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Wordless Wednesday – OC 5K selfie

May 20th, 2015

Orange County 5K 2015

May 18th, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Orange County 5K. It was my reluctant backup plan after deciding to forgo the OC half marathon because my abbreviated training plan after my knee injury hadn’t really prepared me for it. Actually, by the time race day rolled around I probably could have handled 13.1 miles, but it was better than I didn’t try. (This was a huge benefit one week later when I ran the Tinkerbell 10K and half marathon, but that’s a story for another post.) One of my co-workers ran the half marathon wearing my bib so at least my registration didn’t go to waste. May 3rd was perfect running weather – cool, cloudy, and calm. May Gray has been kind to us so far this month. (Another thing I’ll write about in a later post.) This was in stark contrast to last year when we were at the tail end of an unseasonably hot week. Actually, the 2014 Orange County 5K was my first 5K, and only my second race ever. I’d like to say I was faster this year, but that wouldn’t be true. After my injury back in January I was just happy to be running without any pain! I was slow, but fairly steady, and I crossed the finish line with a smile in my face. Maybe it was just a 5K, but I was still proud. My running regimen was finally back on track!

P.S. My co-worker finished the OC half marathon in less than two hours! Crazy!

Car buying experience 2015 (part 2)

May 17th, 2015

Buying a car this time around was eerily similar to my experience in 2005. In ten years the cars have changed quite a bit (so many bells and whistles these days!), but the way I went about purchasing one was about the same. First I went online and requested quotes from car dealers for two different Honda CR-V models (the EX-L and Touring). Then I was almost immediately inundated with emails and phone calls from local dealers who all wanted my business. As much as I liked the enthusiastic salesman at the dealer in Pasadena, it just wasn’t practical for me to go all the way back there to buy a car. And since they didn’t have one that I wanted in stock it saved me the trouble of seriously considering it. In both 2005 and 2015 the only dealer I had more than brief contact with was Honda World in Westminster. I’d like to say I went back there for my second CR-V because I had such a positive experience the first time, but that’s not it at all. Truthfully, buying cars there was pretty lousy both times, but their close proximity to Seal Beach was the biggest selling point.

Back in 2005 an online sales representative at Honda World contacted me to say that they had the exact CR-V I wanted (model and color) in stock and gave me a great price quote via email. So I drove down there after work, but the salesman I had been in touch with wasn’t there that evening. The guy I did talk to informed me that they had already sold the CR-V I wanted, but they had the more expensive model available. Of course. I was reluctant, but I test drove it and went through the first stage of price negotiation, but in the end I decided that I just didn’t want that particular car so I walked away. The next day I got a call from the online sales representative saying that they actually did still have the original CR-V I wanted in stock, and he even scolded me for not talking to him at the dealer. He wasn’t even there! Sheesh. Based on this ridiculous behavior on everyone’s part I should have given them a piece of my mind and then gone elsewhere. But I was a little desperate so I told the sales rep that I would be there that afternoon to buy the car and that it had better be there. It was, so I drove home that day in my first CR-V.

Fast forward to 2015 and things weren’t much different. The day I requested online quotes I got a call from Honda World. It was one of the few phone calls I answered that day since I preferred to get the car negotiations done over email instead. Believe it or not, the same online sales representative that sold me my first CR-V was on the other end of the line. I told him exactly what I was looking for and he assured me that not only did Honda World not have one in stock, but that no other dealer in Southern California did either. First of all, I had email proof that other dealers did indeed have the car I was looking for. Second, isn’t a salesman supposed to make a sale? Luckily he couldn’t see me roll my eyes over the phone. I told him, “Thank you very much. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.” Not ten minutes later he called me back saying that he had found a CR-V for me. I think his strategy needs some work. However, it ultimately did make a sale. I needed a car, and Honda World was having one delivered from Ventura for me. It all worked out. So on April 24th I was the proud owner of a 2015 Honda CR-V. And so far I couldn’t be happier!

