Sunday, February 28, 2010

March Challenge - A Different Direction

I was all set to challenge myself with Bicycling Magazine's plan to prepare for your first century. I was thinking I'd do week 1 and 2, go to Colorado, redo week 2, then do week 3. However, I'm feeling a little stressed by the idea, not challenged. I'd like to get on my bike more and have a little more structure to the rides - doing intervals on certain rides, doing distance days, doing active recovery days - but I'm just not feeling like taking on the plan as prescribed right now. I do think I'll refer to it in March and make some moves in that direction. Perhaps in April it will be my challenge to do the program as prescribed.

Meanwhile, what I'm going to do for my March Challenge is different from these first two months of 2010 and I'm excited about it. I'm going to do 10 minutes, in addition to the usual morning chores, of decluttering each day that I'm home, travel days excluded. Thus, days "off" will include the day we leave for Colorado and the day we return home as well as the day we leave for camping (again this weekend) and the day we come home.

If I remember, I will snap a picture of the area I choose to work on for the day both before and after for comparison shots and post them.

I'm feeling pretty happy with my momentum in the areas of food and exercise, so doing something different is good and I'm feeling excited about it, which is as it should be. The challenges are meant to break me out of a rut, try something new or ramp up something I'm already doing in a good way, not to be a point of worry.

As of tomorrow - let the decluttering begin!

Sunday Morning - Aaaahhhh

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Busy Kitchen Day

I'm finding myself much in the kitchen today. We had our usual Saturday morning pancakes this morning with blackberry compote, pumpkin "pie filling" and/or cinnamon cashew sauce for toppings. We also enjoyed a grapefruit and a mug of tea each. It was delicious. Even with making the pumpkin ahead (sweet winter squash baked then pureed with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and a wee bit of agave nectar) and Anthony being in charge of the pancakes, there was much to do.

After breakfast, I was back at it. My mom is coming home from a business trip today and we're picking her up from the airport, taking her to her house, eating dinner (made here and packed up) and then coming home. Also, as you may recall, I'd yet to make kimchi and didn't want to just slide on it.

So, I chopped up some cabbage and massaged some salt into it:
I sterilized some jars and now the jars and bowl of cabbage are on the counter, waiting for the next step.

I also put some unsweetened dried cherries in a bit of water to soak to make a jam.

Anthony helped by mixing up vegan fat free no refined sugar oatmeal raisin cookies to take for dessert this evening, but he doesn't like putting them on the cookie tray, so I took over for that part:

Anthony also prepared the edamame for dinner, but I didn't snap a picture of that.

I prepared all the sushi fillings, 'cause, of course, Saturday is sushi day:

Rolled them all up:

and got them, the cookies, the edamame and some wasabe packed up and ready to go:
And, inevitably, throughout the process, there were dishes to do:
I've just mixed up the cherries and their water in the Vitamix and jarred it. It's nearly lunch time and I've started a tray for Davan with the left over odds and ends from sushi making. And I still need to finish off that kimchi! Better get back to it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

March Challenge Musings

I've decided that I want to do something involving riding my bike for my March Challenge. It's coming up on bike season and we not only want to do another bike trip this summer (although we're thinking only a week this year due to other trips and vacation time restrictions), but I'm planning on completing my first century this summer.

I'm not sure exactly what the challenge requirements are going to be yet, but I'm thinking along the lines of a certain amount of miles per week or a certain number of days of biking, each with a 10 mile minimum. I'm thinking of looking through some of the Bicycling magazines we have laying around (Anthony is a subscriber) to see if there is a training plan that appeals to me. There are complete your first century articles at least once a year, so I should be able to find something. So, following the plan may be my challenge.

Meanwhile, I don't want to let my strength workouts slide too much, I also want to give myself the time for the biking. Thus, I'm thinking I'll probably continue the CrossFit/Rip's workouts, but reduce my number to three times a week.

I don't think I'll do a food challenge this month. I'm feeling pretty good about what I'm doing food-wise.

Of course, a complication next month is that we'll be in Colorado for a week and aren't planning on taking bikes. I'll have to figure that into the whole bike riding scheme.

At this point, I'm still musing, but this is the direction my musings are taking me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Angel's Rest Hike

This morning, Davan and I took on Angel's Rest. It's 2.3 miles each way with an 1880 ft elevation gain, which makes it a nice little workout. It's a favorite hike with us and Davan has requested to do it in each season this year. We've done fall and winter, although, with the warm weather we're having, it was almost spring like today with both temperature and some trees budding.

