the very best music playlist (for your illinois marathon race).

Hey hey! It’s Illinois Marathon week, Chambana!

Who’s tapering out there? We have our last long training run today–and it’s a beautiful day for it. Fingers crossed we get lucky with the weather next weekend. I’d love a sunny sky and very little wind Friday and Saturday. Please and thank you.

Still haven’t registered for a race? Good news! The Illinois Marathon re-opened registration until 11:59pm Monday evening. So sign up today or tomorrow! And use my coupon code to save $5 (coupon code: hatandhermarkers2016).

. . .

I think the music playlist is the most important part of my race day success–even more important than my jogging shoes and my jog bra. Ha.

Here’s my playlist for Saturday–my top 50 running songs–in random order (although I do always start with Air Force Ones and end with Dog Days are Over, it’s a tradition). Some oldies, some newies–all songs with a good beat to keep a good pace. And all songs I know by heart. I love to sing (or rap) along while I run. Try it. It makes the miles pass so much faster.

I usually only listen to about three minutes of each song before I skip to the next one–try that so you don’t get bored. And if I come across a song I ‘m really feeling–I’ll listen to it a few times on repeat before I skip to the next one. Whatever works, right? Right.

Go ahead add a few of these to your playlist. And we’ll see you at the finish line. Good luck!

Hat’s Illinois Marathon Playlist, 2016

  1. Air Force Ones (feat. Murphy Lee, Ali & Kyjuan) – Nelly
  2. Thunderstruck – AC/DC
  3. I’m Every Woman – Whitney Houston
  4. Wifey – Next
  5. Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – Shakira
  6. She’s Not Just a Pretty Face – Shania Twain
  7. I’ll Be – Foxy Brown & Jay-Z
  8. Hook – Blues Traveler
  9. Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springstein
  10. Get Me Home – Foxy Brown & Blackstreet
  11. America’s Sweetheart – Elle King
  12. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
  13. 679 (feat. Monty) -Fetty Wap
  14. Changes – 2Pac & Talent
  15. Beast of Burden – The Rolling Stones
  16. Love Lockdown – Kanye West
  17. Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne
  18. Change Clothes- Jay Z
  19. Desperately Wanting – Better Than Ezra
  20. Move This – Technotronic & Ya Kid K
  21. Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
  22. Should’ve Been a Cowboy – Toby Keith
  23. Machineheard – Bush
  24. Wild Night – John Mellencamp
  25. Crazy Bitch – Buckcherry
  26. Stronger – Kanye West
  27. Mo Money Mo Problems (feat. Mase & Puff Daddy) – The Notorious B.I.G)
  28. Ants Marching – Dave Matthews Band
  29. I’m Like a Lawyer With the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off – Fall Out Boy
  30. I – Kendrick Lamar
  31. Whatever You Like – T.I.
  32. Suicide Blonde – INXS
  33. Me and My Girlfriend – Makaveli
  34. All About U – 2Pac, Nate Dogg & Snoop Dogg
  35. She Wolf – Shakira
  36. Gangsta Luv – Snoop Dog
  37. Ride Wit Me – Nelly
  38. Perfect Gentleman – Wyclef Jean
  39. Freedom – George Michael
  40. Morning After – Timbaland
  41. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – Michael Jackson
  42. Knockout – Lil Wayne & Nicki Minaj
  43. Magic (feat. Rivers Cuomo) – B. o. B.
  44. Wanna Be a  Baller – Lil’ Troy
  45. Brian Wilson – Barenaked Ladies
  46. The Show Goes On – Lupe Fiasco
  47. Hit ‘Em Up – 2Pac
  48. Run This Town – Jay Z
  49. Life is a Highway – Rascall Flats
  50. Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine

PS. They say personal playlists are a window to the soul. And I kindof agree. So now you *really* know me. Ha. Have any good songs to add to this list? Add them in the comments. XOXO.

crockpot chicken, avocado and lime soup.

I love Mexican. I also love crockpots. Who doesn’t, right? This week’s recipe celebrates my love for both.

Crockpot cooking is just so easy. Yesterday I threw all these ingredients into my crockpot at noon, cranked the pot, went to work and came home to a delicious, healthy (ready to eat!) dinner at 5. Winner, winner, chicken (avocado and lime soup) dinner.

I found this recipe on The Defined Dish. Their blog is a great resource for all you Whole30ers–with lots of great pics because we all love great pics.

Crockpot Chicken, Avocado and Lime Soup

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and stemmed, then diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder (I just used regular chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 avocados, diced

Salt and pepper your chicken breasts. Throw the chicken breasts, white onion, jalapeno, garlic, chicken broth, chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin in your crock pot.

image.jpeg

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. I cooked mine on high for 4 hours and it was perfection.

When cooking time is complete, shred your chicken–I just used two forks and shredded the chicken breasts right in the crock pot. Stir in the cilantro and lime. Serve with diced avocados on top–and garnish with a little more cilantro and lime because you can never have enough cilantro and lime.

image.jpeg

This recipe is Paleo and Whole30–unless you smother it in Mexican cheese and tortilla strips like Danny did. He’s sitting here saying you should do that too. Ha. It’s really good both ways. Enjoy.

stream of consciousness. and stream of photos.

