Cat City Grill – Fort Worth, TX

On Friday night, I had the chance to try out Cat City Grill in Fort Worth. Hubs was a little worried due to this being on Magnolia Ave but I finally talked him into trying it. Years ago, Magnolia Ave wasn’t the best area of Fort Worth but they’ve gone though a huge revitalization in the last few years and it’s actually a pretty neat street now.

First impression of Cat City Grill was of the size. They are small but in a good way. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was there is little to no waiting area. The only place we had to wait was almost in front of the entrance and I just felt like I was in the way. According to the hostess, the wait was around 20-30 minutes and this turned out to be pretty close to what we actually waited.

Once we were seated and started scanning the menu we quickly decided on their bruschetta for an appetizer. The flavor was excellent and all the ingredients were very fresh. The bread seemed a little soft and, in my opinion, this the only thing that could have been tweeked.

For an entrée, I tried the stuffed rainbow trout almondine and hubs went with the ribeye. The trout was stuffed with scallops and served with lemon couscous and grill asparagus. Everything on my plate was unbelievably good. There was no fishy smell to the trout or scallops, which was very good thing since hubs can’t stand fish. The lemon couscous had great flavor without being pucker inducing and the asparagus still had a firm texture without being too crunchy. Hubs steak was perfectly cooked and he loved the mashed potatoes.

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Stuffed Rainbow Trout – Yum!!

For dessert, I went with the goat cheese and apricot tart. I apologize for not having a picture of this but I devoured it before I remembered that I needed a pic. The apricot was candied and had a slightly firm texture and went very nicely with the goat cheese.

Overall, I’d go back in a heartbeat. The food was fantastic and the service was outstanding. Our waiter was attentive without hovering and promptly answered any questions we had.

If you’re looking for a nice anniversary or celebration restaurant, I’d definitely give this one a shot. Check out their webstie for hours of operation, directions and other info: http://www.catcitygrill.com/

Answered Prayers

For most of my life, I have lived with scoliosis. My spine makes a wide curve to the right at 37% between my shoulder blades and then takes a sharper curve at 31% just above my tailbone. Surgery has been suggested a few times but to be totally honest, I’ve always been terrified of the thought of spinal surgery. Through some research, I’ve found, spinal surgery either makes you 100% better or 200% worse. Then there is the terrifying risk of paralysis. Even though there is a very very small chance this would happen, it was my biggest fear.

After some soul (and sole) searching and lots of discussion with my husband, we decided it was time to get a new opinion and put our minds to rest one and for all. Primarily, I wanted to know if being out of alignment would cause greater arthritis later on in life. In my mind, if I needed surgery, it would be easier to heal now than it would be when I’m 65-70.

For weeks I have prayed we would receive good news. Leading up to this, there were tons of questions running through my head. If I did require surgery, what would my quality of life be after? How long would recovery be? Could I still run or would it be too jarring? Would I still be able to bike or would the position cause too much pain? Could I still continue to carry my own scuba gear or would the shore weight be too heavy? Would a hard fall while skiing cause a permanent disability? Fear was running wild through my head.

Finally, yesterday arrived and I met with the Baylor Scoliosis Center in Fort Worth. We met with a very nice doctor who thankfully talked to us and not at us (one of my biggest pet peeves). After some x-rays, range of motion and strength tests, we received the best news we’ve received all year! SURGERY ISN’T NEEDED!!! According to the doctor and despite the look of my x-rays, the best thing for me is to drop 15-20 pounds, keep up a regular cardio and strength training routine, concentrating on core strength. If the only prescription required is exercise, then I am a super happy girl!! 🙂

Through this, a few things have been driven home for me.

::Don’t be afraid to get a professional medical opinion. Fear is the work of the devil and can force you into a dark place. Things are usually not as bad as you worry they will be and it’s much easier to free your mind with actual facts than to live in the darkness of fear.

::Have patience and always continue to pray. Prayers may not be answered immediately or on your timeline but eventually you will be guided down the path your supposed to be on.