I got up at my usual 7:00 and got breakfast together and knocked out a few other chores. We often do oatmeal on hiking mornings, but I didn't buy any pears this week, which is our preferred fruit for oatmeal for the both of us, so I opted to do a tray for Davan and a green drink for me.

I packed up our crate to carry everything to the van:

Davan's tray is on top:

I did themes in rows. The leftmost row is the cereal row and consists of, from top to bottom, Ezekiel, Uncle Sam's and raw oats. The next row is the cookie row and is a grapefruit oatmeal cookie, a chocolate orange cookie and a lemon lime cookie. In the fresh fruit row, we have strawberries, kiwi and an apple. The final row is frozen berries and is raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

Davan woke up a little tired and grumpy about heading out, but she quickly turned it around and was delighted to see her tray.

The first view point required a picture and a break, of course:

Then on we went:

Getting closer to the top, we stopped at the fence view point:
All those logs and sticks behind the fence are new to us. Clearing the trail, perhaps?

On the Angel's Rest hike, you know you're almost there when you cross the rock field:

It made us happy:

At the top, we enjoyed the view:

And each had a chocolate orange cookie to see us back down the trail:

And we needed that sustenance because Davan enjoys running down this trail. Suffice it to say that we were back down much fast than we'd gotten up and there was no time for more pictures.

A rough recipe for grapefruit oatmeal cookies (I just eyeball stuff, so this is all pretty approximate):

1/4 cup soaked (if you think of it in advance - 8 hours is great, a 1/2 hour or not at all is fine) pumpkin seeds
2 cups rolled oats
juice and pulp of one grapefruit

Blend the seeds and oats in your food processor until they look like bread crumbs. Pour in the grapefruit juice and pulp and blend until mixed. Form cookies with hands. These are very lightly flavored and very light in comparison to most date filled raw cookies.

A rough recipe for chocolate orange cookies:

1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup oats
4 TBS raw cacao powder
1 package Sunkist Orange Essence Prunes (yeah, probably full of stuff we shouldn't eat, but there it is)

Blend the walnuts and oats in your food processor until they look like bread crumbs. Add the cacao powder and blend briefly. Add the prunes and run until combined. If the cookies won't stick together at this point, add some raisins or dates until sticky. On the other hand, if I've misled you the other way and they are too sticky, your best bet at this point is to remove the mixture from the food processor, mix up more walnuts and oats, then kneed it into the mix. Form cookies.

A rough recipe for lemon lime cookies:

1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup dates
juice and zest of a small lime
juice and zest of a small lemon

Blend the walnuts and oats in your food processor until they look like bread crumbs. Add zest and mix briefly. Add dates and run until incorporated. Pour in the juices. Blend until well mixed. It should be damp and stick easily to itself. If not, adjust as necessary. Form cookies.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Davan's Lunch Tray

I snapped a quick shot of Davan's lunch tray today to have posting material. Here she is, happily surveying the offerings:

Starting in the upper left hand corner and going left to right by rows, she has Romain lettuce leaves with raw hummus, a chocolate orange raw cookie, carrot sticks, cream of broccoli soup, the last of the experimental onions, a raw grapefruit oatmeal cookies (sounds weird, but they are surprisingly addictive), cucumber slices, Mexican bean soup, red Russian kale chips, strawberries, more strawberries (we try to wait for them to be local, but we love them and couldn't resist) and sliced baby bella mushrooms.

Most of the time in the last two weeks Davan can be found doing this:

Davan was introduced young to Harry Potter, as I started enjoying the series when she was three. At three, she was too young for the books, but when she was four, we happened on the books on tape and a passion was discovered. I don't know how many times she listened to the series, particularly the first four books, but it was many, many times, both in book on tape form and in me reading to her form.

Three years ago, she opted to tackle reading the entire series on her own. She was very engrossed and read nearly constantly. A couple weeks ago, she decided the time was right again. She's on book five - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - and it won't be long before she's done with it, as she's at least 3/4 of the way through.

I'm actually getting jealous of how wrapped up in the books she is and of the laughter bubbling out of her periodically. I think the time might be ripe for me to re-read the series, myself. Of course, I've got a whole book shelf of library books waiting to be read...but sometimes one must do what one must do.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February Challenge Update

My February Challenge has been going...okay. I have been sprouting all month, including taking sprouts in progress with me to the cabin this weekend. This is much to Davan's dismay. She is not a sprout lover. Anthony and I have found we like sprouted lentils just to snack on and clover sprouts are good for lots of things, which I knew already. We're not keen on other sprouted legumes. I'm trying a batch of amaranth now and we'll see what we think of it.