Oh hey, Sunday. You want to be sunny and 80 degrees? Ok, then–go on with your bad self.

Seriously, how great is the weather this weekend? I just love it. We’ve been outside all day everyday–all weekend long. Very dirty little feet and very heavy eyelids by 7pm over here. Spring–I just can’t get enough of you

Is this sunshine making anyone else want to slip on their garden clogs and start digging in the dirt? Ya, buddy–you know I love a good backyard garden and a flower crown made out of cilantro more than anything–more on that in the next few weeks.

For now we’re just digging all kinds of other stuff. Like some serious park play.

image.jpeg

Last year they couldn’t climb half the play structures by themselves at our park. This year they’re doing it with their eyes closed. Slow. Down. Time.

Here’s a few more park-play pics from last week–courtesy of Nanny Pat.

imageimage

. . .

The other night I came home from class to two little boys who couldn’t stop talking about how their babysitter “turned on her Facetime and turned them into dogs”. Wait, what?!

So I texted her to ask how to do it from my phone–yes, I’m old. She laughed (I think with me, not at me. Ha!)–and told me all about Snapchat–again, I’m so old.

imageimage

How cute is that little puppy though? And Johnny with a ‘stache? Yessss, sir.

(Photo credits, Dr. Kate.)

. . .

The kids’ birthday party circuit. We work it. We live it. We love it.

image.jpeg

Cupcakes and candy and juice boxes–what’s not to love?

image.jpeg

Oh, and a real lizard at our buddy’s birthday party this weekend. Ya, so now we want a lizard. Special thanks to that buddy’s mom–she’s lucky she’s one of my favorites–ha.

. . .

Shorts. I’ve heard boys go through a phase where they only want to wear athletic shorts.

image.jpeg

We’re there now–plus all Cardinals stuff all the time for Johnny. And Batman for Dean, of course. My kids may never wear pants again though. They say they “run faster” in shorts. Alrighty, then.

. . .

Last but not least–this.

image.jpeg

Our buddy isn’t feeling so well–and we’re all banding together for him. Want to support him too? Stop by Art Mart for a wristband or one of these cool prints made by local artist (and my old friend), Kelly Hieronymus.

image.jpeg

All proceeds from the sale of both benefit the Davis McKay Leukemia Foundation. More info, here. Get well soon, Davis. We love you, your bro and your mom and dad very much.

. . .

Let’s wrap it up–so I can get back outside. Enjoy this sunshiny Sunday, Chambana. XOXO.

baked cinnamon apples.

Johnny is going through this phase where he doesn’t “love any fruits or vegetables”–his words, not mine. He’ll eat applesauce and maybe two slices of cucumber, that’s it. So I decided to try to get creative with our fruit and veggie intake this week. And it worked. Boom.

This is an easy, healthy recipe for baked cinnamon apples. It takes all of five minutes to prepare. And it tastes so good–and makes your house smell amazing. Win, win, win.

It would be an easy way to prepare pears, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash too. I’m going to try the sweet potatoes tonight. Yum.

Baked Cinnamon Apples   

Ingredients

  • three apples
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (use refined, no coconut smell and no coconut taste)
  • 3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 shakes nutmeg

Wash, peel and core/slice your apples.

image.jpeg

Cut your slices into halves or thirds.

image.jpeg

Melt your coconut oil. I microwave mine (actually Deano does, he’s really into pressing the numbers), usually about 90 seconds.

image.jpeg

Place your apples in the container of melted coconut oil. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg. Throw the lid on the container and shake, shake, shake to coat all the apples.

image.jpeg

My best shaker. Obviously still skeptical about eating any fruit or veggie–even if it’s covered in oil and spices. 

Open the lid just a little to allow the steam to escape. Microwave your apples for about 3 minutes. They’ll be hot and steamy, so use hot pads. Shake them again with the lid on.

image.jpeg

Dig in.

image.jpeg

These are a sweet treat if you’re doing a Whole30. Or if you’re trying to trick your kids into eating more fruits and veggies. Mother of the year over here, I know.

Enjoy.

a morning at aikman wildlife adventure

We loaded up the minivan bright and early this morning. Coffee and croissants from Art Mart–and two kids who couldn’t wait for our little Saturday morning adventure.

We drove south on I-57 to Arcola (exit 203)–and then another five miles west through the gentle, rolling hills of Amish country.

imageimage

We passed horse and buggy after horse and buggy–all the way to the former Rockome Gardens location.

image.jpeg

My childhood friend’s little sister Kelsey and her husband James Aikman just opened Aikman Wildlife Adventure in Arcola. The concept has been James’ dream for some time–and finally became a realty when the park opened earlier this month.

