Wednesday, July 27, 2016


So now I live in Louisville and have a place to live and a job so the time consuming myself with looking for a place to live and a job is now vacant and I don't know what to do so I'm considering blogging again. How's that for a sentence? Anyway, currently:

Current Music: I have been way into the Justin Timberlake Pandora station lately but I've also been listening to the Undisclosed podcast because I'm apparently stuck in 2014 and just finished Serial like a month ago.

Current Guilty Pleasure: Bravo TV. I think I'm watching like 4 Bravo shows right now. I should probably be embarrassed but I'm not. Not at all.

Current Drink: Besides a ton of water because it's so effing hot here right now (and apparently everywhere) I'm way into Trader Joe's Rooibos and Honeybush tea. This is a leftover from a little elimination diet I did (did I ever mention that?) in the spring. As part of it I wasn't allowed to use any sweeteners or drink any caffeine (not usually an issue for me). One of the amazing baristas where I was working at the time told me my usual iced tea had caffeine so she made me a Honeybush iced tea because it had a little bit of a naturally sweet flavor and was caffeine free. I'm not obsessed but started adding honey again when I moved back to allergy town.

Current Food: These bars

Current Needs: More peanut butter to make more of those bars. And acupuncture. And to get my eyebrows in check. In deeper needs, I need to practice my forgiveness. I've been a bit of a grudge holder lately. Hashtag not a good look

Current Indulgence: Um, Bravo TV....and food. I feel like I'm eating a lot but I don't think I actually am. I think it's just because I'm home more so I have the opportunity to eat more. But really probably my R&R. I am rarely one to be super lazy (even though I think I'm the laziest sometimes) but I'm starting work soon so I'm soaking up every ounce of nothingness while I can.

Current Outfit: My Guiness shorts and a tank. So?

Current Excitement: Yoga in the park tonight unless it's raining, hanging out with my sister, starting my new job and writing out the budget with T later this week. Yes, I like writing budgets. I'm going to get my life together one of these days.

Current Obsession: Crossfit. Seriously, I'm stuck in 2014. But really I watched the Crossfit Games this year because I've been following a few 'fitters on the 'gram and got so freaking obsessed with it. I've wanted to try it myself for a while but, you know, it's really hard.

Current Thoughts: Oh boy, so many. Like I said, I'm on a forgiveness train. I harbored a lot of resentment and hard feelings towards this city and a lot of the people in it. Moving to Oregon was really hard and I was hurt that my friends weren't there for me. When I first broke the news I was coming back I was expecting more than what I got and I was angry. So I hermited as I often do and sulked, then thought about it and now I'm trying the move on approach. Everyone else's lives went on when I moved just like mine did and part of being an adult and a good friend/person is to not hold that against people.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Guess Who's Back

Sometimes my thoughts get really overwhelming and when that happens I usually have to do something active and relatively creative. I've been using coloring books since before they were cool and strangely baking is still a big go-to for me but there's also writing. Today while lamenting to the husband he suggested I write a blog to try to just get shit out. So that's what I'm doing.

We are moving back to Louisville. Yay? I guess that's still TBD. I love Louisville, I really do and I have for years but like a weird, slightly dysfunctional, long term relationship, love just wasn't enough. I felt trapped and suffocated. I had created this identity box for myself and while it worked for a while it eventually turned into my coffin. It was tiny and I didn't feel like it could fit everything I wanted to be a part of my identity. 15 months ago I was exercise and non-profit worker Rennay. That's it. When we moved I realized it was a true clean slate. Absolutely no one out here knew anything about me. They didn't know me as anyone or anything. There were no expectations and I loved it. I used my time out here wisely. I ran a little, swam a little, biked not at all. I ate healthy. I ate crappy. I started to really become who I wanted to be. I think there was a bad combination in Louisville for me of youth, indecision, insecurity and expectations and it turned me into someone I didn't entirely want to be. I feel like I've just been on a very long much needed vacation. I've used this time to get to know myself, relax a little (or a lot) and just generally feel good again.

I'm excited to come back "home". I'm also scared to death. I don't want to fall back into old patterns and a general disdain for life. I want to feel great, I want to be happy and I want to have fun. So yes, I'm coming back, but there's a very good chance you may not recognize me.

