Thursday, December 30, 2010
Hold me accountable folks, I've got ideas for new entries though seem to lose them by the time my fingers hit the keyboard, or don't have the fancy photos to pair with the words.
Blog of the weekend....Priority Snow Removal, stay tuned for details and pictures. Think, 3ft + of snow, a shovel, a path to a snow fort, and a snow filled driveway..
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Earlier this week, I took all of the kids grocery shopping and had a successful trip! Rarity. At any rate, thank goodness for car carts and mini-kid sized carts. They all took turns pushing the mini cart and riding/driving the car cart. The produce section set the premise for our trip, who would think that a 5lb sack (or two since they were buy one get one free) could bring such enjoyment. Immediately, Nyla claimed one of the bags as her baby (Olivia, playing with Nyla, followed suit...Max could have cared less, he had his eye on the prize, er free kids cookie over in the bakery section). Nyla immediately started talking every so softly and sweetly to her baby, carrying her baby around, buckling her baby in the seat and putting her baby in the mini cart and pushing her baby around. We had a bit of difficulty separating from baby long enough for the cashier to put the baby through the register, oh the relief to have baby back in her arms after that devastatingly long separation.
Baby rode in the carseat with Nyla on the way home, and was quickly welcomed into our house being showered with toys and more kisses and....well babies do need to eat, a sweet nursing session. They played under the fort together and read books, and baby was so thirsty that Nyla (good little Mother she is) shared her sippy cup of water with her baby (soaking the potatoes inside the bag). After about an hour and a half of baby potato sack enjoyment, it all ended peacefully and on Nyla's terms. We did have to let the bag of potatoes sit on the counter to air out for a good day or so. Let me conclude this by saying that no potato was injured during this production of imaginative play :)
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
After a brief 3am waking, Nyla needed an extra middle of the night snuggle, my mind immediately started racing into multitudes of thoughts that occupy my mind throughout non-sleeping hours (and are often translated into my dreams). I'm not exactly sure why I started to think about the importance of barefoot running, why shoes hinder a good wise run and how it's like swimming in a life jacket. False sense of security.
My thoughts were, running in traditional high tech, cushioned, stability, motion control etc etc shoes gives inhibits our natural tendency to become more body aware. Sadly, I think that our society has become so dependent on modern technologies that we lack the ability to build body awareness. We use Garmins and fancy watches to see what our pace is ( I challenge you to head out on a run, sans gear and pace yourself by how your body feels, by your breath and by your heart beating in your chest), GPS systems and online maps to map out exactly how far we are running and pillowy running shoes to "cushion the impact".
Is this really benefiting us, by not allowing us to learn more about how we're running in order to naturally cushion our own footfall with good running form? Lacing up a brand new pair of ultra cushioned stability shoes, will not help you learn how to run better no more so than putting a life jacket on to learn how to swim. Sure, it will keep you afloat and is an awesome safety device, I put my own kids in them, though it's much easier to learn to swim bare...without your life jacket. Likewise, learning to run without the shoes. Of course you're not going to jump right into the deep end of the pool and expect to crawl stroke your way beautifully to the opposite end of the pool. Of course you're not going to be able to take your traditional training shoes off for the first time and run a marathon.
It takes patience, a good bit of educating yourself, listening to and connecting with your body using feedback to better your run and your experience..did I mention patience. If you are not used to listening to your body and engaging in good "conversation-take and give" with your body, this may be frustrating and unmotivating. Be patient, it will come and the more you allow yourself to experience getting to know your body...the higher your body awareness IQ will become. Shoes are good, they're a means to providing protection on occasions when barefoot isn't most practical. Having learned and practiced the fundamentals of "barefoot running", at it's barest most pure form will become ingrained in your run and you'll then be able to put your shoes on when need be and still run wisely.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
This challenge to you all is inspired by a relatively recent (2 years ago, ok I said relative) weight loss. Who'd have thought that saving sweets and treats to weekends and eating only one snack (of portion size) between meals would support a 25lb weight loss and maintenance for years to come? Also in lieu of more recent goals of mastering myself in Exercise Science and Health Promotion in order to follow a passion for playing my part in creating a healthier happier world....I'm creating a challenge for people of the world (however big this world of mine is, surrounding my blog and my life) to make a change. 1 small change in their health. We all want to be healthy, fit individuals though getting there is daunting when you think about diets, nutrition, vitamins/supplements, stretching, exercising, sleep, low stress, good food, bad food, moderation etc etc. It's a LOT to think about and it's hard to put the right foot forward when trying to achieve so many goals in so many different places. However, while difficult, it's not impossible. it takes dedication, accountability, strength, knowledge, perseverance, hope, flexibility, a goal and a plan.