Car buying experience 2015 (part 1)

May 15th, 2015

I bought a new car on April 24th. This was almost a month after my 2005 Honda CR-V died completely, which I actually wrote about at the time (in an attempt to uphold my New Year’s Resolution #4). That poor little car went long before its time. But even after it was towed away on April 3rd (I donated it to charity for the tax write off) and I was left with just a rental, I was still reluctant to go car shopping. I just wasn’t excited about it. The thought of having to interact with potentially pushy salespeople, test driving unfamiliar cars, and eventually haggling about prices made me cringe. But then my friend Natalie offered to go with me. That was exactly the motivation (more like a kick in the pants) I needed to get out there and look for a new set of wheels. One Saturday, after driving that horrible rental for a couple of weeks, I drove up to Pasadena and met Natalie to go car shopping. The first place she took me was a Toyota dealer where I looked at both the RAV4 and the Highlander SUVs. Originally I was more interested in the Highlander, thinking it would be comparable in size to my old CR-V, but it was much larger than I expected. I ended up test driving both, but the RAV4 was more appealing. I liked it just fine, despite the lack of enthusiasm from the salesman who was helping us. I didn’t notice, but Natalie said he was dozing off in the backseat during the test drives. He certainly wasn’t wasting much effort trying to make a sale! For that reason I was happy to head to the Honda dealer next. This time we got a very earnest salesman who was keen to show us all of the fantastic features of the new CR-Vs. And they were pretty impressive. I was crazy about the touch screen navigation system, the backup and side view cameras, and all of the displays on the dashboards. And the test drive was a breeze because the latest CR-V handles very similarly to my old one. No surprises there. I loved the CR-V and it didn’t take long for me to decide that I definitely wanted to buy one. That particular dealer didn’t have the model I wanted so I was spared having to make a decision on the spot, but the majority of the work was done, thanks to Natalie. Without her help I probably would have put off car shopping even longer. But after she spent most of her day driving me to car dealers I was most of the way to getting a new mode of transportation. I am so grateful!

To be continued…

Unintentional hiatus

May 10th, 2015

So it seems I’ve taken a bit of a break from my blog, huh? I didn’t plan on it, but I’ve had a lot going on in my life since I last updated my webpage. Between the craziness at work stuff, rededicating myself to running, buying a car, and doing my best to enjoy what free time I can scrape together, I’ve been busy! Right now I’m sitting on my couch, watching Netflix, and recovering from the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend. My legs are killing me and I’m exhausted. I have quite a few half thought out posts in work about what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks, but none of them are anywhere near ready to publish. This week promises to be busy too, but I’ll try to spend some time writing. Not sure when I’ll fine time, but I’ll try! I had the best of intentions when I made my New Year’s resolution #4 back in February to blog about events in a timely manner, but I’ve definitely fallen behind lately. That’s a side effect when you’ve got a lot going on, I guess. At any rate, in general, things are going pretty well with me. I’m just waiting for life to slow down a little so I can catch up!

Disneyland selfie

April 23rd, 2015

Getting back in the swing of things

April 17th, 2015

Spring has been nuts so far. My initial foray back into running post-injury went well, but I wasn’t very consistent. However, a few weeks ago I started running regularly again and for a while it was going well. I ran four miles, three days a week and my knee didn’t hurt at all. It was fantastic. But then I started increasing my mileage. About three weeks ago I ran six miles in my attempt to start getting ready for my next half marathon. It wasn’t a great run because it was a bit warm and the Powerade Zero I brought with my made me nauseous. During my walking breaks I stretched a bit to keep my knee healthy, and when I thought I had succeeded. But the next day I was really disappointed that it was hurting. I went to spinning that Monday night, which helped a little, but my knee still didn’t feel quite right. So I took a week off from running. I also went to the chiropractor which helped a little, but not nearly as much as I was hoping. Unfortunately the best therapy for my particular problem is rest, which is frustrating with so many races coming up I May. So I made a difficult decision. After weighing all of my options, I decided to forgo the Orange County half marathon on May 3rd. Mostly because I won’t be anywhere near prepared to run 13.1 miles that day, but also because I don’t want to risk getting injured before the Tinkerbell races at Disneyland the next weekend. Fortuitously, one of my co-workers wants to take my OC half marathon bib so it won’t go to waste. As a consolation prize I decided to do the OC 5K instead since I still want to get a medal that weekend. I’m still worried about not being ready for the Tinkerbell 10K and half marathon on May 9th and 10th, but at least skipping the OC half marathon will give me a better chance of being uninjured. I paid a lot of money for the Disney races and I am going to get my medals! The good news is that my run last night was the best I’ve had since I got hurt in January. Everything clicked. Granted, I ran really slowly (even for me), but at least I wasn’t exhausted and gasping for air the whole time. Hopefully this trend continues. Fingers crossed!