Oh yeah, and I'm bringing bread ;)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Eugene Half Marathon Recap

April was a weird month. I finished school at the very end of March and spent about 2 weeks being unemployed and dramatic before getting a call from my externship site offering me a job which I obviously took. I'm now working strictly on the pastry side which has been fun but I must admit I miss bread a little. Anyway, working 10 hour shifts is hard on the body so it's taken me some time to adjust meaning I haven't been running or working out much in the traditional sense. But I figure being on my feet for at least 9 1/2 hours at work and slinging 50 lb bags of dead weight around counts for something.

There were some family issues that popped up in April too that were less than ideal but the month ended with me and T hosting 3 out of town guests in our apartment for a few days. Exhausting but so amazing at the same time. One of those guests was my sister and bestie who flew out to run the Eugene Half with me. She's about finished with nursing school but needless to say, running hasn't been her top priority lately either so we were just going to go for it and enjoy a nice loooong walk on a beautiful day. 

I'd booked an Airbnb in Springfield about 20 minutes from Eugene because it looked like it was on some form of a farm. Since I now want to be a farmer (I know, I know) I was way pumped to stay somewhere scenic, quiet and kind of removed from the nervous energy of a race venue. It was exactly what I wanted.

Also, my current phone camera situation is not exactly what I want. Not sure what that's all about. Anyway, me and my sister drove into Eugene and went to the expo. I've been to Hayward Field before but it's still just so exciting every time I see it and even better that it was her first time there. We headed into the expo which was small but well put together and right outside the tent was a list of all of the participants organized by state. It was cool that there were only 2 people from Kentucky racing so we found my sister's name right away. I had to do a little bit of searching but I found it.

They tried to give me a tiny shirt (I guess I was being optimistic about weight loss when I registered...) but it was really easy to exchange it. I ate some seaweed, drank some tea and of course it wouldn't be Oregon without a little wine then we headed out. We stopped at the grocery store and headed back to the Airbnb to relax. It was great having an entire guest house to ourselves with a full kitchen.. Definitely made pre-race easy. I went to sleep that night easily and slept hard until my alarm. That probably goes to show how relaxed I really was about this race which ended up paying off.

We got up around 4 am and left by 5:30. Free parking and shuttle service was available at Autzen Stadium so we very easily made our way there and luckily there were a couple of very gently used porta pots there so I took advantage of the short line before hopping onto the bus. A quick ride later and we were back at the expo site at Hayward Field. In a very rare act we actually used the gear check since it was only about 40 degrees when we left. We both had long sleeves on but not things we wanted to throw away so we packed some extra shoes and threw in our shirts for gear check then headed to the start line. The race started right at 7 am and we were in good spirits but neither of us were sure how the day would go. 

We started out at a conversational slow pace and actually kept it up through 9 miles! I was definitely not expecting that. The longest run I've done in recent memory was 7 miles and I remember it being not so fun so to manage a full 9 before really feeling like I didn't want to be out there anymore was pretty amazing. At around 1.5 miles I had to stop to pee but again, the lines were short and pots were still in good shape. We ran along talking nonstop like those super annoying people you find in races from time to time and around mile 4 we saw the blog famous Sweaty Emily on the sidelines talking to a really fast looking guy I'm almost positive had already finished the race. We ran past a little bit discussing whether or not we should go back and say hello or just leave her alone before deciding we had to say something. So we stopped, turned around and walked back. She was quite nice and even called us by name (they were on our bibs) and told us to have a good race. We ran on feeling pretty refreshed after being in the presence of greatness (she runs 100 a badass). There was a big hill shortly after that but we ran it just fine and were met with a fun drumline at the top. Then a big downhill. The miles were ticking by really fast and we were hardly walking. I took in water at every stop and Gatorade after a while because I was HUNGRY. I've actually never been that hungry during a race so I'm chalking it up to the lack of training and preparation.

Both of us suffered a few random aches and pains that would go away and come back until mile 9. After mile 9 things started to hurt and keep hurting. It's true that training for races strengthens your mind but also trains your body to withstand a beating and that is exactly what we weren't prepared to do. My mind stayed strong because for some reason I excel at that part of long distance running but my joints weren't having much fun anymore, especially since I've gained a few pounds over the past year. We walked a lot of mile 10 and some of 11 before getting it back together and running to the end.

The course was beautiful and there was great support throughout. Eugene is a small-ish city but you can tell they love their running. It's actually fairly flat with only a couple of climbs and spreads out after about a mile or 2. It was a big race! The highlight has to be the finish when you enter Hayward Field and finish on the same track at the same finish line as track and field legends. This is the same track that's hosting the USA track and field Olympic Trials this summer. Yes, OLYMPICS.