According to Florida International University, and various other research sources out there, it takes 21 days to form a habit (or in our situation, a lifestyle change) and conversely 21 days to break a habit. So, with this in mind, knowing that if we can dedicate ourselves to one part of our health...we can form a healthy lifestyle habit in just 21 days, 3 weeks.
How it will happen:
1) What 1 thing would you like to change. (don't worry, if there's more than one...there will be more challenges to come)
2) What exactly do you want to do with this change, what's your goal?
3) Make a plan, how will you do this?
4) Educate yourself on how to make the change, find a way that makes it happen for you. Not everything, every technique will work exactly the same for everyone. Be flexible to make it suit your lifestyle..though be consistent in making it happen. So you love coffee, want to ditch the caffeine, try decaff or try half decaff half caff. Save caff for special occasions. What have you. Educate yourselves on how to do it, what's worked for others, what will work for you.
5) Mark your calendar and journal
6) Find a means to holding yourself accountable. Find a friend, a group, someone or something that will keep you honest along your journey.
7) Don't beat yourself up. If you slip up, get back up on that wagon and look upward and onward. Failure is feedback, learn something from your slip up.
8) reward yourself, don't deprive yourself of things that make the world a happier place. If chocolate brings you to a happy place, why deprive yourself of that small pleasure. Find a special time to indulge yourself. Find enjoyment and control over your indulgence to avoid over-doing it.
9) Pass it on, spread the word. A healthy world is a happier world
10) Smile, it releases endorphins
So....who's in? You can do this!
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
1lb pork sausage (I'll cut it back to 1/2lb next time, this was more than enough). The original recipe called for Sweet Italian Sausage (so I doctored up the pork sausage with a bit of paprika, brown sugar, parsley and salt). You could probably get away with plain pork sausage, italian sausage (spicy) or sweet italian sausage, use what your family would like I say
2 medium zucchini diced (or sliced, depending on how you like your zuchinni)
2 medium carrot, finely sliced into circles
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
6c beef broth
fresh or dried basil and oregano
1 pkg frozen cheese tortellini
In a large stockpot, brown your sausage with onions, garlic, basil and oregano to taste (about 1tsp each). Add zucchini, carrots, tomatoes and toss cooking over medium heat softening up the veggies. Add beef broth, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer for 30min. After 30min, add tortellini and cook for another 10min. And there you have it, delicious Sausage Tortellini soup.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Secondly, their online site www.zensah.com, is clean and streamline, and user friendly for shopping or browsing.
Thirdly, though certainly not leastly, the product. I received my pair of black S/M Running Leg Sleeves a week ago and have worn them on several occasions testing them out both during and after runs, Zumba and Belly Dance Fitness. My first impression of the leg sleeves was the quality of the fabric, the construction was uniquely patterned to support the different areas of the calf (shin and posterior calf muscle), fabric was durable yet soft and conducive to extended wear (I wore them for 4 hours the first day and experienced no discomfort while wearing them, nor after).
My first wear was after a day of a decent amount of physical activity (a 5mi barefoot run and an hour of Zumba, followed by a few hours of yard work with the kiddos), resulting in slightly achy calves. I slid the sleeves over my calves and immediately felt great support in my posterior calf (I don't tend to get shin splints so can't speak from that standpoint, though as a barefoot runner, dancer and dance fitness instructor I do experience occasional achy calf muscles).
My second experience was during a 5mi barefoot run earlier this week (45 degrees F, my coldest barefoot run as of yet) and to my surprise, my feet didn't experience the shock of the cold as much as they did during this morning's (45 degree) barefoot run (sans the leg sleeves). I'm not sure if this is related indirectly to the amount supported blood flow from lower extremities (feet/ankles/calves), though my feet appeared to stay warmer as a result of wearing the leg sleeves. I'll be testing this theory out again over the course of a few more runs with and without Zensah in varying temperatures, before making a solid assumption regarding this.
My third experience was during and after a Zumba class, with the level of impact I bring to my Zumba classes bringing the class up onto the balls of their feet, jumping, pivoting etc; my calves are typically aching for a good massage. I found that, the aching post Zumba wasn't as prominent or prolonged after having worn the leg sleeves. I will continue to wear the sleeves during class, again to make a more accurate assumption regarding their effectiveness on post Zumba calf aches.
Overall, my experience (as a barefoot runner, merchandise coordinator and reviewer for the Barefoot Runners Society and Zumba instructor) with Zensah Running Leg Sleeves was positive. I would recommend them (along with a good look and/or reevaluation of proper form, hydration and stretching post run/workout) to those looking to minimize shin and calf pain related to running, dancing, exercise.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Oh how a nice cup of tea makes the world go 'round, a day without tea is like a day without sunshine....
