas. They make my throat itchy. It's never been enough to warrant a stoppage on consumption, just a tiny annoyance..but I enjoy them so I just endure it and it's never caused a major problem.
What resulted from this mask is that it made my skin incredibly itchy. Much like it does to my throat, but now it was my head and then when I rinsed my hair in the skin.
So, allergies are something to consider.
Although, it had such great results on my hair.. I would likely do this again and just endure the itch :) Pain is beauty, right?
The banana could easily be left out of this also and just the avocado, egg and olive oil would be really great for your hair (or leave out the avocado if they aren't in season where you live) I like in California so we're spoiled in that way that they're always around.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Running Update: 10 months in, 2 miles finally accomplished.

Yesterday marked an important day for me.
For the first time in my life, I ran 2 miles!
I know compared to the rest of the "runners" out there, this is chump change...
but for me it was a first in a lifetime thing.
That means I'm only ONE mile away from marking a 5K off my bucket list.
I started running 10 months ago. I set off in May, beginning with intervals of walking/running at which time 5 minutes of running and I felt like I may collapse.
Now of course, this 2 miles I did yesterday was not race and I most definitely did not run them at any sort of quick pace. I ran them at my pace.
My average pace yesterday was: 12:25 min/mile.
I've been having knee pain still, despite the knee exercises I've been doing on my off days so I wasn't sure if I should even run yesterday.
But sometimes you just get fed up with all the things that hold you back. I know that pain is not something to mess with. I've been really careful with my knee as to avoid major injury, but sometimes...the excuses, no matter how valid just get in the way of making progress.
After looking over my progress since I got the MapmyRun app for my phone in October the other night, I realized I was consistently doing 1.5 miles about 3 times per week before my knee pain started.
Now I was doing only 1 mile about 1 or 2 times per week.
I decided that needed to change.  
So I set off yesterday originally just planning on doing my 1.5 miles again.
But something made me keep going. Something inside me said that 1.5 just wasn't going to cut it.
Although I endured some problems with my lungs and knees and had a killer ache in my side, I finished the 2 miles.
2 miles isn't much for most people, but its 5,280 feet closer to my goal of a 5K...and It's also proof that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


If my running habit and graduate school (and frankly, my past dating history if we're being honest) are any indication of my behavior, I am in fact a masochist.

I'm never going to be a great runner. It is quite likely I will always struggle with running with my lungs and my knee problems. I will probably never run a marathon, and maybe never even a 10K.
I will never be a fast runner. I will likely never win a race against anyone other than 4th graders (and even then, they have the stamina and energy to beat me).
I may never develop an awesome form while running and will probably always resemble a wounded animal trying to scurry away from its predator.
I've come to terms with the fact that running is not a strength of mine, but a rather enormous weakness...and yet, I keep doing it.
It's similar to graduate school in that, no matter what tactic I use, what strategy I come up with... I continuously feel like I am falling short. I constantly feel like I'm up against odds that are far too great to ever actually succeed and yet... I'll  wake up and do it all again tomorrow. That must be the masochist in me.

There are moments, however, that shine a little light. Just enough to give me a glimmer of hope that maybe I'm not failing outright.
 "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." -Thomas Edison.
 I watched a movie last night that quoted Mr. Edison, One Week. Although I've heard the quote numerous times, I'd never actually listened.

When you're running, and you pass another person running sometimes they give you a nod or a wave. It is a small gesture, if you're too into what you're doing you may even miss it.
It is a gesture that says "I get it." it says "I respect what you're doing" because they are doing the same thing. This person who gives me this small gesture does not know whether I'm running a 7 mile route or just around the block. This person does not know if I've won any races, done any marathons or if this is my first time running in years. The fact is, this person does not care. This person does not see what I have done or what I will do...they only see what I am doing. Running. Regardless of all the things that I think it takes, to this person, and to the world I am a runner.