Category Archives: FAMILY

Annie, Annie, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Growing up on a farm, we always had a really large garden.  This was my introduction to vegetables – zucchini, carrots, peas, egg plant, squash, green beans, kohlrabi, cabbage, and many more varieties.  It was also my introduction to gardening, as I spent enough time helping my grandma that I picked up the gist of how to make things grow.  If only the fern in our apartment was so lucky.  It’s slowly coming back to life.

Anyway, I definitely took it for granted that growing up we ate canned green beans and bagged sweet corn all year around.  To this day I refuse to eat store bought canned or frozen corn.  It’s just not the same {said with a sigh}.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I pay more attention to my nutrition or what, but I have found quite an interest in gardening.  Not only do I try to shop the perimeter of the grocery store (minus spices, pasta, and the occasional frozen treat), but I am interested in knowing where my food comes from.  I’m more apt to purchase the apples or tomatoes from a local farm.

I know this should be much easier with the farmers market starting, but that would require me to have my meals for the week planned out on Saturday, instead of Sunday, and I’d need to free up my Saturday mornings so I could do more than just race through to the croissant sandwiches.  I’ll get there eventually!

Having a garden plot at the Downtown Community Garden is making things a little easier.  I’m a little late getting things in (as usual) and although I had planned to start growing some seeds inside, that never happened.  Tonight I got the garden weeded and acquired some blisters along the way.  That leaves planting to do this week, followed by a lot of watering. The 8 tomato and pepper plants shoved in a small planter on our balcony are screaming to get some space.  At least they get to come inside overnight.

Anyway, I really love having the garden.  Weeding is therapeutic and I kind of enjoy playing in the dirt,  but I always seem to have a hard time being consistent.  It’s sort of like working out.  It’s hard as heck to get out of bed to get to the gym (which is why I often recruit buddies to run or swim with as motivation), but once I’m there, I never want to leave.  I love being in the sun, keeping the garden clean of weeds, watering the plants as if I”m nourishing them, and then watching them grow.  The best is when I haven’t been down there in a few days, usually because it has been raining, and I’ve got 3 zucchini’s some tomatoes, and a bunch of lettuce.  Zucchini’s probably make me the most happy…they’re my favorite!

Some quick background – how did I get this garden plot?  A few years ago, the  Junior League of Des Moines, did a project where we got a spot at the Community Garden and then donated all the produce to local charities.  Unfortunately, the project was not chosen to continue, but on the bright side, I got to keep the plot and I’ve kept a garden for 2 years on my own now.  Before, most of my seeds were leftovers from my mom, but this year I’ve purchased my own!  Thank you to Seed for their excellent selection.

I’ll be planting red peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, kale, lettuce, green beans, and peas.  I would love to start branching out more, but one year at a time.  Plus, the plot isn’t all that large, so I’ve got to keep myself limited.

With all these vegetables, I might be donating some of it myself this year!  So, here’s to a fruitful (or vegetable-ful) harvest in 2012.


post-weeding photo to come…this might take me a while!

What fun things did you do with your parents or grandparents as a kid that you still enjoy doing today, even if it’s a little nerdy?


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I Found My Motivation and Will Power

What a busy past couple of weeks it’s been!  I’ve been to Chicago and Cedar Rapids twice.  Somewhere between Grinnell and Joliet I misplaced my motivation and will power.  Between the amount of food and drinks, mixed with my need for sleep, I’ve dropped the ball on a number of my training runs.  Granted, it’s during tapering, but there is a plan for a reason.  At this point, I’m hoping the few short (and slow) runs this week, along with my positive attitude 🙂 will pull me through 26.2 miles on Sunday!  I can’t believe it’s almost here!

Good news!  My motivation and will power has returned.  Maybe all I needed was a weekend visiting family and a lot of food to remind me how uncomfortable it is to stuff myself. 🙂

Check out some of the feast(s)!  (That’s right…there was more than one.  Three actually!)

Believe me…that was only the half of it!

Today I got back on track and can you believe it, I made it through the day without a bite of chocolate.  I might be addicted…I probably thought about it 200 times today.  I’ll treat myself to some tomorrow as a reward.

I started out with a 6 mile run.  The weather was great and without paying too much attention to my pace, I ended up with an 8:31 minute pace per mile…not too shabby!

Breakfast was a bunch of fruit.  Grapes, banana, and then an apple mid-morning.  Of course my daily cup of tea.  Today was Tazo China Green Tips


Lunch was my usual salad.  My black beans went old in the fridge, so I stuck with red pepper, corn, and salsa.  Simple but delicious.