Perhaps it's my addiction, though I like to think of my tea and my tea times as mini sanctuaries amidst my chaotic days. They give me something small yet mighty to look forward to, the opportunity to slow down to steep a pot of loose leaf, to relax and sip away smiling after each warming sip. To my defense, however, I can't say that it's an addiction to the caffeine in my usual black up of Assam or Darjeeling; because I like to steep off about 80% of the caffeine via the GongFu method. Basically, this entails, steeping your leaves for about 25-30seconds, pouring off the liquid and resteeping for the suggested time (varies per tea, though my base is 3minutes for most black and green teas...herbals and tisanes are usually longer). There you have it, your beloved cup of tea, sans the caffeine. Caffeine makes me crazy, jittery, icky feeling...I found this most helpful during my pregnancies when caffeine is (or I should say used to be) a big no no (I think they allow you some in moderation now, which to be said about pretty much everything should be a rule of thumb).
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
1 can chili ready diced tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3c chicken broth
In a stockpot, sautee onions, peppers and garlic in a bit of canola oil. Add cumin and onion powder (I like lots, about 1tsp each) and salt to taste. Add can of chili tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to boil then simmer on medium-low for 40min. Spoon over top of steamed white or brown rice and top with cilantro to taste.
Recommended by a friend, while I was searching around for ways to help boost brain function in my kids. Particularly, Olivia (now 7) who was diagnosed at age 6 with ADD (lacking the hyperactivity component). I'd done research regarding what nutrients are important for children with attention disorders, dha being very high on the list. DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega 3 fatty acid (just a few excellent sources include: chia, fish oil, flax and seaweed) which is a key element in the growth and development of the central nervous system. DHA is readily found in breastmilk (and now formula companies who have focused in on the importance of DHA).
A few other important minerals, supplements for attention disorders include magnesium and zinc and vitamin B-complex.
So back to chia, once I'd heard about chia seeds I started to of course do research on it's properties, nutritional value, importance in the human diet. I found that chia contain copious amounts of calcium, magnesium and zinc (score!), omega 3s easily converted to dha (double score!), fiber (can never go wrong with a little extra fiber in your diet), potassium, antioxidants and iron. This is like a wonderfood! Check here for a little bit of chia history and more info regarding it's nutritive properties.
Not only did I discover this important food for my family, I discovered that it's wonderful for distance runners. Providing nutrients and their hydrophilic properties allow the body retain hydration (because the seeds can retain 12 times their weight in water) and sustain electrolyte balance.
Our daily Agua Chia
premixed chia gel (2c water mixed with 1/3c dry seeds, whisk constantly for 10min or so)
Mix with lemonade
you'll have to give your glass a swirl from time to time to redistribute your chia as they like to coagulate near the top of your glass
Enjoy your superfood!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
1/2 eggplant cubed
1 large zucchini cubed
2 medium carrots chopped
1 large onion cubed
garlic to taste (2-3 cloves is good, minced or sliced thinly)
3 medium tomatoes, diced
2 serrano peppers minced
1c cooked, mashed butternut squash
2-3 handfuls whole green pepper leaves (plucked right off of the plant, top tender leaves are best)
2c chicken broth
In a large heavy bottom stockpot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. Mix together eggplant, zucchini, carrots, onions, serrano and garlic. Heat until veggies are tender (about 5-7minutes), stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, heat and stir about 5min. Add broth, squash and leaves. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30min. Serve with fresh bread. Great leftover too or with meat (shrimp is delightful) or chickpeas would be a good protein addition.
Friday, September 10, 2010
and one in preK. When did this happen, I swear the snow just melted and we were heading merrily into June's warm days?? I have to admit, I'm pretty darn excited for them all though, they're excited to be back. However, before even beginning his first day Max explains that he doesn't like school because he doesn't want to do homework. I then asked him, "well don't you like to draw, write and color?" "yes, but.." "well, Max, that's the sort of 'homework' you get to do in Kindergarten". He got to be the teacher's helper on the first day of school, leading the other kids in talking about what the weather was like, what the date was etc. Overall, given Max's temperament (strong willed, slow to transition/warm up, highly sensitive) he is doing a fantastic job in school so far. Olivia, enjoys her class though is really a bit meloncholy about her first week in a different classroom, with a different teacher and different classmates. She misses her 1st grade buddies and who wouldn't miss Jane, I miss Jane! Absolutely fantastic teacher, I had the pleasure of volunteering with her every Thursday afternoon all year last year. I'll be spending 1.5hrs in Max's class (with Ms Lisa) and in O's room with (Beeman) every Thursday morning, I look forward to getting to know their new teachers and new classmates.
