Still Septembre?

Hello friends! So my son started kindergarten this year, which involves taking French. Last week he asked me, pronouncing the final word in French, "Is it still Septembre?" Why, yes. Yes it is still Septembre. Here is what I've been up to in the last month or so.

A pleasant visit to the King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, Vermont.

 There's a vibrant cafe inside...

...and I ordered a delightful hammy panini to eat as I visited with some special people who live in the area.

King Arthur Flour is a Certified B Corporation, a special kind of business structure with a triple bottom line, showing that not only do they aim to grow profit, but also benefit people and planet.



I had a $25 gift card and picked out a woodsy tea towel, an apple oven mitt, a baker's blade (also known as a "lame"), and a yeast measuring spoon.

The yeast spoon is particularly exciting. It measures exactly the amount of 1 packet of yeast, being 2 1/4 teaspoons. I stopped buying yeast packets years ago and have been carefully measuring out 2 1/4 teaspoons of bulk yeast ever since. Being able to do this in ONE SCOOP is pure genius.

September also means the Guilford Fair here in Vermont. Here are some prize winning vegetables—check out the gorgeous cabbages in the center.

Hey look—King Arthur Flour prizes!



This weekend we also made it back to Pickity Place in New Hampshire for an elegant multi-generational lunch. (Here is my 2014 post.)

We were seated in the sunroom this time--well worth making a special request!

 Mint tableside

Fruit & cheese to start

Potato soup... it had a nice, savory porcini mushroom undertone

Seared citrus salad with slice of watermelon radish and one tiny pickled pepper

Foccacia with dipping oil

The beef medallions over barley was actually a chicken-fried steak over risotto. Summer squash on the side. It was really good!

Lemon cupcake with blackberry buttercream... and a blackberry! 

Pickity Place does an amazing job. They make you feel special and pampered, but they are also a well-oiled machine with 3 seatings a day. And of course, the grounds are also very picturesque, great for a post-prandial wander.





Also, it was Bombadil Feast Day this weekend! We started this tradition in 2011, and our 5th annual edition is going stronger than ever. We had guests, and readings, and stomp rockets in the yard.

Sausages are now a major part of the tradition, in addition to drinking-bowls.

Somehow Lentil Salad seemed hobbit-y.

How was your Septembre? Please leave a comment and share!

Race Report: 6 Hours in Paradise, Windsor VT

I've been pondering what to write about this race since I ran it on August 22, 2015. It was my first 6-hour race, and meant a lot to me in terms of personal accomplishment and my new love of trail running. I worry I may drone on, so perhaps Categories may be most succinct. I'm talking here about the inaugural 6 Hours in Paradise in Windsor, Vermont, put on by Dead Skunk Racing.

About the race
The 6-hour race was on a repeated trail course loop that was about 2.2 miles long. There was a Start/Finish station (a convenient park pavilion with roof and water spigot). Every time I passed the station on a loop the race coordinators would note it down, along with the time. The point is to complete as many loops as you want/can in the 6 hour time period. It is totally fine to stop and rest between loops, because it's all up to you! I managed to complete 11 loops in the allotted time, which was actually only 5 hours 33 minutes. (Since I was averaging 31 minutes per loop I didn't think I could get in a 12th loop within 6 hours, so I stopped rather than make myself sad.)

Loop logic
Running loops is interesting. For instance, there is not really a "back of the pack" in a loop. It's a circle... so everyone's in front of me! And also, everyone's behind me! Over the course of 6 hours I ended up passing or being passed by almost all the other runners, especially since there was a "lollipop" section (a mini-loop that had a shared ingress/egress) that meant I'd come across other runners on the "stick" of the lollipop even if they were basically going my same speed.

I also liked that I could "program" the loop in my mind. With an out-and-back race or point-to-point you don't get to know the course very well. But here, as I did circuits and got to know the trail, I'd decide which was my fast part, which was my eating-fruit-ball part, which was my favorite section (quite a long bit became my favorite!), and which part was my microclimate of dread. Then I would replicate that program each time, "Here's where I speed downhill," "Here's the hot & sunny part so get through it quick," "Here's where I power-walk, but only until that tree." I am particularly proud of the microclimate of dread invention. It's something I discovered on a looped training run. When I started to get a nervous feeling of "I can't do this, what am I doing, this is TOO LONG," I could assign the feeling to THAT SPECIFIC part of the trail, and then run away from it. It ends up serving as a way to compartmentalize the discomfort of a very long run, and it worked well for me.

Body feelings 
My left ankle hurts over distances, but it stayed the same throughout the race and didn't get worse. In the second-to-last loop I started to feel peculiar, like I was getting chills, but I told myself it was the effects of endorphins or adrenaline or... science... and decided to ignore it. I was fine.

