Thursday, January 29, 2015

B-day Pictures.

Pictures from my birthday: Lee made me a 'happy' breakfast // A snowy, muddy, & icy birthday run // My new Altras! Lone Peak & Mt Olympus // Alice & I found backyard chickens at a new park // Drool-worthy RubySnap cookies.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Toddler Briana with Dad and Grandpa Glen. April 1981.

After weeks of not writing, it feels strange to start up again as I feel so out-of-practice and so much seems to have happened since I last posted. But today, on my 36th birthday, I felt the need to write and to say that I am alive and well. And another year older.

Being back to work in the Emergency Room feels normal now but I am still struggling to find a balance on my days off with working out, helping keep the house clean, seeing my friends, recovering from a two week-long cold, spending time with Alice and catching up on sleep since I've worked mostly night shifts this past month. I feel spread thin despite only working three days a week.

Those four days off seem to go so quickly.

Another thing that completely derailed my blogging was that looming January 15th deadline: I've officially applied to the Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner program for Fall 2015! The application process was nerve-racking and I swear I developed a stomach ulcer by the time I submitted. While trying to fall asleep or when out for a run or even when I had a quiet moment to myself, my gut would wrench and my mind would race over professional references or transcripts or my letter of intent. I spent more than a few nights staring at a computer screen wondering why I was torturing myself over this application. But then I submitted it (a few days early, even!) and I felt wonderful. This is definitely the right professional path forward for me.

I have no idea what they are looking for in an applicant or if I even stand a chance of getting in but I feel optimistic and proud for starting the application process and seeing it through to the end. And I'll find out in about six weeks if my summer will be spent running trails or taking statistics and physiology.

Speaking of running, I've signed up for another ultra! I loved the course so much that I decided to run the 50K at the Trail Running Festival in Fruita, CO, in April. I'm going to train much like I did last time with a little bit of running and a whole lot of CrossFit.

And hopefully there will be no rain to muck-up the course this year.

As luck would have it, I was scheduled to work tonight on my 36th birthday. But I'll be bringing a few dozen treats with me to work (RubySnap's Penelope cookie, anyone?!). And then, during my four days off, we'll have a kid-friendly birthday brunch (with booze!), Alice will go to my mom's for a sleepover, and Lee and I will have a romantic dinner out on the town.

My 36th year is starting out pretty sweet.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Scenes from the 25th.

Tonight marks the first shift on my own and without a preceptor after the month-long process of attending orientations, sitting in classrooms and recertifying all of things that had expired during my three-year hiatus from being a nurse. I feel more settled in my new role as a working mom and I've even managed to work a few night shifts and not be a complete mess for days afterward.

I certainly didn't miss preparing for, working and then recovering from a string of night shifts.

Alice and Lee have found their groove, too, with being home on most days of the week together. I have loved seeing their relationship deepen as he becomes the primary caregiver to our daughter. Although, I'll admit. It stung a bit when she wanted her daddy and not me to comfort her after a tumble.

She still lights up like a Christmas tree, though, and comes running for a hug and a kiss when she hears the key turn and our door open when I arrive home from work. That reunion feels so sweet.

Speaking of Christmas trees, I'm relieved the holidays are finally coming to a close as we are still working out the kinks of how our family will celebrate a religious holiday that doesn't align with our atheist beliefs. There was more than one sideways glance and a few heated words regarding how we intend to make this time of year special for our kid and for our family without encouraging the fairy tale of the season.

And since this is the same debate we've had for the last three years, we should probably spend some time discussing it and making a plan before Dcember rolls around again.

We laid low this week, spending Christmas Eve at a friends's house for dinner and dessert and then Christmas Day breakfast here at our loft with my mom and step-dad and Lee's delicious made-from-scratch Eggs Benedict (including the English muffins!). Alice loved opening presents while a winter storm brewed outside and we spent hours on the carpet, building elaborate LEGO villages using her newest set. Later that evening our neighbors joined us for a rib roast dinner and a bottle of bourbon, which we polished off between the four of us (it was a small bottle, I swear).

Another reason I'm glad the holidays are coming to a close? The excessive eating and drinking I've gotten accustomed to must come to an end! I see another Whole30 in my very near future.

How was your holiday?

Painting!! // Alice's doll got a new outfit. // Making perogies (Lee outdid himself this year.)

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Scenes from Thanksgiving. Before the sun set and the lighting was terrible.

It's amazing how quickly my habit of blogging on most days has been broken. Those first two weeks of starting my new job felt all-encompassing! The dust is slowly starting to settle now, though, and with my new employee orientation days behind me, I am starting to see how my life as a working wife and mom will look. Not surprisingly Lee sailed through his increased responsibility of caring for me, our kid and our home while I worked and he even planned out and shopped for our entire Thanksgiving dinner!

He very well might be the better stay-at-home parent between the two of us.