Nyla, sigh. Well we, amidst typical beginning of school chaos, rushed around like chickens with our heads cut off to rush to her class to find dark empty rooms. Apparently preK starts next week. We wrote out trip off as a time to spend dancing, singing and giggling in the car...Nyla's got some smooth moves to Biddi Boddi Biddibu.
So here we are, a week into the school year and nary a complaint (well, except for Max's 'dont' want to do homework' complaint...I'll have to get creative with his homework I'm thinking).
And to conclude tonight's story on little big kids and their school adventures, Max asks me during out pillow talk time "Mom, will you do more homework with me tomorrow morning?" "Sure buddy, I'll do some homework with you <3". I knew it wouldn't take long for him to come around.
'Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.' ~Ronald E. Osborn
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
confidently claiming that this was his dog. We both just looked at the tiny, carefully trimmed bit of pink post-it then tilted our heads trying to see if we could figure it out from a different angle, holding back giggles. I encouragingly said "he looks like a very nice little dog", Ian was questioning Max about his dog trying to make out a dog of this shape lying there before us. Max was so proud of his little dog, what a treat to see such creativity and genuinity. The kids come up with some of the most amazing and honest things.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I was flipping through some magazines while waiting for Olivia at her Learning Rx session, and can't recall the magazine I found this recipe in but I jotted it down on a piece of scratch paper because it sounded delish. I had everything on had so I thought I'd give it a shot to use up some of the veggies in the fridge, and much to my surprise (not all of my 'try something new' recipes turn out they way I'd like) it was fantastic! The recipe is vegan though could easily be modified for the meat eaters in your family. Ian decided that I should skip the chickpeas (he's allergic to legumes and beans) and add stew meat instead, which didn't sound too bad. I'd rather stick to the recipe sans meat (it's easier, quicker and better nutritionally) HOWEVER I have to take into consideration who's eating my meals and if it's just me...well, then it's not very practical. So the recipe:
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, one or more varieties
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 large onion, diced in 1-inch cubes
1 large yellow or red bell or other sweet, thick-fleshed pepper, cut into triangles or strips
2 zucchini, cut into rounds 1-2 inches thick ( I cubed them)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used freshly pureed tomato flesh, with a bit of cider vinegar and salt)
1/2 cups or more chunks of tomato, peeled and seeded first, any juices reserved
1 15 ounce can chickpeas, preferably organic
8 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1. Cut the eggplant into hefty chunks, choosing a shape that works with the variety you have. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside for 30 minutes to release the juices. Rinse quickly and pat dry.
2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a wide skillet over high heat until hazy. Add the eggplant and stir quickly. Reduce heat to medium and cook, turning the pieces every few minutes, until golden, about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside.
3. Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper pieces, and zucchini and cook until the onions are lightly browned around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Toward the end, add the paprika, turmeric, and garlic, taking care not to burn. Stir in the tomato paste, then moisten the pot with a few tablespoons water and scrape up the juices from the bottom. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, chickpeas, 1 1/2 cups water (or the liquid from home-cooked or organic chickpeas), and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Stir in the cilantro. Serve over steamed white rice. Absolutely fantastic recipe! Nyla enjoyed it, Max didn't try it (of course), neither did Ian (though will with meat instead of chickpeas), Olivia spent the night at Nana's so missed the chance at a new recipe night. So, 2-3 out of 5 isn't half bad. Verdict..will make again and again and again.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
My fabulous mother in law, Aidna, has been so wonderful in giving me clippings of her flowers/plants to help me build my gardens. She has some of the most beautiful gardens and it's been such a pleasure working with her the last two years in building my own gardens. Some of my most favorite flowers that she's given me, are the Hibiscus flowers. We've got one on the west side of our garage, in front of our veggie garden and it LOVES it there; it's 6ft tall and blooms beautiful white and red flowers so vivaciously. Will update with pictures as soon as I get some, hopefully before the plant stops blooming. It was at it's peek last week. I also received a Red Hibiscus from her, which I planted on the south end of my "Island Lily Garden" in the front yard. The plant stood not even a foot tall when I got it and has been thriving beautifully (unlike many other flowers and plants....perennials I planted. Damn rabbits). It finally bloomed it's first gorgeous red flower last week. The flower, in diameter, was half the size of the entire plant. It was so amazing to see such a small, yet mighty, plant produce such a beautiful creation. The picture, was at the end of the day, so the petals had wilted a bit. The blooms of a Hibiscus only last a day, unfortunately, though have quite the impact the day they do.
