• sisters on a mission.

  • Three sisters. One in Virginia. One in London. One in New York. None of whom wear shorts. Ever.

  • the mission?

    Taking delight.
    Learning Italian.
    Getting to Italy.
    Wearing shorts.
    In Italy.
    June 2011.

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The sisters, and dog, were finally together last week for our own official/unofficial early morning extremely humid, hot August 2010 5K Fun Run.  The stats:  88 percent humidity, 75 degrees, 5k, 6:00 am, 46minutes and some change. (46 minutes, that’s the “fun” part).  Daisy was a little confused by the extra company and kept looking back to check on us, but she is a great running companion, and it’s a welcome break when she needs to stop to sniff or do other business..even it she’s faking it.

Thank goodness for some early-morning lawn waterers that gave us the chance to run through a couple of sprinklers. We were a bit slow that morning and I think we were technically lapped by other runners who seemed to quickly pass us more than once. But we finished.  Medals were awarded (hand made and personalized by the kids).  Biggest news…..shorts were worn.  Scary.  We were desperate in the humidity.

What next?  8k?  10k?  Need a plan.


food, glorious food: London-style

Warning…if you have any interest in good food mixed with travel, the images you are about to see could cause you to dig out your credit card and buy an expensive plane ticket to London posthaste.

Seriously.  As I was going through the photos from my trip I noticed a preponderance of food-related snapshots.   Which, to be honest, is not that unusual.  I started documenting meals on a trip to Rome a couple of years ago and looking back at those photos takes me back to the scene as nothing  else can.   And despite what you might have heard, London grub is equally noteworthy.

I heart macaroons

Let’s start on Saturday at Notting Hill.  After wandering through the crowded market we took a detour to Books for Cooks, where we were waylaid by a table loaded with macaroons set up just outside the store.   Bite-sized yummy confections.   Macaroons are the new cupcake, or will be soon.  If I had any interest in baking or initiative whatsoever I would open up a macaroon shop in Richmond to compete with the multitude of cupcake offerers.    I wish I could give the baker a shout out but her business card is back in London on Cathlin’s refrigerator.

waga mama

Next up, wagamama at Spitalfields on Sunday.  Great location up above the market craziness.  I had the yasai katsu curry: sweet potato deep fried in panko breadcrumbs with curry, sticky rice, mixed greens and red pickles.  It was delicious and even though it was fried I didn’t feel like an unhealthy slug afterward.

Cathlin had some sort of noodle, vegetable dish that she loves (the dish in the foreground) and orders frequently.  Can’t remember the name of it.  I was too absorbed with anticipating and then inhaling my own meal.

Monday was a gorgeous sunny day so we popped into the OXO tower restaurant to take advantage of the views.  We sat on the outside patio overlooking the Thames, feeling ever so cosmopolitan as we munched on grilled asparagus, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, some sort of tomato deliciousness, pea gazpacho and chips.  A bit expensive, thus the appetizers only.  But totally worth it for the atmosphere.

appetizers at OXO Tower

chocolate heaven

Tuesday was a big day for indulgence.   After fighting the crowds at the Grace Kelly exhibit at the V&A (highly recommended btw – the exhibit, not the crowds), I needed an escape.  Thankfully, Cathlin had already mapped out the way to Kensington Creperie which I found without too much difficulty once I got pointed in the right direction outside of the museum.

There were almost too many options.  I was tempted by a strawberry / cream number but finally decided on Hazelnut Chocolate Cream: Hazelnuts, butter, cream, with dark Belgian Chocolate.  And Orangina.  Because orange and chocolate belong together.  I have to admit that I couldn’t finish my crepe.  Do you see the size of that monster?  I hit my sugar threshold.


Later, Neapolitan style pizza for dinner at Franco Manca in Chiswick.  Ricotta, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes,  spinach and perfectly prepared crust.

A little backstory: I lived in Naples Italy for several years back in the 1990s and am always on the lookout for la vera pizza.  This was pretty authentic.  I would definitely go again if someone would please buy me another ticket to London.  Coach class is fine.

And yes we each had our own pizza.  Did I mention that I was on vacation?

Wow, this post is getting long and I’m not even half way through the week yet.  In the interest of space I will just say that Wednesday I had a yummy egg salad and watercress sandwich from Marks and Spencer.  I could not take a picture of it because I was balanced on a 5″ wide “bench” at a bus shelter on a busy shopping street and trying to eat my sandwich and not drop my chips.

