staying creative : instagram weekend

My weekend at home (for my mom’s successful 5k!!!), via Instagram:

Clearly, a good time was had by all.

(Especially Mom! Congratulations on a job well done!!!)

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staying creative : mother’s day run

Well…I was planning on using this one as this week’s creative pic just because I love the colors so darn much…not to mention the subject matter (red velvet cake frozen yogurt!!!):

But then this morning…I took this one. And even though we both look like we’re high on something other than endorphins, it brings me so much joy every time I look at it that I can’t not use it as this week’s featured picture:

That right there is my mom…who couldn’t run two blocks just a few months ago…and ran four miles today. FOUR MILES! And we were only supposed to do three!

There are no words for how proud I am of her gumption, determination, and SUCCESS. She is one tough lady. We’re running a 5k together in June and somehow I doubt it will be our last…or our longest.

GO MOM GO! Happy Mother’s Day!

beka stays athletic : it runs in the family

This just in:

The woman who brought you lessons in geography, politics, and coffee keeping is now taking on a new endeavor:

Running a 5k.

Seriously.

Let’s talk about this.

For as long as I can remember my mom and I have gone on walks together. It’s a tradition that was passed down by my mom’s mom, who I also remember going on lots of long walks with (when she was in her 80’s!). The assumption is that after dinner on a nice night the question “want to go for a walk?” will be raised and answered affirmatively.

(Now that I live 3 hours away and no longer go home for the summer, going on walks with my mom (and then going out for soft serve with my dad) is by far the thing I miss most about home.)

But in all of that walking there has never been any running. Until the past year or so, when my mom would run short stretches whenever she felt so inclined – during a walk, on her way to and from her car in the parking lot, etc. And when she did feel so inclined, she always reported back with positive feelings about the experience.

So the last time I was home, I floated an idea.

“You know, I think I’m going to come home to do a 5k in June. We could do it together!”

The idea did not float. It sank like a boulder.

“Pshhhh. Yeah, right!” was the response I received.

Then there was some coaxing, some trial running around the block, some training plans, some more coaxing – all covered by the assurance that we could always walk it if running didn’t pan out.

I came back to Rochester and left her in possession of an easy walk/run plan (walk a minute, run a minute, adding one run minute per week) and the power to do with it as she wished – no pressure either way.

A week later, she had ditched my plan.

She was already running for 30 minutes straight.

And had only fallen off the treadmill once!

Now, the 65 year old woman who had never run a mile in her life, who laughed at the idea of ever being able to run a 5k, is taunting me with threats that she’s out to beat my time. Walking isn’t even a consideration anymore. She’s going to run this and run it well.

I couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m cut from that cloth.

(See you at the finish line, Mom. You’ll probably beat me to it!)

beka stays relational: coffee lessons from my mom

Happy Leap Day, everyone!

I think an extra day deserves an extra gift. Which means it’s time for a good Mom story.

My mom is a hard worker. She works as a bus aide and in the middle school cafeteria. She leaves the house every morning around 6am, goes on her first bus run, and then has a short break before heading to the cafeteria. During that break she likes to have some coffee.

If only it were that simple.

The problem is that she prefers her food and beverages to be hot. And by hot, I mean volcanic. So putting coffee in a travel mug and saving it for her break just isn’t an option because it won’t stay hot enough. I’ve tried to help the situation by giving her super-insulated mugs and mugs that plug into the car lighter to self-heat. Neither of those options complied with her temperature preferences.

So she came up with her own solution instead. And when she started telling the story of how she prepares her coffee every morning I knew I had to write it down because it’s the best thing I’ve heard…basically ever. And then I knew I had to share it with you guys, because I love you that much.

Here’s our coffee conversation, as told by my mom, with select input from my dad and me. Good luck.

Mom: (Said in about 3 seconds) Okay, fill a coffee cup with hot water and put it in the microwave…

Me: Wait wait wait how fast do you think I can type this?

Mom: Oh…(laughs uncontrollably) sorry. I’ll have to send you a picture of –

Dad: Yeah there’s an idea!