As usual I had my Larabar for a snack.  And A LOT of water since I need to start hydrating for Sunday!


Dinner was some left over vegetable lasagna from last week.  It definitely didn’t look as good today, so here’s a look at the dish right out of the oven…something that didn’t make it onto the blog.  Thanks Aunt Linda (or should I say LS)!


Well, it’s past my bedtime.  I’m up for another run in the morning…if it’s not raining that is. 🙂

Sweet Dreams!

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Relax?…Why? – Another Busy Day in Cedar Rapids

Saturday seemed to last forever and it couldn’t have been better!  Sunday was no less busy.  The whole reason I was in Cedar Rapids was because Mom had suggested I sign up for the 2010 4th Annual New Bo Fest Half Marathon.  The church to which my family has belonged for as long as I can remember is St. Wenceslas Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids.  During the 2008 flood, that area of town was completely devastated. 

Already an area of Cedar Rapids in need of a little love and revitalization, the floods might have been both the worst and the best thing to happen to parts of the area.  There has been so much hard work put into rebuilding the area and the support from the community is matched by none.  Help came from not just Cedar Rapids, but from around the state and even out-of-state.  Some of those groups include St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines, the Loras College cross-country men and women’s teams, an AmeriCorp crew, a group of Regis Middle School 8th graders, a group organized by the United Way of East Central Iowa, the University of Notre Dame, and the Mount Mercy University Campus Ministry.  What an outpouring of support!

I’m sure I’ll write more about this later, but I just had to post a couple of photos.  Look how beautiful the church looks now!

Back to the race…the gun went off at 8:00 am and if you look at the results, there are two race times.  Why?  Well, in many races you are given a chip that is tied to your shoe.  There is then a map at the start line and a map at the finish line (sometimes in the same spot).  That map tracks your actual time or your “chip time” and then there is the “gun time.”  Depending on how many people are in a race, it can often take up to a minute to get from where you’re actually starting to the finish line.  The “chip time” gives you a chance to account for those missed seconds, which can often mean getting a personal record or not.

The route was just OK.  There were some nasty hills and a good chunk of the race took place on a limestone trail – the Sac and Fox Trail.  Another obstacle, although one I was able to avoid (I’m not sure everyone else did) was a couple of occurances of trail tracks.  I was barely able to make one of the tracks!  In the end, I finished my 13.1 miles in 1:46:19 (chip time) for a PR (personal record) of 8:05 minute average pace.  I didn’t realize until I was typing up this post that I actually got 4th in my age group, 13th among the females and 64th overall.  Not too bad for 306 competitors!

After the race, I couldn’t hang around long.  It was off to mass I went. 

Next on the schedule…bridal shower for a family friend.  As I find is the case often in Iowa, we had more than one connection to the bridal party.  The parents of the bride-to-be went to high school with my parents and have been friends for as long as I can remember.  The bride-to-be was a year younger than I in school, but we hung out as kids when we were young.  The groom is the same age as my brother (brother #1) and they played soccer together for years.  My mom, being the active volunteer parent, was their soccer coach and spent a lot of time helping the parents of the groom setting up the little league soccer program.  So there were many familiar faces at the shower. 

Held at the Amana Colonies Golf Course, the decorations were simple, yet elegant and the food was delicious!  And what a view!

Next up…family get-together and a chance to meet our new cousin, Elise Maria Rivera, daughter of my cousin Emily and her husband Nick who live in New Jersey.  She is such a doll!

Of course we couldn’t arrive without food and gifts!  (Tasty vegetable pizza and a great go-to appetizer!)

Last on our schedule for the night…some campfire time and bringing back memories.

Every year my grandparents have a campout and campfire for Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day.  Out of the many years we’d had the festivities, I’m not sure I ever slept outside.  Whether it was the ghost stories told by Aunt Jenny that scared me inside or the storms that forced us in, I usually ended up in a small tent we could fit inside or on the pull-out in the living room. 

This year’s Labor Day brought some storms.  Since I’m apparently too boring to go camping, brother #4 and his friends took the reins and while they started with the tent down the hill next to the pond, the wind, lightening, and eventually rain forced them into the garage.  Is it really camping if you have video games and television to keep you company?  I think not, but at least they had fun.  My favorite part of the evening was sitting on the semi-covered porch listening to the thunder and trying to keep from getting rained on.  It’s one of my top 10 favorite memories from growing up.

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