Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lazy Weekend

This is actually the third blog I've written this week. The last two seemed more like personal journals and so I decided not to publish them. At least not yet. So here I am, delaying today's 10k training by writing another blog and watching the Cubs game.

I have had a great weekend so far, as far as weekends alone can go. I was craving a burger and fries yesterday but I have done such a good job at keeping to my budget and not eating out that I decided I couldn't break it. Instead, when I went to the grocery store, I purchased some ground beef and splurged on Ore-Ida fries (crinkle cut since that is what I was envisioning). On a whim, I bought some greek yogurt and fruit, in an attempt to make a healthy fruit salad that is PCOS-diet friendly. I made it about an hour ago. It was so tasty I had to sneak a bowl of it, which I am eating now. Greek yogurt has a ton of protein in it and balances out the carbs in the fruit. This is so divine!

Yesterday was among the laziest Saturdays I've had this year. It was rainy til about 5pm. I slept until 8am then went to the bookstore to check for a book that I had heard about. Since B&N was having their teacher special week, I bought 3 books! The one I had intended, it's sequel and a book about the GI diet, something I know I need to consider when I eat but haven't really investigated yet. Trust me, it is not easy to always eat protein whenever you eat/drink something with carbs. I'm improving by leaps and bounds and actually feel healthier when I eat. I'll read the GI book soon and keep you posted.

The remainder of Saturday was spent reading the 2 books I had bought (280 pages each). Sometime around 5pm I went to the grocery store, made my amazing burger dinner followed by a box of dairy-free brownies I needed to use up before they expired (still amazing as any brownie I've ever had - gooey and chocolaty!) Then I watched some sports and a Hallmark movie and then bed.

I've been resisting going to church down here. I found a place with a large congregation (about 1/2 the size of what I'm used to), good worship and pretty good preaching but it still isn't Park. I miss the maps. The challenging voice in Jackson and JR's message. I miss seeing a room full of people my age. Thankfully a good friend pushed me to go back and being Palm Sunday, I made sure I did so this morning. The message was insightful. So many things about that day 2000 years ago that I hadn't thought about. I have some studying and reading up to do.

I made another burger for lunch (no fries this time). Let me tell you, a burger loaded with pickles, lettuce and just a hint of mayo is phenomenal. Pickles make the sandwich. The toasted bun does too.

That brings us to now. The Cubs are tied in the 8th. Looking okay. I hear the Hawks are on but I didn't see them on any channel here. Hopefully I can find that game. Bulls are on tv tomorrow night against Indy. I hope they win again. They are on fire right now! White Sox lost again today. Dodgers just aren't their team to beat this week.

I promised myself that if I had some fruit salad I would go for a run. It's a 52 min run today which will probably be about 4 miles. I've got 13 days until the 10k race and I have yet to reach the 6 mile mark. I'm not worried. I've done pretty good on these run 2 minutes walk 3 minutes routine and I think I can step it up a notch by the race. Correction, I know I can. I'll be thrilled to say I've run my first 10k race. Can't be too much harder than an 8k, can it?

Alright, time to get suited up. Chat with you all again soon! Hopefully with a bit more substance to report...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Italy Part 7: I visit a Tuscan Winery

30 June 2010 (above photo courtesy of Il Palagio website)

IMAGINE scenery filled with lush green grass, green trees, and occasional mountain slopes that look more like cliffs that cut through the country side. On this particular day on our journey, we were heading from Cambria in the south through Lazio and then Toscana, known in English as Tuscany.

If you know anything about Italy, it is probably the people, cities and events that have happened in Tuscany more than anywhere else in this country. Florence, Siena and Pisa are all cities in Tuscany. It has been home to Michelangeo, Dante, Petrarch, da Vinci, Galilei, Vespucci, Puccini and of course, the Medici.

With all of this in mind, our bus headed towards a Autogrill for our mid-afternoon stop. Greeting us there was a group of very handsome looking Polizia. They were young and as we all hung out front we tried to subtly take photos with them in it. Italian police don't like you to take photos with them. Nonetheless, I snapped one with them in the background. It's not the best but does the trick to remembering this gorgeous group of men!

We continued on our trek through the gorgeous scenery of Toscana and soon arrived down some narrow, winding roads just about 30 minutes south of Florence. This was immaculate landscaping. A combination of natural meets planned. Rows of grape vines butted up against rows of olive trees. Nestled between them was a gorgeous, 800+ year old building. Much of the building was stonework but one side was a mustard yellow shade with brown accents. The stones were a mismatch from the various centuries but it gave the "castle" so much character. I think the translation from Italian to English should really make this building to be a fort, not a castle, but it was called Il Palagio (Palace).

We toured the grounds along the olive trees where baby olives were just starting to sprout, chickens roaming near a small barn nearby. We also entered inside the building through a large, iron door to the basement of the ancient winery (can something 800 years old be ancient?) where dozens of huge barrels full of aging chianti lined the dark, cellar walls. We saw what is claimed to be the largest wine barrel in the world. I took a photo with it but you can't tell because I couldn't get the whole barrel in the shot.

We then had a lovely wine tasting paired with cheeses, crackers and tapenades under a awning draped courtyard. My group sat in rows of chairs and toasted (Salute!) with each sampling. It was a gorgeous spring day and we had so many great memories ahead of us, despite the numerous memories I had already made in Modena and in Sorrento/Capri.

Up next...we arrive in Firenze - Florence - Home of the Renaissance.