movin’ on up…

…ok, so here’s the exciting news!  I’m now self-hosted!  Ok, not self=hosted really, cause I’m Ariela-hosted.  But, close enough…

Pen at Peace has moved!
Pen at Peace can now be found at:

Don’t forget to update your Feed Readers! :)

[Ariela's Special Editor's Note] We’re still making some changes to the style, format, and general awesome-loading-time for Pen at Peace, so get excited for P@P 2.0!

(Murphy’s) Law and Order.

So I was supposed to have a trial today.  So I went all game-facey.

I totally look like I know what I’m doing? Right?  Yea, that lasted appx 10 sec.  Because right after this picture was taken, things starting falling apart.  Because, as Chinua Achebe would tell you, Things Fall Apart. (Holla AP English from a decade ago.)

Ok, so take a look at those pearls that are “borrowed” from my mom right now.  Did you know that you can snag pearls on a microwave door?  Yep .  You can.  I didn’t know that.  I was all hurry hurry rush rush, get to court.  Stuck an apple + flax + brown sugar + cinnamon in the microwave and grabbed it out, only to catch my necklace on the door and send the pearls spilling all over the kitchen floor.

Of course, I then yelled frick! Sprinted up the stairs, and put on my grandmother’s lucky mikomotos.  I break them out only on special occasions because I heart them/her so much.

I finally grabbed the brekky out of the microwave, and balancing a redwell full of files, ran out the door.

And then, of course I hit every red light on the way to court. Frick Frick.

I run up to court and I’m already 5 minutes late because I had to change my necklace.  I’m not that superficial…but some juries are.  For serious. But, anyway, I get up into court and they are already checking in all the jurors and stuff.  I’m rushing in, dodging the crowds, still carrying my uneaten brekky.  I get to the attorney sideroom, and plop my redwell down.

At that moment, I KNOW something is wrong.  The pen that had been clipped to my files is feeling a little to nice and snuggly up to my leg.  And frick. My pen is caught on my stockings.

Ok, deep breath.  You can pull the pen out, and maybe only have a little hole.  Yes. yessssssss. Ok, pen is out. I have a small hole.  I ask around, do you think the jury will notice? (because I, of course, have no spare stockings).

And then I bend down to really look at the hole. AND FRICK. The hole raaaaaaaaaan.

And. There I am.  Sitting in court.  About to start a trial. With a GIANT run in my stockings. And I don’t have any spare pairs.  And my mother would have my head if she knew I was considering going sans stockings.  And no southern jury would approve of a girl being in court without stockings (like I said, juries get hung up on interesting/unimportant/irrelevant things…).  And my run makes me look messy. And. FRICK.

So, I call over to the office.  And ask if any has a spare pair.  Forget the fact that I’m taller than everyone at the office.  If anyone has a pair, they’re only going to come up to my knees.  And no one has any.

And then. A court reporter called in sick.  And we can’t have the trial. And my trial is postponed until tomorrow. Sigh.

So, I sat second chair on another trial.  With a run in my stockings.  But I didn’t have to get up or have the jury see me.  So it was all ok.

And, while the jury was *briefly* deliberating…I did a bad thing.

A bad, but delish thing.

Ok, now my trial is really going tomorrow.  So, I’m off to rest and relax and get mentally all ready to go.  And, to go stick three extra pairs of stockings in my attache’. :)

Tales from the Crockpot.

So, I have a jury trial tomorrow that I need to prep for, so this is going to be super brief.

I got a crockpot for Christmas this year (my parents sent me home with all my presents, except my new camera, after Thanksgiving).  I had really wanted a crockpot so that things could cook while I was at work; and I could come home to a fresh cooked dinner–almost like having my very own househusband.  (And who wouldn’t want one of them?).  Today, I finally broke out the crock pot for dins.  I was apprehensive because all the recipes I saw for crockpot meals were meaty things.  And as I wrote two days ago, I’m done with meat.  But, I figured, it can’t hurt to try something in the crockpot.  If I fail, I can always have canned soup for dinner.

So, before work, I poured half a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix in the pot with 6 cups of veggie broth, some salt, oregano, and pepper.

When I got home, my house smelled so yummy and inviting and the soup was great!  All lentilly and mushy and yum.  It looked gross (hence no picture), but it was yummy.  And I would say my first crock pot adventure was a success (with many meals of leftovers).  For the entire pot, it cost about $3.50; with about 5 servings, so $0.70/serving.

Ok…time to go do some pushups, watch The Sing Off, and plan my opening statement.

ps. <3 The Sing Off, like whoa!  Anyone else an a capella groupie in college? Love me some a capella boys.