::Eating well and regular exercise can reverse or stave off the majority of medical issues faced by our society today. It’s not easy to start but before long you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll feel better.

Since exercise was the only thing prescribed, I’m off to take my “medicine” and heading out to enjoy this beautiful day!

Running Again

Tonight I ran. I know, your probably just as shocked as I am. My last 5k was Mother’s Day weekend and my last training run was sometime in February (I think). Honestly, I was burned out. Very burned out. But lately, I’ve been getting the itch to stretch my lungs and do some sweating. I’ve thought about this for weeks and always came up with an excuse. Then I realized that’s all I was doing; making excuses. There was no reason I couldn’t get out there.

So tonight, I strapped on my shoes, grabbed one of my best buddies and headed out the door. We made it just over a mile and it felt great!! Hopefully this dreadful heat will start to dwindle and I can start looking for some races!!

Gardening Again

Many of you probably don’t know this but I grew up on a farm and the need to grow things is engrained in my soul.  For years, I have resisted and felt like simply didn’t have enough time.  This year, that has all changed.

Last summer we decided to lay a patio with 12×12 concrete pavers and ended up with a lot of extra sand.  Up until now, this huge pile of sand has been sitting in our back yard and served no purpose.  I take that back, it had two purposes: 1) something else to mow around 2) a hill for Samson to run up and down and sometimes sleep on.

A few weeks ago, we started to have septic problems and ended up needing to get it pumped out.  What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend ended up involving a small tractor with a back hoe attachment and lots of yard work.  If you live in the city, be very thankful you don’t have to deal with.  FYI – It’s never a good thing when poots come up your toilet instead of going down.

I’m aware this doesn’t sound like it has much to do with gardening but I’ll get to that point in a second.

Just before the septic problems, I had already been thinking about planing some vegetables but didn’t really feel like digging up the yard.   Then it hit me…use cattle water troughs!!!  I started shopping around and depending on the size these can get expensive fast.  Our local Tractor Supply sold these in a variety of sizes and I went with a fairly small one, sized 2’x2’x4′.  To start out with, I purchased two at about $80 each.

Note: They had some 2’x2’x2′ that were cheaper but I have a large and very clumsy dog.  I was terrified he would stomp all over my plants in a short container.

We used the tractor that weekend to fill these with our left over sand but left about 4 inches at the top for potting soil.  In case you don’t have a giant sand pile in your yard (and who doesn’t), sand can be purchased fairly cheaply at any home improvement or gardening store.   Another option, I saw last weekend is to fill the bottom with empty plastic bottles.  This is total genius!!  They are light weight so your container will be easy to move if you need to.

This last weekend, I finally decided to buy everything else I needed.  Since space was limited, I ended up only buying plants that we both love the most.

After roaming around Home Depot for a while, I decided on the following:

  • 4 bags of potting soil (2 cu ft size)
  • 7 tomato plants (2 different sizes of tomatoes)
  • 4 cucumber plants
  • 4 jalapeno plants
  • 5 green bell peppers
  • Plastic painter’s tarp – This was around $3 and just used to keep my car from getting dirty.

In between purchasing my containers and purchasing all my materials, I bought a new car.  Turns out, you can fit a lot of stuff in the back of a MINI Cooper if you try!

Once I got home we started mixing the garden soil and sand.  It’s best to pour about half a bag in and mix then pour the rest of the bag in.  Sometimes garden soil can be so strong with fertilizer it will burn your plants.  Mixing it with native soil will keep that from happening.
We had a tiller attachment for our weed-eater from a few years back.  Having that made the mixing super easy.  If you don’t have one of these, it’s easy enough to mix the soil using a garden spade or a three prong garden tool.
Almost all the plants now come in biodegradable containers that you plant with the plant.  Much less waste and almost no transplant shock.  Before these, plants came in plastic containers and if you weren’t very careful with the roots the plants would die and be a giant waste of money.
If you’ve never grown anything before, don’t let that scare you off.  Instructions come with the plants, either on the wrapper or a little plastic pic in the soil.  This will let you know about how far apart to plant them and how much light they need.
Basically you need to dig a hole just big enough to fit the container.  Here’s what mine looked like in the beginning.

