Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My New Love

Throughout the years, I've had love affairs with different cosmetics brands. In high school, I was introduced to Clinique. In the college years, it was Estee Lauder and Mary Kay. In recent years, it's been MAC. But right now, I'm all about Bobbi Brown.

Even though I've seen the cosmetics line in department stores and magazines throughout the years, I didn't know a lot about it. This past weekend I went for a makeover at the Bobbi Brown counter at Bayshore Town Center and left pretty impressed. Like Bobbi, I'm a firm believer that makeup should enhance your natural beauty and make you feel good about yours
elf. I love the emphasis on a healthy appearance, easy application and timeless colors.

A few of
my favorites:

Hydrating Gel Cream EXTRA Eye Repair Cream

Tinted Eye Brightener

Shimmer B
rick Compact

High Shimmer Lip Gloss

What's your favorite cosmetics line? Do you stick with one brand or do you prefer to mix and match?

- ST

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cooking With Chocolate

After doing a long run Sunday morning, I found myself in the mood to do some cooking. About a month ago, I purchased several Omanhene 80 percent dark chocolate bars. They've been sitting in my freezer ever since, so I decided it was the perfect time to use them in some chocolate-themed recipes.

Sweet and satisfying
First up was Rocky Road Fudge. This version is adapted from Katie Lee's version and is very rich and sweet. One piece is all it takes to satisfy a chocolate craving!

Rocky Road Fudge

8 Tbsp unsalted butter (plus more for pan)
2 cups wh
ite sugar
6 oz 2% evaporated milk (1/2 standard can)
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz dark chocolate, chopped
10 oz chopped almonds (you can also substitute pecans, cashews or walnuts)
4 oz marshmallow fluff (1/2 standard container)

Generously grease an 11x7 pan with unsalted butter and set aside.

On the stove top, heat 8 Tbsp butter, sugar, evaporated milk and vanilla. Bring to a light boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 8 minutes, stirring throughout. Remove from heat and stir in dark chocolate until melted into mixture. Add almonds, followed by marshmallow fluff, being careful to not over combine.

Pour fudge mixture into the greased pan and cover with foil. Refrigerate for at least four hours before eating.

A secret ingredient
Next up was Mexican Three Bean Chili. This is one of my go-to recipes because of how simple and fast it is to prepare. The key to its rich flavor is a small amount of dark chocolate.

Mexican Three Bean Chili

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes (I use the kind with onions, celery and green peppers)
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup yellow corn

1 oz dark chocolate
1 12 oz can V8 juice
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (Try adding 1/4 tsp at a time to achieve the right spice amount)

Combine beans, tomatoes, onions, corn and dark chocolate in a large pot over medium heat. Let cook for five minutes before adding V8 juice, 12oz water (one can), chili powder and cayenne pepper. Bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

What are your favorite ways to cook with chocolate?

- ST

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fast Running

The best way to get faster? Practice running fast.

Speed interval workouts are among my favorite because the time flies by and there's enough pace variety that I don't get bored. Since I'm still about two months out from my next half marathon, I'm focusing on building speed with shorter intervals, mainly 400s. Here's my current plan:
  • 1 mile warm up
  • 8 repeats of 400 meters @7:03 pace with 0.15 mile recovery @9:40 pace
  • 1 mile cool down
Turning mountains into molehills
Another way to build speed is through hill training. Right now, my favorite hill to tackle is Water Tower Road, but any large hill will do. Here's my current plan:

  • 1.5 mile warm up
  • 6 hill repeats (3 miles worth)
  • 1.5 mile cool down
I incorporate both a speed interval and a hill workout into my weekly plan, but if you're new to this type of training, you might want to start with one or the other and build up to doing both in one week. Another thing to note is it's best to avoid doing these workouts back to back. Instead add a day or two of easy running between these harder sessions.

What's your favorite type of speed workout? Anyone have any hill suggestions?

- ST

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hot Spots for Style

In general, I don't consider Milwaukee as a hot spot for style. However, after last night's M Magazine's Best of Milwaukee Party, I may need to reconsider that thought. Held at the Iron Horse Hotel and in celebration of the best in style, fashion, food and entertainment, everything about this evening was a blast.

My friend Julie and I posing for a pic as we arrived at the party.

It was great to see so many people decked out in the latest fashions. I seriously covet several of the clothing and accessory items I saw last night. In fact, if the girl in the below-the-knee-length, navy and white stripe dress happens to be reading this, I need to know where you shop!

Great style at every age
I was expecting the party to skew a bit younger but interestingly enough, there were a lot of people who were part of the 40+ crowd and nearly every one of them was just as fabulously dressed as the younger set. It just proves great style can happen at any age.

If you've yet to check out The Iron Horse Hotel, I suggest you do it before summer is over. Although the inside is a study in chic interiors, the patio is the perfect setting to linger over a cocktail or two. Perhaps a rum and ginger with a twist of lime?

Events like this inspire me to add a dose of flair to everyday life. In the next few weeks, I'll be updating my wardrobe for fall and getting a makeover at Bobbi Brown. It seems cooler temps are here to stay in Milwaukee, but so is a love for elegance, good taste and above all, great style.

What places in Milwaukee do you consider to be style hot spots?

- ST

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another Day, Another Race

How many times in life can you say that every second truly counts? When it comes to racing, it's true every time you step up to the starting line and later cross the finish. In my case, it's a matter of 9 seconds that separate me from my current goal of coming in at sub-24 for a 5k race.