All in all, this race was awesome. I'm stunned that I've reached a point where I can just do a half marathon mostly untrained but I absolutely wouldn't recommend it. Especially if you're someone who cares about times and performance. I don't run with a watch anymore and there were no clocks on the course so it was right up my alley to just go out with my sister and enjoy a beautiful day with some exercise. It also helps that I definitely wasn't attempting a couch to half marathon. I have been exercising and staying active, just not training in the traditional sense and maybe that's what works for me. I know I'll race again but I'm not sure when or in what capacity. Right now I'm just trying to enjoy my life and not worry so much about what it's supposed to look like.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Do You Even Lift?

This will be a quick one. I've always heard the whole "if you don't blog/facebook/instagram about it, did it even happen?" thing so in my case, I've done essentially nothing for months. This is not true. You know how I go really long spans without blogging? Because sometimes life is better spent being lived than written about? Yeah, kind of the same with the whole exercise thing right now.

I started this post a loooooong time ago and am just getting around to finishing it so it's interesting that it's still so relevant. I'm currently training for the Eugene Half Marathon (which was originally going to be marathon #4) and doing Orangetheory once a week which is not exactly nothing. I've posted a few somewhat obligatory #gymselfie pics on instagram but in general I've just been doing my thing and not talking about it much.

I follow the instagrams of numerous athletes, almost all amateurs and really enjoy them so don't think I'm against sharing exercise. I think when it comes to me, I felt like I got stuck in a very one dimensional place. When you thought of me, you thought of running. And I thought that's what I wanted which it was until it wasn't. I have a lot of sides to me and being so known for just one side made me really uncomfortable for whatever reason. When I moved to Oregon (10 months ago, holy crap) the few people from Louisville who kept up with me or asked about me spoke almost exclusively in terms of fitness. "How are you liking the trails out there?" "Have you found a place for lap swimming?" "Which races do you have your eye on?" I mean, at least they were asking something, right? But you know me, I can never be fully satisfied and those questions just seemed really shallow to me. Nobody was asking about me, they were asking about things.

So even though I've continued working out since it is important and enjoyable to me, I haven't made it the big thing it used to be. I've gained weight that I'm working on losing again, I run faster some days than others and I've joined maybe 3 group runs in the entire time I've been here. Obviously a lot of that has to do with school being all consuming but now that it's almost over and my time has freed up I've been doing a lot of other things and trying to remember what's made me happy. Coloring has become a new fad and for the first time it's one I was already ahead of so that's been fun. I'm also reading again; albeit slowly I'm getting into books and in true form reading more than one at a time. And I'm cooking. Not huge things or anything terribly time consuming but I've made it a point to eat more veggies and have been cooking some up and throwing them into many meals which has me feeling pretty good.

In a nutshell, I hate being in a nutshell. I want all of my sides to show and to embrace my complexity. What about you? Do you feel like you're stuck in a shell? Or maybe you like being known as "the one who *insert whatever*?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Day in the Life of an Extern

I'm currently on externship at a super cool cafe called Roman Candle Baking Co. in Southeast Portland.They're open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and on the baking side we make pastries and breads and since I've only been there for 2 weeks I'm sure there's a lot more we make that I haven't come across yet. My favorite things to do in school were bread and laminated dough (aka puff pastry aka delicious, flaky pastries like croissants) and luckily that's a lot of what they do at Roman Candle. Just for kicks, here's a little peek into what my days have looked like so far...

12:30 am

Wake up time! Alarm goes off and I get up, say goodnight to T who is usually going to bed around this time and get ready for the day. Do some stretches, nibble on something, brush my teeth and get my caffeine drip started. Really, I just start drinking Cherry Limeade Nuun Energy. By 1:20 am I'm on my way into the city.

1:45-1:50 am

Get to work, climb up to the loft to get my chef's coat (I can't believe they actually call them that and let me wear one) and apron and coats and aprons for whoever else is working with me that day. Bathroom, hand washing, all that stuff.

2:00 am

Get to work! Pull the pre-ferments from the walk-in, grab a bowl for the dusting flour, turn on the small convection oven (someone else gets the deck pre-heated since I don't work with that oven yet) and start chopping dough for shaping. It's also somewhere during this hour that the laminates (think croissants and danish) go into the proofer.