 

6 plants on the left are jalapeno, 6 middle are green bell pepper and 3 on the right are cucumber

 

Top left is a cucumber plant and the rest are tomato

We finished by adding another couple inches of garden soil and watering enough to give them a good soaking.  If your water starts to puddle, stop before you drown them!
This is an awesome project to do with kids to show them where all the veggies in the store actually came from.  Dont’ let limited time and space discourage you.  After you get everything set-up, it take a couple minutes each day to water and that’s it.  My boss actually uses plastic pools from Wal-Mart for his gardens.  Easy for his daughter to reach and cheap!

Hopefully in 45-60 days we will be enjoying the fruits of our labor.  Ha!!  (Tacky gardening joke but I had to work it in)

**Since we planted there have been some new developments.  Turns out being afraid that my clumsy dog would stomp on a smaller garden shouldn’t have been my only fear.  These container are the perfect height to provide him with a tasty buffet.  He’s already eaten 3 of the 4 cucumber plants.  Looks like I’ll be replacing those this weekend.

Amazing Vacation Turns Into My Worst Race: Cowtwon Half – Race Recap

I’m not exactly sure how to write the post but all I know is that I need to. What I can tell you is this, in the words of a blogger friend; you better have your boots ready because there’s some verbal vomit coming.

My previous race was the Rock n Roll San Antonio Half Marathon on Nov 12. This was an absolutely amazing race and even though I didn’t meet my goal time (due to injury), I still finished faster than my first half. Afterward, I took a couple weeks off to rest my IT band and concentrate on stretching it.

Then came the month of December and I tried to get back out there and get my mileage back up and work a little on pace. Even though I was training, I’ll admit, it was hard and my heart wasn’t fully into it. My training partners and I run after work and it was always dark and cold, sometimes very cold. At this point, I had full intentions on running the Cowtown Half in the end of February followed up by Rock n Roll Dallas in the end of March. Honestly, I was really excited about this schedule and anxious to see if my body could hold up to 2 months of half marathons. There are a lot of runners who do this but it would have been my first time.

Then New Year’s Eve came and I ended up with unexpected surgery that took me completely off my feet for two weeks. My surgeon cleared me to start “lightly jogging” on January 20 and fully training again on January 30. This leaves me with a total of three weeks to train for the Cowtown Half. Some of you may be looking at a calendar and notice that if I started really training there would be four weeks to do it. But Wait..There’s More!! Since October we’ve had a ski trip planned from February 17 through the 25th. That’s right, I scheduled a ski trip the week before a half and planned on doing as much downhill skiing as I could stand for 4 days.

Our vacation was truly fabulous. A lot of fresh snow fell our first day there, which helped make for some great skiing. We took my first ever snowmobile tour and managed to get it stuck only twice. This was the first time in my life, I had been in snow up to my thighs and still wasn’t standing on the ground! It was quite interesting and much harder to move in than I expected. Every day we made as many runs as we could handle and ended up totally exhausted every night.

Originally, our plans were to drive about 8 hours toward home on Saturday and drive the rest of the way Sunday. Once I registered for the race, this meant either leaving on Friday or doing the entire 13+ hour drive on Saturday. No one wanted to give up that last day of skiing so we decided to leave at 7am on Saturday and make the whole drive in one day. I knew it wouldn’t be good for my body to be sitting in a truck that long the day before but honestly hoped it would help a little and give my legs some rest from skiing. In 13 hours home we stopped three times, twice for food and once for fuel. It actually wasn’t that bad of a drive but I was dying to get out of the truck by the time we got home at 8:30 that night.

We quickly unloaded the truck and I started to find my clothes for the race. The weather on race day was supposed to start a little chilly but warm up quickly. Most everything I had planned on wearing was in the tub we took skiing and once I rounded up everything else I would need for that day, I headed to dig out my clothes. Hubby had locked the ski tub so when we were stopped for food no one would mess with our stuff. When I asked for the keys, he thought I had them and I thought he had them. We searched for nearly an hour and couldn’t find them anywhere. At this point, I gave up and decided to wear something else. I know there are a lot of others out there like me (or at least I hope there is) and if I can’t wear what I have planned out in my head, my race automatically starts off going in a bad direction.