Race results
I may have been slightly off my mark this time, but overall, I was really pleased with the way Saturday morning's Hank Aaron State Trail 5k race turned out. Here are my results:

Time: 24:08
Average Mile Time: 7:47
Division Place: 10/114 (Top 9 percent)
Women: 44/784 (Top 6 percent)
Overall: 184/1447
(Top 13 percent)

I was able to keep my pace pretty consistent throughout the race, which was good. However, I should have started my finishing kick earlier. I wasn't paying attention to how close I was to the finish line and needed to increase speed over the final half mile, ending in a sprint. Instead I didn't start my sprint until I saw the finish line, which was too late to make much of a difference. But, live and learn - that's definitely a mistake I won't make at the next race.

My next 5k isn't until November so I have a few months until I can try again at getting my goal time. Until then, I'm focusing on training for the Haunted Hustle Half Marathon. Yet another goal time to meet - and yes, every second still counts.

Do you set goal times before you race? What goals are you currently trying to meet?

- ST

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bits and Pieces

This post is kind of all over the place, and that perfectly reflects how I've felt this past week and a half. It's been a tad crazy, but that's just how life is sometimes. With the good, comes the bad and it's all about what you make of each situation.

A good companion
This time, a bit of frustration was exactly what I needed to help fuel my fastest nine miles ever. As a bonus, by the end of the run, I felt a lot of less-than-positive feelings had slipped away allowing me to feel better about the situation. As always, a good run is a great companion.

I'm hoping to channel some of this energy into an upcoming race. This weekend, I'm running my first 5k in about two months. I feel as though physically, I'm capable of getting the time I want but as always it will most likely come down to confide
nce. It might be time to throw caution to the wind and just go for it!

New favorites
Lately I've been into running in slim fit boy cut, rather than track shorts. The fit is sleeker and I like to think they allow me to run a tiny bit faster. They also hold me accountable with my diet. After all, it's uncomfortable - not to mention unsightly - to have any overhang over the top of the waistband. What style short do you prefer for running?

On the topic of sharing, I have new favorite beverage, Fruit 66. My friend Julie gave me one to try and it was love at first sip. Served chilled, this sparking juice is a refreshing alternative to soda and way healthier for you at that. I can already tell it will also be great mixed in a cocktail with plenty of ice.

it for now. This week's cooler temps have me in the mood to do some more experiments in the kitchen so watch future posts for new recipes!

- ST

Friday, August 5, 2011

Running With Purpose

As I was finishing up my training plan for the Haunted Hustle Half Marathon at the end of October, I began thinking about how I'm really excited to do another big race this year. There's nothing quite like putting in weeks, sometimes months of training, and having it pay off as you cross the finish line.

That said, a heavier load of training is tiring and sometimes it's hard to stay motivated. To get through these phases, I think it's especially important to not lose track of why I run in the first place. Here's my list:

I run because . . .

It keeps me healthy
It relieves stress
It helps me maintain my weight
It's time to mentally work through issues or dilemmas
It's time to think about nothing at all
Of the satisfaction of pushing myself to the limit - and still managing to do a bit more
I like meeting other runners
It's a great way to burn extra energy
I like going fast
Every new route lets me explore a new part of the city
Nothing else burns as many calories
It helps me manage my time better
I love a good challenge

Why do you run? If you don't run, what motivates you to stay active?

- ST

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

There's something about eating cupcakes that provides an instant mood boost. And when made with fresh, in-season strawberries, they're pure heaven for your taste buds.

Despite the hot temperatures this weekend, I was in the mood to bake and decided it was the perfect time to try a recipe I dreamed up at work a few days ago. Strawberry shortcake cupcakes combine a vanilla cake with fresh strawberry filling, topped with vanilla buttercream spiked with more strawberries.

I'll admit, I cheated a bit with this recipe and used a box cake mix to reduce time in the kitchen. I think the result was still pretty delicious, but if you're so inclined, make the cake portion from scratch.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

1 box vanilla cake mix

1 12oz can lemon lime soda (I use Hansen's diet)

1 container strawberries (if possible, use organic)

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine cake mix with soda (I know this sounds weird, but I promise you won't taste the soda) and stir until well combined. Divide batter into a lined cupcake pan (fill each cup about 3/4) and bake according to cake mix directions. When done baking, allow to fully cool on a wire rack.

While cupcakes are baking, wash and remove the stems from the strawberries, then puree in a food processor.
After cupcakes have cooled, use a cupcake corer to create a small space to add the pureed strawberries. I use this model from William Sonoma. If you do not have a cupcake corer, use a small paring knife and carefully cut a tiny amount from the top of each cupcake. After cupcakes are cored, fill with strawberry puree.

Now it's time for the icing on the cake. Beat room temperature butter and vanilla with confectioners sugar, adding a half cup at a time until combined. Then mix in 2 Tbsp strawberry puree. Add frosting to each cupcake (in my opinion, the more the better) and finish each one off with a swirl flourish! Store finished cupcakes in the refrigerator.

As for the leftover strawberry puree - freeze it in an ice cube tray to use in cocktails. For example, add a cube or two to a lowball glass and top with prosecco.

OR, add freshly chopped mint to the puree and freeze in popsicle molds for a refreshing treat on a hot summer day.

What's your favorite way to use summer strawberries?

- ST