Mind feelings
The "microclimate of dread" trick mentioned above helped me keep my inner complaining and naysaying to a minimum. I also tried a "swish and smile" technique gleaned from "How to Build Mental Muscle," a Runner's World article. My personal take on this article is that if you swish your sports drink (or even water) around in your mouth before swallowing it, the body-mind interprets that as getting extra nourishment and energy. Then, swallow and smile broadly—this smiling tricks the mind into thinking you're happy. Did it work? Well, I had a great race and felt competent and happy almost the whole time.

I have not been compensated for any brands I mention, they are just what I like.
  • Knee-length Athleta running shorts with handy side pockets for fruit balls
  • 2 super-light shirts (I changed from one to the other halfway through)
  • Columbia visor (I also wore my hair in 2 braids Michelle Yates style, represent!)
  • one Pro Compression sock on the left, and one Darn Tough sock on the right (I found out during training runs that I need this combo since two compression socks make my right foot numb, but zero compression socks make my left foot hurt)
  • Hoka One One Challengers (like running on a cloud!)
  • Ultimate Direction Jurek Grip hand-held water bottle (NEW! YAY!)
New hand-held bottle to replace the cursed waist pack.
Long nozzle means I can drink and watch the trail at the same time.

Nutrition & hydration
  • Fruit and nut balls (focus for hours 0-2)
  • Two Thermoses of Ramen soup (focus for hours 3-4)
  • 3 bottles GU Roctane drink mix in tropical fruit flavor** (hours 0-4)
  • 1 bottle Nuun Pink Lemonade flavor (random)
  • 2+ bottles of water (random)
  • Extra random packets of applesauce-type stuff and nut-bar type stuff
  • Watermelon chunks--I'd typically grab an unwieldy handful and head off into the woods slurping it
**I broke a cardinal rule of racing and tried something new on race day, GU Roctane drink mix. LOVED IT. It is caffeinated and has all the salts and stuff you need during a long run. I felt a warm, competent glow for about half the race, and I'm pretty sure Roctane was the reason. I started cutting it with water and Nuun midway along so I wouldn't get overcaffeinated, since that makes my stomach and brain hurt. It worked perfectly. And why Roctane? I ordered it because Magdalena Lewy-Boulet used it during Western States 100-miler, and she won, so it must be good. (Also she is a VP at GU Labs and helps develop the products.) That was my logic. True story!

Plans for the future
I liked this new type of race so much that I signed up for another 6-hour race in November. Maybe 6-hour races are my new 5k! I found it so much more enjoyable and worthwhile than an all-out effort that feels awful and ends in 20+ minutes (i.e., a 5k). I loped along happily at a 14:30-ish pace, chatted with fellow runners, stopped for a snack after every single loop, and I felt great. And turns out I also ran farther—24 miles total—and longer than ever before.

Awesome finisher's glass, first filled with Dogfishhead 60 Minute

Gochujang and Bibimbap, Vermont-style

In Brattleboro, Vermont, we are lucky enough to have our own Korean restaurant, the Shin La. Shin La does NOT serve fast food. You will find a place to sit on your own (choose one of the intimate high-backed booths!), place your order when your server has time, and then... be patient. But it will be worth it. The food is delicious. They also have 20-ounce cans of Sapporo to keep you happy as you wait.

Shin La is the perfect place to catch up with someone special, have hilarious conversations with your BFFs, or dine alone—catch up with yourself, write in your journal, and eat. The latter is something I did last Christmas—I ate at Shin La by myself. Maybe that sounds like boring news, but it was a revelation. Full story: the weekend after Christmas, the rest of my family went to visit relatives in another state, leaving me home alone. I decided that being on my own was a behavioral experiment. If I observed myself carefully, what would I find that I got up to? Would I go to the movies by myself? Would I roust out some friends and go dancing? Would I spend hours on the phone? Would I randomly drive to the mall or an art museum or a bluegrass show? It turns out that, when left to my own devices, my default for comfort and rejuvenation is lunch at Shin La. Specifically, my default comfort food is an order of Bibimbap.

Bibimbap at Shin La,  Brattleboro, Vermont

My Bibimbap was lovely. And I could not forget it. COULD NOT. My taste-sense would keep tripping merrily back to that flavor. I'd randomly think, "Wouldn't it be nice to have rice and veggies and sprouts and... whatever that FLAVOR was? That red-sauce-dollop in the middle? What WAS that stuff?"

Thanks to Google, I found out. That amazing red stuff in my Bibimbap is Gochujang. I chant the word around the house: "Gochujang, Gochujang, Gochujang, Gochujang!" I make up songs where that word is 100% of the lyrics. And I ordered Gochujang from my best retailer friend, Amazon.

It is spicy! It is sweet! It is sticky! Gochujang is pretty much the perfect condiment for white rice, for these 3 reasons. I'm sure this is a Korean travesty, but I have started relying on Gochujang as the basis for basically any rice-vegetable-bowl dinner. I call these bowls Bibimbap, Vermont-Style.

