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One of my favorite things to do at seven years old was round-off flip flops in the back yard. Hours were chewed up whole in the run, run, run, hands hitting the ground, then legs, then my whole body vaulting backwards. Bounce up. Run back to the start. Repeat. I rarely (if ever) added new tricks. Mastery was the point, I think now, but back then it was just about doing it beautifully.

Six months later, I moved onto learning the Greek alphabet. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta… Then, reaching twelve perfect games in Jacks.(Remember Jacks? The little rubber balls, the deadly metal jacks that would get you a good spanking if you left them out on the floor where your father would invariably step on them, the drawstring bag you made with your mother that was supposed to keep them all off the floor when you weren’t playing with them?) For many, many months I sat splayed on the terrazzo tile floor, a rectangular carpet remnant under my behind, tossing a pink rubber ball into the air and scooping up one jack at a time, then two, and so on, until all six were swiped off the floor at the same time. Game over, but time to move to the next level. Think video game but with actual dangerous metal projectiles. This wasn’t just a game, it was a quest.

In between Jacks, Greek words and gymnastics, came the summers trying to perfect the front one-and-a-half off the diving board. A long cotton t-shirt over my bathing suit was the ’70s version of a sun shirt, used, not for sun protection, but belly flop protection. Perfecting a one-and-a-half necessitates a lot of belly (and back) landing, you know. Again, rarely were new tricks tried. At least not by me.

This morning during my early run with friends, talk turned to upcoming races (doesn’t it always?). Names were thrown around. Courses discussed. I listened, offering up my two cents when it mattered (and even when it didn’t). Every time a new race was brought up, I paused, caught in that moment of “I want to do that” excitement that I always feel. My mind moved like a roller coaster through what the course probably looks like, what it would feel like to run it. It’s exhilarating for a moment, the imagined running of trails on mountains, being “out there”, climbing and descending.

But because I’m me, because I like repetition and doing something over and over again until I don’t want to do it anymore, I’ve signed up for 6 Days at the Fair. Somewhere during my winter break/mental health vacation, I made peace with loop running, but decided I just can’t bear another 24 Hour race (at least for now). So, of course, the answer is to do MORE. I really enjoyed the 72 Hour race at Across the Years, but with both kids away now, I thought I would take advantage of having the time to run as much I want. And come on, running around a one mile loop for six days?! OCD nirvana!

This doesn’t mean I’m not still running trails sometimes, or avoiding hill/mountain runs. I do love dirt and going up and down. But what I really love is doing something again and again until I feel complete. Satisfied. And I’m not quite there, yet.

 

 

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Chicken Broth, Soup and Cookies 020

It’s one of those rare days in the desert – overcast, cold, damp. But because it is so rare, it feels wonderful instead of depressing, like I think it would be if you lived somewhere dark and damp most of the year. Or maybe not. What do I know? Maybe suffering under a spotlight sun 350 days a year would be enough to drive some mad. I’ve only ever lived in Texas and California, so I presume sunshine like others presume oxygen; I only notice it when it’s missing.

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But enough of my waxing philosophical about the weather. I really want to talk about chicken broth (this is a sentence I never thought I would write). Homemade chicken broth is the easiest, yet most rewarding, thing you will ever make. I promise. Really. There isn’t even a need for a recipe, just general guidelines. And time. The more, the better.

This morning, after my first run, I pulled a chicken carcass out of the freezer. Much to Tim’s dismay, my laundry room freezer is stuffed full of carcasses (That is the proper pluralification, people. I looked it up. Just ignore the word if you’re a professional grammarian. I’m not consciously trying to drive you crazy.). Every time we have any sort of dish involving roast chicken, which is often since I love roast chicken in about 100 things, I stash the leftover bird in the freezer. Then, about once a week, I throw it in a pot with some water, seasonings and vegetables and let it do it’s thing while I do my thing. Eight to twelve hours later, shazam!, chicken broth.

Okay, I know some of you are asking yourself, why in the world would I want to spend eight hours making anything when I can hop over to the store and just buy chicken broth? I understand you. I felt exactly the same way. That is, until I had soup with homemade chicken broth. You see, the difference between soup made with store-bought chicken broth (even the good stuff) and homemade is like the difference between PopTarts and your mom’s cherry pie (unless her pie bites, and then ignore this sentence). It’s not that there isn’t a time and a place for PopTarts (like while driving in your car when you’re late for a meeting) versus homemade pie, but if you have a choice, I would hope you would pick the homemade pie.