Learning experiences

April 16th, 2015

I’ve had a couple of interesting learning experiences over the last two days. First of all, I had jury duty yesterday in Santa Ana. It was the first time since I’ve lived in California that I’ve had to show up in person for jury duty. When I was in Los Angeles County I had to call in every morning for five days, but in my three summons I never had to actually report to the courthouse. That was lucky for me, but Orange County is a different story. Here you show up for one day and then see if you get chosen for a jury. I got to the Santa Ana Courthouse around 7:15 AM yesterday morning thinking I was in for an extremely long day of sitting around and doing nothing, but it didn’t turn out quite that way. Almost immediately after the juror orientation I was pulled into a 60-person jury pool for a trial and went upstairs to one of the courtrooms. The jury selection lasted all morning and part of the afternoon. I was fortunate to just sit in the audience the whole time and not get put in any of the hot seats where I would have been interviewed by the lawyers. The judge was pretty strict and shot down a few flimsy excuses that folks made to try and get dismissed. By 2:30 PM the jury had been selected and sworn in, and the rest of us were excused. That was the best outcome for me considering I have some really important stuff to do at work over the next week. So now I don’t have to worry about jury duty for another year!

One of the things I was looking forward to after avoiding jury duty was going to Disneyland this morning. I had a grand scheme in mind. The next in a series of Disneyland 60th anniversary pins was being released this morning and I was going to be there to get one this time around. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out the way I hoped. I arrived at Downtown Disney at 6:15 AM, which was only 15 minutes after the line for the pins was supposed to start forming. But I guess that particular guideline wasn’t enforced because I noticed that the only open parking lot was pretty full and there was already a very long line. I hurriedly parked my car and queued up as quickly as I could. Less than a minute later, though, a Disney cast member told me that they already had 500 more people in line than they had pins for sale. That meant there were already 2000 people in line ahead of me! I couldn’t believe it. There was no way I was going to stand there for the next hour for something that wasn’t going to happen. Since I’d already made the drive to Anaheim I figured I’d wait for the Earl of Sandwich at to open at 7 AM and grab a delicious breakfast, at least. Then I discovered that they weren’t going to open until 8 AM (even though the website said 7 AM). And since the parks didn’t open until 9 AM today, I decided to just go back home rather than wander around Downtown Disney doing nothing for hours. So I wasted a lot of time driving all over Orange County this morning, but I learned a little bit about the 60th anniversary pin buying process. If I can make it there next month when they release another new pin I’ll be more prepared!

Getting ready for the Disneyland 60th anniversary!

April 13th, 2015

Foodie Friday – Curried chicken tenders

April 10th, 2015

Chicken curry is my culinary nemesis. Back in 2012 I even wrote a whole post about it! After trying so many different curry recipes I’d pretty much given up on producing a good result myself, but then I ran across this Martha Stewart recipe. It’s not a classic chicken curry dish since the sauce is more like honey mustard, but it’s simple and really delicious. The curry flavor definitely comes through. I deviated from the original recipe because for simplicity (and laziness) I used canola oil rather than butter. That’s not exactly Paleo, but I tried to make up for it by using raw honey. I probably could have used olive oil or melted coconut oil too. I’ll have to try one of those next time. I also used chicken tenders instead of breasts because it’s easier to split up into lunch portions. I love this dish. The flavor is amazing and the chicken stays tender. I need to remember to make it for my lunches more often!

1 to 1 1/2 lb chicken tenders
1/2 c honey
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, canola oil, Dijon mustard, curry powder, and salt. Place the chicken tenders into an 11×7″ or 13×9″ pan coated with cooking spray (I use either Trader Joe’s olive oil spray or coconut oil spray). Pour the honey mustard mixture over the chicken and turn each tender a couple of time to coat. Cook at 375 deg F about 30 minutes, turning the tenders once, or until the chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

Based on Martha Stewart’s Curried Chicken Breasts.