Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Excuse me, may I have that recipe?

Okay, so it is no secret that I have struggled with being a cook.  So it is a huge shock when friends are asking ME for recipes and actually using them and naming them things such as "Keri's BBQ Chicken."

Don't freak out, but I actually kind of made up a recipe the other day.  GASP...I will let you pick your jaw up off the floor.  Yes, I took a beef enchilada receipe from Southern Living and turned it into chicken with my modifications.

Allow me to explain how this all began:

Ken and I have been together for six years.  For the first five years or so, I considered "making dinner" either cooking a frozen pizza or if I was feeling fancy, making Hamburger Helper.  You heard that right, I said Hamburger Helper.  I must remind you that he did fall in love with me despite my lack of cooking.  My mom used to tell me it is a good thing I am cute...

I did not buy chicken or any other kind of meat for the longest time, heck, I did not even walk to the meat aisle of the grocery store.  I finally learned how to buy hamburger and chicken.  That is when Ken started enjoying gourmet Hamburger Helper meals.  :)

It was a big moment this past year when I learned you can buy meat and freeze it.  Big, big day at our house. 

With learning that you can freeze meat, I started buying a few cookbooks.  I started with a few from Gooseberry Patch.  I think Ken thought I was nuts when I was excited about cookbooks arriving in the mail, but he quickly learned this meant good things for him. 

Not only did I start using cookbooks, but I also started getting recipes off the internet.  Look out housewives, here comes Keri. 

This all led me to planning meals.  You know, since I can freeze meat, I can plan out a week of meals that do not include frozen pizzas?  You have to be kidding...

Fast forward to now, and the girl that used to bring store bought cookies to Game Night is now bringing homemade deliciousness.  That's right, girlfriend can whip things together.  And guess what, people ooh and awe and ask for the recipes.  Oh my goodness, who would have thought?

I think the moment that I officially arrived was over the weekend when my friend Heather, aka The Domestic Diva, said that she is started to feel threatened with my baking and cooking.  Wow, sounds like there is a new Sheriff in town. 

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting

Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


• 2 cups sugar
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 4 large eggs
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups pumpkin puree or cooked mashed pumpkin
• cream cheese frosting, below
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans


Directions for pumpkin cake

Combine sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl; stir into oil mixture, beating well. Stir in pumpkin puree.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 9-inch round layer cake pans. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes. Turn out onto racks to cool. Frost pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl; beat well until smooth. Makes enough for 2-layer pumpkin cake.

My modifications:  I used a 15 oz can of pumpkin instead of two full cups.  I also added Pumpkin Pie Spice, All Spice, and Nutmeg to the mix.  Add a 1/4 tsp of each and modify according to taste.  I also adding extra cinnamon.  Make sure and taste the batter before you bake and add more spices according to your preference.  I also made extra icing, because what is a cake without a lot of icing?

(original recipe from About.com)

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Keri Kind of Post...

  • First off, a reminder to all drivers commuting North bound on I-35 in Johnson County between 8:00 am and 8:30 am:  Your turn signal is simply a request to change lanes and only a request.  Just because you turn it on does not mean just come on over into my lane.  You know what happens when you assume. 
  • Dear Creepy Man in the Rapist Van who stared at me while I was putting my lip gloss on at a stoplight:  I have your license plate number, so scoot.
  • Apparently it is too early to begin planning vacations for 2011.  I am not sure it was the third eye roll that lead me to believe this or the fact that Ken about flipped out when I mentioned California 2011. 
  • I will bring this up again next month to gage the response by Ken.
  • You know what else Ken thinks it is too early to hear about, my next marathon.  Apparently he did not get the memo that I must have it planned within the next few weeks or there is nothing to obsess about!
  • I ran a total of 11 miles last week.  I was surprised that I was not that sore after the marathon.  I waited until Thursday to run.  Ken said I was crazy for wanting to run so early, but I had so much Halloween candy last week, that I had to take matters into my own hands.
  • I had a pumpkin pie concrete from Sheridan's yesterday.  They boast an entire piece of pumpkin pie in each concrete.  Mine must have had a piece of pie meant for a two year old.  They must not have known that the Pumpkin Queen was ordering, surely they would have given me more pumpkin pie in there...
  • On Friday I had the pleasure of speaking to Marcus at Wells Fargo.  Apparently they will not cash a check that has one amount hand written and a different amount in the numerical box.  Marcus reminded me that the hand written amount is what they go by.  Thanks Marcus, I have only been writing checks for about 10 years. 
  • What is the limit on bottles of coffee creamer you can have in your fridge before you have an issue?  Three?  Well I have six.  All different flavors of course and three of them are holiday flavors.  I may or may not have done a cart wheel in Price Chopper yesterday after I saw the holiday flavors. 
  • I spent my Saturday with Heather, Michelle, and Melissa shopping in Atchison, KS.  Fun was had by all. 
 Me, Heather, Michelle, and Melissa (thanks for the picture Melissa!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicago Marathon 10-10-10...