3:00-3:20 am

This is the goal time for having everything into the proofer. The day I was mostly on my own and trying to hit the time goal for the first time I had everything in by 3:30. A little late but not too far off. Once everything is in the proofer we start scaling and mixing for the next day. Slider dough, French bread, Grissini and Carta crackers, Tomato Basil bread and any special orders. Depending on what time the dough for the potato rolls went into the proofer, we will also pull theme out for dressing. The dough is de-gassed (i.e. patted down to push the air bubbles out), placed on a wet towel and then into the toppings. We do an onion potato roll, sesame potato roll and everything bun from this dough. Then back into the proofer.

3:45 am

Turn on the Revent oven to preheat and check the laminates to see how they're proofing. Also check the doughs from the morning depending on when they went in to proof and stretch the Trapazini in the pans if needed.

4:00 am

If not started earlier, breads start going into the ovens. I don't know what time the sourdoughs and ciabattas go into the deck oven but usually around this time the timers start going off and whoever is working with them is getting things going. Hopefully I'll get to learn more about them! This is also a good opportunity to do some cleaning so I sweep and do dishes for a little while.

4:30 am

Jump over from the bread side to pastry and get the morning bake procedure started. Check the laminates again, if they are starting to proof too quickly or the butter is starting to get melty, pull them from the proofer and let them finish up at room temp. Check the list for the pastry numbers to see what needs to be made that morning. Into the walk in to grab scones, cookie doughs, pop tarts, and any other pastries for the day. Arrange and prep all the pastries so they can go into the small convection oven quickly. Throw everything that bakes at 330 degrees into the oven: ginger cookies, poptarts, and triple chocolate cookies. Set a 6 minute timer. Check the laminates again and egg wash them. Keep an eye on the bread team to see when a break will be to put the laminates into the Revent oven. Once the timer goes off, rotate the trays and set the oven for 5 more minutes. Scoop and top the muffin batter then pull the ginger cookies and poptarts. Set more time for the triple chocolates. Pull the quiche shells from the freezer and fill them with everything except the custard and put back into freezer. Pull the triple chocolate cookies and crank the oven temp to 350, let it preheat. Pull the quiche back out, fill the shells with custard and put them, the scones and muffins into the oven. Set a 12 minute timer. Dress and plate the torta ditas and hostess cupcakes and start frosting the poptarts. Once the timer goes off, rotate and set another timer, usually around 8 minutes. Sometimes the laminates are ready to go into the big Revent oven at this point so in they go for 20 minutes. Torch the poptart fluff and sprinkle the chocolate and hazelnut topping, put on the rack for retail. Pipe mascarpone filling into the ginger cookies and put them on the rack for retail. Pull the scones, quiche and muffins from the oven. Move the triple chocolate cookies to the retail rack. Once the scones, quiche and muffins have cooled, de-pan the muffins and quiche and move everything to the retail rack. When the laminates are finished, de-pan the kouign amann immediately and sprinkle with salt. De-pan the morning buns and Danish. Coat the morning buns with sugar and glaze the Danish then when everything is cooled, put them on the retail rack. And the morning bake is done!

6:00 am

Somewhere around this time I finish up the morning bake and since I clean as I go there's no big clean up so I can jump back in with the bread team. The doughs for the next day's laminates are usually mixed by this time so I help out with stretching the dough into the pans and chilling it.

6:30 am

Time to pre-shape the sourdoughs for the next day. We pre-shape most of them into rounds then let them rest for about an hour. The time all depends on how the dough feels that day and how many varieties we're doing.

7:00 am

While we wait for the sours, we do some light cleaning and then prep the pre-ferments for the next day. We also restock and start putting the morning's breads out for retail and take the daily order to the restaurant next door. We also eat breakfast sometimes.

8:00 am

Final shaping of the sourdoughs then we put them into the retarder for the night.

8:45 am

Deep clean for the end of the shift by the bread team. Sometimes I help them clean and then leave a little before 10, sometimes I jump back over to pastry and help do some mixing until 10. It just depends on how the day is going and how many people are there.

Once I'm finished, I head home, change and go to the gym (or outside to run) on Mondays and Tuesdays. Sometimes I need a nap, sometimes I don't. Then I just live life until I go to bed which can be anywhere between 5-6:30 pm.

So there's my life 4 days per week for the next 4-5 weeks. Pray for me.