Strength Mondays:

  • Pushups: 25 (6, 6, 4, 4, 5)
  • Arm Lifting
    • Hammer Curls: 2X15 @ 10lbs
    • Runner’s Lift: 2X12 @10lbs
    • Lateral Raise: 2X8 @10lbs
    • Shrugs: 2X20 @10lbs
    • Upright Row: 2X15 @10lbs
    • note to self: invest in more than one set of dumbells.
  • Core:
    • Plank: 60sec
    • Side Plank: 60sec each side (arm bent)
    • Plank w/ elbows on ball: 45sec

I had to make a difficult financial decision yesterday. (And, if you are the parental units reading this, please DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, offer to buy me a tree.)  But, I sadly got my first speeding ticket as I drove home for Thanksgiving.  I need to pay that.  And with christmas shopping and the furnace and other related expenses, it came down to: pay for the ticket or buy a christmas tree. I could always put one on a credit card….but, I’m no longer using my credit cards until I can get them down to a zero balance.  Which, well, won’t be happening any time soon.

Oh heavens, I don’t even wish that I made the irresponsible decision..  My ticket is all paid off and now my house will be Christmas Tree-less this holiday.  Which really doesn’t bother me because we typically spend the holidays at the beach house with just a fake pink 1 ft tall sparkly tree.  And honestly, I feel more warm and fuzzy inside about being responsible and on top of things.  Even if I was willing to charge a tree, what’s the point?  I’d rather have financial peace of mind than foliage in my house.

And, in the grand scheme of things, the holidays aren’t about the things that you can throw money at. Aw, how sentimental and Disney-movie of me.

But, even without the tree, I had to do at least a little decorating.

I have a thing for snowmen…and blue and white holiday decorations (I’m just not a big fan of the red and green, even though those were my college’s colors, go wustl).

And, of course, the animals’ stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

Don’t worry, even with my new found fiscal responsibility, Santa Paws will not be disappointing the good little boy and girl in this house (though, it could be debated whether they are actually good little boys and girls).

Aaand moving on.  My house is sadly devoid of fresh veggies.  I did however stumble upon ORGANIC LOCAL PINK LADY APPLES (my absolute fav) at Earth Fare yesterday and bought 5 lbs!  And I bought some squashies, but there wasn’t much else in season there, so I didn’t buy anything.  And, when I thought about dinner, my first thought was, fine, I’ll just go to Nacho Mama’s for some yumminess. Instead, I said NO! You have food in the fridge.  EAT IT. And, I managed to make a pretty good, healthy and cheap meal.

Spinach Salad w/ black beans, stewed tomatos, green beans, goat cheese, and a spritz of balsamic vinaigrette.  The spinach was about 10 minutes from going bad.  And all the other veggies/legumes were sitting in cans in the pantry waiting to be eaten.  So often I forget about whats already in the pantry.  It turned out deliciously light , healthy, filling, and cheap (at about $1.80):

Which brings me to my first Frugal Foodie tip: Plan your meals ahead of time (I do the entire week on Sunday) and prepare what you can.  So often, I get home from work and don’t even want to think about what I’m going to eat.  I just want to eat.  But. this will help stop you from doing the easy thing and getting takeout when you are tired at the end of the day.  There are lots of things that you can do on the weekend to prepare for a weekday dinner.  Like making soup on the weekends.

In a similar vein, bring your lunch to work.  Packed lunch = major savings (both financially and health-wise as compared to eating out).  I find that packing lunch the night before helps, just in case I sleep in :).

There will be some extra special big wonderful news at P@P coming up…but I’m going to let the suspense linger for a little bit.  And, when there is something a little more definite to show for the news, I’ll let you all know.  Until then, go visit my bestest-ever’s blog who is making this surprise all possible.

Does anyone else have tips on how to keep yourself motivated to cook dinner after a long day at work??

Ok, I know I’m a little late to the Food, Inc. party.  But I finally got around to watching it today.  And, I dry heaved mostly all the way through it.  That and cried.  Crying and dry-heaving = the sign of a good movie? Actually, yes. There was not a bit of information that was new to me.  I’m actually quite well versed in food production and the animal and environmental consequences.  But, sometimes it helps to have it thrown back in your face, just to keep you on your toes and make sure you aren’t getting complacent.

And, oh my, that’s just what Food, Inc. did for me.

I’ve been a reformed veggie for a year or so now.  I.e. a former veggie who occasionally eats meat.

The funny thing is, I really have only one meat love.  Hot Dogs.

Which is truly ironic because hot dogs were the reason I first started forgoing meat.  When I was in middle school, I saw a video in class about how hot dogs were made.  And that did it for me.  No more hot dogs.

It just grew from there.  I never really liked meat much anyway, so it wasn’t a hard transition from Omnivore to Pescatarian.  Fish has always been a weakness because sushi is oh so delish.  But I eventually gave it up. As a teenager my opposition to meat was primarily an animal rights (and treatment of animals) thing.