On Thursday I took time out to sit down for lunch at the World Food Cafe in Covent Garden.  I love this place in Neal’s Yard (check out this  cool 360 video).   Another vegetarian dish with potatoes, beets, bananas, rice and greens.  Very interesting combo of flavors.

the west african

I was going to leave it at that but then I spied the chocolate cake cooling on the counter.  Couldn’t pass it up.  Best thing I ate on the entire trip.  No lie.  Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Divine.

french chocolate cake

Almost to the end of the week and I still hadn’t had a full english breakfast.  Can you believe it?  We remedied that on Friday at Cote Brasserie in Chiswick.  I know, I know, I should have done so at a pub rather than at a French cafe but I have to say they did it right.  Left out the beans though – maybe not French enough?  That also explains the egg in crepe dish that my nephew ordered.

full English

I took a side trip to the Cotswolds to visit friends on Saturday and tried my first soft-boiled duck egg for breakfast – fresh from one of their ducks.  Tasty but definitely richer and bigger than the chicken eggs I’m used to.  Worth a try if you ever have the opportunity.

Finally on Sunday, my last day in London, we made it to The Brook, the local pub,  for lunch.  We had just run a 5k so we rewarded ourselves with steak, fries and dessert.  Just looking at these photos puts me in a bit of a food coma.

eton mess

berry pudding

brownie extravaganza

I did not eat all of these by myself, mind you.  Although I did have a taste of each.  The brownie was the clear winner.  And I’m not just saying that because I’m an American.

So there you have it.  One week in London (plus an extra weekend), loads of good food.  I am now officially starting my healthy diet again.

racing for life

Cathlin and Heather, medalists

Yes, I can now officially say that I have raced internationally.  Woot!

Cathlin and I ran a 5K women-only Race for Life at Finsbury Park in London on Sunday, my last day in the UK.   The course meandered through the beautiful park – some on-road, some off-road (i.e. grass), and several long upward inclines including a so-not-fair  hill at the finish  (rude).

I developed a wicked stitch in my side about 5 minutes into the race that lasted until the very end.  I blame it on the milk I had with my cereal for breakfast.  Still trying to work out what I can and cannot eat before a run.   It was distracting and definitely took a toll on my energy.  I confess that I walked a bit on a couple of the hills – less than a minute total though so not too bad.    Cathlin was a rock star and kept jogging but stayed beside me.

We finished together in 34 minutes and 40-something seconds – about 8 minutes faster than my first race in the spring!  Feeling good.

barking dogs in London

Hey hey hey!  I’m in London, visiting Cathlin and her family. Having a fantastic time as expected and so far the weather has been lovely.  Since I arrived on Saturday, we have been running around NON-STOP.  Not that I’m complaining.  But we’ve been so busy, this is the first quiet moment I’ve had to sit down, give my feet a break and blog.

I won’t bore you with a blow by blow of the last four days but will pass along some highlights.

Portobello Rd. Market, Notting Hill –  so crowded with tourists we could barely make our way down the street.   We persevered though and I came away with two brilliant scarves (just practicing my brit-speak) and some trinkets to add to my jewelry making supplies.

BrickLane and Spitalfields Markets – it was too nice a day so we blew off our planned 4 hour round-trip train ride to Stratford upon Avon and did some power walking in London instead.  Went out of our way to get a much hyped but underwhelming bagel with cream cheese (we ate only half).  Made up for it with a delicious cinnamon and sugar churro from a street vendor (we shared – should have bought two).  Bought matching Mad Men-esque dresses (black for Cathlin, gray for me).   Vintage heaven if you’re into that kind of thing.  Lunch at Waga Mama’s – yum.

London Walking tour – another beautiful day so we headed out by Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, across the river and then along the banks of the Thames.  Lunch on the terrace at the OXO building overlooking the city.  Found a fantastic shop (henrietta park) in a tiny pink kiosk filled with silk dresses and wool coats in beautiful saturated colors.  Um, yes, we spent a fair bit of time (and money) in there.  But that was the only shopping we did yesterday, I swear.   Except for some matching leggings to go with our previously mentioned matching dresses.

Museums and Swanky neighborhoods – Cathlin had to work today so I was on my own to check out the Grace Kelly exhibit at the V&A (worth the price).  Wandered around Kings Road and Sloane Square, admiring the posh houses and avoiding out-of-my-league designer shops.  Did have a moment of weakness at the Radley store whilst considering an orange handbag that was not on the sales shelf.  Took a picture and decided to think it over.  Met Cathlin and the boys at their school and headed home for Neapolitan pizza in their neighborhood.  And then gelato.  Hey, I’m on vacation.