I have not made kimchi. I do still have a few days, but this one may go by the wayside. Why do I have such resistance to it? I don't know. It doesn't really seem that hard.

I have gotten in 13 of my 16 workouts thus far. All last week I did Rip's workouts rather than CrossFit and it was much easier, I have to say. I did Rip's workouts because I did not have computer access and that is my back up.

I've let two days a week of raw until dinner go by the wayside. I did it for two weeks, then opted not to continue. Why? Well, most days that I was eating raw, I didn't feel good. I was constantly wanting more to eat and wanting things like nuts, not just veggies. If I were going to go all raw, I imagine I'd get over that eventually, but that's not going to happen. At least not right now. So, it seems better to me to go ahead and eat heavily raw, but also eat cooked food as needed to be satisfied.

In addition, I've been eating down the pantry and have avoided shopping for two weeks now. I did buy some fresh produce today, finally, but I was really feeling the need to use up some things and make sure I really used all the produce I had in the house before buying more. This I did, but it wasn't conducive to eating raw exclusively.

I have, though, had a green drink most mornings this month, which is great. However, I also like the flexibility to have oatmeal when it seems like the thing to do.

And this morning, being nearly out of most things, I made a cream of broccoli soup with some odds and ends (frozen broccoli, onion, garlic, a jalapeno, cilantro and three tomatoes plus water, a dash of Braggs and some nutritional yeast). Having the flexibility to cook something to get the most nutritious meal possible under the circumstances was good for me, too, this morning.

And one more reason, as is I'm not excusing enough, is that I like to be able to use up dinner leftovers as needed at lunch time. That was something I missed doing last month, too.

Of course, with the raw until dinner aspect being only two days a week, a lot of this would have worked most days, anyway, but what it comes down to is that it feels right to me to not do it right now.

There isn't much of February left, but I have not yet given much thought to March. I have some time, though, to let something come to me.

Wild and Crazy Dinner

We had an interesting dinner last night. The idea was born from something Davan had come across and shared with me. I changed it up some to suit our needs.

We had some leftovers and a few odds and ends to use up. I knew some of the items would not be popular and one of the leftover items had been eaten on quite a bit, was getting a bit past it's prime and would not be chosen, either. So, I decided it was time to put Davan's found game to the test.

Here's what I came up with:

First, I pulled out everything I wanted to use up plus a special (for us) treat. We had pasta and veggies in a cashew sauce (the leftover that was past it's prime), hash with mushrooms (Anthony doesn't like mushrooms), radishes, green onions, which I chopped up, black lentil sprouts, salsa, nacho "cheese" sauce, experimental sort of dehydrated onions that were okay but not great, a smidge of hummus from Trader Joes, hummus that I'd made from sprouted chickpeas which was eatable, but not really all that enjoyable, and a Dave's Killer Bread Peace Bomb, cut up. I put each of these items on a slip of paper and put them in a hat.

In a separate hat, I put slips of paper with different utensils on them. We had a fork, a spoon, a baby spoon, a butter knife, a spatula, a serving spoon and chop sticks.

We ate in rounds, 8 of them, all told. For each round, each of us picked a single utensil and three food items. It was okay to use the microwave, if desired and foods could be combined, but didn't have to be. At least a bite was required of the item chosen. If one got Peace Bomb, one could only take one piece, but may take less, if desired. For the first round, a person couldn't take more than half of what was there, but, after that, could finish off an item as desired.

Hilarity ensued, for Davan and I, at least. We laughed and laughed. Poor Anthony, who'd had a rough day at work and had eaten the pasta and veggie dish for lunch, was much less amused, but I did finally catch him smiling when, for the 5th round in a row, he got green onions. We had some very interesting combinations.

Round 1:
On my plate is two different types of hummus and black lentil sprouts to be eaten with a butter knife. Anthony had a pretty good combination of the pasta and veggies with the experimental onions and green onions with the baby spoon. Davan enjoyed some hash, something I don't remember, and, sadly for her, as she doesn't like them, a radish to be eaten with a spoon. Here she is, washing out her mouth with water after the radish.

Round 2:
I got the most dinner sort of food this round with both hash and the pasta and veggies, which I topped with some of the experimental onions and ate with a merciful spoon. Anthony had the fork to eat his salad of radishes, green onions and salsa. Davan used the butter knife with glee to eat black lentils, raw hummus and a chunk of Peace Bomb.