Me: Of the mug?

Mom and Dad: Yeah!

Mom: Ok so anyway fill a coffee CUP with hot water and put it in the microwave until it boils, or you know, whatever, comes to a boil. Then I put the boiling water in my coffee MUG and I seal it up. I wrap the bottom part in foil –

Me: Bottom part of what?

Mom: My mug!

Me: Why the bottom?

Mom: SHHHH. And then, before I leave – I figure it’s like 10-15 minutes since I put the boiling water in, whatever – when I leave I pour the coffee from the machine into the CUP and put it in the microwave.

Dad: Now you know why she has to get up at 5am…

Mom: And put it in there –

Me: Wait, in where?

Mom: In the MICROWAVE. Just shy of 2 minutes and 45 seconds, just shy of coming to a boil. Then I empty the hot water from the insulated mug and pour the hot coffee into the mug…put the lid on…hahahaha!…And then I put the foil on.

Me: What happened to the foil on the bottom?

Mom: It’s still there!

Me: So where are you putting the new foil?

Mom: On top! And then I put the plastic bag on top of everything.

Dad: You have to see this…

Mom: And then I put a rubber band over everything (starts to break into another fit of laughter). But it works because you can see the steam inside of the bag once I’m done with my bus run!!!

Dad: Gee, I wonder why…

Mom: And then I put it in the car and I have a big beach towel and then a regular towel and then I wrap it around with all the towels –

Me: Ok wait, towels?

Mom: Well I have the beach towel which I wrap around the “mug” and then, like I said, I have the other towel and I wrap that all around the other towel…it’s like a cocoon around my mug!

(Pauses momentarily.)

But if I DON’T do that…well even if I don’t do the foil! Or the microwave! I mean it’s just not the same. This stays HOT for 2 hours! And sometimes, just as extra, I put a bag on top.

Me: On top of…the towels?

Mom: Yeah!

Me: So you leave at what time in the morning?

Mom: No later than 6:15.

Me: And when are you drinking this?

Mom: About 8:45 or 9.

Me: And your coffee stays hot?

Mom: Oh, absolutely, absolutely!

Dad: It wouldn’t dare get cold.

Mom: It’s just as hot as if it’s being served in a restaurant!

Me: How…did this happen? How did you start doing this?

Mom: I don’t know how I started doing it. But I’ll tell you what: it WORKS!

End Scene.

And just in case you thought it was too good to be true, here’s the visual:

One towel:

Two towels:

The bag:

And the mastermind behind this whole process:


Mom…I love you more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for making life so much fun.

beka stays out of rochester : lancaster, pa

When I was a teenager I went to a church dinner with my parents. It was one of those church dinners with table games, one of them being the game where everyone at the table answers a list of questions and the rest of the table has to guess who each answer belongs to. One of the questions was, “If you could go on vacation to any place in the world, where would you go?” Most people listed exotic locations: Fiji, Madagascar, Switzerland. But I was 14. And I could only think of one place I wanted to go.

Southeastern Pennsylvania.

I was pretty much a dead giveaway.

Now, over a decade later, I might pick a few different vacation spots. Italy and Greece and Australia come to mind. But if I could pick anywhere in the world to live, literally anywhere, my answer would still be the same.

Southeastern Pennsylvania.

This is one reason why.

The other reason may or may not include the frozen empire devoted to Dairy.

But really, this is why:

1. I have lots and lots (and LOTS) of family there, family who I’d really love to know better.

2. People are warm, friendly, and funny.

3. Seasons are warm, friendly, and temperate.

4. It’s close to the epicenter: Philly, NYC, DC. (Hello, professional sports.) And Albany and Boston aren’t too far away, either!

5. There’s something peaceful about Southeastern PA. Maybe it’s the farm land. Maybe it’s the presence of Sheetz. Maybe it’s the Amish pies: both shoo-fly and whoopie. Whatever it is, it’s wonderful.

Last week my mom and I spent a few days near Lancaster visiting family. We ate. We laughed. We came home with Tastykakes.