I actually slept okay that night but I think it was from pure exhaustion. Rachel had picked up my packet for me so we met that morning and rode together. After we got there we rounded up most of our team members and nervously waited for the start. We talked about pace and how we hoped the race would go. I was shooting for a 2:30 finish but joked I hoped to just finish, it wasn’t until about 2 hours later did I realize how true that joke would become.

About 10 minutes before the start of the race, I took my first Gu. I started off at what felt like a comfortable pace but somewhere around a mile and a quarter, I felt the bubbling in my guts but nothing too uncomfortable. After just a little farther the bubbling went from mild to severe. Thank God the first porta-potties were just ahead!! I have never made a pit stop after only a mile and a half but there was no way to avoid it. My surgeon warned me that after gall bladder surgery that there will be foods that make you sick that never have before. That morning, I learned Gu was one of them. After re-enacting the scene from Dumb and Dumber, except in a porta-potty (sorry for the visual but that’s what it felt like); I managed to get back out on the course but my mojo was gone. Every step seemed a struggle to find my pace and enjoy myself.

Most of miles 3-8 are pretty much a blur. I just schlepped along, alternating between walking and jogging. Somewhere between mile 7 & 8, I found Elaine. We exchanged high 5’s and went on with our races. It’s always great to see a smiling face at that point in your race. Just after mile 8 is when you start the uphill climb on the Main St Bridge that goes over the Trinity and this is where my pain started. At this point, my thighs were exhausted but I was still moving. After topping that hill, I managed to jog for a little through downtown but slowed again to a walk. Another runner runs up beside me, looks me square in the eye then slowly down to my feet and slowly back up to make eye contact. She nicely smiles and says “C’mon! You can finish! We’re almost done!” I can only imagine how pathetic I looked at this point because I felt absolutely terrible. Not too much farther into we passed Starbucks and I wanted so badly to stop and get a coffee, thinking the caffeine would help. I resisted (which seemed overly hard) and kept on trucking.

Somewhere around mile 10 everything below my belly button ached so badly I could barely move and had totally stopped even trying to run. I pulled out my phone and started to text my husband, knowing is encouragement would keep me moving toward the finish. I walked along constantly thinking how there was only a 5k left and I had to finish. Once I started down the Lancaster Street Bridge it took everything I could muster to even move. Rachel texted needing me to call because she was having a hard time getting a line out. Soon as she answered, she mentioned where they were and wanted to know where I was. “The Bridge” was the only thing I could say before I started to cry. I remember her sweet and encouraging voice saying “Just finish Jess. You can do this.”

There were multiple times on that bridge that stopping and standing there was the only thing that would relieve how badly my body hurt. I have never sobbed because my legs and feet hurt so badly during a race but that day I did. Suck it up! and Finish your race! were phrases that went through my mind hundreds of times in that mile.

Just after passing the mile 12 sign and knowing there was just over a mile left, I tried to pick up my pace. It was still a walk but a slightly faster one. Every step was painful from my thighs to my toes. As I’m walking along, I see Marci. We went to college together and she’s one of my best friends but as we met on University Dr., she looked straight at me and didn’t realize who I was until I managed to mutter “Hey Marci” and give a slight wave. In my mind this drives home even more how terrible I look if she doesn’t recognize me. Her first words to me were “Oh God! You’re still out here! You hurt…” and she jumped off the curb and gave me a huge, tight hug. All I could do was stand on the street and sob uncontrollably. I remember telling her how bad my body hurt and how I wasn’t sure if I could finish. She just kept hugging and told me how “everyone needs bad races to truly appreciate the good ones” and how “this wasn’t a race and to treat it as a bad training run.” and how no one expected me to have a great race because I had skiied for a week prior.  I think she followed that up with how skiing before a half was possbily the stupidest thing I could have done.  It was the brutal truth and that’s why I love Marci.  I’m not even sure I said bye to her but remember pulling away, crying and saying “I’m just going to walk.” I have no idea where the emotion came from or how to stop it.