I ended up getting a good night sleep on Saturday night.  I set the alarm for 5:45 am, but was wide awake at 5:00 am so I decided to go ahead and get up.  I turned on the TV and watched a little Full House while drinking my coffee (what can I say, I am a child of the 90's).  I enjoyed my coffee and breakfast, nothing like making yourself eat a Cliff bar at 5:00 am.  Yum.  I got dressed and patiently waited for Ken to wake up. 

Ken thought it was important to show the difference between our weekends.  Him - staying up late watching baseball while enjoying a few beers.  Me - waking up at 5:00 am to run 26.2 miles. 

Ken and I said our goodbyes and I made my way to Grant Park.  I only had about a half mile walk to the park from our apartment.  The start area was very organized.  I walked in and found my way to the open start coral.  (Next year, I will be in a seeded coral!)  I retied my left shoe about 30 times.  Seriously.  Ken would tell me to stop obsessing about it.  It kept feeling too tight then too loose.  I knew we just needed to get started or I would never stop with my shoes!

I was expecting there to be a lot of spectators, but I really had no idea how huge this marathon is.  It was great.  People lined the streets four and five people deep.  People were cheering, bands were playing, cow bells were ringing, it was really something. 

I was concerned with the race being super crowded, but I never felt that way.  I did later tell Ken that I missed seeing a lot of landmarks such as Wrigley Field, because I had to watch the people in front of me to make sure I did not run into anyone.  So in that aspect, yes it was crowded, but not too crowded where you lose your pace. 

My strategy was to run the first half faster so that I could slow down at the end.  I have always found that no matter what, I slow down at the end.  Plus, the forecast was for 80 degree temps that day, so I wanted to be prepared if I got any leg cramps later in the race. 

I had planned to see Ken just after the start, but there were too many people that I did not see him.  He planned on seeing me around mile 3 as well, but realized that he had just missed me when he saw the 4:15 pace group run by.  I could not believe all of the people that were lined up cheering.  It was unreal. 

I lost my Garmin signal when we ran inside the loop, so I ended up taking it off of auto lap and just hitting lap at each mile.  I started sweating during the first mile and knew it was going to be HOT.  At the first aid station, I took a salt capsule.  Thanks to Aron for the tips!

 5K - 28:01   Average pace: 9:01

I had originally planned on skipping two aid stations, one around mile five and one around mile 11, but decided against it when I realized it was going to be so warm.  I took my first Gu around mile six and then took another salt capsule around mile 8 or 9. 

10K - 55:27   Average pace: 8:50
15K - 1:22:34   Average pace:  8:44

I thought that the text updates were going out as soon as I crossed the mat, but I was so wrong.  They were delayed in some cases by over and hour.  I thought that when Ken saw me around mile 12, that he knew I was on pace for a great finish, but he had no idea! 

20K - 1:49:47   Average pace: 8:46

I saw Ken and I was so worried that he would not see me!  I yelled and waved and smiled as big as I could.  I was so thrilled to see him when I did.  It was such a boost! 

This picture cracks me up.  You can barely see my little hand behind that guys head. 

At the half way mark, I was still feeling pretty good.  There was a lot of shade on the course, (at least while I was running) and that made it a little easier to deal with the heat.  I had my second Gu around mile 12-13.  One of my favorite parts of the marathon was around this point.  The Merrill Lynch cheer zone was right around here and it was so loud!  People were screaming and ringing cow bells like crazy!

Halfway - 1:55:53   Average pace:  8:57

Around mile 14, I could tell my pace was starting to slow just a little.  I decided to take two Advil along with a salt capsule.  I kind of felt my left knee get a little stiff.  That quickly faded and I was back to feeling fine. 

25K - 2:17:33   Average pace:  8:57

I took another Gu around mile 16.  At this point I was drinking water and gatorade at every aid station and was dumping a cup of water into my bra.  Wet sponges were handed out twice on the course as well and there were several misting stations available.  Local residents also set up garden hoses.  I tried to run thru water every change I had.  I was still feeling fine, not sick or overheated. 