Round 3:
I again, scored, with Peace Bomb, TJ's hummus and black lentils. I even had the knife to spread the hummus. Davan got the worst of the round with salsa, nacho "cheese" and raw hummus to be dished up and eaten with chopsticks, of which she is not a master. Anthony used the spoon to enjoy hash, pasta and veggies and, yes, more green onions.

Round 4:
Anthony again had a salad of sorts with radishes, green onions (of course) and raw hummus, all eaten with the baby spoon. Davan, in control of the real spoon, had pasta and veggies (finishing those off), nacho "cheese" and experimental onions. I, again, has a good combo of hash with salsa and another piece of Peace Bomb. Of course, hash with chopsticks was a little challenging, but I was up to it.

Round 5:
Davan, who had been musing that no one had yet to use the serving spoon or spatula, lucked out with the spatula for her raw hummus, lentil sprouts and...something. Anthony finally polished off the green onions, scored with some Peace Bomb and had a little salsa with his spoon. I, again, had chopsticks to eat my hash, topped with nacho "cheese" this time and a nice serving of the remainder of the radishes.

Round 6:
By this time, I was getting full, having done pretty well, really, so I only took a small piece of Peace Bomb to eat alongside my lentil sprouts and salsa. Davan got the other large utensil and used the serving spoon to eat her nacho "cheese", salsa and lentil sprouts (by this point, we were sometimes getting the same things, as, in order for everyone to have three items, we were putting items back in the hat) and Anthony had a bit more hash with nacho "cheese" and raw hummus along with the opposite of the serving spoon, the baby spoon.

We did draw one more round, but I'd stopped taking pictures. After that round, which ended my eating, Anthony and Davan just finished off anything they were interested in still, which included a piece of Peace Bomb each, hash for Davan and some nacho "cheese" sauce for Anthony.

It was a fun and leisurely meal in which used up those odds and ends in an entertaining way. Either we'd have ended up tossing them or we'd have eaten them reluctantly, but this made it fun, at least for Davan and I. We spent part of the time teasing Anthony about how other people got to come home to real dinner and an evening in front of the TV, but he was stuck with us. Usually, of course, he's glad about that, but last night, with his day, was a stretch. Still, he participated and was a fairly good, if quiet, sport about it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm Back!

The reunion weekend was a great deal of fun and so busy that I never did have time to post. Complicating things was that, Saturday evening, my internet service went out and I didn't have time to call about it until Tuesday morning. I spent 2 hours (!!!!!) on the phone with tech support.

At first, he was trying to tell me that my computer was the problem. Then, no, it was a problem at Verizon. That got "fixed" but the connection still wasn't working. Oh, well, then, it was a problem with my computer again. Yes. Of course, both Verizon and my computer are going to go out at the same time. That makes sense. I got out Davan's laptop (which is old and just used for word processing, but is able to connect), which would not connect either, ruling out my computer as the problem. Now he insisted that it was the router and they'd send me a new one. Again, I'm not thinking it likely that the router went out as well as there being a problem at Verizon.

Finally, I just canceled the service and called Comcast. As it happens, I was going to switch over in a couple of weeks anyway. It was Thursday before Comcast could come and hook me up, but then we were busy getting ready for and going camping (in a cabin) for the weekend for Davan's February Christmas gift event. Whew!

We are just back and unpacked and I snagged the computer before anyone else could.

After entering all the above, blogger would not upload pictures, so I left off and am finishing this Monday morning. I wanted to share pictures from our trip.

Here's the cabin we stayed in:
Cute, no?

It was lunch time when we arrived, so we sat out in the sun at our picnic table to eat with the lovely view:

We had coleslaw, lightly steamed veggies, cuties, pear slices and sandwiches - hummus and sprouts for me and almond butter and fruit spread for the other two.

Davan enjoyed all the rocks to climb:

Then we spent the afternoon exploring. We walked out nearly every dock at the marina and did a little more than walk in some cases:

(I'm the one doing the handstand - Davan is doing the splits in the lower picture.)

We concurred peaks:

We enjoyed the view:
Davan worked on making a spear out of a found rock and stick:

Then we went back to the cabin to relax for a while:

We played games and had a snack before heading out to explore some more. Then it was dinner time and, not too long after, time for bed.