This Bibimbap, Vermont-style is sautéed bok choi and purple carrot with leftover pulled chicken, over rice with Gochujang.

This Bibimbap, Vermont-style is sautéed baby bok choi with sautéed tofu and a soft egg over rice with Gochujang.

Basic elements for Bibimbap, Vermont-style:
  • cooked white rice
  • GOCHUJANG--I got Sunchang brand from Amazon
  • protein—something that you've fried/refried with ginger and/or soy sauce and/or sesame oil. Soft egg, semi-firm tofu, leftover chicken that's been pulled, pork stirfry pieces, usw.
  • veggies—I like something green and something not
  • sprouts?!—I wish I could find meaty soy sprouts like Shin La uses, but have not yet
Have you heard of Gochujang already? According to Bon Appetit it's the latest hot sauce trend!

6 Quick Tips for a Happy Marriage

I am no expert here. But I do know that I've been married for 11 years, and my spouse is still the best thing ever. I have learned a few things, and I'm sure there is lots more to know. Here is a little of what I have gathered so far, in a handy 6-point list.
  1. Make time. When do the two of you take time to be the two of you? For us, the occasional date night is the best way to make time. We find a babysitter, go to a favorite restaurant, sit at the bar, chat with each other and friends who pass by, and try to laugh as much as possible.
  2. Be polite. "Please" and "thank you" aren't just for work emails and new acquaintances. Use these words at home, and often! Saying thank you for doing the dishes or handling a problem is one of the simplest ways to be respectful and nice to someone who has seen you at your best... and your worst.
  3. Kiss & hug. Do you holler "byeeee" before leaving the house, and hear the faint reply as you walk out the door? Take the few extra seconds to seek out your partner in person and give them a kiss. Or when you're together in the kitchen, pause for a no-reason hug. Life is short. Let's be CLOSE in the time that we have.
  4. Have meetings. Being married is a business partnership. We have a monthly budget meeting where we go over our bank balance, pay bills together, and look at the calendar for the month ahead. Lately we've been talking about setting up our wills, refinancing the mortgage, and paying off debt faster. We don't always DO these things, but at least we talk about them.
  5. You do you. By this I mean: still be your own people. Have individual interests. Have your own thoughts. Pursue reasonable hobbies and passions, and let your spouse do the same. My passion is running--it takes me to my happy place and gives me time for me. My husband's passion is film. We give each other space and encouragement to do these things, and try to accept each other's peculiarities.
  6. Surprise yourselves! Be spontaneous! Take a day off together and go outlet shopping. Buy each other little presents. Be open to last minute changes. Grab opportunities as they come. Bring home that bouquet.
What would you add as a quick tip? I think being in a committed relationship, whether "married" or whatever you call it, is rare and fascinating, even though so many people do it. I am so lucky that there is somebody who likes me for me, and I like him for him too! A lot!

Back Into the Woods

This summer I've been doing something different with my running—I'm training almost exclusively on trails. No more 12-mile out-and-backs on bright, baking roads. No more level pounding on uniform surfaces. Instead, I'm now constantly alert to what's 5-10 feet in front of me: checking for obstacles and angles, inadvertently using different large and small muscles with every foot placement, and always dealing with "terrain," i.e. uphills and downhills. I'm in the shade and feeling cool(ish) and adventurous.

Trail running is hard. Trail running is slow. And trail running makes me feel happy. Why happy? I've been operating on a woods deficit for many years. Being in the woods, especially the woods of the northeastern United States, is my happy place. In high school I'd take long bike rides and just go sit in random patches of woods. It was quiet and dappled, and seemed full of possibility and peace. Being there was a necessity. When I moved to a city for college, then started in the office-y world of grownup work, I'd still try to spend some time in the woods when I could (or if not, a cemetery would do), but it wasn't easy. Moving to Vermont helped, but by then making time for the woods was no longer part of my PRACTICE.

This photo is taken from one of my favorite trails, looking through the woods to the interstate. When you're driving at 72mph you have no idea there's a tranquil trail just metres away. This thrills me for some reason.

Trail running has brought back my habit of seeking woods. I run anyway, but I can't believe it took me this long to figure out that "trail running" equals being in the woods. All these years later, it turns out to be one of the most natural and pleasant things that I can do for myself. And this summer, I have logged hours and hours on the trails. I am in love!

That first sentence used the word "training" like I'm up to something. That's true... I have a goal in mind. Since reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall I've gotten a little obsessed with ultrarunning. I switched my magazine subscriptions from Runner's World to Trail Runner and from The New Yorker to Ultrarunning. Endurance running on trails fascinates me. I pay a lot of attention to The Ginger Runner and twitter hashtags like #ws100 and #bm100. Of course, I can barely run for over 3 hours before all of the bones from my pelvis on down start to hurt.