30K - 2:45:17   Average pace:  8:56

Running thru Chinatown was one of my favorite things.  It was such a fun time in the race, hearing the music, being tired, but also knowing it was close to being over.  It was at mile 19 that I realized as long as I could maintain 10 minute miles, that I would come in right under four hours.  Knowing that anything could happen, I told myself to keep running at the pace I was, and see what happens.  I was so afraid that I would get a leg cramp and would be forced to walk and ruin my great race. 

Accel Gel was handed up around mile 18-19.  I grabbed one, just in case, but did not want to take it unless I had to, since I had never tried this brand before.  I did take my final Gu around mile 20.

35K - 3:13:57  Average pace:  9:14

At this point, all I could think about was getting back on to Michigan Ave.  I knew once we made the turn that it would not be long until the end.  I kept chugging along and tried to think positive and not think about the people walking around me.  I was still feeling pretty good.  I kept waiting for the moment where I would cramp up and need to walk.  I finally walked thru an aid station around mile 22-23.  Up until this point, I had been running thru them and drinking on the go.  Which I thought was fun!

40K - 3:43:42    Average pace:  9:35

I really started to see people go down at this point in the race.  It was brutal.  There was still a little shade on the right side of the street, so I tried to stay over there to run out of the sun.  I walked for about 10-20 seconds thru the last two aid stations.  I saw a girl that was over in a medical tent that was completely submerged in a kiddie pool with ice.  Talk about SCARY.  I chugged along and got super excited when an intercom annouced you are almost there, you are going to finish the Chicago Marathon!  I knew I was going to come in under four hours.  I saw the 800 meters to go sign and smiled great big.  Just don't fall is all I kept thinking. 

We made the turn onto Roosevelt and I started looking for Ken.  I never found him, but he did see me.  I still do not think he realized that I was going to finish in under four hours. 

 Ken's finish line view.  He saw several people running and then they would fall.  It saw a lot of people being carted off with medial when they are literally 200 meters from the finish line.  So sad.

Here I come, so excited!  (blonde in the pink shorts, you know just in case you thought for two seconds that I am a man :))

I love this picture of me from behind

I literally had no sprint in me.  I tried to sprint, but lets be real, it was the same pace I had been running.  Sprinting at the end, well, we like to think we can, but most of us just can't or we will fall and look like idiots. 

Finish - 3:56:20  Average pace:  9:16

I stopped my watch and clapped my hands and said Yay, yay!  I walked and got my mylar blanket and medal and called Ken.  He was having trouble hearing me, but I told him I did it.  I do not think he heard me, and he told me he would call me when he could hear me. 

The finish area looked like a war zone.  People were laying down everywhere with ice packs all over them.  I really felt lucky to have made it thru the race as well as I did.  They were passing out free beer so I grabbed one to give to Ken, but I was not allowed to take it out of the finish area.  Sorry Ken. 

I called Ken and he was just around the fountain from where I was.  He found me and was thrilled at my finish time!  Hearing him tell me how proud he is of me makes it all worth it. 

We started the walk back to the apartment and chatted about the race.  I still could not believe how great I felt.  The first thing we did when we got back to our building was stop for gelato.  I asked what flavor one was and the lady told me it was.....PUMPKIN!!!!  It was meant to be.  It was like she was an angel singing PUMPKIN GELATO! 
I of course got out of my soaking wet clothes, showered, and napped for a bit. 
 Looking rough, but still thrilled

I received so many sweet messages from my friends about my finish time.  My mom told me that had she been there she would have down a cartwheel in excitement.  It felt so great to be so proud of a finish time.  Don't get me wrong, a marathon finish is enough to be proud of in itself, but when you finally reach a goal that you trained so hard for, it makes it so much better. 

When I returned to work on Tuesday, I came into my office filled with balloons and 3:56 all over my door.  What a great way to start my day!  I am still thrilled to death about my finish time. 

After hanging out all afternoon, we made our way to Chinatown for dinner and a little shopping.  

I absolutely, LOVED this marathon.  It was so great.  It was the flattest course I have ever seen, it was organized, it was spectator friendly (which is huge for Ken), and the fans were just amazing.  I am 90% certain that I am running this marathon again next year.  But first, I have something else planned for Spring of 2011.  That's right, I plan on training to try to qualify for Boston.

Thank you Ken for chasing me around the city and waiting for me at the finish line!