Then, as I moved on to college, my vegetarianism was further solidified through my studies for my Environmental Science Degree.  I worked in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Law clinic during my senior year of college as my capstone project.  I worked primarily on water pollution cases dealing with CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).  So my vegetarianism became an animal rights and environmental thing.

When I got to law school, one night when I was intoxicated, I broke down and ate a hot dog. But, I was a vegetarian from age 15 to age 25. So, nearly a decade of vegetarianism was broken down by the all-powerful hot dog. After that one hot dog, I’ve dabbled in meat eating on occasion (um…mostly for hot dogs).  But, when I cook, I still only cook vegetarian meals.  I never cook meat.  And I rarely crave meat.  But, I’ll occasionally break down and eat a hot dog.  So, for the past year, I haven’t called myself a vegetarian, because it just seems so fake.  Even if my meat consumption is once every 6 mos.

But, I’m announcing today, I’m going back to being a full blown vegetarian. No meat.  No fish.

Honestly, after again viewing the conditions that our “meat” lives in before it’s slaughtered has made a hot dog once again no longer appealing.  Good bye my desire for a hot dog.  CAFOs are horrible.  Horrible to the animals (I can’t begin to discuss it because it, again, makes me dry-heave and cry at the same time) and really really horrible to the environment.  When I was working in the law clinic, we were all given a copy of Cesspools of Shame to read.  It was both interesting and depressing.  But, outlines all the bad things our factory farms do to the environment.

Anyway.  Back to Veggie for me.  For good.  Forever.  Ok.  Rant over. :)

In related but not directly related news, I found a WONDERFUL CSA in Disgusta.  Holla.  There is one that I’ve been trying to hook up with all summer, but I keep missing the sign up times and apparantly their emails just go to my junk mail.

And finally. PROPS TO ME for doing a LONG RUN ON THE TREDDY! I was worried my head would explode after 6 or so miles on the treddy, but I made it all 10 miles.  Stupid rain, go away.

10 mile Long Run

  • Total time: 1:26:46
  • Avg Pace: 8:41 min/mi
  • Splits: 9:20/8:56/8:56/8:56/8:41/8:41/8:41/8:24/8:20/7:50 (negative splits!)

I love financial reality checks.

Ok, I don’t love so much the panic that comes when you have a reality check (because I may or may not have had an 11pm frantic call to my father where I finally broke down and cried…).  But I love the feeling of control when you start doing things to prevent yourself from again experiencing the tough situation in which you currently find yourself.

This whole needing a new furnace thing has been a shock to the system.  It’s the first time I’ve ever had a big (non-elective) purchase rear it’s ugly little emergency head.  Especially because the $4K that will likely go to the furnace had been mentally alloted for a new beautiful Felt B-12 (and race wheels).


Ok, so I’m on a mission to figure out how to get myself the nice new tri bike and still stay warm (i.e. get a new furnace….).

When I realized that I was faced with this delimma; I realized I had finally really become an adult and a homeowner.  And with those new roles come yucky decisions.  New Bike?  New Furnace?  Redoing the bathroom?  New kitchen countertops?  Ick.

My underlying personality is uber responsible.  But, my old job kind of undid that. I didn’t need to be on top of my finances.  Because, honestly, there was almost nothing I could do (short of going and buying a Hummer) that would have financially screwed me.  And I really got used to that.  You get used to wearing all lululemon to workout.  You get used to shopping solely at Whole Foods and eating just organic produce.  You get used to eating out for lunch and dinner every day  without worrying that you are throwing away money at a disgusting rate.

I’ve been in my new job for 8 mos. now.  And HELLO.  I’ve had my wakeup call.  I can’t live like that any more. There is part of me that is bitter about that.  However, that part is far outweighed by the part of me that loves my new job and my work life balance.  In fact, I know I wouldn’t go back to a job with the corporate law salary ever.  I’ve already turned down a few options to do so.  Because happiness > money.

However, that does mean I need to get on top of my new financial reality.  Which will be my weekend (that and prepping for 102854012 bagillion trials next week).  I am going to get on top of keep track of my bills, and what I spend money on, and make plans to pay for the big ticket items that I want (felt b12, felt b12, felt b12, felt b12….).  And make a budget that I can AND WILL stick to.

So with this impending financial reality of spending some major money on the house (and need to start being more proactively financially responsible), I ventured into the kitchen hoping to use whatever was there for dinner (and hopefully making a cheap dinner).