Mandy (my Wiccan sister) asked me the other day if I'd felt "the shift yet" (this was 3 days ago when the heat was still stifling). I hadn't, but felt it coming. And today had an absolute thrill of a moment feeling that "the shift" has come. The air is different (yes, it's cooler) but it's crisper, and it smells different; like the end of summer, sweet and earthy. The kids and I enjoyed an afternoon run/ride to the park. O and Max rode bikes and Nyla in the jogger... we cranked out 5mi today, We were all barefoot btw :) Though Max old complained about the helmet. I have to draw the line on minimalism somewhere when there's true saftey at stake (esp in his case, sadly the poor kid was blessed with my grace...or lack there of) He ended up face planting into a ditch along the trail on our way back, and bonked his head (luckily had his helmet on, an opportunity in which I used as a "see, even though I know you are an outstanding bike rider, we still have to be safe and wear our helmets" lesson).
Anywho, compared to last week's 4mi tortuous 90 degree run together, feet burning, the aire feeling so thick with heat and humidity that I nearly felt like I was running through hot molasses, today's run was absolutely beautiful! I couldn't ask for more in a run with kids, though I do admit too, that I long for the pleasure of running a beautiful day sans all of the mindfullness. Stopping for water breaks, and pee breaks, and readustments in helmets and seat belts, taking shoes off because someone's too hot (Max started out in jeans, socks, shoes...the whole bit and quickly complained that he was too hot. The moment I removed his shoes, he let out a big sigh of relieve...was amazing to actually feel what he felt at that moment. We took off shoes and socks and cuffed up jeans and went along our merry way with nary a complaint after that.
So, this week's mid 70's run was near perfection. The air was crisp and fresh, the pavement was slightly heated, there was a breeze from the west to cool us off. It was wonderful, the sort of day when you can enjoy the heat of the sun AND actually cool off in the shade.
These days make running barefoot an absolute pleasure!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
And update on our caterpillar friends, 3 out of the 4 chrysalis' we have turned black and burst open with beautiful black, orange and white monarch butterflies. It's amazing to see how they carefully make their way around the treehouse and hang in place exercising their wings. We give them a day or so to build their strength then let them fly free. We suspect it'll be another few days until the last of our caterpillar friends finds his wings and joins his winged buddies, in preparation for their journey south to Angangueo, Mexico. Our friends Ima and Chris are making their way that way and will be able to see the masses of beautiful, gracefu,l black, orange and white winged monarchs make home after thousands of miles of flight. I joked that we should put a tracking device on the ankles of our treehouse monarchs :)
Friday, August 13, 2010
Someone once asked (well, a lot of someone’s, who haven’t had the pleasure of having lived through the parenting experience..yet) “how do you do it? I couldn’t imagine toughing it out with kids for more than 5 minutes, and you do it all day long”. And to be honest, there are days when I can say…I have no clue really because it’s definitely NO walk in the park. Though parenting, esp being a stay at home parent and doing the parenting thing all day long, involves a multitude of different inherent, learned and fly off the seat of your pants skills. You have to venture to your creative side, allow yourself to be optimistic and curious about the world and it’s fascinations. To be patient even when it seems impossible, do LOTS of deep breathing, to have a sense of humor, to be able to step outside of your grown up shoes and remember what it was like to walk barefoot around the mud puddles of the world. It’s a tough job to be a kid; experiencing new, exciting and challenging situations that will eventually, given time and direction, teach you to become a resourceful, respectful, compassionate driven adult. It’s hard to be little, to constantly make mistakes (goodness knows I make my share of mistakes as an adult, often) and there’s always something to be learned from those mistakes which may or may not prevent you from making that same mistake a time or two again. It’s a tough realization and in a world of constant misfortunes, it’s hard to gain the confidence to venture out into the world and want to take chances, to step outside of your comfort zone and leap toward your dreams or for your cup of milk that always seems to end up spilled all over the sides of the breakfast bar, on the bar stools and the kitchen floor, on the blankie that needs to be washed again (much to your broken hearted dismay, to have to wait out that 1.5hrs until it’s finished and then to have it back NOT having that special drooled on, spilled on, peed on, dragged all over creation and back again, smell). So parenting and being parented is a companionship. There has to be understanding, in order for it to work harmoniously, you have to have the right amount of “kid” to the right amount of “parent”, metaphorically speaking. In order to grow as a parent, reaching toward a higher/wiser