I rounded the corner, expecting to see the finish line but it wasn’t there. Race organizers had moved it and it was around another corner but I wasn’t sure how far. Once I made that final corner, the finish was about 400 yards ahead and I started to run. I hadn’t ran in miles but I was going to at least run across the finish. The race clock read 3 hours 34 minutes and 18 seconds.

Even walking was difficult but I eventually made my way to get my finisher’s shirt and find Rachel. Immediately she hugged me and I started to cry again. Rachel, Toybeth and I headed to look at the results posting so they could see what their official time came in at. Both Rachel and Toybeth set a PR that day and had fantastic races. Rachel came in just under 2 hours for her half and Toybeth just over 2 hours. It was slightly depressing to know they had been waiting for me to finish almost as long as it took them to run their half. Their excitement over their finish was a pep to my spirit though. Excitement always leads to energy and I needed that.

Today was the first time I actually looked up my times and I’ll be honest, after Cowtown, it’s been hard to get back to running. I have ran twice since the race: once for 1.7 miles and a 5k last weekend that turned out fantastic. In the weeks since Cowtown, I’ve thought a lot about my running and where I want to go with it. For now, I’m going to concentrate on strength training and working my 5k and 10k times. With any luck and a lot of effort, hopefully, I’ll run the Dallas White Rock half in December.

Time for a Change

I’ve decided it’s time for a change.  Three years ago, hubby and I went to a nutritionist to loose weight.  We both lost a significant amount of weight but do not follow the program like we should at all and the pounds have crept back. 

In all honesty, I need to loose about 20 pounds.  I’m 5’5″ and currently at 171 pounds.  The top healthy BMI weight for someone my height is 148.  Other than my weight, I’m currently healthy but I also know that excess weight is the primary cause of a whole lot of health problems.  Diabetes runs in my family and its one I’m terrified of.  So does high cholesterol and high blood pressure. 

Above all, I’m uncomfortable.  My clothes are getting tighter and not in an attractive way.  “The straw that broke the camel’s back” was weekend before last after a shopping trip with my hubby.  I found two pairs of great NorthFace convertible pants on clearance.  I bought my normal size and was super excited to try them on when I got home.  Much to my dismay, not only did they not fit, I couldn’t even get the buttons to meet.  Extreme disappointment set in and I spent most of last week reviewing where I have went wrong.

For the last few years, I have strength trained two days a week and ran at least two days a week, usually three.  For the last few months, I’ve been good to run twice a week and strengh training has been totally dropped.  Considering, strength training is something I love, it’s been hard for this to not be part of my routine.

On the other front, I like food.  It always makes me feel better to prepare (or order) healthy dinners but this isn’t what’s always on my mind.  I seem to run short on time in the evenings and it’s much easier to make some tacos and rice than it is to make grilled chicken with vegetables.  I’ll admit, that sounds like the laziest thing I’ve said in a while.

Needless to say, a new journey is starting and I’ll keep you posted.  Right now, I’m off to find the plan designed by our nutritionist that we were on a few years a go that worked so well.  I’ll get 2012 turned around and I vow it will end much healthier than it began!!

Thankful Thursday

Today’s Thankful Thursday is dedicated to this little guy, my nephew Lane.
Just chilling last summer


Playing Peek-a-Boo!



Lane & Monk Monk (made by his great grandmother)



In the last year, he has brought renewed life (and lots of fun) to our little family.  It been a wonderful gift to watch him push my sister’s buttons grow and discover new things.  His expressions are priceless and always a little overboard.  There’s a very good chance that part of his personality came from me.  In the last few weeks, he really started to work at talking and honestly, I can’t wait to hear all the funny stuff that will come out of his mouth. 

I’m truly thankful to my sister & her husband from bring him into our life.