I ended up with Oranghetti Squash (which is much like spaghetti squash, just smaller, oranger, and a little tarter):

I didn’t have an spaghetti sauce…so…I made my own! :)  I took a can of Stewed Tomatoes and pureed them.  Stuck them in a sauce pan with Ancho Chili Powder, Sea Salt, a can of Black Beans, and Baby Spinach.  Then topped the squash with my home-made Tomato Sauce and some Goat Cheese crumbles.

On the side, I made roasted Butternut Squash in a Buckwheat Honey Ancho Chili glaze.

With all the servings I made, it cost about $10.  But.  I got at least 3 meals out of it all…so about $3.33/meal.  NOT BAD.  Healthy, fresh, cheap (cheaper than most fast food….) at less than $4 a meal.  Ok, if you figure in my glass of wine from a $3 bottle of Trader Joe’s Merlot, its about $4 total.  not bad, not bad at all.

SO, that brings us to the new big announcement of the post: my new CHEAP EATS section.  I’m now going to be keeping track of how much I spend on groceries each week.  And how much each meal costs.  And things that are alreaady in the pantry have been assigned a price value of zero.  GAME. ON.

Lastly, Brennan would like to share his holiday cheer with you all.

While he appreciates the carrots left out for him and his other fellow reindeers, he wants me to let you know that this year, he would prefer you to just leave bacon.

I keep wanting to write a post about my rocky painful and yucky transition into adulthood (I grudgingly accept that as a homeowner and licensed attorney, i’m now an adult.).  But everytime I sit down, I have other things to write about (like how I’m running again!).  Oh well.  Next time.

But, like I said, I started running again! After a very enjoyed few weeks off, I’m back training like a fiend.  It’s weird though, having jumped from October to December in terms of running.  While I had a hope of running in the light after work in October, there is now only 20 minutes of daytime when I’m not at work.  So, all of my December runs are done in the dark.  The thing is, I used to prefer running in the dark.  And, I guess I still do.  But, honestly I’d just prefer to have the option not to be running in the dark.

The past few weeks I’ve felt like this was the first time I’ve ever been in a situation where I have no runnable day time because of work.  Which surprised me, because this isn’t the first winter that I’ve worked through as an adult.  I mean, in grad school, my schedule was so flexible, I could run almost any time.  But, last year I worked until 7pm most nights.  And I don’t remember a winter’s worth of dark/night-time runs.  And, seriously, this has bothered me for a while now.  Why does this winter feel suddenly so oppressively dark this year when it didn’t last?

It dawned on me last night.  I was in a boot from Nov 08 til Apr 09.  I wasn’t doing any running last winter.  I mostly sat on my butt or went to spinning classes.  And that solves that mistery.  So this winter is really my first winter as a working adult where I have to run either in the dark in the morning or the dark in the evening.

Fortunately, my mommy bought me a bright running jacket when I was home for T-giving.

I gloooow.

So, two nights ago I ventured out into the dark to go for my first training run: 6mi @ 8:30ish.  It felt awful.  Mostly mentally awful because I’m just not nearly as mentally tough as I used to be.

And last night, I had a tempo run that I’d been dreading ALL day…I was supposed to run a 1mi warm up followed by 3mi @7:36 then a 1mi cool down.  I was CONVINCED that I COULD NOT run 3mi at 7:36…especially with how sluggish I felt yesterday.

I kept telling myself, just get up and get out. Get up and get out.  And I finally did.  And the workout was hard, but not miserable.

5MI in 40:28

  • 1mi warmup @ 9:20
  • 3MI Tempo @ 7:24 :)
  • 1mi cooldown @ 8:58 (with the baby boy brennan)

And, I did cheat a little…I “cut out” a hill that was on my route (I still ran all the other hills…).  And, I know I know, I’m only cheating myself.  AND I’m not going to do that again.  But, in my defense i DID run the Walton Way hill TWICE.

Followed this up with some core work:

  • plank: 1min
  • side plank: 45sec each side
  • plank with elbows on ball: 40sec
  • stability ball jackknife:
  • stability ball roll outs:
  • plank rotations: 30 sec.

I really hate doing ab work…but I LOVE the feeling of my abs being sore the next day :)  (And, I know that it will help my running…)

Lately, I spend a lot of time battling the mental side, that little voice that says “this hurts you should stop.”  Or, the one that says, “you aren’t as fast as you used to be, why are you even trying?”  or the worst one “there is no such thing as an easy run.  easy runs are for lazy people.”  I need to work on that.   Any tips or suggestions????

And a last happy note…I DO have heat.  My furnace will need to be replaced soon, but for now, I’m no longer freezing.  See:

Bare legs: That NEVER would have happened before the heat got fixed.  And yes, I’m leaning in for a kiss with the pup.  Um, I may have tried to take a picture for my parents of my and B…and he made the move (please note that I’m actually leaning away from him in the picture.)  So, it’s mutual.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.