Monday, February 15, 2016


I don't remember when it was that I heard about Bend, Oregon for the first time but whenever it was I instantly knew I needed to go there. I assume it was from a blog and probably from Sweaty Emily or Sarah OUAL. It wasn't very long ago that I heard about this magical place with it's mountain views and bright sunshine but when we moved to Oregon I set immediately to planning a trip to my homeland.

I really had no background on Bend and didn't know anything about it aside from the beautiful photos I'd seen on insta and beyond. We planned the trip for our anniversary weekend and I high fived myself again for planning a September wedding date because the weather is pretty much perfect everywhere that time of year with central Oregon being no exception. It's about a 3 hour drive from Portland to Bend but you get off the highway around Salem (roughly 40 miles south) and ride on a mostly 2 lane road the rest of the way. The weather switched regularly between clouds, sun and drizzle as we drove but no amount of weather could make the views any less spectacular.

I'd never used Airbnb before so I was pretty nervous but Marilyn (the owner) was really responsive beforehand and ended up being a great person to work with. The place we were staying was an attachment she'd built onto her home but with a private entrance, small yard, 2 locking bedrooms with private bathrooms and a shared kitchen space. Nobody had rented the other private room which was actually kind of nice but she still ensured our privacy and made sure we had keys to lock up as we saw fit. 

Her house was within walking distance to a big shopping and food area right on the Deschutes River. She gave us some recommendations and let us know her whereabouts over the next couple of days in case we needed her. Here's a link to her rental in case you're interested in heading out. I'd highly recommend her!

Because T really values relaxation, he made a few calls and managed to get us a massage booked within walking distance a couple of hours after we got into town. The massages were amazing and the location was right in the middle of everything so we got some food at a Mexican restaurant and had quite literally the best tableside guacamole I've ever had. For the life of me I can't remember the name of the place but I remember exactly where it was and we made a point to go there for guac more than once. 

We made sure to be out and about as much as we could during the day and I insisted on visiting the home of Atlas Cider Co. which happens to brew THE BEST cider possibly on earth. We also drove out to Mt. Bachelor and took nice long walks around the Deschutes while really trendy Oregonians utilized their SUPs and kayaks. 

Eventually the time came when we had to tell Bend to put her top back on and quit showing off. The show was over and we had to head home. We stopped off to check out the Three Sisters on the ride home and then continued to pout until...maybe last week or so. I loved Bend and can't wait to go back. It's a beautiful area!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Welcome Back

Man oh man has moving west changed my life for the better. I moved out here planning to find a nonprofit or public relations job, make a nice little salary and settle into my 9-5 and hellishly long commutes from the burbs to the city.

A photo posted by Rennay Cooke Marshall (@rnay225) on

Life has a way of saying no to your best laid plans.

I started out working from home for a database company based in Louisville and did a pretty good job of getting up early, getting dressed and settling into a work day. The summer was absurdly hot and since the majority of Oregonians (especially in apartments) don't have ac it made for some really miserable work days. I tried not to turn on the TV much while I was working and for a while we didn't have cable so that was pretty easy but database work isn't always the most exciting so I gave in every now and then. Every single time I turned on the TV I saw the same commercial for the Baking and Pastry program at Oregon Culinary Institute. Long story short, one day I decided to go there and see about becoming a pastry chef. A day or so later, I was registered for the July 29th start date.

A photo posted by Rennay Cooke Marshall (@rnay225) on

I could go on and on about what an experience it has been, what each and every class was like, the dozens of formulas and procedures I had to work through and how many cuts and burns I had to suffer through but I'll spare you for now. In a nutshell (and I'm ironically eating from a container of mixed nuts...) school was/has been incredibly difficult and even though I am praying for time to speed up so that I can be completely finished (I've finished all of my classes and am now on my 240 hour externship at an Italian bakery/restaurant downtown) I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. Hopefully now that my days no longer look like this:

4:00 am - Wake Up
4:45 am - Leave for work
5:20 am - Start working
11:30 am - Get home from work
12:00 pm - Wake up from nap, eat and change into school uniform. Also wash off the dough bits and debris that somehow make it all the way to my elbows over the sink since there's no time for a shower
12:30 pm - Leave for school
1:00 pm - Into the kitchen at school
6:00 pm - Break for snack before classroom and kitchen demo for the next day
8:45 pm - Home from school
9:00 pm - Eat then shower and probably fall asleep

I'll be able to blog more regularly. I'd forgotten how much I missed writing (and reading, and running) and I'm hopeful to add it back in as a regular part of my life.