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving here in our loft and it was so fun to pour over cookbooks and magazines and websites planning our ideal holiday meal. After much discussion, we finally settled on menu of a spatchcocked, oven-roastd turkey, kale and mushroom stuffing made with rye bread from the bakery in our building, sweet maple-glazed carrots, bacon- and lemon-roasted Brussels sprouts and homemade cornbread with maple butter.

Oh. And creamy mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, of course.

Our friend Julia made a from-scratch pumpkin pie with orange zest and mascarpone whipped into the filling. And because one pie is never enough (for me), I ordered the award-winning shaker meyer lemon pie from the bakery down the street.

My pants are definitely fitting a bit more snugly after all of that indulging.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Weekly + Weekend Workouts: Monday - Work = None! Tuesday - Work = None! Wednesday - CrossFit before work! 4 x 250M row (1:00 rest between rounds). 2:00 rest. Then 4 x 50M prowler push (140lbs, 1:00 rest between rounds). Thursday - CrossFit! 25 front squats at 75% (95lbs), then Thanksgiving Throwdown! With a partner - 800M run with 14lbs wall ball + 70 pull-ups + 50 plate burpees (jump onto 45lbs plate) + 100 wall balls (14lbs) + 100 doubleunders (each) + 50 T2B + 70 Kettlebell swings (35lbs) + 800M run with wall ball = 32:24. Friday - Sooooo sore. Saturday - CrossFit! With a partner - 5 RFT each of 20 med ball sit-ups (14lbs) + 10 pull-ups + 20 overhead walking lunges (14lbs) + 10 push-ups + 250M run with med ball (14lbs) = 25:28.

Lee got me out of bed on Saturday morning to see this sunrise.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Work + Stew.

The makings of a delicious stew.

I survived my first week back in the ER taking care of patients, giving medications and even putting in a few IVs (it turns out my brain didn't turn to mush after having a baby). I did have a moment of panic, however, as I sat on the couch after my first shift, legs aching and mind racing, regarding my sudden loss of complete freedom that I've enjoyed the last two years. My life and the life of my family will now be planned out around my weekly and rotating three 12-hour shifts.

Days. Nights. Weekends. And holidays.

It felt good, however, to get on the bus bright and early before my shift, coffee in hand and NPR in my ear. It felt wonderful to exercise and stretch my brain in ways I haven't in years. And it felt strange not to see my little girl awake as she was already asleep when I got home and was still sleeping when I left the next morning.

It also felt strangely nice to miss both Alice and Lee.

One thing that feels differently this time is how I chose to eat while at work. My eating habits have changed drastically over the last few years and I intend to keep healthy eating a priority, especially during the dreaded night shift when my self-control seems to waiver. Packing good food will be paramount for me to be successful in not falling back into old habits, making meal planning on my days off so very important.

So since I will be working the next three days, today I am making stew! My dear friend Ashlan gave me a rough template for a stew she made and, after making it a few times and tinkering with an ingredient or two, I've decided it's the best stew that I've ever made. This stew is made in steps over a few hours and while that may seem tedious, your time will be rewarded with mouth-watering smells and a soul-warming dinner. Here you go.

Bacon & Carmelized Onion Beef Stew

  • 1 lbs stew beef
  • 5 or 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 or 5 red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups kale, ribboned
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups broth, homemade if you have it (super easy recipe here)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rind of Parmesan (optional)
  • Salt & pepper
  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When it is melted and before it starts browning, add the onions and a pinch or two of salt. Stir the onions to coat and then let them do their caramelizing magic, continuing to stir occasionally, for 35 to 45 minutes. The goal is not to burn them but to cook them until they are golden in color and smelling divine. Once they are caramelized, remove them from the pot and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and pour out the bacon fat.
  2. In a bowl, toss the stew beef with a few pinches of salt and a couple cranks of fresh ground pepper. Working in small batches, brown the beef in the same pot as you cooked the onions and bacon. When finished, deglaze the pan with the red wine and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes before adding the bacon and the caramelized onions back to the pot. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and stock and bring it to a boil. Toss in the Parmesan rind and then cover the pot and reduce to a simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on when you are planning to eat. (Side note - The rind helps to give a deeper, more robust flavor to stews. I learned the rind-saving trick a few years ago and now I never throw one away!)
  3. About 30 or so minutes before serving, add the potatoes. Twenty or so minutes before serving, add the carrots and celery. And then finally, 5 or so minutes before serving, stir in the kale.
  4. Grab some bowls, fish out the bay leaves and the Parmesan rind and dish up what might just be the most delicious stew ever. Make it and let me know what you think.
Weekend Workouts: Saturday - Nothing. Boo. Sunday - Family run! 5.2 miles/46 minutes/404 ft elev gain. I did a 7:05 min/mile and it felt so good!


Having a fit about her cold hands but refusing to put on her gloves. Oh, toddlers!

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