It was well, it was well with my soul.

Dear Rochester, if for any reason you decide you no longer want me as a citizen, please ship me directly to Pennsylvania. I’m happy to stay here…but you know, a girl needs to keep her options open. Just FYI.

beka stays hungry : quick chicken parm

Confession: I didn’t actually make this week’s dinner challenge meal. Unless you count taking pictures and cracking jokes as “making dinner.” But I definitely benefited from dinner, which is almost the same thing.

This week’s dish is from my mom, who found it in the January 2012 issue of Woman’s Day and tweaked it a bit. Here’s her version:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Marinara Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella

Directions:

  • Season the rinsed chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Coat the chicken with a layer of panko bread crumbs (we used Italian Style)

This is my Mom showcasing the bread crumbs

This is my mom showcasing the bread crumbs after she realized I was saying “Channel Vanna!” and not “Channel Santa!”

  • Fry the chicken in olive oil – about 2-3 minutes per side

  • Put about 1/2 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish
  • Place fried chicken on top of marinara sauce

  • Top the chicken with the remaining 1/2 cup of sauce
  • Finish with a layer of shredded mozzarella (about 1/2 cup)
  • Broil on High for 3 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly

And then enjoy! It’s a quick and easy version of the real deal, and you could easily add a side of pasta if you’re feeling traditional (or in need of carbs). Great weeknight dinner.

The Rating:

Difficulty: Easy.

Preparation Time: Only 10-15 minutes, if that.

Dumpster Dinner, Not Bad, Good, Really Good, or Unbelievably Amazing: Really good! I love chicken parm so this is a nice time-saving alternative.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 but almost 4/5 – for the same reason as last week: I’m not the biggest carnivore, so I probably wouldn’t make this all the time. But for an occasional easy weeknight meal, this is perfect!

beka stays real : top ten super bowl thoughts

I really think that yesterday, as a whole, was one of my favorite Super Bowl Sunday’s. Here are my Top 10 Super Bowl Thoughts:

1. Exceptional pregame coverage by NBC Sports. As in so exceptional we (and by we, I mean I) asked my dad to go pick up take out instead of going out for lunch during the Road to the Super Bowl (which was an NFL Films presentation, but still). Priorities, people.

2. Aaron Rodgers, please never leave Green Bay. But if someday in the far and distant future you are no longer playing QB for the Packers, please go into broadcasting. You are a natural.

3. The Steve Gleason Story. You will be better for watching this:

4. Absolutely loved Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of the National Anthem. Sing it, girl! And the simple drums in the background were just perfect.

5. When Tom Brady threw the ball while in the end zone to no one in the middle of the field…we all kind of looked at each other and wondered…safety? Yes, a safety to start a Super Bowl. The five people who placed a prop bet on that are probably very happy…and very rich.

6. Bradshaw’s “I should score oh wait maybe I shouldn’t” roll across the goal line was one of the weirdest things I’ll remember from any Super Bowl, ever.

7. As for the many Patriots’ dropped balls…the Packers can give you their therapists numbers, I’m sure. But overall, an outstanding game in all respects. Love when it comes down to the final drive. Love the passion and respect both organizations displayed. Great, great game.

8. I live on the middle floor of a three level apartment building. Lucky for my neighbors, my mom has no verbal/physical control over her actions during football games. She spent half the game shushing herself, going from “OH YES!!!” to “Oh, sorry!!!” in the same breath. At least I know I’m my mother’s daughter.

9. Loved this commercial:

10. And this commercial:

11. Bonus thoughts. I’m thankful for the following: a) Quickish. b) Everyone who worked so hard to end the lockout so we could get to experience last night’s game and the 2011 season in it’s entirety, especially since it was such a good one. c) Miscalculating how many points were needed to claim the Family Fantasy Title…and winning by one point even though I picked the Pats! d) Popcornopolis.

In closing, Peter Tebow said it best via Twitter: “So, football season is over… #whattodo”

Amen, brother. Only seven months until preseason…