level of adulthood…you need to be able to see all sides and appreciate them for what they are worth . In a sense, revert back to your childhood and learn to remember that appreciation for the little things; to be able to take comfort in reaching outside of your comfort zone, with confidence and learning from your experiences. In a world of chaos and perpetual busy-ness, it’s crucial to take a look with open eyes at those situations that cause you stress and panic ( a child potty training frantically peeing on the floor, a 5yr old seeking independence pouring milk into his own bowl of cereal and spilling the entire gallon on the floor, a tantrum over a snickers bar in the checkout lane at the grocer, sibling quarrels over who gets the flower plate or the red cup). And as much as this will drive you up and down each wall of your house, and you’ll want to fight every one of these battles with your child, you have to stop and ask yourself…what ‘s the lesson? what’s to be learned? will this be significant in the history of my child’s life? detrimental to his/her (or someone elses) health/safety? Will it matter a year from now??? If not, chances are, you can take that deep breath (and teach your child a little about the importance of deep breathing), reassure your child (and yourself) that no panic is necessary, be creative in using the situation as a learning experience, a chance to teach your child a bit about the world and then move on.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Early one morning last week, Sherri (our sweet next door neighbor) rings the doorbell at 7:30am excitedly, to give us a clipping of milkweed. Having just rolled out of bed not too much sooner than the bell rang, I just looked curiously at her standing there, wide smiled holding her milk weed. UNTIL it dawned on me that on a leaf of that milkweed munched ferociously, a very plump monarch caterpillar! He was beautiful, stripes and happily eating away at that leaf. The kids and I scrambled around for a home for him, then remembered that Olivia had gotten a butterfly treehouse for her birthday in Kindergarten. Perfect home for a growing caterpillar. Within a day, he'd chewed up a good majority of the leaves and left the LOTS of poop behind, bigger than I'd ever expect to come out of a caterpillar. Interesting observation, to Olivia's concern (how will we clean the poop out when they're done in there??....Very carefully). Upon clipping more milkweed for our caterpillar friend, we stumbled upon another, wait two more, THREE more caterpillars munching away over at the neighbors milkweed patch. We brought them in to the Butterfly Treehouse and made them cozy with their other caterpillar buddy (who was looking like he was getting much too big for his skin). Low and behold, not even a day later, we found him up at the top working hard at getting rid of that skin and caccooning himself up into his chyrsalis. Ian and I were both impressed at how fast he worked, it took him minutes ( I expected hours if not days) to get the job done. Not long after, the other plump caterpillars found their spot at the top of the Treehouse and did their thing, while the littlest caterpillar indulged himself wildly in the rest of the leaves left all to him and him alone. It didn't take long before he too, started to look like he was going to burst out of himself. I suspect he'll be a chrysalis within a day or two as well:) Now we sit and wait, and of course no yelling in the house as to NOT disturb them while they grow into butterflies. Darn it, now why can't I have them all year long?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
2T flax meal (opt)
garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
2c shredded zucchini
Mix together and make patties. On medium-high heat, heat oil and when it's ready ( try the flick of water test, if you flick some water on it and it crackles...it's ready) drop your zucchini fritters in the skillet. A few minutes on each side should do the trick, they'll be nice and golden when done. They're crisp and delicious! We ate them plain with a bit of salt, but I bet they'd be good with a southwestern sauce or a creamy chipotle sauce.
The Lemon Rice was also a variation of different recipes I'd seen online.
1c uncooked long grain rice (we use Jasmine)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2c chicken broth
3T lemon juice
1t lemon zest
1t fresh broken oregano leaves
sprinkle of dried parsely
Over medium-low heat, in a heavy bottom saucepan, heat butter until melted adding onions. Sweat the onions (cook until just soft and translucent). Add (uncooked) rice and toss together with onions, turning heat up to medium to toast the rice a bit. Mix together lemon juice (you can reduce amount, this makes for some pretty lemony rice), zest and herbs/spices. Pour into rice and stir, then add chicken broth. Increase heat to high, bring rice with liquids to a boil (stirring occasionally to keep rice from sticking to the bottom). Once it's reached boil, reduce heat to low, cover. Set your timer for about 20min, check after 20min is up. If there is still liquid, add another 5min. Remove heat and let sit for about 10min, fluff with a fork and serve! Verdict, Nyla (3yrs) loved it, Olivia (7yrs) thought it was ok and Max(5yrs) wouldn't even try it. I thought it was fantastic, I LOVE lemon rice.