Running – to counteract all the food excess, Cathlin and I got up at 5:30 this morning to run for 27 minutes and 22 seconds.  We saw a fox, the milkman, and smelly trash – just as Cathlin described in one of her posts (I’d link to it but I’m in a bit of a food coma right now)!  We’re going to try to get in one more run before our Race for Life 5K at Finsbury Park on Sunday.

And now, I will attempt to add a slide show of a few less than stellar pics I took with my blackberry because after the first day I got tired of carrying a separate camera.

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ordinary adventures.

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From the Jolly Green Giant in Minn, to the ranches of Wyoming, to the Badlands of South Dakota, to our first house in Boise, ID, to the stage door of the theater where I directed my first play…our roadtrip of life’s ordinary adventures is proving to be truly extraordinary.

And. I’m finally joining my sisters in graduating from the C25K program. Tuesday morning, Park City UT.  In an area that was part of the Olympic Village in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Extraordinary.

I love Chicago & Wisconsin. (And treadmills)

Greetings from the ROAD!

We are on our Summer 2010 Cross-Country Roadtrip from Cold Spring, NY to Boise, Id. And back.

So far — it’s Day 3 — we’ve been to:

  • Niagara Falls – the falls are incredible, the town is a creepy tourist thing,
  • London, Ontario – nothing to write about here
  • Chicago, IL – love love love this beach-city. Yes, beach-city.
  • and now we are in Madison, WI – green, clean and friendly.

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At our beautiful hotel in Chicago, I discovered the beauty of: THE TREADMILL. Hotel Raffaello, located in the Gold Coast area of Chicago (near the beach, and we had California weather), had a lovely fitness room, where I completed Day 1 and Day 2 of my last week of the C25K. On a treadmill. I love the treadmill. Why did I feel like I was cheating? Air conditioning. Tunes. A cup of water at my side. The 30 minutes were so fun that I actually did 33 minutes. And the next morning, I got up and did it again. Running is fun indoors.

The bad side. There were mirrors everywhere. I don’t like watching myself run, really. I looked slow. But I could check out my form. And my STILL UNFANCY BUM. Sigh. And, I couldn’t deny my slowness, when my 30 minutes was up and I had run, according to the treadmill display, only 1.77 miles. WHAT?! That’s 15 minute miles. Ok….I’m cracking up right now at how slow that is. The next day I stepped up the pace and made it to 1.92 miles. So…this isn’t actually a 5K program, now is it? So. My plan: I’ll finish the C25K program probably in Park City, UT when we get there on Monday. And then after that, I’m going to concentrate on distance, instead of time. Got to pick up the pace. Or that half-marathon is going to take 5 hours.

Tomorrow, we are off to Custer, SD! Yee-hah. I’ll write about it.

And, while I’m here a plug for this awesome food/cultural tour we did today in Chicago — my new favorite city. Chicago Food Planet Tours. 3 hour of sampling food stuffs from cool places, and walking around learning about the history of Chicago. Highly recommended.

See you in Utah…for my graduation.

two down, one to go

gotta love coded socks

I’m happy to announce that I have officially joined Cathlin in completing the C25K training program.  Woot!

I did my last run yesterday morning on one of the hottest days (100+) of this summer so far.   Thankfully it was only 80 degrees and 65% humidity when Daisy and I headed out at 6:00 am.

If I hadn’t been so committed to finishing yesterday I might have psyched myself out when I opened the door and felt that heat.  Did the powers that be not get the memo that I was doing my final run?

Well never mind.  I was going and that was that.  I already had on my favorite and fancy-bum-worthy (and kinda pricey) asics hera socks in honor of the occasion.  The hot pink and orange ones to entice my feet to move out at a faster pace (wishful thinking).  I love the fit of these socks with their L and R on the toes.  I have four pairs in different fun color combos.  Seriously, the other socks in my drawer are jealous because they never get to go out anymore.

Anyhoo.  With happy feet we jogged down unpaved alleys for the first 10 minutes to ease into things and then crossed over onto the sidewalks of the Fan.  Very cool neighborhood.  Great architecture.  None of which I noticed as I dodged uprooted sidewalks and kept an eye out for squirrels and other distractions (for Daisy not me) while also trying to focus on my form and my breathing.

And not looking at my watch.  There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve run at least 15 minutes and then peeking at the time and realizing it has only been 10.  Also, I know I said I was going to try to inject some faster sections into my runs but with the heat and humidity I just couldn’t do it.   Or at least chose not to do it.  Still, I was plenty sweaty and Daisy’s tongue was hanging out by the time we finished.  She got some extra loving for her efforts.

I forgot to do my victory dance and couldn’t find my cap and gown.  But I did have a big fat Butterfinger Blondie at lunch in celebration.  Yum.