But anyway... I signed up for a 6-hour endurance race that happens in less than a week. It seems like a perfect start to ultrarunning (anything over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles) because I can stop at any time and be close to safety and sanity. The course is a 2.2 mile loop and I can run it as many... or as few... times as I want in the span of 6 hours. So it's all up to me. Will I be able to reach my A goal of 13 loops (26.4 miles)? My B goal of just keeping moving for 5 hours, which is over an hour longer than I've ever moved before? (I say "move" because part of trail running involves power walking on difficult bits--another reason to love it.) Or C goal of running a 25k, basically anything over 15.53 miles? I would be super happy with any of these. Really really happy!

I'll let you know how it goes, rain or shine!

Have you rediscovered any old or deep-seated loves this year? 2015 seems to be working out pretty well so far! TOUCH WOOD.

Maine 2015, with Lobster Rolls

We are becoming "Maine summer people"! This is the third summer in a row that we've spent time in the great state of Maine. In 2013 we went to Old Orchard Beach at the end of the season. In 2014 we went to Wells Beach for a quick August weekend. This year we rented a house in Woolwich with some other family members. Woolwich is not a beach town, but we liked the area a lot: less touristy, more maritime history. I wrote up a review of the place where we stayed, but I'm not sure if I should post it or not. Do you think the review should include the fact that the home did not have a shower? It's true, but it sounds negative and I don't want to give a bad review because I know the owners read it and they were really nice. Maybe I could subtract one star and not mention the shower thing? Like this:

We stayed at this lovely old home near Bath for a long weekend with family members from Canada (it was a good halfway point for meeting up). The farm has a magical quality to it; staying there felt like going back in time. It seems a rare opportunity to get to stay in a spot that has been in a family for so long, and there is clearly a lot of history and Maine lore to bask in if you so choose! We loved that the house was packed with books and games. There is a nice patio area with umbrella, chairs and chaise, there was a croquet set, a kayak, a grill. We spent a lot of time in the "shed" where we ate meals and played games and chatted in the evenings. The shed is an attached structure with a screened side that looks across a meadow to the water of the bay, and we were continually seeing deer in the meadow. Very tranquil. The evenings were super quiet and peaceful... No lights except for fireflies, no sound except for Route 1 far in the distance. During the day we made excursions in the area--one day to the beach at Reid State Park on Georgetown island (at the owner's suggestion), another day we went to the Bath Farmer's Market followed by the Freeport outlets. The house was a good fit for our needs since we have 2 kids that could use the room with twin beds, plus a couple and two more individuals took up the remaining 3 rooms. The kitchen was well appointed (handwash dishes) and we did a lot of cooking. A large coffee maker was also very welcome!
One goal on this trip was to eat as many lobster rolls as possible. This turned out to be three.

My first and last rolls were from the same place near Yarmouth, which I found by using Yelp. It's called Days Take-out and we loved it. We stopped there on our way north on Day 1, and stopped again on our way home on Day 4.

I also had a lobster roll in the town of Five Islands on Georgetown Island. This got the most points for ambiance because the Five Islands Lobster Company is located on a working pier. As we sat at our picnic table waiting for our number to be called, a pickup truck backed down the pier and loaded a bunch of lobster traps onto a small boat, which then headed off to sea. Soooo lobster-y.

This was the bay seen from the property where we were staying.

No beach here, but you could wander down to the water and commune with the seagrass and seaweed.

Another view of the water. Tiny wild blueberries were growing in the foreground.

Maine still life...

Feta Spread-a

Earlier this month we visited the Saturday Farmer's market in Bath, Maine. It was a rainy morning. The vendors were set up along the sidewalk by a park on the banks of the Kennebec River. Most had tents, and we ducked from tent to tent looking at all the wares--meats, honey, produce, cheese, bread. We planned to make a large green salad with sliced chicken for dinner that evening, and found everything we'd need including lofty heads of lettuce and some locally raised chicken. The smallest member of our party also sampled a feta spread from the goat cheese vendor, and insisted that we buy a container. We put our haul into a cooler and went about our day (visiting outlets in Freeport).

That evening we made our salad and broke out the feta spread. We dipped in cucumber coins--it was incredible! The label lists just 4 ingredients, but the main point is that this spread is laden with garlic, and it walloped our delighted tastebuds. Our smallest member said we must remember the ingredients so we could make our own version at home. So we did!
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 T chopped fresh oregano (or 1 t dried)
  • 2-4 cloves crushed garlic

  1. If your feta was stored in water, let it drain for a few minutes.
  2. Combine all ingredients.
  3. Chill for at least 2 hours so flavors can mix.
  4. Serve! Nice with sliced vegetables or spread on a crusty bread (try olive bread!)