So creative meal number one:
Black Bean and Spinach Quesadillas with Sauteed Green Peppers and Onions
1/2can black beans, rinsed
shredded cheese of choice ( I used mild cheddar)
baby spinach leaves
corn tortillas (flour-white or whole wheat will work or Labash)
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
cumin,garlic powder and salt to taste
In skillet, sautee green peppers and onions (and raw garlic if you have some on hand) in a bit of canola or olive oil. Meanwhile, layer one tortilla with a bit of cheese, black beans, spinach, cumin, garlic and salt and a bit more of cheese and top with another tortilla (you want cheese touching both tortillas in order to hold itself together, esp important during flipping). On medium heat brown both sides of your quesadilla, letting cheese melt. Top with sauteed peppers and onions (cilantro and sour cream would be awesome on this too). Enjoy!
Next is Blue Cheese BST (Bacon, Spinach and Tomato) Sandwiches
This is basically a regular ol BLT, though in place of Mayo (happened to run out the day before) we used Blue Cheese dressing (chunky), put a few slices of havarti cheese, crisp bacon, baby spinach leaves, tomato slices on some french bread and Voila! Blue Cheese BSTs:)
Big time staple lunch around here for me, is the Green Pepper and Onion Egg Burrito
Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner
1/2 green pepper
1/2 med onion
1 egg, plus 1 egg white beaten with a tbsp of water
corn or flour tortillas
black beans rinsed and drained
Sautee green pepper and onion in either olive oil or canola oil, on medium-high heat until slightly tender. Spread peppers and onions over skillet evenly and pour egg over top, let cook and flip (there's an art to this, and sometimes I can manage a clean flip, most times not) to cook the other side. Once cooked on both sides and all the way through (just a few minutes), remove from heat. Turn heat up high and toast tortillas on both sides (about 30 seconds each side, or until golden). Divide egg/pepper/onion "omlet" into tortillas, spoon in some black beans, salsa and cilantro (opt). roll up like a soft shell taco and enjoy! Great with sour cream and guac too. It's excellent plain or all doctored up, just depends on how big of a meal you want to make out of it.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
1.5c unbleached flour
2T flax meal
2T baking powder
Mix well together dry ingredients
1 egg beaten
1T canola or olive oil
Mix wet ingredients well then pour into dry ingredients. Gently mix all ingredients, don't over mix. Your batter will be slightly lumpy and bubbly.
Over medium heat, heat skillet with a little bit of canola oil and cook pancakes. They don't need much time on each side, about 2min or so. Until golden, and edges start to dry just a little, bubble pop.
We make all kinds of variations of pancakes, using this basic recipe. We add cornmeal in place of flax and some of the flour, for corncakes. Berries for berry pancakes. Oatmeal (in place of half of the flour) for oatmeal pancakes, sprinkles, food coloring (for different colored pancakes), chocolate chips, bananas, applesauce etc. Variety is the spice of life! And we love our pancakes, served with butter and syrup or raw sugar or peanut butter with maple syrup or cinnamon and sugar or whip cream with berry sauce...the possibilities are endless!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
So, I've tried 4 different batches of yogurt and so far the best batch was that made with whole milk. Recipe as follows:
Pour a quart of whole milk and 1/2c powdered milk (you can also add your sugar and extract/flavors at this point, for a quart of yogurt, I use a scant 1/4c sugar) into a heavy bottom saucepan, cover and cook over medium-low heat until it reaches 180 degrees. Stir constantly. Remove from heat and cool to 110-115 degrees, then scoop out about 1/2 cup of the warmed milk and in a pyrex and add 2T room temp plain yogurt (I just used Dannon, though may venture to try other starters, they seem to affect the taste of the yogut. A good organic plain greek may be good). Whisk together, then add the yogurt milk mixture to the warmed milk into a quart sized Mason jar. Mix well, cover tightly then place the jar (horizontally to be able to put the crock cover on) in a warmed crock (I let mine heat up on low for about 30min, then unplugged it). Then wrap the crock up with thick towel and a fleece blankets and let it sit overnight (or for 8-10hrs, the longer it sits the more tart it is, I've made it in as little as 7hrs and it's very mild...much to the kids liking). That's it! Fresh yogurt :)
I tried both 1% and 2% and they produced a more lumpy, thinner yogurt. Taste was still good, but that made with whole milk was pretty creamy and delicious. May have to say, ta hell with the fat and calories and just go with what's good:) Always room to skimp on fat elsewhere, might as well stick with the good stuff where it counts most.