The next morning, we got up and hiked the 3/4 mile or so to the near by beach. It was cold, but well worth going because we saw not one, but two, bald eagles. It was pretty awesome! Sadly, we didn't take the camera on that outing.

Davan didn't want to change out of her footie pjs yet, but did want to go, so she just put stuff on over:

We had our usual Saturday morning pancakes with kiwis and blueberry compote. We ate in the cabin, as it was still quite cold out:

After breakfast, we hung out for a while. I read by the edge of the lake, sitting in the sun. Davan found some abandoned rope and finished her spear, which she then played with until she got tired of repairing it all the time.

We eventually got around to packing a lunch and going to see if we could find a good hike to do. And did we ever. We found a seven mile hike that got us up on the rim of the canyon with great views for most of the hike.

Heading up:

Checking out the edge:

Eating lunch with a view:

Looking out:

There are lots more pictures, but they are much the same, so I won't bore you with them all.

After our hike, we retired back to the cabin for a little downtime. We had a snack, then all read for a while. It was really windy, so it was nice to be cozy inside and chill out. Eventually we had dinner (which, as it was the night before, was Mexican bean soup I'd made ahead of time and just needed warming) and then settled in for some game playing before viewing the stars and heading to bed.

Sunday morning started with a hike to the beach again, but no bald eagle sighting. We had Sunday morning pancakes, then packed up and cleaned the cabin. We weren't ready to say goodbye to Cove Palisades State Park quite yet, though, so we went for another hike. This time, we were incorporating a nature walk, so Davan took charge of the map/guide and lead us along:

We had stairs to climb (although not as many as to get up on the rim the day before):

We had nice views (although not as nice as on our big hike the day before):
Davan did a good job of being our nature guide:

We also got to see a pictograph:
And, before we left, we had to make sure to cross both bridges in the park because Anthony did the drafting for them:
Really, all we do is tour Anthony's bridges.

It was a really good weekend and we couldn't have asked for better weather in the middle of February.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I've got company - the first of my friends from high school who are converging on my house this weekend. Now, I thought that I'd posted about that, but, in searching my archives, it seems maybe not.

In high school, we were a gang of four, with offs and ons, of course, but it was pretty much the four of us. Only one of the four of us actually attended our 20 year high school reunion last summer. I came up with the idea of just getting us four together for a weekend. There were some false starts on the whole thing, but it's happening this weekend, here at my abode.

So far, only my best friend, Chris, is here. We've, as you can guess by the best friend moniker, stayed in touch over the years and visit each other often. The other two...not so much. I have to admit to being a little nervous about how it will go. Both ladies arrive tomorrow afternoon. We're all having lunch together (my family and my guests and I), then my family is leaving for the weekend so us four can bond and all.

Any-who, I didn't get around to snapping a picture of my lunch until it was almost gone, as I'm distracted with company. Chris, though, is working from my dinning room table, so, while she's somewhat distracting (and I mean that in the nicest possible way), our day is pretty typical even though she's here.

Here's what I made to feed the three of us (Davan, Chris and myself):

It's sweet potato hash and chard chips. Yum. Davan is thrilled, as they are two of her favorite foods.

Here's how to make the sweet potato hash, which fed the three of us:

2 good sized sweet potatoes, prebaked, then cut or mashed
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 cups corn
Braggs to taste
pepper to taste

Saute the onion in a little water in a large fry pan. When browned, add the garlic and bell pepper. Continue to saute until the pepper softens. Add Braggs and pepper and mix well. Add the sweet potatoes and corn. It's ready when it's warm.

Now, 'cause there's company and all, I'm going to go finish my lime cookies (Chris is a lime fan, but hates lemon. Go figure Luckily, Davan and I like both.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Well, That Lasted a Long Time

My dessert only on Saturdays and special occasions intentions have quickly gone by the wayside. Tonight I was just really feeling the itch, so I whipped this up:

I cut up three kiwis and two apples. I peeled and sectioned three tangelos. I used the Vitamix to whip up a creamy chocolate sauce to dip.

1 handful raw cashes
1 handful dates
pour in some raw cacao powder
splash of vanilla extract
add water to desired consistancy

Mix well. Taste and adjust as necessary. Or, you know, just taste.

Poor Anthony has been working late for the last couple of weeks and he was home later than we wanted to eat dinner tonight, so having dessert all together was a nice way to connect after his long day away.

Everyone was excited to dip in:

It's so, so good. We decided it's probably best called chocolate mouse. It's a lovely dip for fruit. It's also what I topped Davan's breakfast pie with last week.