Aikman Wildlife Adventure is a 40-acre wildlife park and refuge for animals of all kinds. Their mission is to provide the highest quality of life possible to all wildlife in need while maintaining a family friendly environment through interaction, education, conservation and by creating an experience of a lifetime.

And it was–really, truly–an experience of a lifetime.

image.jpeg

The park boasts a 20-acre animal sanctuary–with a gravel path to drive through. And will soon offer a walk-through area with large animal habitats (bigger than most zoos), animal rides, a huge budgie aviary with a walking path and feed sticks, a large petting zoo and a playground with a pavilion and picnic area.

We took a behind the scenes tour with a park guide. You can too, for $25/person until Memorial Day. Or you can drive your own vehicle through the safari for $20/vehicle.

It was one of the coolest things we’ve ever done as a family. I’d highly recommend it. We toured the indoor and outdoor habitats and saw over thirty species of wild animals including HYENAS (my little Lion Guard fan-kids freaked). Check it.

image

Wild Turkeys. They eat the parasites out of manure. You learn something new every day.

image

image

The ass of an ass. I said ass, twice.

image

image

Oh hey, zebra.

image

image

Bison. Are. Big. (And friendly, just like Johnny.)

imageimage

image

image

These camels. My favorites. Fabio and Randy. Just wanted to smooch us all day.

imageimage

image

Scimitar-Horned Oryx. Native to Egypt. Hunted for its horns, nearly to extinction.

imageimageimageimage

image

Jacob’s Sheep. Three horns, yo.

image

image

Shelters like these are built around the property to provide some protection from the wind.

image

image

Me and My Llama (Going to the Dentist) used to be my favorite song. I’ve been singing it all day today.

imageimage

image

Owners James, Kelsey and Asa Aikman take us through an indoor habitat.

image

image.jpeg

HYENAS! They aren’t named Janja or Jasiri–at least not yet. But their naming rights are available along with their adoption–for any of you fans of the Lion Guard.

image

image

Exploring the grounds. And playing on pallets. Because pallets are fun. Ha.

imageimage

image

Looping back around to the camels. Because camels are my spirit animal. Unload your burdens, baby. Lay it all on me.

We ended our tour in the gift shop–and learned a little more about SABLE. SABLE (Saving Animals By Lasting Encounters) is a non-profit entity established for the feeding, caring for and housing of animals. The organization partners with Aikman Wildlife Adventure to help educate guests of the park about the animals, their habitats and the conservation efforts taking place there.

image.jpeg

You can also make a donation through SABLE to adopt an animal at Aikman Wildlife Adventure. Your donation is tax-deductible and covers the costs of bringing the animal to the park, covers the animal’s food for a year and covers all the animal’s veterinary care. For more information or to donate, e-mail James at james@aikmanwildlife.com.

image.jpeg

The Aikman Wildlife Adventure is open Friday and Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday noon-5pm. For more information visit www.aikmanwildlife.com or visit their Facebook Page.

So grab the kids and hit the road–it was a 35 minute trip for us, door to door. We had a blast this morning–thanks to the Aikmans–and learned a lot. Plus it was a very quiet ride home too. Win, win, win. Boom.

image

We can’t wait to go back. Thanks James, Kelsey and Asa.

mexican meatza pizza.

I love Mexican. Like love love love it. Really, truly–I could eat it for every meal.

But I know myself–and I know my foods with no brakes. And greasy chips and white cheese sauce with chorizo fall into that category for me. Dang it.

These Mexican Meatza Pizzas are a quick and easy way to get my Mexican fix at home–without the baskets and baskets of chips. They’re easy to make–and Paleo, Whole30 and kid-approved. Boom.

I adapted this recipe from Mel Joulwan’s blog. Her blog is one of my favorites for Whole30 compliant (and delicious) recipes. Check her out.

Mel Joulwan’s Mexican Meatza

Ingredients:

Meat Crust

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (I just used 1 teaspoon jarred minced garlic.)

Toppings

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of your favorite salsa

  • Green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (I food-processed)

  • Red onion, cut into thin strips (I food-processed)

  • Avocado, diced (I totally forgot the avocado, whoops.)

  • garnish: fresh lime, chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef with the crust seasonings until combined.
image
2. Make the crust. Divide the meat in half, roll into a ball, and press evenly into an 8- or 9-inch round pie pan (I used cake pans, they work too.). Cover only the bottom of the pan and smooth the meat with damp hands until it’s an even thickness. Repeat with the other piece of “crust.”
imageimage
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and the edges are brown. Leaving the oven on, remove the meat crusts from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan.
image.jpeg
3. Assemble your meatza. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place the meat crusts on the baking sheet. Spread about 1/4 cup salsa on each meat crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Arrange the peppers and onions on top, pressing them gently into the salsa.
image.jpeg
Pop the pizza back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until hot and browned to your liking.
image.jpeg
4. Garnish your meatza. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with diced avocado, then squeeze a little fresh lime juice over the top and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
image.jpeg
Serve these with a little side salad–and some extra salsa and guacamole. Yum. Enjoy.