Sigh, my baby is growing up! Olivia is off at Girl Scout camp for the first time ever, over night! She and her troop buddies bridged over to Brownies this evening and will now continue along their path to great world leadership! Of course I forgot the camera, though I've got connections (Thanks Triscia) so will upload pictures when I get them:) We had a potluck, Max Nyla and I were so excited to see Olivia (she'd been gone at camp all day and for sure she missed us as much as we missed her). Nope. She was having so much fun with all of her school's other girl scouts that she barely had time to give me a hug. Sniffle. The story of the Bridging over ceremony and the story of the first Brownie. Then was the Bridging Over and some fun skits the girl scouts put on by, wrote up, directed and acted out themselves, Invisible Bench, Dancing with the Cookies (Stars ;) ), Is it Time Yet (the troop leaders acted this one out, hilarious), JCPenny and much more. My baby's growing up and taking steps toward her way of becoming the first woman president of the U.S. She's got goals :)
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
I made granola bars for the second time today (used less oil, forgot to double it...so they turned out more scone like..but still slightly chew and yummy!) Nyla loved both and I even got at least a thumb up from Ian, slightly hard to please husband. Olivia and Max are indifferent, I think they prefer the chocolate loaded chewy (aka, more oiled up granola bars that actually tasted more like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies). I made craisin walnut and chocolate chunk (though didn't have much chocolate so the chocolate pieces were a bit sparse. Today's recipe:
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flax meal
- 1/4 cup dry chia seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (only in the craisin walnut batch)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- handful of craisins (used only in craisin walnut)
- handful of walnuts
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup honey
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (should have doubled it to 1cup but they turned out pretty good,held together nicely and were still chewy enough)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease 2 9x13 inch baking pans.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, flax, flour, chia and salt. Mix together honey, eggs and oil in a separate mixing bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg and oil. Mix well using your hands. Separate the batch if you're using different added ingredients (ie, chocolate chips, dried fruits, nuts etc). Pat the mixtures evenly into the prepared pans.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (my oven bakes them up nicely in about 28min, started to brown more on the edges by 30min) in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars ( I rely on my handy dandy, use for everything around the kitchen, heavy duty Kitchen Aid pizza cutter ) while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Running that is! My 6 week 'stress fracture sentence' is up! I got out a few days ago for a short jaunt (about 1/2mi) which went well, so I decided to go for it today and work in a short 2mi run. Felt great, I can tell that I've lost some strength in my left foot, though my right foot is going very strong. I'm not able to splay my toes as nicely on my left. Hoping to regain that strength in no time. It sure feels good to have my feet back out on the road though, really looking forward to the upcoming first MN Chapter of the Barefoot Runner's Society meet up at Minnesota Half Marathon and 5k (I'll be doing the 5k this time around, hopefully with my UMD amiga Breanna!..that's if we can behave the night before, no partying until AFTER the race!). Depending on how things go this fall/winter, I'm looking at the prospect of going for a full marathon (likely the Med City) in the spring of next year...of course barefoot ;)
The kids also practically tripped over themselves at the chance to hold Cloe's (the littlest Button sister, little mini Yorkie) puppies. They weren't used to holding such little sprouts (2 weeks old today) and were a tad rough, though with lots, LOTS of reminders they did ok and loved every minute of it. Soon the puppies will be big enough to wrangle around, for now...just lots of snuggling, nursing and warming themselves with the sunlight that peeks through the windows.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
We started the day with Olivia's 8-11am summer school, then from there shuffled off to downtown for a Zumba demo performance shared with Amber McCormack's Nia (fabulous stuff this Nia, may have to make time for this in my schedule). We parked about 1/2mi from down town, in that time Olivia got a bloody nose, Nyla whined (the whole way) to be picked uppie and Max topped the cake by falling face first onto the sidewalk.
We managed to make it to the South Stage by Dooley's (cool little downtown pub/sports bar) in one piece despite our setbacks. Did some mingling with other Zumba-ers and the fine folks from the Rochester International Dance Studio. Nana and Papa Al showed up ready for the show, as did Abe, Elsie and Jo. The girls were quick to grab up some extra jingly hip scarfs and did some mad shimmying down in front of the stage while we shook what our Mama's gave us on a hot stage. Not sure how Amber's feet held up on that super hot stage, my feet were burning through my shoes!
The kids and I ditched our shoes shortly thereafter and headed down to the Peace Plaza, and of course the fountain was immediate bait for the kids. They were in there and wet from head to toe within 20 seconds of spotting it. I dipped my feet in too and it was wonderfully refreshing.
I'm working on converting videos to post, with our Nia/Zumba performances....
Later on, Nana kids and I headed back down to Thursdays 1st and established our "spot" in front of the stage, so I could partake in Rochester's first flash mob! There were 150 of us, who performed a mix music. It was orchestrated by KTTC news and Xtreme Fitness (thank you Kris Thomas and Dawn Underwood) and it couldn't have been a more fantastic event. Will be posting video of this when it pops up online.
Overall, wonderful day! It felt great to be barefoot tooling around downtown Rochester, my kids felt the same.
Thanks for taking the time to read about my life's inspirations!