Chicago Marathon...Prerace

I was on the fence about signing up for this race from the start.  I had registered in 2008 and was unable to run it since I broke my foot walking out the front door with Kya.  Nice.  When I realized that the date would be 10-10-10, I knew I had to sign up.  The number 10 is Ken's favorite number.  I cannot think of a better way to spend the day than by running a marathon.

We arrived on Friday after flying into Midway.  We took the train and made our way downtown to our apartment.  Side note:  I am fortunate enough to work in the corporate housing industry and receive housing of my own in certain cities.  We chose to stay in an apartment instead of a hotel.  Let me tell you, staying in an apartment is so much better.  I can go to bed early and Ken can stay up in the living room and watch TV. 

Here is the view outside our apartment.  We overlooked the Chicago River and watched sailboats come in.  It was such a gorgeous view.

On Friday night, we made our way down to Navy Pier.  Ken told me it would be similar to the Fisherman's Wharf area in San Francisco.  I prefer the freaks and sea lions in San Fran, but it was fun to check it out.  The Chicago skyline is gorgeous!

On Saturday, we ventured off to the expo.  We ended up walking from our apartment, which was about a mile and a half walk.  Ken will tell you it was about 10 miles, but trust me, it was not more than two. 

I am not a huge fan of expos.  I think they are crowded and I would much rather order the items offered there online and have them conveniently shipped to my door.  This expo was huge and well organized.  I did end up buying a shirt from Niketown.  That experience in itself was enough to remind me why I shop online.  You could not even walk in the Niketown booth area without bumping into someone.  INSANE. 

This here is my favorite picture from the weekend.  As we were leaving the expo, we noticed this gentleman wearing a skin tight Asics, not sure what you call it, leotard?  Anyway, we just had to have a picture.  Perhaps this is what I should sport during my next marathon.  No? 

At lunch, I was asked if I too were running the marathon with my husband.  I informed the lady that my husband was just being kind and carrying my bag and that he was in no way, shape, or form running the marathon.  Later that evening Ken was carrying a 12 pack of beer in the elevator and a man asked him if he were running the marathon in the morning.  Did you hear that, he was carrying a 12 pack of beer and was still thought to be a marathon runner.  Ah, to have those long legs...sigh.

Ken...sherpa or poser???  You decide.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010



More to come this evening or tomorrow.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Here we go!

The training runs have been completed, water has been consumed, and carbs have been eaten.  So excited!  Just when I thought Ken was tired of hearing about the marathon, I get a delivery at work:

My Dashing Daisies, how fitting for the mad dash I am making on Sunday

Ken is so stinky sweet!  I was so surprised to receive these good luck flowers.  I am lucky girl to have him as my husband.

Well, there is no secret, my goal is to finish in under 4:00.  I have worked hard toward this goal and really hope it all comes together on Sunday.  Look out Chicago, I am on my way!

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Race Week!

Yay for race week!  I think Ken is ready for this week to pass so that I stop talking about Chicago.  Sorry Ken, when you married me, you married my obsessive personality.  Best of luck to you.

I have checked the weather about 10 times.  It keeps getting warmer, but a high of 73 should not be too bad.  At least there is no question on what outfit to wear.  The sad thing is, I told Ken back in June what I was wearing for the marathon and he thought I was crazy.  I think he may have told me to get a life. 

A girl in my office came in Friday very sick.  I told her if she got me sick a week before my marathon that I would kill her.  I am not sure if it were my tone or the evil look in my eye, but my boss said that he believed me and sent the girl home to take a sick day...

I ran my last long run yesterday.  It was a total of eight miles.  I ran 4.5 by myself and Kya ran the remaining 3.5 with me.  She had a blast.  I was trying to keep the pace slow, but I ended up running the entire thing with nine minute miles, which is my hopeful marathon pace.  My legs feel really fresh today, so I hope I did not run it too quickly.  I am planning on taking it easy for the rest of the week. 

In other news, I had a dream about the marathon itself.  In my dream, I was carrying around a bag of Plain, Fall colored, M&M's.  Not an individual bag, an entire one pound bag.  I did not have the bag stuffed in my ifitness belt, I was carrying the sucker in my hand and eating them casually like it was totally normal.  I remember thinking that I should be taking a Gu, but instead stuffed my mouth with another handful of M&M's.  Not sure what this means.  Perhaps, I should lay off the M&M's for the rest of the week or maybe I should stuff some in my shorts on race day?