Now, on top of just the superior taste element of homemade broth, I could also go into the whole spiel about the health benefits of actual bone broth versus sodium/preservative/additive store-bought broth, but I won’t. From all the e-mails I get, I know y’all are a lot smarter than me. You probably eat a lot better than I do, too, so I’m not going to lecture you about how good broth is for you. But it is. Just so you know.

Anyway, I just wanted to wrap this up by telling those of you who have reached out to me about my running: Thank you so much for caring. I took two months off and feel much better. I always forget how exhausted I am by the end of the year. I’m like the little kid who keeps wailing, “But I don’t need a nap! I’m not tired! I just want to play!” right before she falls asleep on the living room floor. I was tired and disappointed in my performances, but I didn’t want to admit it. I hate working super hard and then failing.

But, I’m training again, have a few races on the horizon, and am back in the kitchen. The long nap (and white wine and cake) helped and I’m ready to go back out and play.

Love you guys! Thanks for reading!

 

Homemade Chicken Broth

Really, there isn’t much more to tell y’all. Just take your leftover whole chicken carcass, throw it in a big pot of water (enough to fully cover the bird), add a chopped onion, a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery, some garlic, thyme, bay leaves, a tablespoon of white vinegar, salt and pepper and let it simmer for as long as you have time. I let it go for at least 6 hours (the longer you let it simmer, the more of the “bone broth” benefits you will get). If you aren’t going to around most of the day, do it in a crock pot – it all works!

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When it’s done, just strain the liquid and toss the solids. Use the broth just like you would any other broth. It really will make a difference in your food, especially soups and stews. As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, I used mine for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – super easy and delicious!

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Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (Corn Cheddar Chowder)

December 9, 2016

It has finally gotten cold in the desert, so I must admit, I’m spending more time running indoors. Like 15 of my 20 per day miles, indoors. Like I’m having to take Vitamin D supplements in one of the sunniest places in the country, indoors. Yes, I am a big fat baby. But since I’m […]

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When Mom and Dad Give You Lemons From a Tree Named Fred (Classic Lemon Squares)

December 7, 2016

This is a weird time of year for baking. I seem to be simultaneously up to my eyeballs in baked goods while constantly craving something I don’t have. Maybe it’s because everywhere I look there are recipes for gingerbread, spice cake, and rum balls, but my body is screaming (okay, probably just humming) for the […]

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Is There a Diamond Bauble For, “I Accidentally Called You Fat?”

December 1, 2016

Weird. With all this “nontraining” running I’m doing, I’ve lost weight. I’ve been kind of bragging/lamenting/bragging to Tim about it for a couple of weeks and he’s chosen to (mostly) ignore me. He knows this is a minefield. If he agrees/notices/comments, he’s in for the inevitable firestorm of: SO YOU THOUGHT I WAS HEAVY BEFORE? […]

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I’m So Zen, I’m Scary

November 30, 2016

Loops, how I love thee. Yes, I wrote that. And I mean it, so stop reading now if you were expecting something deeper. Or at least interesting. I’ve been thinking a lot about loops lately. Mostly because they are the only kind of running I feel like doing right now. The only kind of running […]

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You’ll Be Happy to Know All of My Relatives Are Still Alive

November 28, 2016

So many kind e-mails, comments, Tweets and texts about my last post. To all of you: thank you. I love you for caring and taking the time to read, skim, or open and immediately close this blog in utter exasperation. I really just write this stuff down because I have too much time on my […]

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Why I Quit Running (Okay, that’s not entirely true, but don’t tell my body)

November 2, 2016

So I haven’t quit running. I’ve just quit RUNNING. For now. I’m tired. Bone-deep tired. Twenty to forty miles a day tired. As I’ve talked about on many, many, many (I know) occasions (one of the problems with the blog format – you have to “refresh” regularly in case a reader shows up here by […]

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Anything But Food (or, Somedays there just aren’t enough miles for the hours)

October 25, 2016

I don’t want to talk about food today. Do you mind? I had a big, like the size of a Frisbee, slab of chicken fried steak for lunch and I’m feeling a little bilious. Although it probably wasn’t the size of the batter fried beef that did it, but rather the slurry of cream gravy […]

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Salted Toffee Brownies (or, What I Invented Because My Shoes Often Don’t Match)

October 19, 2016

How do you feel about brownies? I’m kind of meh about them. I like them fine, but when the world is full of sweets that have me obsessing about them at two o’clock in the morning, a brownie just isn’t ringing my bell. I’m not losing sleep over a brick of chocolate stranded between the […]

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